Saturday, November 15, 2014

Poetry about Sundays: Playlist for November 14, 2014


when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story

By  Gwendolyn Brooks  

—And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday,

And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday—

When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,

Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon

Looking off down the long street

To nowhere,

Hugged by my plain old wrapper of no-expectation

And nothing-I-have-to-do and I’m-happy-why?

And if-Monday-never-had-to-come—

When you have forgotten that, I say,

And how you swore, if somebody beeped the bell,

And how my heart played hopscotch if the telephone rang;

And how we finally went in to Sunday dinner,

That is to say, went across the front room floor to the ink-spotted table in the southwest corner

To Sunday dinner, which was always chicken and noodles

Or chicken and rice

And salad and rye bread and tea

And chocolate chip cookies—

I say, when you have forgotten that,

When you have forgotten my little presentiment

That the war would be over before they got to you;

And how we finally undressed and whipped out the light and flowed into bed,

And lay loose-limbed for a moment in the week-end

Bright bedclothes,

Then gently folded into each other—

When you have, I say, forgotten all that,

Then you may tell,

Then I may believe

You have forgotten me well.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Come Sunday, by Duke Ellington

Early Sunday Morning

By  Edward Hirsch  

I used to mock my father and his chums

for getting up early on Sunday morning

and drinking coffee at a local spot

but now I’m one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations

but they go on dragging through my sleep

like a string of empty tin cans rattling

behind an abandoned car.

It’s like this: just when you think

you have forgotten that red-haired girl

who left you stranded in a parking lot

forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing

around the corner of your dream

on someone else’s motorcycle

roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit

café full of early morning risers

where the windows are covered with soot

and the coffee is warm and bitter.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Sunday in Brooklyn by Elie Siegmeister

Sunday Calls

By  Chard DeNiord  

The nurse calls to tell me on Sunday evenings

how he’s doing.

                               How he’s holding his own in front

of the window with a thousand channels behind

the one that saves his screen with snow, fish houses,

and eagles.

                        How the days hang above the ice as vast

recycled pages on which he writes in invisible ink.

How the sun arcs across the sky, then breaks like a plate

above the horizon.

                                    How the temperature drops

below zero at dusk, then continues to fall till morning.

In this way she teaches me how to speak to him in his sleep

at his home in Minnesota, which is the same, she says,

as talking to a friend you’ve never met, but grown close to

nonetheless from hearing his voice.

                                                                   I hear the snow

falling as she holds the phone outside the window.

Silence is the sound of snow falling on snow, I think

as I listen to the flakes inside the air before she closes

the window.

                        “I’m thinking of walleye in their sleep,”

I tell my father.

                              “Of catching them as they dream,

then throwing them back in the hole I drilled by hand

with the auger you gave me as a child, whose handle is stained

with blood from my turning it so many times into the ice

of Bad Medicine.”

                                    I wait for her voice to return, then say,

“Just this for now since any more would disappear the lake

inside his head on which he builds a house for us to fish

throughout the winter.”

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: String Quintet in C (Adagio) by Franz Schubert

Life of Sundays

By  Rodney Jones    

Down the street, someone must be praying, and though I don’t

Go there anymore, I want to at times, to hear the diction

And the tone, though the English pronoun for God is obsolete—

What goes on is devotion, which wouldn’t change if I heard:

The polished sermon, the upright’s arpeggios of vacant notes.

What else could unite widows, bankers, children, and ghosts?

And those faces are so good as they tilt their smiles upward

To the rostrum that represents law, and the minister who

Represents God beams like the white palm of the good hand

Of Christ raised behind the baptistry to signal the multitude,

Which I am not among, though I feel the abundance of calm

And know the beatitude so well I do not have to imagine it,

Or the polite old ones who gather after the service to chat,

Or the ritual linen of Sunday tables that are already set.

More than any other days, Sundays stand in unvarying rows

That beg attention: there is that studied verisimilitude

Of sanctuary, so even mud and bitten weeds look dressed up

For some eye in the distant past, some remote kingdom

Where the pastures are crossed by thoroughly symbolic rivers.

That is why the syntax of prayers is so often reversed,

Aimed toward the dead who clearly have not gone ahead

But returned to prior things, a vista of angels and sheep,

A desert where men in robes and sandals gather by a tree.

Hushed stores, all day that sense a bell is about to ring—

I recognized it, waking up, before I weighed the bulk of news

Or saw Saturday night’s cars parked randomly along the curb,

And though I had no prayer, I wanted to offer something

Or ask for something, perhaps out of habit, but as the past

Must always be honored unconsciously, formally, and persists

On this first and singular day, though I think of it as last.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: String Quartet No. 1 (Adagio) by Charles Ives


Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther

By  A. E. Stallings 

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,  

The booze and the neon and Saturday night,  

The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?  

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?  

Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons  

And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?  

Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,  

The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

Those Winter Sundays

By  Robert Hayden  

Sundays too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When  the rooms were warm, he’d call,

and slowly I would rise and dress,

fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,

who had  driven out the cold

and polished my good shoes as well.

What did I know, what did I know

of love’s austere and lonely offices?

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