Sunday, June 24, 2012

Griffin at Two

Watching The Ducks


MY GRANDSON GRIFFIN AT TWO

Thanks, little boy, For your unconditional love,
For hugging me hard when we meet,
For your small hand leading,
For your sense of humor,
For your intelligence,
For your solitary focused play,
For your love of giraffes and elephants,
For your big blue eyes
Your expressive mouth,
Your prominent ears
The back of your delicate neck,
For your confident walk,
For seeing possibilities in everything,

For taking a piece of my heart,
And holding it safe in yours.

For all these things, my darling boy,
Thanks!!

By Grandma

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Flowering

The Flowering by Glenn Shea

I love to imagine London fallen quiet,
silent really, just past the toll of twelve;
walking past the white bulk of St. Paul's
or by the steps of Paternoster Square;
not in the panicked silences of nights
of the Blitz but merely unpeopled streets,
London asleep, lit bright by the moon,
quiet as the pond and woods behind our house.
I stroll down Fleet Street in my dreaming
to peer in the dark alleys and entries
that lead to the Inns of Court; a stray dog
may stroll by but of even the police
I hear no more than their echoing talk.
Up the curl of Goodge Street I lay my
hand flat in affection on the stout black
door of Johnson's house, and as in my
night the church is lit, I enter
the sadness of St. Dunstan's, its
silences like the streets outside. In
the short night of a poem I reach
Trafalgar Square, still lit, like an
etching, by the moon, unpeopled yet
even by lovers; then pale dawn edges up
and people appear, morning-eyed, stepping
from their dreams to speech, and like
them I take coffee in the crypt below
St. Martin's. I watch them, the creatures
of a city I have dreamed, the flowering
of an ache to be at home and there,
and they vanish up the bustle of
Charing Cross or past the fruit market
at Villiers Street, they vanish as I start
awake to other thoughts, or fall past
them in the peace of dreaming.

"The Flowering" by Glenn Shea, from Find a Place That Could Pass for Home. © Salmon Poetry, 2010.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Glenn Gould


Gould and Leonard Bernstein 1960

Glenn Gould by  Stanley Plumly 

I heard him that one night in Cincinnati.
The concert hall, 1960, the same day
Kennedy flew into town in perfect sunlight
and rode the route that took him
through the crowds of voters and nonvoters
who alike seemed to want to climb
into the armored convertible.
Gould did not so much play as address
the piano from a height of inches,
as if he were trying to slow the music
by holding each note separately.
Later he would say he was tired
of making public appearances,
the repetition of performing the Variations
was killing him. But that night
Bach felt like a discovery, whose repetitions
Gould had practiced in such privacy
as to bring them into being for the first time.
This was the fall, October, when Ohio,
like almost every other part of the country,
is beginning to be mortally beautiful,
the great old hardwoods letting go
their various scarlet, yellow,
and leopard-spotted leaves one by one.

"Glenn Gould" by Stanley Plumly

[ed note: Cincinnati - The city of my youth]

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How Baseball Saved My Marriage

How Baseball Saved My Marriage By Kristen Lindquist

One happy hour drink in Orono and now I'm driving
up the Penobscot just for kicks, past the bridge to Indian Island,
past the just-closed Georgia Pacific plant, tidy yards
of Milford, "Place of a Million Parts" junkyard,
the drink still warm in my belly, the strong, true edge of things

glowing with rich clarity in the late summer, late afternoon light.
Dylan's tangled up in blue on the radio, dozens of migrating
nighthawks flit over fields along the river, crickets shrill
in tall grass, window draft tickles my tan shoulders.
Later tonight, the Red Sox will win with another Big Papi

walk-off homer that will make me whoop to myself in the car.
But for now, I'm moving through Olamon, Passadumkeag,
away from the river, into the woods. It's the end of a long day,
but there still seems to be plenty of time and road ahead.
Something about the light, the beauty of the sky, makes me think
I should keep going right on to northern Maine, all the way
to Canada. I could just keep driving all night, potato fields
north of Houlton balancing the dark outside my car windows,
lights across the St. John beckoning me over the border.
I've got a full tank of gas, credit cards in my wallet. I could

drive all the way to Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island,
stay in some quaint inn on a craggy coast, walk low beaches
in search of sandpipers heading south from the Arctic.
How far north do roads go? But it grows late, shadows deepen,
and so far from home, I realize I don't know the station

broadcasting tonight's game. So it's finally baseball
that curbs my sudden wanderlust. It's the simple pleasure
of a good game coming up that makes me turn around
to re-enter the bubble of radio reception, to start
the long drive back to everything familiar and well-loved.

"How Baseball Saved My Marriage" by Kristen Lindquist, from Transportation. © Megunti Cook Press, 2011

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reading Hemingway

Reading Hemingway by James Cummins 

Reading Hemingway makes me so hungry,
jambon, cheeses, and a dry white wine.
Cold, of course, very cold. And very dry.

Reading Hemingway makes some folks angry:
the hip drinking, the bitter pantomime.
But reading Hemingway makes me hungry

for the good life, the sun, the fish, the sky:
blue air, white water, dinner on the line . . .
Had it down cold, he did. And dry. Real dry.

But Papa had it all, the brio, the Brie:
clear-eyed, tight-lipped, advancing on a  . . .
Reading Hemingway makes me so hungry,

I'd knock down Monsieur Stevens, too, if I
drank too much  before we dined.
(Too old, that man, and way too cold. And dry

enough to rub one's famished nerves awry,
kept talking past the kitchen's closing time!)
Reading Hemingway makes me so hungry . . .
And cold, of course. So cold. And very dry.

"Reading Hemingway" by James Cummins, from Portrait in a Spoon. © University of South Carolina Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The New Colossus

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazurus
The New Colossus is a supremely confident poem. The technique is impeccable, with complete command of the Petrarchan sonnet form and its dramatic timing. Lazarus knows how to use rhetoric and archetype without overegging the already rich fare. The iambic pentameter flows with the steady dignity of a great ship. Many images are drawn from the storied Old World. "Tempest-tost" is a Shakespearean epithet. There are hints of Wordsworth's sonnet Composed upon Westminster Bridge and of Keats, and his Homeric " "On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" - realms of gold

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Two poems about love lost

Patterns

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles
on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon --
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se'nnight."
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
"Any answer, Madam," said my footman.
"No," I told him.
"See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer."
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, "It shall be as you have said."
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down,
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

Amy Lowell (About.com - Classic Literature)

**********************************************************
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year's leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year's bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide!
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go, -- so with his memory they brim!
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, "There is no memory of him here!"
And so stand stricken, so remembering him!

  Edna St Vincent Millay

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blackberries for Amelia

Blackberries for Amelia by Richard Wilbur

Fringing the woods, the stone walls, and the lanes,
Old thickets everywhere have come alive,
Their new leaves reaching out in fans of five
From tangles overarched by this year's canes.
They have their flowers too, it being June,
And here or there in brambled dark-and-light
Are small, five-petaled blooms of chalky white,
As random-clustered and as loosely strewn
As the far stars, of which we now are told
That ever faster do they bolt away,
And that a night may come in which, some say,
We shall have only blackness to behold.
I have no time for any change so great,
But I shall see the August weather spur
Berries to ripen where the flowers were—
Dark berries, savage-sweet and worth the wait—
And there will come the moment to be quick
And save some from the birds, and I shall need
Two pails, old clothes in which to stain and bleed,
And a grandchild to talk with while we pick.

"Blackberries for Amelia" by Richard Wilbur, from Collected Poems. © Harcourt, 2004. Reprinted with permission.