Tag Archives: poetry.

This is Just to Say: Quarantine Edition

With apologies to William Carlos Williams.

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the unsalted Saltines

that were in the

pantry

and the salted pistachios

and the President’s Choice oatmeal cookies

even though it is Lent

and I vowed no sweets

and the rest of the Kosher Dills

that were in the

refrigerator

along with a chunk of that pricey Parmigiano-Reggiano

you told me was

only for pasta

and a swig of the

Hennessy (right from the bottle)

though you said we

shouldn’t squander it

also I took one

of your Ambien last night

 

These things

I know you had probably

hoped would last us all

through quarantine

 

Forgive me

I was stressed

and it made me

feel better

Haiku Quintet: Corona Edition

Verse for these trying times. (You can also read my Ode to the Banana, my Haiku for Alex Trebek, and my Paris poem.)

CORONA HAIKU

Coronavirus

makes us stay inside and watch

reruns of Mad Men.

 

Covid 19 is,

I think, payback for human

abuse of critters.

 

So, while you watch Mad

Men or Bewitched, enjoy a

vegan snack or drink.

 

(If you choose Bewitched,

try not to channel Mrs.

Kravitz while shut in.)

 

And when we are free

again, don’t revert to the

eating of carcass.

St. Patrick’s Day: John O’Donohue

For St. Patrick’s Day, these words from poet, priest and philosopher John O’Donohue on aloneness and loneliness, isolation and longing. Fitting topics for this time of pandemic (and actually, for whatever time).

We live in a world that responds to our longing; it is a place where the echoes always return, even if sometimes slowly… The hunger to belong is at the heart of our nature. Cut off from others, we atrophy and turn in on ourselves. The sense of belonging is the natural balance of our lives… There is some innocent childlike side to the human heart that is always deeply hurt when we are excluded… When we become isolated, we are prone to being damaged; our minds lose their flexibility and natural kindness; we become vulnerable to fear and negativity.

Taken from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong.

Disobedience

Apparently, it was Winnie-the-Pooh day last Saturday. I missed it, but I wanted to link to this piece about A.A. Milne, nonetheless. I was and am a Pooh fan, but I think I love Milne’s books of poetry for children more. They were a big part of my childhood – my mother would recite “Rice Pudding” to us if we complained about our meals – and they are so clever it would be a mistake to think they can only be enjoyed by children. “Disobedience” is, in my view, an absolute gem. I offer it, forthwith:

Disobedience

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James Said to his Mother,
“Mother,” he said, said he;
“You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don’t go down with me.”

James James
Morrison’s Mother
Put on a golden gown.
James James Morrison’s Mother
Drove to the end of the town.
James James Morrison’s Mother
Said to herself, said she:
“I can get right down
to the end of the town
and be back in time for tea.”

King John
Put up a notice,
“LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
JAMES JAMES MORRISON’S MOTHER
SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
LAST SEEN
WANDERING VAGUELY:
QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,
SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN
TO THE END OF THE TOWN –
FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!”

James James
Morrison Morrison
(Commonly known as Jim)
Told his
Other relations
Not to go blaming him.
James James
Said to his Mother,
“Mother,” he said, said he:
“You must never go down to the end of the town
without consulting me.”

James James
Morrison’s mother
Hasn’t been heard of since.
King John said he was sorry,
So did the Queen and Prince.
King John
(Somebody told me)
Said to a man he knew:
If people go down to the end of the town, well,
what can anyone do?”

(Now then, very softly)
J.J.
M.M.
W.G.Du P.
Took great
C/O his M*****
Though he was only 3.
J.J. said to his M*****
“M*****,” he said, said he:
“You-must-never-go-down-to-the-end-of-the-town-
if-you-don’t-go-down-with-ME!”

Epiphany

Yes, it was yesterday. I missed it. Well, I didn’t miss it. I was here – I just forgot to post. I wanted to post something because I love the story of the Epiphany, and also, it was my late brother’s birthday – he would have been 71. So in tribute to Alan and to the day, a recording of Alec Guinness reading Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.” There does indeed exist a clip of Eliot reading it, but he doesn’t read it as well as Guinness. One can be a brilliant writer, I guess, but lack theatrical flair or the gift of phrasing. Guinness has both.

Merry Christmas

Christmas Card

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars.
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him
The dim adoring light of your belief
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century? 

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy! 

Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust! 

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life. 

  • Thomas Merton

Auden’s “Refugee Blues”

A powerful poem, written in 1939, about the plight of European Jews.

REFUGEE BLUES

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports can’t do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
“If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead”:
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
“If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread”:
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”:
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they weren’t German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.