Saturday, May 25, 2013

Poems about Rain: Playlist for May 24, 2013


By Edward Thomas 1878–1917

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain

On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me

Remembering again that I shall die

And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks

For washing me cleaner than I have been

Since I was born into solitude.

Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:

But here I pray that none whom once I loved

Is dying tonight or lying still awake

Solitary, listening to the rain,

Either in pain or thus in sympathy

Helpless among the living and the dead,

Like a cold water among broken reeds,

Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,

Like me who have no love which this wild rain

Has not dissolved except the love of death,

If love it be towards what is perfect and

Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Death and Resurrection by Toru Takemitsu


The Rain

By Robert Creeley 1926–2005   

All night the sound had

come back again,

and again falls

this quiet, persistent rain.


What am I to myself

that must be remembered,

insisted upon

so often? Is it


that never the ease,

even the hardness,

of rain falling

will have for me


something other than this,

something not so insistent—

am I to be locked in this

final uneasiness.


Love, if you love me,

lie next to me.

Be for me, like rain,

the getting out


of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-

lust of intentional indifference.

Be wet

with a decent happiness.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Jardins sous la pluie by Claude Debussy

A Prayer for Rain

By Lisel Mueller b. 1924

Let it come down: these thicknesses of air

have long enough walled love away from love;

stillness has hardened until words despair

of their high leaps and kisses shut themselves

back into wishing. Crippled lovers lie

against a weather which holds out on them,

waiting, awaiting some shrill sign, some cry,

some screaming cat that smells a sacrifice

and spells them thunder. Start the mumbling lips,

syllable by monotonous syllable,

that wash away the sullen griefs of love

and drown out knowledge of an ancient war—

o, ill-willed dark, give with the sound of rain,

let love be brought to ignorance again.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Prelude for String Orchestra by Gerald Finzi


By Kazim Ali b. 1971


With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.

Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain. 

Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.

No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.

The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:

“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”


The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.

The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.


I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.

If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.


I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.

The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Nuages by Django Reinhardt


Rain Song

By Khaled Mattawa b. 1964  

After Al-Sayyah 

             The radio blares “Dialogue of Souls,”

and the woman who hated clouds

                          watches the sky.

             Where is the sea now? she asks.

Where is it from here?

                          What is its name?—

             this rain on a morning ride to school,

winter, my seventh year,

                          my father driving

             through rain, his eyes fixed on a world

of credit and debt. On the

                          radio, devotion to

             the lifter of harm from those who despair,

             knower of secrets with the knowledge of certainty.

Not even the anguish of those

                          years, the heavy

             traffic, cold and wind could have

touched me. I was certain the palm

                          holding me would be

             struck again. Chance allows

for that and for stars to throb

                          in reachable depths.

             Filled with grief bordering happiness,

I didn’t care if I was safe,

                          whether the storm

             was over, only that it came, the slash

of lightning, the groaning sky,

                          and the storms we made,

             how rain stripped everything of urgency,

how to the lifter of harm rise

             those who despair.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Dialogue of Souls by Riyad Sunbati





Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tongue-In-Cheek Poetry: Playlist for May 17, 2013


By George Arnold 1834–1865


A hackneyed burden, to a hackneyed air,—

“I love thee only,—thou art wondrous fair!”

Alas! the poets have worn the theme threadbare! 


Can I not find some words less tame and old,

To paint thy form and face of perfect mould,

Thy dewy lips, thy hair of brown and gold? 

Can I not sing in somewhat fresher strain

The love I lavish and receive again,—

The thrilling joy, so like to thrilling pain? 


Can I not, by some metaphor divine,

Describe the life I quaff like nectared wine

In being thine, and knowing thou art mine?  


Ah, no! this halting verse can naught express;

No English words can half the truth confess,

That have not all been rhymed to weariness! 


So let me cease my scribbling for to-day,

And maiden, turn thy lovely face this way,—

Words will not do, but haply kisses may!
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Ich liebe dich, by Edvard Grieg


AAA Vacation Guide

By Ernest Hilbert b. 1970

“Philadelphia isn’t as bad as Philadelphians say it is.”

—Billboard on Interstate 95 


Paris in the Spring, Autumn in New York,

Singers pair a city with a season

As though it belonged to it all year long.

They should try to put a few more to work:

Trenton in winter needs a good reason;

Scranton in summer seems so very wrong.

How about Cincinnati in the spring?

Autumn in Passaic, or in Oakland?

Some cities just lack glamour and appeal,

And there is no point arguing the thing.

No one reads through stacks of brochures to spend

A honeymoon in Allentown. Let’s get real.

Most places on the map, you must believe,

No one wants to visit, only to leave.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Let us cheer the weary traveler



Love Song

By Dorothy Parker 1893–1967

My own dear love, he is strong and bold

      And he cares not what comes after.

His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,

      And his eyes are lit with laughter.

He is jubilant as a flag unfurled—

      Oh, a girl, she’d not forget him.

My own dear love, he is all my world,—

      And I wish I’d never met him.  


My love, he’s mad, and my love, he’s fleet,

      And a wild young wood-thing bore him!

The ways are fair to his roaming feet,

      And the skies are sunlit for him.

As sharply sweet to my heart he seems

      As the fragrance of acacia.

My own dear love, he is all my dreams,—

      And I wish he were in Asia.  


My love runs by like a day in June,

      And he makes no friends of sorrows.

He’ll tread his galloping rigadoon

      In the pathway of the morrows.

He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start,

      Nor could storm or wind uproot him.

My own dear love, he is all my heart,—

      And I wish somebody’d shoot him.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Suite from "Vertigo" by Bernard Hermann


Ode to the Midwest

By Kevin Young b. 1970 

The country I come from

Is called the Midwest

—Bob Dylan


I want to be doused

in cheese 

& fried. I want

to wander  


the aisles, my heart's

supermarket stocked high  


as cholesterol. I want to die

wearing a sweatsuit—  


I want to live

forever in a Christmas sweater,  


a teddy bear nursing

off the front. I want to write  


a check in the express lane.

I want to scrape  


my driveway clean  


myself, early, before

anyone's awake—  


that'll put em to shame—

I want to see what the sun  


sees before it tells

the snow to go. I want to be  


the only black person I know. 


I want to throw

out my back & not  


complain about it.

I wanta drive  


two blocks. Why walk—



I want love, n stuff—  


I want to cut

my sutures myself.  


I want to jog

down to the river  


& make it my bed—  


I want to walk

its muddy banks  


& make me a withdrawal.  


I tried jumping in,

found it frozen—  


I'll go home, I guess,

to my rooms where the moon  


changes & shines

like television.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Misty, performed by Mantovani




By Edgar Albert Guest 1881–1959

I’ve trod the links with many a man,

    And played him club for club;

’Tis scarce a year since I began

    And I am still a dub.

But this I’ve noticed as we strayed

    Along the bunkered way,

No one with me has ever played

    As he did yesterday.  


It makes no difference what the drive,

    Together as we walk,

Till we up to the ball arrive,

    I get the same old talk:

“To-day there’s something wrong with me,

    Just what I cannot say.

Would you believe I got a three

    For this hole—yesterday?”  


I see them top and slice a shot,

    And fail to follow through,

And with their brassies plough the lot,

    The very way I do.

To six and seven their figures run,

    And then they sadly say:

“I neither dubbed nor foozled one

    When I played—yesterday!”  


I have no yesterdays to count,

    No good work to recall;

Each morning sees hope proudly mount,

    Each evening sees it fall.

And in the locker room at night,

    When men discuss their play,

I hear them and I wish I might

    Have seen them—yesterday.  


Oh, dear old yesterday! What store

    Of joys for men you hold!

I’m sure there is no day that’s more

    Remembered or extolled.

I’m off my task myself a bit,

    My mind has run astray;

I think, perhaps, I should have writ

    These verses—yesterday.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Yesterday, by Lennon/McCartney


Progressive Health

By Carl Dennis b. 1939 

We here at Progressive Health would like to thank you  

For being one of the generous few who've promised  

To bequeath your vital organs to whoever needs them.    


Now we'd like to give you the opportunity  

To step out far in front of the other donors  

By acting a little sooner than you expected,    


Tomorrow, to be precise, the day you're scheduled  

To come in for your yearly physical. Six patients  

Are waiting this very minute in intensive care  


Who will likely die before another liver  

And spleen and pairs of lungs and kidneys  

Match theirs as closely as yours do. Twenty years,    


Maybe more, are left you, granted, but the gain  

Of these patients might total more than a century.  

To you, of course, one year of your life means more    


Than six of theirs, but to no one else,  

No one as concerned with the general welfare  

As you've claimed to be. As for your poems—  


The few you may have it in you to finish—

Even if we don't judge them by those you've written,  

Even if we assume you finally stage a breakthrough,    


It's doubtful they'll raise one Lazarus from a grave  

Metaphoric or literal. But your body is guaranteed  

To work six wonders. As for the gaps you'll leave    


As an aging bachelor in the life of friends,  

They'll close far sooner than the open wounds  

Soon to be left in the hearts of husbands and wives,    


Parents and children, by the death of the six  

Who now are failing. Just imagine how grateful  

They'll all be when they hear of your grand gesture.    

Summer and winter they'll visit your grave, in shifts,  

For as long as they live, and stoop to tend it,  

And leave it adorned with flowers or holly wreaths, 


While your friends, who are just as forgetful  

As you are, just as liable to be distracted,  

Will do no more than a makeshift job of upkeep.    


If the people you'll see tomorrow pacing the halls  

Of our crowded facility don't move you enough,  

They'll make you at least uneasy. No happy future    


Is likely in store for a man like you whose conscience  

Will ask him to certify every hour from now on  

Six times as full as it was before, your work    


Six times as strenuous, your walks in the woods  

Six times as restorative as anyone else's.  

Why be a drudge, staggering to the end of your life    


Under this crushing burden when, with a single word,  

You could be a god, one of the few gods  

Who, when called on, really listens?
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: My Heart Will Go On, by James Horner




Saturday, May 11, 2013

Poems about Gardens: Playlist for May 10, 2013

Talking Back to the Mad World

By Sarah C. Harwell  

I will not tend. Or water,

pull, or yank,

I will not till, uproot,

fill up or spray.

The rain comes.

Or not. Plants: sun-fed,

moon-hopped, dirt-stuck.


Watch as flocks

of wild phlox


appear, disappear. My lazy,

garbagey magic

makes this nothing



I love

the tattered

camisole of

nothing. The world

runs its underbrush

course fed by

the nothing I give it.


Wars are fought.

Blood turns.

Dirt is a wide unruly room.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky (Part 1, Introduction)


A Certain Kind of Eden

By Kay Ryan b. 1945

It seems like you could, but

you can’t go back and pull

the roots and runners and replant.

It’s all too deep for that.

You’ve overprized intention,

have mistaken any bent you’re given

for control. You thought you chose

the bean and chose the soil.

You even thought you abandoned

one or two gardens. But those things

keep growing where we put them—

if we put them at all.

A certain kind of Eden holds us thrall.

Even the one vine that tendrils out alone

in time turns on its own impulse,

twisting back down its upward course

a strong and then a stronger rope,

the greenest saddest strongest

kind of hope.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Garden of Adonis by Alan Hovhaness

The Garden

By Andrew Marvell 1621–1678


How vainly men themselves amaze

To win the palm, the oak, or bays,

And their uncessant labours see

Crown’d from some single herb or tree,

Whose short and narrow verged shade

Does prudently their toils upbraid;

While all flow’rs and all trees do close

To weave the garlands of repose. 


Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,

And Innocence, thy sister dear!

Mistaken long, I sought you then

In busy companies of men;

Your sacred plants, if here below,

Only among the plants will grow.

Society is all but rude,

To this delicious solitude. 


No white nor red was ever seen

So am’rous as this lovely green.

Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,

Cut in these trees their mistress’ name;

Little, alas, they know or heed

How far these beauties hers exceed!

Fair trees! wheres’e’er your barks I wound,

No name shall but your own be found. 


When we have run our passion’s heat,

Love hither makes his best retreat.

The gods, that mortal beauty chase,

Still in a tree did end their race:

Apollo hunted Daphne so,

Only that she might laurel grow;

And Pan did after Syrinx speed,

Not as a nymph, but for a reed. 


What wond’rous life in this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine;

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach;

Stumbling on melons as I pass,

Ensnar’d with flow’rs, I fall on grass. 


Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness;

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find,

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade. 


Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,

Or at some fruit tree’s mossy root,

Casting the body’s vest aside,

My soul into the boughs does glide;

There like a bird it sits and sings,

Then whets, and combs its silver wings;

And, till prepar’d for longer flight,

Waves in its plumes the various light. 


Such was that happy garden-state,

While man there walk’d without a mate;

After a place so pure and sweet,

   What other help could yet be meet!

But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share

To wander solitary there:

Two paradises ’twere in one

To live in paradise alone. 


How well the skillful gard’ner drew

Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,

Where from above the milder sun

Does through a fragrant zodiac run;

And as it works, th’ industrious bee

Computes its time as well as we.

How could such sweet and wholesome hours

Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: A garden so green (Anonymous)


The Farmer

By W.D. Ehrhart b. 1948

Each day I go into the fields

to see what is growing

and what remains to be done.

It is always the same thing: nothing

is growing, everything needs to be done.

Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray

till my bones ache and hands rub

blood-raw with honest labor—

all that grows is the slow

intransigent intensity of need.

I have sown my seed on soil

guaranteed by poverty to fail.

But I don’t complain—except

to passersby who ask me why

I work such barren earth.

They would not understand me

if I stooped to lift a rock

and hold it like a child, or laughed,

or told them it is their poverty

I labor to relieve. For them,

I complain. A farmer of dreams

knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams

knows what it means to be patient.

Each day I go into the fields.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Serenade for Strings in E minor by Edward Elgar




By John Montague b. 1929


We had two gardens.  


A real flower garden

overhanging the road

(our miniature Babylon).

Paths which I helped

to lay with Aunt Winifred,

riprapped with pebbles;

shards of painted delph;

an old potato boiler;

a blackened metal pot,

now bright with petals.  


Hedges of laurel, palm.

A hovering scent of boxwood.

Crouched in the flowering

lilac, I could oversee

the main road, old Lynch

march to the wellspring

with his bucket, whistling,

his carrotty sons herding

in and out their milch cows:

a growing whine of cars.  


Then, the vegetable garden

behind, rows of broad beans

plumping their cushions,

the furled freshness of

tight little lettuce heads,

slim green pea pods above

early flowering potatoes,

gross clumps of carrots,

parsnips, a frailty of parsley,

a cool fragrance of mint.  


Sealed off by sweetpea

clambering up its wired fence,

the tarred goats' shack

which stank in summer,

in its fallow, stone-heaped corner.  


With, on the grassy margin,

a well-wired chicken run,

cheeping balls of fluff

brought one by one into the sun

from their metallic mother

—the oil-fed incubator—

always in danger from

the marauding cat, or

the stealthy, hungry vixen:

I, their small guardian.  


Two gardens, the front

for beauty, the back

for use. Sleepless now,

I wander through both

and it is summer again,

the long summers of youth

as I trace small paths

in a trance of growth:

flowers pluck at my coat

as I bend down to help,

or speak to my aunt,

whose calloused hands

caressing the plants

are tender as a girl's.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Fairy Garden, by Maurice Ravel (from "Mother Goose Suite")