Joy Harjo

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Surprise - Happy 82nd Birthday Dad!

Vertical

Perhaps the purpose
of leaves is to conceal
the verticality
of trees
which we notice
in December
as if for the first time:
row after row
of dark forms
yearning upwards.
And since we will be
horizontal ourselves
for so long,
let us now honor
the gods
of the vertical:
stalks of wheat
which to the ant
must seem as high
as these trees do to us,
silos and
telephone poles,
stalagmites
and skyscrapers.
but most of all
these winter oaks,
these soft-fleshed poplars,
this birch
whose bark is like
roughened skin
against which I lean
my chilled head,
not ready
to lie down.

Linda Pastan

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February poems - Vodka & Snow


To High Spirits

You have taken the vodka
That I was probably
Saving for tomorrow.
Go on and take it
For there's more enterprise
In waking naked.

Kenneth Koch

************************ 

February Ground

Three feet of snow in twenty-four hours
on top of seven inches. Not really
credible here. On the fourth day
we found the car under a six
foot drift and dug it out.

At first we could not open doors.
The post office shut for two days.
Our road had vanished into a field.
We felt the sky had finally
fallen and drowned us.

Six weeks: now patches of ground
emerge from white fortresses.
How beautiful is the dirt
I took for granted. Extraordinary
the wild green of grass islands.

Having the world snatched
from us makes us grateful even
for fence posts, for wheelbarrow
rising, for the stalwart spears
of daffodil uncovered.

Everything revealed is magical,
splendid in its ordinary shining.
The sun gives birth to rosebushes,
the myrtle, a snow shovel fallen,
overcome on the field of battle. 

Marge Piercy

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day! Mary Oliver & Marie Howe

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver


*********************
What The Living Do

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Marie Howe

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three poems for St. Valentine's Day, in a PoMo Way

The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look
into each other's eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn't respond,
I know she's used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.

Jeffrey McDaniel

***********
Commemoration

They made love among the hazel shrubs
beneath the suns of dew,
entangling in their hair
a leafy residue.

Heart of the swallow
have mercy on them.

They knelt down by the lake,
combed out the earth and leaves,
and fish swam to the water's edge
shimmering like stars.

Heart of the swallow
have mercy on them.

The reflections of trees were steaming
off the rippling waves.
O swallow let this memory
forever be engraved.

O swallow, thorn of clouds,
anchor of the air,
Icarus improved,
Assumption in formal wear,

O swallow, the calligrapher,
timeless second hand,
early ornithogothic,
a crossed eye in the sky,

O swallow, pointed silence,
mourning full of joy,
halo over lovers,
have mercy on them.



Wislawa Szymborska
(1923-2012)

translated by Joanna Trzeciak 

***********
Littlefoot, 19, [This is the bird hour]  


19

This is the bird hour, peony blossoms falling bigger than wren hearts
On the cutting border's railroad ties,
Sparrows and other feathery things
Homing from one hedge to the next,
                                                    late May, gnat-floating evening.

Is love stronger than unlove?
                                         Only the unloved know.
And the mockingbird, whose heart is cloned and colorless.

And who's this tiny chirper,
                         lost in the loose leaves of the weeping cherry tree?
His song is not more than three feet off the ground, and singular,
And going nowhere.
Listen. It sounds a lot like you, hermane.
                                                           It sounds like me.
Charles Wright

 



Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Weight

Two horses were put together in the same paddock.
Night and day. In the night and in the day
wet from heat and the chill of the wind
on it. Muzzle to water, snorting, head swinging
and the taste of bay in the shadowed air.
The dignity of being. They slept that way,
knowing each other always.
Withers quivering for a moment,
fetlock and the proud rise at the base of the tail,
width of back. The volume of them, and each other’s weight.
Fences were nothing compared to that.
People were nothing. They slept standing,
their throats curved against the other’s rump.
They breathed against each other,
whinnied and stomped.
There are things they did that I do not know.
The privacy of them had a river in it.
Had our universe in it. And the way
its border looks back at us with its light.
This was finally their freedom.
The freedom an oak tree knows.
That is built at night by stars. 
 
Linda Gregg