Saturday, September 3, 2011

Japan by Billy Collins

A Tobacco Moth, having supper at my Moonflower last summer.

by Billy Collins

Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.

It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again

I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.

And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

It’s the one about the one-ton
temple bell
with the moth sleeping on the surface***,

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.

When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.

When I say it into the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.


***Haiku by the Japanese poet and painter Buson (1715 - 1783): 

"On the one-ton temple bell
A moon-moth, folded into sleep,
sits still."

(Translated by X. J. Kennedy)

From:  "The Norton Anthology of Poetry", page 1190


It's storming here in the swamps of my Louisiana.  Glorious shiny sheets of shimmering rain (I dare you to say that 3 times, really fast) are covering my world.  The drought is officially over.  I'm headed to my favorite cozy chair to read poetry, drink coffee and then read some more.  Oh, happy day!  :-)


"An ordinary man can... surround himself with two thousand books... and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy." ~Augustine Birrell
"Let your bookcases and your shelves be your gardens and your pleasure-grounds. Pluck the fruit that grows therein, gather the roses, the spices, and the myrrh." ~Judah Ibn Tibbon

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Moment by Margaret Atwood

Edited and with an introduction by Sina Queyras - Foreword by Molly Peacock

The Moment
By Margaret Atwood

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

The only thing I used to know about Canada was that it was up North and very cold.  The first person I met from Canada was Renee Khan at Circling My Head and we became good friends.  Renee died of cancer over a year ago.  I knew her less than a year, but knowing her changed my life.  She was an angel on earth, always encouraging and uplifting others in spite of her own pain and tragedy.  I still recommend her blog because it will open your heart and feed your soul.  Her daughter continues to post there ever so often.
Then I met Erin and felt as if I'd found a soulmate and fellow traveler on my poetic journey.  She just gave me this amazing book of Canadian poets which I read from cover to cover.  It's overflowing with luminous, fabulous, awesome poems, most by people I'd never heard of.  I only knew three of the poets in the book. The foreword by Molly Peacock (one of my favorite poets) is enlightening.  I highly recommend this book.
I also have to mention my same-name friend, Marion.  She's another of my sweet, precious Canadian friends.  She blogs beautifully about nature and her life's journey. 
I'm in the midst of culling books and getting organized...a malady which hits me annually as Fall nears. I read this sentence recently:  “Everyone gets organized at some point, they just might not be around for it,"  and I had a mental image of myself dead and my poor children having to go through my thousands of I'm determined to downsize my book collection to hundreds of books, not counting my poetry, of course.  Yesterday I filled my dining room table with piles of books and Ray boxed them up and took them to the library for the twice weekly sale before I could change my mind.  I feel lighter, much lighter.  As my Mama always says, "You can't take it with you when you go."  My closet is next, God help me. 
Those of you in the U.S., I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing Labor Day weekend!!
Love & Blessings,
"A house without books is like a room without windows." ~Heinrich Mann