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Archive for October, 2010

On a bit of a former Poet Laureate roll, it seems. One of my favorite Robert Hass (1941-) poems:

“Meditation at Lagunitas”

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you
and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

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Another Poet Laureate selection, this one from the 2007-2008 Laureate, Charles Simic (1938-).

“Love Poem”

Feather duster.
Birdcage made of whispers.
Tail of a black cat.

I’m a child running
With open scissors.
My eyes are bandaged.

You are a heart pounding
In a dark forest.
The shriek from the Ferris wheel.

That’s it, bruja
With arms akimbo
Stamping your foot.

Night at the fair.
Woodwind band.
Two blind pickpockets in the crowd.

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One from the young and talented California native, Ada Limón.

 

“Marketing Life for Those Of Us Left”

Stuck in the answer of day,
all we’ve got are these people to rely on,
and trees, and the grasp of a river in the mind.

All the beautiful girls in the office are laughing and I laugh
along. And all of us good people, honest and clean,

And what puts the mean in some of us?

Sumptuous mountain, midnight milkweed,
come to the valley of neon and no-crying.

High hillside of home,
I’m waving from the cement center, can you see me?

I’ve got this big city in me. Pretty on fire, pretty high wired.

It’s been a year since Jess died, she said,
“I always knew it would come down to pills in the applesauce.”

And the house is not haunted, nor the office.

I wish it was, don’t you?

We were wilder before, see-through shirts
and model boys and bouncers in hotels lobbies
across the country.

Who knew it would be hard to get to thirty-two?

A friend says the best way to love the world is to think of leaving.

We’re all in a little trouble, you know?
Piles of empty stars we’ve tossed aside for the immediate kiss.

Push me around a bit, shake my pockets, I store everything
in my mouth, going to make an apple out of plastic,
going to make a real star out of the apple, then I’m
going to sell it to you.

I’m going to tell you it’s the most important thing.
I’m going to tell you I’m sorry, I’m going to crash
on your communal couch of unwanted.

Let’s say bloom.
Let’s say we’re a miracle of technology.
It’s harder to not say anything. It’s harder to admit
we are alive sometimes, isn’t it?

It’s all we’ve got, say it, pinch me.
You’re here. So am I. So there.

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To my loyal readers of yore, random stumblers-upon, and new eyes: I am back in action. I can’t promise to post a poem every day, but I would like to begin sharing again because I love poetry so much that I can’t keep it to myself. So come live in the layers with me again.

And to start us off, how about one by the current US poet laureate and one of my favorite poets W.S. Merwin (1927-) in which he pays tribute to the essence of both verse and of our lives.

To The Words

When it happens you are not there

oh you beyond numbers
beyond recollection
passed on from breath to breath
given again
from day to day from age
to age
charged with knowledge
knowing nothing

indifferent elders
indispensable and sleepless

keepers of our names
before ever we came
to be called by them

you that were
formed to begin with
you that were cried out
you that were spoken
to begin with
to say what could not be said

ancient precious
and helpless ones

say it

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