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Archive for the tag “POTW”

Naomi Shihab Nye – “Alive”

Hey everyone out there,

Alright, I know this poem of the week is a little delayed, but for those who missed the tweet I put out, I wasn’t feeling well when I usually write up that post, so I decided to delay it to today. Anyway, this poem comes from Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet who I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and hearing read from the book I have of hers: Transfer.

I feel like a few of the poems I’ve posted lately have had a bit of a sad undercurrent to them, so I thought I’d liven things up a bit with this one. It makes me smile to read and I can recall hearing this one read by Naomi. I hope you all enjoy.

Alive

Dear Abby, said someone from Oregon,
I am having trouble with my boyfriend’s attachment
to an ancient gallon of milk still full
in his refrigerator. I told him it’s me or the milk,
is this unreasonable? Dear Carolyn,
my brother won’t speak to me
because fifty years ago I whispered
a monkey would kidnap him in the night
to take him back to his true family
but he should have known it was a joke
when it didn’t happen, don’t you think?
Dear Board of Education, no one will ever
remember a test. Repeat. Stories,
poems, projects, experiments,
mischief, yes, but never a test.
Dear Dog Behind the Fence, you really need
to calm down now. You have been barking every time
I walk to the compost for two years
and I have not robbed your house. Relax.
When I asked the man on the other side
if you bothered him too, he smiled and said no,
he makes me feel less alone. Should I be more
worried about the dog or the man?

– Naomi Shihab Nye

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Theodore Roethke – “The Waking”

That’s right folks, I’m doing a second poem of the week on Roethke… and there’s nothing you can do about it. ūüėČ

Honestly, like I said previously, I really do love Roethke’s poetry and wanted to put in at least one more of his poems this month, but I promise I’ll take a break from him next week. This poem is a villanelle, a form of poetry that I find incredibly difficult to do.

I hope everyone out there is doing amazingly well, and for those starting classes best of luck in the coming year.

Stephen R.

A dirt path through a wooded area

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

-Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke – “Weed Puller”

Heeelllloooooo world,

For those of you out there who know me personally, it’s no secret that one of my favorite poets is Theodore Roethke. He was one of the first poets I was introduced to outside of the usual Shakespeare/High School English poets. Thus, the collected poems of Roethke was the first book of poetry I ever purchased. I couldn’t recommend this collection of poems more highly.

Anyway, the poem I’m sharing here really encapsulates the style and strength of image that I always find when reading through his work. I also happened to spend a few hours the other day out weeding the garden, so I had it on my mind. I hope you all enjoy.

Stephen R.

Weeds under trees

Weed Puller

Under the concrete benches,
Hacking at black hairy roots,-
Those lewd monkey-tails hanging from drainholes,-
Digging into the soft rubble underneath,
Webs and weeds,
Grubs and snails and sharp sticks,
Or yanking tough fern-shapes,
Coiled green and thick, like dripping smilax,
Tugging all day at perverse life:
The indignity of it!-
With everything blooming above me,
Lilies, pale-pink cyclamen, roses,
Whole fields lovely and inviolate,-
Me down in that fetor of weeds,
Crawling on all fours,
Alive, in a slippery grave.

– Theodore Roethke

Frank O’Hara – “Song”

What’s this? ¬†Can it be? ¬†Yes, another consecutive poem of the week from yours truly. ¬†This week’s poem comes from a collection of Frank O’Hara I own:¬†Lunch Poems. ¬†I particularly enjoy the use of punctuation in this poem. ¬†The two instances in which he uses periods really add a lot to the way the poem was read by me. ¬†I hope that the poem resonates with some of you out there as well.

Stephen R.

Picture of Smog in city

Song

Is it dirty
does it look dirty
that’s what you think of in the city

does it just seem dirty
that’s what you think of in the city
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

someone comes along with a very bad character
he seems attractive. is he really. yes. very
he’s attractive as his character is bad. is it. yes

that’s what you think of in the city
run your fingers along your no-moss mind
that’s not a thought that’s soot

and you take a lot of dirt off someone
is the character less bad. no. it improves constantly
you don’t refuse to breathe do you

– Frank O’Hara

James Tate – “The Rules”

Well hello there.

I feel as though I’ve fallen off the map for a little while there. I wish I could say that I’ve been fighting the good fight or at least putting pen to paper and producing something new to work with in my writing, but honestly I have really just been distracted. Though not much an excuse, I’ve had my little niece and nephew staying with me and the family for the better part of a month so far… and for those who are not aware, a 1 and 4-year-old can be quite a distraction. Especially when they require almost constant entertainment. I’m not really complaining though.

But last night, at around 11:16 my mind just sort of clicked. It’s happened to me before. It wasn’t a lightbulb turning on. I had this initial thought just pop into my head. And I’ll even share it with you here “I’ve slipped.” Just those two words. And I kept repeating them over and over in my mind. My hands started to shake slightly, and I could feel my heart racing as the words just kept up on a loop. I can’t really think of any other way to describe it. So I’d say by 11:18 I realized that the random show I was watching had to stop and I got up and started writing. It’s always a great feeling when I’ve finally gotten myself to write something down.

I would like to have revised that poem up and put it up here for everyone to see, but I want to give it more time to gestate, so to speak. So to tide things over, I thought I’d share another poem of the week. The poem, “The Rules,” is by the poet James Tate. I ran into Tate when reading an essay by Tony Hoagland (another poet I have reviewed previously). His writing style is… different. At least in his book The Ghost Soldiers. The poems are basically all written in prose. This, combined with the short and accelerating sentences (you’ll understand when you read it aloud to yourself) make it a style that really sets the heart racing by the poem’s conclusion. The poem is also marked by its odd sense of humor in the seeming randomness of the content at times, but the finality in the command at the conclusion always sets me adrift momentarily after a read through. Perhaps you’ll see what I mean after a reading.

Hope you all have that moment of inspiration,
Stephen R.

A Cream Cheese and Lox Bagle

The Rules

Jack told me to never reveal my true identity. “I would
never do that,” I said. “Always wear at least a partial disguise,”
he said. “Of course,” I said. “And try to blend in with the
crowd,” he said. “Naturally,” I said. “And never fall in love,”
he said. “Far too dangerous,” I said. “Never raise your voice,”
he said, “Understood,” I said. “Never run,” he said. “I
wouldn’t dream of it,” I said. “Never make a glutton of yourself,”
he said. “It won’t happen,” I said. “Always be polite,” he
said. “That’s me, polite,” I said. “Don’t sing in public,”
he said. “You have my promise,” I said. “Don’t touch strangers,”
he said. “That’s forbidden,” I said. “Never speed,” he said.
“You can count on me,” I said. “Don’t wear plaid,” he said.
“No plaid,” I said. “Don’t pet dogs,” he said. “Of course
not,” I said. “Don’t jump fences,” he said. “I won’t,” I
said. “Stay away from children,” he said. “I will,” I said.
“Don’t enter churches,” he said. “Of course not,” I said.
“Good posture at all times,” he said. “Good posture is a must,”
I said. “Never pick money out of the gutter,” he said. “That’s
not for me,” I said. “Be punctual,” he said. “Always on time,”
I said. “When walking or driving always mix your routes,” he
said. “Naturally,” I said. “Never order the same meal twice,”
he said. “Never,” I said. “Do not be seen on the street after
midnight,” he said. “Not ever,” I said. “Do not give money
to homeless beggars,” he said. “Nothing for the beggars,”
I said. “Do not start conversations with officers of the law,”
he said. “No talking with cops,” I said. “No ice skating,”
he said. “Never,” I said. “No skiing,” he said. “Of course
not,” I said. “When a sign says STAY OFF THE GRASS, you’ll
stay off,” he said. “I will, I said. “No chewing gum in
public,” he said. “I won’t,” I said. “You must carry your weapon
at all times,” he said. “Always armed,” I said. “You must
follow orders,” he said. “Count on it,” I said. “You will
contact Central once a week,” he said. “Contact Central,”
I said. “No green pants,” he said. “Certainly not,” I said.
“No orange or purple shirts,” he said. “Not for me,” I said.
“No sushi,” he said. “Oh no,” I said. “No fandango,” he said.
“Not possible,” I said. “No farm bureau,” he said. “Not my
style,” I said. Beware hypnotism,” he said. “Always
alert,” I said. “Watch out for leeches,” he said. “A danger
not forgotten,” I said. “Stay off gondolas.” “Instinctively,”
I said. “Never trust a fortune-teller,” he said. “Never,”
I said. “Avoid crusades,” he said. “Certainly,” I said.
“Never ride on a blimp,” he said. “Blimps are out,” I said.
“Do not chase turkeys,” he said. “I will not,” I said. “Do
not put your hand in the mouth of a horse,” he said. “Out
of the question,” I said. “Never believe in miracles,” he said.
“I won’t,” I said.

– James Tate

P.S. For anyone curious by this point, the sonnet challenge has proven a very difficult thing to get myself to maintain. I have one to put up eventually, but I’ll only do that when I think it’s really revised enough.

P.P.S. I honestly struggled coming up with an image to fit this poem, as you can see it goes pretty much everywhere.  So I settled on a picture of my favorite bagel to eat when I visit New York.

Gary Soto – “Oranges”

This week’s poem was a suggestion from a friend of mine. ¬†I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. ¬†I’m not overly familiar with the work of Gary Soto, but this has clinched my buying a collection of his work.

Hope everyone’s week is going amazingly well,
Stephen R.

A collection of oranges

Oranges

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December.  Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porchlight burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge.  I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drug store.  We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted–
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth.  I fingered
A nickel in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickel from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter.  When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all
About.

Outside,
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

– Gary Soto

Dorianne Laux – “Moon in the Window”

Hello everyone,

I’m feeling a little nostalgic as I’m writing up this post. ¬†The poet Dorianne Laux is someone I’ve read for the past couple years and always enjoy. ¬†I currently own two collections of hers: Facts About the Moon¬†and The Book of Men. ¬†This week’s poem comes out of the former. ¬†As the title suggests, the moon is a subject that pervades a majority of the poems. ¬†This poem in particular though really harkens back to when I was younger.

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do, and perhaps some of you can relate to it as well.

Stephen R.

Moon in the Window

I wish I could say I was the kind of child
who watched the moon from her window,
would turn toward it and wonder.
I never wondered.  I read.  Dark signs
that crawled towards the edge of the page.
It took me years to grow a heart
from paper and glue.  All I had
was a flashlight, bright as the moon,
a white hole blazing beneath the sheets.

– Dorianne Laux

Philip Levine – “Animals Are Passing From Our Lives”

Greetings Poetry Lovers,

So this particular poem from Philip Levine, the United States Poet Laureate,¬†has been on my mind a lot lately. ¬†I’m not 100% why, but I feel as though it could have something to do with having graduated from college and beginning to face the real world out there. ¬†The poem is one of those seemingly lighthearted, joking poems that waits until the very end to basically slap you across the face with a surprisingly¬†heart-wrenching¬†ending. ¬†The ending in this poem in particular is where the title of the¬†collection of poetry¬†it comes out of is derived.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m now officially graduated from college. ¬†So now, when I’m not searching for a job, I can dedicate more of my time to updating this blog. ¬†I’ve got a few ideas in mind to both diversify and narrow in various aspects of the blog, and those changes will be coming into effect soon. ¬†For now, enjoy the poem. ¬†I’ll be back with more soon.

Stephen Recker

Picture of a pig

Animals Are Passing From Our Lives

It’s wonderful how I jog
on four honed-down ivory toes
my massive buttocks slipping
like oiled parts with each light step.

I’m to market. ¬†I can smell
the sour, grooved block, I can smell
the blade that opens the hole
and the pudgy white fingers

that shake out the intestines
like a hankie.  In my dreams
the snouts drool on the marble,
suffering children, suffering flies,

suffering the consumers
who won’t meet their steady eyes
for fear they could see.  The boy
who drives me along believes

that any moment I’ll fall
on my side and drum my toes
like a typewriter or squeal
and shit like a new housewife

discovering television,
or that I’ll turn like a beast
cleverly to hook his teeth
with my teeth.  No.  Not this pig.

— Philip Levine

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