Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Waking

I've been really busy and haven't had time to read much, but it's spring and spring always makes me think of this poem, and joy, and the lovely version of this that Kurt Elling has put to music:

The Waking
by Theodore Roethke http://gawow.com/roethke/poems/104.html

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling.
What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!
I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree;
but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady.
I should know.
What falls away is always.
And is near.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGbGUhYe0Ts&feature=related

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That Time Of Year

That Time of Year - Philip Appleman

So April's here, with all these soggy showers,
Making us almost long for March again,
As every twiglet makes a play for flowers
And every hack for miles picks up a pen,
Girls all playing hankypank, not soccer,
The smell of oozing sap all over town,
Teenage boys completely off their rocker,
And rutting rabbits diddling farmer Brown.

We're in for it now, nothing to be done:
Loving's what we wanted, what we got.
At least we're going to have a little fun—
With any luck, we're going to have a lot.
Thirty days hath April: seize the day!
Don't trust to luck for darling buds in May.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Good List

A Good List - by Brad Leithauser

(Homage to Lorenz Hart)
Some nights, can't sleep, I draw up a list,
Of everything I've never done wrong.
To look at me now, you might insist
My list could hardly be long,
But I've stolen no gnomes from my neighbor’s yard,
Nor struck his dog, backing out my car.
Never ate my way up and down the Loire
On a stranger's credit card.

I've never given a cop the slip,
Stuffed stiffs in a gravel quarry,
Or silenced Cub Scouts on a first camping trip
With an unspeakable ghost story.
Never lifted a vase from a museum foyer,
Or rifled a Turkish tourist's backpack.
Never cheated at golf. Or slipped out a blackjack
And flattened a patent lawyer.

I never forged a lottery ticket,
Took three on a two-for-one pass,
Or, as a child, toasted a cricket
With a magnifying glass.
I never said "air" to mean "err," or obstructed
Justice, or defrauded a securities firm.
Never mulcted—so far as I understand the term.
Or unjustly usufructed.

I never swindled a widow of all her stuff
By means of a false deed and title
Or stood up and shouted, My God, that's enough!
At a nephew’s piano recital.
Never practiced arson, even as a prank,
Brightened church-suppers with off-color jokes,
Concocted an archeological hoax—
Or dumped bleach in a goldfish tank.

Never smoked opium. Or smuggled gold
Across the Panamanian Isthmus.
Never hauled back and knocked a rival out cold,
Or missed a family Christmas.
Never borrowed a book I intended to keep.
. . . My list, once started, continues to grow,
Which is all for the good, but just goes to show
It's the good who do not sleep.

Friday, April 17, 2009

To See My Mother

To See My Mother - By Sharon Olds

It was like witnessing the earth being formed,
to see my mother die, like seeing
the dry lands be separated
from the oceans, and all the mists bear up
on one side, and all the solids
be borne down, on the other, until
the body was all there, all bronze and
petrified redwood opal, and the soul all
gone. If she hadn't looked so exalted, so
beast-exalted and refreshed and suddenly
hopeful, more than hopeful—beyond
hope, relieved—if she had not been suffering so
much, since I had met her, I do not
know how I would have stood it, without
fighting someone, though no one was there
to fight, death was not there except
as her, my task was to hold her tiny
crown in one cupped hand, and her near
birdbone shoulder. Lakes, clouds,
nests. Winds, stems, tongues.
Embryo, zygote, blastocele, atom,
my mother's dying was like an end
of life on earth, some end of water
and moisture salt and sweet, and vapor,
till only that still, ocher moon
shone, in the room, mouth open, no song.

**********************

And mine:

LAST VISIT

Pared to the bone,
The ivory skin is wrinkled,
Cool and soft to the touch.

Spare flesh on the old bones,
The hands plucking,
Plucking the sheets -
Questioning, moving.

She lies on her side,
The blind eyes open.
Still smelling sweet.
She always has.

I bend to kiss her hands.
To tell her I am here.

"Oh, cover me with kisses,"
She cries in that hoarse,
Rusty voice -
And I do.

Silence then as
She drifts away,
Listening to the voices of memory.

"Mother, it's OK to go," I say.

The next morning she dies,
Alone in the room.

I could have stayed,
What urgency called me away?
I wanted so to see her out,
To ease her through the door.

I ache for the chance
To be with her again.

Mary Murphy 8/15/89

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Voices

Imagined voices, and beloved, too,
of those who died, or of those who are
lost unto us like the dead.

Sometimes in our dreams they speak to us;
sometimes in its thought the mind will hear them.

And with their sound for a moment there return
sounds from the first poetry of our life—
like music, in the night, far off, that fades away.

C.P. Cavafy

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Waiting On Elvis, 1956

Waiting On Elvis, 1956 - Joyce Carol Oates

This place up in Charlotte called Chuck's where I
used to waitress and who came in one night
but Elvis and some of his friends before his concert
at the Arena, I was twenty-six married but still
waiting tables and we got to joking around like you
do, and he was fingering the lace edge of my slip
where it showed below my hemline and I hadn't even
seen it and I slapped at him a little saying, You
sure are the one aren't you feeling my face burn but
he was the kind of boy even meanness turned sweet in
his mouth.

Smiled at me and said, Yeah honey I guess I sure am.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Choice of Diseases

Now that I'm sick & have
all this time to contemplate
the meaning of the universe,
Father said, I understand why
I never did it before. Nothing
looks good from a prone position.
You have to walk around to appreciate
things. Once I get better I don't
intend to get sick for a while. But
if I do I hope I get one of those diseases
you can walk around with.

by Hal Sirowitz