Sunday, November 21, 2010

God's Grandeur

God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs-
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Last four lines are among my favorite lines of poetry. One of the most comfortable descriptions of God ever written.

In The Bus

In the Bus by Grace Paley

Somewhere between Greenfield and Holyoke
snow became rain
and a child passed through me
as a person moves through mist
as the moon moves through
a dense cloud at night
as though I were cloud or mist
a child passed through me

On the highway that lies
across miles of stubble
and tobacco barns our bus speeding
speeding disordered the slanty rain
and a girl with no name      naked
wearing the last nakedness of
childhood breathed in me
                   once    no
                   once    two breaths
a sigh    she whispered    Hey you
begin again
                      Again?
again     again    you'll see
it's easy    begin again    long ago

"In the Bus" by Grace Paley, from Begin Again Collected Poems. © Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000. Reprinted with permission.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It’s Sunday Morning in Early November

Thanks to The Writer's Almanac -- It’s Sunday Morning in Early November by
Philip Schultz 
and there are a lot of leaves already.
I could rake and get a head start.
The boy's summer toys need to be put
in the basement. I could clean it out
or fix the broken storm window.
When Eli gets home from Sunday school,
I could take him fishing. I don't fish
but I could learn to. I could show him
how much fun it is. We don't do as much
as we used to do. And my wife, there's
so much I haven't told her lately,
about how quickly my soul is aging,
how it feels like a basement I keep filling
with everything I'm tired of surviving.
I could take a walk with my wife and try
to explain the ghosts I can't stop speaking to.
Or I could read all those books piling up
about the beginning of the end of understanding...
Meanwhile, it's such a beautiful morning,
the changing colors, the hypnotic light.
I could sit by the window watching the leaves,
which seem to know exactly how to fall
from one moment to the next. Or I could lose
everything and have to begin over again.

"It's Sunday Morning in Early November" by Philip Schultz, from The God of Loneliness: Selected and New Poems. © Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

That Evening

That Evening by Ken Hada

that evening

   after the service
   after the casket

was lowered into red dirt
dirt which he had plowed
and planted

   I sat with her
   in the house

a house that would never be
the same, the house of grandkids
and trophies from prize quilts
and blue-ribbon jams from
county fairs

   and she spoke some
   and I spoke some

I was not yet eighteen
He was sixty five

   so my thoughts
   too few memories

the shotgun he bought for me
at auction, catching a big bass
on his cane pole, sitting on his lap
at sunrise, hearing growls about
harvest and calves, hay, tractors
and fences

   now it would all change
   we both knew that

as we sat holding our differing
grief, it would all change

   some for the better
   but not all

sundown and death – too obvious
to construct – that first night
was hard, but she was hard too

   and she teaches me
   to live on

for thirty more years (and counting)
that evening still alive in me –
a lesson in grief

   believe it, bear it
   bury it

"That Evening" by Ken Hada, from Spare Parts. © Mongrel Empire Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.