Alexandria, City of Memory: C. P. Cafavy, “In the Evening”

I picked up a letter again,
read it over and over till the light faded.

Then, sad, I went out on the balcony,
went out to change my thoughts at least by seeing
something of this city I love,
a little movement in the streets, in the shops.

(1916)

Poetry Sunday: J Journal, Fall 2012

First Time for Everything

by Marjorie Power

Lights flash
in my rear view
mirror. I pull over
thinking I must be in the way
But no.

I’ve done
a lot of things
a little bit wrong, so
I don’t argue. Besides, the cop
is cute.

Guilty
or no contest?
I check guilty, start my
written statement. I’ve always loved
to write.

Marjorie Power has had poems in Poet Lore, The Atlanta Review, Fault Lines, Living In Storms, and the Random House Treasure of Light Verse. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon.

Poetry Friday: St. John of the Cross

Everything about me
sends word of your myriad graces.
And yet everything hurts,
everything leaves me dying,
stammering on about I don’t know
what’s what.

— St. John of the Cross, translated from the Spanish by Paul Mariani

Poetry Saturday, September 2017: Joanne Diaz

Excerpt from “Pyrrhic”

from My Favorite Tyrants, winner of the Brittingham Prize in Poetry

Art can make war look wrong, but most of the time
it doesn’t. Consider this terracotta jar, once filled
with olive oil to anoint the dead, now a souvenir
of fire, clay, and spittle standing in the back
of the Ancient Wing. Look closer: some dancers
are clothed in robes, others are naked, and all
wear helmets while the musician plays a double flute
and taps his toe. First, they join hands, then the delicate,
ceremonious footwork begins.

More Corners!

Self decided to post again on this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, CORNERS.

Books and waffles and furniture.

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Jenny Lewis, poet, is a friend. The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig is self’s equivalent of Paradise.

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Le Pain Quotidien, Claremont, California: July 2017

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Pasadena Moderne: July 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

James Dickey on Forests: the Foreword to Talvikki Ansel’s Poetry Collection, MY SHINING ARCHIPELAGO (Yale Series of Younger Poets, 1997)

  • Talvikki Ansel grew up in Mystic, Connecticut. She received an A.B. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.F.A. from Indiana University. Self met her at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, many years ago.

Without further ado, the opening of James Dickey’s Foreword to My Shining Archipelago:

When Mallarmé, according to Symbolist doctrine, says that the poet should not describe trees but convey “the horror of the forest,” we might also remember that, though poetry has dealt with a great many forests, it has ventured into only a few jungles. Considering the surplus of plant and animal life offered, the sheer exotica, this may at first seem curious, but when considered at more length it is not as odd as it may seem. Though poets, especially romantic poets, like to be overwhelmed by nature, true jungles, such as those through which the Amazon and Orinoco run, are so overwhelming as to dumbfound, or almost. Step from a temperate zone into the endless greenhouse of a rain forest, and consciousness founders, groping to find ways to speak that may be adequate. The horror of the forest is not to be delivered by Symbolist implication but by present and proliferating Fact. All is intensity, as though in such hothouse breathlessness things exist for the express purpose of being intense. All colors are collision colors: a single stripe on the wing of a butterfly is painful; one turns away.

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Walking Around the Lake Annaghmakerrig, Morning (Before the Hailstorm)

Poetry Saturday: Laura Jean Baker

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Moon Over Park Avenue, New York, May 2016

Human Weather (an excerpt)

by Laura Jean Baker

August made a habit: warming our bodies
to the point of sacred.
On Dog Star days for twenty years
we loved to our dew point,
honeyed our moon,
and kneaded our bodies
into the wholesome shape of babies.
Girl-boy-girl
slid into the not-yet warmth
of every other May.

Better late than incomplete,
we made our last
between Autumn sheets; a boy named Frank,
he’d skid across the cusp of June and July.

The poem originally appeared in Calyx, a Journal of Art and Literature by Women, summer 2012.

About Laura Jean Baker: she earned her MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poetry, fiction, and memoir have been published in The Gettysburg Review, Connecticut Review, Cream City Review, Third Coast, Confrontation, and War, Literature, & the Arts.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wondering About Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3

It is sweltering here up in the Pasadena Hills, and self feels no inclination to go outside. In the daytime, Pasadena is a sleepy city. At night, everyone drives with fury almost, zipping past slower cars and switching lanes with abandon. Self finds it very disconcerting. Especially as her GPS Navigator tells her where to turn only after she reaches an intersection, at which point she is usually in the wrong lane.

So, no going outside today. She’s re-reading a Calyx poetry anthology, A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry, which she stumbled across in her house two weeks ago. Here’s the first half of a poem by Sheila Demetre:

A Woman Is Running For Her Life

Under my ribcage a live coal
is singing. It wheedles from its hutch
of bone, glows blue in every kindling breath.

I need these bright shoes to burn up centuries
of inertia, of sickness holding me limp
with forehead ground against my tangled knees.

Celestial now, I’m all brush and sweep.
My elbows scribble, quickening the air I slog.
Don’t touch my sparks, my hieroglyphs of heat.

She absolutely loves the “hieroglyphs of heat.”

Tomorrow is Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Does Euron die? Does Yara die? Does Ellaria Sand die? Does Olenna Tyrell die? Does Grey Worm die? If Grey Worm dies, will Missandei go crazy? Does Meera Reed die? If Meera dies, does Bran get to have a wheelchair at last? Do we see Gendry (finally? Cause the tweets are getting ridiculous) Do Brienne and Podrick get to spar again? Does Ned Stark come back from the dead? Does Stannis Baratheon come back from the dead? Will we see more of Ser Jorah’s horrible greyscale? Will Sam be retching again? Will Dany continue to be her insufferable self? Will Sansa be more of her cryptic self? Will Jaime continue to be disconcerted? Will Cersei continue to be sarcastic? Will we ever find out which skilled blacksmiths created the Giant Crossbow aka Dragonkiller? Will Arya Stark continue to evolve? Will Wun Wun come back as a wight?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: Paula Gunn Allen

An excerpt from Paula Gunn Allen’s Dear World, included in the Calyx anthology A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry

Dear World:

Mother has lupus. She says that it’s a disease
of self-attack. That it’s like if a mugger broke
into your house and you called the cops
and when they came they beat up on you
instead of the mugger.

I say that makes sense. It’s in the blood,
in the dynamic. A halfbreed woman can hardly
do anything else but attack herself.
Her blood attacks itself. There are historical
reasons for this.

I know you can’t make peace
being Indian and white.

Paula Gunn Allen, who passed away in 2008, was Lakota, Sioux, and Lebanese. She edited several anthologies of critical studies and American Indian fiction. She published two collections of essays, two volumes of poetry — Skins and Bones; Life Is a Fatal Disease — and a novel, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Our Gracious Dorotea”: from Self’s Novel-in-Progress

To help self write a love scene set in 18th century Spain, she turns to poetry.

The title of the chapter she is working on today is Our Gracious Dorotea. The poem is this:

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies.

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, transl. from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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