Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poetry Day

Afterwards, by William Stafford

Mostly you look back and say,
"Well, okay. Things might have
been different, sure,
and it's too bad, but look--
things happen like that,
and you did what you could."
You go back and pick up the pieces.
There's tomorrow.
There's that long bend
in the river on the way home.
Fluffy bursts of milkweed
are floating through shafts
of sunlight or disappearing
where trees reach out from
their dark roots.

Maybe people have to go
in and out of shadows

til they learn that floating,that immensity
waiting to receive whatever arrives with trust.
Maybe somebody has to explore what happens
when one of us wanders over near the edge
and falls for awhile. Maybe it was your turn.


Nancy P said...

Hey, what's the deal with the formatting? Did blogger ask me if I wanted it changed? Noooo.

Kinda hard to format poetry on the front page, but I'm just going to leave it like that.

Nancy P said...

Photo by Andif, of course!

boran2 said...

I've got no poetry but I do love that photo! Kudos, Andi!

Nancy P said...

Does everything look different to you guys, too? I hate it! Does the printing look light gray?

Beth said...

Yep, format has sure changed. They don't ask, or even warn you, when they make changes. It looks fine - just different.

Thanks for the poem, Nancy. It strikes a chord - which you might have expected. I'll work on the floating with trust. And will now go find a poem.

maryb said...

It is different. Plus commenting is different - the blogger window doesn't open.

I’ve been reading poems by Kay Ryan, the new poet laureate of the U.S. Here’s one:

A cat can draw
the blinds
behind her eyes
whenever she
decides. Nothing
alters in the stare
itself but she's
not there. Likewise
a future can occlude:
still sitting there,
doing nothing rude.

I also found a nice youtube of her reading her poem Home to Roost. I don’t think I can embed youtubes here. But you can see it here along with another of her poems, Repulsive Theory.

Beth said...

Okay, I tried to find a short-ish one, but I know we changed that rule last time. AND I resisted Billy Collins last time because I figured we'd all quote him. So, here's my contribution:

Lines Lost Among Trees

These are not the lines that came to me
while walking in the woods
with no pen
and nothing to write on anyway.

They are gone forever,
a handful of coins
dropped through the grate of memory,
along with the ingenious mnemonic

I devised to hold them in place -
all gone and forgotten
before I had returned to the clearing of lawn
in back of our quiet house

with its jars jammed with pens,
its notebooks and reams of blank paper,
its desk and soft lamp,
its table and the light from its windows.

So this is my elegy for them,
those six or eight exhalations,
the braided rope of the syntax,
the jazz of the timing,

and the little insight at the end
wagging like the short tail
of a perfectly obedient spaniel
sitting by the door.

FARfetched said...

Serena, my fictional FAR Future foster daughter, offers up the prologue to her one-act play, The Discomfiture of Lord Riot:

Friends and neighbors, full of food and esteem,
I beg you humbly, list now to our play.
It shall be brief, but hope that you will say
'Twas time well spent, op'ning, end, and between.

Our tale of two young lovers, cast by fate
Together, into one another's arms
As Lord Riot plots to do them great harm
Consumed as he is, by all that he hates.

But we do not bring you a tragic tale
For Riot's plans are all to be laid low.
By the schemes of these four youthful heroes,
And as of old, the evil plots shall fail.

Um… yeah, the formatting has changed a bit. It's still readable though.

Mary, I learned a long time ago how to draw the blinds behind my own eyes. It comes in handy sometimes. ;-)

FARfetched said...

Oh hey Beth, we crossed in posting!

AndiF said...

Since other people have been brave and posted their own poems ...

Past Time

The day we climbed
the long forbidden tree.
"too young, too thin", your father fingerwagged us
too many times,
we had to.

It's short, split-trunk body
was fine for us,
a reaching branch for each
to wrap with pressing thighs,
to embrace with grasping hands;
wanting limbs made to cradle,
we had to.

We scrambled up,
separate yet together,
higher and higher,
tossing leaves and taunts
until it came apart.
There was a scream, I thought,
and looked for your falling,
saw instead the tree split,
fibers tearing away in slow moving agony,
letting go, one, another, still another
until the parting was final.
Your father punished us,
slapping "why, why, why"
in rhythm to his strokes
but we never told him
we had to.

We thought he would know.

AndiF said...

Nancy, what a nice poem you found to go with my picture (oh wait, it wasn't the other way, was it?). ;)

Everybody should go watch to Mary's video. It's really good.

Beth, Billy Collin's is okay ... in fact, Billy Collins is very okay. Wonderful image.

Perfectly done prologue, Farf -- really sets the expectations and the tone.

Thanks, B2!

And yeah, the new format needs darker type would be nice though and a bigger comment box. But it's not too bad.

Lisa M said...

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

Lisa M said...

I used this Mary Oliver poem for my first day of school lesson last year. Even though the title includes death it is all about how to live. Helps me to be mindful of all the opportunities to LIVE each day not just exist.

Andi--Fantastic!! I could feel the emotion and hear the groaning strain of the kids and the tree.

Clapping for MaryB, Farf, Beth and of course Madame Blog--Nancy. Love that Tatoo Tree.

Thursday--Peeking toward the weekend.

Maria Lima said...

Wow, even the posting interface changed!

My contribution today, once again from Neil Gaiman.

Locks by Neil Gaiman (excerpt)

It is our right. It is our madness and our glory.
The repetition echoes down the years.
When your children grow; when your dark locks begin to silver,
when you are an old woman, alone with your three bears,
what will you see? What stories will you tell?

Read the entire poem

And, yay, the bat tree! I love that photo.

Happy Poetry!Thursday to you all.

Kelly McCullough said...

A very brief poem that is very dear to my heart:

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Nancy P said...

Wow, you guys, great stuff, and I particularly love the poems you wrote. Really *truly* love them.

I picked my poem because I used it--and other Stafford poems--for inspiration this past year for the book I was writing. He was a Kansas poet, and I'm hoping to lightly steer my readers to an appreciation of the state's literary talents as I get more appreciative of them, myself. If I get time today I'll type a second poem that, in my mind, accompanies the first.

Poetry For the Win!

Jen said...

Andi, I love that.

Excerpted from
Duece: 12:23 a.m., by Barbara Anderson

DR. BERMAN, my old lady listens to you
You wouldn't BELIEVE IT, but YOU'RE FAMOUS
in all our conversations and arguments,
in EVERY room & bar and restaurant. I SWEAR,
      if you were a REAL LIVE GUY,
someone on the NEXT BAR STOOL, I'd challenge your guts.
      So HEY,
I'm a rehabbed convict, recovering addict,
someone YOU would walk THE OTHER WAY
from on the street, but I'm also
      into broadcasting LIKE YOU.
When I was in the joint, I was the HEAD HONCH,
      TOP NOTCH DEEJAY, the main voice
over the caged waves, but once you've had
a tracheotomy, it's NEVER REALLY the same.
Well, now I GO TO SCHOOL where I study
      broadcasting and little acting.
I've somehow BECOME DEPENDENT on school,
ANOTHER INSTITUTION like prison where you act
and where I SPENT HALF my life. I see it
as a function of my insanity OR SOMETHING.
I FOUND OUT from the prison shrink that I'M INSANE.
SAME with all my buddies--IN OR OUT of the joint.
of normalcy and convention AND THEREFORE
a bit juiced and whacked. But all smart as hell,
most smarter than me, and some of their women
for about 8 months now and I've FALLEN HARD
for this chick. Sometimes she's so honest with me,
like A MIRROR, and other times, she's like a HUNK OF MARBLE
and I don't have no chisel, Y'KNOW?

maryb said...

I’m so thrilled to read the original poems. FaR I’m not sure why Louisa May Alcott comes to mind – I don’t even know if she wrote poetry. But it made me think of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy in the Garret putting on plays.

Andi – that is beautiful!. I want to hear it aloud (I’m at work and can’t recite aloud. Well, I could but people would wonder) to hear all the “s” sounds. Maybe you should do a youtube. J

Beth, love that Billy Collins poem. Check out this freaky youtube with Billy Collins reading a poem. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find poetry on youtube and I’ve been exploring it.

Lisa, I can see why you would choose to focus on that poem at the beginning of a year (school or not). I love the visuals in that poem – especially death snapping shut his purse.

Maria – an old woman alone with her three bears … I tried to click through but the link wouldn’t load.

Kelly, I’ve always loved that Edna St. Vincent Millay. In fact I thought about putting that up on the last poetry day.

Jen, I’ve never heard of Barbara Anderson but I really LIKE THAT.

Jen said...

Mary, hee. She was actually my poetry prof one semester, and so the student in me was extra careful to keep her formatting intact. I quite like her work, and she drastically changed the way I think about poetry.

AndiF said...

Nifty imagery in that poem, Lisa.

Maria, the Gaiman poem is a great mind-bender (and Mary it loaded fine for me)

Jen, that excerpt makes me really hungry to "eat" the whole poem -- do you have all of it?

It's funny, Kelly, what images poems bring up -- whenever I read that Millay poem, for some reason, I always see my mother putting out the Sabbath candles with her wet fingertips and then relighting them.

And thanks for the kind comments.

Jen said...

Andi, yes, I will email you later/tomorrow am.

AndiF said...

Thanks Jen!

FARfetched said...

Andi, I liked yours & can relate. "We had to." Yup. That's why I write, or The Boy makes music, or (I'm guessing) why Boran paints… we have to.

Hey Nancy, can I make a request for a future theme? We talked about voice last week… I'd like to see a discussion about pacing (if that's the right word) — how a novelist moves the story forward, but not so quickly that it ends up a novella or even a short.

Nancy P said...

Hey, we're back to normal. (Are we ever normal?) Yay!

That's a great idea, Far. Will do soon. I love your Shakespearean voice. You did that really well, I thought.

JimF said...

by Shel Silverstein

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Lisa M said...

Jim--That is so my students.
Good to hear from the other halF.

Kelly, Less is so often more.

Jen--What an interesting voice.

Maria--perspective is everything.

I loves Poetry day.

FARfetched said...

I lurves me some Shel Silverstein!

Nancy, thanks much. You may remember me whining about doing this a while back?

Nancy P said...

Awww, Jim was here. :)

Far, I never remember you whining. You courteously request. :p Me, I whine.

What a nice day in the neighborhood!

Jen said...

Yay, Shel Silverstein! First poet I loved, after Dr. Seuss.

maryb said...

What a perfect poem Jim.

JimF said...

Lisa, that is so much everyones' students. We've all been there, done that, moved on, and occasionally regress.

Farfetched and Jen, Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky have probably made poetry something more kids have been willing to try than any other authors in the past 30 years. Once they see poetry can be fun, I can open up whole worlds to them.

Nancy, yes I stuck my turtlish lurker head out.

Mary, Shel understood and spoke to that Peggy Ann McKay in all of us.