Poem(s)


#1

I read a stunning poem today and thought I’d share.

If anyone else has poetry to recommend, I offer this thread as a collection place. :slight_smile:

“Modern City” by Eliza Griswold

A wedge of steel flung skyward
and beyond it the prairie flatlines.
Each unhappy family permits itself
another slice of pie. The sky turns
constantly trying to get it right.
To the east, the slum eats itself:
a man in satin fields calls
and walks the children’s block.
To the west, the west begins.
Beneath us in the underground museum
moths feed at the stuffed muskrat
and the grizzly’s fur fades to white,
so white you argue he’s a different bear.


#2

A “celtic prayer chant” I found somewhere and scribbled down (heads up, eprimitive fans, rampant “to be’s” ahead!!!):

I am the wind that blows upon the sea
I am the wave on the ocean
I am the rays of the sun
I am the light of the moon and stars
I am the strength of trees growing
I am fish swimming
I am the courage of the wild pigs fighting
I am the speed of the deer running
I am the big and mighty oak tree
And I am the thoughts of all people
who praise my beauty and grace.


#3

Smoke
by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

Don’t listen to anything I say.
I must enter the center of the fire.

Fire is my child, but I must
be consumed and become fire.

Why is there crackling and smoke?
Because the firewood and the flames
are still talking about each other.

“You are too dense. Go away!”

“You are too wavering.
I have solid form.”

In the blackness those friends keep arguing.
Like a wanderer with no face.
Like the most powerful bird in existence
sitting on its perch, refusing to move.


#4

I LOVE to sleep outside. :slight_smile:

It feels a little like sending a Hallmark card to use someone else’s words for this, (ouch! I don’t mean to insult Mary Oliver), but the experience really moves me and I have her lovely words handier than my own to offer right now.

Sleeping in the Forest
by Mary Oliver

I thought the earth
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the river bed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.


#5

That’s it, I’m sleeping in the backyard tonight!


#6

I was at one of my favorite spots in Seattle today: a poetry bookstore called Open Books: A Poem Emporium. The two people who own/staff it are especially precious to me.

I found a book that I am really excited about. It’s called Shaking the Pumpkin - Traditional Poetry of the Indian North Americans (1967, 1984). I have read a handful of the poems. I’m very, very impressed.

I found an internet version of one of them, which is a very pointed and concise sign language poem. Here is a link:
http://www.ubu.com/ethno/visuals/am_indian01.html
(Important: The poem starts at the top left and then moves down to the bottom, then picks up again at the top of each column. So it starts out, “Four years ago / the white man”.)

A few more:

“Magic Words” (after Nalungiaq)

In the very earliest time,
when both people and animals lived on earth,
a person could become an animal if he wanted to
and an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
and sometimes animals
and there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
and what people wanted to happen could happen–
all you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
that’s the way it was.

“Magic Words to Feel Better” (by Nakasuk)

SEA GULL
who flaps his wings
over my head
in the blue air,

you GULL up there
dive down
come here
take me with you
in the air!

Wings flash by
my mind’s eye
and I’m up there sailing
in the cool air,
a-a-a-a-a-ah,
in the air.

“Lullaby” (Tsimshian)

The little girl will pick wild roses.
That is why she was born.

The little girl will dig wild rice with her fingers.
That is why she was born.

She will gather sap of pitch pine trees in the spring.
She will pick strawberries and blueberries.
That is why she was born.

She will pick soapberries and elderberries.
She will pick wild roses.
That is why she was born.

“Pieces of Snot” (I kid you not! (rhyme intended on my part :P))

Snot goes down.
(Snot goes back up.)
I said snot goes down.
(Now I guess it’s dribbling out.)


#7

I wrote this a few years back:

“Simple Machines”

We have wonderful inventions
designed to make life
easy,

but

there is no room for love in a 5-speed blender.
There is no stipulation for
finding sense of purpose
in a V6 engine.
There is nothing to be gained
by running empathy through the wash.
Hate cannot be sealed away
in Almighty Tupperware, and:
Not even the most advanced fiber-optic technology
can replace a warm wiggly puppy.

Designed to make the small things all but vanish,
our implementations of scientific reason
fail to make these fine distinctions:

There is no place for music in your plumbing.
There’s not an element of peace
in today’s modern synthetic chemical compounds,
with their wondrous range of practical uses.
You won’t find justice in your freezer,
much less his more attractive older brother,
vengeance.
Your smoke detector cannot smell fear…
and furthermore,
carnal rapture will mess up your microwave.

These are things you mustn’t disregard
if you’re out to make the small things smaller.


#8

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry


#9

That’s nice, PP! Wendell Berry rocks.

Here’s an invigorating passage from Shelley (please excuse the anachronistic language):
“…The man
Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys:
Power, like a desolating pestilence,
Pollutes whate’er it touches, and obedience,
Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,
Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,
A mechanised automaton.”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley


#10

The Man in the Mirror

Staring at this face in the mirror.
Is it mine or is it yours?
Can it belong to anyone at all?
Is it real?
Does it exist anywhere else beside the tangled neurons in this brain?
When you look in the mirror what do you see?
Do you see a face?
A person?
A reflection?
Can you see your own reflection?
Is that reflection you?
or is it something illusory?
Some dream you dreamt of a person who was once alive, but is now only a reflection?
If no one told you the face in the mirror was yours, how would you know?
I used to dream as a child that all mirrors were magical, that they contained a copy of the waking world. I used to try and sneak behind my grandmas standing mirror, trying sneak through the back door into this other world. Trying to meet myself on the other side.
I’m not a child anymore.
But am I still looking for myself in the mirror?
Trying to find myself in what you think of me?
Using you as a mirror to see my own reflection?
Is your mirror true?
Do you reflect me as you see me?
Can I trust your purity, or is your mirror clouded with delusion, fear, and hate?
Do you reflect me as you see yourself?
Are we all just mirrors, trying to reflect what we want to see?
This hall of mirrors cannot hold me forever.
The true self is rising up, fighting through.
I no longer trust your mirrors.
I looked for my reflection in them, but I only see what you want me to be.
To find myself I must look somewhere else.
I must go back to before I knew the mirror held my own reflection.
Before you told me I was the man in the mirror, who was I?
Before they told you that you were the man in the mirror, who were you?
Does that being still exist?
Can I be like that again?
Can I be that again?
Can I be myself again?
Am I too afraid that the man in the mirror is all I am?
To find myself I must put away the mirror.
I must look for the source of truth.
I must look deeply into myself.
I must look for the part of me that cannot be captured by the mirror.
The part of me that cannot be captured.
Free and wild it flows.
There is no other way.