This will be my last post until the New Year. It’s amazing to me how well the sonnet has held up as a form. An example appropriate to the darkness of the season:
Noch Einmal, an Orpheus
When the Queen of Darkness heard his voice,
That mortal stranger, saw him lift the lyre
And watched the dull throng of the dead rejoice
To hear him tell of earth and earth’s desire,
Of pain, of longing, she was not amused.
She caught that veiled allusion to the shame
Of her own story and would have refused
Him then and there, had not the shades that came
In droves now clamored so for his request.
“Be rid of him,” she breathed to the immense
Stillness at her side, who thought it best
To play a cruel joke at the man’s expense,
Fated as he was to indecision,
To second thoughts, a lifetime of revision.
I see I’ve only posted one poem by Robert Frost in the history of this blog. Today’s post makes this two. He’s such a master of rhyme–could anyone else rhyme honeysuckle and knuckle without it seeming contrived?
He lived so long, it’s surprising to remember he was born in 1874. We always see the white-haired Frost–the one who read at Kennedy’s inauguration. But he was a young, unknown, driven, and ambitious man for a long time before that.
Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air
That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of–was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?
I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.
I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.
Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain
Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.
When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,
The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.
This year I got my first Cream Legbar chickens. I have four. They are curious, friendly, and lay turquoise eggs. On top of that, they have adorable little feathery topknots. Definitely my favorite chickens of the moment.
As many of us will be on planes during this season, I thought I’d include two poems about airports, each named for the gate where it was inspired. Next time your flight is delayed, you can bring this up and pass a little time.
At gate C22 in the Portland airport
a man in a broad-band leather hat kissed
a woman arriving from Orange County.
They kissed and kissed and kissed. Long after
the other passengers clicked the handles of their carry-ons
and wheeled briskly toward short-term parking,
the couple stood there, arms wrapped around each other
like he’d just staggered off the boat at Ellis Island,
like she’d been released at last from ICU, snapped Continue reading “Airport poems” →
Instead of a vision of sugarplums, how about a simple, inexpensive and wonderful meal that lasts for days. I set myself the challenge of making a pot of vegetarian beans that taste as good as ones cooked with a ham hock.
First I made a rich vegetable stock: two whole ears of corn (chopped), turnip, rutabaga, golden beet, red pepper, carrot, onion, celery, herbs, simmered about two hours and strained. I rinsed the beans (I used black beans), brought them to a boil, and drained them. (Someone told me this reduces their gas-producing quality.) Then I cooked the beans in the stock with chopped early girl tomatoes, shallots, onions, garlic, and a chipotle pepper for about 40 minutes in the pressure cooker. After they were soft, I added cumin, chiles, cilantro, lime, salt.
These may be the most flavorful beans I ever made. We ate them with rice and chile verde, with eggs, and by themselves. Yum!
Apparently, Larry hated yesterday’s poem. So I thought I’d post this little anecdote he told me to balance the scales. It’s about Steve Wynn, a big investor in casinos in the US, Macao and Hong Kong–a casino magnate in fact. He was asked in an interview how he got into the casino business. His answer was something like this:
“The first time I went to Las Vegas, I saw this gigantic room. At one end was a door. People came through that door with their money, and hours later they went back out without it. I thought, ‘What a wonderful business!’.”