Friday, May 3, 2013

Poems about Life Stages: Playlist for May 3, 2013

Note: These poems were followed by a movement of one of  each of the six suites for unaccompanied cello by J.S.Bach,as performed by cellist Mary Costanza on her new MSR Classics recording.
 
 
In Childhood

By Sarah A. Chavez

 

In childhood Christy and I played in the dumpster across the street

from Pickett & Sons Construction. When we found bricks, it was best.

Bricks were most useful. We drug them to our empty backyard

and stacked them in the shape of a room. For months

we collected bricks, one on top another. When the walls

reached as high as my younger sister’s head, we laid down.

Hiding in the middle of our room, we watched the cycle

of the sun, gazed at the stars, clutched hands and felt at home. 
 

 

 

 Palindrome

By Lisel Mueller b. 1924

There is less difficulty—indeed, no logical difficulty at all—in

imagining two portions of the universe, say two galaxies, in which

time goes one way in one galaxy and the opposite way in the

other. . . . Intelligent beings in each galaxy would regard their own

time as “forward” and time in the other galaxy as “backward.”                                   

                                     —Martin Gardner, in Scientific American 

 

Somewhere now she takes off the dress I am

putting on. It is evening in the antiworld

where she lives. She is forty-five years away

from her death, the hole which spit her out

into pain, impossible at first, later easing,

going, gone. She has unlearned much by now.

Her skin is firming, her memory sharpens,

her hair has grown glossy. She sees without glasses,

she falls in love easily. Her husband has lost his

shuffle, they laugh together. Their money shrinks,

but their ardor increases. Soon her second child

will be young enough to fight its way into her

body and change its life to monkey to frog to

tadpole to cluster of cells to tiny island to

nothing. She is making a list:

            Things I will need in the past

                        lipstick

                        shampoo

                        transistor radio

                        Sergeant Pepper

                        acne cream

                        five-year diary with a lock

She is eager, having heard about adolescent love

and the freedom of children. She wants to read

Crime and Punishment and ride on a roller coaster

without getting sick. I think of her as she will

be at fifteen, awkward, too serious. In the

mirror I see she uses her left hand to write,

her other to open a jar. By now our lives should

have crossed. Somewhere sometime we must have

passed one another like going and coming trains,

with both of us looking the other way.
 
 
 

 Practicing

By Marie Howe b. 1950

 

I want to write a love poem for the girls I kissed in seventh grade,

a song for what we did on the floor in the basement

 

of somebody’s parents’ house, a hymn for what we didn’t say but thought:

That feels good or I like that, when we learned how to open each other’s mouths

 

how to move our tongues to make somebody moan. We called it practicing, and

one was the boy, and we paired off—maybe six or eight girls—and turned out

 

the lights and kissed and kissed until we were stoned on kisses, and lifted our

nightgowns or let the straps drop, and, Now you be the boy:

 

concrete floor, sleeping bag or couch, playroom, game room, train room, laundry.

Linda’s basement was like a boat with booths and portholes

 

instead of windows. Gloria’s father had a bar downstairs with stools that spun,

plush carpeting. We kissed each other’s throats.

 

We sucked each other’s breasts, and we left marks, and never spoke of it upstairs

outdoors, in daylight, not once. We did it, and it was

 

practicing, and slept, sprawled so our legs still locked or crossed, a hand still lost

in someone’s hair . . . and we grew up and hardly mentioned who

 

the first kiss really was—a girl like us, still sticky with moisturizer we’d

shared in the bathroom. I want to write a song

 

for that thick silence in the dark, and the first pure thrill of unreluctant desire,

just before we’d made ourselves stop.

 

 

 

 

 What You Have to Get Over

By Dick Allen b. 1939  

Stumps. Railroad tracks. Early sicknesses,

the blue one, especially.

Your first love rounding a corner,

that snowy minefield.

 

Whether you step lightly or heavily,

you have to get over to that tree line a hundred yards in the distance

before evening falls,

letting no one see you wend your way,

 

that wonderful, old-fashioned word, wend,

meaning “to proceed, to journey,

to travel from one place to another,”

as from bed to breakfast, breakfast to imbecile work.

 

You have to get over your resentments,

the sun in the morning and the moon at night,

all those shadows of yourself you left behind

on odd little tables.

 

Tote that barge! Lift that bale! You have to

cross that river, jump that hedge, surmount that slogan,

crawl over this ego or that eros,

then hoist yourself up onto that yonder mountain.

 

Another old-fashioned word, yonder, meaning

“that indicated place, somewhere generally seen

or just beyond sight.” If you would recover,

you have to get over the shattered autos in the backwoods lot

 

to that bridge in the darkness

where the sentinels stand

guarding the border with their half-slung rifles,

warned of the likes of you.
 
 

 

 

 Sonnet LX: Like as the Waves Make towards the Pebbled Shore

By William Shakespeare 1564–1616

 

Like as the waves make towards the pebbl'd shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end;

Each changing place with that which goes before,

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Nativity, once in the main of light,

Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,

Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,

And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth

And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,

Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,

And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:

And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,

Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

 

 

When I have Fears That I May Cease to Be

By John Keats 1795–1821 

When I have fears that I may cease to be

   Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,

Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,

   Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;

When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,

   Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

   Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,

   That I shall never look upon thee more,

Never have relish in the faery power

   Of unreflecting love—then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

 

 

 

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