Archive for the 'Poetry' Category
Since returning to Los Angeles after the holidays, I’ve been reading Billy Collins (the poet I fell in love with over a few haikus about an eel and the moon). In truth, I’ve been hoping to read about death and dying. Something to either ease the panic I feel at night after everyone else is sleep. Or something to make me feel like I’m in the perfect place of despairing self-pity. Or something that says “enjoy the quiet of the early morning and stop whining about the fact that one day you’re going to die. Go Live.”
Excerpt from New Year’s Day:
And one more night be a small consolation
to us all for having to face a death-day, too,
an X in a square
on some kitchen calendar of the future,
the day when each of us is thrown off the train of time
by a burly, heartless conductor
as it roars through the months and years,
party hats, candles, confetti, horoscopes
billowing up in the turbulent storm of its wake.
I have a million things I love about the former New York State and US poet laureate. One of them is how I can hear him saying the poem. Another one is the winding path we travel with him in each poem, from his birthday to his death-day, from the kitchen to the Andes. Today, I’m thankful for poetry. The real stuff. The stuff that makes you cry because he said exactly how you feel.
This one below is not as overtly about death as some of his others. And it doesn’t necessarily describe how I feel.
But, suddenly, I LOVE IT!
By Billy Collins
Never use the word suddenly just to create tension.
Suddenly, you were planting some yellow petunias
outside in the garden,
and suddenly I was in the study
looking up the word oligarchy for the thirty-seventh time.
When suddenly, without warning,
you planted the last petunia in the flat,
and I suddenly closed the dictionary
now that I was reminded of that vile form of governance.
A moment later, we found ourselves
standing suddenly in the kitchen
where you suddenly opened a can of cat food
and I just as suddenly watched you doing that.
I observed a window of leafy activity
and beyond that, a bird perched on the edge
of the stone birdbath
when suddenly you announced you were leaving
to pick up a few things at the market
and I stunned you by impulsively
pointing out that we were getting low on butter
and another case of wine would not be a bad idea.
Who could tell what the next moment would hold?
another drip from the faucet?
another little spasm of the second hand?
Would the painting of a bowl of pears continue
to hang on the wall from that nail?
Would the heavy anthologies remain on the shelves?
Would the stove hold its position?
Suddenly, it was anyone’s guess.
The sun rose ever higher in the sky.
The state capitals remained motionless on the wall map
when suddenly I found myself lying on a couch
where I closed my eyes and without any warning
began to picture the Andes, of all places,
and a path that led over the mountains to another country
with strange customs and eye-catching hats,
each one suddenly fringed with colorful little tassels.
Heard Thich Nhat Hanh speak in Pasadena last night. First person I see there – a girl I met in Vietnam last summer. Lots of smiling. Lots of breathing. Lots of almost crying.
Stopped at PetSmart on the way home to pick up some Natural, clumping litter for what has become a cat factory in this apartment. Snapped this pic from the checkout line.
Appropriate end to a night all about calm, love and breathing in and breathing out.4 comments
Snapped this pic in Idaho Falls.
Fill in the blank.
Take a Little Nap … Between handling raw & ready to eat foods.
Do a Little Dance … After using the restroom.
Sing Hallelujah … Before you start work.
Call Your Granny … After touching body parts.2 comments
Milkiest milky way.
Sheep huddle, thick and silent.
Quietest quiet, save wind through sagebrush.
Until a dog barks.
Isabelle scrawled this poem in blank ink on a piece of lined paper in Mr. Jones’ 10th grade world lit class. I had it in my wallet for years. It’s probably there still, in the red cloth zippered pouch, buried in a shoebox full of love letters and bracelets.
Looked better in Belle’s font.
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold.
I haven’t thought much about that poem, or plums for that matter, until last night, when I saw that the geniuses at Married to the Sea came up with this:
Which is how I feel sometimes when couch surfers raid the fridge.* Or when I think about the daunting task of making enough money through writing to eat. Or when I remember the days I used to communicate with particularly difficult roommates using only The Written Word on post-its. I’m sure I wrote Please Read at the top of at least one, if not five such notes.
*If William Carlos Williams were squatting here, all I’d have to offer would be grapefruits, Parmesan and a lot of loose tea. I’d beg him to stay with my hard-boiled eggs and nitrate-free hot dogs. But, I bet he’d soon leave, looking for something sweeter and colder.No comments