Poetry Saturday: Mary Oliver

I’m Feeling Fabulous, Possibly Too Much So. But I Love It.

It’s spring and Mockingbird is teaching himself
new ways to celebrate.
If you can imagine that — that gutsy talker.
And the sky is painting itself a brand-new
robust blue
plenty of which is spilling onto the pond.
I don’t weigh very much, but right now
I weigh nothing.
And my mind is, I guess you would say, compounded.
Our voice is saying, Ah, it’s Mockingbird.
Another voice is saying, the pond never looked
this blue before.
Another voice says, there couldn’t be a more
splendid world, and here I am
existing in it.
I think, just for the joy of it, I’ll fly.
I believe I could.

And yet another voice says, Can we come down
from the clouds now?
And some other voice answers, Okay.
But only for a while.

Mary Oliver has received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her poetry.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Mahmoud Darwish

  • No spectators at chasm’s door, and no one is neutral here.

— Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish

 

Poetry Sunday: Diane Kirsten Martin

The following appeared in Crab Orchard Review’s The West Coast & Beyond issue, Summer/Fall 2014:

Contiguous

— by Diane Kirsten Martin

Don’t you wonder about the panhandler
On Fremont and Market, sharing his day’s
proceeds with his pink-nosed pit? Or

Frank Chu, with his sign of 12 Galaxies?
What about the World-Famous Bushman,
hiding behind the branch he shakes

at passers-by, or the matching — from pumps
to pillbox hats — Marian and Vivian Brown.
Who are they and who are you, starting out

from the glass eyes of your apartment?
Do you wake in a sweat on an October
night with stars, the moon a fat orange

and the temperature pushing 90
and remember a silver filigree ring buried
under the azalea, the mute orphan who lived

with his uncle, your father who gave you
the back of his hand? Do you, like Frank,
dream of aliens? I’ll bet the man on Fremont

dreams about Thunderbird and wakes up
as if he drank a whole bottle of fortified wine.
Nights like this, with windows wide, you can

hear the rush of the freeway, like the sound
of whitewater Ronald Reagan had piped
into his bedroom for insomnia. Nights like this

we lie naked, contiguous in this warm
ocean that flows around our back and breasts
our arms our throats our lips, necks, thighs.

  • Diane Kirsten Martin won the Erskine J. Poetry Prize from Smartish Pace and was included in Best New Poets 205.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Thursday: David J. Daniels

EDUARDO

by David J. Daniels

(published in Indiana Review, Winter 2013: Vol. 35 No. 2)

I was thinking, about beauty in particular
yours, you who are not by your own admission

beautiful, when the old bird down by the gatepost
started uttering his song, the one I think means

joy, but with an undertone of terror. The bird,
apart from his being a queen in the way he carries

on, is neither beautiful nor pure. I despise the clock
of his ruby throat, and because of the way I’ve watched him

root a metal can for grub, then turn that filth to music,
I have thought to take him down. But with what?

I’ve got no gun to speak of, and once in my hands,
what would I do with that terrible scrap of scarlet?


David J. Daniels is the author of Clean, Winner of the Four Way Intro Prize, and two chapbooks: Breakfast in the Suburbs and Indecency.

Yes, self hangs onto everything. Everything.

Stay tuned.

Poetry in the Galleries/ Legion of Honor

Participants in the Poetry in the Galleries project were 4th through 8th graders from the San Francisco Bay Area.

The students were invited to write a poem in response to an object in the Legion of Honor’s ancient art galleries.

Some of the results were published in a small pamphlet and distributed by the Fine Arts Museums.

Here’s one of self’s favorites:

Black-Glaze Mug, South Italian, mid-4th century BC

Small, insignificantly small.
Ancient people used me for reasons unknown.
I am a black mystery to the future of people.

— Matthew Gallelo, 8th Grade, Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Belmont

Stay tuned, dear blog readers Stay tuned.

Poetry Friday: Galway Kinnell

An Excerpt from Conversation

For Maud

–How old?

It was completely inadvertent.
It was more or less late afternoon.
and I came over a hilltop
and smack in front of me was the sunset.

–Couldn’t you have turned around and gone back?

Wherever you turn, a window
in a childhood house fills with fire.

–Remember the pennies we put on the track,
how the train left behind only the bright splashes?

Everything startles with its beauty
when assigned value has been eradicated,
especially if the value assigned is one cent.

–Does the past ever get too heavy to lug around?

If your rucksack is too heavy, it could
wrestle you down backwards.

–Does it ever get lighter?

Yes, when so-called obsolete words
start falling off the back end of the language.

(from the Galway Kinnell collection, Strong Is Your Hold)

Reading (2016)

  1. Memoir, Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies
  2. Brick 96
  3. 2nd poetry collection, John Clegg, Holy Toledo
  4. Nonfiction, Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power
  5. Walasse Ting, 1 Cent Life
  6. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

Seamus Heaney’s Translation of The Aeneid, Book VI

Earlier this year, self was in Ireland, cutting out book reviews from a copy of The Guardian at the breakfast table in the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. She was explaining to a writer from Belfast that back home in California she had file drawers full of book review clippings and now . . .

The writer just smiled.

What is it about the Irish? Self never has to complete sentences there. Never. They’re pretty observant and never waste words.

In the Wall Street Journal of Wednesday, 17 August 2016, there’s a review of Seamus Heaney’s last work, a translation of the Aeneid, Book VI, which according to reviewer Christopher Carroll, he completed just a month before he died:

  • It is his last published poem, a poignant rendition of Aeneas’ arrival in Italy and journey into the underworld to see his dead father.

Right. Self is adding it to her reading list, as well as Heaney’s “Station Island” (1984) and “Route 110” (2010).

Stay tuned.

Basho and “The Freeze”

Self is still reading Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

In the poem below, Basho describes entering the province of Kaga:

I walked into the fumes
Of early-ripening rice,
On the right below me
The waters of the Angry Sea.

* * *

The poem suddenly reminds self of her dystopian short story “The Freeze,” which Bluestem Magazine published last year. Sometime while Obama is President, the Russians do something that shuts the whole world down.

Everyone starts dying. A woman decides to walk out of San Francisco and head south. To make sure she doesn’t lose her way, she decides to walk Highway 1, always making sure that the ocean is to her right. She meets a band of teen-agers.

The story begins with the woman chanting the following:

Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.
Redwood, Oak, Laurel, Manzanita, Pine.

And darn if self hasn’t just decided that the story ended much too soon. She has to continue, if only so she can figure out for herself what happens to the woman and her teen-age companions. She’s thinking: sequel.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Another Basho Sentence

Even while I was getting ready, mending my torn trousers, tying a new strap to my hat, and applying moxa to my legs to strengthen them, I was already dreaming of the full moon rising over the islands of Matsushima.

— from The Narrow Road to the Deep North, translated from the Japanese by Nobuyuki Yuasa

1689, Basho made three major journeys in his lifetime. The Narrow Road was the result of the third and last. He was 50.

Stay tuned.

« Older entries