It’s not all politics and poetry…

I have been working in the garden.  The labyrinth is gone, replaced by a fountain and lots of herbs and flowers. It should all grow in and be easy to keep free of weeds–at least so I hope.

 

 

 

 

 

In back, we’ve been eating lettuce, fennel, green onions, chard and spinach for weeks, with snap peas just starting.

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First night of Passover, 2017

A poem as relevant today as it was in 1999. It seems we are always bombing something.

during the bombing of Kosovo

Hevel may be translated vanity
or mist or vapor
the name of the first man
whose brother was not his keeper

It is evening it is morning one day
like mist from ten thousand feet
above the hills bombs fall
like vapor the thin air
is full of them
roads crawl with tanks soldiers
like mist tens of thousands
of refugees cross the border
like vapor from morning to dusk
unmanned families
like mist women in slippers
children in bare feet Continue reading

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Blossom foam

I’ve been traveling and seen fields of daffodils to the horizon, horses munching the greenest grass, trees in all phases of blossom.  Spring everywhere. It made me think of this poem by James Wright:

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

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 98 today

Here’s to him! A huge force, if only for City Lights Books.

Constantly Risking Absurdity (#15)

Constantly risking absurdity
                                             and death
            whenever he performs
                                        above the heads
                                                            of his audience
   the poet like an acrobat
                                 climbs on rime
                                          to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
                                     above a sea of faces
             paces his way
                               to the other side of day
    performing entrechats
                               and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
                               and all without mistaking
                     any thing
                               for what it may not be
       For he’s the super realist
                                     who must perforce perceive
                   taut truth
                                 before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
                                  toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
                                     with gravity
                                                to start her death-defying leap
      And he
             a little charleychaplin man
                                           who may or may not catch
               her fair eternal form
                                     spreadeagled in the empty air
                  of existence
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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A rainy Monday and a little Stafford

This weekend, all the seedlings went into the ground and today it rained. More rain tomorrow. Occasionally things work out.  I felt like a Stafford poem today, and here is one, about practical necessity and what it costs us.

Continue reading

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Beauty

B. H. Fairchild, a wonderful poet, will be reading at the North Berkeley Library on April 18th at 6 pm. Here is a long poem of his that I love. The image of Donatello’s David is mentioned in the poem, so you might as well look at it first.:

Beauty


xxxxxxTherefore,
xxxxxxTheir sons grow suicidally beautiful. . .

xxxxxxxxxxxx-James Wright, “Autumn Begins in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio

I.

We are at the Bargello in Florence, and she says,
what are you thinking? and I say, beauty, thinking
of how very far we are now from the machine shop
and the dry fields of Kansas, the treeless horizons
of slate skies and the muted passions of roughnecks
and scrabble farmers drunk and romantic enough
to weep more or less silently at the darkened end
of the bar out of, what else, loneliness, meaning
the ache of thwarted desire, of, in a word, beauty,
or rather its absence, and it occurs to me again
that no male member of my family has ever used
this word in my hearing or anyone else’s except
in reference, perhaps, to a new pickup or dead deer. Continue reading

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An exemplary sentence

I just finished The Story of a Brief Marriage, by Anuk Arudpragasam. I can’t say I read the whole book–a painful though extraordinary tour de force that covers one day through the eyes and voice of a young man in a refugee camp in an unnamed country. I had to skim certain parts, despite the excellent writing.

This paragraph seems so true to me, so beautifully thought through!

“Conversation was a fragile thing after all, like a plant that grows only in rich, warm, nourishing soil. Just as the cells of the human body couldn’t survive above and below certain temperatures, just as human eyes couldn’t see above and below certain wavelengths of radiation, and human ears couldn’t hear above and below certain thresholds of frequency, perhaps there existed only a narrow range of conditions under which human conversation could flourish. It wasn’t that people in the camps didn’t want to talk, for human beings would always talk, if they had the opportunity. Continue reading

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A Sonnet for Monday

Countee Culeen was born in 1909 and won acclaim in academia, yet strongly felt his roots in the world of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s. Here is a delicate sonnet of his, and if you want to hear a truly moving reading of it, click here.

Yet Do I Marvel

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind, Continue reading

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Planting by the moon

I have read that planting leafy vegetables at the new moon increases their productivity, but I never tried it until Monday, which was the new moon this month. I prepared about 100 little peat pots and planted lettuce, bok choi, tatsoi, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, marigolds… By Thursday, I had the
first baby seedlings.

A Continue reading

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After all this rain…

the green of the hills reminds me of Ireland, except they are so smooth here in Northern California. They make me think of this poem by Kay Ryan.

Green Hills

Their green flanks
and swells are not
flesh in any sense
matching ours,
we tell ourselves.
Nor their green
breast nor their
green shoulder nor
the languor of their
rolling over.

Kay Ryan

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