Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Moon by Robert Bly

Hazy moon, tangled in trees by Marion.

The Moon
Robert Bly

After writing poems all day,
I go off to see the moon in the pines.
Far in the woods I sit down against a pine.
The moon has her porches turned to face the light,
But the deep part of her house is in the darkness.


Dear August:

Goodbye, au revoir, farewell.

Piss off,

Dearest September:

I eagerly await your imminent cool arrival.

Truly yours,

Friday, August 26, 2011

To Make a Prairie by Emily Dickinson

My Wisteria in Spring---breakfast for a fat, hungry bumble bee.

To Make a Prairie
By Emily Dickinson

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
one clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
if bees are few.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Interiors by Stephen Dunn

Cards are from my Rider-Waite Tarot deck.

By Stephen Dunn

In New Orleans, a Bed and Breakfast in a seamy part of
town.  Dentist’s chair the seat of honor in the living room.
Dark, the drapes closed, a lamp’s three-way bulb clicked just
once. I’m inside someone’s version of inside. All the guests
looking like they belong. Muffled hilarity coming from one
of the other rooms. Paintings everywhere, on the walls, the
floor.  Painted by the proprietress who, on the side, reads the
Tarot. In her long black gown she doesn’t mind telling me
things look rather dismal. Something about the Queen of
Swords and the Hanged Man. I wake early the next morning
for a flight. 5 A.M. She’s sitting in the dentist’s chair, reading a
book about the end of the century. Says a man like me needs
a proper breakfast. Wants to know everything I dreamed.
This, I tell her, I think I dreamed this.

From: “Good Poems, American Places” selected by Garrison Keillor, page 125


I have Garrison Keillor's previous two collections of selected poetry and they're amazing---overflowing with awesome poems ("Good Poems" & "Good Poems for Hard Times").  I scooped up this newest collection, "Good Poems, American Places" from the new book shelf at the library today and it's as good as the other two.  I've already marked about five poems to share.  I'll be adding it to my collection when it comes out in paperback. 

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

The Summer Day
By Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

My house spider, suspended on her delicate web.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Need Not Be A Chamber to be Haunted by Emily Dickinson

Brumidi Corridors are the vaulted, ornately-decorated corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing in the U. S. Capitol.

One Need Not Be a Chamber to be Haunted
By Emily Dickinson

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror’s least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O’erlooking a superior spectre
More near.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"The Leaf and the Cloud" by Mary Oliver

My favorite shy, blushing rose.


And how shall we speak of love
except in the splurge of roses, and the long body
of the river
shining in its silk froth;

and what could be more wonderful
than the agility and the reaching of the fingers of Hannah,
who is only seven days old;

and what could be more comforting than to fold grief
like a blanket---
to fold anger like a blanket;
with neat corners---
to put them into a box of words?

From:  "Work", section 6, page 13.  "The Leaf and the Cloud" by Mary Oliver


One of my roses after a shower.


The high-piled plum-colored storm-heavy clouds
are approaching.
The fly mumbles against the glass.

This is the world.

The hot little bluebirds in the box are getting ready to fly.
This is the world.

The sweet in the parsnip
waits for our praise.

The dragonfly lives its life
without a single error, it also
waits for our praise.

The pale-green moths are pressings
against the screen, fluttering, they are
dying to get in to press their papery bodies
into the light.

This is the world.

From:  "Gravel", section 7, page 43, "The Leaf and the Cloud" by Mary Oliver


"The Leaf and the Cloud" by Mary Oliver is an amazing, breathtaking book-length poem/meditation on mortality as seen through the mirror of nature.  I wish I could post the entire 53 pages of the book, it's so moving, enlightening and astonishing.  I've had this book on my shelf for years and just recently got around to reading it when I discovered it tucked away behind some novels.  I'm so glad I found it. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gift by Czeslaw Milosz

One of my ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

By Czeslaw Milosz

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

From:  "Teaching With Fire:  Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach", page 159


From Preface to "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem. . ."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

All Things Pass by Timothy Leary

All Things Pass
By Timothy Leary, homage to Lao Tzu

All things pass

A sunrise does not last all morning

All things pass

 A cloudburst does not last all day
All things pass
Nor a sunset all night

But Earth... sky... thunder...
wind... fire... lake...
mountain... water...
These always change

And if these do not last
Do man’s visions last?
Do man’s illusions ?

Take things as they come
All things pass

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rome Itself by Rod McKuen

Photo of the Coliseum from poster.com

In the early 70's I was a teenager and my boyfriend used to give me poems he said he'd written for me.  They were pretty good, too.  After we married, I discovered his small collection of Rod McKuen books and the poems he'd 'borrowed' from them to win my heart.   We used to use the poem below as our secret code for having sex.  If either of us mentioned Rome, we'd skitter home to have some fun.  And trust me, it's not that easy to work Rome into a conversation at your mother's house.  LOL!  Ah, the joys of youth! I own every single one of Rod McKuen's books, a few battered copies from the early days of our marriage.  I still enjoy reading Mr. McKuen's poetry.  It never fails to move me and bring up great memories.  xo

By Rod McKuen

I carry down between my legs
Rome itself, for you love Rome
and I would drive Rome into you
or drive you into Rome.
This room your coliseum till you board
your plane. These arms your forum
cats included.

Self-propelled am I between
the morning and the midnight
I glide along your groin and earn my wings
by testing out your thighs
like some new willful Wiley Post.
My flight is not away, not to or from.
Above you, below you - I soar
and perch upon your second pillow.

I have no need for such mechanical devices
as winged shoes or wings. I am made uncommon
by the need to know you and thereby
come to know myself.

Rome, though in the distance, is no farther
than the dresser and not so far away
that I can't take you there.

For me the Spanish Steps
are centered on your tongue
and Caesar could content himself with
California wine had he your eyes to follow
and your breath to capture with his own breath.

We'll go to Rome
as slowly as you like
and be there by tonight.

- from "Fields of Wonder", 1971

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Broken Field by Sara Teasdale

The Broken Field
By Sara Teasdale

My soul is a dark ploughed field
In the cold rain;
My soul is a broken field
Ploughed by pain.

Where windy grass and flowers
Were growing,
The field lies broken now
For another sowing.

Great Sower, when you tread
My field again,
Scatter the furrows there
With better grain

Today is Sara Teasdale's birthday.  She was born in 1884.  Ms. Teasdale is one of my favorite poets.  I began reading her poetry when I was 13 years old and became hooked for life.  I credit her for starting my early love affair with poetry. 
In 1931, an old suitor of Ms. Teasdale, the poet Vachel Lindsay, killed himself. Sara was devastated. Sadly, in 1933, she committed suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills.
You can get many of her early works free at Amazon.com if you have a Kindle or other wireless device.  I love her book, "Rivers to the Sea".

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"God's Justice" by Anne Carson

dragonfly art by marion

God’s Justice
By Anne Carson

In the beginning there were days set aside for various tasks.
On the day He was to create justice
God got involved in making a dragonfly

and lost track of time.
It was about two inches long
with turquoise dots all down its back like Lauren Bacall.

God watched it bend its tiny wire elbows
as it set about cleaning the transparent case of its head.
The eye globes mounted on the case

rotated this way and that
as it polished every angle.
Inside the case

which was glassy black like the windows of a downtown bank
God could see the machinery humming
and He watched the hum

travel all the way down turquoise dots to the end of the tail
and breathe off as light.
Its black wings vibrated in and out.

From: “Glass, Irony and God” page 49


I've posted this poem before and probably will again.  Every time I pick up this book, it turns itself to the page with this poem.  Ms. Carson is an amazing poet and I'm glad to have discovered her in the last few years.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Secret by Denise Levertov

The Secret
By Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of

I who don't know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can't find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.


Dear Poems
By Marion

Dear Poems:
You give me sustenance,

You give my life

You are, I know,
my raison d'etre &
my silence amidst

I love you.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"The Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schulz

I will forever think of the excerpt below every August for the rest of my life...  The heat here is crippling so I hibernate in my air-conditioned house and read. ( It's so hot, the dragonflies appear almost magically and drink from the water hose as I water my drooping plants.)  I've wanted to post this excerpt for a while, but thought it would be better appeciated in the month of August about which he writes.

I cannot even begin to describe the luminous beauty of the writings of Bruno Schulz.  My hands tremble with uncertainty even trying to write this...When I first opened "The Street of Crocodiles" and began reading it, I wept and had to put it away.  (How could I have lived so many years and not read this  book?!?)  I've been trying to read the entire book for months.  I read a page, then weep at the radiant words.  Colors & scents swirl and jump from the page.  The pages of my book remain tear-damp, underlined, highlighted, annotated, ink-smeared.  (I long to lunge into the pages of this book and walk around in & inhabit these stories...)

I've re-read the same few pages over and over and over.  I try to move on but I don't want to have read this book.  I forever want to be reading it....in the present tense.  I will soon have to buy another copy so I can try to continue reading without weeping on the pages.  I mourn the untimely, brutal, senseless death of Mr. Schulz at the hands of a Gestapo officer and the words that he never got to write.   I weep at the brutality of man and the death of beauty. 

If you never, ever read another book, you must read this one.  It is so much more than a book...

It's now my #1 favorite book of all time.  xoxo

Here's the exerpt:

“A tangled thicket of grasses, weeds, and thistles crackled in the fire of the afternoon. The sleeping garden was resonant with flies. The golden field of stubble shouted in the sun like a tawny cloud of locusts; in the thick rain of fire the crickets screamed; seeds pods exploded softly like grasshoppers.

And over by the fence the sheepskin of grass lifted in a hump, as if the garden had turned over in its sleep, its broad, peasant back rising and falling as it breathed on the stillness of the earth. There the untidy feminine ripeness of August had expanded into enormous, impenetrable clumps of burdocks spreading their sheets of leafy tin, their luxuriant tongues of fleshy greenery. There, those protuberant bur clumps spread themselves, like resting peasant women, half-enveloped in their own swirling skirts. There, the garden offered free of charge the cheapest fruits of wild lilac, the heady aquavit of mint and all kinds of August trash. But on the other side of the fence, behind that jungle of summer in which the stupidity of weeds reigned unchecked, there was a rubbish heap on which thistles grew in wild profusion. No one knew that there, on the refuse dump, the month of August had chosen to hold that year its pagan orgies. There, pushed against the fence and hidden by the elders, stood the bed of the half-wit girl, Touya, as we all called her. On a heap of discarded junk, of old saucepans, abandoned single shoes, and chunks of plaster, stood a bed, painted green, propped up on two bricks where one leg was missing.

The air over the midden, wild with heat, cut through by the lightning of shiny horseflies, driven mad by the sun, crackled as if filled with invisible rattles, exciting one to frenzy.

Touya sits hunched up among the yellow bedding and odd rags, her large head covered by a mop of tangled black hair. Her face works like the bellows of an accordion. Every now and then a sorrowful grimace folds it into a thousand vertical pleats, but astonishment soon straightens it out again, ironing out the folds, revealing the chinks of small eyes and damp gums with yellow teeth under snoutlike, fleshy lips. Hours pass, filled with heat boredom; Touya chatters in a monotone, dozes, mumbles softly, and coughs. Her immobile frame is covered by a thick cloak of flies. But suddenly the whole heap of dirty rags begins to move, as if stirred by the scratching of a litter of newborn rats. The flies wake up in fright and rise in a huge, furious buzzing cloud, filled with colored light reflected from the sun. And while the rags slip to the ground and spread out over the rubbish heap, like frightened rats, a form emerges and reveals itself: the dark half-naked idiot girl rises slowly to her feet and stands like a pagan idol, on short childish legs; her neck swells with anger, and from her face, red with fury, on which the arabesques of bulging veins stand out as in a primitive painting, comes forth a hoarse animal scream, originating deep in the lungs hidden in that half-animal, half-divine breast. The sun-dried thistles shout, the plantains swell and boast their shameless flesh, the weeds salivate with glistening poison, and the half-wit girl, hoarse with shouting, convulsed with madness, presses her fleshy belly in an excess of lust against the trunk of an elder, which groans softly under the insistent pressure of that libidinous passion, incited by the whole ghastly chorus to hideous unnatural fertility…”

 ~From: “The Street of Crocodiles” by Bruno Schulz, pages 6, 7