One of the projects sponsored by Poetry Society of America is short poems posted in panels on NY subways. Larry caught a glimpse of this one, exiting the train:
Like peas in their
green canoe, like
in a row, sit
drops of dew
along a blade
of grass. But
subject to their
weight they slip
if they accumulate. Continue reading
In New York I went to see an exhibit of drawings by Picasso, Klimt, and Schiele. Schiele, who died at 28, saw Klimt as a mentor, but took his erotic drawing further, I think. These certainly seemed like the best of the show to me. I wonder what it is that makes a line on paper come to life?
I have been traveling, which is why no poem this Monday. The highlight of my trip has been two days at the University of Tulsa, meeting with students and faculty, and participating in a presentation called Poetry, Tyranny and Memory with Jacob Howland for the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities. It focuses on the poetry of Osip Mandelstam and Tadeusz Borowski, and you can see it here.
The first eight minutes are about upcoming programs at the Center, so you can start at minute eight.
Here is one by Joseph Stroud–one long exhalation of description that opens at the end. To me, the title adds a little twist to the poem–life itself is so strange and gorgeous, we don’t need to look further than the road we are on for poetry. Though I have no way of knowing whether that’s what he meant.
A bit late, a bit short, but…
Bread and Stars
Bread is in my lap,
Stars are far, far away.
I am eating bread looking at the stars.
I am so engrossed, don’t even ask—
Sometimes I get mixed up and instead of bread
I eat stars.
translated from the Turkish by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad
And so it’s time again for a Monday poem, when I just posted last Monday’s! Today, a poem on Arthritis, which I never thought about when young. But well described by Carol Moldaw, along with other strands of thought. Carol will be reading in October for Marin Poetry Center.
“Save your hands,” my mother says,
seeing me untwist a jar’s tight cap—
just the way she used to tell me
not to let boys fool around, or feel
my breasts: “keep them fresh
for marriage,” as if they were a pair
of actual fruit. I scoffed
to think they could bruise, scuff, Continue reading
Everyone has them of course, even saints might be faulted for their saintliness–surely that would be hard to live with. But this week, after I set my hearing aids for safety in my hat while I swam and then lost them who knows where when I casually put on my hat–I have been berating myself for my inattention to the physical world, for the way I leave a trail of unfinished projects and detritus everywhere, and for other, more serious flaws that I will not mention here. Continue reading
One last comment on my summer reading, A friend, knowing how much I liked Primo Levi’s book, The Periodic Table, gave me a gorgeous edition of his complete works. It is so good, I feel compelled to quote from it at length, and I’ve only finished the first book, If This is Man. In the afterword, he says he wrote this book as soon as he could after his experience, that it was “burning inside me” and needed expression. About the concentration camp, the Lager, he says:
“…the Lager was also and preeminently a gigantic biological and social experiment. Let thousands of individuals differing in age, condition, origin, language, culture and customs be enclosed within barbed wire, and there be subjected to a regular, controlled life, which is identical for all and inadequate to all needs. No one could have set up a more rigorous experiment to determine what is inherent and what is acquired in the behavior of the human animal faced with the struggle for life…The only conclusion is that, in the face of driving need, many habits and social instincts are reduced to silence.” Continue reading
I saw a documentary on Larry Levis, A Late Style of Fire, two years ago that made me like him less. Nonetheless, this is a pretty killer little poem.
I’ve loved you
like a man loves an old wound
picked up in a razor fight
on a street nobody remembers.
Look at him:
even in the dark he touches it gently.