Friday, February 10, 2017

Poetry Friday: A Poem I Wish I'd Written

Here is one of my favorite poems.  If I'd written it, I'd die happy. Of course, I think I'll die happy even though I didn't write it. But I love sentences that begin with "If..." and end with "I'd die happy." So many possibilities!

The poem, an ars poetica if you read it carefully, is by the wonderful Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh. Just look at the masterful way he names places and objects. Dazzling.

[The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Katie at The Logonauts. When you've read this poem, head over there to see what other people have posted.]

Kerr's Ass

We borrowed the loan of Kerr's ass
To go to Dundalk with butter,
Brought him home the evening before the market
And exile that night in Mucker.

We heeled up the cart before the door,
We took the harness inside —
The straw-stuffed straddle, the broken breeching
With bits of bull-wire tied;

The winkers that had no choke-band,
The collar and the reins . . . 
In Ealing Broadway, London Town
I name their several names

Until a world comes to life —
Morning, the silent bog,
And the God of imagination waking
In a Mucker fog. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Poetry Friday: Naomi Shihab Nye

I've been a bit under the weather lately (better now) and have posted infrequently, but I want to be sure to share this lovely poem by Naomi Shihab Nye for today's Poetry Friday. Nye has just been named the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecturer 2017 by the ALSC, and she is a role model for all of us - as a poet, as a citizen, and as a child of immigrants.

And, since poetry and flowers are such a sweet combnation, especially in winter (untrue - it's any season!) here is a photo of beautiful flowers from two poetry friends. (Drat - technical problems....I'll post the photo later.) BTW: Snow on the ground tonight in Seattle!

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.
Skin had hope, that’s what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers—silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin’s secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The World So Sweet

Keeping it simple this year! Hope your conversations around the table were cheerful, your turkey was delicious....ditto stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, butter roll, jam, green bean casserole, cranberry velvet, fruit salad, pickles, olives, pie (marionberry, pumpkin, apple),whipped cream, etc.

Here's my offering for Poetry Friday:

Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you, God, for everything.

(Well, maybe not everything. But quite a lot!)

The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Carol at Carol's Corner.
Head over there for links to what other people have posted 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Poetry Friday: Raking the Election Leaves with Aeschylus

"So he won. The nation takes a deep breath….We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure.”

Raking the Leaves

Tuesday I left the leaves for later, now
it’s Wednesday and later’s here. It’s here
like none of the pundits predicted, unless 
you mean Aeschylus, famous for his tragedies,
who told us we would know the future
when it came – until then, we should forget it.

Today the future came, banged on the door.
I didn’t answer, but it came in anyway, so
I went outside to rake leaves from the apple tree, 
remembering an oracle predicted a falling object 
would kill Aeschylus. For some reason he felt safe 
outside, but he died when an eagle flew over him 
and dropped a turtle on his head. Dropping dead 
like that, imagine. Imagine dropping dead at all.

My imagination goes all wonky when the world 
buckles and shakes. I calm myself with a rake 
and make a pile of leaves. Did I say a pile 
of something? I forget what exactly. And what 
was I saying? It's gotten hard to think. Oh, yes, 
a pile of leaves, once green, now orange and dead.   
Next up? Nothing to be done but clean the shed. 

Aeschylus  525-456 B.C.

Jama Kim Rattigan is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today at her blog, the wonderful and delicious Alphabet Soup . Head over there to see what people have posted.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Poetry Friday: A Poem by Ekaterina Yosifova

Bulgarian journalist and poet Ekaterina Yosifova

I sorted through a big pile of random papers the other day, trying to get organized (ha!), and found a poem I tore out of a review discovered in a neighbor's free Little Library - didn't remember what review it was that I'd found it in, though I've now looked it up (Black Warrior Review, Fall/Winter 1991.) I re-read the poem and, after maybe a year or two of its being buried in one stack of papers and another, I continue to love it, so I'll share it here today. A small treasure, found, then lost, then found again. As autumn rains come down, and Novembrrrrrrrrr approaches, I begin to think of winter. So - "Beneath Winter's Roof" - what could be there? Here's what Ekaterina Yosifova found:
Beneath Winter's Roof

Let us honor the offerings,
let us cut quinces for the wine,
let us bring out memory's salty grapes.

Yes, it was wonderful,
we experienced all we could
(which wasn't so little, after all)
and pain is joy's companion.

The heart's eternal love song--
this priceless game that can rescind all verdicts.
We'd wake up ready for joy
since we were children, taught to forgive.

We tried out a scream and all kinds of silence,
all kinds of words-- the earth's big enough,
we won't weigh her down
--but we could even keep silent like old friends.

Wonderful world, where
the most important questions go unanswered,
where sweet wells don't run dry,

and the future
will be no less vast without us.

                   Ekaterina Yosifova  (translation by Lisa Sapinkopf)

Here is a link to a brief interview of the poet, who is Bulgarian. In it, she says two things that interest me. First this, about reading and writing poetry:

It doesn’t matter which readers, it doesn’t matter whose poetry – as long as it’s Poetry. It exists. Everywhere and at all times, since man (pre-literacy) felt excited by owning this peculiar sense of understanding, entering…We need it. The encounters are joyful." 

That's nice, isn't it, the feeling that poetry is a "peculiar sense of understanding" and that encountering it is "joyful"?

Later in the interview, she talks about being a young woman in Sofia in the late 60's, unable to find poetry translated from the English:  

American literature was starting to get published [in Bulgaria]; there were lines in front of the bookstores, more and more fiction was being translated, with “clarifying” forewords. But not poetry. Was it because poetry did not yield to “clarifications”?

Poetry not yielding to clarification. I like that idea.

Don't forget to vote on November 8th!!!

And don't forget right now to head over to the Poetry Friday round-up - it's being hosted by the wonderful Linda Baie over at Teacher Dance (and while you're there, you might just learn a thing or two about "stirdulation." And no, despite the sound of that word, it's not an activity baristas engage in.)