I am sad about
Alex Trebek who has a
but i have just read
that he is doing better
and in remission
this makes me happy
who else could do such
a terrific job as host
Really lovely – and yes, late for Easter – by John Updike.
Seven Stanzas at Easter
Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that-pierced-died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.
And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.
W.S. Merwin died about a month ago – I was late to discover his work. Maybe five years ago I picked up a collection of his in a second-hand bookstore and have been hooked since. Here is a favourite:
The Wonder of the Imperfect
Nothing that I do is finished
so I keep returning to it
lured by the notion that I long
to see the whole of it at last
completed and estranged from me
but no the unfinished is what
I return to as it leads me on
I am made whole by what has just
escaped me as it always does
I am made of incompleteness
the words are not there in words
oh gossamer gossamer breath
moment daylight life untouchable
by no name with no beginning
what do we think we recognize
So today is National Poetry Day. Last year I posted a poem I wrote for more or less the same occasion – you can read it here. And for today I am posting this – inspired by a conversation Significant Other and I had during our recent trip to Italy. Are we not deep? Shall I send it to the New Yorker?
Ode to the Banana
You truly are the King of Fruit and so inspired
Your merry yellow countenance is nature’s perfect wrapping, no polluting-our-seas plastic required
I carry you without a Kleenex and my fingers don’t feel sticky and icky
Like when I hold grapes
And when I carry you about, I feel very much at one with our cousin apes.
When peeled you still aren’t a sticky and icky kind of loot
At least as much as, say, your brothers in fruitdom, the orange, the apple and the grapefruit
Your potassium picks me up after illness and your sugar picks me up when I’m lackadaisical
You are inexpensive too
And ubiquitous, available in France and probably Timbuktu and Kalamazoo.
Oh, they say you are gross when you get all mushy
With black spots and inconsistency and feeling all squishy
But you can be the proud foundation of a smoothie
Or better yet, the reason to make that comfort food known as banana bread
From a recipe used to often I no longer need to read it, it is stuck in my head.
Oh, they say people slip and fall on you – is this what Sir Joseph Paxton wanted?
Your peels discarded on sidewalks, streets and paths leave some daunted
But if it wasn’t beneath Ethel Merman, Buster Keaton and Woody Allen
Then why treat it as some sort of evil plan
Better yet, you lazy souls, take those peels and put them in a garbage can.
Oh, they besmirch your name: Cavendish, Chiquita (top banana in the world today!) or Dole
By using it as a synonym for crazy, nutty and out-of-control
When their own names would better do the trick
How about the name of an actual nut to replace such words?
For “macadamia” and “pistachio” are two of the craziest-sounding words I have ever heard.
Cherries have pits, so much effort required to eat them
To open a durian you need a team of engineers on standby, and peaches have fur, biting into them
the gourmet equivalent of nails down a blackboard
You are also easy to draw. What is your flaw? Your only one as far as I can see
Is that you hide the deadly black tarantula, as sang Harry Belafonte.
But even scary, hairy spiders need a place to sleep
And dear banana, you give them that, a place to sleep deeply
And you give us B6, C, folate, manganese, on top of the aforementioned
So please dear banana, take a bow
And I mean right now.
And when thou hast learned to spell my name correctly! This is a photograph I took in Florence, Italy, recently, and it is an “Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived here” plaque, with some poetic writing about her-heart-of-a-woman, et cetera. That said, it spells her second name incorrectly – without a double T. Doppia T, Italians!
What I love about it, as a student of the Italian language, is the use of the passato remoto and the imperfect. I took a translation course in Italy in February and it was really hard to get the hang of when to use those two together.
She passed away – loved so many of her poems, especially this one:
I Worriedby Mary OliverI worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the riversflow in the right direction, will the earth turnas it was taught, and if not how shallI correct it?Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,can I do better?Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrowscan do it and I am, well,hopeless.Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,am I going to get rheumatism,lockjaw, dementia?Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.And gave it up. And took my old bodyand went out into the morning,and sang.
Or, barrel o’ links. (Beryl O’Links is an Irish lass, she is!)
As we wind down 2018, a few links of interest: the death of Georges Loinger, may his memory be a blessing; trove of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems found; kitties domesticated themselves; and, Hijab in the House, by the brilliant Bruce Bawer. In regards this last story, I mentioned to one of my sisters this summer that I was concerned about the anti-Semitism of some of the rising young “stars” of the Democratic Party, and she insisted that anyone openly espousing contempt for Jews would never be elected. I was like, yeah, we’ll see. Cough.
Beautiful poem written by Roland Leighton for Vera Brittain. It was April 1915 and he was serving in France. He was killed by a sniper eight months later. (I dearly wish I had some of my uncle’s poems to his fiancee, Christine, but any letters she received, of course, stayed with her. If she kept them, perhaps her children have them – I have a hope one of her kids will see my other site and contact me, but it is possible she may never have told them about Norman.)
Violets from Plug Street Wood,
Sweet, I send you oversea.
(It is strange they should be blue,
Blue, when his soaked blood was red,
For they grew around his head:
It is strange they should be blue.)
Think what they have meant to me –
Life and hope and Love and You
(and you did not see them grow
Where his mangled body lay
Hiding horrors from the day;
Sweetest, it was better so.)
Violets from oversea,
To your dear, far, forgetting land
These I send in memory
Knowing you will understand.
This poem is magnificent. Why did we have to read Lawrence’s novels at university, but not his poems? I could have lived without the former, but surely would have appreciated — even loved — the latter.
Climbing through the January snow, into the Lobo Canyon
Dark grow the spruce-trees, blue is the balsam, water sounds still unfrozen, and the trail is still evident
Men! The only animal in the world to fear!
They have a gun.
We have no gun.
Then we all advance, to meet.
Two Mexicans, strangers, emerging our of the dark and
snow and inwardness of the Lobo valley.
What are they doing here on this vanishing trail?
What is he carrying?
Que’ tiene amigo?
He smiles foolishly as if he were caught doing wrong.
And we smile, foolishly, as if we didn’t know.
He is quite gentle and dark-faced.
It is a mountain lion,
A long, long, slim cat, yellow like a lioness.
He trapped her this morning, he says, smiling foolishly.
Life up her face,
Her round, bright face, bright as frost.
Her round, fine-fashioned head, with two dead ears;
And stripes in the brilliant frost of her face, sharp, fine dark rays,
Dark, keen, fine rays in the brilliant frost of her face.
Beautiful dead eyes.
They go out towards the open;
We go out into the gloom of Lobo.
And above the trees I found her lair,
A hole in the blood-orange brilliant rocks that stick up, a little cave.
And bones, and twigs, and a perilous ascent.
So, she will never leap up that way again, with the yellow flash of a mountain lion’s long shoot!
And her bright striped frost-face will never watch any more, out of the shadow of the cave in the blood- orange rock,
Above the trees of the Lobo dark valley-mouth!
Instead, I look out.
And out to the dim of the desert, like a dream, never real;
To the snow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the ice of the mountains of Picoris,
And near across at the opposite steep of snow, green trees motionless standing in snow, like a Christmas toy.
And I think in this empty world there was room for me and a mountain lion.
And I think in the world beyond, how easily we might spare a million or two humans
And never miss them.
Yet what a gap in the world, the missing white frost-face of that slim yellow mountain lion!
It is National Poetry Month – for the occasion, I wrote this poem. It isn’t very good – it doesn’t even rhyme. But it’s mine.
I once lived in Paris
In an apartment with four other girls and four thousand cockroaches
My mother sent me letters about getting married
And books about getting married
And – in her tiny, precise script – advice about getting married
Advice hard come by; decades of marriage and few flowers behind her
She sent me articles about things that would kill me:
Date rape drugs
And certain vegetables
And taking strangers’ suitcases across borders
And unpasteurized cheese, of which I ate beaucoup with butter and baguette
Fears saved up from a lifetime of hurt, only occasionally dulled by her beloved Old Fashioneds
I was dating, if you could call it that
And studying French poetry and such
At the Sorbonne
I read about roses and profiting from my youth
Allons voir si la rose and cueilliez vostre Jeunesse
A sort of French, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Until a man who looked like the lead singer from A-ha
Fell in love with me and bought me roses
We saw ‘Goodfellas’ together
I laughed at the lowlifes
He was horrified by my laughter
He loved me so much I was sure I would shrivel up and fall
I sometimes look at his Facebook page
Half dreading I will see
“I’m so glad that girl wouldn’t marry me”
But I never do
I just see his big, splashy paintings, violet and red streaks like petals
And still the lead singer from A-ha, crinkle-eyed and bearded now
I became a journalist and wrote articles
about a German Shepherd who raised tiny baby kittens as her own
and about women over 40 getting pregnant at the sperm bank
gathering their rosebuds in a panic
which is something a friend of mine did and something I never contemplated
As I am old-fashioned