Thursday, September 5, 2013

Poems about Summer Scenes: Playlist for September 6, 2013

Over Ohio

By Michael Blumenthal 

You can say what you want about the evils of technology

and the mimicry of birds: I love it. I love the sheer,

unexpurgated hubris of it, I love the beaten egg whites

of clouds hovering beneath me, this ephemeral Hamlet

of believing in man’s grandeur. You can have all that

talk about the holiness of nature and the second Babylon.

You can stay shocked about the future all you want,

reminisce about the beauties of midwifery. I’ll take this

anyday, this sweet imitation of Mars and Jupiter, this

sitting still at 600 mph like a jet-age fetus. I want to

go on looking at the moon for the rest of my life and seeing

footsteps. I want to keep flying, even for short distances,

like here between Columbus and Toledo on Air Wisconsin:

an Andean condor sailing over Ohio, above the factories,

above the dust and the highways and the miserable tires.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Baba Yaga by Anatol Liadov


On the Road, between Toledo & Cincinnati, Late June

Somewhere dead center in the day's drive
through this relentlessly flat state, the sky
darkens and fills up deepend blue,
and the word 'rain' comes to your lips
twenty seconds before the first waterballoon
droplets hit; and before you can think
or turn and say 'storm' here it comes
spilling out of its box like a load of grain.
The woman in the passenger seat
of a raggedly elegant convertible, top down,
laughs merrily, purse held over her head.
Motorcycles cluster under the awnings
of bridges, five, six, a whole family of Harleys:
Middle Americans for a brief spell
hobos, gathering around the fire
of manageable happenstance. We'll all
make it through. No twister coming to life
out of the yellowing swirl. No pile-up crash
in our cards. The rain subsiding, wipers
knocked back to intermittent, you drive on
through the burgeoning heat: crows
congregating in the backyards of trees,
fireworks stockpiling in the beds of pickups,
young girls towed behind speedboats
in inner tubes, shouting to each other
as they pass over the rotting corpse
of a deer that, a year-rounder told,
finally fell after a long winter
through the melting ice and settled
uneasily on the lake bottom.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Ragtime Dances by Charles Ives

Driving at Night

Up north, the dashboard lights of the family car
gleam in memory, the radio
plays to itself as I drive
my father plied the highways
while my mother talked, she tried to hide
that low lilt, that Finnish brogue,
in the back seat, my sisters and I
our eyes always tied to the Big Dipper
I watch it still
on summer evenings, as the fireflies stream
above the ditches and moths smack
into the windshield and the wildlife's
red eyes bore out from the dark forests
we flew by, then scattered like the last bit of star
light years before.
It's like a different country, the past
we made wishes on unnamed falling stars
that I've forgotten, that maybe were granted
because I wished for love.

"Driving at Night" by Sheila Packa, from The Mother Tongue. Calyx Press Duluth, 2007. Reprinted with permission.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Excursions by Samuel Barber 


The air vibrated
with the sound of cicadas
on those hot Missouri nights after sundown
when the grown-ups gathered on the wide back lawn,
sank into their slung-back canvas chairs
tall glasses of iced tea beading in the heat

and we sisters chased fireflies
reaching for them in the dark
admiring their compact black bodies
their orange stripes and seeking antennas
as they crawled to our fingertips
and clicked open into the night air.

In all the days and years that have followed,
I don't know that I've ever experienced
that same utter certainty of the goodness of life
that was as palpable
as the sound of the cicadas on those nights:

my sisters running around with me in the dark,
the murmur of the grown-ups' voices,
the way reverence mixes with amazement
to see such a small body
emit so much light.

"Reverence" by Julie Cadwallader-Staub, from Friends Journal. ©Religious Society of Friends. Reprinted with permission.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: In a Summer Garden by Frederick Delius


Long Island Sound

By Emma Lazarus 1849–1887  

I see it as it looked one afternoon

In August,— by a fresh soft breeze o’erblown.

The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,

A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.

The shining waters with pale currents strewn,

The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,

The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.

The luminous grasses, and the merry sun

In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,

Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp

Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,

Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep  

Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.

All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Oceanides by Jean Sibelius



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