Saturday, October 11, 2014

Poetry about Movement: Playlist for October 10, 2014



The Messenger


By  Eleanor Wilner  



The messenger runs, not carrying the news


of victory, or defeat; the messenger, unresting,


   has always been running, the wind before and behind him,


    across the turning back of earth, leaving


      his tracks across the plains, his ropes


       hanging from the ledges of mountains;


         for centuries, millennia, he has been running


       carrying whatever it is that cannot be


      put down: it is rolled in a tube


    made of hide, carefully, to keep it dry


   as he runs, through storms and monsoons,


sometimes on foot, sometimes poling a boat  


through a flooded mangrove swamp, or  


   setting stiff sails to cross from island to island


    running before the wind. In some ages, peasants


      have helped him—bringing him small cakes


       of rice wrapped in the weeds of the sea and


         new sandals woven of hemp for his torn


       bleeding feet; sometimes in the heat of noon


      they would offer a drink of rosewater, sometimes


   a coat of fur against the winter snows;  


and sometimes at night, he would rest


by a fire where voices wove with the music


   of gut-strings, or with mountain pipes whose


    sound was like wind through the bones


      of creation—and he would be cheered


       by the company of others, the firelit glow


         of their faces like a bright raft afloat in the dark;


       at times, rumors spread of his death, scholars


      analyzed his obsession, dated his bones, his prayer bundle;


   but at dawn, he always arose, in the mists,


in the blur of so many mornings, so many shoes


worn into scraps and discarded, so many  


   the cities that burned as he passed


    them, so many the skulls abandoned


      by armies, so many whose blood


       stained the threads of their prayer rugs,  


         so many, so many, so many—


      oh,


    and that green, sunlit hill that kept


   rising from the dark waters of flood, outlined bright  


against the sky, the odds, the evidence—


and he, the messenger,


running through history, carries this small tube,


   its durable hide—carries it, not like  


    a torch, no, nothing so blazing;


      not like the brass lamp that summons


       a genie, no magic wishes;


      not like the candles that hope sets aflame


    and a breath can extinguish ...



no.


He carried it like


   what has no likeness,


    what is curled up inside and


      he swore he could feel it, though


       perhaps he had dreamed it, still


         at times, stopping under some tree


       or other, when the night was warm,


      so close the stars seemed to breathe in  


   the branches, he would lie quiet,  


then it would seem


that whatever it was in there


would pulse softly with light, a code  


   only the heart could break


    (but of course he couldn’t say


      for he was only the messenger)—


    and at sunrise, wearily, he would rise  


      to his feet and trudge on, sometimes  


       running, sometimes stumbling,


         carrying whatever it was that could not


          be put down, would not be cast aside—


         and besides, he would chide himself,  


       weren’t they all as tired as he,


      and hadn’t they helped him, time


    and again, on his way?

 REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Passacaglia in G Minor by G.F. Handel










Walking, Blues

By  Jane Mead   




Rain so dark I


can’t get through—


train going by



in a hurry. The voice


said walk or die, I


walked,—the train



and the voice all


blurry. I walked with


my bones and my heart



of chalk, not even


a splintered notion:


days of thought, nights



of worry,—lonesome


train in a hurry.


REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Walking Blues, performed by Robert Johnson








Ice

By  Gail Mazur  



In the warming house, children lace their skates,  


bending, choked, over their thick jackets.



A Franklin stove keeps the place so cozy


it’s hard to imagine why anyone would leave,



clumping across the frozen beach to the river.  


December’s always the same at Ware’s Cove,



the first sheer ice, black, then white


and deep until the city sends trucks of men



with wooden barriers to put up the boys’  


hockey rink. An hour of skating after school,



of trying wobbly figure-8’s, an hour


of distances moved backwards without falling,



then—twilight, the warming house steamy  


with girls pulling on boots, their chafed legs



aching. Outside, the hockey players keep  


playing, slamming the round black puck



until it’s dark, until supper. At night,


a shy girl comes to the cove with her father.



Although there isn’t music, they glide


arm in arm onto the blurred surface together,



braced like dancers. She thinks she’ll never


be so happy, for who else will find her graceful,



find her perfect, skate with her


in circles outside the emptied rink forever?


REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Suite # 4 for Two Pianos by Anton Arensky

 





A Girl on the Swing

By  Chungmi Kim  



She sees the mountain


upside down.



With her long hair


sweeping the fallen leaves


she swings


like a pendulum.



From the lagoon at sunset


a hundred sparrows fly away.



Wishing them back


she whistles softly.


And downward


she falls into the sky.


REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Swing (from "Jeux d'Enfants") by George Bizet







Swimming Lesson

By Alice Wagner


The summer has passed quickly.

Now seasons blur, mixing their heat and cold.

The view out my window is vague.

Through the fog I try to find meaning. 

Determined, the Hudson flows, its path veiled but constant,

Expanding into the Sound, rivers to seas, seas to other seas,

While the past looks over my shoulder.


I close my eyes, riding the currents, and extend beyond time and reason,

breathing in the absent breeze that kissed my face with salt and memory.

And once again I feel the waves beat and roll,

pulling and lulling my breath to submit to their measure.

And over the water, dark patches swirl and drop as each wave races to the shore,

breaking, foaming, and fading into the sand, willing  their stories to be told by other waves. 


Seeing you merge with the water, I lose time with every step.

My steps quick and tender, to escape the sand’s burning heat.

Off balance, my feet sink in deeper with each attempt.

Rough stones and sharp shells, a Maginot line to test my faith. 

Advancing in increments, a slow descent , and the sting and heat are soon forgotten,

against the cold of the water that quickly pulls me under.


I cannot see the bottom.

Playful and elusive, seaweed teases and taunts my legs and toes.

I am afraid to touch below unable to determine what awaits me there.

Truth is redefined , as each wave crashes and turns me,

while the undertow challenges where latitude and longitude meet.


I look for you in the distance,

counting each dip and wave as you move farther away,

your movement strong, flexing, arching,

confidently, skimming doubt and dodging currents,

slicing through the calm, the waters part.

How did you get so far?  I calculate,

watching, while the sun dances on the waves, blurring  possibility.


Sudden and cold, the  water reminds me of its depth and infinity.

Splashing and sinking, I cannot catch my breath.

I tread  water and  lose focus, as the currents erase time and reason.

The waves carry me, forcing me to let go… I float.

I stretch out for miles with no end.

Bays to seas, seas to other seas, expanding,

While the past anchors me, the future calls me forward.


The swimmers called in for the last time,

Their bodies, short, long, and round, emerge reluctantly from the water, wet and slick,

huddling under towels, attempting to capture the last warmth of the sun. 

Where heads bobbed in the water like notes in a piano book,

buoys now sway and rock , the tides slowing time and measure,

and rings of brine circle and cling to them, forming even smaller universes.


The shore, once dotted with umbrellas, like the pattern on a skirt I wore,

now gray and scarred with  patterns of play and remnants left for stray gulls.

In the distance, boats skim the water’s surface, the waves tapping their sides, rhythmically,

transposing the mindless talk of day into the sweeter talk of twilight.



As the last rays of sun pierce the horizon, I strain to see you retreat from the waves, a reluctant alien to land.

I quicken my step to meet your stride, my feet still tender, where the sand burned,

sharply grinding into toes and soles, unaccustomed to the elements.

Gently, I reclaim my balance on the weathered and splintered boardwalk.

Careful but sure, your hand, smooth and dry, slides into mine as if carved to fit,

Tiny grains of sand, chafing where our fingers entwine,

reminding us of existence, matter, and the places where we do not meet.


REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nocturne (from "Napoli") by Francis Poulenc




 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Poetry about Planets and Space: Playlist for October 3, 2014

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM



“Roll on, sad world! not Mercury or Mars”


By  Frederick Goddard Tuckerman 


from Sonnets, Second Series




                      XVII


Roll on, sad world! not Mercury or Mars




Could swifter speed, or slower, round the sun,




Than in this year of variance thou hast done




For me. Yet pain, fear, heart-break, woes, and wars




Have natural limit; from his dread eclipse




The swift sun hastens, and the night debars




The day, but to bring in the day more bright;




The flowers renew their odorous fellowships;




The moon runs round and round; the slow earth dips,




True to her poise, and lifts; the planet-stars




Roll and return from circle to ellipse;




The day is dull and soft, the eave-trough drips;




And yet I know the splendor of the light




Will break anon: look! where the gray is white!








Seeing the Eclipse in Maine 


By  Robert Bly  






It started about noon.  On top of Mount Batte,  




We were all exclaiming.  Someone had a cardboard  




And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun  




Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.  






It was hard to believe.  The high school teacher  




We’d met called it a pinhole camera,  




People in the Renaissance loved to do that.  




And when the moon had passed partly through  






We saw on a rock underneath a fir tree,  




Dozens of crescents—made the same way—  




Thousands!  Even our straw hats produced  




A few as we moved them over the bare granite.  






We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine  




Told a joke.  Suns were everywhere—at our feet.










Gravity 


By  John Frederick Nims 






Mildest of all the powers of earth: no lightnings




For her—maniacal in the clouds. No need for




Signs with their skull and crossbones, chain-link gates:




Danger! Keep Out! High Gravity! she’s friendlier.




Won’t nurse—unlike the magnetic powers—repugnance;




Would reconcile, draw close: her passion’s love.






No terrors lurking in her depths, like those




Bound in that buzzing strongbox of the atom,




Terrors that, lossened, turn the hills vesuvian,




Trace in cremation where the cities were.






No, she’s our quiet mother, sensible.




But therefore down-to-earth, not suffering




Fools who play fast and loose among the mountains,




Who fly in her face, or, drunken, clown on cornices.






She taught our ways of walking. Her affection




Adjusted the morning grass, the sands of summer




Until our soles fit snug in each, walk easy.




Holding her hand, we’re safe. Should that hand fail,




The atmosphere we breathe would turn hysterical,




Hiss with tornadoes, spinning us from earth




Into the cold unbreathable desolations.






Yet there—in fields of space—is where she shines,




Ring-mistress of the circus of the stars,




Their prancing carousels, their ferris wheels




Lit brilliant in celebration. Thanks to her




All’s gala in the galaxy.






                                   Down here she




Walks us just right, not like the jokey moon




Burlesquing our human stride to kangaroo hops;




Not like vast planets, whose unbearable mass




Would crush us in a bear hug to their surface




And into the surface, flattened. No: deals fairly.




Makes happy each with each: the willow bend




Just so, the acrobat land true, the keystone




Nestle in place for bridge and for cathedral.




Let us pick up—or mostly—what we need:




Rake, bucket, stone to build with, logs for warmth,




The fallen fruit, the fallen child . . . ourselves.






Instructs us too in honesty: our jointed




Limbs move awry and crisscross, gawky, thwart;




She’s all directness and makes that a grace,




All downright passion for the core of things,




For rectitude, the very ground of being:




Those eyes are leveled where the heart is set.






See, on the tennis court this August day:




How, beyond human error, she’s the one




Whose will the bright balls cherish and obey




—As if in love. She’s tireless in her courtesies




To even the klutz (knees, elbows all a-tangle),




Allowing his poky serve Euclidean whimsies,




The looniest lob its joy: serene parabolas.














Man in Space


By  Billy Collins  






All you have to do is listen to the way a man




sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people




and notice how intent he is on making his point




even though her lower lip is beginning to quiver,






and you will know why the women in science




fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own




are not pictured making a salad or reading a magazine




when the men from earth arrive in their rocket,






why they are always standing in a semicircle




with their arms folded, their bare legs set apart,




their breasts protected by hard metal disks.







From Space 


By  Katharine Coles  






You are smaller than I remember




And so is the house, set downhill




Afloat in a sea of scrub oak. From up here




It’s an ordinary box with gravel






Spread over its lid, weighting it, but




Inside it’s full of shadows and sky.




Clouds pull themselves over dry




Grass, which, if  I’m not mistaken, will erupt






Any minute in flame. Only




A spark, a sunbeam focused. From up




Here, enjoying the view, I can finally




Take you in. Will you wave back? I keep






Slingshotting around. There’s gravity




For you, but all I ever wanted was to fly










Despina, Moon of Neptune


By Christine Klocek-Lim






She said she’d rather sing alone


than perform for some random guy,


but then Voyager 2 flew by,


eyes trained on her curved form


like a desperate man (the kind


whose lady walked away forever).


He just didn’t know when to look aside. 


She said she tried to hide, quiet her light


against her father’s blue sky, but the lens


found her four times. She gave up


silence for fame, gave up space


and time, until the sun finally fell


down across the steely horizon.


Her father Neptune didn’t seem to care


and that was what hurt her most.


The galaxy beyond everything she knew


was so much less infinite than she’d hoped.


The camera took what he wanted


and left. Despina endured the scrutiny


of a thousand careless eyes—




In the end, she would only wear white,


the color of purity, and not even the dark


could get her to sing anymore.