Sunday, July 12, 2009

Linda Pastan's Carnival Evening, Amazing Poetry

There are some poets you discover and you immediately just KNOW that they KNOW. I first heard one of Ms. Pastan's poems read by Garrison Keiller on "The Writer's Almanac" on NPR and I felt an immediate kinship with her words. I was instantly enthralled and felt illuminated from within.

I own this book as it's an edition of new and selected poems from several of her books and I must say it's a fine book of poems, one that I go to again and again. I had a hard time selecting only a few poems to post here because I have so many favorites. If you haven't yet discovered Ms. Pastan's poetry, then you're in for a delicious treat. Enjoy! Blessings, ~Marion


What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names---
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

Linda Pastan



Tonight I understand
for the first time
how a woman might choose
her own death
as easily
as if it were a dark plum
she picked
from a basket
of bright peaches.

It wouldn't be despair
that moved her
or hunger,
but a kind of stillness.
The evenings are full
of closure: the pale flowers
of the shamrock fold
their fragile wings, everything
promised has been given.

There is always
that moment
when the sun balanced
on the rim
of the world
and is lost at sea,
and the sky seems huge
and beautiful without it.

I lie down on my bed
giving myself
to the white sheets
as the white sheets of a sloop
must give themselves
to the wind,
setting out on a journey---
the last perhaps
or even the first.

Linda Pastan



More faithful
than lover or husband
it cleaves to you,
calling itself by your name
as if there had been a ceremony.

At night, you turn and turn
searching for the one
bearable position,
but though you may finally sleep
it wakens ahead of you.

How heavy it is,
displacing with its volume
your very breath.
Before, you seemed to weigh nothing,
your arms might have been wings.

Now each finger adds its measure;
you are pulled down by the weight
of your own hair.
And if your life should disappear ahead of you
you would not run after it.

Linda Pastan



Finding a new poet
is like finding a new wildflower
out in the woods. You don't see

its name in the flower books, and
nobody you tell believes
in its odd color or the way

its leaves grow in splayed rows
down the whole length of the page. In fact
the very page smells of spilled

red wine and the mustiness of the sea
on a foggy day - the odor of truth
and of lying.

And the words are so familiar,
so strangely new, words
you almost wrote yourself, if only

in your dreams there had been a pencil
or a pen or even a paintbrush
if only there had been a flower.

Linda Pastan



Just looking at them
I grow greedy, as if they were
freshly baked loaves
waiting on their shelves
to be broken open---that one
and that---and I make my choice
in a mood of exalted luck,
browsing among them
like a cow in sweetest pasture.

For life is continuous
as long as they wait
to be read---these inked paths
opening into the future, page
after page, every book
its own receding horizon,
And I hold them, one in each hand,
a curious ballast weighting me
here to the earth.

Linda Pastan


Karen said...

Oh, Marion! These are wonderful! When I read poetry such as this, I hang my head in shame... A better thing to do is to buy the book... Thanks for the introduction to this poet.

quid said...

What good fortune to read these beautiful poems from a poet unknown to me in your blog! Thank you!

I started the first 3 thinking "too sad, too sad" for this juncture in my life, and then came upon "A New Poet". How ironic.. how many new poets have you introduced me to...20, 50, a legion?

And then to close with the diving "Bookstall"...

again, thank you.


Marion said...

Thanks, Quid and Karen. I'm glad y'all enjoyed her poems.

Poetry tend to come to me that reflects my current mood. I'm fighting the undertow and who do I pick up? Pastan, who feeds my feelings of despair and yet at the same time, paradoxically, heals me. It's why I love poetry so much. It's spiritual medicine. Blessings!!

Kelly said...

Wonderful!! I loved them ALL!

I'm thinking you saved the best one for last. (The Bookstall)

Marion said...

I'm glad you liked them, Kelly. I did save that one for last. It's one of my favorite poems of all time---probably because I always have a pile (or 3 or 4 piles) beside my bed and chair to be read. I almost put it at the top after I re-discovered it thumbing through the book, but it didn't fit with the mood of the others, so I just lightened up as I went along. LOL!


Brosreview said...

Ah! These are wonderful lines! They are so profound! Thanks for sharing them Marion!

Renee said...

You and Erin bring poetry into my life.


Marion said...

Ajey, I'm so glad you enjoyed the poems. I love reading others' poems for inspiration and healing. Each poet (or songwriter, as you are) has their own unique view which is, at one time or other, just what someone's soul needs to read/hear. Thank you for stopping by! Blessings!

And Renee, you bring love, courage, spirt and strength into my life. Hugs and Blessings, dearest Renee!

Lisa said...

god i love poetry, it touches me so much, inspires me.........
i also want to say thank you for sticking with me during my weeks in the blogger wilderness- i truly appreciate knowing you are there Marion xx

Margaret Pangert said...

Marion, what a find! I can always count on you . . The Bookstall was so me (and you!). I change into such a high speed mode when I'm near books, and yes greedy! I can't get enough! I felt the first one, too. what we need ultimately needs us. Thanks, and stay cool!

Rikkij said...

Marion-I love her stuff. She almost sounds like one of us! (is that a good thing?)

Marion said...

Lisa, it was my pleasure to stick with you. I wish I lived in Australia so I could become a diva witch with you! We all need breaks at times. I'm so glad the poetry inspired you. Blessings!

Margaret, thanks for stopping by. Yes, I've pretty much got my bookaholism under control, but I miss buying poetry books. I still peruse the used book stores, but there's seldom any poetry there. (I have almost 200 books of'd think that would be enough, but noooooo!) LOL! The heat index is 110 today. Yikes! I'll be indoors for sure. Bless you!

Rick, she very much sounds like one of us---the abyss peekers---we who ofetn stand with our naked toes clutching the sides of that bottomless, slippery black hole and gaze and gaze and gaze, wondering..... Oh, Rick!! You make me want to keep on keeping on. Thank you for being you! Hang in there, friend! Blessings!

Escapist said...

Hiya !

These poems made me up from a tensed kinda f mood...They purely speak up the reality .Out of them its hard to choose one and say with that i liked "In the Middle of life"....


Wine and Words said...

WOW! Pain, In The Middle of A Life, What We Want.....Me - all of it, laid bare. My soul spoke here. Thank for giving it a voice, even if it be anothers. Your encouragement...even just your following...means so much to me Marion. I am off to to purchase this book.

Marion said...

Ms. Escapist, thanks for visiting all the way from India! Wow! Glad you enjoyed the poems. Blessings!!

W&W, when I was at your blog I was hoping you'd stop by and read these poems. They're amazing, aren't they?? It's one thing to feel pain and despair, but then to have another speak of it so familiarly and eloquently, well, to me, it just reaffirms my belief in LIFE and happiness. A paradox, to be sure! LOL! You are so going to enjoy that book. It's one of those books which 'weights me here to the earth' as she so aptly put it in last poem. Blessings to you, and JOY!

Karen said...

I Googled her and read some more of her poems and an interview she gave. Her work is wonderful. Thanks again for the intro. I'm buying!

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