Tag Archives: poetry

comets

By Thursday of every week, if I don’t know what I’m going to write here on Sundays, I begin to wait on the muse. I go on lookout for the quiet ding that sounds when she throws a topic my way. If the ding doesn’t sound, I rummage through my journal for something. I had decided to put down the little lines of poetry/attempted haiku I’d written in the week, nothing polished, just play paint with words over my finding a perfectly preserved yet perfectly dead bee.

But a local newspaper story about former poet laureate W.S Merwin made me hear the ding. “When the Poet Laureate appointment came along, Merwin used it as a platform to comment on human imagination and life as a whole,” read the story, ‘which does not just include this self-important human species,’ he notes. Merwin says he feels exhilarated to be part of something infinite. His poems circle that feeling, the ongoing mystery, it continues.

‘The comets burn out and black holes disappear,’  he says. ‘There’s nothing good or bad about that. That’s the way it is. I don’t know where I come from and I don’t know where I’m going and it’s wonderful to be here.’

Reading that, I was reminded with both a pang and a ding that gratitude each day for the very fact of being alive has to be part of the triumph on this flintier, shadier part of the path I’ve entered, otherwise bitterness tastes in my mouth and shows on my face and in my eyes. Merwin exhibited an aging with grace, not an easy accomplishment.

Who do you know who is aging with grace? What’s their secret? What’s yours? What is grace?

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9/11 sunday


To continue my poet Mary Oliver* theme: which is my work which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished….I forget how to do this simple task but Youngest- Grandson-not-quite-two reteaches me…..astonished each time he visits at the goldfish in the pond, wanting to feed them, wanting to smell the fish food over and over, never tiring of either, wanting to put leaf hats on the little fat stone buddha’s head, saying hat each time, waiting for the carpenter bees, saying bee loudly when we see one, wanting me to sing yet again, be my little baby bumble bee, calling mosquitoes bees and laughing like mad when I correct him and say, mosquito, mosquito…..it’s the same thing each and every time…..my simple treasures are a miracle to him, and I am reminded anew–as the significance of this anniversary day points out–what treasures I possess**…..

Another treasure: the garden muse allowed a prose/poem to burble up. It had been so long I’d forgotten I did this…..had an attack of inspiration. Here it is:  A small kamakasi hurtles toward me, wings fluttering in rapid beats. No rising sun on the side, this small missile is nonetheless intent, zooming toward the next feeder…..

Details: I saw my first hummingbird (I’m trying to lure them with feeders) on Tuesday and almost didn’t recognize what it was until it was a foot away. Two days later, I’m seating at an Archway Gallery reading, listening, and there the words are. I scribble them on the paper listing the readers.

So….what’s inspired you lately?

*Hit this to hear Mary Oliver read…..**Hit above on words treasures I possess to hear treasure……

bittersweet

The neighborhood poet has pulled up stakes and moved to Alpine. All week, as I’ve driven past a certain intersection where I can see his house, I’ve watched his packing and bustling. He’s hardly  just the neighborhood poet; he was the poet laureate of Texas in 2008, and he’s more than acclaimed. But for me he’s one of the characters in my Houston world: big, burly, soft Texas accent, friendly as a puppy, wonderful old-world-Texas manners, wildly in love with words. He’s likely to arrive at one of his readings in shorts and an old T-shirt and sandals, his heft punctuating inbreaths, a big turquoise ring capturing one’s eye and the spirit of his words. His frame–large and laughing–– hides the subtle sinewy strength that can reside in his poetry.

We talked a little bit about the muse yesterday. I’m a man of ritual, he said, fretting about the leaving of his writing place, a small studio at the back of his house. I’m taking a chance moving away like this. She may desert me. I said I doubted that. I said I thought the wide open true Texas spaces of Alpine would likely deepen his work. What do you want to bet, sitting there, staring at the mountain, the landscape that has always informed my work, that I start to write about Houston, he said. We both laughed. That would be a good thing, I answered. Landscape makes solid bones in his poetry and can be quite startlingly metaphoric. We really never ran around together as neighbors, but our paths would cross at local spots. Now they won’t. When I see his house at that certain intersection, he won’t be in it. My psychic landscape already misses his place in it. And soon, this being Houston, the house, being old, will be razed, and a stunning, huge townhouse will sit on the spot. Houston does not celebrate landscape or anything old. It’s always moving, expanding, changing its face. Bittersweet, my neighborhood poet said, that’s what this move is, bittersweet.

Yes, I thought. When we’re young, moves are only sweet. It takes time to leaven them with some bitter, the knowledge that with every move, not only do we leave behind sometimes precious, irreplaceable things, we take ourselves, all our flaws and longings, strapped to our backs like invisible weights––or wings––wherever we go. What gold he’s made of his wings and weights…..And so, off he’s gone to where hawks/slingshot-flung,/scream in dazzling/Texas sun.

When you have a moment, hear him read here.

A ladybug update: Festival was held on Thursday. It was a success. There are some 1,000 ladybugs out there bearing blessings and our laughter. Hope one lands near you.

alchemy

I thought I’d print the Hyacinthe Hill poem Reaching Toward Beauty from last week’s blog. I can find very little about Ms. Hill on the internet. The poem is from the book, When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple:

You love declines. You, thinking little lines

aound my eyes are fallen lashes, try

to brush them off. I do exfoliate.

In this autumn of my being, parts of me

fly, like tossed and wintry-blasted leaves.

I don’t regret their passing. I must work

to make a clean and crystal-perfect form.

I, alchemist, and I, philosopher’s stone,

have sacrificed the fat, and froth, and fur

of youth, to walk through fire, leap in the dark,

swim inward rivers, pray at a wailing wall.

The wrinkles, sags, the graying hair are earned.

You mourn like a child over a broken doll.

Only the core of this crone was ever real……….

Wow. This is what I love about poets, their ability to seize some small formation of words and make them explode in the imagination. I tell people who ask me about writing to read poetry to internalize the beauty of language. I tell them to listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac on NPR, a poem a day the man reads to us, bless him. Imagine what life might be like if the first thing we heard in the morning was a poem, if we chewed on its meaning all day, instead of what we do chew on.

It was the quest of pre-scientists in the 16th century to turn lead into gold. We are the alchemists of our lives. What brew are you making? Bitter or sweet? Forgiving or vengeful?

heroine

Thinking about heroines….thinking about a lecture I heard Jean Bolen give at the Jung Center last year. Among the things she said was that a heroine’s journey often begins because she is cast on her own and didn’t expect it. Unchosen circumstances put her on an individualistic path. I was thinking about my path, about the very domestic life I thought I would have. And how I didn’t obtain it though some unwise choices. I tried to tame a tiger. I have a friend on a heroine’s journey right now; she’s adjusting to the death of a long-time partner. But it’s not only a partner’s death that puts on a woman on a path that contains only her. There’s divorce, illness, disease, the death of a child, the death of a dream. There’s some Mary Oliver line….to love what is mortal and let it go. It takes a heroine’s heart to do that. What makes a heroine? Do you know?

workshop

I came across some notes from a poetry workshop given by Texas poet Lianne Mercer: Writing is a physical thing. Let is spill out and get somewhere. Don’t think. Keep your hand moving. Have few expectations. Admit you don’t want to write so you can get past it. Be willing to take what comes. Be curious about what might come. Pause and breathe….. Good advice about more than writing.

And here’s a poem I wrote in that workshop set in the wonderful Hill Country of Texas…..

I had a boy’s body once

slim and lithe running forward

then blood came

and breasts and a burka of shoulds as old as Eve

covering spirit

covering daring

making me a girl

waiting on a man