Monday, April 30, 2012

At four I was an Arabian wizard.

From my cousin Amy:

it's not exactly my number 1 favorite poem, but i love it.... "on turning ten" by billy collins. such a beautiful way of describing what it's like to leave childhood behind, to become aware, to lose the person you once were and the inner life that set you free. i especially love the last stanza.

On Turning Ten
Billy Collins

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. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.

I cannot believe that April (and thus, National Poetry Month) is almost over. It flew by me so quickly that I haven't had a chance to catch my breath.

Whew. I will try to get the rest of the poems up in the next few days.

Here's Amaryllis's request: "Directive," by Robert Frost. She writes,

Why I like it: the simple language that conveys ideas that aren't simple at all. (I had more to say, but I won't push my luck this time.)

Amaryllis (and others), feel free to say more in the comments!

Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather, 
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost, 
May seem as if it should have been a quarry—
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago? 
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

behind a thin veil

National Poetry Month and Poetry Tuesday, together.

From an anonymous commenter:

Title: Ascension
Author: Colleen Hitchcock
Explanation: Because it's pretty.

And if I go,
while you're still here...
Know that I live on,
vibrating to a different measure
--behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
so you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
--both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart,
...I will be there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

waka waka

More poetry! From Nenya:

The Symbolic Poem
by Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese

< > !* ' ' #
^ " ` $$-
%*< > ~ #4
&[ ]../

This poem can only be appreciated by reading it aloud, to wit:

Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Humans are awesome.

Most of the time, I dwell on how screwed-up this world is. Just about every day, I read the news...or I try to, and then I throw up my hands and say, "Shit. The world is going to hell in a handbasket."

But. But. It's Easter season. It's a time for celebration. And it's the middle of Passover, so in the midst of thinking about captivity, we have to remember that liberation is coming.

And, as such, I'm going to post things that make me think that there is hope for humanity after all.

1. Jamie Moffett, a friend of mine, has started an organization called Kensington Renewal. Kensington is Philly's poorest neighborhood, and Jamie, who has lived in Kensington for the past 10 years, is trying to turn some of the "abandominiums" into owner-occupied homes.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote about it here.  And if you'd like to help out financially, you can do it here.

2. George Zimmerman was arrested. While this doesn't guarantee anything, and it doesn't make Trayvon Martin's death better, it's a (baby) step in the right direction.

3. This kid is awesome. Seriously.

4. The Wailin' Jennys won a Juno award for Best Roots & Traditional Album for their newest album Bright Morning Stars. I kind of love them, so here's "Bird Song."

5. And because poetry is always appropriate:

e.e. cummings
"spring is like a perhaps hand"

Spring is like a perhaps hand 
(which comes carefully 
out of Nowhere)arranging 
a window,into which people look(while 
people stare
arranging and changing placing 
carefully there a strange 
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps 
Hand in a window 
(carefully to 
and fro moving New and 
Old things,while 
people stare carefully 
moving a perhaps 
fraction of flower here placing 
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything. 
So, everyone, tell me: what gives you hope for humanity? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

you know?

Continuing National Poetry month posting...

From the commenter "Captaincrude," I give you this:

Title: Poem I wrote
Author: Me
Explanation: He's really deep, and stuff.

Actual poem:

It's love!
Or so she says, I
heard, you

Monday, April 9, 2012

give the woman some space

This was going around on Facebook for a while: