I like the specificity of this poem, and how it moves from the specific into the metaphoric and back. Nice work!
I was moving the herd from the lower pasture
to the loading pen up by the road.
It was cold and their mouths steamed like torn bread.
The gate swung on its wheel, knocking at the herd
as they pushed through. They stomped
and pocked the freezing mud with their hooves.
This was January. I faced backward into the hard year.
The herd faced forward as the herd always does,
muscling through the lit pane of winter air. Continue reading “Monday poem”
At the end of services last week, Rabbi Margaret Holub put out the sin buffet, which I have written about before. This is a ritual I love, taking breadcrumbs from the cup by the “sins” that seem relevant and then walking out to the ocean and casting them into the surf.
The idea is to reflect on these during the 10 days until Yom Kippur, so that you can atone for them effectively.
I see that I found more flaws in my character to reflect on this year, and share them here:
Of course, if these don’t seem to apply to you, you can always select “Other” and simply fill in what applies. Happy New Year!
Jericho Brown came to town to read on Thursday, and synchronistically, this poem appeared in the Sunday NY Times Magazine.
The water is one thing, and one thing for miles.
The water is one thing, making this bridge
Built over the water another. Walk it
Early, walk it back when the day grows dim, everyone
Rising just to find a way toward rest again.
We work, start on one side of the day
Like a planet’s only sun, our eyes straight
Until the flame sinks. The flame sinks. Thank God Continue reading “Jericho Brown”
This year I was lucky to return to the Mendocino coast for Rosh Hashana services at the wonderful Mendocino Coast Jewish Community, led by the always inspiring Rabbi Margaret Holub. She invited me to do a teaching this year, and I responded with a poem I wrote on the coast about twenty years ago:
The Afternoon Before the Day of Atonement
I thought I was going to see the seals
asleep on the rocks, but it turned out
the cormorant was the real show, wrestling
a twisting length of eel, persistently
untwisting with its beak to swallow it whole.
Then, as I watched, uncertain whether
I’d seen eel or kelp straighten and slide
down the long bird throat, speared its beak
into the surf and did it again,
unmistakably eel, writhing
for its life, no match for the skilled
beak-tossing cormorant. Continue reading “L’Shana Tova”
I’m in NY and days have been packed, but here’s another poem from Poetry Daily, originally published in Carolina Quarterly. I especially like the way the poem uncurls, half-hidden, like memory itself.
My mother strokes the sand
toward her with her palm, drawing
the story out, then levels it
back with the edge of her hand.
All the while
a ghost crab, half-hidden
under a canopy of crisped
sargassum, so well-camouflaged
it’s just a blur of movement,
has been sidling in and out
its tunnel, forming identical boulders
of damp sand to stack
at the entrance,
a bulwark. The story
is a stone she collects
from the tideline of the past.
Continue reading “Tuesday and Monday’s poem”
You may remember a couple of pasts posts of poems by Pádraig Ó Tuama. If you are local to the Bay Area, you have an opportunity to hear him live this Thursday evening at 7 at Mill Valley Library. Details below. I think it’s going to be an excellent reading. It’s free, but click here to register to be sure you have a seat: https://conta.cc/2zwYWMa
It’s so hard not to be consumed by politics, to feel I have to “DO SOMETHING.” And sometimes I do. But I love this poem by Yeats on the subject, almost 100 years ago when the war against fascism in Spain was raging:
How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politic,
Yet here’s a traveled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there’s a politician
That has both read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war’s alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms.
W. B. Yeats
Another poem from Poetry Daily:
I wept with my grandmother when Reagan
was shot because that’s what she wanted.
At night, she’d tell me about a city built
by Evita for children in Buenos Aires, the city
of her first exile. Children went about
municipal duties in the small post office
and mini city hall to learn to be good citizens.
ln Argentina she sold bread pudding
and gave French and English lessons from her
home for money to buy shoes. She promised
we’d go someday, but we never did. She’d say
Peruvians were gossipy, Argentinians snobbish, but
Chileans were above reproach. A little bit migrant,
a little bit food insecurity, she was the brass bust
of JFK on her altar, the holy card of Saint Anthony
on her TV. She was her green card and the ebony cross
above her bed. The lilted yes when she answered
the phone, and the song she liked to hum about bells
and God that ended tirin-tin-tin-tirin-tin-tan: miles
and ages away from her story, she sang it.
Carmen Giménez Smith
From Be Recorder
Yesterday at the Berkeley post office I was waiting in line for stamps. A long line, moving slowly, two working clerks. A clerk was free, and the man in front of me didn’t move up, so I tapped him lightly on the shoulder–something that seemed a perfectly normal thing to do at the time–to alert him that the clerk was free. The man was an older black man and he immediately turned and grabbed me and pushed me hard, yelling “Don’t you put your white hands on me, ” etc. No apology could mollify him; he was clearly at some hair trigger point, and my tap had been the trigger. The supervisor came out and after some time calmed him down somewhat, and we all went on with our morning, slightly shaken.
I realize we are now in a world in which it is not safe to tap someone on the shoulder; the shared assumptions of civility have eroded to the point where we don’t know what will offend, I lesson I’m glad I learned with someone who wasn’t carrying a gun!
Continue reading “Two days in Berkeley, mixed emotions”
Reddick, my cat named after the former A’s baseball player with red hair, has decided to help me with the order of my poems.
Once in awhile something really perfect appears on youtube. It’s not about the nail, created by Jason Headley is funny and so smart. Take a look.
I heard Jane Hirshfield read this poem at a benefit for the beautiful Columbia Gorge. I kept thinking of it every time I cooked something with carrots or onions, which is pretty often. So I asked and she graciously sent me a copy
As If Hearing Heavy Furniture Moved on the Floor Above Us
As things grow rarer, they enter the ranges of counting.
Remain this many Siberian tigers,
that many African elephants. Three hundred red-legged egrets.
We scrape from the world its tilt and meander of wonder
as if eating the last burned onions and carrots from a cast iron pan.
Closing eyes to taste better the char of ordinary sweetness.
You can heae her read at Dominican University on September 4, to support immigrant families.