Thursday, July 31, 2008

Strange and Unimaginable Ways

Strange how life works. With each poem I read, lines and fragments cling to me, following me as I go. I walk down the street and there is Rossetti whispering, I wish I could remember. Wordsworth follows me on melancholy days his voice faintly saying, in vacant or in pensive mood. And today I hear Meinke sighing, and young men lose their lives in strange and unimaginable ways. Why? I don't know. Poetry entangles itself into your life, words read twisting around words spoken and weaving through thoughts. So today, I nod my head to Meinke.

Advice to My Son by Peter Meinke

The trick is, to live your days
as if each one may be your last
(for they go fast, and young men lose their lives
in strange and unimaginable ways)
but at the same time, plan long range
(for they go slow: if you survive
the shattered windshield and the bursting shell
you will arrive
at our approximation here below
of heaven or hell).

To be specific, between the peony and the rose
plant squash and spinach, turnips and tomatoes;
beauty is nectar
and nectar, in a desert, saves--
but the stomach craves stronger sustenance
than the honied vine.
Therefore, marry a pretty girl
after seeing her mother;
peak truth to one man,
work with another;
and always serve bread with your wine.

But, son,
always serve wine.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Wish I Could Remember....

Every great love story begins with something along the lines of, "I remember the first time I laid eyes on her..." In reality life doesn't often merit fireworks upon first introductions. People slip quietly in and out of our lives, their presence rarely recognized until that point that you can't live without it. So, here is an anthem to all lovers who can't remember the moment their love story begin, or, if it had a beginning at all.


by Christina Rossetti

I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught that I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand.--Did one but know!

How did your love story begin? Do you remember? Or, did you fall slowly into it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

This Bridge

I grew up with the poetry of Shel Silverstein, as I'm sure half of America did. "This Bridge" is a Silverstein favorite of mine.

This Bridge

Shel Silverstein

This bridge will only take you halfway there
To those mysterious lands you long to see:
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
The twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there--
The last few steps you'll have to take alone.


What's your favorite Silverstein poem?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sweet by and by


Valerie Owens

Beneath the tent of summer sheets,

sisters share whispered secrets of

fading heartaches,

and budding romances

and floating dreams.

The same sisters

tie up autumn’s phone lines

with the latest gossip

and news of school days

and weekend dates

and escapades with roommates.

They count down the weeks

until winter’s vacation

will bring them together again,

when, under the glow of Christmas’s tree

they talk late into the night

of the beautiful things

and days gone by.

Spring rings with news

swapped between the two

of Saturday adventures,

April downpours,

and dreaded finals.

Seasons will follow seasons.

The years will fall softly away,

piling upon one another,

like October’s leaves in the loose

chill of the wind.

How one’s heart aches

for days of

dreaming away summer

beneath the warm blue sky

with the soft grass at the feet

of sisters.

Or, the schooldays of autumn,

hopscotch and skinned knees at recess

and spending lessons

gazing out the window

in sweet reverie.

Oh to sled through winter again,


with a carol on your lips,

face rosy from the cold,

and laughter bright in white afternoon!

And to remember the scent of spring,

blowing dandelions into the May wind

and sailing off as one

on the wings of a wish.

How one longs for the sweet by and by,


spent by a sister’s side.

And the present day glides away

and what once was will never again be.

Would one exchange

an eternity of childhood

for the future unknown?

How fragile a flight we’ve flown!

What speaks to you of childhood?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Deja Vu

Deja Vu
Valerie Owens

corn husk
splashed across
square jaw
reminded of
bygone days,
porch swing,
crickets sing,
and summer eves



seemed to

last long enough

Monday, July 21, 2008

Recently Observed

Recently Observed
Valerie Owens

while loading groceries into the truck of my car,
I observe
a slim businessman
in a sharp three piece suit
placidly strolling through the automatic doors
and out into the bright sunshine,
a full cart of groceries before him.
His pace quickens, slightly
He glances casually about him,
right, then left.
Feeling the coast is clear,
he breaks out into a beautiful sprint,
polished shoes slapping wildly against the pavement.
He jumps on the cart,
just like your mother told you not to,
and he flies down the parking lot,
silly grin splashed across his face,
like a child getting away with something naughty.
The wind blows at the corners of his suit jacket.
He looks purely delighted.
This, this is what it means
to be Alive.
All too soon,
the childlike flight ends.
Having arrived at his BMW,
he jumps off,
suddenly dignified,
loads his groceries,
puts the cart away,
and drives off,
leaving me with a smile on my face,
and curious about
the businessman
that I recently observed.


Any quirky acts of the seemingly dignified that have brought a smile to your face?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ode to an Angel Mother

I'm sure you are familiar with Abraham Lincoln's quote, "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. This is a small ode to my angel mother.

My Angel Mother
Valerie Owens

She comes home;
shoes stained red with dust
from an idle hike
through desert twilight
and into the night.
Hair, windblown and eyes, bright.
Mother is waiting up
Innocent mistake though it be,
the clock is pushing two
and curfew is long since past.
A penitent daughter awaits a sharp rebuke
from motherly lips.
Yet, Mother, quiet and understanding,
asks instead
if she had a good time
and how was the hike.
Casual chatter
no mention of late hours.
With a tender kiss upon the cheek,
mother, daughter say good-night.
A small surge of love
rises softly in the daughter's young heart.

She thinks now
of patient hours Mother played Nurse
in the days after surgery.
of clean piles of laundry at the edge of an unmade bed
and seven reminders
to put those clothes away!
She considers the unexpected acts,

the scent of pie dough
baked into cinnamon sugar rolls,
a loving reminder
that Mom remembered

what her daughter loves best.

An impromptu hot dog dinner

for a dozen teenage friends,

a quilt to warm a dorm room,

and a kiss every night,

these are the beautiful things of the world

to a young daughter.
She can almost hear
the lullabies of childhood,
and songs spilling forth from the piano,
and singing in the kitchen,
Mother's music,
the soundtrack of home.

Eyes, heavy with weariness,
close softly
and sleep comes
and satisfying.

It is good to be loved.

What is it about mothers that makes them so wonderful?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gather ye rosebuds

The end of summer is edging closer and though still far off, it feels as though the speed of summer has picked up. I feel as though I should be soaking in every last moment, grasping at the whispery threads of fading summer. "To the Virgins, to make much of time" has been on my mind lately. It's likely one you are familiar with. I first heard it in English class last fall. And, accompanying art by John William Waterhouse, a painting entitled "Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May." I perused Waterhouse's gallery and loved his work. Check it out. I hope you like it.

To the Virgins, to make much of Time
Robert Herrick
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Monday, July 7, 2008

little you-i

e.e. cummings wasn't meant to be confined to the page. He was meant to be read out loud. His words are a party of sounds, alliterations and assonances, rhymes and off-rhymes, swung into a rhythmic celebration. It's beautiful. "87" is particularly delightful to hear. It may feel a little silly reading out loud to yourself, but go ahead and give it a shot. I particularly like the nose-dive at the end which feels like it doesn't fit at all, which is precisely why it works. I won't even attempt to guess at it's meaning. Poetry doesn't have to mean. It can just be. No need to beat a symbolic meaning out of it, just enjoy the sounds of the words as they roll easily off the tongue.

e.e. cummings

o by the by
has anybody seen
little you-i
who stood on a green
hill and threw
his wish at blue

with a swoop and a dart
out flew his wish
(it dived like a fish
but it climbed like a dream)
throbbing like a heart
singing like a flame

blue took it my
far beyond far
and high beyond high
bluer took it your
but bluest took it our
away beyond where

what a wonderful thing
is the end of a string
(murmurs little you-i
as the hill becomes nil)
and will somebody tell
me why people let go
e.e. cummings the poet was also a playwright. He said of one very unorthodox play:
"Relax and give the play a chance to strut its stuff—relax, stop wondering what it is all 'about'—like many strange and familiar things, Life included, this play isn't 'about,' it simply is. . . . Don't try to enjoy it, let it try to enjoy you. DON'T TRY TO UNDERSTAND IT, LET IT TRY TO UNDERSTAND YOU."
I think the same statement can apply to a great deal of poetry. Don't overthink the beautiful and unfamiliar or try to conform it to your view of life. Just let it exist in it's own quirkiness.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Don't Touch

I recently purchased a copy of Carol Lynn Pearson's In Love Again And Always. The book is a collection of love poems, simple, sweet, and tender. I don't have much to say on the book. It's not deep poetry, but an enjoyable read. I find Carol Lynn Pearson to lead a fascinating life; Google her. She seems set apart from perhaps the "trite" nature of a good deal of LDS fiction. Pearson divorced her husband for good reason, remained friends, and stayed by his side as he died of AIDS. Interesting to have that background to read her love poems.

Don't Touch
Carol Lynn Pearson

It's all right, really,
That I touch you?

Somehow I look around
For signs you might see
In a museum
Or wherever else they
House the world's
Extraordinary things.

I could only look
At the Rembrandts
And the Chinese vases,
And I could not
Get closer than three feet
To the crown jewels.

Well, I didn't even want to.
But you?
It would be asking too much
For me to be in a room with you
And not touch.

It's all right?
I can sit on this couch
With your head in my lap
And trace your eyebrows
And lips and face?
I can play with your hair like this?
And even kiss
And tickle if I want
And no one will call a guard?

Why do I smile
Like I'm getting away
With something bold?

There were alarms fixed in case
I should try to touch
King Tut's face--
And his was only gold.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I owe you poetry. I owe you words from the lips of the greats. And, I will. But today, a few quotations on love, which I guess in their own right are pretty poetic. They are different quotes, ones not heard that often. Your favorite love quotes?

After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. ~ Adam, in Adam's Diary, by Mark Twain

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more.
—Erica Jong

Women was made from man’s rib, not his head to be higher than him, not his foot to be stepped upon, she was made from his rib under his arm for protection, by his side and close to his heart.

Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired. ~ Robert Frost

What! No star, and you are going out to sea? Marching, and you have no music? Traveling, and you have no book? What! No love, and you are going out to live? ~ French Proverb

If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden. ~Attributed to Claudia Ghandi