Thursday, April 7, 2016

April 7

Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

speaking indifferently to him, 
 who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

- Robert Hayden

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 4

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
- James Wright

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 3

The Windhover

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-  
  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding  
  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding  
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing  
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding  
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding  
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!  
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here  
  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!  
  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion  
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,  
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.
G. M. Hopkins 

April 2

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 
- Robert Frost 

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

This year I am writing prose--prosaic indeed. So instead of posting my own poems, I'll post some of my favorites from the greats. Beginning (and probably ending) with, of course, Dickinson.


"Heaven"—is what I cannot reach!
The Apple on the Tree—
Provided it do hopeless—hang—
That—"Heaven" is—to Me!

The Color, on the Cruising Cloud—
The interdicted Land—
Behind the Hill—the House behind—
There—Paradise—is found!

Her teasing Purples—Afternoons—
The credulous—decoy—
Enamored—of the Conjuror—
That spurned us—Yesterday!

- Emily Dickinson

Where does she go in her third stanzas? It's so typical of her to take off in stanza 3, as if the first two allow her to accelerate to the speed of ascent.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 30

In the early days before
we’d seen the stars we
sat beside ourselves on
the shadowed stoop
waiting for a sign but
the sign that came
was not what we
were waiting for
a sparse flicker
in the murk
a nod in the
bleak dark

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April 29

In the meantime while waiting
you just have to say words
they don’t have to mean
everything they don’t have
to save time or bring
memory to mind they don’t
have to spare the truth or
the lie that loosens it: what
you want is to go home

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 28

The music comes and goes
my hands are old
but still game to try
the long hiatus
hasn’t seemed to make
much difference:
that is the modest
advantage of original

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27

This time of year
I think of Frost,
his Nothing Gold
Can Stay, and wish
I’d written that.
Yes, “leaf subsides
to leaf,” but just
before then, just
at that moment
of gold, all is held in
being, all is possible
before the fall.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 26

The drylands don’t attract me;
I grew up under dark evergreens
and over water—sheets of it,
spreading like silver foil to the
horizon. From the air it looked
solid and even when my father
put his small plane down
on it, the floats kept us from
disappearing under the shining
mantle. Flat, like sand, but not
empty, not that kind of place
where souls and thirsts are exposed.