Saturday, January 3, 2015

Poems for The New Year: Playlist for January 2, 2015

By  Kim Addonizio  

The rain this morning falls  

on the last of the snow

and will wash it away. I can smell

the grass again, and the torn leaves

being eased down into the mud.  

The few loves I’ve been allowed

to keep are still sleeping

on the West Coast. Here in Virginia

I walk across the fields with only  

a few young cows for company.

Big-boned and shy,

they are like girls I remember

from junior high, who never  

spoke, who kept their heads

lowered and their arms crossed

their new breasts. Those girls

are nearly forty now. Like me,  

they must sometimes stand

at a window late at night, looking out  

on a silent backyard, at one

rusting lawn chair and the sheer walls  

of other people’s houses.

They must lie down some afternoons  

and cry hard for whoever used

to make them happiest,  

and wonder how their lives

have carried them

this far without ever once

explaining anything. I don’t know  

why I’m walking out here

with my coat darkening

and my boots sinking in, coming up

with a mild sucking sound  

I like to hear. I don’t care

where those girls are now.  

Whatever they’ve made of it

they can have. Today I want  

to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk

a little longer in the cold

blessing of the rain,  

and lift my face to it.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Prelude on Rhosymedre by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Burning the Old Year

By  Naomi Shihab Nye  

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.  

Notes friends tied to the doorknob,  

transparent scarlet paper,

sizzle like moth wings,

marry the air. 

So much of any year is flammable,  

lists of vegetables, partial poems.  

Orange swirling flame of days,  

so little is a stone.  

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,  

an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.  

I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,  

only the things I didn’t do  

crackle after the blazing dies.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Spiegel Im Spiegel by Arvo Part

On Quitting

By  Edgar Albert Guest  

How much grit do you think you’ve got?

Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?

You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,

And where’er you go it is often heard;

But can you tell to a jot or guess

Just how much courage you now possess? 

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,

But have you tackled self-discipline?

Have you ever issued commands to you

To quit the things that you like to do,

And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,

Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don’t boast of your grit till you’ve tried it out,

Nor prate to men of your courage stout,

For it’s easy enough to retain a grin

In the face of a fight there’s a chance to win,

But the sort of grit that is good to own

Is the stuff you need when you’re all alone.

How much grit do you think you’ve got?

Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?

Have you ever tested yourself to know

How far with yourself your will can go? 

If you want to know if you have grit,

Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It’s bully sport and it’s open fight;

It will keep you busy both day and night;

For the toughest kind of a game you’ll find

Is to make your body obey your mind.

And you never will know what is meant by grit

Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Triumphal March by Edward Elgar

At the New Year

By  Kenneth Patchen    

In the shape of this night, in the still fall

        of snow, Father

In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds

        and children

In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys

        and the lovers, Father

In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise

        of our cities

In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches

        where the dead are, Father

In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners

        out on the black water

In all that has been said bravely, in all that is

        mean anywhere in the world, Father

In all that is good and lovely, in every house

        where sham and hatred are

In the name of those who wait, in the sound

        of angry voices, Father

Before the bells ring, before this little point in time

        has rushed us on

Before this clean moment has gone, before this night

        turns to face tomorrow, Father

There is this high singing in the air

Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window

And there are other bells that we would ring, Father

Other bells that we would ring.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: The Valley of The Bells by Maurice Ravel

Song of the Open Road

By  Walt Whitman  


Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me,

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,

Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road.

The earth, that is sufficient,

I do not want the constellations any nearer,

I know they are very well where they are,

I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,

I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,

I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,

I am fill’d with them, and I will fill them in return.

It is safe—I have tried it—my own feet have tried it well—be not detain’d! 
 Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen’d!  
Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn’d! 
Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher! 
Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.  

Camerado, I give you my hand! 

I give you my love more precious than money, 
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? 
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Piano Concerto in A Minor, (3rd. movement) by Robert Schumann

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