Dark Be The Tears

Thomas Moore (1779 – 1852)

Though an angel should write, still ’tis devils that print.

Sir Thomas Moore

To Althea, From Prison

by Richard Lovelace (1617 -1657)

When Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my Gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the Grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fettered to her eye,
The Gods that wanton in the Air,
Know no such Liberty.
 
When flowing Cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with Roses bound,
Our hearts with Loyal Flames;
When thirsty grief in Wine we steep,
When Healths and draughts go free,
Fishes that tipple in the Deep
Know no such Liberty.
 
When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how Great should be,
Enlargèd Winds, that curl the Flood,
Know no such Liberty.
 
Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage.
If I have freedom in my Love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such Liberty.
 

It may seem an odd pairing, Richard Lovelace and Thomas Moore, but each were keenly attuned to the romanticism of their age and very much politically opposed to British Episcopalian rule. Lovelace has faded off into obscurity, while Moore is beloved by the Irish, as much for his biography of his friend Lord Byron as his book Irish Melodies.. Moore was so popular that he was paid exorbitant sums for future work, his publishers confident in his hit making ability.  It’s unclear if Lovelace died as penniless as it is sometimes reported, his family connections having bailed him out of prison more than once, but he certainly was diminished in stature at the time of his death.

Moore was the only son of Catholic parents, born in London at a time when Irish Catholics could not vote, serve on juries, bear arms or attend elite schools.  Moore was afforded an upper middle class upbringing because of his father’s business success, allowing him the means combined with the talent to give voice to Ireland’s plight of laboring under British rule.

Moore was one of the first Catholics accepted into Trinity College in Dublin. Emboldened by his friends Emmet and Hudson at Trinity, he wrote an impassioned anonymous letter opposing English rule, which was published in an Irish newspaper. His friends were captured following an armed rebellion in 1798, Robert Emmet was hanged for his involvement,  Edward Hudson was imprisoned and then exiled.  Moore was called to testify against his friends during the investigation, but refused to answer questions about the rebels.  Emmet was immortalized by Moore  in his poem below, as well as by James Joyce who incorporated Emmet’s words at his sentencing into his poem Ulysses; “When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written….”

O Breathe Not His Name

By Sir Thomas Moore

Oh! breathe not his name, let it sleep in the shade,
Where cold and unhonored his relics are laid:
Sad, silent, and dark, be the tears that we shed,
As the night-dew that falls on the grass o’er his head.
But the night-dew that falls, tho’ in silence it weeps,
Shall brighten with verdure the grave where he sleeps;
And the tear that we shed, tho’ in secret it rolls,
Shall long keep his memory green in our souls.

I Will Arise And Go

Eva Gore Booth (1870 – 1926)

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

By William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
 
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
 
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
 
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
 

 

The Little Waves of Breffny

By Eva Gore-Booth
 
The grand road from the mountain goes shining to the sea,
And there is traffic in it and many a horse and cart,
But the little roads of Cloonagh are dearer far to me,
And the little roads of Cloonagh go rambling through my heart.
 
A great storm from the ocean goes shouting o’er the hill,
And there is glory in it and terror on the wind,
But the haunted air of twilight is very strange and still,
And the little winds of twilight are dearer to my mind.
 
The great waves of the Atlantic sweep storming on their way,
Shining green and silver with the hidden herring shoal,
But the Little Waves of Breffny have drenched my heart in spray,
And the Little Waves of Breffny go stumbling through my soul.
 

We Deceive Time

Reed Whittemore (1919 – 2012)

The American soul has been stored under the stairs
In a box with the mittens and scarves
For the longest time. We couldn’t think where we had put it.

Reed Whittemore

Three Sonnets to Time

III

by Reed Whittemore

Again and again, we deceive time.  We sleep, we meander 
As if it were nothing to us when we’d come, or be, through
Or where, in the limitless world, our ship would founder,
Or do what whatever ships in metaphor do.

We wear all the bright fashions, read soft books
And lie in the sun in Nassau with our hides.
We build our castles and line our secretest nooks
With the addresses where passion or drink resides.

And though time is never deceived – it is we, with our slippers on,
Who are caught by surprise when our light verse yawns its last
yawn – 
To the last hour we must strive to keep not looking drawn
From lamenting in secret, mumbling dirges at dawn.

It is a game, but a very solemn one, this that we play
With art, drama and rhetoric as we decay. 


Thoughts of a California Desert

by Reed Whittemore

Under palm trees, oranges, olives and pears
The indolent desert slouches, half an eye closed
And half an eye out for men of affairs whose cares
Keep them from keeping their gaudy gaudy gardens hosed.

Slouches and yawns, that clown. Leaves in disdain
Gaseous dragon their nauseous knights to nettle.
Flips his tail coyly, rolls over, says he would fain
Die a dry death.  Haw!  browning a petal.

Has it too good, too good. It vastly diverted
Watching his merchants and bankers stumble out doors.
Parries their blows, says he loves, loves to be squirted
As at him they fiercely empty their reservoirs.

Sleeps a great deal, drinks deep, drinks deep and makes hay,
Thinking he’ll swallow the bankers and all one day.

I Forgot To Change The Hour

I would write poems even if no else read them.

Margaret Hasse

Day After Daylight Savings

By Margaret Hasse
 
Blue numbers on my bedside clock
tell I forgot to change the hour.
This sets routines on haywire.
 
Like a domestic goat staked
to its circle of earth,
I don’t do well untethered.
 
I have no hunger for early dinner,
become confused by the sound
of children who seem out
 
too late for a school night.
They’ve found an extra helping
of daylight to romp on new grass
 
and can’t contain themselves,
strip off jackets, scatter
like a rag of ponies.
 
Whatever time says,
their joy insists
on springing forward.
 
 

Most years when we spring forward, it feels like spring is on the other side of that time jump.  I awake with a shorter day but with a spring mindset and a spring anticipation.   Not this year.  I am mired in an atmospheric river of winter, it just keeps snowing.   Minneapolis streets are so compressed by ever encroaching piles of snow that we are down to single lanes of traffic on side streets.   If there is a spring waiting as we set our clocks forward, I sure hope it sticks its head out of its burrow soon, our hearts are spring sick and looking for the great white north to turn green.    We maybe carnivores in feeding our bellies but our souls are vegetarian, we need green and living things to fulfill us.    Nearly March 15 and not a muddy dog in sight.  But give it two weeks.   The polish of spring grainy snow on paws will turn into the grime of snow melt.   Plenty of time for brown to become the theme on the way to green.   
 
Maybe we should start a movement and just always set our clocks back?  Decide to never spring forward, instead always relive an hour of our lives twice a year, collectively grab time and pull it back.   I think that’s the grief of daylight savings time.   We lose time constantly, Delta steals it with endless flight delays, colleagues put you through repetitive meetings, our world is constantly taking us away from what’s important.  We suffer those loses because we must.  But to have an hour stolen that just doesn’t exist one day a year, seems like a self inflicted psychological wound that we can do without.  Let’s either protest by always moving back, or just doing away with this silliness forever.  Copernicus would be proud.  Let’s leave the heavens to heaven and live on earth beset by days of 24 hours in length, give or take a wobble of the axis.
 
 

Sonnet 12

By William Shakespeare
 
When I do count the clock that tells the time, 
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; 
When I behold the violet past prime, 
And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves 
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves 
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, 
Then of thy beauty do I question make, 
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow; 
   And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
   Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence. 
 

I Never See You

Meghan O’Rourke

“If the condition of grief is nearly universal, its transactions are exquisitely personal.”

Meghan O’Rourke, The Long Goodbye

Troy

by Meghan O’Rourke

We had a drink and got in bed.
That’s when the boat in my mouth set sail,
my fingers drifting in the shallows of your buzz cut.
And in the sound of your eye
a skiff coasted—boarding it
I found all the bric-a-brac of your attic gloom,
the knives from that other island trip,
the poison suckleroot lifted from God-knows-where.
O, all your ill-begotten loot—and yes, somewhere,
the words you never actually spoke,
the woven rope tethering
me to this rotting joint. Touch me,
and the boat and the city burn like whiskey
going down the throat. Or so it goes,
our love-wheedling myth, excessively baroque.


Ever

by Meghan O’Rourke

Never, never, never, never, never.
—King Lear

Even now I can’t grasp “nothing” or “never.”
They’re unholdable, unglobable, no map to nothing.
Never? Never ever again to see you?
An error, I aver. You’re never nothing,
because nothing’s not a thing.
I know death is absolute, forever,
the guillotine—gutting—never to which we never say goodbye.
But even as I think “forever” it goes “ever”
and “ever” and “ever.” Ever after.
I’m a thing that keeps on thinking. So I never see you
is not a thing or think my mouth can ever. Aver:
You’re not “nothing.” But neither are you something.
Will I ever really get never?
You’re gone. Nothing, never—ever.

Grief And Time Are Tideless Golden Seas

William Faulkner

Life was created in the valleys. It blew up onto the hills on the old terrors, the old lusts, the old despairs. That’s why you must walk up the hills so you can ride down.

William Faulkner

Gray The Day

By William Faulkner (1897 – 1962)
 

Gray the day, all the year is cold,
Across the empty land the swallows’ cry
Marks the southflown spring. Naught is bowled
Save winter, in the sky.

O sorry earth, when this bleak bitter sleep
Stirs and turns and time once more is green,
In empty path and lane and grass will creep
With none to tread it clean.

April and May and June, and all the dearth
Of heart to green it for, to hurt and wake;
What good is budding, gray November earth?
No need to break your sleep for greening’s sake.

The hushed plaint of wind in stricken trees
Shivers the grass in path and lane
And Grief and Time are tideless golden seas—
Hush, hush! He’s home again.

 
 

 

To A Co-Ed

 
by William Faulkner
 

The dawn herself could not more beauty wear
Than you ‘mid other women crowned in grace,
Nor have the sages known a fairer face
Than yours, gold-shadowed by your bright sweet hair.
Than you does Venus seem less heavenly fair;
The twilit hidden stillness of your eyes,
And throat, a singing bridge of still replies,
A slender bridge, yet all dreams hover there.

I could have turned unmoved from Helen’s brow,
Who found no beauty in their Beatrice;
Their Thais seemed less lovely then as now,
Though some had bartered Athens for her kiss.
For down Time’s arras, faint and fair and far,
Your face still beckons like a lonely star.

When I Was A Child

Margaret Walker

The poetry of a people comes from the deep recesses of the unconscious, the irrational and the collective body of our ancestral memories

Margaret Walker

 

Childhood

By Margaret Walker (1915 – 1998)

When I was a child I knew red miners
dressed raggedly and wearing carbide lamps.
I saw them come down red hills to their camps
dyed with red dust from old Ishkooda mines.
Night after night I met them on the roads,
or on the streets in town I caught their glance;
the swing of dinner buckets in their hands,
and grumbling undermining all their words.
 
I also lived in low cotton country
where moonlight hovered over ripe haystacks,
or stumps of trees, and croppers’ rotting shacks
with famine, terror, flood, and plague near by;
where sentiment and hatred still held sway
and only bitter land was washed away.
 
 

Harlem Wine

by Countee Cullen (1903 – 1946)

This is not water running here,
These thick rebellious streams
That hurtle flesh and bone past fear
Down alleyways of dreams

This is a wine that must flow on
Not caring how or where
So it has ways to flow upon
Where song is in the air.

So it can woo an artful flute
With loose elastic lips
Its measurements of joy compute
With blithe, ecstatic hips

My Motives Are Pure

Chick Corea (1941 – 2021)

I write music to celebrate life. I think most artists do, no matter how they themselves describe it. It’s the joy of creating. It’s a way of life.

Chick Corea

 

Sonnet: In Summa Summit

by John Kendall Hawkins

………………..in memory of Chick Corea

Pretty, I’ve got a postcard picture mind
that finds windows inside a supermax
where lost time and space are a double bind —
the phenomenology of the sax
remembered from all-night pot-toked jazz fests,
Chick Corea’s Return to Forever,
Mahavishnu Orchestra’s playful rests,
the brain a cell block: never, ever.
Climbing Mount Never Rest, all sherpa sure
on the white disappearing trails ahead,
I move by instinct, my motives are pure,
samsara release, the Book of the Dead.
When time and space come to set my “soul” free
I’ll melt in the music’s infinity.

 

 

A Solid Breakfast

by Terrance Underwood

Wake &
shake a leg with
Duke’s bunch in 1963
whipping up on
“The Jeep is Jumpin’”
Hawk pounces on Tenor
leading a convoyed rumpus that
can still griddle hot cakes
sizzle sausage
& scramble an egg or two

After Your Death

I think poets are people who are like this; for whatever reason you feel psychological exile because you’re always an outsider…

Natasha Trethewey

History Lesson

By Natasha Trethewey
 
I am four in this photograph, standing   
on a wide strip of Mississippi beach,   
my hands on the flowered hips
 
of a bright bikini. My toes dig in,   
curl around wet sand. The sun cuts   
the rippling Gulf in flashes with each   
 
tidal rush. Minnows dart at my feet
glinting like switchblades. I am alone
except for my grandmother, other side   
 
of the camera, telling me how to pose.   
It is 1970, two years after they opened   
the rest of this beach to us,   
 
forty years since the photograph   
where she stood on a narrow plot   
of sand marked colored, smiling,
 
her hands on the flowered hips   
of a cotton meal-sack dress.


After Your Death

by Natasha Trethewey

First, I emptied the closets of your clothes,
threw out the bowl of fruit, bruised
from your touch, left empty the jars

you bought for preserves. The next morning,
birds rustled the fruit trees, and later
when I twisted a ripe fig loose from its stem,

I found it half eaten, the other side
already rotting, or—like another I plucked
and split open—being taken from the inside:

a swarm of insects hollowing it. I’m too late,
again, another space emptied by loss.
Tomorrow, the bowl I have yet to fill.

Born To Surprise

June Jordan

 

On Being Brought From Africa to America

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, ChristiansNegros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
 
Phillis Wheatley
 

Something Like A Sonnet for Phillis Miracle Wheatley

by June Jordan

Girl from the realm of birds florid and fleet
flying full feather in far or near weather
Who fell to a dollar lust coffled like meat
Captured by avarice and hate spit together
Trembling asthmatic alone on the slave block
built by a savagery travelling by carriage
viewed like a species of flaw in the livestock
A child without safety of mother or marriage
Chosen by whimsy but born to surprise
They taught you to read but you learned how to write
Begging the universe into your eyes:
They dressed you in light but you dreamed
with the night.
From Africa singing of justice and grace,
Your early verse sweetens the fame of our Race.


  

His Excellency General Washington (Excerpt)

Phillis Wheatley –  (1753-1784)

.    .The Goddess comes, she moves divinely fair,
Olive and laurel binds Her golden hair:
Wherever shines this native of the skies,
Unnumber’d charms and recent graces rise.

   Muse! Bow propitious while my pen relates
How pour her armies through a thousand gates,
As when Eolus heaven’s fair face deforms,
Enwrapp’d in tempest and a night of storms;
Astonish’d ocean feels the wild uproar,
The refluent surges beat the sounding shore;
Or think as leaves in Autumn’s golden reign,
Such, and so many, moves the warrior’s train.
In bright array they seek the work of war,
Where high unfurl’d the ensign waves in air.
Shall I to Washington their praise recite?
Enough thou know’st them in the fields of fight.
Thee, first in peace and honors—we demand
The grace and glory of thy martial band.
Fam’d for thy valour, for thy virtues more,
Hear every tongue thy guardian aid implore!