Monday, April 29, 2013

One Place To Begin


One Place to Begin by John Daniel

You need a reason, any reason—skiing, a job in movies,
      the Golden Gate Bridge.
Take your reason and drive west, past the Rockies.
When you're bored with bare hills, dry flats, and distance,
      stop anywhere.
Forget where you thought you were going.

Rattle through the beer cans in the ditch.
If there's a fence, try your luck—they don't stop cows.
Follow the first hawk you see, and when the sagebrush
      trips you, take a good look before you get up.
The desert gets by without government.

Crush juniper berries, breathe the smell, smear your face.
When you wonder why you're here, yell as loud
      as you can and don't look behind.
Walk. Your feet are learning.

Admit you're afraid of the dark.
Soak the warmth from scabrock, cheek to lichen.
The wind isn't talking to you. Listen anyway.
Let the cries of coyotes light a fire in your heart.
Remember the terrible song of stars—you knew it once,
      before you were born.

Tell a story about why the sun comes back.
Sit still until the itches give up, lizards ignore you,
      a mule deer holds you in her eyes.
Explain yourself over and over. Forget it all
      when a scrub jay shrieks.
Imagine sun, sky, and wind the same, over your
      scattered white bones.

"One Place to Begin" by John Daniel, from Of Earth. © Lost Horse Press, 2012. Thanks to The Writers Almanac

Thursday, April 18, 2013

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

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kid - By Simon Armitage

Kid -Simon Armitage

Batman, big shot, when you gave the order
to grow up, then let me loose to wander
leeward, freely through the wild blue yonder
as you liked to say, or ditched me, rather,
in the gutter . . . well, I turned the corner.
Now I've scotched that "he was like a father
to me" rumour, sacked it, blown the cover
on that "he was like an elder brother"
story, let the cat out on that caper
with the married woman, how you took her
downtown on expenses in the motor.
Holy robin-redbreast-nest-egg-shocker!
Holy roll-me-over-in-the-clover,
I'm not playing ball boy any longer
Batman, now I've doffed that off-the-shoulder
Sherwood-Forest-green and scarlet number
for a pair of jeans and crew-neck jumper;
now I'm taller, harder, stronger, older.
Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:
you without a shadow, stewing over
chicken giblets in the pressure cooker,
next to nothing in the walk-in larder,
punching the palm of your hand all winter,
you baby, now I'm the real boy wonder.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney:

Dangerous pavements.
But this year I face the ice
With my father’s stick.

From The New Yorker

Monday, April 1, 2013

Filler - W.H. Auden

Filler - May 12, 1966

The Marquis de Sade and Genet
Are most highly thought of to-day;
But torture and treachery
Are not my sort of lechery,
So I’ve given my copies away.