Wilbur could not rescue Plath

Thanks to my daughter, who forwarded on this poem, about a meeting in which Richard Wilbur was recruited to encourage Sylvia Plath after a suicide attempt:

Cottage Street, 1953

Framed in her phoenix fire-screen, Edna Ward
Bends to the tray of Canton, pouring tea
For frightened Mrs. Plath; then, turning toward
The pale, slumped daughter, and my wife, and me.

Asks if we would prefer it weak or strong.
Will we have milk or lemon, she enquires?
The visit seems already strained and long.
Each in his turn, we tell her our desires.

It is my office to exemplify
The published poet in his happiness,
Thus cheering Sylvia, who has wished to die;
But half-ashamed, and impotent to bless

Continue reading “Wilbur could not rescue Plath”

Favas and Fussell

In the garden, the favas are burgeoning. They’re a pleasure to pick, shell, peel, and eat, though a bit of work. They have a wonderful nutty texture and a lovely green taste. They are great sautéed with a little garlic, or added to a salad or stir fry.

While I was peeling them I was thinking about Paul Fussell, whose obituary was in the NY Times today. Continue reading “Favas and Fussell”

A Sunday walk

We decided to head to Inspiration Point for a late afternoon walk yesterday. As we were leaving our street, we saw two tiny fauns and a doe in our neighbor’s yard, right by the car. The fauns were nursing. Though I’m not a huge fan of deer–those ravenous despoilers of gardens!–it was an amazing sight.

Then we walked the couple of paved miles up to the point which was unusually crowded. As we headed back down the trail, a woman coming up asked, “Aren’t you staying to see the eclipse?” Turns out there was a solar eclipse scheduled to occur in half an hour. This explained the crowds. But we didn’t have the requisite dark glasses, so kept on heading back down. As we came along the trail, a couple pointed out to us that where the leaves created a filter, shadows of the eclipse appeared on the asphalt. I didn’t believe it at first; the eclipse had barely started. But the crescent became undeniable as we walked through increasingly delineated moon shadows all the way back.

Continue reading “A Sunday walk”

Raising the bar

This morning Larry pointed out an article in the paper about a robotic arm. The woman in the picture was able to get the arm to raise a sippy cup to her lips through thought. She thought the command and the arm raised the cup.

“How can it do that?” I wondered.

“I don’t know,” Larry said, “but it’s certainly going to energize domestic violence.”


Monday already

It feels like someone is removing days from the week! But here it is again, my turn to send a poem out. I am choosing this one by Seamus Heaney:


A Kite for Aibhín, after ‘L’Aquilone’
by Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912)

Air from another life and time and place,
Pale blue heavenly air is supporting
A white wing beating high against the breeze,

And yes, it is a kite! As when one afternoon
All of us there trooped out
Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn,

I take my stand again, halt opposite
Anahorish Hill to scan the blue,
Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet.

And now it hovers, tugs, veers, dives askew,
Lifts itself, goes with the wind until
It rises to loud cheers from us below.

Rises, and my hand is like a spindle
Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower
Climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher

The longing in the breast and planted feet
And gazing face and heart of the kite flier
Until string breaks and – separate, elate –

The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.

Seamus Heaney

Continue reading “Monday already”

Radically Accessible Poetry

I’ve been thinking about an online journal, maybe called Radically Accessible Poetry. The poems in the journal would be anything I wanted to publish. The only criterion for publication is that they have an immediate impact. Of course, I would be the judge of that. It’s a tempting idea because so much poetry seems unavailable–that is, the content and the expression leave me unmoved. And there’s something particularly depressing in reading one presumably sincere effort after another and feeling so little.

In any case,  Radically Accessible Poetry (or RAP–what’s a journal without an acronym?) might include poems like the two I mentioned almost a year ago, as well as longer poems. Most poems would be short, though. For one thing, short poems are less demanding and therefore more accessible, and for another it’s easier to find good short ones than good long ones.

As I don’t want to start a whole new website for RAD, perhaps I’ll just assume my poetry entries here are the journal. Interesting that the flyer for WIlliam Stafford’s reading was from a May 8th in the past; too bad he’s not with us anymore to read poems like this: Continue reading “Radically Accessible Poetry”

Poetry Monday

The prose poem is a medium difficult to describe–a paragraph? a story? a reflection? It’s shorter than a story, but not in short lines. It should make you catch your breath the way a poem does, I think. This one, by Robert Hass, does everything it should:

A Story About the Body

The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she made amused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, “I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have a double mastectomy,” and when he didn’t understand, “I’ve lost both my breasts.” Continue reading “Poetry Monday”

Mrs. Darbyshire

Forty-two years ago, we spent the summer in a little town outside Dublin with our then four-month old daughter. Larry would mostly take off during the day, which left me lots of time to become friendly with the curious neighbors. Mrs. Daryshire had the baby and me over for tea one day, and I loved her scones. I asked her for the recipe, and she said–like a true home cook–oh, no recipe, dear, just a little of this and a pinch of that. Eventually, she let me watch her make them. I recorded the ingredients and measures as best I could while she did. At the end, she threw a bit of flour into the bowl and rubbed it around to gather the bits of dough that had stuck.  Then she went out and threw this to the chickens. I was deeply impressed with the organic efficiency of it all, not to mention the scones.

Now, so many years later, I make my own scones, throwing the remnants to my chickens. Continue reading “Mrs. Darbyshire”

The traveling show

Last year I read at the Falkirk Center in San Rafael with four other poets as part of the Marin Poetry Center’s Summer Traveling Show. I was very pleasantly surprised at how good the event was, and was glad to be part of it. So this year, I’m doing it again:

May 17, 2012
7:00 pm

Karla Clark
Andrea Freeman
Stephie Mendel
Maggie Morley
Meryl Natchez
Leah Shelleda

Host: Rebecca Foust

Falkirk Cultural Center, 1408 Mission Street, San Rafael

Okay, so it’s not really in a circus tent. Falkirk is a lovely Victorian with commensurate grounds right in downtown San Rafael. I don’t think I’m reading any pastry poems this year, but will bring something tasty for everyone to eat to go with my poem “In Praise of Fat.” We read for 10 minutes each, and at least last year, it was an intriguing mix, some laughs and some of those sighs a really good poem can elicit. Come hear for yourself.