Monday, June 29, 2009

Ode to Tomatoes - Pablo Neruda and Erica Jong, My Teachers

I wanted to write an ode to the Tomato, goddess of the garden, today after picking that blue bowl above almost full of them from my little garden, my first harvest. This is my first good crop of tomatoes in over 4 or 5 years, yes years! I don’t know why they did so well this year. It could be the four egg shells I put in the earth below each plant to ward off blossom drop, or it could be the saltwater spray I made and sprayed them with, which, according to my sister-in-law’s grandpa is a magic potion that both fertilizes and keeps bugs away.

Some have told me it’s because I planted Basil with my Tomatoes. I think the new soil and new spot may have helped because the old place I used to plant them had black spot disease in the soil. I like to attribute it to love and lots of water and good soil and me watering them, often, with my own salty tears.

I gave up writing my ode (well, I'll still write it, but later) when I remembered that the mighty poet, Pablo Neruda, had already written one and I could never touch the level of his genius. I also recalled that Erica Jong, whose writing turned me on to Neruda, loved to write about fruits and vegetables. It was her writing that taught me to write about the ‘ordinary’ things in my life.

So, humbly bowing in gratitude to these, my teachers, I post a quote by Ms. Jong, a site where many of her poems are posted which you can read at your leisure, and two beautiful masterpieces by Neruda, "Ode to Tomatoes" followed by his magnificent, untouchable "Poetry".

“If a woman wants to be a poet,
She must dwell in the house of the tomato.”
~Erica Jong, from ‘Fruits & Vegetables’

Happy Summer to you all! Blessings, ~Marion

Ode To Tomatoes
By Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
like a tomato,
its juice runs
through the streets.
In December, unabated,
the tomato
invades the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes its ease
on countertops, among glasses,
butter dishes, blue salt cellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it: the knife sinks
into living flesh,
red viscera a cool
sun, profound, inexhaustible,
populates the salads of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we pour oil,
essential child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding of the day,
parsley hoists its flag,
potatoes bubble vigorously,
the aroma of the roast
knocks at the door, it's time!
come on! and, on
the table, at the midpoint of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile star, displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit, no husk, no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.


I can't even think of Neruda without this poem coming into my head. I've probably posted it many times before, but I never tire of reading it. Enjoy!

By Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.
And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
mystery, felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ars Poetica, Modern Sorcery and Song of the Builders---Poems I Love

I share with you three of my photographs and three of my favorite poems by Archibald MacLeish, Charles Simic and Mary Oliver. It's a lazy, hot Sunday here in drought-ridden, scorching Louisiana.

Even the exotic, black and yellow grasshopper came out for a drink of hose water this morning as I watered the drooping, brown flora and fauna, and I captured a photo of him! Wishing you cooling summer showers, peace, blessings, health and happiness. ~Marion~


By Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases,
twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
as the moon climbs.


A poem should be equal to:
not true.

For all the history of grief
an empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
the leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
but be.

Modern Sorcery

By Charles Simic

You could have been just another maggot
squirming over history's roadkill.
Instead a witch took pity on you, lucky fellow,
made you say abracadabra, and much else
you didn't understand
while you held on to the hem of her skirt.
You know neither the place nor the hour
of your transfiguration.
A kitten lapping a drop of milk
fallen from the Blessed Virgin's breast
in a church at dawn. That's how it felt:
the two of you kneeling there.
Outside, there was a flash of lightning
like a tongue passed over a bloody knife,
but you were safe.
Hexed once and for all in her open arms,
giddy and tickled pink with her sorcery.

From: "Staying Alive, Real Poems for Unreal Times" edited by Neil Astley

Song of the Builders

By Mary Oliver

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God -
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

from: "Why I Wake Early" (2004)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lucille Clifton, a Woman Who Knows

It's been a while since I posted some poems by my favorite poets, so I'll try to remedy that today. I picked up "Blessing the Boats" by the mighty Lucille Clifton early this morning and fell head over heels back in love with Ms. Clifton's amazing writing. She has no equal, in my humble opinion, and her sense of womanly knowing is phenomenally perfect. She's a survivor.

Here are a few of my favorite poems from this book, which is a delicious poetic feast. Buy it for yourself because you'll need to go back to it over and over again! It's heart-healing, soul-stirring and life-affirming. You'll see---

Blessings, Love & Peace, ~Marion


By Lucille Clifton

to my aunt blanche
who rolled from grass to driveway
into the street one sunday morning.
i was ten. i had never seen
a human woman hurl her basketball
of a body into the traffic of the world.
Praise to the drivers who stopped in time.
Praise to the faith with which she rose
after some moments then slowly walked
sighing back to her family.
Praise to the arms which understood
little or nothing of what it meant
but welcomed her in without judgment,
accepting it all like children might,
like God.


by Lucille Clifton

i was leaving my fifty-eighth year
when a thumb of ice
stamped itself hard near my heart

you have your own story
you know about the fears the tears
the scar of disbelief

you know that the saddest lies
are the ones we tell ourselves
you know how dangerous it is

to be born with breasts
you know how dangerous it is
to wear dark skin

i was leaving my fifty-eighth year
when i woke into the winter
of a cold and mortal body

thin icicles hanging off
the one mad nipple weeping

have we not been good children
did we not inherit the earth

but you must know all about this
from your own shivering life


hag riding
By Lucille Clifton

is what i ask myself
maybe it is the afrikan in me
still trying to get home
after all these years
but when i wake to the heat of morning
galloping down the highway of my life
something hopeful rises in me
rises and runs me out into the road
and i lob my fierce thigh high
over the rump of the day and honey
i ride i ride


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Little Federico Lorca, A Little Naomi Nye

Dragonflies swarm me every time I go outside lately, fighting each other to have their picture taken. This green one posed the longest, so he won. I share a couple of poems I love below.

Peace, Blessings, Love and Poetry to You All----Marion, fighting the blues.....

Excerpt From: "Morning"
by Federico Garcia Lorca

"...The morning is bright
Smoke rises from hearths
and lifts the fog in its arms.

Listen to the ballads
water sings under the poplars:
they are wingless birds
lost in the grass!

Trees that sing
dry out and fall;
tranquil mountains
age into plains.
But the song of water
is a thing eternal.

It is light made song
of romantic illusions
It is soft yet firm,
full of sky and gentle.

It is mist and rose
of eternal morning.
Moon-honey that flows
from buried stars....."


You Know Who You Are
By Naomi Shihab Nye

Why do your poems comfort me, I ask myself.
Because they are upright, like straight-backed chairs.
I can sit in them and study the world as if it too
were simple and upright.

Because sometimes I live in a hurricane of words
and not one of them can save me.
Your poems come in like a raft, logs tied together,
they float.
I want to tell you about the afternoon
I floated on your poems
all the way from Durango Street to Broadway.

Fathers were paddling on the river with their small sons.
Three Mexican boys chased each other outside the library.
Everyone seemed to have some task, some occupation,
while I wandered uselessly in the streets I claim to love.

Suddenly I felt the precise body of your poems beneath me,
like a raft, I felt words as something portable again,
a cup, a newspaper, a pin.
Everything happening had a light around it,
not the light of Catholic miracles,
the blunt light of a Saturday afternoon.
Light in a world that rushes forward with us or without us.
I wanted to stop and gather up the blocks behind me
in this light, but it doesn't work.
You keep walking, lifting one foot, then the other,
saying, "This is what I need to remember"
and then hoping you can.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What I Been Up To The Past Few Weeks

I'm so happy, happy, happy to have my computer back up and running as of today! Hooray! My hanging baskets are overflowering with the Pansies and Begonias I planted in them in early Spring. My yard is exploding with bright, vivid, vibrant colors. Along the fence, my yellow Daylilies are blooming like there's no tomorrow. Tee-Hee. Which there isn't if you're a Daylily.

'The whole of life lies in the verb seeing." ~Teilhard De Chardin

This past weekend we went to the annual Melrose Plantation Arts & Crafts Festival near Natchitoches.

(Kelly, Pammy & Quid, it's close to where we stayed along Cane River last year.) This beautiful lady is Ms. Alma, a retired school teacher from Minden, Louisiana who is a fabulous primitive artist. We bought one of her paintings of an angel with a dove on her shoulder. She was kind enough to pose for me and tell me how her friend made that amazing dress for her although she did the intricate handwork herself. We lived a few years in Minden and she may have taught one of my daughters. She had a joie de vivre like no one I've met in a long time. I really admired her for wearing that period costume because it got into the mid-90's by noon!

One of my favorite parts of the festival is re-visiting the magnificent old trees which provide much appreciated shade. If this one could talk, I'm sure it would sprout stories as numerous as its leaves!

This is a partial shot of the front of the plantation. That's Taylor, April and Ray posing for me. I always forget to get a pic of myself. Ha-Ha!

I acquired a new kitten last week. This is Romeo (see the cool little soul-patch on this chin) hanging with Cody. The very day April gave him to me, he immediately took to Cody. God bless that dog. Surely, he was a cat in a past life. He just loves kittens and they worship him right back. Romeo has no tail---well, it's a nub of a tail. He's a bobtailed cat. I named him Romeo because the minute I picked him up at April's house, he began purring very loudly and shamelessly flirting with me. She wouldn't let me have him, but later changed her mind and brought him to my house. Just what I need, another cat!

One of my showy Sunflowers. They're almost bloomed out now, but I'm planting more seeds today. We planted an Orange tree a few weeks ago and it already has tiny oranges on it. I hope it survives. I've been babying it and giving it lots of water, compost and love.

The snowy, tiny, white Yarrow flower with it's feathery green leaves. One of my favorite herbs to grow. I made my own Yarrow sticks for practicing the I Ching one year. Yarrow flowers have long, sturdy stems.

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware---joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." ~Henry Miller

And I leave you with a photo of April's latest work of art. It's a large painting of her sitting with pages from her favorite books and comic art (Emily the Strange) decoupaged onto the canvas. She's so talented! See you all again soon. I've got to go read blogs now and get caught up!!!

Hugs, Blessings and Love,


"The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair." ~Walker Percy


"Why tell animals living in the water to drink?"
--West African Proverb

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Poem to Revive Your Heart, by Lisel Mueller, an Amazing Poet

Oh, my dear, sweet friends, how I miss you all! I'm still not up and running at home. Due to my lack of patience and horrible menopausal temper, I've hung up three times after being on hold with AT&T for hours trying to get to someone in tech support with half a brain. Sigh. Frustration----If I can't get it running this week, I'm going to call a computer friend and pay him to help me get it fixed. Sigh. It's always something. Last week the refrigerator went out, wouldn't cool at all.....Not the freezer part, but the refrigerator. We called our trusty appliance repairman who fixed it for $130, much less that a new frig would have cost. But now it's freezing our milk! Oy!

But, once again, poetry came to my rescue. I found a set of four discs of poetry at the library last week read by the poets and came across this poem which I'd read years ago and, in fact, own the book it's from, "Alive Together" by Lisel Mueller which I highly recommend. Every poem in it is heart-rending and soul-stirring. As soon as I heard it I wanted to run and share it with y'all! I cry every time I re-read it!!!

I had an epiphany that my poet/blogger friends are a rare and treasured lifeline. All my life I've only known a handful of people who even tolerated poetry, much less lived, breathed, read and wrote it! But being away for a while has made me realize how precious you have all become to me and how your own poetry has awakened me, soothed me, enlightened me, slapped me in the face, inspired me, and just plain kept me going many days! Thank you all for sharing your hearts and souls with me.

I read all the comments and appreciate them all and thank you for them. Greetings to those of you who are new and please come back. I'm usually around much more often and will be back again soon!

I didn't know before reading this poem that the artist, Monet, did have eye problems and how it affected his art. This poem is a true blending of art and poetry. Read it slowly and enjoy! Hugs, Blessings and Love to you all!! ~Marion

Monet Refuses The Operation
by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris and
what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life to
arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon does
not exist and sky and water,
long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom, the
illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolves
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world is
flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water, above
and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms and
how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.