Saturday, September 24, 2016

Poetry about Moments

(“Sing the song of the moment...”)

By Rabindranath Tagore 1861–1941


Sing the song of the moment in careless carols, in the transient light of the day;

Sing of the fleeting smiles that vanish and never look back;

Sing of the flowers that bloom and fade without regret.

Weave not in memory’s thread the days that would glide into nights.

To the guests that must go bid God-speed, and wipe away all traces of their steps.

Let the moments end in moments with their cargo of fugitive songs.

With both hands snap the fetters you made with your own heart chords;

Take to your breast with a smile what is easy and simple and near.

Today is the festival of phantoms that know not when they die.         

Let your laughter flush in meaningless mirth like twinkles of light on the ripples;

Let your life lightly dance on the verge of Time like a  dew on the tip of a leaf.

Strike in the chords of your harp the fitful murmurs of moments.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Music by Ravi Shankar

A Small Moment

By Cornelius Eady b. 1954

I walk into the bakery next door  

To my apartment. They are about  

To pull some sort of toast with cheese  

From the oven.   When I ask:  

What’s that smell? I am being  

A poet, I am asking   

What everyone else in the shop  

Wanted to ask, but somehow couldn’t;  

I am speaking on behalf of two other  

Customers who wanted to buy the  

Name of it.   I ask the woman  

Behind the counter for a percentage  

Of her sale. Am I flirting?  

Am I happy because the days  

Are longer?   Here’s what  

She does: She takes her time  

Choosing the slices.   “I am picking  

Out the good ones,” she tells me.   It’s   

April 14th.. Spring, with five to ten   

Degrees to go.   Some days, I feel my duty;  

Some days, I love my work.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Blues for Bird  by Oscar Peterson and Dizzy Gillespie


By Robert Browning 1812–1889

Out of your whole life give but one moment!

All of your life that has gone before,

All to come after it, – so you ignore,

So you make perfect the present, – condense,

In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,

Thought and feeling and soul and sense –

Merged in a moment which gives me at last

You around me for once, you beneath me, above me –

Me – sure that despite of time future, time past, –

This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!

How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet –

The moment eternal – just that and no more –

When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core

While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Andante cantabile, from Piano Quartet by Robert Schumann

A Momentary Longing To Hear Sad Advice from One Long Dead

By Kenneth Koch 1925–2002  

Who was my teacher at Harvard. Did not wear overcoat

Saying to me as we walked across the Yard

Cold brittle autumn is you should be wearing overcoat. I said

You are not wearing overcoat. He said,

You should do as I say not do as I do.

Just how American it was and how late Forties it was

Delmore, but not I, was probably aware. He quoted Finnegans Wake to me

In his New York apartment sitting on chair

Table directly in front of him. There did he write? I am wondering.

Look at this photograph said of his mother and father.

Coney Island. Do they look happy? He couldn't figure it out.

Believed Pogo to be at the limits of our culture.

Pogo. Walt Kelly must have read Joyce Delmore said.

Why don't you ask him?

Why don't you ask Walt Kelly if he read Finnegans Wake or not.

Your parents don't look happy but it is just a photograph.

Maybe they felt awkward posing for photographs.

Maybe it is just a bad photograph. Delmore is not listening

I want to hear him tell me something sad but however true.

Delmore in his tomb is sitting. People say yes everyone is dying

But here read this happy book on the subject. Not Delmore. Not that rueful man.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Mouvements Perpetuels by Francis Poulenc

This Moment

By Alice Wagner


This moment, fragile and transparent,

blows off the table, under foot and onto the street, behind its  gentleman caller

This moment, fleeting and hurried,

blurring faces, masking weakness and rushing meaning through hidden doorways

This moment intangible and foreign,

reaching through touch and feeling, past truth, forever shifting.

This moment, frightening and heartbreaking,

waking  passion, as loss hides behind you and meaning evaporates while you are still naming it.

Stay in this moment,

aching and blissful, strange and powerful,  beyond reason or guarantee.

Ask nothing of the future, carry nothing from the past, just this moment.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Lament (from Sonata for Viola and Piano), by Kenji Bunch 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ode to Music


1. SONNET by Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Oh! quand je dors by Franz Liszt


Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.

We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.

The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.

So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.

This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.

Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!

They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.

Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Persian recorder and guitar

3. THE EBONY CHICKERING by Dorianne Laux

My mother cooked with lard she kept
In coffee cans beneath the kitchen sink.
Bean-colored linoleum ticked under her flats
as she wore a path from stove to countertop.
Eggs cracked against the lips of smooth
ceramic bowls she beat muffins in,
boxed cakes and cookie dough.
It was the afternoons she worked toward,
the smell of onions scrubbed from her hands,
when she would fold her flowered apron
and feed it through the sticky refrigerator
handle, adjust the spongy curlers on her head
and wrap a loud Hawaiian scarf into a tired knot
around them as she walked toward her piano,
the one thing my father had given her that she loved.

I can still see each gold letter engraved
on the polished lid she lifted and slid
into the piano’s dark body, the hidden hammers
trembling like a muffled word,
the scribbled sheets, her rough hands poised
above the keys as she began her daily practice.
Words like arpeggio sparkled through my childhood,
her fingers sliding from the black bar of a sharp
to the white of a common note. “This is Bach,”
she would instruct us, the tail of his name hissing
like a cat. “And Chopin,” she said, “was French,
like us,” pointing to the sheet music. “Listen.
Don’t let the letters fool you. It’s best
to always trust your ear.”

She played parts of fugues and lost concertos,
played hard as we kicked each other on the couch,
while the meat burned and the wet wash wrinkled
in the basket, played Beethoven as if she understood
the caged world of the deaf, his terrible music
pounding its way through the fence slats
and the screened doors of the cul-de-sac, the yards
where other mothers hung clothes on a wire, bent
to weeds, swept the driveways clean.
Those were the years she taught us how to make
quick easy meals, accept the embarrassment
of a messy house, safety pins and rick-rack
hanging from the hem of her dress.
But I knew the other kids didn’t own words
like fortissimo and mordant, treble clef
and trill, or have a mother quite as elegant
as mine when she sat at the piano,
playing like she was famous,
so that when the Sparklets man arrived
to fill our water cooler every week
he would lean against the doorjamb and wait
for her to finish, glossy-eyed
as he listened, secretly touching the tips
of his fingers to the tips of her fingers
as he bowed, and she slipped him the check.

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Prelude and Fugue in D, by J.S. Bach

4. THE GUITAR by Federico Garcia Lorca

The weeping of the guitar
The goblets of dawn
are smashed.
The weeping of the guitar
to silence it.
to silence it.
It weeps monotonously
as water weeps
as the wind weeps
over snowfields.
to silence it.
It weeps for distant
Hot southern sands
yearning for white camellias.
Weeps arrow without target
evening without morning
and the first dead bird
on the branch.
Oh, guitar!
Heart mortally wounded
by five swords.

by Francisco Tarrega

5. MUSIC by Charles Baudelaire

Music, like an ocean, often carries me away!
Through the ether far,
or under a canopy of mist, I set sail
for my pale star.
Breasting the waves, my lungs swollen
like a ship’s canvas,
night veils from me the long rollers, 
I ride their backs:
I sense all a suffering vessel’s passions
vibrating within me:
while fair winds or the storm’s convulsions
on the immense deep
cradle me. Or else flat calm, vast mirror there
of my despair! 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: La Mer by Claude Debussy