TWO TRAMPS IN MUD TIME
(The third stanza brings to mind my own April poem, the first I chose for this year, and so closes the circle.)
Read more about Mud Time>
Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split,
What is it about April? My two favorite long poems begin with April.
I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD
Read more about Still April>
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
Read more about Whan that Aprille>
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
It's officially Spring, and if we're not quite certain of that yet, it is, for a fact, April. I wrote this poem about 35 years ago, on another April day that was a little too cold for comfort:
Read more about Early Times>
Spring comes down in a March wind
Flapping white sheets in my face
On a late April day north of Chicago.
Caroline in green with hair like
Sits in the new sun among the
Yellow flower faces.
The sheets snap like wet towels at my face and arms
And I laugh up into the ragged white flapping and
April blue sky.
Caroline is laughing and lifting up her arms,
Maybe I should start a thread of poet laureates, most of whom I never even knew existed so I cannot be accused of having forgotten them. I would rather have known them to forget, rather than never have known them at all.
Read more about ForgetMeNots>
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
I looked for a spring poem, and I found a few, but then I chanced again on this one that I read a few days back after yoga. And I noticed the line "each one was once young and delicate," and I thought, well, that was probably in the spring.
Read more about Milkweed>The milkweed now with their many pods are standing
Like a country of dry women,
The wind lifts their flat leaves and drops them.
This is not kind, but they retain a certain crisp glamour;
moreover, it's easy to believe
each one was once young and delicate, also
I only listen to radio in my car. My car radio is tuned to KUOW, a local NPR station. And every once in a fortunate while, I happen to be driving when Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac is on. I will sit in parking lots, waiting for the poem. Here's one from the other day:
by Jennifer Maier
Read more about Poetry While Driving>
It happened because he looked a gift horse in the mouth.
It happened because he couldn't get that monkey off his back.
John Byrom was born on February 29, 1692. He died in 1763 at the ripe old age of 18. If you count only birthdays. He invented a system of shorthand, wrote a well-loved Anglican hymn, and penned this poem.
I am content, I do not care, Read more about Leap Poet
Wag as it will the world for me;
When fuss and fret was all my fare,
It got no ground, as I could see:
So, when away my caring went,