Poetry

Chief Joe's Cafe

Chief Joe's Cafe is a book of poems all too likely found in all too few places besides my bookshelf. The poet, Joe Mundy, is an old friend of my daughter Caroline. They met in Middle College High School, a very special place once available for those kids who chafed too persistently at the strictures of a curriculum which, although no doubt excellent for some, fell somewhat short for others.

I hope Joe is still writing. Here's one of my favorites:

Java Avenue Read more about Chief Joe's Cafe

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Primarily

Reading Robert Frost this month, I come across New Hampshire.

"...
I met a poet from another state,
A zealot full of fluid inspiration,
Who in the name of fluid inspiration,
But in the best style of bad salesmanship,
Angrily tried to make me write a protest
(In verse I think) against the Volstead Act.
He didn't even offer me a drink
Until I asked for one to steady him.
This is called having an idea to sell.

It never could have happened in New Hampshire. Read more about Primarily

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Knife

I do a bit of yoga every morning, if only to convince myself that the rust, although never sleeping, has not yet won. And when I am tempted to let the rust win, I tell myself that if I do a little yoga, I can read a little poem. Like this one, from Mary Oliver's Dream Work . Which, as she makes clear, isn't about the bird.

Knife
Mary Oliver

Something
just now
moved through my heart
like the thinnest of blades
as that red-tail pumped
once with its great wings
and flew above the gray, cracked
rock wall.
It wasn't Read more about Knife

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Loss

It's been a week of loss and memory of loss. Senator Scott White and Kasandra Murray-Cornett are two of those who have meant much to my life in recent years. Read more about Loss

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POEM IN OCTOBER

Six years ago I drove over the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons into Hay on Wye, the little Welsh town of bookstores. I stopped for lunch and a book.

Kestrel.jpg

In a shop called The Kestrel, I found a slim volume of Dylan Thomas. Now there is much of Thomas which is completely opaque to me. But this one paints a picture I can see clearly. Read it out loud:

It was my thirtieth year to heaven Read more about POEM IN OCTOBER

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Still dark

004-dress-by-yellow-candle-light-q75-318x500.jpg

when I got up this morning with these lines from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses running through my head:

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet Read more about Still dark

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Longfellow? Really?

Does anyone read Henry David Longfellow anymore? Why would they?

"By the shore of Gitchee Gumee, by the shining big sea water, stood the wigwam of Nokomis, daughter of the moon, Nokomis..." I don't think anyone's forced to memorize those lines anymore. Not only does it border on poesy, it's probably not all that PC either. Nevertheless ... Read more about Longfellow? Really?

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Migration

In the spirit of [amazon 0865475911 inline] and my upcoming flight to the Midwest for a high school reunion and relative binge, this week's poetry selection is one of my own. As you can see, I've always had this thing about crows.

Migration

The wind came out and blew her down the road
Her coat skirts wrapped around her knees.
She moved alone between the cold fields of corn stubble and
Black choppy seas of fall-plowed land.
The houses were set back from the road.
They were too far for comfort.
And none of them were hers.

Storm crows settled between the black furrows, Read more about Migration

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Learning the Pacific Northwest

There are things you have to learn, moving here from anywhere else. Like how to pronounce geoduck, Puyallup, and Sequim. Drew Myron, has a little longer list:

Fern, talus, tide
It’s salal, he says, but I don’t know how
to say what he touches, how to make the
words that form new memory

It’s alder, birch, spruce,
a shore pine edge in offshore wind
We drive through days of dictionary

pages, catalog a new land of heather
and fern, talus and basalt
Surrounded by twisting syllables

and vines of vowels, we reach new ground Read more about Learning the Pacific Northwest

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Love Letter

Watermark . Once upon a time, Joseph Brodsky went to Venice and in more than one way never returned. He went back, again and again, always in winter, when it can be cold and rainy, when the water levels rise in what Venetians call aqua alta, and the canals lap around the architecture, licking the thresholds. Read more about Love Letter

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