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An August poem

I’ve been enjoying a wonderful, irreverent book of contemporary quotations about poets and poetry called QUOTE POET UNQUOTE, edited by Dennis O’Driscoll. Some samples (more to come in later posts):
“The making of a poem ought to be a sprinkling of words and experiences with gunpowder and throwing a match in.” — Michael Milburn
“Any good poem is an act of taming the savage or savaging the tame.” — Tony Hoagland
“Writing comes to be associated with the outlaw parts of the self, but one really needs an orderly, bourgeous life to get work done.” — Robert Hass
“Poems are never made out of 100% good will and good tidings. There is always a little cold wind in a good poem.” — George Szirtes

Midsummer, Tobago               by Derek Walcott

Broad sun-stoned beaches.

White heat.
A green river.

A bridge,
scorched yellow palms

from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.

Days I have held,
days I have lost,

days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.

Posted on

Here is a romantic poem by Sara Teasdale.

SPRING RAIN

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
Tonight with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor busses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.

With that wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say.

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
Tonight with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

Potholes and snirt

April is a trying time in Maine. There are piles of snirt (snow and dirt – really ugly) still lying around. The potholes are outrageous and some of them threaten to snap
the axle on my Mini Cooper. Here is a very topical poem by my friend John McVeigh of Portland, Maine, a lawyer and accomplished poet. His Moon Pie Press poetry collection is called Burning Chairs.

Frost Heaves

Under the fields and forests, peaceful giants sleep.
The land rises and falls with their breaths.
But, imprisoned under paved roads, they are restless.
A toe wriggles a crack, a bent knee humps up a ridge,
A heaving chest lifts up an entire slab.
Mile-long giants lie under every back road,
Cracking them along straightaways, cracking them just around curves,
Surprising oblivious speeders into wheel alignments
And front end work, reminders that we are not gods.

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The Little Boys

For the season

McVeigh, John P.

Mar 28 at 6:17 PM

ToMoon Pie Press

Message body

Frost Heaves

Under the fields and forests, peaceful giants sleep.

The land rises and falls with their breaths,

But, imprisoned under paved roads, they are restless.

A toe wriggles a crack, a bent knee humps up a ridge,

A heaving chest lifts up an entire slab.

Mile-long giants lie under every back road,

Cracking them along straightaways, cracking them just around curves,

Surprising oblivious speedsters into wheel alignments

And front end work, reminders that we are not gods.

John P. McVeigh
207.791.3000 Tel
jmcveigh@preti.com
Bio | Twitter | preti.com

PretiFlaherty
One City Center
P.O. Box 9546
Portland, ME 04112-9546

This E-Mail may contain information that is privileged, confidential and / or exempt from discovery or disclosure under applicable law. Unintended transmission shall not constitute waiver of the attorney-client or any other privilege. If you are not the intended recipient of this communication, and have received it in error, please do not distribute it and notify me immediately by E-mail at jmcveigh@preti.com or via telephone at 207.791.3000 and delete the original message. Unless expressly stated in this e-mail, nothing in this message or any attachment should be construed as a digital or electronic signature or as a legal opinion.

So fresh and so clean.

“Spring” in Maine takes its time

The calendar tells us it’s spring, but in Maine we still have a lot of snow lying around. Some snowdrops and crocus have made a brave appearance. As the earth awakens, here is a poem that is not about spring. Spring poems will follow in the coming weeks.

THE SCIENCES SING A LULLABY

PHYSICS SAYS: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

GEOLOGY SAYS: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

ASTRONOMY SAYS: the sun will rise tomorrow.
ZOOLOGY SAYS: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle.
PSYCHOLOGY SAYS: but first it has to be night, so
BIOLOGY SAYS: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and
HISTORY SAYS: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Albert Goldbarth

A snowy stretch of New England winter

book-pastryblanket-of-snow

I’m not going to wax lyrical about the beauty of a snow-covered landscape. Frankly, I am sick of winter and the repeated storms we’ve been getting in Maine. A friend remarked that it has been an ibuprofen winter. Too much shoveling. But my Camden friend, poet Dave Morrison, posted this little poem today online, and I thought I’d share it. Wherever you are, hope you are reading and writing and weathering the storms.

In this morning’s
daydream, the snowblower
became a plow, and I
walked behind it in
long straight lines,
sowing the seeds
of spring.

Poetry for an elegiac season

fall-benches

Autumn in New England, of course, is spectacular, but it also brings a sense of loss and drawing in, as days shorten, we finally turn the heat on, and batten down the house for winter. We resurrect our jackets, gloves and flannel sheets. The garden slowly dies.

Here is one of my favorite poems about fall, bittersweet like the season. I chose this for my mother’s memorial service program in June; she liked the poem.  Our mutual love of poetry (and reading) was one of our strongest bonds.

from “Autumn Sonnets” by May Sarton

If I can let you go as trees let go
Their leaves, so casually, one by one;
If I can come to know what they do know,
That fall is the release, the consummation,
Then fear of time and the uncertain fruit
Would not distemper the great lucid skies
This strangest autumn, mellow and acute.
If I can take the dark with open eyes
And call it seasonal, not harsh or strange
(For love itself may need a time of sleep),
And, treelike, stand unmoved before the change,
Lose what I lose to keep what I can keep,
The strong root still alive under the snow,
Love will endure – if I can let you go.

Literary lights in Ireland

oscar-wilde-statue-merrion-square-dublin

I recently returned from a week in Ireland, mostly in Dublin – my first visit. One of the many things I love about Dublin is its very public homage to literary figures — Wilde, Joyce, Yeats, Behan and many more. I went on a literary pub crawl one night, a tourist-y but worthwhile event in which a small group went from pub to pub, led by two gifted professional actors who performed choice bits from the writings of Wilde, Beckett, Behan, Joyce and Eavan Boland. (The only other place I’ve been that honors writers so openly is Russia, where statues of writers abound in Moscow and St. Petersburg.) Dublin is large enough to be sophisticated and diverse, but not big enough to be intimidating, and I found Dubliners to be unfailingly polite, friendly and helpful, despite being overrun by 7 million tourists a year. A different facet of the city is that the dark side of the history of Ireland, its famines and oppression, is not forgotten in the midst of modernity. In Dublin Castle I stood in the room where James Connolly, commandant of the Dublin Brigade in the Easter 1916 uprising against the British, was brought to lie badly wounded, with a bullet in his leg. Soon after, he was carried on a stretcher to Kilmainham Gaol courtyard, tied to a chair and executed by firing squad. He was 47. John Lennon said that his song “Woman Is The Nigger of the World” was inspired by Connolly’s quotation “The female is the slave of the slave.”
Above is the famous, somewhat peculiar statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.

Here is a poem by Eavan Boland.

WITNESS

Here is the city —
its worn-down mountains,
its grass and iron,
its smoky coast
seen from the high roads
on the Wicklow side.

From Dalkey Island
to the North Wall,
to the blue distance seizing its perimeter,
its old divisions are deep within it.

And in me also.
And always will be.

Out of my mouth they come:
The spurred and booted garrisons.
The men and women
they dispossessed.

What is a colony
if not the brutal truth
that when we speak
the graves open.

And the dead walk?