Friday, April 30, 2010

What a month, or, the end is near.

I love pay day. I feel grown up, responsible, rich. Until tomorrow. Tomorrow begins a new month. Not a month dedicated to poetry. I hope you've gotten a little taste of rhythm, imagery, cadence, and wordplay in your life this month.

Money ~Howard Simon







Lots of writing about tourism in Chester County (there has to be a prize for the number of forked roads a county can have).
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Lots of teaching and grading about primary sources. (Listen to this one!)
You Begin ~Margaret Atwood
You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.

Lots of time spent in the hospital or on the phone worrying about a sick parent (who will be fine, thankfully!).
Hymn to God, My God, in my Sickness ~John Donne

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp'd, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
"Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down."

And tomorrow, a tea party.
The Tea Party ~Jessica Nelson North

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.
Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Be Warm Begins! #2

Our first meet-up went really well at Besso's last night! Yes, it was made clear to me that, again, I have chosen the most labor intensive way to do things. But in the end, we all agreed to be responsible for one area--like scarves or washcloths--and then pool them all together at the beginning of the fall and see what else we might need or how best to distribute. I took one for the team and agreed to see what could be accomplished in the way of socks. So, I bought my first pair of double pointed needles and sock yarn last night. The needles are shiny and purple and the yarn is soft and white. Think baby blanket soft and white. Sigh of ineffable satisfaction.

Meet ups will be twice monthly in Henderson or in Jackson, alternately. And if you can come, you can come. Soooooo excited!! I can taste it! Some friends here who have friends amongst the homeless of Memphis keep relaying stories to me about how much these folks suffered with the winter cold, especially in want of hats. Maybe, just maybe, we can make a little difference in that this winter?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Venue Change

Be Warm Meet UP has changed from Green Frog in Jackson to Besso's in Henderson. A lot of our Jackson folks couldn't make it! Also congratulations to Leah, on the birth of Clara Elizabeth--four weeks ahead of schedule! Babies are blessings.

I found some fun baby quotes, that I think Leah and Allen would like:
"The old Irish when immersing a babe at baptism left out the right arm so that it would remain pagan for good fighting."

"It is the nature of babies to be in bliss."--Deepak Chopra

"A baby is God's opinion that life should go on."--Carl Sandburg

"Raising a baby is part joy and part guerilla warfare."--Ed Asner.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Those great goddesses of peace

Back in ye olde days, I worked as a bridal consultant. Zipping and pinning and steaming, I could, movie-like, anticipate the litany of the remarks a bride or her mother would make: "This will be the happiest day of my life. Today is the day we love each other the most. Today my family means the most to me. Today I love him the most. This is the best time of our lives. The wedding has to be the most perfect day of my life." The air was palpable with the apex of someone's life: the climax in the narrative of their life. I could taste it, and it was bittersweet. I knew beyond knowing that the day had come to resign when I told a bride I had vowed to let my life operate on a ten-best principle.

Of course, accepting a ten-best principle means also adopting a ten-worst principle. On February 13, 2001, on June 24, 2001, on September 11, 2001 on March 20, 2003, on April 17, 2004, on February 16, 2007, on June 1, 2009, on January 30, 2010--I cracked open my well-read copy of The Colossus and Other Poems and reread "Lorelei." So often--I should have it memorized. I don't except the closing line--"Stone, stone. Ferry me down there." Did Plath have a death wish or a peace wish? Probably both. Hearing this expression of the agony, the wish for peace, well. Helps. I wish it had helped Sylvia.

It is no night to drown in:
A full moon, river lapsing
Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,

The blue water-mists dropping
Scrim after scrim like fishnets
Though fishermen are sleeping,

The massive castle turrets
Doubling themselves in a glass
All stillness. Yet these shapes float

Up toward me, troubling the face
Of quiet. From the nadir
They rise, their limbs ponderous

With richness, hair heavier
Than sculptured marble. They sing
Of a world more full and clear

Than can be. Sisters, your song
Bears a burden too weighty
For the whorled ear's listening

Here, in a well-steered country,
Under a balanced ruler.
Deranging by harmony

Beyond the mundane order,
Your voices lay siege. You lodge
On the pitched reefs of nightmare,

Promising sure harborage;
By day, descant from borders
Of hebetude, from the ledge

Also of high windows. Worse
Even than your maddening
Song, your silence. At the source

Of your ice-hearted calling --
Drunkenness of the great depths.
O river, I see drifting

Deep in your flux of silver
Those great goddesses of peace.
Stone, stone, ferry me down there.

Listening to Ray Lamontagne

Monday, April 19, 2010

Be Warm Begins!

Rosalind Russell in The Women. During this scene, Russell ceaselessly knits as she uncovers that her estranged cousin's ex-husband's mistress-turned-wife is now the mistress-turned-fiancee of the husband of the Contess DeLave, whom she met at the Dude Ranch-Home-For-Divorcing-Wives. They've lost their equilibrium.

Be Warm meets up Thursday at 7:00 at Green Frog Coffee at E. Baltimore Street, Jackson. We're meeting to decide how we want to go about clothing the homeless and needy in our area through our humble needles and a few balls of yarn. (Few balls--giggle.)

Mother by Prabha Raj
Watch her, as she
Sits and knits.

As pair of needles
Criss cross,
I see her thoughts
Setting her wrinkles
To play.

The moment she completes
The picking of stitches,
Her wrinkles
Erase out.

I call it
The juxtaposition of
Mind and sentiment.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A favorite

My heart, being hungry, feeds on food
The fat of heart despise
Beauty where beauty never stood
And sweet where no sweet lies
I gather to my querulous need
Having a growing heart to feed.

It may be, when my heart is dull,
Having attained its girth
I shall not find so beautiful
The meager shapes of earth
Nor linger in the rain to mark
The smell of tansy through the dark

~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

National Poetry Month: Captain Obvious edition

The President is dead, murdered. Four years of civil war, one family trauma after another, the freaky dream in which he arrived late at his own funeral. Rarely do we see politicians carry their internal strife so clearly on their faces. Walt Whitman thought so too when he penned "O Captain, My Captain." As usual, this poem leaves me with a catch in breath at the speaker's anguish. Rereading this poem recently, I was surprised at the line, "Hear Captain, Dear Father!" For me this poem has often evoked the image of a child staggered by his father's mortality. I just didn't remember the line being in there.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Listening to The Decemberists "Sons & Daughters"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dirt, or, How I Spent My Weekend.

My sisters and I congregated at Nicole's house this weekend for a little digging in the dirt. Each spring, Nicole's gardening plans expand a little more, and this year it involved the planting of trees. Lo, these many trips to Lowe's and back, and a few psuedo-arguments later, a bing sweet cherry is safely transplanted triangularly between the driveway and the front walk. The real challenge--besides getting two people to listen whilst one person talked--was managing the overhead electric lines. Apparently the city thinks it best for lines to run directly over the middle of your front lawn, and not down on the edge along the street. Deep power lines call for short trees. But at the end of the day, we planted a beautiful tree that will have REAL fruit growing on it! We also planted dahlia, fuschia, Mediterranean heather and grasses, started a compost pile, and dug up some ugly old bushes. Yay for spring time!

All this potential for beauty around us made me realize that, in short, I've been limiting my vision to it. Having responsibilities and no money should require that I take time to sit on my front porch and read a book and identify cloud shapes, not the opposite. Why would I do this? Well, the answer is probably one that most adults would give. But I am going to do it--be open to all my surroundings instead of living with blinders on.

Wordsworth is SO NOT my favorite poet. But my favorite English professor loved this poem, and it seems like such an apropos poem for this weekend.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Songs are kinda like poems, right? I mean, they rhyme.

I've got reservations
About so many things
But not about you.
Not about you.

~the incomparable Wilco

I see I used the word "incomparable". (I left this post and came back to it about 20 minutes later.) In a moment of silliness I used it. It's the word you throw out when you need to throw a word about a band, an artist, something that moves you. It would be insufferably prideful or at least blindly fallacious to say anything is incomparable. For example, the weather today, albeit blessedly invigorating, I could compare to every other Easter Sunday I've lived through (if I could remember them). My memory is quite faulty these days--purposefully and accidentally. I own it, as I own the names of two people who aren't comparable (certainly not to each other), and of them I was thinking when this song came on.