Saturday, October 14, 2017

October (October 13, 2017)

Early October Snow
BY Robert Haight

It will not stay. 
But this morning we wake to pale muslin 
stretched across the grass. 
The pumpkins, still in the fields, are planets 
shrouded by clouds. 
The Weber wears a dunce cap 
and sits in the corner by the garage 
where asters wrap scarves 
around their necks to warm their blooms. 
The leaves, still soldered to their branches 
by a frozen drop of dew, splash 
apple and pear paint along the roadsides. 
It seems we have glanced out a window 
into the near future, mid-December, say, 
the black and white photo of winter 
carefully laid over the present autumn, 
like a morning we pause at the mirror 
inspecting the single strand of hair 
that overnight has turned to snow.

A Letter in October 
By Ted Kooser

Dawn comes later and later now,  
and I, who only a month ago 
could sit with coffee every morning  
watching the light walk down the hill  
to the edge of the pond and place  
a doe there, shyly drinking, 

then see the light step out upon  
the water, sowing reflections  
to either side—a garden 
of trees that grew as if by magic— 
now see no more than my face,  
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd, 

startled by time. While I slept,  
night in its thick winter jacket  
bridled the doe with a twist 
of wet leaves and led her away, 
then brought its black horse with harness  
that creaked like a cricket, and turned 

the water garden under. I woke,  
and at the waiting window found  
the curtains open to my open face;  
beyond me, darkness. And I, 
who only wished to keep looking out,  
must now keep looking in. 

By Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Bach and the Sentry
By Ivor Gurney

Watching the dark my spirit rose in flood
   On that most dearest Prelude of my delight.
The low-lying mist lifted its hood,
   The October stars showed nobly in clear night.

When I return, and to real music-making,
   And play that Prelude, how will it happen then?
Shall I feel as I felt, a sentry hardly waking,
   With a dull sense of No Man's Land again?

By Diane Gilliam Fisher

Let it finally be Friday, let me drive
downtown before five, park in the one
space left open in front and feed the meter
the exact change it needs. Let me go into the office,
sit and nod, unfold my check on the table
and sign. Let the line not be dotted, let it
be solid. Let it be my name.
Let it be final.

Let me pull into the driveway while
it is still light. It’s well past five and well
into October and they are just about
to change the time. Saturday night
on the local news they’ll remind
us all to Fall Back, but I make it in
under the wire. There is still light.
There is still time.

I am up the back porch steps, under
the awning, my hand on the back door lock
the realtor left on. Let me remember rightly
the numbers he gave me. Let this not be the dream
of the high school locker with the Master Lock
whose combination you forgot or fumbled, turning
too fast, going too far, everything you’d locked up
irretrievable, lost.
Let the lock fall open, let me leave it
on the steps for the realtor to pick up.
Let him pull up the flimsy stakes
of the sign in the yard that says I can be bought,
let him drive away. Let no Master
enter through my door.

Let the house be a disaster, I don’t care.
Let the smoke-framed blanks where another
woman’s pictures marked the wall be the story
of how my edges caught fire and the ash at last
let me see where I stood. Let the cracked
kitchen floor make a map to teach me
where not to step, how not to fall through
and break my very own back.
Let the broken window be a way out,
the broken door a way in. Let me go
to the hardware store and buy the tools
to take the chain off the bedroom door,
let me paint the bathroom pink without asking,
walk naked and unafraid through all my rooms.

Let me pick up a broom and sweep
nothing under the rug. Let me sweep it all
into the light. Let me do it. Let there be time.
Let there be light.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Fantasies (podcast, September 15, 2017)

Fantasies (September 15, 2017)


Make and be eaten, the poet says,
Lie in the arms of nightlong fire,
To celebrate the waking, wake.
Burn in the daylong light; and praise
Even the mother unappeased,
Even the fathers of desire.

Blind go the days, but joy will see 
Agreements of music; they will wind 
The shaking of your dance; no more 
Will the ambiguous arm-waves spell 
Confusion of the blessing given. 

Only and finally declare 
Among the purest shapes of grace 
The waking of the face of fire, 
The body of waking and the skill 
To make your body such a shape 
That all the eyes of hope shall stare. 

That all the cries of fear shall know, 
Staring in their bird-pierced song; 
Lines of such penetration make 
That shall bind our loves at last. 
Then from the mountains of the lost, 
All the fantasies shall wake, 
Strong and real and speaking turn 
Wherever flickers your unreal. 

And my strong ghosts shall fade and pass 
My love start fiery as grass 
Wherever burn my fantasies, 
Wherever burn my fantasies.

My Voice

To cure myself of wanting Cuban songs,
I wrote a Cuban song about the need
For people to suppress their fantasies,
Especially unhealthy ones. The song
Began by making reference to the sea,
Because the sea is like a need so great
And deep it never can be swallowed. Then
The song explores some common myths
About the Cuban people and their folklore:
The story of a little Carib boy
Mistakenly abandoned to the sea;
The legend of a bird who wanted song
So desperately he gave up flight; a queen
Whose strength was greater than a rival king’s.
The song goes on about morality,
And then there is a line about the sea,
How deep it is, how many creatures need
Its nourishment, how beautiful it is
To need. The song is ending now, because
I cannot bear to hear it any longer.
I call this song of needful love my voice.

In That Other Fantasy Where We Live Forever

Wanda Coleman, 1946 - 2013

we were never caught
we partied the southwest, smoked it from L.A. to El Dorado 
worked odd jobs between delusions of escape
drunk on the admonitions of parents, parsons & professors 
driving faster than the road or law allowed. 
our high-pitched laughter was young, heartless & disrespected 
authority. we could be heard for miles in the night
the Grand Canyon of a new manhood. 
womanhood discovered
like the first sighting of Mount Wilson
we rebelled against the southwestern wind 
we got so naturally ripped, we sprouted wings, 
crashed parties on the moon, and howled at the earth 
we lived off love. It was all we had to eat
when you split you took all the wisdom
and left me the worry


Patricia Spears Jones

The man with the black feather tattoo pares this space

Between fantasy and the memory of a man’s carved

Torso, designed for stroking and celebration.
Today the sun’s brightness is like that lover’s kiss,

Wonderful in the present and greater in memory.

A memory that brings me back to that black feather’s

Flutter. Stars dazzle in some other part of this world

Where the sun has set and the moon illuminates
Swans diving into voluminous waters.

The Secret of Light

James Wright, 1927 - 1980

I am sitting contented and alone in a little park near the Palazzo Scaligere in Verona, glimpsing the mists of early autumn as they shift and fade among the pines and city battlements on the hills above the river Adige.
The river has recovered from this morning’s rainfall. It is now restoring to its shapely body its own secret light, a color of faintly cloudy green and pearl.
Directly in front of my bench, perhaps thirty yards away from me, there is a startling woman. Her hair is black as the inmost secret of light in a perfectly cut diamond, a perilous black, a secret light that must have been studied for many years before the anxious and disciplined craftsman could achieve the necessary balance between courage and skill to stroke the strange stone and take the one chance he would ever have to bring that secret to light.
While I was trying to compose the preceding sentence, the woman rose from her park bench and walked away. I am afraid her secret might never come to light in my lifetime. But my lifetime is not the only one. I will never see her again. I hope she brings some other man’s secret face to light, as somebody brought mine. I am startled to discover that I am not afraid. I am free to give a blessing out of my silence into that woman’s black hair. I trust her to go on living. I believe in her black hair, her diamond that is still asleep. I would close my eyes to daydream about her. But those silent companions who watch over me from the insides of my eyelids are too brilliant for me to meet face to face.
The very emptiness of the park bench in front of mine is what makes me happy. Somewhere else in Verona at just this moment, a woman is sitting or walking or standing still upright. Surely two careful and accurate hands, total strangers to me, measure the invisible idea of the secret vein in her hair. They are waiting patiently until they know what they alone can ever know: that time when her life will pause in mid-flight for a split second. The hands will touch her black hair very gently. A wind off the river Adige will flutter past her. She will turn around, smile a welcome, and place a flawless and fully formed Italian daybreak into the hands.
I don’t have any idea what his face will look like. The light still hidden inside his body is no business of mine. I am happy enough to sit in this park alone now. I turn my own face toward the river Adige. A little wind flutters off the water and brushes past me and returns.
It is all right with me to know that my life is only one life. I feel like the light of the river Adige.
By this time, we are both an open secret.