New beginnings

Is everyone feeling a sense that this existential dread is lifting? I know I am. This poem seems apt for this moment of uncertainty and hope.

Gestational Size Equivalency Chart

Catherine Pierce 
(photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

Your baby is the size of a sweet pea.
Your baby is the size of a cherry.
Your baby is the size of a single red leaf
in early September. Your baby is the size
of What if. The size of Please Lord.
The size of a young lynx stretching.
Heat lightning. A lava lamp.
Your baby is the size of every dream
you’ve ever had about being onstage
and not knowing your lines. Your baby
is the size of a can of Miller Lite.
Apple-picking. Google. All of Google.
Your baby is also the size of a googol,
and also the size of the iridescence
at a hummingbird’s throat. Your baby
is the size of a bulletproof nap mat.
Cassiopeia on a cold night. The size
of the 1.5-degree rise in ocean temps
between 1901 and 2015. Your baby
is the size of the lie you told your mother
the night before Senior Skip Day, and
also the size of the first time you saw
a whale shark glide by, its gray heft
filling the tank’s window, and also
the size of just the very best acorn.
Your baby is the size of the Mona Lisa.
The size of the Louvre. The size
of that moment in “Levon” when
the strings first kick in. Your baby
is the size of a baby-sized pumpkin.
A bright hibiscus. A door. Your baby
is the size of the Gravitron, and your fear
the first time you rode it that your heart
might drop right through your body,
and then your elation when it didn’t,
when the red vinyl panels rose and fell
and you rose and fell with them.

Catherine Pierce
from Danger Days

So many poems…

I subscribe to  five or six “poem a day” type lists, and scroll through them to see if there is something I might like to post.  This one, from Academy of American Poets, is by José Olivarez..  I think the mix of Spanish and English works especially well, and the narrative is vivid and compelling. That effect, that you are just telling the story, seems so simple, and is so hard to achieve.

poem where no one is deported

now i like to imagine la migra running
into the sock factory where my mom
& her friends worked. it was all women

who worked there. women who braided
each other’s hair during breaks.
women who wore rosaries, & never

had a hair out of place. women who were ready
for cameras or for God, who ended all their sentences
with si dios quiere. as in: the day before

the immigration raid when the rumor
of a raid was passed around like bread
& the women made plans, si dios quiere.

so when the immigration officers arrived
they found boxes of socks & all the women absent.
safe at home. those officers thought

no one was working. they were wrong.
the women would say it was god working.
& it was god, but the god

my mom taught us to fear
was vengeful. he might have wet his thumb
& wiped la migra out of this world like a smudge

on a mirror. this god was the god that woke me up
at 7am every day for school to let me know
there was food in the fridge for me & my brothers.

i never asked my mom where the food came from,
but she told me anyway: gracias a dios.
gracias a dios del chisme, who heard all la migra’s plans

& whispered them into the right ears
to keep our families safe.

José Olivarez
from Citizen Illegal


After a crazy week

As Bette Davis once said, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Only in this case, a bumpy 10 days.  I came again to this Robert Duncan poem, imagining a quiet and sacred place.

But this poem, by Ishion Hutchinson also seems to resonate.

The Difference

They talk oil in heavy jackets and plaid over
their coffee, they talk Texas and the north cold,

but mostly oil and Obama, voices dipping
vexed and then they talk Egypt failing,

Greece broken and it takes cash for France not
charity and I rather speak Russia than Ukraine

one says in rubles than whatever, whatever
the trouble, because there is sea and gold,

a tunnel, wherever right now, an-anyhow-Belarus,
oh, I will show you something, conspiring

coins, this one, China, and they marvel,
their minds hatched crosses, a frontier

zeroed not by voyage or pipeline nor the milk
foam of God, no, not the gutsy weather they talk

frizzled, the abomination worsening
opulence to squalor, never the inverse.

Ishion Hutchinson

Starting fresh

With hope for a better new year, a poem that seems appropriate–of course, right now no flying to Rome or Greece. Still…

The New Experience

I was ready for a new experience.
All the old ones had burned out.

They lay in little ashy heaps along the roadside
And blew in drifts across the fairgrounds and fields.

From a distance some appeared to be smoldering
But when I approached with my hat in my hands

They let out small puffs of smoke and expired.
Through the windows of houses I saw lives lit up

With the otherworldly glow of TV
And these were smoking a little bit too.

 I flew to Rome. I flew to Greece.
I sat on a rock in the shade of the Acropolis

And conjured dusky columns in the clouds.
I watched waves lap the crumbling coast.

 I heard wind strip the woods.
I saw the last living snow leopard 

Pacing in the dirt. Experience taught me
That nothing worth doing is worth doing

 For the sake of experience alone.
I bit into an apple that tasted sweetly of time.

The sun came out. It was the old sun
With only a few billion years left to shine.

Suzanne Buffam

from The Irrationalist