Saturday, December 25, 2010

What Can I Give Him?

This Christmas, I offer a Christmas tidbit from Ms. Rossetti, as found in Best-Loved Poems of the LDS People, edited by Lyon, Gundry, Parry, and Jensen. Merry Christmas and much love to my dear family.
What Can I Give Him?
Christina Rossetti

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,
Yet what can I give Him?
Give my heart.
And this awesome musical rendition of the poem...

* Post originally written 09/20/10, posted using Blogger's scheduled post.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Endlessly Gently

Hello, November.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The leaves are falling, falling as from way off,
as though far gardens withered in the skies;
they are falling with denying gestures.
And in the nights the heavy earth is falling
from all the stars down into loneliness.
We all are falling. This hand falls.
And look at others: it is in them all.
And yet there is one who holds this falling
endlessly gently in his hands.

* Post originally written 10/05/10, posted using Blogger's scheduled post.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Soul-and-Body Scars

I am now the proud owner of a $2.00 thrift store copy of The Poetry of Robert Frost, containing all eleven of his books--complete. I admit, with some shame, I am hardly familiar with Frost, beyond his popularly anthologized "Mending Wall" and "The Road Not Taken." I do have S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders to thank for introducing me to Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay." But alas, as one can see, my familiarity with Frost is rather sparse. Hence, this gorgeous book, arriving to educate me. 

I offer tonight only a small sample of the joys Frost has to offer, as my intellectual capacity can't seem to handle much more than tidbits lately.
A Question
Robert Frost

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sign'd by God

Another Whitman tidbit, from section 48 of  "Song of Myself."

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then;
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;
I find letters from God dropt in the street—and every one is sign’d by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe’er I go,
Others will punctually come forever and ever.

Photo by: Valerie Owens

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Normal Joy

This morning, via text, a friend of mine exclaimed how happy she was. When I asked if there was any particular reason for this happiness, she responded, "No, just normal joy." Normal joy. I like that thought, a lot. It reminds me of this poem:
The Orange
Wendy Cope

At lunchtime I bought a huge orange--
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave--
They got quarters and I had a half.

And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It's new.

The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time left over.
I love you. I'm glad I exist.
Like Wendy Cope? I thought think the Poetry Archive's page on Wendy Cope is a great introduction to the poet. Check it out here, and be sure to click the link to "Strugnell's Haiku," as it is a humorous joy. Thank goodness for happy poets. And thank goodness for Garrison Keillor's anthology, Good Poems, for introducing me to this poem.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Subtle Electric Fire

A Sunday tidbit of Whitman...
O You Whom I Often and Silently Come
Walt Whitman

O YOU whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be with you;
As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the same room with you,
Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is playing within me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Redheaded Women with Tattoos

I know, I just shared some clips of performance poetry. But in case you liked what you saw, check out Urbana Poetry Slam's Channel on YouTube. It's one awesome goldmine, with gems such as this one, by Jared Singer. Click here for my favorite audio clip by Jared Singer.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You Gotta Speak with It Too

This man is brilliant. Watch, observe, then canvas YouTube for more of Taylor Mali. 

I especially enjoy Mali's clips with Billy Collins chilling on the wings of the stage. Can you imagine performing poetry in front of Collins, and what's more, making him laugh? 

And be sure to check out Bowery Poetry Club, where a few of Mali's poetry readings take place. The Bowery Poetry Club website leads to a wealth of information on the current world of poetry. It's really quite spectacular.

I do apologize for brief profanity within this first clip.

And thank you, Shelbi, for the Facebook link that led me to this.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shaken by the Strangeness

I know, I've been a rather pathetic blogger as of late. Today? I'd just like to offer you a little gem by Mary Oliver. I recently borrowed her collections Dream Work and American Primitive from the library and enjoyed both collections, although, admittedly Oliver failed to engross me. Today's poem is my favorite from American Primitive.
by Mary Oliver

on a plane,
you see a stranger.
He is so beautiful!
His nose
Going down in the
old Greek way,
or his smile
a wild Mexican fiesta.
You want to say:
do you know how beautiful you are?
You leap up
into the aisle,
you can't let him go
until he has touched you
shyly, until you have rubbed him,
oh, lightly,
like a coin
you find on the earth somewhere
shining and unexpected and,
without thinking,
reach for. You stand there
by the strangeness,
the splash of his touch.
When he's gone
you stare like an animal into
the blinding clouds
with the snapped chain of your life,
the life you know:
the deeply affectionate earth,
the familiar landscapes
slowly turning
thousands of feet below.
One interesting fact about Mary Oliver is that, as a teenager, she spent time in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay (possibly my favorite female poet), helping the family sort out papers of Millay. This little connection strikes me as oddly wonderful. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

After Work

I spent an hour of Father's Day scouring books and books of poetry, looking for a certain poem of a father and son that, alas, I did not find. I read and in many cases reread poems of fathers and families, but of all that I read, Richard Jones' "After Work" stayed with me the longest. I love it.
After Work
Richard Jones

Coming up from the subway
into the cool Manhattan evening,
I feel rough hands on my heart—
women in the market yelling
over rows of tomatoes and peppers,
old men sitting on a stoop playing cards,
cabbies cursing each other with fists
while the music of church bells
sails over the street,
and the father, angry and tired
after working all day,
embracing his little girl,
kissing her,
mi vida, mi corazón,
brushing the hair out of her eyes
so she can see.
* mi vida, "my life"
* mi corazon, "my heart"

While searching the internet for a copy of "After Work," I came across this brilliant little site, Poetry 365, that posts a poem a day, tagged by author and subject. Judging by the limited selection I perused, this poet lover and I share very much the same tastes in poetry. I will certainly be visiting again.
Happy Father's Day, most particularly to my own dear Dad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Children's Poetry Archive

I've recently come to adore the Children's Poetry Archive. I love how colorful it is and how easy the website is to navigate. You can search by poet, poem, theme, or even form. Other things I love are recordings of each poem, poet bios, links to other poetry sites, lists of publishers,  and links to buy CD's and books of the poetry. My only complaint is the limited number of poets included on the site, which excludes many of my childhood favorites. Still it's definitely worth a look, particularly if you, dear reader, have small children you want to lure into the world of poetry, or if you yourself wish to be lured.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Drifted Away

The human memory has always been intriguing to me. I am one who scrawls away in journal after journal, taking pictures of each day, haunted by all that there is ahead of me to be forgotten. And yet, a thousand words and a hundred pictures can only freeze the memory on paper, and not in the mind. Just today, I remembered having forgotten the name of a boy I was once friends with, and the word for "mother" in sign language. What of all that I don't even recall having forgotten? I love Billy Collin's poem on the topic of forgetting, particularly this unique portrayal of it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This Little World To-night

Dear reader,

I apologize for my lack of recent posts. It isn't as though I have been busy. I've had scads of time on my hands. Doesn't it always seem to be the case that the more free time you have the less that gets done?

Last night I took off on a whim to a favorite spot of mine. I had with me the essentials: a camera, a book of poetry, and a notebook and pen. I spent a delicious stretch of time with William R. Bowlin's 1939 anthology, A Book of Treasured Poems. Generally, such anthologies dole out poems rife with predictable rhyme endings, heavy with trite morals. I am not a particular fan of such poems. Fortunately, A Book of Treasured Poems held some beautiful gems in the mix. Today, I'll share with you Oliver Herford's "Earth," a curious little poem that doesn't seem to want to shake itself from my thoughts. But first, let me share with you a small excerpt I loved of the anthology's "Foreword," as written by William R. Bowlin:
The absence of formal notes in this little volume is not the result of inertia or of oversight, but of an attempt by the editor to remove poetry from the realm of pure intellect and restore it to the field of emotion. Intensive study of poetry leads, all too often, to dislike of poetic expression rather than to its enjoyment. Poetry is an end in itself, and the awakening of love for a fine poem is the sole aim in teaching the poem. 

And now, Herford's "Earth."
Oliver Herford
(As printed in A Book of Treasured Poems)

If this little world to-night
     Suddenly should fall through space
In a hissing, headlong flight,
     Shrivelling from off its face,
As it falls into the sun,
     In an instant every trace
Of the little crawling things--
     Ants, philosophers, and lice,
Cattle, cockroaches, and kings,
     Beggars, millionaires, and mice,
Men and maggots all as one
As it falls into the sun...
Who can say but at the same
     Instant from some planet far
A child may watch us and exclaim:
     "See the pretty shooting star!"
To be posted soon: Reviews of recently read books, quotes on poetry, and more beautiful poetry of the world.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Crying is Lonely

I've had this poem and its characters on my mind a while now...
A Couple
Carl Sandberg

He was in Cincinnati, she in Burlington.
He was in a gang of Postal Telegraph lineman.
She was a pot rassler in a boarding house.
“The crying is lonely,” she wrote him.
“The same here,” he answered.
The winter went by and he came back and they married
And he went away again where rainstorms knocked down
telegraph poles and wires dropped with frozen sleet.
And again she wrote him, “The crying is lonely.”
And again he answered, “The same here.”
Their five children are in public schools.
He votes the Republican ticket and is a taxpayer.
They are known among those who know them
As honest American citizens living honest lives.
Many things that bother other people never bother them,
They have their five children and they are a couple,
A pair of birds that call to each other and satisfy.
As sure as he goes away she writes him, “The crying is lonely”
And he flashes back the old answer, “The same here.”
It is a long time since he was a gang lineman at Cincinnati
And she was a pot rassler in a Burlington boarding house;
Yet they never get tired of each other; they are a couple.

Monday, March 29, 2010

1968, Honolulu, and Anne Sexton

Amidst the jumbled shelves of a thrift shop, I recently stumbled upon the 1968 Reading Modern Poetry. An address label was slapped upon the cover, the address, I assume, of the previous owner, Lydia of Honolulu. How, I wonder, did this anthology cross the ocean and decades between Lydia and I? 

Based upon the markings within the book, I gather Lydia purchased it for a class. Next to the listing of poems in the table of contents are scrawled days of the week, "Wednesday," and "Friday." Some poems have checks next to them. There are impersonal, predictable annotations penned alongside the poems of W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Theodore Roethke. Were it just for these markings, Lydia could be anyone. Yet, Lydia gives herself away by starring and underlining the name of Anne Sexton. Similarly she has starred the two anthologized Sexton poems, "The Addict," and "Cripples and Other Stories." Why, out of the fifty-something poets in the collection, is Sexton the only one Lydia found worthy of both starring and underlining? What is it about Sexton's dark madness that appealed to my anonymous fellow reader? Lydia, are you out there?

I loved Sexton's "Cripples and Other Stories," but as it is rather long, I'll instead offer you up a shorter poem, "Red Roses." It is much in line with Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz," though I like the Sexton poem without liking the Roethke. 
Red Roses
Anne Sexton 

Tommy is three and when he’s bad
his mother dances with him.
She puts on the record,
“Red Roses for a Blue Lady”
and throws him across the room.
Mind you,
she never laid a hand on him.
He gets red roses in different places,
the head, that time he was as sleepy as a river,
the back, that time he was a broken scarecrow,
the arm like a diamond had bitten it,
the leg, twisted like a licorice stick,
all the dance they did together,
Blue Lady and Tommy.
You fell, she said, just remember you fell.
I fell, is all he told the doctors
in the big hospital. A nice lady came
and asked him questions but because
he didn’t want to be sent away he said, I fell.
He never said anything else although he could talk fine.
He never told about the music
or how she’d sing and shout
holding him up and throwing him.
He pretends he is her ball.
He tries to fold up and bounce
but he squashes like fruit.
For he loves Blue Lady and the spots
of red roses he gives her.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Typography Meets Poetry

Today, I'd like to share with you what happens when typography meets poetry.

First, an amazing typographic interpretation of a favorite poem of mine, Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer."

Next up, the poem "Minimalism," that, as far as I can tell is written by Jeff Smith-Luedke.

Like what you see? Check out more on YouTube.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gravely Poetic

 The other day, in conversation with roommates, the topic of favorite poems came up. My roommate, Hillary, pulled up the following picture as her favorite poem:

 She then proceeded to share her experience of visiting Hemingway's grave every fall and how perfectly the poem encapsulated.

I love this idea of poetic epitaphs. One of my favorite's is the words upon Keat's grave.
In searching poetic gravestones, I was delighted to stumble upon the website, Poets' Graves. Call me a nut job, but I think a roadtrip of famous cemetery's and grave sites would be awesome.

Have any favorite epitaphs to share?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Simply Because You Asked

Tonight, I am in love with this gem, as found in Billy Collins' 180 More. Please, enjoy.

“The Russian Greatcoat” 
Theodore Deppe
While my children swim off the breakwater,
while my wife sleeps beside me in the sun,
I recall how you once said you knew
a sure way to paradise or hell.
Years ago, you stood on the Covington bridge,
demanded I throw my coat into the Ohio--
my five dollar “Russian greatcoat,”
my “Dostoevsky coat,” with no explanations,
simply because you asked.

From that height, the man-sized coat fell
in slow motion, floated briefly,
one sinking arm bent at the elbow.
At first, I evade the question when my wife asks,
as if just thinking of you were an act of betrayal.
The cigarette I shared with you above the river.
Our entrance into the city, your thin black coat
around both our shoulders. Sometimes I can go
weeks without remembering. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pages of Rain

I love L-O-V-E as much as the next person, but two weeks of L-O-V-E poems was a bit much. Lesson learned: Never celebrate the month of L-O-V-E in such a manner ever again. Thank goodness, dear reader, we can now move onward. 

What poetry I've recently read or I am currently reading:
  • Eireann Corrigan's poetic memoir, You Remind me of You. It is the story of Corrigan's struggle with anorexia, her relationship with her boyfriend, and his struggles with depression. Upon first read, I loved it. The book combines three loves of mine: poetry, memoirs, and young adult literature. It was a gorgeous, fast, emotional read. But, the more I come back to it, the less impressed I am. Corrigan over-uses shock value. Her writing is occasionally heavy handed and her attempts at irony often fall flat. Crucial events are rehashed half a dozen times throughout the book. I applaud Corrigan for what she has overcome and the work she has produced, but it is not a work I'd recommend for more than a quick read.
  • Billy Collins' 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. There seems to be this cult of lovers of Billy Collins. I do not want to join the following, because I'm stubborn like that. But dang, I'd have to admit the man is terrific. I own a copy of Collins' anthology Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and I love it. It's just such a fun collection. While I have not yet had the time to really familiarize myself with 180 More, my initial impression is one of full approval. I must give a nod to Collins for spreading accessible poetry across America. 
  • Ted Kooser's Delights and Shadows, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. To be fair to Mr. Kooser, I will refrain from commentary on the work as a whole until I have finished it. But tonight, I'd like to share with you one poem of Kooser's that I just love. 

A Rainy Morning
Ted Kooser

A young woman in a wheelchair,
wearing a black nylon poncho spattered with rain,
is pushing herself through the morning.
You have seen how pianists
sometimes bend forward to strike the keys,
then lift their hands, draw back to rest,
then lean again to strike just as the chord fades.
Such is the way this woman
strikes at the wheels, then lifts her long white fingers,
letting them float, then bends again to strike
just as the chair slows, as if into a silence.
So expertly she plays the chords
of this difficult music she has mastered,
her wet face beautiful in its concentration,
while the wind turns the pages of rain.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, dear reader.
Here is a chaotic mess of love quotes, links, and poems.
Enjoy what you'd like to, ignore what you don't.

"I heard what you said. I’m not the silly romantic you think. I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I have those things already. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved."
~ Shana Abé
Those Who Love
Sara Teasdale
Those who love the most,
Do not talk of their love,
Francesca, Guinevere,
Deirdre, Iseult, Heloise,
In the fragrant gardens of heaven
Are silent, or speak if at all
Of fragile inconsequent things.

And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth,
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face.

"I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman."
~ Anaïs Nin

Check out the July 3, 2008 post, Crazy Little Thing called Love, for more love quotes.
Sometimes with One I Love
Walt Whitman

Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for fear I effuse unreturn’d love;
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love—the pay is certain, one way or another;
(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not return’d;
Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)
Love love poetry? Check out the works of John Donne here, love poems among others.

"I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, --- , as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, ------, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding."
~ Anaïs Nin

Photo by: Valerie Owens. Please do not use without permission.

Click here for a favorite love quote of mine, orignally posted in June 2008.

"There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted."
~ Judith Martin

True Love
Judith Viorst

It is true love because
I put on eyeliner and a concerto and make pungent observations about the great issues of the day
Even when there's no one here but him,
And because
I do not resent watching the Green Bay Packers
Even though I am philosophically opposed to football,
And because
When he is late for dinner and I know he must be either having an affair or lying dead in the middle of the street,
I always hope he's dead.

It's true love because
If he said quit drinking martinis but I kept drinking them and the next morning I couldn't get out of bed,
He wouldn't tell me he told me,
And because
He is willing to wear unironed undershorts
Out of respect for the fact that I am philosophically opposed to ironing,
And because
If his mother was drowning and I was drowning and he had to choose one of us to save,
He says he'd save me.

It's true love because
When he went to San Francisco on business while I had to stay home with the painters and the exterminator and the baby who was getting the chicken pox,
He understood why I hated him,
And because
When I said that playing the stock market was juvenile and irresponsible and then the stock I wouldn't let him buy went up twenty-six points,
I understood why he hated me,
And because
Despite cigarette cough, tooth decay, acid indigestion, dandruff, and other features of married life that tend to dampen the fires of passion,
We still feel something
We can call
True love.

Check out the L-O-V-E label for more love poetry, both recent and past posts.

"I am only responsible for my own heart, you offered yours up for the smashing my darling. Only a fool would give out such a vital organ"
~ Anaïs Nin
Love Poem With Toast
Miller Williams

Some of what we do, we do
to make things happen,
the alarm to wake us up, the coffee to perc,
the car to start.

The rest of what we do, we do
trying to keep something from doing something,
the skin from aging, the hoe from rusting,
the truth from getting out.

With yes and no like the poles of a battery
powering our passage through the days,
we move, as we call it, forward,
wanting to be wanted,
wanting not to lose the rain forest,
wanting the water to boil,
wanting not to have cancer,
wanting to be home by dark,
wanting not to run out of gas,

as each of us wants the other
watching at the end,
as both want not to leave the other alone,
as wanting to love beyond this meat and bone,
we gaze across breakfast and pretend.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Love Again and Always

My apologies for slacking on L-O-V-E posts. Thank you, dear readers, for sharing your favorite love poetry with me. I will be sure to post your suggestions on Valentine's Day or shortly prior to. If you have any more love poems, quotes, or even songs to share, please do!

I've posted before from Carol Lynn Pearson's In Love Again and Always. It's a beautiful little collection love poems, a little fluffy, but enjoyable. I particularly like the definition of love this simple gem presents.
Like The Weather
Carol Lynn Pearson

Drenched and dripping
I tell you
That love is rather 
Like the weather--

Something you can 
Report on,
But not very well

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


In yesterday's post, I shared two poems about the anxiety a wife might feel waiting for the return of a husband. Tonight, let me share with you what perhaps might be on the mind of the husband during time apart.
When Will I Be Home?
Li Shang-Yin (813?-858)
Trans. Kenneth Rexroth

When will I be home? I don't know. 
In the mountains, in the rainy night,
The Autumn lake is flooded. 
Someday we will be back together again.
We will sit in the candlelight by the West window. 
And I will tell you how I remembered you 
Tonight on the stormy mountain.
And one more, along the same lines, this time translated from Sanskrit.
My Husband before Leaving
Trans. J Moussaieff Masson and W.S. Merwin

My husband
before leaving on a journey
is still in the house speaking
to the gods and already
separation is climbing like
bad monkeys to the windows.
Both poems were found, again, in Enduring Ties, edited by Grant Hardy. I love the way these poems show emotion without spelling it out. It's beautiful.

Monday, February 8, 2010

You Have Been Gone Five Months

Tonight, I present to you Ezra Pound's translation of an eighth century poem by Li Po, "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter." What strikes me most particularly about this poem is that it tells a love story without ever mentioning love. Rather than simply post the poem, I will accompany it with a great reading by Jodie Foster through Poetic Touch's YouTube channel.

The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
Ezra Pound, translated from the work of Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
Played I about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you,
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into fat Ku-to-yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noises overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early in autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
                        As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

By Rihaku

I was reminded as well of a small poem originating from the Baule tribe of the Ivory Coast, as  found in Grant Hardy's anthology, Enduring Ties. I will share that with you as well. The message, to me, seems to be the same, yet told in fewer words. Interesting that such themes stretch across cultures. 

Song of a Woman Whose Husband Had Gone to the Coast to Earn Money

Whenever I go out of the village
and see a stone
or a tree in the distance,
I think:
It is my husband.

(Twelfth Century)
Adapted from a German translation of the original Baule by Willard R. Trask

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Love Poetry? There's An App for That

The month of L-O-V-E continues...

This was a poem shared to me via telephone this a demonstration of the astounding capabilities of Ipod Apps. Love poetry? There's an app for that. And the poem just happens to be beautiful. So, I'm sharing it with you.

Matthew Arnold

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,
A messenger from radiant climes,
And smile on thy new world, and be
As kind to others as to me!

Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth,
And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say, My love why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Care to Share?

I'd LOVE to read your favorite love poems. Don't have a favorite love poem? How about favorite love quotes or lyrics? Please share!

L-O-V-E... Kind of.

I want to share with you poems in celebration of love. But the poems that seem draw me in are not those of celebratory praise, but those of melancholy longing. So, this isn't much a love poem, but I hope you like it nonetheless.


Laurel Blossom

That is the difference between me and you.
You pack an umbrella, #30 sun goo
And a red flannel shirt.  That's not what I do.

I put the top down as soon as we arrive.
The temperature's trying to pass fifty-five.
I'm freezing but at least I'm alive.

Nothing on earth can diminish my glee.
This is Florida, Florida, land of euphoria,
Florida in the highest degree.

You dig in the garden.  I swim in the pool.
I like to wear cotton.  You like to wear wool.
You're always hot.  I'm usually cool.

You want to get married.  I want to be free.
You don't seem to mind that we disagree.
And that is the difference between you and me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jenny Kissed Me

Tonight's selection is a simple, adorable classic.
Jenny Kissed Me
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
~ Leigh Hunt (1784 - 1859)
I also like this YouTube clip of the same poem. Brief and sweet, like the poem itself.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Poetry Valentines

POETRY VALENTINES, free to print, link, or attach.
How cool is that?
Click here to check it out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Share the L-O-V-E

I have an idea.

On February 14, 2010 I would like to barrage this poor blog with love poetry--your favorite love poetry. Please share! Comment with a poem title and poet and a link if available or feel free to email me at Ask your family, friends, and lovers for their favorite love poetry and share that as well. I will post all poetry suggestions on Valentine's Day.
(Please keep it G rated).

Twelve days? I think we can gather plenty of love poetry. What do you think?

And now for today's love poem.
Sidney King Russell

You loved me for a little,
Who could not love me long;
You gave me wings of gladness
And lent my spirit song.
You loved me for an hour
But only with your eyes;
Your lips I could not capture
By storm or by surprise.
Your mouth that I remember
With rush of sudden pain
As one remembers starlight
Or roses after rain...
Out of a world of laughter
Suddenly I am sad...
Day and night it haunts me,
The kiss I never had.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Little L-O-V-E

Happy February, the month of L-O-V-E. Please, don't gag. Love is a beautiful thing. It is such a beautiful thing, in fact, that I'm devoting fourteen days to love poetry. (That can be read two ways--neat.) Don't worry, it won't be all gushy. There are lots of different love poems.

To start off the month, please welcome Richard Brautigan to the blog.

It's Raining In Love

Richard Brautigan

I don't know what it is,
but I distrust myself
when I start to like a girl
a lot.

It makes me nervous.
I don't say the right things
or perhaps I start
to examine,
what I am saying.

If I say, "Do you think it's going to rain?"
and she says, "I don't know,"
I start thinking: Does she really like me?

In other words
I get a little creepy.

A friend of mine once said,
"It's twenty times better to be friends
with someone
than it is to be in love with them."

I think he's right and besides,
it's raining somewhere, programming flowers
and keeping snails happy.
That's all taken care of.

if a girl likes me a lot
and starts getting real nervous
and suddenly begins asking me funny questions
and looks sad if I give the wrong answers
and she says things like,
"Do you think it's going to rain?"
and I say, "It beats me,"
and she says, "Oh,"
and looks a little sad
at the clear blue California sky,
I think: Thank God, it's you, baby, this time
instead of me.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Find

Miller Williams 
I threw a snowball across the backyard.
My dog ran after it to bring it back.
It broke as it fell, scattering snow over snow.
She stood confused, seeing and smelling nothing.
She searched in widening circles until I called her.

She looked at me and said as clearly in silence
as if she had spoken,
I know it's here, I'll find it,
went back to the center and started the circles again.

I called her two more times before she came
slowly, stopping once to look back.

That was this morning. I'm sure that she's forgotten.
I've had some trouble putting it out of my mind.
Photo by: Valerie Owens

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Loss (And a Find)

Dear Reader,

It has been snowing constantly all day long. It snowed all last weekend. It snowed the week before that as well. I have had a poem gnawing at the back of my mind. It is a poem about a confused dog searching for a shattered snowball in a sea of white. But, for the life of me I can remember neither title nor poet. I turned to the world wide web for help. After a Google search of "snow poems" and various other terms failed me, I searched for the index of the book I thought it might be in, Garrison Keillor's brilliant Good Poems. This led me to a list of sixteen snow poems. The title refused to give any hints, thus I began Google-ing them, one by one, each proving harder to find than the last. 

Amidst this process I stumbled upon Bob's Road Raps of the CKUA Radio Network. Bob's Road Raps is, among other things, a rich plethora of poetry readings, including the works of Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, Emily Dickinson, James Tate, even Richard Brautigan, among many others. I did not find the poem I sought, but I will in due time. And when I do, I will share with you, dear reader, as well as photography of this snowy winter. For tonight, please enjoy the poetry within Bob's Road Raps. 

Photo by: Valerie Owens

Sunday, January 17, 2010

These are Not the Times to Come to Poetry

This is the face of Patrick Rosal:

Nice face, huh?

This is the work of Patrick Rosal:

The Woman You Love Cuts Apples for You
Patrick Rosal
and stirs them in sea salt and vinegar
She takes a drag from her Silk Cut

eases again through the fruit's flesh
the blade stopping short of her thumb

You are both sweating at the shoulder
(East Ham's hottest summer) And you realize

these are not the times to come to poetry
You have everything you need

and your father's bone-hard stare
can't reach across the Atlantic

so you save yourself for another day
because there is this woman slicing apples

stirring them in vinegar reminding you
of an afternoon twenty-five years ago when

you knelt with your brothers at your mother's
feet to pluck apple slices from a small basin

pinched between her legs And one of you
would lift that bowl—almost completely empty

except for a sour clouded liquid
and a few seeds shifting at the bottom

You'd just taste at first but soon you're handing it
from brother to brother gulping lung-fulls

of that tart cider You'd sweat sniffle gasp chug
'til your lips turned white and numb

And before you went out into those Jersey streets
you'd rinse your chin You'd soap your hands

because the girls would hold their breath
for every reason and stink on your fingers and neck

You won't dare tell anyone you've learned
to love the taste of something so strange until this

woman cuts apples for you in vinegar
and the familiar fumes fill your nostrils and gullet

She will lift the bowl to drink She'll twist her face
and laugh when she offers it and you will drink

and she will drink and you will drink again
She will kiss your cut knuckle She'll kiss your eyes

Of course the vinegar stings
It's the hottest summer ever in London

And you and the woman you love fall asleep side by side
like this—reeking and unwashed—breathing in

each other's dreams of open skin
Thank you, dear reader, for the suggestion of this amazing poet. Did you have any particular favorites by him?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You Can Stop Shouting Now

This semester in college includes three literature courses, which means a hefty amount of reading! Fortunately, some of that reading is poetry. Here's one poem introduced to me today in British Literature. Click here for a reading of the poem from the poet himself.
The Shout
Simon Armitage

We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face

I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,

I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.

He called from over the park—I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,

from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm—
I lifted an arm.

He left town, went to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.

Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.
Simon Armitage is a popular poet of England, still currently writing. "The Shout" was published in a book by the same title in 2005. I like to find poets, new to me, who have a solid career in the past and more to come in the future. I think Mr. Armitage and I could become good friends. I am eager to read more of his work.

Feel free to visit the Simon Armitage Web Site to peruse his impressive work, which expands well beyond the world of poetry.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sarah Kay

A little more performance poetry from Sarah Kay, the same poet I highlighted in a recent post on Def Poetry. My sister introduced me to this gem. Thanks, Lisa.

Oh I just love her work. She doesn't leave you a moment to dwell on any of her lines, just whisks you on to the next one. And for me, that means I've got to watch it again and again, just trying to catch it all.

Who are some of your favorite performance poets?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Poetic Escapades

More adventures with Poem in Your Pocket. I rather enjoy this tearing and sharing of poetry.

Today, I slipped the following poem into a journal at Staples, again requesting the finder email me their favorite poem. The world will have poetry if I have to travel the whole planet over to share it.

(To see the first Poem in Your Pocket escapade, click here.)

Frank O'Hara

Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it's no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn't need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn't want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days


And who is Frank O'Hara? I was not familiar with him until tonight. He lived only a short time, 1926 to 1966, but during these forty years he put out a dozen and half books of poetry, a handful of prose books, and even a play. From the limited selection of poetry on his site, I still haven't formed an opinion yet of what I think. I do, however, like "Animals." Click here for the link to his website.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Rain is Full of Ghosts Tonight

I recently moved back to a college town I lived in last school year. It's good to be back, really good to be back, but this place is a ghost town of memories. This poem doesn't really have much to do with my move, but the lines "...the rain / Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh / Upon the glass and listen for reply" keep running through my mind. So tonight, I give you a little Millay. I tend to turn to her when I am, as Wordsworth would describe, "in vacant or in pensive mood."
Edna St. Vincent Millay 
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Def Poetry

If you, as a poetry lover, are not yet familiar with Def Poetry, please become acquainted. The poetry presented is passionate, powerful, emotional, and often humorous. Just search for Def Poetry on YouTube to open a world of amazing poetry or visit the Def Poetry episode guide on the HBO site.

Here are two shows, among many others, I particularly enjoyed.