Your Monday poem on Wednesday, by Jane Hirshfield, Worth the wait, I hope.
My mare, when she was in heat,
would travel the fenceline for hours,
wearing the impatience
in her feet into the ground.
Not a stallion for miles, I’d assure her,
give it up.
She’d widen her nostrils,
sieve the wind for news, be moving again,
her underbelly darkening with sweat,
then stop at the gate a moment, wait
to see what I might do. Continue reading “Heat by Hirshfield” →
This poem, by Dunya Mikhail seems appropriate.
The War Works Hard
How magnificent the war is!
Early in the morning
it wakes up the sirens
and dispatches ambulances
to various places
swings corpses through the air
rolls stretchers to the wounded Continue reading “After the Women’s March” →
It’s hard not to feel that things are worse now than they’ve ever been. But looking back at the fifties, I remember feeling they were pretty terrible then. This poem, from that period by Robert Lowell, gives a good description of that feeling:
(for Elizabeth Bishop)
Nautilus Island’s hermit
heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
her sheep still graze above the sea.
Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer is first selectman in our village;
she’s in her dotage.
the hierarchic privacy
of Queen Victoria’s century
she buys up all
the eyesores facing her shore,
and lets them fall.
The season’s ill–
we’ve lost our summer millionaire,
who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
was auctioned off to lobstermen.
A red fox stain covers Blue Hill. Continue reading “A little perspective” →
I read about Bette Howland and her memoir/novel Blue in Chicago in the NY Times obituaries last month. According to the obituary she was a a protege (and perhaps lover) of Saul Bellow and had a troubled life.
I got her book out of the library, and Blue in Chicago is an extraordinary work, giving a rich portrait of Chicago and the complexities of Jewish family life. Here is an excerpt:
“Words of Yiddish passed over the table like the Angel of Death. It was the language of bad news; bodily functions; the parts of dead chickens.”
And this, about her grandmother’s funeral:
“It seemed strange to me that my grandmother was at one and the same time carrion–garbage–that had to be got rid of, shoveled quickly out of sight; and something precious and tender, of infinite value, being laid away for safekeeping–sunk in a vault. These things seemed opposed, bu the weren’t; they couldn’t be; because both were true. It was necessary to hold them both in your mind at once. That’s all we were trying to do, standing over the open grave… Continue reading “The Exemplary Sentence” →
There is nothing to say about this poem–just buy the book.
The Age of Iron
When I see an ironing board
folded in the closet of a motel room,
and the iron resting like a sledgehammer on the shelf above,
I think of the Age of Iron
and my mother standing in the kitchen,
folding clothes on the green table,
a bottle if spray starch at her elbow, not even the radio on—
Continue reading “From Tony Hoagland’s new book” →
I have a system for New Year’s resolutions that works well for me: Aim small and succeed. I’ve discussed this before. But to update the list, I’ve since added: drive courteously (three years ago), no movie theater popcorn (two years ago), and better socks (last year). I’m still working on last year’s resolution, slowly replacing my ragtag collection with better socks, so I don’t need a new resolution this year.
The point is that these resolutions seem to last, not just for a year, but integrated into my life–unlike the grand, doomed resolutions I used to make. Of course, I have many projects and activities planned for 2018, both personal and political, but these are not resolutions, but practice.
I am also pleased that most Mondays for over six years, I’ve found and posted a poem I like. I almost always post poems that are contemporary, or at least 20th century. But last week Larry received a packet of broadsides that included one of my favorite poems by John Donne. So here is your New Year’s vitamin. It is the opening of the second stanza that I love most:
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.
If ever any beauty I did see,
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.
And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love, all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Continue reading “Of resolutions and poetry” →