Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Puppet Show,with Shadows

My sister Susan makes a puppet show. 
That's my brother, Robert, 
with the light on his face 
and my brother, Richard, at the far right. 
This is one of those Brownie Reflex photos, 
perhaps taken by John, the oldest of the boys. 
I love the shadows; I love the doll-made-puppet. 
I love my family's whole messy child-filled life!
Perhaps this was taken after we moved to The Farm in 1950.
Or were we still in Scotia?

Here is a poem from a recent New Yorker:


Everyone can't
be a lamplighter.

Someone must
be the lamp,

and someone 
must in bereaved 

rooms sit
unfathoming what

it is to be lit.

Andrea Cohen

The New Yorker,
February 16, 2015, page 69.

Write a short poem on some formulation you have made up to sound like a proverb.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Sooty Shearwaters, Monterey Bay


I thought it had left me, but
it had only receded for a time--

Along the shore beads of moisture
cling to the snarled kelp

like mementos, little souls--

Mari L'Esperance

The Darkened Temple
Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2008, page 1.

A task for my self: make a very short poem 
linking nature and self with a strong place or image.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Evening Opens

Old streetlamps at San Jose History Park. 

There was a mystery to that childhood time when 
lamps were just coming on with that faint orangey glow. 
I had to quit rollerskating and go home then, for sure.


Streetlamps release an ivory light like sweet magnolias
Along the humid elms already the odor of autumn,
of expendability.
The leaves flutter like unsold tickets.

The evening opens, 
dragging you along, farther from earth
as far as your eyes will take you.
Telescopes aim and the sky fills
with sight like a spidery shadow.

in the air that twirls toward the nostril like a winged seed,
to some, happiness is a defect.
A fat man sits alone gulping ice cream.

What does it matter
which night this is? Or which, among all of us alive
I am.

Each day puts its arms around you,
each terrain with its infallible time-sense.
Ears, fingers, mouth. Everything that enters
splitting like light in a prism.

Roo Borson

A Sad Device, Quadrant Editions, Ontario, Canada, page 20.

As I have said before, the work of Roo Borson pleases me very much. I was just able to get a copy of another old title of hers. I picked out this poem to use tonight earlier today. When I went to type it, I saw that the bookmark has obscured that the poem was not over at the bottom of page 20, but continued for two and a half more pages. Too much to type. So I spent another hour looking for something else. In the end, I came back to this, because I like it so much. Everything doesn't always work out according to plan. . .

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Music in the field

Mornings in Michigan, I would go out into the mist, looking for beauty.
I often found it there.


At night we read together in the big bed
that I love---yellow lamplight
spilled across our crossed limbs, hip
to thigh, exchanging passages aloud,
then subsiding once again into silence.

There is music in the field behind
our house. Some nights, even
in the day, it rises up on air, then recedes
into the earth. It comes and goes
like this, but is always there, concealed
in the waving grass.

Mari L'Esperance

The Darkened Temple, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2008, page 78.

L'Esperance is a poet whose work I had not seen, until something called my attention to it the other day. This is a dynamite book! There are several threads that run through it: Japan and Japanese in World War II, her Japanese mother and the loss of this mother. The poems are strong, and very interesting, and can be understood with a reasonable effort. This is one of the simpler ones. There is one about Hirohito that I hope to nerve up enough to put on this blog very soon. Wars . . . . .

Saturday, February 21, 2015

By the Creek

Late light on the creek as the mallards assemble.

Darkening, Then Brightening

The sky keeps lying to the farmhouse,
lining up its heavy clouds
above the blue table umbrella,
then launching them over the river.
And the day feels hopeless
until it notices a few trees
dropping delicately their white petals
on the grass beside the birdhouse
perched on its wooden post,
the blinking fledglings stuffed inside
like clothes in a tiny suitcase. At first
you wandered lonely through the yard
and it was no help knowing Wordsworth
felt the same, but then Whitman
comforted you a little, and you saw
the grass as uncut hair, yearning
for the product to make it shine.
Now you lie on the couch beneath the skylight,
the sky starting to come clean,
mixing its cocktail of sadness and dazzle,
a deluge and then a digging out
and then enough time for one more
dance or kiss before it starts again,
darkening, then brightening.
You listen to the tall wooden clock
in the kitchen: its pendulum clicks
back and forth all day, and it chimes
with a pure sound, every hour on the hour,
though it always mistakes the hour.

Kim Addonizio
copyright 2015 by the author.

I have known the work of Kim Addonizio for a long time, ever since she was a young poet making a big splash in the Bay Area years and years ago. But I don't think I have featured a poem of hers here. I can definitely recommend the book she wrote on writing with Dorianne Laux, and another called Ordinary Genius; a guide for the poet within, as well as her many books of poems and other writing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Quiet Afternoon at the Office

Yesterday's group of ducks around a small serving of cracked corn reminds me of a campfire.
I guess this is the mallards' office; they're at work. Orange feet help in fiery illusion.
We are having great weather; I guess we had just as well enjoy it.

A Quiet Afternoon at the Office

When you're overwhelmed at your job
       & the room is a field of consciousness,
      forming first the violet edges
   & later the pierced spiral
              of what just happened,
you try to remember events while you
stumble over twigs of the day like a red bee.
        So much anger in the economy
     after too much not enough—
people setting tents in the streets,
              the last of the fruit gives way
on branches you see as you work
   holding the annihilated breath.

Now that the crisis has no locale
there's a sense of the lively unit
into which they had placed feeling:
fatigue & theory, cornice & cup,
links of your spine on the chair…
what will they do, will they do, will they do
when labor rebels but not quickly?
It was so much work to cohere—
a radical hope fills in: revolt
in the square, thin crows,
fat capital, the ash, the lists,
the fire you'd been harvesting, for this—
                                                                                                          for MM
Brenda Hillman

Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, Wesleyan, 2014, page 74.
This newest book of Hillman's is great to hang out with. It is very economical, but not stingy. One needs to read carefully, and think about the times we are living in. The next page gives us this exact same text as A Quiet Afternoon at the Office II, but as a paragraph, with a word-sized space between each line. It is wonderful to compare the effect of each.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

All the quick notes

The symmetrical beauty of feathers is hard to resist; 
I had a childhood friend who wouldn't pick them up because 
of something she called "bird lice" but I never really checked into that. 
Since I have yard ducks now, I often get a chance at a fresh beauty.

Mozart, for Example

          All the quick notes
          Mozart didn't have time to use
          before he entered the cloud boat

are falling now from the beaks
of the finches
that have gathered from the joyous summer

    into the hard winter
    and, like Mozart, they speak of nothing
    but light and delight,

though it is true, the heavy blades of the world
are still pounding underneath.
And this is what you can do too, maybe,
if you live simply and with a lyrical heart
in the cumbered neighborhoods or even,
as Mozart sometimes managed to, in a palace,
    offering tune after tune after tune,
    making some hard-hearted prince
    prudent and kind, just by being happy.

Mary Oliver
Thirst; poems, Beacon Press, 2006, Kindle location 76.

I, too, find Mozart uplifting, and of a happy spirit. And I was pleased by the way, in this poem, 
all the indented stanzas are not placed at the same distance from the left margin, but that the first stanza is indented more.