I know I’ve posted several poems by Marie Howe before, but this seemed perfect for today. And if you can, there’s an event at Senator Feinstein’s San Francisco office today at noon–a rally of constituents requesting a town meeting. Another good way to observe Valentine’s Day.
When he finally put
his mouth on me—on
my shoulder—the world
shifted a little on the tilted
axis of itself. The minutes
since my brother died
stopped marching ahead like
dumb soldiers and
the stars rested.
His mouth on my shoulder and
then on my throat
and the world started up again
some machine deep inside it
all the little wheels
slowly reeling and speeding up,
the massive dawn lifting on the other
side of the turning world.
And when his mouth
Continue reading “Valentine’s Day poem”
This weekend I was lucky to work with two brilliant poets, and in our conversation I referred to this poem by Marie Howe. I couldn’t remember the title, and I had just lent my copy of What the Living Do to another poet friend (I’ve posted the title poem before). But today I was visiting yet another poet friend for a civilized latte and scone moment, and she lent me her copy, so I can print this wonderful poem here:
For Three Days
For three days now I’ve been trying to think of another word for gratitude
because my brother could have died and didn’t,
because for a week we stood in the intensive care unit trying not to imagine
how it would be then, afterwards.
My youngest brother, Andy, said: This is so weird. I don’t know if I’ll be
talking with John today, or buying a pair of pants for his funeral. Continue reading “For my brilliant friend”
It’s hard to define exactly how a prose poem differs from prose. But for me, a short piece that has an edge, that stays with you, that feels more powerful than the usual snippet of prose, is a prose poem. Here are two of my favorites (I’ve already posted “A Story About the Body,” another fav):
At my piano lesson early this week, my teacher’s dog saw her dog friend and the dog’s owner pass by the window. She often walks with them, but not that day. It was hard for her to understand why they were going without her, and she pranced around unhappily, left behind. It made me think of this poem, from What the Living Do, by Marie Howe. The book deals (for the most part) with poems about her brother’s death. What I love about this one is it’s oblique approach to mourning.
Andy sees us to the door, and Buddy is suddenly all over him, leaping
and barking because Andy said: walk. Are you going to walk home? he said.
To me. And Buddy thinks him and now, and he’s wrong. He doesn’t
understand the difference between sign and symbol like we do–the thing
and the word for the thing, how we can talk about something when it’s not
even there, without it actually happening–the way I talk about John. Continue reading “Another by Marie Howe”
Once in awhile a strong aversion to poetry comes over me, a sort of distaste for its pretentiousness. Like Marianne Moore, I, too, don’t like it. Yesterday was one of those days, and despite reading through a number of things, I couldn’t select one to send out, although it was Poetry Monday. But this morning I remembered this, by Marie Howe. Her book by the same title is definitely worth owning:
Here are some notes from the little pad I keep inside my purse to capture the stray sentence or idea, or in Brenda Hillman’s words, to be a rancher of phrases. These are all the more pleasing to me because they are surrounded by directions, movie and book titles, stray phone numbers.
We got ready and showed our home.
The visitor thought: you live well.
The slum must be inside you.
… Tomas Tranströmer, “The Scattered Congregation” (translated by Robert Bly)
Words make things happen. We must weigh them carefully.
… Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon (see more of these)
Maybe he better get out of here
before it’s too late, but maybe too late
was what he wanted.
… Philip Levine Continue reading “The exemplary sentence, take 3”