Friday, April 22, 2016

Poetry Friday: Some Thoughts about a Duck

I've been writing a series of poems called "Confessions" - each one in the voice of a different bird.  Yes, bird confessions, and some of them get pretty racy. But here's one to share for Poetry Friday:

Mallard Duck

Call me a dabbler, not a diver.
What's just under the surface
isn't much. Still, it feeds me.
Make what you will of that:
I need the water
more than the water needs me.

You can also read some of my small thoughts about big things ("On Art, Pleasure, and Beauty, No Less"), inspired by a recent trip to Europe, over at today's Books Around the Table 
The Poetry Friday round-up today is being hosted by the marvelous Jama Kim Rattigan at her blog, Alphabet Soup.  Head over there to see what other people have posted. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Poetry Friday: Szymborska's "Possibilities" - and a Challenge

Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska 1923-2012
 For Poetry Friday, I offer up this list poem by Nobel-prize winner Wislawa Szymborska. Enjoy! And here's a challenge: Write a list poem this week, inspired by these lines: "I prefer the absurdity of writing poems/ to the absurdity of not writing poems." (P.S. I will forgive Ms. Szymborska for preferring cats. We all know dogs are preferable.)


I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

                     By Wislawa Szymborska from "Nothing Twice", 1997
                     Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh
The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Robyn Hood Black over at Life on the Deckle Edge. Head over there to see what other people have posted.  And by the way, Happy 1st Day of Spring, this Sunday!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Poetry Friday: A Primrose

Bought my first primroses of the season, always an uplifting thing to do as Seattle's gray February plays itself out. Three will go in a pot outside the front door, one was brought in to grace the dining room table. So I'll share my short poem, in honor of the occasion:

Everyone knows
a primrose
means one thing:

Here's wishing you all a Happy Valentine's Day in advance - and a Happy Spring, which (as this primrose proves) is just around the corner.
The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted today by Kimberley Moran over at Written Reflections. Head over there to see what other people have posted.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Poetry Friday: C.D. Wright

“Poetry is a necessity of life. It is a function of poetry
to locate those zones inside us that would be free, and declare them so.” 
C.D. Wright, 1949-2016

The intriguing and brilliant poet C.D. Wright died this last Tuesday, January 12th. She was only 67, born the same year I was born. That fact makes me feel vulnerable, reminds me that life is short. Enough said. I'm just going to post a poem in her honor - I puzzled over it for a long time and eventually learned to love it. Hoping the same for you.

[One tangential thought: I try to pick poetry for children on Poetry Fridays, but I don't always think that the category "child" means a young child. Teens can be offered poems written for adults (though when a poet writes a poem like this, is she thinking of audience?) Let's present more complicated and beautiful poems like this one to YA readers, in addition to the growing volume of verse novels (emphasis usually on "novel," not on "verse") which go only so far to kindle a passion for poetry, and which too often assume a limited desire on the part of teens to work hard at understanding something. This is a thick poem - a poem with weight - not much white space to it, which I feel can be a common flaw in verse novels. Here's a poem that can be read, then re-read, then discussed in a high school English class - discovering "the zones inside us that would be free" - oh, I'd like to hear that discussion. What an unexpected couple of lines this poem opens with, given its title. How wave-like it settles into the listing of moments in a life. What a last word to leave us with - "Instead."

I love a poem that makes us ask a question and does not, necessarily, provide the answer. A poem that sends us to bed wondering. Anyway, with no further opinion-pushing, here's C. D. Wright:

Everything Good Between Men and Women

   has been written in mud and butter
   and barbecue sauce. The walls and
   the floors used to be gorgeous.
   The socks off-white and a near match.
   The quince with fire blight
   but we get two pints of jelly
   in the end. Long walks strengthen
   the back. You with a fever blister
   and myself with a sty. Eyes
   have we and we are forever prey
   to each other’s teeth. The torrents
   go over us. Thunder has not harmed
   anyone we know. The river coursing
   through us is dirty and deep. The left
   hand protects the rhythm. Watch
   your head. No fires should be
   unattended. Especially when wind. Each
   receives a free swiss army knife.
   The first few tongues are clearly
   preparatory. The impression
   made by yours I carry to my grave. It is
   just so sad so creepy so beautiful.
   Bless it. We have so little time
   to learn, so much... The river
   courses dirty and deep. Cover the lettuce.
   Call it a night. O soul. Flow on. Instead.

   The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Keri over at Keri Recommends. Head over there to see what other people have posted. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Poetry Friday: John Clare and Winter


"I love to see the old heath's withered brake / Mingle its crimpled leaves with furze and ling...."
"...and coy bumbarrels.../ flit down the hedgerows in the frozen plain...."

Happy Poetry Friday and Happy Holidays to you all. I'm posting a traditional winter poem today, John Clare's "Emmonsail's Heath in Winter." Clare was an English poet who wrote in the first half of the 1800's - his personal story is a sad one, but his love of the English countryside is uplifting. This particular poem touches on everything winter does to us, I think - makes us think of age, of slowing down, of shrubs and twigs and icy weather, but also of life amid the bare branches (the bouncing, chattering and flitting of birds) and the desire to "start again." In the meantime, the poem plays with words I don't hear any other place but in Clare's work - furze, ling, cloven roves, fieldfares and bumbarrels (bumbarrels!) Hope you enjoy it ~ and that your winter is a happy one.

The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted today by the always interesting and delightful Diane Mayr over at Random Noodling. Head over there to see what other people have posted. And if you've ever had trouble understanding the way fiction works, or why you like certain novels, check out my last post over at Books Around the Table before heading out.