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Showing posts from June, 2015

Five Poems, Five Days: Part V

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The Quest by James Wright
In pasture where the leaf and wood
Were lorn of all delicious apple
And underfoot a long and supple
Bough leaned down to dip in mud,
I came before the dark to stare
At a gray nest blown in a swirl,
As in the arm of a dead girl
Crippled and torn and laid out bare.

On a hill I came to a bare house
And crept beside its bleary windows,
But no one lived in those gray hollows,
And rabbits ate the dying grass.
I stood upright, and beat the door,
Alone, indifferent, and aloof
To pebbles rolling down the roof
And dust that filmed the deadened air.

High and behind, where twilight chewed
Severer planes of hills away,
And the bonehouse of a rabbit lay
Dissolving by the darkening road,
I came, and rose to meet the sky,
And reached my fingers to a nest
Of stars laid upwards in the west;
They hung too high; my hands fell empty.

So as you sleep, I seek your bed
And lay my careful, quiet ear
Among the nestings of your hair,
Against your tenuous, fragile head,
And hear the b…

Five Poems, Five Days, Part IV ( and photos from the Pittsburgh reading)

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The Armadillo by Elizabeth Bishop This is the time of year when almost every night the frail, illegal fire balloons appear. Climbing the mountain height,
rising toward a saint still honored in these parts, the paper chambers flush and fill with light that comes and goes, like hearts.
Once up against the sky it's hard to tell them from the stars -- planets, that is -- the tinted ones: Venus going down, or Mars,
or the pale green one. With a wind, they flare and falter, wobble and toss; but if it's still they steer between the kite sticks of the Southern Cross,
receding, dwindling, solemnly and steadily forsaking us, or, in the downdraft from a peak, suddenly turning dangerous.
Last night another big one fell. It splattered like an egg of fire against the cliff behind the house. The flame ran down. We saw the pair
of owls who nest there flying up and up, their whirling black-and-white stained bright pink underneath, until they shrieked up out of sight.
The ancient owls' nes…

Five Poems, Five Days: Part III

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When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone by Galway Kinnell 8
When one has lived a long time alone,
one likes alike the pig, who brooks no deferment
of gratification, and the porcupine, or thorned pig,
who enters the cellar but not the house itself
because of eating down the cellar stairs on the way up,
and one likes the worm, who by bunching herself together
and expanding works her way through the ground,
no less than the butterfly, who totters full of worry
among the day lilies, as they darken,
and more and more one finds one likes
any other species better than one's own,
which has gone amok, making one self-estranged,
when one has lived a long time alone.

from When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone, published by Alfred A. Knopf

(This whole cycle, printed at the back of the book, is one of my favorite poems ever, but I didn't feel like I could really get away with publishing all eleven parts here.)

Five Poems, Five Days: Part II

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In Heraclitus' River  by Wislawa Szymborska,
trans. Joanna Trzeciak

In Heraclitus' river
a fish fishes for fish,
a fish quarters a fish with a sharp fish,
a fish builds a fish, a fish lives in a fish,
a fish flees a fish under siege.

In Heraclitus' river
a fish loves a fish,
your eyes -- it says -- glitter like fishes in the sky,
I want to swim with you to the common sea,
O most beautiful of the school of fish.

In Heraclitus' river
a fish invented the fish beyond fishes,
a fish kneels before the fish, a fish sings to the fish,
asks the fish for an easier swim.

In Heraclitus' river
I, the sole fish, I, a fish apart
(say, from the tree fish and the stone fish)
at certain moments find myself writing small fish
in scales so briefly silver,
that it may be the darkness winking in embarrassment.

from Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska, publishedby W.W. Norton & Co.

ALSO, NIGHT-POST BONUS: This gorgeous long poem by Ryan Black overat Tupelo Quarterly.

Five Poems, Five Days: Part I

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Also, unremarkable but pretty Instagram pics of my garden this spring, 'cause, you know, this blog needs some help in the visual department.














Day One: XVI by Derek Walcott

So what shall we do for the dead, to whose conch-bordered
tumuli our lifelong attraction is drawn
as to a magnetic empire, whose cities lie ordered
with streets and rational avenues, exact as the grid
of our vibrating metropolis? In our arrogance, we imagine
that they, too, share the immense, inaudible pulse
of the clock-shaped earth, slower than ours, maybe, but within
our dimension, our simple mathematical formulae.
Any peace so indifferent, where all our differences fuse,
is an insult to imagine; what use is any labor we
accept? They must find our prayers boring, for one prays
that they will keep missing us when they have no urge
to be ever-remembered, they cannot see what we hoard --
photograph, letter, keepsake, muttered or knitted homily --
as we change flags and houses. We still wish them to serve
us, exp…

Writing AND Running in One Week: A Summer Recess Miracle!

My summer writing group met this week. Three out of four of us met, at least, and it was a good beginning. We did chit chat for a few minutes too long at the beginning (which is against the rules), but then we each buried ourselves in our writing in one of the small meeting rooms in the library. We worked at a table in silence for nearly three hours. It was lovely.
It took me a while to begin, though. I have, as I've mentioned before, several writing projects floating around in my head, but I thought it was probably best to keep it simple and just begin writing a poem. I've been reading poems and reading about the craft of poetry almost every day since school let out, but I haven't written a poem for months. So it seemed like a good beginning point, for both my summer writing endeavors AND my participation in the group.
It was strange, though, writing in the presence of other people . . . and other people I know at that. I'm used to writing in the presence of sleeping…

A Possible Summer Writing Group, Boo Killebrew's "Miller, Mississippi," and . . . Field Day

At the end of last week I attempted to create a small writing group that will meet once a week during the summer -- to do NOTHING but write. No workshops, no craft talk, just gathering in the semi-comfortable chairs of the local library for three hours, away from the messy houses and the kids and the talking spouses, and attempting to get words on a page on a regular basis. Everyone was in, excited, ready-to-go . . . and then no one could meet this Wednesday. (Including myself, because I fell ill YET AGAIN (read: another/thesamethatwon'tgoaway stupid sinus infection) and had to ply my system with antibiotics.)
1) I am falling apart.
2) I fear this is a sign of things to come. Both my falling apart (more), and the inability of the writing group to get together.
Still, we'll see. 
On Tuesday I saw an amazing reading of an equally amazing play by Boo Killebrew, this year's winner of the Leah Ryan's Fund for Emerging Women Writers. The acting was incredible, and the play,…

Good News and My Morning Reading

A quick note to say, excitedly, that the online journal Menacing Hedge has accepted the first FIVE chapters in my fairy tale poem, "The Woman with the Frog Tongue," and as well as a handful of the in-between poems that enact a kind of conversation between a child reader and her mother. 
I know. The whole thing, from title to conceit, just sounds weird, doesn't it? I hope the actual poems are better than they sound when I try to describe them.
Also, I just finished reading this incredible poem by Monica Youn on the Poetry Foundation's web site.
This thing is a fucking achievement and might even make me subscribe to Poetry again.
I might use it in my Advanced Poetry class in the fall, too . . . if it runs. (Fingers crossed, please let it run!)
I'm feeling schizophrenic again. There is SO MUCH TO DO and that I want to do that I can't quite figure out what to focus on next. I'm doing, piecemeal, little things for school, little things for my writing, little …