Perseid Meteor Showers

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Micah, Ruth, & Taha ~ beginnings & endings

This poem goes out to Micah, with all my love, on his 10th birthday ~

On Turning Ten

 The whole idea of it makes me feel
 like I'm coming down with something,
 something worse than any stomach ache
 or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
 a kind of measles of the spirit,
 a mumps of the psyche,
 a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

 You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
 but that is because you have forgotten
 the perfect simplicity of being one
 and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
 But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
 At four I was an Arabian wizard.
 I could make myself invisible
 by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
 At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

 But now I am mostly at the window
 watching the late afternoon light.
 Back then it never fell so solemnly
 against the side of my tree house,
 and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
 as it does today,
 all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

 This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
 as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
 It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
 time to turn the first big number.

 It seems only yesterday I used to believe
 there was nothing under my skin but light.
 If you cut me I could shine.
 But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
 I skin my knees. I bleed.

Billy Collins


*************************

Poems

When you come back to me
it will be crow time
and flycatcher time,
with rising spirals of gnats
between the apple trees.
Every weed will be quadrupled,
coarse, welcoming
and spine-tipped.
The crows, their black flapping
bodies, their long calling
toward the mountain;
relatives, like mine,
ambivalent, eye-hooded;
hooting and tearing.
And you will take me in
to your fractal meaningless
babble; the quick of my mouth,
the madness of my tongue.

Ruth Stone
(1915-2011)

************************


And so

it has taken me

all of sixty years

to understand

that water is the finest drink,

and bread the most delicious food,

and that art is worthless

unless it plants

a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.

Taha Muhammad Ali
(1931-2011)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Three for Thanksgiving!

Yam

The potato that ate all its carrots,
can see in the dark like a mole,

its eyes the scars
from centuries of shovels, tines.

May spelled backwards
because it hates the light,

pawing its way, padding along,
there in the catacombs.

Bruce Guernsey

********************************************

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Joy Harjo


**********************************************

Totem

All Souls’ over, the roast seeds eaten, I set  
on a backporch post our sculpted pumpkin  
under the weather, warm still for November.  
Night and day it gapes in at us
through the kitchen window, going soft
in the head. Sleepwalker-slow, a black rash of ants  
harrows this hollow globe, munching  
the pale peach flesh, sucking its seasoned  
last juices dry. In a week, when the ants and  
humming flies are done, only a hard remorseless light  
drills and tenants it through and through. Within,  
it turns mould-black in patches, stays  
days like this while the weather takes it  
in its shifty arms: wide eye-spaces shine,  
the disapproving mouth holds firm. Another week,  
a sad leap forward: sunk to one side
so an eye-socket’s almost blocked, it becomes
a monster of its former self. Human, it would have  
rotted beyond unhappiness and horror  
to some unspeakable subject state—its nose  
no more than a vertical hole, the thin  
bridge of amber between nose and mouth  
in ruins. The other socket opens
wider than ever: disbelief.
                                        It’s all downhill
from here: knuckles of sun, peremptory
steady fingers of frost, strain all day and night—
cracking the rind, kneading the knotted fibres  
free. The crown, with its top-knot mockery  
of stalk, caves in; the skull buckles; the whole  
sad head drips tallowy tears: the end
is in sight. In a day or two it topples on itself  
like ruined thatch, pus-white drool spidering  
from the corner of the mouth, worming its way
down the body-post. All dignity to the winds,  
it bows its bogeyman face of dread
to the inevitable.
                           And now, November almost out,  
it is in the bright unseasonable sunshine
a simmer of pulp, a slow bake, amber shell speckled  
chalk-grey with lichen. Light strikes and strikes  
its burst surfaces: it sags, stays at the end of  
its brief tether—a helmet of dark circles, death caul.  
Here is the last umbilical gasp, everybody’s  
nightmare parent, the pitiless system
rubbing our noses in it. But pity poor lantern-head  
with his lights out, glob by greasy glob
going back where he came from: as each seed-shaped  
drop falls free, it catches and clutches
for one split second the light. When the pumpkin  
lapses to our common ground at last—where  
a swaddle of snow will fold it in no time
from sight—I try to take in the empty space it’s left  
on top of the wooden post: it is that empty space.

Eamon Grennan

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

After a Rainstorm

Because I have come to the fence at night,
the horses arrive also from their ancient stable.
They let me stroke their long faces, and I note
in the light of the now-merging moon

how they, a Morgan and a Quarter, have been
by shake-guttered raindrops
spotted around their rumps and thus made
Appaloosas, the ancestral horses of this place.

Maybe because it is night, they are nervous,
or maybe because they too sense
what they have become, they seem
to be waiting for me to say something

to whatever ancient spirits might still abide here,
that they might awaken from this strange dream,
in which there are fences and stables and a man
who doesn’t know a single word they understand.

Robert Wrigley

Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11

Let Us Now Praise Prime Numbers

Let us now praise prime numbers
With our fathers who begat us:
The power, the peculiar glory of prime numbers
Is that nothing begat them,
No ancestors, no factors,
Adams among the multiplied generations.

None can foretell their coming.
Among the ordinal numbers
They do not reserve their seats, arrive unexpected.
Along the lines of cardinals
They rise like surprising pontiffs,
Each absolute, inscrutable, self-elected.

In the beginning where chaos
Ends and zero resolves,
They crowd the foreground prodigal as forest,
But middle distance thins them,
Far distance to infinity
Yields them rare as unreturning comets.

O prime improbable numbers,
Long may formula-hunters
Steam in abstraction, waste to skeleton patience:
Stay non-conformist, nuisance,
Phenomena irreducible
To system, sequence, pattern or explanation.

Helen Spaulding

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'd Like a Little Flashlight

and I'd like to get naked and into bed and be hot radiating heat from the inside these sweaters and fleeceys do nothing to keep out the out or keep my vitals in—some drafty body I've got leaking in and out in all directions I'd like to get naked into bed but hot on this early winter afternoon already dusky grim and not think of all the ways I've gone about the world and shown myself a fool, shame poking holes in my thinned carapace practically lacy and woefully feminine I'd like to get naked into bed and feel if not hot then weightless as I once was in the sensory deprivation tank in Madison, Wisconsin circa 1992 I paid money for that perfectly body-temperatured silent pitch dark tank to do what? play dead and not die? that was before email before children before I knew anything more than the deaths of a few loved ones which were poisoned nuts of swallowed grief but nothing of life of life giving which cuts open the self bursting busted unsolvable I'd like to get naked! into the bed of my life but hot hot my little flicker-self trumped up somehow blind and deaf to all the dampening misery of my friends' woe-oh-ohs and I'd like a little flashlight to write poems with this lousy day not this poem I'm writing under the mostly flat blaze of bulb but a poem written with the light itself a tiny fleeting love poem to life hot hot hot a poem that would say "oh look here a bright spot of life, oh look another!"

Rachel Zucker

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday poem on Thursday!

The God of Loneliness

It’s a cold Sunday February morning
and I’m one of eight men waiting
for the doors of Toys R Us to open
in a mall on the eastern tip of Long Island.
We’ve come for the Japanese electronic game
that’s so hard to find. Last week, I waited
three hours for a store in Manhattan
to disappoint me. The first today, bundled
in six layers, I stood shivering in the dawn light
reading the new Aeneid translation, which I hid
when the others came, stamping boots
and rubbing gloveless hands, joking about
sacrificing sleep for ungrateful sons. “My boy broke
two front teeth playing hockey,” a man wearing
shorts laughs. “This is his reward.” My sons
will leap into my arms, remember this morning
all their lives. “The game is for my oldest boy,
just back from Iraq,” a man in overalls says
from the back of the line. “He plays these games
in his room all day. I’m not worried, he’ll snap out of it,
he’s earned his rest.” These men fix leaks, lay
foundations for other men’s dreams without complaint.
They’ve been waiting in the cold since Aeneas
founded Rome on rivers of blood. Virgil understood that
death begins and never ends, that it’s the god of loneliness.
Through the window, a clerk shouts, “We’ve only five.”
The others seem not to know what to do with their hands,
tuck them under their arms, or let them hang,
naked and useless. Is it because our hands remember
what they held, the promises they made? I know
exactly when my boys will be old enough for war.
Soon three of us will wait across the street at Target,
because it’s what men do for their sons.

Philip Schultz