Saturday, May 30, 2015

Poetry about Growing Old: Playlist for May 29, 2015

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM



 

Sonnet  60: Like as the waves make towards the pebbl'd shore

 

By  William Shakespeare  

 

 

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.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Lachmirae by John Dowland
 
 

 

 

Of the Last Verses in the Book 

By  Edmund Waller  

 

 

When we for age could neither read nor write,

 

The subject made us able to indite.

 

The soul, with nobler resolutions deckt,

 

The body stooping, does herself erect:

 

No mortal parts are requisite to raise

 

Her, that unbodied can her Maker praise.

 

 

The seas are quiet, when the winds give o’er,

 

So calm are we, when passions are no more:

 

For then we know how vain it was to boast

 

Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost.

 

Clouds of affection from our younger eyes

 

Conceal that emptiness, which age descries.

 

 

The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d,

 

Lets in new light through chinks that time has made;

 

Stronger by weakness, wiser men become

 

As they draw near to their eternal home:

 

Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view,

 

That stand upon the threshold of the new.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Piano Sonata No. 32 (2md movement) by L. van Beethoven
 
 

 
 

Women Who Love Angels 

By  Judith Ortiz Cofer 

 

 

They are thin

 

and rarely marry, living out

 

their long lives

 

in spacious rooms, French doors

 

giving view to formal gardens

 

where aromatic flowers

 

grow in profusion.

 

They play their pianos

 

in the late afternoon

 

tilting their heads

 

at a gracious angle

 

as if listening

 

to notes pitched above

 

the human range.

 

Age makes them translucent;

 

each palpitation of their hearts

 

visible at temple or neck.

 

When they die, it’s in their sleep,

 

their spirits shaking gently loose

 

from a hostess too well bred

 

to protest.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Song of The Angel by John Taverner
 
 

 

 

Lord Is Not a Word 

By  Christian Wiman  

 

 

Lord is not a word.

 

Song is not a salve.

 

Suffer the child, who lived

 

on sunlight and solitude.

 

Savor the man, craving

 

earth like an aftertaste.

 

To discover in one's hand

 

two local stones the size

 

of a dead man's eyes

 

saves no one, but to fling them

 

with a grace you did not know

 

you knew, to bring them

 

skimming homing

 

over blue, is to discover

 

the river from which they came.

 

Mild merciful amnesia

 

through which I've moved

 

as through a blue atmosphere

 

of almost and was,

 

how is it now,

 

like ruins unearthed by ruin,

 

my childhood should rise?

 

Lord, suffer me to sing

 

these wounds by which I am made

 

and marred, savor this creature

 

whose aloneness you ease and are.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Alto Rhapsody, by Johannes Brahms
 
 

 

  

Sonnet 

By  Alice Notley  

 

 

The late Gracie Allen was a very lucid comedienne,

 

Especially in the way that lucid means shining and bright.

 

What her husband George Burns called her illogical logic

 

Made a halo around our syntax and ourselves as we laughed.

 

 

George Burns most often was her artful inconspicuous straight man.

 

He could move people about stage, construct skits and scenes, write

 

And gather jokes. They were married as long as ordinary magic

 

Would allow, thirty-eight years, until Gracie Allen's death.

 

 

In her fifties Gracie Allen developed a heart condition.

 

She would call George Burns when her heart felt funny and fluttered

 

He'd give her a pill and they'd hold each other till the palpitation

 

Stopped—just a few minutes, many times and pills. As magic fills

 

Then fulfilled must leave a space, one day Gracie Allen's

 

               heart fluttered

 

And hurt and stopped. George Burns said unbelievingly to the doctor,

 

               "But I still have some of the pills."
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: She's Funny That Way, sung by Gene Austin
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Poetry about Nostalgia: Playlist for May 22, 2015

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM         

      

 

 

Nostalgia 

By  Billy Collins   

 

 

 

Remember the 1340s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.

 

You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,

 

and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,

 

the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.

 

Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,

 

and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”

 

Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.

 

 

Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet

 

marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags

 

of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.

 

Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle

 

while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.

 

We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.

 

These days language seems transparent, a badly broken code.

 

 

The 1790s will never come again. Childhood was big.

 

People would take walks to the very tops of hills

 

and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.

 

Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.

 

We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.

 

It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.

 

 

I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.

 

Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.

 

And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,

 

time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,

 

or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me

 

recapture the serenity of last month when we picked

 

berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.

 

 

Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.

 

I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees

 

and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light

 

flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse

 

and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.

 

 

As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,

 

letting my memory rush over them like water

 

rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.

 

I was even thinking a little about the future, that place

 

where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
 


a dance whose name we can only guess.
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sentimental Journey
 
 
 

 

 

 


Beginning With an Acute Stab of Nostalgia, It Gets Worse and Worse

 

By  Arthur Vogelsang  

 

 

I called Hart on my longer distance line

 

And in case you didn’t know he is in heavine.

 

Hart, I implored, I searched your book

 

(Yes, you have a Collected) and could fine

 

Nothing about the 36 cast iron bridges in

 

Central Park, why didn’t you write about one

 

At least. He said he wrote about the narrow Bow Bridge

 

For peds built in 1878 which is sad and fine

 

And always photographed through branches in the foregrine

 

Which was sufficiently sad to make him weep all the tine

 

He was trying to write the poem so he threw it away.

 

He tried again and he uncontrollably wept agine.

 

Did you try a third tine,

 

I asked. No, he said, and here’s why:

 

Life is uncontrollably sad all the time

 

Unless we divert ourselves with art objects,

 

Sex, or tequila or beer, and if we tell the truth

 

About this, for instance when we feel it

 

While looking at a photograph of the cast ine

 

Bow Bridge or see in life not photos but the real bridge at a short destine

 

Away with the actual park and branches around us,

 

We feel like killing ourselves to stop the pain

 

Or as you, Arthur, call it, the pine,

 

So I didn’t try a third time

 

To write the poem. Get off this line,

 

He said. Wait! Don’t hang up, he said, I take it back, stay on the phine!

 

 

Well, I considered calling on my second longer distance line

 

Kenneth who in heavine has changed his name to Kenneth Kine

 

And Barbara who I did call on my second longer distance line

 

With Hart on hold and affirmed her name change to Barbara Gine

 

But I didn’t ask those younger two about uncontrollable totally dominant sadness

 

Or whether they had discarded their own poems about the 36 cast ine

 

Bridges for people to walk on in Central Park

 

Because they were weeping on the paper and pine

 

Ing for Hart’s Big Deep Salty Lake to ease the pine.

 

I didn’t call Frank because I never knew hine I mean him.

 

I figured the next step was mine.

 

So if you can believe it I hung up on Hart Crine.
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Central Park West by John Coltrane
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Nostalgia (The Lake at Night)

 

 

By  Lloyd Schwartz  

 

 

 

The black water.

 

 

 

 

Lights dotting the entire perimeter.

 

 

 

Their shaky reflections.

 

 

 

 

The dark tree line.

 

 

 

 

The plap-plapping of water around the pier.

 

 

 

 

Creaking boats.

 

 

 

 

The creaking pier.

 

 

 

 

Voices in conversation, in discussion—two men, adults—serious inflections

 

 

(the words themselves just out of reach).

 

 

 

 

A rusty screen-door spring, then the door swinging shut.

 

 

 

 

Footsteps on a porch, the scrape of a wooden chair.

 

 

 

 

Footsteps shuffling through sand, animated youthful voices (how many?)— distinct, disappearing.

 

 

 

 

A sudden guffaw; some giggles; a woman’s—no, a young girl’s—sarcastic reply; someone’s assertion; a high-pitched male cackle.

 

 

 

 

Somewhere else a child laughing.

 

 

 

 

Bug-zappers.

 

 

 

 

Tires whirring along a pavement... not stopping ... receding.

 

 

 

 

Shadows from passing headlights.

 

 

 

 

A cat’s eyes caught in a headlight.

 

 

 

 

No moon.

 

 

 

 

Connect-the-dot constellations filling the black sky—the ladle of the Big Dipper not quite directly overhead.

 

 

 

 

The radio tower across the lake, signaling.

 

 

 

 

Muffled quacking near the shore; a frog belching; crickets, cicadas, katydids, etc.—their relentless sexual messages.

 

 

 

 

A sudden gust of wind.

 

 

 

 

Branches brushing against each other—pine, beech.

 

 

 

 

A fiberglass hull tapping against the dock.

 

 

 

 

A sudden chill.

 

 

 

 

The smell of smoke, woodstove fires.

 

 

 

 

A light going out.

 

 

 

 

A dog barking; then more barking from another part of the lake.

 

 

 

 

A burst of quiet laughter.

 

 

 

 

Someone in the distance calling someone too loud.

 

 

 

 

Steps on a creaking porch.

 

 

 

 

A screen-door spring, the door banging shut.

 

 

 

 

Another light going out (you must have just undressed for bed).

 

 

 

 

My bare feet on the splintery pier turning away from the water.
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Mist Over the Lake by Jan Freidlin
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Better Days

 

By  A. F. Moritz 

 

 

Never anymore in a wash of sweetness and awe  

 

does the summer when I was seventeen come back  

 

to mind against my will, like a bird crossing  

 

 

my vision. Summer of moist nights full of girls  

 

and boys ripened, holy drunkenness and violation  

 

of the comic boundaries, defiances that never  

 

 

failed or brought disaster. Days on the backs  

 

and in the breath of horses, between rivers  

 

and pools that reflected the cicadas' whine,  

 

 

enervation and strength creeping in smooth waves  

 

over muscular water. All those things accepted,  

 

once, with unnoticing hunger, as an infant  

 

 

accepts the nipple, never come back to mind  

 

against the will. What comes unsummoned now,  

 

blotting out every other thought and image,  

 

 

is a part of the past not so deep or far away:  

 

the time of poverty, of struggle to find means  

 

not hateful—the muddy seedtime of early manhood.  

 

 

What returns are those moments in the diner  

 

night after night with each night's one cup of coffee,  

 

watching an old man, who always at the same hour  

 

 

came in and smiled, ordered his tea and opened  

 

his drawing pad. What did he fill it with?  

 

And where's he gone? Those days, that studious worker,  

 

 

hand moving and eyes eager in the sour light,  

 

that artist always in the same worn-out suit,  

 

are my nostalgia now. That old man comes back,  

 

 

the friend I saw each day and never spoke to,  

 

because I hoped soon to disappear from there,  

 

as I have disappeared, into the heaven of better days.
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Reflections on Air by Augusta Gross
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

The Garden Buddha

 

By  Peter Pereira  

 

 

Gift of a friend, the stone Buddha sits zazen,  

 

prayer beads clutched in his chubby fingers.  

 

Through snow, icy rain, the riot of spring flowers,  

 

he gazes forward to the city in the distance—always  

 

 

the same bountiful smile upon his portly face.  

 

Why don’t I share his one-minded happiness?  

 

The pear blossom, the crimson-petaled magnolia,  

 

filling me instead with a mixture of nostalgia  

 

 

and yearning.  He’s laughing at me, isn’t he?  

 

The seasons wheeling despite my photographs  

 

and notes, my desire to make them pause.  

 

Is that the lesson?  That stasis, this holding on,  

 

 

is not life?  Now I’m smiling, too—the late cherry,  

 

its soft pink blossoms already beginning to scatter;  

 

the trillium, its three-petaled white flowers  

 

exquisitely tinged with purple as they fall.  
 
 
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sonata for Flute & Harp (movement 2) by Jean-Michel Damase