Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How To Be Perfect

Excerpts from "How to be Perfect" by Ron Padgett

Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first.

Straighten up your room before you save the world. Then save the world.

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don't stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don't forget what made you angry.

Hold your anger out at arm's length and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass ball collection.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if you have paid them, even if they do favors you don't want.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to.

Don't be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don't think that progress exists. It doesn't.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do anything to make it impossible.

Forgive your country every once in a while.
If that is not possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Don't be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel even older.
Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately.

If you bang your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20 minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and gravity.

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot.
It's a waste of time.

Drink plenty of water.
When asked what you would like to drink, say, "Water, please."

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there's shooting in the street, don't go near the window.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Church Fair

Jane Kenyon

Who knows what I might find
on tables under the maple trees—
perhaps a saucer in Aunt Lois's china pattern
to replace the one I broke
the summer I was thirteen, and visiting
for a week. Never in all these years
have I thought of it without
a warm surge of embarrassment.

I'll go through the closets and cupboards
to find things for the auction.
I'll bake a peach pie for the food table,
and rolls for the supper,
Grandma Kenyon's recipe, which came down to me
along with her legs and her brooding disposition.
"Mrs. Kenyon," the doctor used to tell her,
you are simply killing yourself with work."
This she repeated often, with keen satisfaction.

She lived to be a hundred and three,
surviving all her children,
including the one so sickly at birth
that she had to carry him everywhere on a pillow
for the first four months. Father
suffered from a weak chest — bronchitis,
pneumonias, and pleurisy — and early on
books and music became his joy.

Surely these clothes are from another life—
not my own. I'll drop them off on the way
to town. I'm getting the peaches
today, so they'll be ripe by Saturday.

 "Church Fair" by Jane Kenyon, from  - Let Evening Come. © Graywolf Press, 1990. Reprinted with permission.

Jane Kenyon, born in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1947). She married fellow poet Donald Hall, whom she met as a student at the University of Michigan, where he was a professor. They lived in his family farmhouse in New Hampshire. Hall wrote: "[W]e got up early in the morning. I brought Jane coffee in bed. She walked the dog as I started writing, then climbed the stairs to work at her own desk on her own poems. We had lunch. We lay down together. We rose and worked at secondary things. I read aloud to Jane; we played scoreless ping-pong; we read the mail; we worked again. We ate supper, talked, read books sitting across from each other in the living room, and went to sleep. If we were lucky the phone didn't ring all day. In January Jane dreamed of flowers, planning expansion and refinement of the garden. From late March into October she spent hours digging, applying fifty-year-old Holstein manure from under the barn, planting, transplanting, and weeding."
She published only four books of poetry before she died from leukemia at the age of 47. She was the state poet of New Hampshire at the time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nocturne - Loss of Memory

Nocturne by Kathleen Raine

Night comes, an angel stands
Measuring out the time of stars,
Still are the winds, and still the hours.

It would be peace to lie
Still in the still hours at the angel's feet,
Upon a star hung in a starry sky,
But hearts another measure beat.

Each body, wingless as it lies,
Sends out its butterfly of night
With delicate wings, and jewelled eyes.

And some upon day's shores are cast,
And some in darkness lost
In waves beyond the world, where float
Somewhere the islands of the blest.
___________________________________

Loss of Memory

The holy words: why did we let them go?
Whose are our children, who no longer know
"Our father who are in heaven"?
For words create that heaven, and that Father,
Hallow the holy Name,
Unspoken in a time that has forgotten
The language that peoples unseen heaven
And visible earth with all her creatures,
Tells the thousand stories of our one human story.
What but the word has made kings royal, women beautiful,
Made Mary the Mother of God? God has no mother now,
Nor Eve the far hope of her lost garden.
Disinherited from ancestral wisdom
Whose realm protected once, for us
The soundless voice of memory speaks no more
That used to tell, over and over,
The healing words: "Let not your heart be troubled,"
Of green pastures and still waters
And the twelve signs of love that never fails.

From The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy - edited by Robert Bly




Monday, May 14, 2012

On Mondays

On Mondays  Marilyn Donnelly

On Mondays when the museums are closed
and a handful of guards
look the other way
or read their newspapers
all of the figures
step out of golden frames
to stroll the quiet halls
or visit among old friends.
Picasso's twisted ladies
rearrange themselves
to trade secrets
with the languid odalisques of Matisse
while sturdy Rembrandt men
shake the dust
from their velvet tams
and talk shop.
Voluptuous Renoir women
take their rosy children by the hand
to the water fountains
where they gossip
while eating Cezanne's luscious red apples.
Even Van Gogh
in his tattered yellow straw hat
seems almost happy
on Mondays when the museums are closed.

"On Mondays" by Marilyn Donnelly, from Coda. © Autumn House Press, 2010. (buy now)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

God's Grandeur - 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.


Hopkins Bio

A Romance for the Wild Turkey

A Romance for the Wild TurkeyPaul Zimmer

They are so cowardly and stupid
Indians would not eat them
For fear of assuming their qualities.

The wild turkey always stays close
To home, flapping up into trees
If alarmed, then falling out again.
When shot it explodes like a balloon
Full of blood. It bathes by grinding
Itself in coarse dirt, is incapable
Of passion or anger, knows only
Vague innocence and extreme caution,
Walking around in underbrush
Like a cantilevered question mark,
Retreating at least hint of danger.

I hope when the wild turkey
Dreams at night it flies high up
In gladness under vast islands
Of mute starlight, its silhouette
Vivid in the full moon, guided always
By radiant configurations, high
Over chittering fields of corn
And the trivial fires of men,
Never to land again nor be regarded
As fearful, stupid, and unsure.

"A Romance for the Wild Turkey" by Paul Zimmer, from  Crossing to Sunlight Revisited. © The University of Georgia Press, 2007.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Would I Give

What Would I Give by Christina Georgina Rossetti - (1830-1894)

What would I give for a heart of flesh to warm me through,
Instead of this heart of stone ice-cold whatever I do!
Hard and cold and small, of all hearts the worst of all.

What would I give for words, if only words would come!
But now in its misery my spirit has fallen dumb.
O merry friends, go your own way, I have never a word to say.

What would I give for tears! Not smiles but scalding tears,
To wash the black mark clean, and to thaw the frost of years,
To wash the stain ingrain, and to make me clean again.

Monday, May 7, 2012

You and Your Ilk

You and Your Ilk - By Thomas Lux

I have thought much upon
who might be my ilk,
and that I am ilk myself if I have ilk.
Is one of my ilk, or me, the barber
who cuts the hair of the blind?
And the man crushed by cruelties
for which we can't imagine sorrow,
who would be his ilk?
And whose ilk was it
standing around, hands in pockets, May 1933,
when 2,242 tons of books were burned?
Not mine. So: what makes my ilkness
my ilkness? No answers, none forthcoming.
To be one of the ilks, that's all
I hoped for; to say hello to the mailman,
nod to my neighbors, to watch
my children climb the stairs of a big yellow bus
which takes them to a place
where they learn to read
and write and eat their lunches
from puzzle trays—all around them,
amid the clatter and din,
amid bananas, bread, and milk.
all around them: them and their ilk.

From Poets.org

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Day

May Day by Sara Teasdale

A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.

Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.

Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;

For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?