RSS Feed

Tag Archives: poetry

Poem for May

Posted on

Please note:  It would be wonderful if you followed my blog.  It is usually monthly, about poetry and other literary matters.  Comments are welcome.  Thanks for visiting!

 

The following is a lovely short poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), who lived in Amherst, Massachusetts.  The mayflower, the state blossom of Massachusetts, is blooming here in the Maine woods in our late, rather wet spring.

 

May-Flower

 

Pink, small and punctual,

Aromatic, low,

Covert in April,

Candid in May,

 

Dear to the moss,

Known by the knoll,

Next to the robin

In every human soul.

 

Bold little beauty,

Bedecked with thee,

Nature forswears

Antiquity.

 

 

mayflower

Advertisements

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

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!

 

 

 

 

Summer

 

Here is a timely poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar, a black American poet who lived from 1872 to 1906.  He died far too young, but left some lovely poetry.

 

A Summer’s Night

The night is dewy as a maiden’s mouth,

The skies are bright as are a maiden’s eyes,

Soft as a maiden’s breath the wind that flies

Up from the perfumed bosom of the South.

Like sentinels, the pines stand in the park;

And hither hastening, like rakes that roam,

With lamps to light their wayward footsteps home,

The fireflies come stagg’ring down the dark.

A mixed blessing: social media in 2018

(That’s my cat Fiona online.) I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of social media, some of which generate more attention than others.
Obvious pros: keeping in touch with, or reconnecting to, faraway friends and relatives; advertising your business and inviting people to social or business-related events; up to date photos of people you care about; stress relievers like jokes, cartoons, and of course, animal videos. The immediacy of a topical joke, meme or news story with video is undeniable. Obvious cons: an opportunity for bad/immature people to bully, insult, and stalk others, and to misrepresent themselves anonymously. Hate speech and indefensible doctrines can be spread. The anonymity brings out incivility or worse in many, especially about politics. People use social media to brag, distort the reality of their lives, and as a substitute for real life friendship, meetups, dates, or simply getting out of the house. There is an insidious feeling of being “connected” which is very different from actually talking to and listening to other humans. Social media can be an addiction and a time waster for sure.
I have my own Facebook page, and have one to advertise and give information about my business, Moon Pie Press. I’ve chosen not to also do Instagram, Twitter or other options, because email, a website, two Facebook pages and a blog seem like plenty of online engagement to me. That brings me to this rather dark poem by the always-provocative and honest Sherman Alexie. If you’re not familiar with his poetry, novels and recent memoir, I highly recommend all his writing.

THE FACEBOOK SONNET

Welcome to the endless high-school
Reunion. Welcome to past friends
And lovers, however kind or cruel.
Let’s undervalue and unmend.

The present. Why can’t we pretend
Every stage of life is the same?
Let’s exhume, resume, and extend
Childhood. Let’s play all the games

That occupy the young. Let fame
And shame intertwine. Let one’s search
For God become public domain.
Let church.com become our church.

Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess
Here at the altar of loneliness.

copyright 2011 by Sherman Alexie (from The New Yorker)

Solstice is here

December 21st is the winter solstice in Maine. I find it heartening that the shortest, darkest day of the year has arrived and we turn the corner toward more light.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I’m still disappointed about what happened to Garrison Keillor. I think NPR was too hasty in firing him, killing The Writer’s Almanac and erasing the online archives of the program going back years. This means that people who worked on the program lost their jobs. All the poets whose work was in the archives lose out, too. Of course I take this somewhat personally since I am proud to say that 25 poems by Moon Pie Press poets were featured on the program, including eight of my own. The Writer’s Almanac was a great boon to my little poetry press. But it also popularized poetry for many people who heard it on the radio, in podcasts or read it in their email or the anthologies that grew out of the show. I am sorry to see the show die.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I can recommend other ways to have poetry delivered to your email box on a regular basis. Ted Kooser has a column called American Life in Poetry that you can have emailed to you. He tends to favor accessible narrative poems. There is also Poetry Daily. Poem-A-Day is from the Academy of American Poets. Poem of the Day is from the Poetry Foundation. And Rattle magazine will send you a poem each day. I recommend that you sign up for at least one of these so you can get a daily dose of poetry. In these troubling, chaotic times full of fake and disturbing news, poetry is a solace and a reminder to slow down.