Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Fifties by Barbara Crooker

We spent those stifling endless summer afternoons
on hot front porches, cutting paper dolls from Sears
catalogs, making up our own ideal families
complete with large appliances
and an all-occasion wardrobe with fold-down
paper tabs. Sometimes we left crayons
on the cement landing, just to watch them melt.
We followed the shade around the house.
Time was a jarful of pennies, too hot
to spend, stretching long and sticky,
a brick of Bonomo's Turkish Taffy.
Tomorrow'd be more of the same,
ending with softball or kickball,
then hide and seek in the mosquitoey dark.
Fireflies, like connect-the-dots or find-the-hidden-
words, rose and glowed, winked on and off,
their cool fires coded signals
of longing and love
that we would one day
learn to speak.

"The Fifties" by Barbara Crooker, from Radiance. © Word Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So Much Depends Upon

So much depends upon

by Tom Chandler

the blonde woman who drops a potato
in the supermarket parking lot where it rolls
beneath the 89 Dodge Ram with rust patches
near the left rear fender from contact with
too much road salt during the winter of 91
which was actually one of the mildest on record
though the driver tends to remember it
as the season he was fired from his job
at the aluminum window factory where
he had worked for nearly sixteen years
without promotion as he shifts into reverse
and backs over the potato which squishes
as softly as a dream's last breath and leaves
slick asphalt for the lot boy to slip on
as he pushes a train of shopping carts
and sprains his lumbar vertebrae just
days before he is scheduled to leave
for basic training to become the cool
killing machine he's always craved
but will now have to settle for someday
making assistant produce manager
and marrying a girl he almost loves just
as the blonde woman finds herself
one potato short with dinner guests
ringing the doorbell.

"So much depends upon" by Tom Chandler from Toy Firing Squad. © Wind Publications, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Solitude

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

"Solitude" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Public Domain

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Charles Wright - Littlefoot

This is the bird hour, peony blossoms falling bigger than wren hearts
On the cutting border’s railroad ties,
Sparrows and other feathery things
Homing from one hedge to the next,
          late May, gnat-floating evening.

Is love stronger than unlove?
         Only the unloved know.
And the mockingbird, whose heart is cloned and colorless.

And who’s this tiny chirper,
       lost in the loose leaves of the weeping cherry tree?
His song is not more than three feet off the ground, and singular,
And going nowhere.
Listen. It sounds a lot like you, hermane.
       It sounds like me.

Charles Wright is the 20th Poet Laureate

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Do Not Stand...

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mary Oliver - The Swan


The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Look Before You Leap - W H Auden

Leap Before You Look

The sense of danger must not disappear:
The way is certainly both short and steep,
However gradual it looks from here;
Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

Tough-minded men get mushy in their sleep
And break the by-laws any fool can keep;
It is not the convention but the fear
That has a tendency to disappear.

The worried efforts of the busy heap,
The dirt, the imprecision, and the beer
Laugh if you can, but you will have to leap.

The clothes that are considered right to wear
Will not be either sensible or cheap,
So long as we consent to live like sheep
And never mention those who disappear.

Much can be said for social savior-faire,
Bu to rejoice when no one else is there
Is even harder than it is to weep;
No one is watching, but you have to leap.

A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear.

-- W. H. Auden