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Welcoming fickle April

 

Here in southern Maine we are seeing a haze of green on lawns and buds on forsythia, though old snirt (snow and dirt) is still lying around, and a bit of snow is predicted for tonight. April is National Poetry Month and events abound.  See the Moon Pie Press website for a listing of events involving our poets.

Here is a poem by Erich Kastner (1899-1974), translated from the German by Ruth Bookey and used with her permission.

 

APRIL

 

Rain strums a green Easter melody

with one finger.

The year gets older, yet younger daily.

Oh harmonious contradiction!

 

The moon in his gold jacket

hides behind cloud curtain.

His left cheek is fat, poor thing.

He feels a little foolish.

March was successful:

he sent a full moon into April.

 

Rabbits are hopping,

with paintbrushes, tubes of color

and twitching noses.

Out of hollows and dens,

through gardens and streets,

over lawns, they hop

even in barns and homes.

 

As if it were easy they lay their eggs,

made of nougat, chocolate and marzipan.

The bravest lays a “bonbonniere.” *

He stares into space with determination.

“Bonbonniere” is easier said than done.

 

Next comes the painting.  It takes hours.

Then tying on the silk ribbons.

Hiding places are looked for, found:

behind the stove, under the sofa,

in the wall clock, on the path,

outside under the birch,

in the grandfather clock,

in the closet.

 

The rooster crows morning.

The rabbits disappear.

Windows sparkle in the sun.

A man yawns and leans on his garden gate.

Green fire runs over the slope

covering bushes and trees.

The man thinks spring is coming.

He doesn’t feel wonder or adventure,

he isn’t surprised any more.

 

Isn’t that a tiny paintbrush lying in the grass?

Even this the man doesn’t find unusual.

He didn’t even notice that an Easter rabbit

lost it on his way home.

 

  • Bonbonniere:  box holding bonbons, given on special occasions.

 

forsythia close up

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Farewell to a wonderful poet and mentor

 

Poet, teacher and mentor to many: Ted Bookey died March 10 in Augusta, Maine at age 90. I was lucky to meet Ted and Ruth about 15 years ago.  I had the privilege of publishing four books of his poetry and two anthologies he did of UMaine-Augusta Senior College student poets’ work.  Ted and Ruth were my Maine “parents” in many ways and unfailingly supportive and generous.  Ted was always willing to encourage and mentor poets of all levels of skill and experience, write blurbs, and spread the word about others’ work.  He was funny, wise and had a great zest for life.  His poetry is often profound but also often amusing. Here is one of his short poems from his collection WITH A W/HOLE IN ONE, published by Moon Pie Press in 2010.

BEE SEX

 

The bee can mate while he’s in flight

–penis forward, feet retracted.

Not that I would mind the height

Only that I am easily distracted.

Ted portrait

Wild birds

two swans Since Mary Oliver’s recent death, I have seen her famous beloved poem about the wild geese reposted all over the Internet.   I offer here a lovely 1921 poem about wild swans by Maine’s own Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950). Here in Maine we know we have another month of winter, but we are starting to see more birds, a hopeful sign.

WILD SWANS

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.

And what did I see I had not seen before?

Only a question less or a question more;

Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.

Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,

House without air, I leave you and lock your door.

Wild swans, come over the town, come over

The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

 

 

 

 

January 74th

 

I heard someone say the other day that it felt like January 74th.  I find January and February in Maine to be trying.  I don’t ski, my cold tolerance is definitely decreasing with age, and it makes me cross to wobble around on icy surfaces.  In that rather crabby vein, I offer a sour, wonderful poem by Amy Gerstler (copyright by the poet, of course).

 

A Severe Lack of Holiday Spirit

 

I dread the icy white concussion

of winter.  Each snowfall demands

panic, like a kidnapper’s hand

clapped over my chapped mouth.

Ice forms everywhere, a plague

of glass.  Christmas ornaments’

sickly tinkle makes my molars ache.

One pities the anemic sun

come January.  Trees go skeletal.

Children born in the chilly months

are apt to stammer.  People hit

the sauce in a big way all winter.

Amidst blizzards they wrestle

unsuccessfully with the dark comedy

of their lives, laughter trapped

in their frigid gizzards.  Meanwhile,

the mercury just plummets,

like a migrating duck blasted

out of the sky by some hunter

in a cap with fur earflaps.trees in snow apple

A new year

 

Painting by Rockwell Kent.

Here is a poem by Elder James Olson (American, 1909-1992).

 

December 1948

Pavane for the New Year

 

Soul, plucking the many strings

Of my limbs like puppet’s, make them dance,

Dance, dance, in somber joy,

That after all the sullen play

The old world falls, the new world forms.

 

A thought like music takes us now,

So like, that every soul must move,

Move in a most stately measure,

And souls and bodies tread in time

Till all the trembling towers fall down.

 

And now the stones arise again

Till all the world is built anew

And now in one accord like rhyme,

And we who wound the midnight clock

Hear the clock of morning chime.

Rockwell Kent snow ocean

BARE BRANCHES

Here in southern Maine we had an unusually snowy November.  Many of us didn’t have time to rake leaves before the snow came.  Here is a timely short poem by William Carlos Williams.

Warm holiday wishes to all.

 

WINTER TREES

 

All the complicated details

of the attiring and

the disattiring are completed!

A liquid moon

moves gently among

the long branches.

Thus having prepared their buds

against a sure winter

the wise trees

stand sleeping in the cold.

snowy branches

Letting Go

(“Fall Trees” c. 2018 by Alice Persons)

fall trees done

As wind and rain strip colorful leaves from the trees here in Maine, here is a timely poem by David McCann, who lives in Massachusetts.  David has two poetry collections from Moon Pie Press:  SAME BIRD and LOST AND FOUND.  Reprinted by permission; copyright 2016 by David McCann.

Detachment

She imagined each tree would have one leaf

that would be last, late November,

to give up to some indifferent gust,

or more simply at the end to gravity.

 

What prepares the leaf to fall is cold.

 

Temperature, a relative term;

the precipitous fall at night, more likely,

below a certain determinate level

that triggers a leaf’s detachment.

 

Study the leaf, she would say.

 

What it learns

as the wind sighs fly away,

take as a token of wisdom.