Merry Summer Solstice!

Merry Summer Solstice!
El Sol

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All Day I Was With Trees

Across wild country on solitary roads
Within a fugue of parting, I was consoled
By birches sovereign whiteness in sad woods,
Dark glow of pines, a single elm's distinction -
I was consoled by trees.

In February we see the structure change -
Or the light change, and so the way we see it.
Tensile and delicate, the trees stand now
Against the early skies, the frail fresh blue,
In an attentive stillness.

Naked, the trees are singularly present,
Although their secret force is locked in
Who could believe that the new sap is rising
And soon we shall draw up amazing sweetness
From stark maples??

All day I was with trees, a fugue of parting,
All day I lived in long cycles, not brief hours.
A tenderness of light before new falls of snow
Lay on the barren landscape like a new promise.
Love nourished every vein.

May Sarton

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Twilight

On a clear winter's evening
The crescent moon

And the round squirrels' nest
In the bare oak

Are equal planets.

Anne Porter

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

Joy Harjo

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum

When I was asked by Poetry to write an article for them I was ecstatic. I was flattered. I felt important! I agreed immediately. About twenty minutes after sending my e-mail of acceptance I paused to triumphantly sharpen my claws on the bookcase when I noticed the blazing, neon writing on the wall. It said: YOU'VE NEVER EVEN PASSED ENGLISH 101 AND EVERYONE WHO READS THIS MAGAZINE WILL KNOW IT. Why do I care? I'm not sure. I think it's because I don't want to let poetry down. Poetry is such a delicate, pretty lady with a candy exoskeleton on the outside of her crepe-paper dress. I am an awkward, heavy-handed mule of a high school dropout. I guess I just need permission to be in the same room with poetry.

I think the fear began in about fifth grade. Right off the top they said poetry was supposed to have "form." Even writing a tiny haiku became a wrestling match with a Claymation Cyclops for me. (I watched a lot of Sinbad.) We aren't too cool for poetry; it's the other way around. At least that's the impression I took from public school. The fact that these feelings would remain into adulthood is ridiculous. We all have the right to poetry! How could I still think it's for other people? Smarter people. What's doubly confusing is I don't have the same reservations when poetry is accompanied by music. Perhaps I feel that way because there is music all around us_—_it's the wallpaper of our lives. It's not considered precious in American culture unless a symphony is performing it.

I do know when a string of printed words busts my little dam and the tears spill over and I sponge them up with my T-shirt. I couldn't give you that formula before it happens, it_ just hits me like a bat to the face. That's a sweet, hot, amazing, embarrassing moment. It even makes me feel a little included, as if_ I have to be "ready for the poetry" for it to be happening.

I can't choose which kind of poetry I like best. Sonnets? Prose? I don't know the terminology. I just blurt out some fragmented gibberish into the vast, woodsy country of poetry. It freezes in midair. Here come some examples now . . .

Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus haunts me. Aaron's death speech is veiled, venomous gospel music. I read it over and over even though I've already memorized it like a teenage girl in love. W.H. Auden scares me under the couch (even when he's being funny). I hold my flashlight on "The Witnesses," with its haunting "humpbacked surgeons/And the scissors man," until my arm shakes, my trusty dictionary in my other hand. Dorothy Parker makes me manic! I can't even make it through the first three lines of "The Godmother" without bursting into tears. Lynda Barry and Sherman Alexie save my life constantly. They battle identity crisis with a sense of_ humor and a language that speaks so hard to me because they came from my home, in my own time, and they talk to me in our special parlance. They tell me I'm not crazy because they remember it too. It really is the old Washington State that created my personal brain-picture ABC's. (D is for "Douglas fir.") The same Washington State I can never go back to. Barry and Alexie volunteer to go in my place. Their memories make friends with mine. I can't live without them.

What do these poets have in common? They don't write sycophantic, roman-numeral-volumed postcards to God. They don't get all "love-ity-love-love" either. I get the sense they imagine their audience and want to comfort them. They are so good at it they even have the ability to comfort us with scariness. Sadness too. I think that is a powerful magic. They don't just write poetry either; they are playwrights and painters and singers and novelists.

How can we help them out? I guess we keep on needing them, even if it's kind of a secret. If the poets handed out anonymous comment cards for us shy poetry lovers to fill out so they could get a better idea of what we needed, I would direct them to the Osbourne Brothers' bluegrass classic, "Rocky Top." They say in two lines what poets and writers "Anna Karenina" themselves to death to convey, about a girl who's "wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop/I still dream about that." If those lines were written about me I could lie down and die. It is perfection. Uncool Perfection.

by Neko Case from Poetry, November 2007

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Like a storm
of hornets, the
little white planets
layer and relayer
as they whip around
in their high orbits,
getting more and
more dense before
they crash against
our crust. A maelstrom
of ferocious little
fists and punches,
so hard to believe
once it's past.

Kay Ryan

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Like walking in fog, in fog and mud,
do you remember, love? We kept,
for once, to the tourist path, boxed in mist,
conscious of just our feet and breath,
and at the peak, sat hand in hand, and let
the cliffs we’d climbed and cliffs to come
reveal themselves and be veiled again
quietly, with the prevailing wind.

Kate Clanchy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rain – Birdoswald

I stand under a leafless tree
more still, in this mouse-pattering
thrum of rain,
than cattle shifting in the field.
It is more dark than light.
A Chinese painter’s brush of deepening grey
moves in a subtle tide.

The beasts are darker islands now.
Wet-stained and silvered by the rain
they suffer night,
marooned as still as stone or tree.
We sense each other’s quiet.

Almost, death could come
inevitable, unstrange
as is this dusk and rain,
and I should be no more
myself, than raindrops
glimmering in last light
on black ash buds

or night beasts in a winter field.

Frances Horovitz

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Geese

Today as I hang out the wash I see them again, a code
as urgent as elegant,
tapering with goals.
For days they have been crossing. We live beneath these geese

as if beneath the passage of time, or a most perfect heading.
Sometimes I fear their relevance.
Closest at hand,
between the lines,

the spiders imitate the paths the geese won't stray from,
imitate them endlessly to no avail:
things will not remain connected,
will not heal,

and the world thickens with texture instead of history,
texture instead of place.
Yet the small fear of the spiders
binds and binds

the pins to the lines, the lines to the eaves, to the pincushion bush,
as if, at any time, things could fall further apart
and nothing could help them
recover their meaning. And if these spiders had their way,

chainlink over the visible world,
would we be in or out? I turn to go back in.
There is a feeling the body gives the mind
of having missed something, a bedrock poverty, like falling

without the sense that you are passing through one world,
that you could reach another
anytime. Instead the real
is crossing you,

your body an arrival
you know is false but can't outrun. And somewhere in between
these geese forever entering and
these spiders turning back,

this astonishing delay, the everyday, takes place.

Jorie Graham

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sudden Journey

Maybe I’m seven in the open field –
the straw grass so high
only the top of my head makes a curve
of brown in the yellow. Rain then.
First a little. A few drops on my
wrist, the right wrist. More rain.
My shoulders, my chin. Until I’m looking up
to let my eyes take the bliss.
I open my face. Let the teeth show. I
pull my shirt down past the collar-bones.
I’m still a boy under my breast spots.
I can drink anywhere. The rain. My
skin shattering. Up suddenly, needing
to gulp, turning with my tongue, my arms out
running, running in the hard, cold plenitude
of all those who reach earth by falling.

Tess Gallagher

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Let the day grow on you upward
through your feet,
the vegetal knuckles,

to your knees of stone,
until by evening you are a black tree;
feel, with evening,

the swifts thicken your hair,
the new moon rising out of your forehead,
and the moonlit veins of silver

running from your armpits
like rivulets under white leaves.
Sleep, as ants

cross over your eyelids.
You have never possessed anything
as deeply as this.

This is all you have owned
from the first outcry
through forever;

you can never be dispossessed.

Derek Walcott

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not one
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won awards
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.

C. D. Wright

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wild Peaches

When the world turns completely upside down
You say we will emigrate to the Eastern Shore
Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;
We’ll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,
You’ll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown
Homespun, dyed butternut’s dark gold color.
Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,
We’ll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and scuppernong;
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.

Elinor Wylie

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Here are the perfect
fans of the scallops,
quahogs, and weedy mussels
still holding their orange fruit---
and here are the whelks---
each the size of a fist,
but always cracked and broken---
clearly they have been traveling
under the sky-blue waves
for a long time.
All my life
I have been restless---
I have felt there is something
more wonderful than gloss---
than wholeness---
than staying at home.
I have not been sure what it is.
But every morning on the wide shore
I pass what is perfect and shining
to look for the whelks, whose edges
have rubbed so long against the world
they have snapped and crumbled---
they have almost vanished,
with the last relinquishing
of their unrepeatable energy,
back into everything else.
When I find one
I hold it in my hand,
I look out over that shaking fire,
I shut my eyes. Not often,
but now and again there's a moment
when the heart cries aloud:
yes, I am willing to be
that wild darkness,
that long, blue body of light.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Orkney / This Life

It is big sky and its changes,
the sea all around and the waters within.
It is the way sea and sky
work off each other constantly,
like people meeting in Alfred Street,
each face coming away with a hint
of the other's face pressed in it.
It is the way a week-long gale
ends and folk emerge to hear
a single bird cry way high up.

It is the way you lean to me
and the way I lean to you, as if
we are each other's prevailing;
how we connect along our shores,
the way we are tidal islands
joined for hours then inaccessible,
I'll go for that, and smile when I
pick sand off myself in the shower.
The way I am an inland loch to you
when a clatter of white whoops and rises...

It is the way Scotland looks to the South,
the way we enter friends' houses
to leave what we came with, or flick
the kettle's switch and wait.
This is where I want to live,
close to where the heart gives out,
ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky
where birds fly through instead of prayers
while in Hoy Sound the ferry's engines thrum
this life this life this life.

Andrew Greig

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


So early it's still almost dark out
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

Raymond Carver