Once in A Blue Moon

blue-moon-supermoon-2018
Super Blue Moon Jan. 31 2018

To Science

by Edgar Allen Poe

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

 

Crooked Handle

By T. A. Fry

Crooked handle, points of light,
Ladle full of black delight,
Obscured from sight or burning bright,
The dipper points due north.

It’s infinite, a soup of dreams.
Laughter broth with tiger cream,
For pig-tailed girls, little boys lean
Who dare to venture forth.

What of those who turn away?
Or hunker down and choose to stay.
Who hate the night, embrace the day,
And face the sunshine south.

Restraint is in the milky way,
River of light, come what may.
For roosters crow and donkeys bray
With a smiling mouth.

Then there’s those that love the moon.
It’s gentle light, a babies croon,
A swooping owl, a laughing loon,
Peace rises in the east.

The moon it waxes and it wanes,
Outside our doors and window panes.
Old or young, it’s all the same.
The grateful at a feast.

Adventurers and nestled stones,
Withered muscle, sturdy bone,
A crowded dance or home alone,
Our lonely sun sails west.

The sun it rises and it sets,
The miser saves, the gambler bets
A desert’s dry, an ocean’s  wet,
Your love my welcome guest.


© T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What Can Be Explained Is Not Poetry

Gabriela Mistral
Gabriela Mistral

Languages

by Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)

There are no handles upon a language
Whereby men take hold of it
And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
It is a river, this language,
Once in a thousand years
Breaking a new course
Changing its way to the ocean.
It is mountain effluvia
Moving to valleys
And from nation to nation
Crossing borders and mixing.
Languages die like rivers.
Words wrapped round your tongue today
And broken to shape of thought
Between your teeth and lips speaking
Now and today
Shall be faded hieroglyphics
Ten thousand years from now.
Sing—and singing—remember
Your song dies and changes
And is not here to-morrow

Buffalo Dusk

by Carl Sandburg

The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.

 


Death Sonnets II

By Gabriela Mistral

Translated by D. K. Fennell

This growing tiredness will culminate some day,
and the soul will tell the body of its craving to desist
from dragging its heavy weight though that rosy way,
where men continue going, simply to exist.

You will feel at your side men digging urgently,
and another slumberer arrive at your noiseless door.
I will wait until I am covered totally . . .
And afterward we shall talk forevermore!

Only then will you know the reason, though immature
your flesh yet remains for such abysmal shrine,
you had to go down to sleep, with open eye.

Where fates are fixed there will be light, obscure;
you will learn that our connection bore an astral sign
and, with the vast pack broken, you had to die.

Este largo cansancio se hará mayor un día,
y el alma dirá al cuerpo que no quiere seguir
arrastrando su masa por la rosada vía,
por donde van los hombres, contentos de vivir.

Sentirás que a tu lado cavan briosamente,
que otra dormida llega a la quieta cuidad.
Esperaré que me hayan cubierto totalmente . . .
¡y después hablaremos por una eternidad!

Sólo entonces sabrás el porqué, no madura
para las hondas huesas tu carne todavía,
tuviste que bajar, sin fatiga, a dormir.

Se hará luz en la zona de los sinos, oscura;
sabrás que en nuestra alianza signo de astros había
y, roto el pacto enorme, tenías que morir . . .

 

Not As One, But As A Tribe

Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)
Definition 11.  “Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.”
Carl Sandburg

Let Me Tell You What A Poem Brings

by Juan Felipe Herrera

Before you go further,
let me tell you what a poem brings,
first, you must know the secret, there is no poem
to speak of, it is a way to attain a life without boundaries,
yes, it is that easy, a poem, imagine me telling you this,
instead of going day by day against the razors, well,
the judgments, all the tick-tock bronze, a leather jacket
sizing you up, the fashion mall, for example, from
the outside you think you are being entertained,
when you enter, things change, you get caught by surprise,
your mouth goes sour, you get thirsty, your legs grow cold
standing still in the middle of a storm, a poem, of course,
is always open for business too, except, as you can see,
it isn’t exactly business that pulls your spirit into
the alarming waters, there you can bathe, you can play,
you can even join in on the gossip—the mist, that is,
the mist becomes central to your existence.


Sonnet 9

by Carl Sandburg

Fair is the rising morn when o’er the sky
The orient sun expands his roseate ray,
And lovely to the Bard’s enthusiast eye
Fades the meek radiance of departing day;
But fairer is the smile of one we love,
Than all the scenes in Nature’s ample sway.
And sweeter than the music of the grove,
The voice that bids us welcome. Such delight
EDITH! is mine, escaping to thy sight
From the hard durance of the empty throng.
Too swiftly then towards the silent night
Ye Hours of happiness! ye speed along,
Whilst I, from all the World’s cold cares apart,
Pour out the feelings of my burthen’d heart.


There are blog posts I know I should end without commentary, let the poems speak for themselves.   This is one of those posts, where my inner voice screams “Stop, you’ll ruin it,” and like an idiot, I ignore that voice and push on anyways.

I think there are many others, like myself, who find respite in poetry. I believe it is a global,  powerful, informed group of  individuals, who by their very nature, are diverse, complicated and have developed, maybe without evening knowing it, their own definitions of poetry, like Carl Sandburg….


Not As One, But As A Tribe

by T. A. Fry

Not as one, but as a tribe
Held to a mark befit our bent,
With poets as our willing scribes.
A writ of civic sacraments.

A language we can all abide;
Like wind before a wild horse.
Ideas that sweep along our lives
Allegory to avail our course.

Who lauds our lyric heroes now?
Inspirer’s of a greater good.
Words to guide what we avow,
Signposts in a darkening wood.

What laureate shall stake their claim
As mirror to a better world?
And silence critics that proclaim
They alone turn sand to pearls.


© T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My Heart Be Brave

JamesWeldonJohnson
James Weldon Johnson

“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”

James Baldwin

Sonnet

by James Weldon Johnson (1871 – 1938)

My heart be brave, and do not falter so,
Nor utter more that deep, despairing wail.
Thy way is very dark and drear I know,
But do not let thy strength and courage fail;
For certain as the raven-winged night
Is followed by the bright and blushing morn,
Thy coming morrow will be clear and bright;
’Tis darkest when the night is furthest worn.
Look up, and out, beyond, surrounding clouds,
And do not in thine own gross darkness grope,
Rise up, and casting off thy hind’ring shrouds,
Cling thou to this, and ever inspiring hope:
Tho’ thick the battle and tho’ fierce the fight,
There is a power making for the right.

 

 


 

 

Le Sporting-club de Monte Carlo (For Lena Horne)

By James Baldwin

The lady is a tramp
a camp
a lamp

The lady is a sight
a might
a light

the lady devastated
an alley or two
reverberated through the valley
which leads to me, and you

the lady is the apple
of God’s eye:
He’s cool enough about it
but He tends to strut a little
when she passes by

the lady is a wonder
daughter of the thunder
smashing cages
legislating rages
with the voice of ages
singing us through.

Not Too Many

Burl
Burl On A Tree

“Love her but leave her wild….”
– Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

I was in Calgary, Alberta this week, reading the morning paper, and came across an article regarding the small Canadian press Coach House Books.  This prestigious literary firm is taking a hiatus on accepting new poetry manuscripts, as they are rethinking their business model on the financial viability of publishing poetry moving forward.  Such is the state of things in the poetry world. I appreciate those of you who take the time to read my blog and choose to make poetry part of your day.

I enjoy simple Saturday mornings, waking up with nothing better to do than write. Yesterday was one such morning.  My subconscious had been messing with several ideas over the course of the week that turned into the following sonnet. Celebrating my children’s birthday has that effect on me, contemplating passage of time.

A Neil Gaiman quote I totally relate to is:

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.”

This sonnet, Not Too Many,  has all the things I enjoy about writing sonnets; double meanings, contradictions, internal rhyming, good mouth feel when read aloud and the ability to be reinterpreted by the reader.

A note about burls.  A burl on a tree is a reaction to some kind of foreign stress, most often by an insect, virus or fungus, that causes the tree to wall it up in beauty, protecting itself and the newcomer, changing the very nature of their interaction. Burls can be above ground and visible or below ground and hidden but are always covered in bark and nurtured by the tree.


 

Not Too Many

By T. A. Fry

Why does old love wend its own designs?
In the game of love, I have taken licks
Been knocked down, learned new tricks, only to find
Sometimes, it was mere lust or politics.
Then came children and something wild grew.
Love became an ache that took my breath away
It’s fierce, complex, bigger than I ever knew.
Love’s not negotiable, it’s here to stay,
And stay and stay, like a burl on a tree,
Each ring a wrinkle,  love’s softer side,
Another bulge to indulge entirely.
For love is the lotion that tanned this hide.
If I had a choice, not one, but any
I would mend love with words, not too many.


© T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Don’t Leave Me Here Alone

Goosebumps

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.”

Neil Gaiman

Sonnet

by Neil Gaiman

I don’t think that I’ve been in love as such,
Although I liked a few folk pretty well.
Love must be vaster than my smiles or touch.
For brave men died and empires rose and fell
For love, girls follow boys to foreign lands.
And men have followed women into hell.

In plays and poems someone understands,
There’s something makes us more than blood and bone,
And more than biological demands.
For me love’s like the wind unseen, unknown.
I see the trees are bending where it’s been.
I know that it leaves wreckage where it’s blown.
I really don’t know what I love you means.
I think it means don’t leave me here alone.

For more information check out Neil Gaiman’s blog where this sonnet was originally published.

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2005/10/other-one.html


Maybe love is the story, the fairy tale, that we tell ourselves because it is truer and longer lasting than the days we have already forgotten from this past week.  And sonnets, the psalms by which we pass those stories down.

Salvation

by T. A. Fry

Wherein it begins;
Salvation.  To caress a nape of neck
Or silky hair upon a woman’s hock.
To crave creation of goose bumps that fleck
A breast or smiles that shiver like a shock.
I swear no fealty to love’s mirth, nor bow
Before any Goddess’s  pain or pleasure.
I’ll take my memories as a trove and vow
When old, to view them at my leisure.

What’s done is done, move on, no turning back.
No more open arms. You’ve bled the good
From willing hearts, with promises that smack
Of dishonest pleas, when stay you never could.
Must I void the truth of love once cherished,
Just for being human and it perished.


© T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Tend Our Agonizing Seeds

“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.” 

W. E. B. Du Bois

Countee Cullen
Countee Cullen (1903 – 1946)

From The Dark Tower

by Countee Cullen

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds

 


Countee Cullen was a poet, a playwright, a translator, an essayist, a critic, a children’s author and scholar.  He managed all that creativity during an intense 25 year career.  Countee was part of the Harlem social elite, marrying W. E. B Du Bois’ daughter, with some pomp and circumstance only to have the marriage fail in less than three years under the weight of great expectations. Countee was highly influenced by Yeats, Shelley and A. E. Housman, choosing a classical style of poetry at a time other Harlem Renaissance writers were branching off into more uncharted waters.  Countee was unfairly criticized during his career for writing in a style that would appeal to a cross over of white readers and be more publishable.  I think his poetry sings with a genuine voice that was of his choosing alone.  Countee said it best; “My poetry, I think, has become the way of my giving out what music is within me.” Countee dealt with a wide range of themes in his poetry, but always came back to love.


 

Song In Spite of Myself

by Countee Cullen

Never love with all your heart,
It only ends in aching;
And bit by bit to the smallest part
That organ will be breaking.

Never love with all your mind,
It only ends in fretting;
In musing on sweet joys behind,
too poignant for forgetting.

Never love with all your soul,
for such there is no ending;
though a mind that frets may find control,
and a shattered heart find mending.

Give but a grain of the heart’s rich seed,
Confine some undercover,
And when love goes, bid him God-speed,
and find another lover.