Thursday, October 29, 2009

Autumn Poetry

By Robert Frost

The rain to the wind said,
"You push and I'll pelt."
They so smote the garden bed
that the flowers actually knelt,
and lay lodged --- though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

In my young days I never
tasted sorrow. I wanted
to become a famous poet.
I wanted to get ahead
so I pretended to be sad.
Now I am old and have known
the depths of every sorrow,
and I am content to loaf
and enjoy the clear Autumn.

Hsin Ch'i Chi
From: "Life Prayers"

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

I will nurse this autumn carefully,
treat its brittleness gently,
smooth its crumbling edges, its weeping afternoons.

I will rise early and go to it,
wrap it in a soft cloth
and watch its breathing.

I will nurture this Autumn knowing
it is myelf
in a pure and golden form,
and that childlike
soft words will be brought bubbling up
to be recorded in the pattern of leaves
and the low fog coming across the bay...

Wendy Smyer Yu
From: "Life Prayers"

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

By Li Ch'ing Chao

Search. Search. Seek. Seek.
Cold. Cold. Clear. Clear.
Sorrow. Sorrow. Pain. Pain.
Hot flashes. Sudden chills.
Stabbing pains. Slow agonies.
I can find no peace. I drink two cups, then three bowls,
Of clear wine until I can’t
Stand up against a gust of wind.
Wild geese fly over head.
They wrench my heart.
They were our friends in the old days.
Gold chrysanthemums litter
The ground, pile up, faded, dead.
This season I could not bear
To pick them.
All alone,
Motionless at my window,
I watch the gathering shadows.
Fine rain sifts through the wu-t’ung trees,
And drips, drop by drop, through the dusk.
What can I ever do now?
How can I drive off this word —

From: "Life Prayers"

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

By Marion

There are days, hours
when I lust after
the way
I used to lust
after Life.

I hang by a thread,
you know---
the one that holds
the proverbial garment
It droops there, dangling,
that thread,
wanting me to pull
it, begging me
(I worry it with my fingernail---).
My finger itches, twitching
for that first timid tug, then
one firm yank---
it all


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mary Karr, Memoirist and Poet Extraordinnaire

I own every book that Mary Karr has written and was very fortunate and excited to get an advance reading copy of "Lit", her newest memoir, to review for Amazon. The book is fabulous, just amazing. I just LOVE reading memoirs and this one was particularly compelling for me because she's also a poet. It comes out on November 3, 2009 and below is my review from Her three memoirs in order are: "The Liar's Club", "Cherry", then "Lit". I highly recommend them all, along with her poetry. Love & Blessings ~Marion

I have to admit that Ms. Karr's "The Liars' Club: A Memoir" is one of my favorite books of all time. Memoirs are one of my favorite genres and being able to see behind the scenes in the life of a poet/writer is intriguing. I enjoyed reading "Cherry" and was thrilled when I saw that Ms. Karr had "Lit" coming out, taking up where "Cherry" left off. What I enjoyed most about this book was her lyrical, moving language and her fierce honesty. This couldn't have been an easy book to write because she holds nothing back and is brutally candid about her alcoholism and how it almost destroyed her, but more importantly, how she overcame her inner demons to find sobriety and success. She has several stories about her experiences in AA that had me either rolling with laughter or crying. The story about the woman, the frozen turkey and the vodka was side-splitting funny. I won't share the details because you need to buy the book and read it for yourself. It's overflowing with wit, humor, love, angst and wisdom.

Each chapter begins with a quote, most from poems, (and a few from some literary masterpieces) and I've discovered some amazing new poets from them. I've highlighted and dog-eared pages to refer back to in nearly every chapter. I like that she included a 'Contents' page and titled each of the 45 short chapters. The book is divided into four major sections:

I. Escape From The Tropic of Squalor
II. Flashdance
III. Self Help
IV. Being Who You Are Is Not A Disorder

Ultimately, this is a dazzling tale of redemption, liberation, grace and survival. By all accounts, Mary Karr should not have survived her hardscrabble life, but thank God she did because we are all richer for her life and her stories.

I also highly recommend her books of poetry, "Viper Rum (Poets, Penguin)", Sinners Welcome: Poems", "Abacus", and "The Devil's Tour". Thank you, Ms. Karr, from the bottom of my bookaholic, poet-heart, for having the guts to share your incredible, extraordinary journey with us.

by Mary Karr

Before my first communion, I clung to doubt
as Satan spider-like stalked
the orb of dark surrounding Eden

for a wormhole into paradise.
God had formed me from gel in my mother’s womb,
injected by my dad’s smart shoot.

They swapped sighs until
I came, smaller than a bite of burger.
Quietly, I grew till my lungs were done

then the Lord sailed a soul
like a lit arrow to inhabit me.
Maybe that piercing

made me howl at birth,
or the masked creatures whose scalpel
cut a lightning bolt to free me.

I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
and hauled around. Time-lapse photos show
my fingers grow past crayon outlines,

my feet come to fill spike heels.
Eventually, I lurched out
to kiss the wrong mouths, get stewed,

and sulk around. Christ always stood
to one side with a glass of water.
I swatted the sap away.

When my thirst got great enough to ask,
a clear stream welled up inside,
some jade wave buoyed me forward,

and I found myself upright
in the instant, with a garden
inside my own ribs aflourish.

There, the arbor leafs.
The vines push out plump grapes.
You are loved, someone said. Take that
and eat it.

~From: "Sinner's Welcome", page 6

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Walking at Night By Louise Gluck

by Louise Gluck

Now that she is old,
the young men don't approach her
so the nights are free,
the streets at dusk that were so dangerous
have become as safe as the meadow.

By midnight, the town's quiet.
Moonlight reflects off the stone walls;
on the pavement, you can hear the nervous sounds
of the men rushing home to their wives and mothers; this late,
the doors are locked, the windows darkened.

When they pass, they don't notice her.
She's like a dry blade of grass in a field of grasses.
So her eyes that used never to leave the ground
are free now to go where they like.

When she's tired of the streets, in good weather she walks
in the fields where the town ends.
Sometimes, in summer, she goes as far as the river.

The young people used to gather not far from here
but now the river's grown shallow from lack of rain, so
the bank's deserted—

There were picnics then.
The boys and girls eventually paired off;
after a while, they made their way into the woods
where it's always twilight—

The woods would be empty now—
the naked bodies have found other places to hide.

In the river, there's just enough water for the night sky
to make patterns against the gray stones. The moon's bright,
one stone among many others. And the wind rises;
it blows the small trees that grow at the river's edge.

When you look at a body you see a history.
Once that body isn't seen anymore,
the story it tried to tell gets lost—

On nights like this, she'll walk as far as the bridge
before she turns back.
Everything still smells of summer.
And her body begins to seem again the body she had as a young woman,
glistening under the light summer clothing.

~~from "A Village Life"

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman
By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

From: "The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou"


I highly recommend all of Maya Angelou's books. She's an absolutely amazing poet, author and human being.

Wishing you all a happy TGIF and a glorious weekend!

Blessings, Love & Peace,


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Denise Levertov's Incredible Poetry

Adam's Complaint
Denise Levertov

Some people,
no matter what you give them,
still want the moon.
The bread, the salt,
white meat and dark,
still hungry.
The marriage bed and the cradle,
still empty arms.
You give them land,
their own earth under their feet,
still they take to the roads.
And water: dig them the deepest well,
still it's not deep enough
to drink the moon from.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ * ~

The Avowal
By Denise Levertov

As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air and air
sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

By Denise Levertov

While we were visiting David’s grave
I saw at a little distance

a woman hurrying towards another grave
hands outstretched, stumbling

in her haste; who then
fell at the stone she made for

and lay sprawled upon it, sobbing,
sobbing and crying out to it.

She was neatly dressed in a pale coat
and seemed neither old nor young.

I couldn’t see her face, and my friends
seemed not to know she was there.

Not to distress them, I said nothing.
But she was not an apparition.

And when we walked
back to the car in silence

I stood stealthily back and saw she rose
and quieted herself and began slowly

to back away from the grave.
Unlike David, who lives

in our lives, it seemed
whoever she mourned dwelt

there, in the field, under stone.
It seemed the woman

believed whom she loved heard her,
heard her wailing, observed

the nakedness of her anguish,
and would not speak.

~from: “Denise Levertov Poems 1968 - 1972”

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Denise Levertov's Books of Poetry

The Double Image (1946)
The Sharks (1952)
Here and Now (1956)
Overland to the Islands (1958)
With Eyes at the Back of Our Heads (1959)
The Jacob's Ladder (1961)
O Taste and See: New Poems (1964)
The Sorrow Dance (1967)
Life At War (1968)
At the Justice Department, November 15, 1969
Relearning the Alphabet (1970)
To Stay Alive (1971)
Footprints (1972)
The Freeing of the Dust (1975)
Life in the Forest (1978)
Wedding-Ring (1978)
Collected Earlier Poems 1940-1960 (1979)
Candles in Babylon (1982)
The May Mornings(1982)
Poems 1960-1967 (1983)
Oblique Prayers: New Poems (1984)
Selected Poems (1986)
Poems 1968-1972 (1987)
Breathing the Water (1987)
A Door in the Hive (1989)
Evening Train (1992)
A Door in the Hive / Evening Train (1993)
The Sands of the Well (1996)
The Life Around Us: Selected Poems on Nature (1997)
The Stream & the Sapphire: Selected Poems on Religious Themes (1997)

Denise Levertov's Books of Prose:

The Poet in the World (1973)
Light Up the Cave (1981)
New & Selected Essays (1992)
Tesserae: Memories & Suppositions (1995)
The Letters of Denise Levertov and William Carlos Williams, edited by Christopher MacGowan (1998).
The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, edited by Robert J. Bertholf & Albert Gelpi. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn Waiting

Autumn Waiting
by Tom Hennen

Cold wind.

The day is waiting for winter
Without a sound.
Everything is waiting—
Broken-down cars in the dead weeds.
The weeds themselves.
Even sunlight
Is in no hurry and stays
For a long time
On each cornstalk.
Blackbirds are silent
And sit in piles.
From a distance
They look like
Spilled on the road.

~from 'Looking into the Weather'.

Photo of tiny red mushroom taken yesterday in my yard.

Blessings, Peace & Love,


"Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter." ~Carol Bishop Hipps

"October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Wind the band." ~George Cooper, "October's Party"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

i like my body by e. e. cummings

Reclining Nude from Back, 1917 by Amedeo Modigliani

i like my body
by e. e. cummings

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling-
firm-smooth ness and which I will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh...And eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you quite so new.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Amadeo Modigliana is one of my favorite artists and his nude painting fits perfectly with one of my favorite poems by e. e. cummings. I first read this poem when I was 16 years old and instantly fell in love with Mr. Cummings. I'm working my way though all 1102 pages of his "Complete Poems 1904 - 1962" and it's been an education in itself.

Peace, Love & Blessings,

~ * ~ Marion ~ * *

A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman. ~Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, 1957

"It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things." ~Stephen Mallarme

"Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket." ~Charles Simic

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." ~Dead Poet's Society

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dream Job by Sheila Bender

I was reading a magnificent book this past week and came across the essay below. I gasped when I read it because it's my dream job, too, just like the author's! I could have written this myself, but she did such an amazing job of it, I'm posting her essay. I love Sheila Bender's writing and this book in particular which I highly recommend: "Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page". It's helped me a lot in my writing of my memoirs. I'm trying to get down the important stuff for my children and grandchildren and this book has been a huge inspiration and aid. I hope you all have a blessed day and a wonderful, peaceful weekend. Blessings! ~*~Marion~*~

Dream Job: A Day in the Life of a Resident Poet
By Sheila Bender

"I was reminded of a dream….I had years ago. In it, I’d hung a shingle outside my house. Sheila Bender, R.P., it said in black calligraphic letters on a white board. R. P. meant Resident Poet. On the second story of my house, at my desk under the eaves, I would work on my poetry. The many books of poems I knew and loved would surround me on shelves. From time to time I’d hear my doorbell ring.

I’d descend the stairs and let the person in. We would enter my writing room and sit at a small table and have tea. The caller would describe why he or she had come to see me. It might be the grief of losing someone dear, the uncertainty of parenting, the concentration-breaking joy of newfound love, the awkwardness of wanting to talk to an old lover, the loneliness of perceiving differently than one’s family. I would go to my bookshelves, my pharmacy of poems, and I would pull a book down, open it to where I knew the right poem lay. I’d watch my caller read the poem and, watching the muscles of his or her face, I would know the poem was right. I would hand my client a pen and sheets of paper with instructions to copy the poem and the author’s name from the book, word for word. After that, we’d read the work together once and sit a moment more.

My caller would take the poem home to memorize. To whisper at night, to belt out under the sun, to recite while driving. Poems require looking past anger and hate and irritation, loneliness and grief. Though many a poem is planted in the soil of such emotions, a poem bursts through that soil and flowers. It is, to paraphrase William Wordsworth, one person’s insides speaking to another’s and so it provides the intimate contact we need for healing and for growth, for knowing what is human in our lives.

There are feelings and longings we understand and accept in ourselves only when we recognize them in someone else’s words, words that would never have been ours to speak until we saw them written out of someone else’s life. Words come from another’s experience in a place and in a time that miraculously match our experience in our own place and time.

As my callers would leave, they would place payment in a white porcelain bowl on the post at the bottom of my staircase. With the money, I’d buy more poetry books and the time to read them."

~Sheila Bender, “Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page”, page 154

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that
I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alive by J. Stone - For Renee

By J. Stone

The most visible creators I know of
are those artists whose medium
is life itself.

The ones who express
the inexpressible---
without brush, hammer, clay, or
They neither paint nor sculpt---
their medium is being.

Whatever their presence touches
has increased life.
They see and don't have to draw.
They are the artists of being

J. Stone, from "Bedside Prayers", edited by June Cotner


My friend Renee is the most alive person I know on the planet. When I read this awesome little poem this morning, her name immediately popped into my head. Renee, you are a warrior, an angel and a true friend. Thank you for being you and for sharing your beautiful warrior spirit with all of us. I love you!

Blessings, Peace, Love & Healing,


Here's Renee's blog address:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Artificial Light by Marion and Entrance by Rainer Maria Rilke


Whoever you are: in the evening step out
of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the far-off:
whoever you are.
With your eyes, which in their weariness
barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold,
you lift very slowly one black tree
and place it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world. And it is huge
and like a word which grows ripe in silence.
And as your will seizes on its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let go. . . .

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~


"Every exit is an entrance somewhere else." ~Tom Stoppard


Artificial Light
By Marion

The dawn creeps into my window,
a willing thief of the night;
I wrap my arms around myself
and tremble at the onslaught of light.

Is ink to paper the real thing
or merely an illusion?
Is the cursor on the computer screen
reality or a wild delusion?

Cloudy, dark, rainy day
driving home one afternoon
bright lights in my rearview mirror
shone like the sun at noon.

Which is reality,
the headlights or the sun?
Does it really matter in the end
when a life has finally begun?

Moonlight, sunlight,
flowers in the rain,
their heads bowed as if in prayer
drooped, as if in pain. . .

Beseeching the gods of morning
to help them raise their heads. . .
They only live one single day
by afternoon, they’re dead.

The question is how to live
your one solitary life.
By the sunlight or the shadows
or by artificial light.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dust If You Must......

Dust if you must . . .

Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better
to paint a picture, or write a letter,
bake a cake, or plant a seed;
ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time
with rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
music to hear, and books to read;
friends to cherish, and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there,
with the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
this day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
old age will come and it's not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
you, yourself, will make more dust.

~Author Unknown~

"Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists
in the elimination of nonessentials."

~ Lin Yu Tang

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

By Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.


Those are two of my kitties, Catfish and Little Debbie, asleep like yin and yang.

Blessings, Love & Peace,