Monday, March 30, 2009

Everything We Do - Peter Meinke

Everything we do is for our first loves
whom we have lost irrevocably
who have married insurance salesmen
and moved to Topeka
and never think of us at all.

We fly planes & design buildings
and write poems
that all say Sally I love you
I'll never love anyone else
Why didn't you know I was going to be a poet?

The walks to school, the kisses in the snow
gather as we dream backwards, sweetness with age:
our legs are young again, our voices
strong and happy, we're not afraid.
We don't know enough to be afraid.

And now
we hold (hidden, hopeless) the hope
that some day
she may fly in our plane
enter our building read our poem

And that night, deep in her dream,
Sally, far in darkness, in Topeka,
with the salesman lying beside her,
will cry out
our unfamiliar name.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Unities of Drama - Gordon Gilsdorf

The time of the representation and that of the action represented must be exactly coincident... and the scene of the action must be constant.
-Ludovico Castelvetro, Poetica (1576)

If her great-grandfather,
like seed wanting to die
in soil along the landtrails
beyond the waterways of immigration,
had refused his roots to Ohio
and had guessed his last coins
could buy him Wisconsin loam,
she might have come to me
through the stubble fields
of summer's golden barley
in a long-past harvest
swinging her sweating pail,
giving it with a brushing touch
as fresh as the water itself
or her blush in cool calico.
She might have lengthened
the already-long day's work
with a word or a smile, leaving,
as she turned toward sunset,
for my heart, I recall,
was at a crossroads then.
Instead, when she came,
three generations late,
she had two frosted cokes
from a noisy hallway automat
and we negotiated the July heat
in a terrazzo classroom,
cooled in the garb of our vows,
far from the crossroads then.
Her blush rankled like barley stubble,
a flush of care not to touch,
and we wondered under our words
if Castelvetro believed his "unities,"
if somehow we had cheated
his time and place and action
to shape the little drama
that is both the planting
and the harvest of our love.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

First Day of Spring - Ann Hudson

It's a wild March morning in Chicago, the wind
dragging its nets through the streets.
Trawling for its usual and plentiful treasures:

crushed styrofoam cups, torn newspapers,
lost gloves, a blizzard of fast food napkins.
I take my eight-year-old Toyota

through the car wash. Idling in neutral,
I ease past the powerful, shaggy brushes,
the nozzles spraying limp foam onto the hood,

and remember the sick excitement I felt
when my father took my sisters and me through,
all the windows of our '67 baby blue Valiant

tightly cranked, the antenna pushed into its sleeve,
our doors locked against who-knows-what,
the three of us with our identical haircuts

buckled into the back seat, our identical shoes
drumming the vinyl. I was sure
those huge blue brushes would crash

right through the windshield and pin us to our seats.
At eight, a child sure of impending danger this
was about all the thrill I could handle.

I pull out of the car wash into the tangle
of traffic, past the bars that open at nine in the morning
and stay open, past the disheveled and pacing junkies,

past the crumbling theater draped in shadow and disrepair,
and make slow headway against the wind
that gathers the stray grocery bags all over the city,

whipping them against the masts
of budding hawthorns, silver maples,
bald cypress, green ash, green ash.

Morning Song - Sara Teasdale

A diamond of a morning
Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
And left the faint white moon.

O white moon, you are lonely,
It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
Only the lonely are free

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Thaw - Gordon Gilsdorf

Most things
die reluctantly,
to the life
they know,

like snow
trying to hold
the land
far beyond
the middle
of March.

How can it know
that April
will not have
violets without warm rains

and that
is the only way
to inherit
the earth?

in Just- - e.e. cummings

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
balloonMan whistles

Chicago - Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Monday, March 9, 2009

At Last The Secret Is Out - W.H. Auden

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
Still waters run deep, my dear, there's never smoke without fire.

Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.

For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the convent wall,
The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall,
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss,
There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.

High Water Mark - David Shumate

It's hard to believe, but at one point the water rose to this level. No one had seen anything like it. People on rooftops. Cows and coffins floating through the streets. Prisoners carrying invalids from their rooms. The barkeeper consoling the preacher. A coon hound who showed up a month later forty miles downstream. And all that mud it left behind. You never forget times like those. They become part of who you are. You describe them to your grandchildren. But they think it's just another tale in which animals talk and people live forever. I know it's not the kind of thing you ought to say... But I wouldn't mind seeing another good flood before I die. It's been dry for decades. Next time I think I'll just let go and drift downstream and see where I end up.

The Meaning of Life - Nancy Fitzgerald

There is a moment just before
a dog vomits when its stomach
heaves dry, pumping what's deep
inside the belly to the mouth.
If you are fast you can grab
her by the collar and shove her
out the door, avoid the slimy bile,
hunks of half chewed food
from landing on the floor.
You must be quick, decisive,
controlled, and if you miss
the cue and the dog erupts
en route, you must forgive
her quickly and give yourself
to scrubbing up the mess.

Most of what I have learned
in life leads back to this.

100,000 Fireflies - Stephen Merritt (of The Magnetic Fields)

I have a mandolin
I play it all night long
It makes me want to kill myself
I also have a Dobro
Made in some mountain range
Sounds like a mountain range in love
But when I turn up the tone
On my electric guitar...

I'm afraid of the dark without you close to me

I went out to the forest and caught
100,000 fireflies
As they ricochet 'round the room
They remind me of your starry eyes
Someone else's might
Not have made me so sad
But this is the worst night I ever had

'Cause I'm afraid of the dark without you close to me
Always was

You won't be happy with me
But give me one more chance
You won't be happy anyway

Why do we still live here
In this repulsive town?
All our friends are in New York

Why do we keep shrieking
When we mean soft things?
We should be whispering all the time

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

But by then her acceptance of her fate was so deep that she was not even upset by the certainty that all possibility of rectification were closed to her.

-One Hundred Years Of Solitude

If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year - Tina Kelley

If life bloomed once a year, if we sat in dim rooms the rest of the days, resting,
she would come here for that noontime, to see children waist high,
their attentions wandering like wall eyes, making noises that sound to a single person
like severe distress or pain, but mean delight. She would hear a father shouting
"Olivia! Wait for Maggie!" whatever good that does. Sun off the lake
makes bright veins on the underside of a Japanese red pine,
lightens the bark like a buttercup held under it. She would see the limp-legged wasp,
the bumblebee with jodhpurs of pollen, straddling the sweet stigma of the purple hosta.
She would see the shadows of the waterbug's feet, circled by sharp light.

If she could have her love for this garden only one day a year
she would take souvenirs. Everyone does — a snapshot, a sketch, a stone, a sentence,
two nuggets of food for the koi, moist, in the pocket of size 6x shorts. The honeybees
hump their rumps over their work, walking on the globe of a cloverhead.
She sees that the waterbugs move so seldom, is each polished slide an annual event?
She would lie down and read and walk away stronger,
with the memory of the comfort of the sun on the soles of her bare feet.
Bullfrog, dragonfly, buttercup, snow lantern, vine maple, honeybee,
cloverhead, waterbug, moonlight: She wants this by moonlight.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bees - Jane Hirshfield

In every instant, two gates.
One opens to fragrant paradise, one to hell.
Mostly we go through neither.

Mostly we nod to our neighbor,
lean down to pick up the paper,
go back into the house.

But the faint cries—ecstasy? horror?
Or did you think it the sound
of distant bees,
making only the thick honey of this good life?