Saturday, March 30, 2013

Poems about Dance: Playlist for March 29, 2013

Song and Dance

By Alan Shapiro b. 1952


Did you ever have a family?   


dining room,

                  bright kitchen,

                                        white steam

from the big pot my mother’s stirring  

reaching in wavy tendrils to her face,  

around her face, all the way around  

to me at the table, then beyond me  

into the darkness where my brother is.



Were you ever a child?

                                             I’m hungry  

but I know we’ll

                         eat soon,     


even the hunger’s sweet.



Did you ever really have a brother?

                                                                  He’s singing  

there in the dark


                                     beside the stereo,

the volume turned down so low  

all we hear is him, his voice, and  

his eyes are closed so that there’s  

nothing around him anywhere

that might reveal he isn’t

who the song insists he is.



And that is?




                                              to whom  

as in imaginary gardens

where “the nectarine and curious

peach into my hands themselves

do reach,” love comes as soon

as called, comes just as dreamed.



Did any of this ever happen?

                                                    The hunger’s


          it’s as if

                           the song weaves

through the fragrance of the braiding  

steam from him to me to her

to me to him because her eyes

are closed now too; her

slippered feet tap, caper

a soft shoe while the ladle

sways in her hand as she stirs.



Were you ever a child?

                                             I know

I’ll eat soon.        

                           Did you ever really have a brother?

You should have      

                            heard him,   

                                              his voice was  

unforgettable, irresistible, his voice

was an imaginary garden woven through with fragrance.  



Did you ever have a family?

                                                   Their eyes are closed.  

That’s how I know     

                              we’re there   

                                                   inside it,  

it’s made of sound and steam

that weaves between dark

dining room, bright kitchen.  

We’re there because I’m hungry,  

and we’ll all be eating soon

together, and the hunger’s sweet.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: "Dolly" Suite for Piano Duet by Gabriel Faure



A Lady Dressed By Youth

By Duchess of Newcastle Margaret Cavendish 1623–1673


Her hair was curls of Pleasure and Delight,

Which on her brow did cast a glistening light.

As lace her bashful eyelids downward hung:

A modest countenance o'er her face was flung:

Blushes, as coral beads, she strung to wear

About her neck, and pendants for each ear:

Her gown was by Proportion cut and made,

With veins embroidered, with complexion laid,

Rich jewels of pure honor she did wear,

By noble actions brightened everywhere:

Thus dressed, to Fame's great court straightways she went,

To dance a brawl with Youth, Love, Mirth, Content
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Broken Consort by Matthew Locke



[Yesterday, the sunshine made the air glow]

By Jimmy Santiago Baca b. 1952

Yesterday, the sunshine made the air glow

pushing me like a sixteen-year-old

to toss my shirt off, and run along the river shore,

splashing in the water, wading out to the reeds,

my heart an ancient Yaki drum

and I believed,

          more than believed,

          the air beneath trees was female blue dancers

          I approached, and there in the dry leaves, in the crisp twigs,

          I turned softly as if dancing with a blue woman made of air,


                   in shrub-weed skirts.

                   I knew the dance that would please the Gods,

                   I knew the dance that would make the river water

                   smile glistening ever silvering,

                   I knew the dance steps that praised my ancestors.



Yeah, I wanted to write you a poem woman

for two days,

and today it was gray and snowy and overcast,

         about how I startled the mallards from their shallow

refuge beneath the Russian olive trees

and how the male purposely

                   came close to me

                   diverting my attention to it

         its female love went the other way

         risking its life,

         that's what I saw,

the male fly before the hunter's rifles, circle in sights of hunters

and take the shots, the roaring rifle blast

                                              after blast

and circle beyond over the fields to meet its female companion.



That's how I miss you, that's how I wanted to write you a poem

since we left

         you one way

         me another way. I was the male

         taking with me the hunters that would harm you

         risking my heart so yours wouldn't be hurt,

         fronting myself as possible prey

         so you could escape,

         that kind of poem

                   I am writing you now.



Circling as hunters aim down on me

while you rise, rise, rise into the blue sky

         and meet me over in the next fields.



         I wanted to write you a poem for two days now

                  to tell you how happy I was,

                  seeing a white crane arc

                           between banks in the irrigation ditch

                           with furious efforts, its big wings flapping

                                       like an awkward nine-year-old kid

                                       much taller than the others his age

                                       with size twelve sneakers

                                       flapping down the basketball court.



But once the white crane

found its balance, its wings their grace, it glided more perfectly

than a ballet dancer's leap across air,

                  all of its feathers ballet dancer's toes,

                  all of its feathers delicate dancers

                  all of its feathers, in motion

                           made me believe in myself,

but more,

                  when it rose, swooped up,

                  the line of ascent up

                  made me think of the curve of your spine,

                  how I traced my finger down your spine

                  when you slept,

your spine

                  is the ascent of the crane

                  toward the sunshine,

and my hands my face my torso and chest and legs and hips

became air, a blue cold artic air

you glided up in your song of winter love.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Slow Dance by Kenji Bunch


78 RPM

By Jeff Daniel Marion


 In the back of the junkhouse

stacked on a cardtable covered

by a ragged bedspread, they rest,

black platters whose music once

crackled, hissed with a static

like shuffling feet, fox trot or two-step,

the slow dance of the needle

riding its merry-go-round,

my mother’s head nestled

on my father’s shoulder as they 

turned, lost in the sway of sounds,

summer nights and faraway

places, the syncopation of time

waltzing them to a world

they never dreamed, dance

of then to the dust of now.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Liebeslied by Fritz Kreisler

The Studio
by Karen Josephson
Tap lessons, toe class, jazz and ballet;
Of all God's creation youare the one
That enrolled for them all at the dawn of the world.
Who can keep up with the tempos you set:
Your syncopated rhythms as you slap the shore,
Your breathtaking leaps from Niagra's rocks,
Your staccato taps on the garden floor,
Your tumbling torrents down mountainside,
Your dazzling springs from Old Faithful's mouth,
Your gentle waltz with sleepy seas.
Your supple, lithe body is easy to teach
A merry polka for percolators
Because it's been trained by the Master of Dance.
The versatility you show is beyond compare;
But when I get to heaven, water, watch out.
I'll dance like you      maybe better.
REFELCTIVE MUSIC: The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Poems about Walking and Running: March 15, 2013


By Thomas Traherne 1637–1674 

To walk abroad is, not with eyes,

But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;

         Else may the silent feet,

                Like logs of wood,

Move up and down, and see no good

         Nor joy nor glory meet. 


Ev’n carts and wheels their place do change,

But cannot see, though very strange

         The glory that is by;

                Dead puppets may

Move in the bright and glorious day,

         Yet not behold the sky. 


And are not men than they more blind,

Who having eyes yet never find

         The bliss in which they move;

                Like statues dead

They up and down are carried

         Yet never see nor love. 


To walk is by a thought to go;

To move in spirit to and fro;

         To mind the good we see;

                To taste the sweet;

Observing all the things we meet

         How choice and rich they be.  


To note the beauty of the day,

And golden fields of corn survey;

         Admire each pretty flow’r

                With its sweet smell;

To praise their Maker, and to tell

         The marks of his great pow’r. 


To fly abroad like active bees,

Among the hedges and the trees,

         To cull the dew that lies

                On ev’ry blade,

From ev’ry blossom; till we lade

         Our minds, as they their thighs. 


Observe those rich and glorious things,

The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,

         The fructifying sun;

                To note from far

The rising of each twinkling star

         For us his race to run. 


A little child these well perceives,

Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,

         May rich as kings be thought,

                But there’s a sight

Which perfect manhood may delight,

         To which we shall be brought. 


While in those pleasant paths we talk,

’Tis that tow’rds which at last we walk;

         For we may by degrees

                Wisely proceed

Pleasures of love and praise to heed,

         From viewing herbs and trees.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Violin Concerto by Felix Mendelssohn (Movement II)


The Dead Man Walking

By Thomas Hardy 1840–1928


They hail me as one living,

      But don't they know

That I have died of late years,

      Untombed although?



I am but a shape that stands here,

      A pulseless mould,

A pale past picture, screening

      Ashes gone cold.  


Not at a minute's warning,

      Not in a loud hour,

For me ceased Time's enchantments

      In hall and bower. 


There was no tragic transit,

      No catch of breath,

When silent seasons inched me

      On to this death ....  


— A Troubadour-youth I rambled

      With Life for lyre,

The beats of being raging

      In me like fire.  


But when I practised eyeing

      The goal of men,

It iced me, and I perished

      A little then.  


When passed my friend, my kinsfolk,

      Through the Last Door,

And left me standing bleakly,

      I died yet more;  


And when my Love's heart kindled

      In hate of me,

Wherefore I knew not, died I

      One more degree.  


And if when I died fully

      I cannot say,

And changed into the corpse-thing

      I am to-day,  


Yet is it that, though whiling

      The time somehow

In walking, talking, smiling,

      I live not now.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Andante funebre by Johan Svendsen


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost 1874–1963 

Whose woods these are I think I know.  

His house is in the village though;  

He will not see me stopping here  

To watch his woods fill up with snow.    


My little horse must think it queer  

To stop without a farmhouse near  

Between the woods and frozen lake  

The darkest evening of the year.    


He gives his harness bells a shake  

To ask if there is some mistake.  

The only other sound’s the sweep  

Of easy wind and downy flake.    


The woods are lovely, dark and deep.  

But I have promises to keep,  

And miles to go before I sleep,  

And miles to go before I sleep.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Gute Nacht by Franz Schubert


Running Away Together

By Maxine W. Kumin b. 1925

It will be an island on strings  

well out to sea and austere  

bobbing as if at anchor

green with enormous fir trees  

formal as telephone poles.


We will arrive there slowly

hand over hand without oars.  

Last out, you will snip the fragile  

umbilicus white as a beansprout  

that sewed us into our diaries.  


We will be two bleached hermits  

at home in our patches and tears.

We will butter the sun with our wisdom.  

Our days will be grapes on a trellis  

perfectly oval and furred.  


At night we will set our poems  

adrift in ginger ale bottles  

each with a clamshell rudder  

each with a piggyback spider  

waving them off by dogstar  


and nothing will come from the mainland  

to tell us who cares, who cares

and nothing will come of our lovelock  

except as our two hearts go soft

and black as avocado pears.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Cinema Paradiso by Ennio Moriconne
A Farewell to Legs by Scott Fivelson
For audiobook, please visit
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sergei Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1 (Scherzo)