Saturday, April 30, 2016

Last Day of April Last Day of Poetry Month

Unfinished
 by Sharon Olinka
        
Your dream voice emerges.
I'm getting ready, love. Warmth
of your mouth. Sunlit orange
butterfly wings. And weight
of your belly against mine.
As if you never fell.
Your cane, painkillers.
Finally, talk of a wheelchair.



Years later, I fell
on my face and hands.
Permanent damage.
Weakened left hand.
Somewhere, if you still breathe,
your mane of hair
white now. Almost eighty.



In this city of dust
my plants drink, never get enough.
With my good hand,
I do what needs to be done.
Carefully lift a cup of water
to each plant on my patio.
Caterpillars ate
my passion flower vine.
There was one
butterfly. I never saw it.




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Poetry Poetry Poetry

April in MaineMay Sarton

The days are cold and brown,
Brown fields, no sign of green,
Brown twigs, not even swelling,
And dirty snow in the woods.

But as the dark flows in
The tree frogs begin
Their shrill sweet singing,
And we lie on our beds
Through the ecstatic night,
Wide awake, cracked open.

There will be no going back.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Poetry Swoon

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

By Pablo Neruda 1904–1973 Pablo Neruda
Translated By Mark Eisner
    
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,   
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:   
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,   
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries   
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,   
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose   
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,   
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,   
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,   
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.


Pablo Neruda, “One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” from The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, edited by Mark Eisner. Copyright © 2004 City Lights Books.

Source: The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (City Lights Books, 2004)

from the Poetry Foundation

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Adaptation

Crusoe in England

By Elizabeth Bishop 
     
A new volcano has erupted,
the papers say, and last week I was reading   
where some ship saw an island being born:   
at first a breath of steam, ten miles away;   
and then a black fleck—basalt, probably—
rose in the mate’s binoculars
and caught on the horizon like a fly.
They named it. But my poor old island’s still   
un-rediscovered, un-renamable.
None of the books has ever got it right.

Well, I had fifty-two
miserable, small volcanoes I could climb   
with a few slithery strides—
volcanoes dead as ash heaps.
I used to sit on the edge of the highest one   
and count the others standing up,
naked and leaden, with their heads blown off.   
I’d think that if they were the size   
I thought volcanoes should be, then I had   
become a giant;
and if I had become a giant,
I couldn’t bear to think what size   
the goats and turtles were,
or the gulls, or the overlapping rollers   
—a glittering hexagon of rollers   
closing and closing in, but never quite,   
glittering and glittering, though the sky   
was mostly overcast.

My island seemed to be
a sort of cloud-dump. All the hemisphere’s   
left-over clouds arrived and hung
above the craters—their parched throats   
were hot to touch.
Was that why it rained so much?
And why sometimes the whole place hissed?   
The turtles lumbered by, high-domed,   
hissing like teakettles.
(And I’d have given years, or taken a few,   
for any sort of kettle, of course.)
The folds of lava, running out to sea,
would hiss. I’d turn. And then they’d prove   
to be more turtles.
The beaches were all lava, variegated,   
black, red, and white, and gray;
the marbled colors made a fine display.   
And I had waterspouts. Oh,
half a dozen at a time, far out,
they’d come and go, advancing and retreating,   
their heads in cloud, their feet in moving patches   
of scuffed-up white.
Glass chimneys, flexible, attenuated,   
sacerdotal beings of glass ... I watched   
the water spiral up in them like smoke.   
Beautiful, yes, but not much company.

I often gave way to self-pity.
“Do I deserve this? I suppose I must.
I wouldn’t be here otherwise. Was there   
a moment when I actually chose this?
I don’t remember, but there could have been.”   
What’s wrong about self-pity, anyway?
With my legs dangling down familiarly   
over a crater’s edge, I told myself
“Pity should begin at home.” So the more   
pity I felt, the more I felt at home.

The sun set in the sea; the same odd sun   
rose from the sea,
and there was one of it and one of me.   
The island had one kind of everything:   
one tree snail, a bright violet-blue
with a thin shell, crept over everything,   
over the one variety of tree,
a sooty, scrub affair.
Snail shells lay under these in drifts   
and, at a distance,
you’d swear that they were beds of irises.   
There was one kind of berry, a dark red.   
I tried it, one by one, and hours apart.   
Sub-acid, and not bad, no ill effects;   
and so I made home-brew. I’d drink   
the awful, fizzy, stinging stuff
that went straight to my head
and play my home-made flute
(I think it had the weirdest scale on earth)   
and, dizzy, whoop and dance among the goats.   
Home-made, home-made! But aren’t we all?   
I felt a deep affection for
the smallest of my island industries.   
No, not exactly, since the smallest was   
a miserable philosophy.

Because I didn’t know enough.
Why didn’t I know enough of something?   
Greek drama or astronomy? The books   
I’d read were full of blanks;
the poems—well, I tried
reciting to my iris-beds,
“They flash upon that inward eye,
which is the bliss ...” The bliss of what?   
One of the first things that I did
when I got back was look it up.

The island smelled of goat and guano.   
The goats were white, so were the gulls,   
and both too tame, or else they thought   
I was a goat, too, or a gull.
Baa, baa, baa and shriek, shriek, shriek,
baa ... shriek ... baa ... I still can’t shake   
them from my ears; they’re hurting now.
The questioning shrieks, the equivocal replies   
over a ground of hissing rain
and hissing, ambulating turtles
got on my nerves.
When all the gulls flew up at once, they sounded
like a big tree in a strong wind, its leaves.   
I’d shut my eyes and think about a tree,   
an oak, say, with real shade, somewhere.   
I’d heard of cattle getting island-sick.   
I thought the goats were.
One billy-goat would stand on the volcano
I’d christened Mont d’Espoir or Mount Despair
(I’d time enough to play with names),   
and bleat and bleat, and sniff the air.   
I’d grab his beard and look at him.   
His pupils, horizontal, narrowed up
and expressed nothing, or a little malice.   
I got so tired of the very colors!   
One day I dyed a baby goat bright red   
with my red berries, just to see   
something a little different.
And then his mother wouldn’t recognize him.

Dreams were the worst. Of course I dreamed of food
and love, but they were pleasant rather
than otherwise. But then I’d dream of things   
like slitting a baby’s throat, mistaking it   
for a baby goat. I’d have
nightmares of other islands
stretching away from mine, infinities   
of islands, islands spawning islands,   
like frogs’ eggs turning into polliwogs   
of islands, knowing that I had to live   
on each and every one, eventually,   
for ages, registering their flora,   
their fauna, their geography.

Just when I thought I couldn’t stand it   
another minute longer, Friday came.   
(Accounts of that have everything all wrong.)   
Friday was nice.
Friday was nice, and we were friends.   
If only he had been a woman!
I wanted to propagate my kind,   
and so did he, I think, poor boy.
He’d pet the baby goats sometimes,
and race with them, or carry one around.   
—Pretty to watch; he had a pretty body.

And then one day they came and took us off.

Now I live here, another island,
that doesn’t seem like one, but who decides?
My blood was full of them; my brain   
bred islands. But that archipelago
has petered out. I’m old.
I’m bored, too, drinking my real tea,   
surrounded by uninteresting lumber.
The knife there on the shelf—
it reeked of meaning, like a crucifix.
It lived. How many years did I   
beg it, implore it, not to break?
I knew each nick and scratch by heart,
the bluish blade, the broken tip,
the lines of wood-grain on the handle ...
Now it won’t look at me at all.   
The living soul has dribbled away.   
My eyes rest on it and pass on.

The local museum’s asked me to
leave everything to them:
the flute, the knife, the shrivelled shoes,
my shedding goatskin trousers
(moths have got in the fur),
the parasol that took me such a time   
remembering the way the ribs should go.
It still will work but, folded up,
looks like a plucked and skinny fowl.
How can anyone want such things?
—And Friday, my dear Friday, died of measles
seventeen years ago come March.


Elizabeth Bishop, “Crusoe in England” from The Complete Poems, 1927-1979. Copyright © 1980 by Elizabeth Bishop. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux,

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Birder

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

By Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844–1889 Gerard Manley Hopkins
     
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.


A Lady Who Knows

Stairway to Heaven Sonnet
     by Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton
        
Florida's state bird is the crane, by which we mean
green, orange, and yellow construction cranes that hang
a mile or more above us on the beach and swing their pointy
arms all around like slow-mo highwire ballerinas.
They stand while they sleep and each weekday morning
call out their metal duets then begin their pointe work.
I ask my love: do you think that crane would crush
us in our bed like palmetto bugs if it fell north?
Of course it would, my amour says and that night
wakes up screaming, flapping very human arms.
Sometimes we feel watched over as we grab our
water wings and float like the dead on top of the sea.
Sometimes our necks ache from craning at the cranes
that sway to Led Zeppelin at dawn, all flute and wonder.

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Poetry

Poetry


Marianne Moore, 1887 - 1972

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
      all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
      discovers in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
      they are
   useful. When they become so derivative as to become
      unintelligible,
   the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand: the bat
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to 

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
      wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse
      that feels a flea, the base-
   ball fan, the statistician--
      nor is it valid
         to discriminate against “business documents and

school-books”; all these phenomena are important. One must make
      a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the
      result is not poetry,
   nor till the poets among us can be
     “literalists of
      the imagination”--above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
      shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness and
      that which is on the other hand
         genuine, you are interested in poetry.