Saturday, February 23, 2019

Four Songs & A Dance

Down By the Salley Gardens
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.


A Subaltern’s Love Song
By John Betjeman

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament — you against me!
Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.
Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.
Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o’clock news and a lime-juice and gin.
The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath.
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.
On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.
The Hillman is waiting, the light’s in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing’s the light on your hair.
By roads “not adopted”, by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.
Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh strongly adorable tennis-girl’s hand!
Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.
And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

Egyptian dancer at Shubra
By Bernard Spencer

At first we heard the jingling of her ornaments
as she delayed beyond the trap of light,
and glimpsed her lingering pretence
her bare feet and the music were at difference:
and then the strings grew wild and drew her in.

And she came soft as paws and danced desire at play
or triumphing desire, and locked her hands
stretched high, and in the dance’s sway hung
like a body to be flogged; then wrenched away,
or was a wave from breasts down to the knees.

And as the music built to climax and she leaned
naked in her dancing skirt, and was supreme,
her dance’s stormy argument
had timid, workday things for all environment;
men’s awkward clothes and chairs her skin exclaimed against.



The Piano Tuner’s Wife
By Karl Shapiro
That note comes clear, like water running clear, 
Then the next higher note, and up and up
 
And more and more, with now and then a chord,
 
The highest notes like tapping a tile with a hammer,
 
Now and again an arpeggio, a theme
 
As if the keyboard spoke to the one key,
 
Saying, No interval is exactly true,
 
And the note whines slightly and then truly sings.
 

She sits on the sofa reading a book she has brought,
 
A ray of sunlight on her white hair.
 
She is here because he is blind. She drives.
 
It is almost a platitude to say
 
That she leads him from piano to piano.
 
And this continues for about an hour,
 
Building bridges from both sides of the void,
 
Coasting the chasms of the harmonies.
 

And in conclusion,
 
When there is no more audible dissent,
 
He plays his comprehensive keyboard song,
 
The loud proud paradigm,
 
The one work of art without content.

a song in the front yard
BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.



Friday, February 15, 2019

Fotografia (February 15, 2019)



My Husband Takes Some Photographs of Me
By Liz Rosenberg
It’s like coal in your stocking,
to open the yellow Kodak package
and find one dim disaster, then another; me
dead-faced and gloomy, almost invisible
with all my freckles gleaming like the Milky Way.
I opened the packet in the tiny back room
while he worked the register, the hum
of customers. He came and found me
sighing through the stack like a dismal fortune-teller:
No one could call this woman beautiful.

He took the photos from my hands
but hurried through them first
searching for--something; like the doctor
who fails to bring one life to light.
I knew he’d never let me see that face again,
fading around the mouth, the downward pull
so like her mother’s gravity.
The girl he’d courted was a meager ghost
who held still in the eyes while the other
woman moved and said Cheese.
I’d seen her sometimes limping toward me
in a plate glass window; I had glimpsed her in the bottom
of a mirror when I stumbled out of bed unwary.
My poor Columbus, what a ravaged country to discover!

He held my head, he held my arms, in bed,
in the darkness; then we beheld each other
aging, muscular, and mortal, smelling of life
wrapped in a warm sheet. His eyes caught the gold
from the hall, dark blue and gray-blue
as the door swung shut, till I was staring through a black hole
but still his face was turned to me, like a white flower,
his eyes a flash of light.
Then I was safe in his arms for an instant,
drifting off. My husband takes a photograph of me.


From Poetry Magazine, May, 1987










Saturday, February 9, 2019

Love, I'm Done With You (February 8, 2019)

Song: “Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more”
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
(from Much Ado About Nothing)

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey nonny, nonny.

Sing no more ditties, sing no more
Of dumps so dull and heavy.
The fraud of men was ever so
Since summer first was leafy.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into hey, nonny, nonny.


I Don't Miss It
BY TRACY K. SMITH

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.

Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light

Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.

And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke

Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,

Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,

As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir

Of something other than waiting.

We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,

And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,

It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you

Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.

Tracy K. Smith, "I Don't Miss It" from Duende. Copyright © 2007 by Tracy K. Smith. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press. www.graywolfpress.org

Movement Song
BY AUDRE LORD

I have studied the tight curls on the back of your neck
moving away from me
beyond anger or failure
your face in the evening schools of longing
through mornings of wish and ripen
we were always saying goodbye
in the blood in the bone over coffee
before dashing for elevators going
in opposite directions
without goodbyes.

Do not remember me as a bridge nor a roof
as the maker of legends
nor as a trap
door to that world
where black and white clericals
hang on the edge of beauty in five oclock elevators
twitching their shoulders to avoid other flesh
and now
there is someone to speak for them
moving away from me into tomorrows
morning of wish and ripen
your goodbye is a promise of lightning
in the last angels hand
unwelcome and warning
the sands have run out against us
we were rewarded by journeys
away from each other
into desire
into mornings alone
where excuse and endurance mingle
conceiving decision.
Do not remember me
as disaster
nor as the keeper of secrets
I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars
watching
you move slowly out of my bed
saying we cannot waste time
only ourselves.

Love, I'm Done with You
BY ROSS GAY

You ever wake up with your footie PJs warming
your neck like a noose? Ever upchuck
after a home-cooked meal? Or notice
how the blood on the bottoms of your feet
just won’t seem to go away? Love, it used to be
you could retire your toothbrush for like two or three days and still
I’d push my downy face into your neck. Used to be
I hung on your every word. (Sing! you’d say: and I was a bird.
Freedom! you’d say: and I never really knew what that meant,
but liked the way it rang like a rusty bell.) Used to be. But now
I can tell you your breath stinks and you’re full of shit.
You have more lies about yourself than bodies
beneath your bed. Rooting
for the underdog. Team player. Hook,
line and sinker. Love, you helped design the brick
that built the walls around the castle
in the basement of which is a vault
inside of which is another vault
inside of which . . . you get my point. Your tongue
is made of honey but flicks like a snake’s. Voice
like a bird but everyone’s ears are bleeding.
From the inside your house shines
and shines, but from outside you can see
it’s built from bones. From out here it looks
like a graveyard, and the garden’s
all ash. And besides,
your breath stinks. We’re through.

Ross Gay, "Love, I’m Done With You" from Bringing the Shovel Down.  Copyright © 2011 by Ross Gay. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Absences
BY DONALD JUSTICE

It's snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers.
There is only this sound of falling, quiet and remote,
Like the memory of scales descending the white keys
Of a childhood piano—outside the window, palms!
And the heavy head of the cereus, inclining,
Soon to let down its white or yellow-white.

Now, only these poor snow-flowers in a heap,
Like the memory of a white dress cast down . . .
So much has fallen.
And I, who have listened for a step
All afternoon, hear it now, but already falling away,
Already in memory. And the terrible scales descending
On the silent piano; the snow; and the absent flowers
abounding.