Saturday, April 30, 2011

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I read a LOT of books...several hundred a year, often a book a day. And ever so often I happen upon a book that flows & feels like poetry...and this one does. I didn't think Ms. Patchett could top "The Magician's Assistant" or "The Patron Saint of Liars" as my favorites, but she has. I highly recommend this beautifully crafted story (well, I've loved every single one of her books...if you haven't yet discovered her writing, I highly recommend her.) This one comes out June 7, 2011.

One of my favorite quotes:

"Instead of growing up inquisitive and restless, she had developed a profound desire to stay, as if her center of gravity was so low it connected her directly to this particular patch of earth." Page 45

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dear Colette by Erica Jong

Dear Colette
By Erica Mann Jong

Dear Colette,
I want to write to you
about being a woman
for that is what you write to me.

I want to tell you how your face
enduring after thirty, forty, fifty . . .
hangs above my desk
like my own muse.

I want to tell you how your hands
reach out from your books
& seize my heart.

I want to tell you how your hair
electrifies my thoughts
like my own halo.

I want to tell you how your eyes
penetrate my fear
& make it melt.

I want to tell you
simply that I love you--
though you are "dead"
& I am still “alive.”

Suicides & spinsters--
all our kind!

Even decorous Jane Austen
never marrying,
& Sappho leaping,
& Sylvia in the oven,
& Anna Wickham, Tsvetaeva, Sara Teasdale,
& pale Virginia floating like Ophelia,
& Emily alone, alone, alone . . . .

But you endure & marry,
go on writing,
lose a husband, gain a husband,
go on writing,
sing & tap dance
& you go on writing,
have a child & still
you go on writing,
love a woman, love a man
& go on writing.
You endure your writing
& your life.

Dear Colette,
I only want to thank you:

for your eyes ringed
with bluest paint like bruises,
for your hair gathering sparks
like brush fire,
for your hands which never willingly
let go,
for your years, your child, your lovers,
all your books . . .

Dear Colette,
you hold me
to this life.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sometimes, When the Light by Lisel Mueller

My wooden fence steaming after a hot day, then a cooling thunderstorm. 



Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

By Lisel Mueller

From:  "Alive Together:  New and Selected Poems" by Lisel Mueller

Friday, April 15, 2011

Garden Lament by Marion

The ethereal, shy, blushing blossom of my Angel Wing Begonia. One of the most elusive, beautiful flowers that I grow.

Garden Lament
By Marion

I struggle to protect Mother Nature
and embrace her with my human arms...

I listen intently for soft night murmurs and
plant a secret garden sanctuary.
I build a sacred earthen path---
lined with mute stone deities,
surrounded by giant Sunflowers
leading to a stone yin-yang circle.

(My cat lies beneath the earth here---dead and rotted.)

Shine, my magical green Willow trees, dance
with the wild morning breeze---
Open my ears and eyes to the mystery of the wind.

Come, brown fertile ground,
explode the dead russet bulbs,
burst the juicy red strawberries
and the sun-warmed purple blueberries.
Sprout yellow, pink and red roses through the silent soil---

A live yard song is humming
an ageless, ancient tune---

The long, mossy shade rustles
with bird life and birdsong as I
relax here quietly in my own sweet,
untainted Eden
between Winter frost,
hot Summer rain,
death and rebirth.

Be at peace, it whispers to me.
Never leave---

---die and be reborn.

This began as a magnetic refrigerator poetry poem and grew from there... I keep changing it. Tee-Hee. Writer's perogative. My Hummingbirds came back around mid-March and now they're eating me out of house and home, about 5 pounds of sugar a week for my 5 feeders. But I do so love them, little winged jewels of color, they are. xoxo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We Call Upon the Author to Explain by Nick Cave

I have a serious rock star crush on Nick Cave. He's #1 on my list of people I'd love to be stranded on a desert island with. I love him, his songs, his poetry, his brain and his books & novels, "King Ink (lyrics and plays)", "King Ink II (lyrics, poems and an essay)", "And the Ass Saw the Angel", and "The Death of Bunny Munro" which I have on CD of him reading the story. It's beyond amazing. He loves words perhaps more than I do and it shows in his writing and his songs.

The lyrics below are from my favorite song of his, "We Call Upon the Author to Explain" which is the first I ever heard his sing. He had me at "...he writes like wet paper mache". Swoon and double swoon... I highly recommend watching the live version on YouTube. I can't get enough of it. Who ever said poetry had to be boring? Not Nick Cave, for sure. xoxoxo

We Call Upon the Author to Explain
By Nick Cave

What we once thought we had we didn't, and what we have now will never be that way again
So we call upon the author to explain

Our myxomatoid kids spraddle the streets, we've shunned them from the greasy-grind
The poor little things, they look so sad and old as they mount us from behind
I ask them to desist and to refrain
And then we call upon the author to explain

Rosary clutched in his hand, he died with tubes up his nose
And a cabal of angels with finger cymbals chanted his name in code
We shook our fists at the punishing rain
And we call upon the author to explain

He said everything is messed up around here, everything is banal and jejune.
There is a planetary conspiracy against the likes of you and me in this idiot constituency of the moon.
Well, he knew exactly who to blame
And we call upon the author to explain

Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!
Prolix! Prolix! Nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!

Well, I go guru-ing down the street, young people gather round my feet
Ask me things, but I don't know where to start
They ignite the powder-trail straight to my father's heart
And once again I call upon the author to explain

We call upon the author to explain

Who is this great burdensome slavering dog-thing that mediocres my every thought?
I feel like a vacuum cleaner, a complete sucker, it's fucked up and he is a fucker
But what an enormous and encyclopaedic brain
I call upon the author to explain

Oh rampant discrimination, mass poverty, third world debt, infectious disease
Global inequality and deepening socio-economic divisions
Well, it does in your brain
And we call upon the author to explain

Now hang on, my friend Doug is tapping on the window (Hey Doug, how you been?)
Brings me back a book on holocaust poetry complete with pictures
Then tells me to get ready for the rain
And we call upon the author to explain

I say Prolix! Prolix! Something a pair of scissors can fix.

Bukowski was a jerk! Berryman was best!
He wrote like wet papier mache, went the Heming-way weirdly on wings and with maximum pain
We call upon the author to explain

Down in my bolthole I see they've published another volume of unreconstructed rubbish
"The waves, the waves were soldiers moving". Well, thank you, thank you, thank you
And again I call upon the author to explain
Yeah, we call upon the author to explain

Prolix! Prolix! There's nothing a pair of scissors can't fix!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost

Having not slept well in weeks, I find this poem a perfect fit to go with my full moon photo from March. I love Robert Frost and if you don't own one of his many books, then definitely go buy one in honor of Poetry Month. All of his poetry is amazingly filled with light and he never disappoints me...ever! xoxo

Acquainted with the Night
by Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain – and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

"Acquainted with the Night" by Robert Frost, from 'The Poetry of Robert Frost'.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Like Kerosene by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Like Kerosene
By Olena Kalytiak Davis

Yes, it’s daily
that we move into each other—but this morning
I was separate even from myself—
my hands were shovels, I had mosquito netting for hair,
and the insect beating against the night
was my heart. My name was hallow
and the sky was made of shale when

I walked into a part of morning
I’ve never seen: the sky still heavy, still
smoldering with the nightmares of others,
the drunkenness and sorrow rising like dew, like fog,
like smoke back into the clouds. Suddenly,
my face was wet with it. I wanted to lie down
with it. To rest against the almost exhausted night.

Uncertain of what to do there
I started dividing the layers, the sediment,
thinking: Usually I sleep through his sadness.

And the morning asking: Why do you keep track
of the middle of the day when you should be
waxing the moon? How can these young fragile branches
be left out in the darkness, and who set that darkness
wandering inside your heart? Who can your love ignite,
like this, like kerosene?

And then the sky lit the morning.
And then I went in to set my own house on fire.
And then I lay down next to you:
a body filling with feathers or with snow
asking: and who are you that my love can light
like this, like kerosene.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Day is Done by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This photo is of my Blueberry bushes in March bursting with blossoms...

This is my favorite Longfellow poem. The last verse comes to my mind often at the end of day. Enjoy!


* * * * *

The Day is Done
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

THE DAY is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Word With You by Elizabeth Bishop

April is National Poetry Month (buy a book of poetry like Erin did!!!) and this is the official poster with a fabulous line from the following, most excellent poem by Elizabeth Bishop:

A Word With You
by Elizabeth Bishop

Look out! there's that damned ape again
sit silently until he goes,
or else forgets the things he knows
(whatever they are) about us, then
we can begin to talk again.

Have you tried playing with your ring?
Sometimes that calms them down, I find.
(Bright objects hypnotize the mind.)
Get his attention on anything –
anything will do - there, try your ring.

The glitter pleases him. You see
he squints his eyes; his lip hangs loose.
You were saying? - Oh Lord, what's the use,
for now the parrot's after me
and the monkeys are awake. You see

how hard it is, you understand
this nervous strain in which we live -
Why just one luscious adjective
infuriates the whole damned band
and they're squabbling for it. I understand

some people manage better. How?
They treat the creatures without feeling.
- Throw books to stop the monkeys' squealing,
slap the ape and make him bow,
are firm, keep order, - but I don't know how.

Quick! there's the cockatoo! he heard!
(He can't bear any form of wit.)
- Please watch out that you don't get bit;
there's not a thing escapes that bird.
Be silent, - now the ape has overheard.

Source: "The Complete Poems, 1927-1979"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fog by Amy Clampitt and Nothing Stays Put by Amy Clampitt

I have only recently, joyfully discovered the soul-affirming poetry of Amy Clampitt and decided to share my discovery with my poetry peeps.  Enjoy!  Happy weekend to everyone!!  xoxoxo


By Amy Clampitt
A vagueness comes over everything,
as though proving color and contour
alike dispensable: the lighthouse
extinct, the islands' spruce-tips
drunk up like milk in the
universal emulsion; houses
reverting into the lost
and forgotten; granite
subsumed, a rumor
in a mumble of ocean.
definition, however, has not been
totally banished: hanging
tassel by tassel, panicled
foxtail and needlegrass,
dropseed, furred hawkweed,
and last season's rose-hips
are vested in silenced
chimes of the finest,
clearest sea-crystal.
opens up rooms, a showcase
for the hueless moonflower
corolla, as Georgia
O'Keefe might have seen it,
of foghorns; the nodding
campanula of bell buoys;
the ticking, linear
filigree of bird voices.


By Amy Clampitt
                                   In memory of Father Flye, 1884–1985

The strange and wonderful are too much with us.
                  The protea of the antipodes—a great,
                  globed, blazing honeybee of a bloom—
for sale in the supermarket! We are in
                  our decadence, we are not entitled.
                  What have we done to deserve
                  all the produce of the tropics—                 
this fiery trove, the largesse of it
                  heaped up like cannonballs, these pineapples, bossed
                  and crested, standing like troops at attention,
                  these tiers, these balconies of green, festoons
                  grown sumptuous with stoop labor?
                  The exotic is everywhere, it comes to us
before there is a yen or a need for it. The green-
                    grocers, uptown and down, are from South Korea.
                    Orchids, opulence by the pailful, just slightly
                    fatigued from the plane trip from Hawaii, are
                    disposed on the sidewalks; alstroemerias, freesias
                    fattened a bit in translation from overseas; gladioli
                    likewise estranged from their piercing ancestral crimson;
as well as, less altered from the original blue cornflower
                    of the roadsides and railway embankments of Europe, these
                    bachelor's buttons. But it isn't the railway embankments
                  their featherweight wheels of cobalt remind me of, it's
a row of them among prim colonnades of cosmos, 
                    snapdragon, nasturtium, bloodsilk red poppies,
                    in my grandmother's garden: a prairie childhood,
                    the grassland shorn, overlaid with a grid,
                    unsealed, furrowed, harrowed and sown with immigrant grasses,
                    their massive corduroy, their wavering feltings embroidered
                    here and there by the scarlet shoulder patch of cannas
                    on a courthouse lawn, by a love knot, a cross stich
                    of living matter, sown and tended by women,
                    nurturers everywhere of the strange and wonderful,
                    beneath whose hands what had been alien begins,
                  as it alters, to grow as though it were indigenous.
But at this remove what I think of as
strange and wonderful, strolling the side streets of Manhattan
                    on an April afternoon, seeing hybrid pear trees in blossom,
                    a tossing, vertiginous colonnade of foam, up above—
is the white petalfall, the warm snowdrift
                    of the indigenous wild plum of my childhood.
                    Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.
                    All that we know, that we're
                    made of, is motion.
I am already walking around barefooted, enjoying Ms. Spring's warmth.