Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Two Trees 4/26

The Two Trees

Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all that shaken hair
And how the winged sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.

Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile,
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows
That the stormy night receives,
Roots half hidden under snows,
Broken boughs and blackened leaves.
For all things turn to barrenness
In the dim glass the demons hold,
The glass of outer weariness,
Made when God slept in times of old.
There, through the broken branches, go
The ravens of unresting thought;
Flying, crying, to and fro,
Cruel claw and hungry throat,
Or else they stand and sniff the wind,
And shake their ragged wings; alas!
The tender eyes grow all unkind:
Gaze no more in the bitter glass.

-William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In This I am Staggered 4/25

In This I am Staggered

How can His heart not be shattered to countless slivers of broken emotion?
How can He stand to see the unmitigated sorrow of just one person?
How can He bear to know the daily miseries of every. single. person on this earth?

I see a glimpse of one person's heartache,
and it saddens me for an hour.
A longer look
and I am changed for the day.
A serious examination
And I am no longer just thinking about it for
a day,
a week,
a month,
but for years afterward.

How does God do it?

Of all the amazing things
and beautiful
and impossible
and inspiring
things that God does,
this, perhaps, is the most staggering to me:
that he can stand the whole tsunamic force of human emotion and sin;
that he does not stop pouring himself out
even though he sees
the utter ruinous depths of our hearts;
that He does not simply
set the Earth spinning,

let it go,

and let it burn.

But he gives joy.








a never-ending flow of things we need.

-Warren MacLeod

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What People Give You 4/24

My roommate's mom passed away unexpectedly six weeks ago. Tonight, our Bible study girls gave her a Storypeople print, a Snapfish photo book and some of our tears. I would do absolutely anything in the world to give her her mommy back.

What People Give You

Long-faced irises. Mums.
Pink roses and white roses
and giant sunflowers,
and hundreds of daisies.

Fruit baskets with muscular pears,
and water crackers and tiny jams
and the steady march of casseroles.
And money,
people give money these days.

Cards, of course:
the Madonna, wise
and sad just for you,
Chinese cherry blossoms,
sunsets and moonscapes,
and dragonflies for transcendence.

People stand by your sink
and offer up their pain:
Did you know I lost a baby once,
or My eldest son was killed,
or My mother died two months ago.

People are good.

They file into your cartoon house until it bows at the seams;
they give you every
except your daughter back.

-Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why I am Not a Vegetarian 4/23

Why I am Not a Vegetarian

It's not that I love animals less,
a case could be made I love them more -
and it's not that I love vegetables less,
I love them rare,
nothing more savory than raw celery
clawing and kicking its way down the gullet.

What I find hard to stomach is vegetarians.
If there is a vegetarian at the table, we all
get called in to be witnesses at a police lineup.
Cheese, eggs, fish,
each suspect paraded for identification -
pronounced innocent, guilty,
please take two steps forward.

And it's not like there is just one canon
for the good host to worry about.
Each vegetarian comes with a different menu.
Most won't eat anything that had legs,
though many eat fish, a fin nothing like a leg,
And eat shrimp, that have legs
which count as fins since they come from the sea,
Oysters are problematic, without legs and from the sea,
but mostly eaten alive, like carrots.
A few pass on eggs because of the latent leg potential,
though pasta is usually okay,
the potential hard to realize under the marinara.

One friend doesn't drink milk
but asks for extra au jus
for his mashed potatoes. I haven't the heart
to explain what kind of vegetable the "au" is
or how many get squeezed to make a cup of "jus."

Don't misunderstand,
I admire those who stand on principle,
however vague, who doesn't admire
the resolve of, say, a Jerry Falwell,
to bear the weight of so much conviction
he can hardly walk to church.
Praise the Lord for limousines.
As my mother would say,
"Live and let live -
Just keep the details to yourself,
And pass the ketchup, please."

-David Oliveira

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Untitled 4/22


They spit upon His meekness,
And struck Him in the face.
Their floggers swung with hatred;
They stripped Him in disgrace.
Deep worked the Roman anger
That tortured Him, a Jew;
Yet this His contemplation:
"They know not what they do."

His people cheered "Hosanna,"
Then had Him crucified.
They freed corrupt Barabbas;
To sentence Him, they lied.
He hung outside their city,
Where leaders mocked Him, too;
Yet this, the hurt He carried:
"I would have gathered you."

No angels came to help Him
When Heaven on Him fell.
The Devil tried to reach Him
Through ev'ry lie in hell.
Unthinkable the anguish
As Father crushed the Son,
Yet this, his firm conviction:
"Thy will, not mine, be done."

No selfishness, no hatred,
No spitefulness was there.
No unbelief, no cursing,
No pity from despair.
One sinful thought; one failure,
And Love would not succeed.
The ransomed souls of hist'ry
Must His perfection plead.

If He had faltered even once,
In flames of hell would men abide.
Then ponder Christ, and praise at length
The strength of Him there crucified.

-K. Hartnett

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Perhaps the World Ends Here 4/21

I already had this poem picked out to post in April. Seemed fitting for today....

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what,
we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the
table so it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe
at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what
it means to be human. We make men at it,
we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts
of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms
around our children. They laugh with us at our poor
falling-down selves and we put ourselves back
together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella
in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place
to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate
the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared
our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow.
We pray of suffering and remorse.
We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table,
while we are laughing and crying,
eating of the last sweet bite.

-Joy Harjo

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mormon Missionaries Pay Me a Visit 4/18

Mormon Missionaries Pay Me a Visit

I'm sitting on my lawn
enjoying a nice blunt cigar
watching children ride scooters
up and down the street
twilight gently falling,
swallows circling,
Mississippi Kites high overhead,
tree frog, sounds of sweet shadows

Then I see them in the corner of my eye,
two bikes slow
they can not pass a lost soul -
I'm too conspicuous -
I don't want this feeling, I want them
to pass me by

Good evening sir they say
I'm Elder Hansen says the first
I'm Elder Olson the second chokes
and then they wait
but all I can think to say:
You're kind of young to be elders, aren't you?
They launch into their sales pitch
about Restoration and Heavenly Father
while I recoil in smoke, then interrupt
If I convert do I have to give up this cigar?
They are not sure
but soon get back on track
like a loose wheel wobbling
until they finally bid me good evening.
I watch them roll away
and wonder
what gives them the audacity to interrupt me
while I am at worship

-Ken Hada

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Primer 4/17

A Primer

I remember Michigan fondly as the place I go
to be in Michigan. The right hand of America
waving from maps or the left
pressing into clay a mold to take home
from kindergarten to Mother. I lived in Michigan
forty-three years. The state bird
is a chained factory gate. The state flower
is Lake Superior, which sounds egotistical
though it is merely cold and deep as truth.
A Midwesterner can use the world "truth,"
can sincerely use the word "sincere."
In truth the Midwest is not mid or west.
When I go back to Michigan I drive through Ohio.
There is off I-75 in Ohio a mosque, so life
goes corn corn corn mosque, I wave at Islam,
which we're not getting along with
on account of the Towers as I pass.
Then Ohio goes corn corn corn
billboard, goodbye, Islam. You never forget
how to be from Michigan when you're from Michigan.
It's like riding a bike of ice and fly fishing.
The Upper Peninsula is a spare state
in case Michigan goes flat. I live now
in Virginia, which has no backup plan
but is named the same as my mother,
I live in my mother again, which is creepy
but so is what the skin under my chin is doing,
suddenly there's a pouch like marsupials
are needed. The state joy is spring.
"Osiris, we beseech thee, rise and give us baseball!"
is how we might sound were we Egyptian in April,
when February hasn't ended. February
is thirteen months long in Michigan.
We are a people who by February
want to kill the sky for being so gray
and angry at us. "What did we do?"
is the state motto. There's a day in May
when we're all tumblers, gymnastics
is everywhere, and daffodils are asked
by young men to be their wives. When a man elopes
with a daffodil, you know where he's from.
In this way I have given you a primer.
Let us all be from somewhere.
Let us tell each other everything we can.

-Bob Hicok

Last Meal 4/16

Oopsie! I'm a little bit late with this one. But when you're already a month behind, what's another half hour?!?!?

Last Meal

On death row you celebrate your last night
with your last dinner, your choice, your last craving
to make at least your stomach happy before it stops
craving anything at all. Many choose
simple food: a hamburger, mac and cheese, ice cream.
What might it be for you, my friend?
Duckling Rouenaisse? A roast of unborn lamb?
Washed down with Veuve Cliquot '59 and old Armagnac?
And how do you know, my friend, that you are not
eating your last meal at this very table now?
Chew slowly. Make sure you take in all the body and the blood.

-Bill Holm

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Directions 4/15


First you'll come to the end of the freeway.
Then it's not so much north on Woodland Avenue
as it is a feeling that the pines are taller and weigh more,
and the road, you'll notice,
is older with faded lines and unmown shoulders.
You'll see a cemetery on your right
and another later on your left.
Sobered, drive on.
Drive on for miles
if the fields are full of hawkweed and daisies.
Sometimes a spotted horse
will gallop along the fence. Sometimes you'll see
a hawk circling, sometimes a vulture.
You'll cross the river many times
over smaller and smaller bridges.
You'll know when you're close;
people always say they have a sudden sensation
that the horizon, which was always far ahead,
is now directly behind them.
At this point you may want to park
and proceed on foot, or even
on your knees.

-Connie Wanek

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Three Perfect Days 4/14

A LOT of life has happened in the past month. Consequently, if something wasn't directly in front of my face, it didn't get done (hence the abrupt end to poetry month). Some of the dust has finally started to settle, and, although a few of the waves will continue to roll for a while, I am ready to catch up on some of the things that got set aside while I attended to more important issues in my life and the lives of my friends. I am still excited about the poems I picked out for April, so I will pick up right where I left off, on the 14th of the month, and finish the (new) poetry month. April might be the official poetry month, but the poems are good year-round! Enjoy!

Three Perfect Days

In the middle seat of an airplane,
between an overweight woman
whose arm takes over the armrest
and a man immersed in his computer game,

I am reading the inflight magazine
about three perfect days somewhere: Kyoto
this time, but it could be anywhere -
Madagascar or one of the Virgin Islands.

There is always the perfect hotel
where at breakfast the waiter smiles
as he serves an egg as perfectly coddled
as a Spanish Infanta.

There are walks over perfect bridges - their spans
defying physics - and visits to zoos
where rain is forbidden,
and no small child is ever bored or crying.

I would settle now for just one perfect day
anywhere at all, a day without
mosquitoes, or traffic, or newspapers
with their headlines.

A day without any kind of turbulence -
certainly not this kind, as the pilot tells us
to fasten our seatbelts, and even
the flight attendants look nervous.

-Linda Pastan