I made a list of things I haveLinda Pastan
to remember and a list
of things I want to forget,
but I see they are the same list
Month: May 2023
It Might Have Been Otherwise
You think that their
dying is the worst
thing that could happen.
Then they stay dead.Donald Hall
by Jane Kenyon (1947 – 1995)
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.”
by Jane Kenyon
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.
It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.”
Crimsoned With Joy
And a bird overhead sang Follow,
And a bird to the right sang Here;
And the arch of the leaves was hollow,
And the meaning of May was clear.Algernon Charles Swinburne
by Amy Lowell
Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view,
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
Their widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.
After a long winter, there is something magical with the speed with which Minnesota transforms from brown to green. Two weeks ago I would have bet that the crab apple trees would not be blooming by Mother’s Day and then, viola, magic happens. All the fruit trees burst out in blossom, the linden’s perfume places you would never expect and in general I pinch myself every morning in how beautiful it is in May in Minnesota. All of the fruit trees I planted this year came through the drought and then the record snowfall. They are ready to grow this year. May in Minnesota is darn near perfect, perfect temperatures, first half virtually no mosquitoes and every day a new flower blooming in the yard. The lilacs will be up next, then the iris, then on and on.
Smell is the Last Memory To Go
Were It Not For The Way You Taught Me To Look At The World
My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.Mark Twain
Song for Nobody
by Thomas Merton
A yellow flower
(Light and spirit)
Sings by itself
A golden spirit
(Light and emptiness)
Sings without a word
Let no one touch this gentle sun
In whose dark eye
Someone is awake.
(No light, no gold, no name, no colour
And no thought:
O, wide awake!)
A golden heaven
Sings by itself
A song to nobody.
Mother (An Excerpt)
by Ted Kooser
The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.
They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts
burning in circles like birthday candles,
for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.
There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.
You asked me if I would be sad when it happened
and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.
Write A Poem About This
“Let’s feed out tears to the dragons of misery, but let’s never crawl in their mouths.”Cristin O-Keefe Aptowicz
My Mother Wants To Know If I’m Dead
by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
RE YOU DEAD? is the subject line of her email.
The text outlines the numerous ways she thinks
I could have died: slain by an axe-murderer, lifeless
on the side of a highway, choked to death by smoke
since I’m a city girl and likely didn’t realize you needed
to open the chimney flue before making a fire (and,
if I do happen to be alive, here’s a link to a YouTube
video on fireplace safety that I should watch). Mom
muses about the point of writing this email. If I am
already dead, which is what she suspects, I wouldn’t
be able to read it. And if I’m alive, what kind of daughter
am I not to write her own mother to let her know
that I’ve arrived at my fancy residency, safe and sound,
and then to immediately send pictures of everything,
like I promised her! If this was a crime show, she posits,
the detective might accuse her of sending this email
as a cover up for murder. How could she be the murderer,
if she wrote an email to her daughter asking if she was murdered?
her defense lawyers would argue at the trial. In fact,
now that she thinks of it, this email is the perfect alibi
for murdering me. And that is something I should
definitely keep in mind, if I don’t write her back
as soon as I have a free goddamn second to spare.
Sleeping in Late with My Mother
She apologizes. It’s not like her. She’s usually up by six.
But it’s the weekend, you tell her, there is no need to rush!
The plan for the day is breakfast somewhere and walking
somewhere else. I’m happy, but Mom can’t believe that
she forgot to bring conditioner, or that she slept so late.
The housekeeper at the discount hotel knocks. We’re still here,
we’re still here! she shouts back. Girls’ weekend, just us two,
and still we have to remind each other it’s okay to take our time.
No rush, we say to each other, firmly. I’m writing two poems
a day all summer: one every morning and again every night.
It is morning and my mom tells me, Write a poem about this,
but don’t mention I slept in so late! Just put down that your mother
is taking it easy, that your mother is taking her time for once!So I do
what she says, sort of. And the housekeeper knocks again.
But this time, my mother doesn’t jump. Instead, she leans back,
comfortable, and shouts: Still here, Still here! We are still here!
To My Mother
“I was never really insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.”Edgar Allan Poe
To My Mother
Sonnets Are Full of Love
By Christina Rossetti
Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honoured name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death.
Joy’s Perfect Wholeness
“Unless you love someone, nothing else makes sense.”e. e. cummings
if there are any heavens
by e. e. cummings
if there are any heavens my mother will(all by herself)have
one. It will not be a pansy heaven nor
a fragile heaven of lilies-of-the-valley but
it will be a heaven of blackred roses
my father will be(deep like a rose
tall like a rose)
standing near my
(swaying over her
with eyes which are really petals and see
nothing with the face of a poet really which
is a flower and not a face with
This is my beloved my
(suddenly in sunlight
he will bow,
& the whole garden will bow)
your homecoming will be my homecoming
by e. e. cummings
your homecoming will be my homecoming-
my selves go with you, only i remain;
a shadow phantom effigy or seeming
(an almost someone always who’s noone)
a noone who, till their and your returning,
spends the forever of his loneliness
dreaming their eyes have opened to your mourning
feeling their stars have risen through your skies:
so, in how merciful love’s own name, linger
no more than selfless i can quite endure
the absence of that moment when a stranger
takes in his arms my very lifes who’s you
-when all fears hopes beliefs doubts disappear.
Everywhere and joy’s perfect wholeness we’re
Holding Hands In Our Sleep
Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love.Galway Kinnell
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
by Galway Kinnell
Didn’t you like the way the ants help
the peony globes open by eating the glue off?
Weren’t you cheered to see the ironworkers
sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,
in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe
baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?
Wasn’t it a revelation to waggle
from the estuary all the way up the river,
the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,
the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?
Didn’t you almost shiver, hearing book lice
clicking their sexual dissonance inside an old
Webster’s New International, perhaps having just
eaten out of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?
What did you imagine lies in wait anyway
at the end of a world whose sub-substance
is glaim, gleet, birdlime, slime, mucus, muck?
Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wren
and how little flesh is needed to make a song.
Didn’t it seem somehow familiar when the nymph
split open and the mayfly struggled free
and flew and perched and then its own back
broke open and the imago, the true adult,
somersaulted out and took flight, seeking
the swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,
alimentary canal come to a stop,
a day or hour left to find the desired one?
Or when Casanova took up the platter
of linguine in squid’s ink and slid the stuff
out the window, telling his startled companion,
“The perfected lover does not eat.”
As a child, didn’t you find it calming to imagine
pinworms as some kind of tiny batons
giving cadence to the squeezes and releases
around the downward march of debris?
Didn’t you glimpse in the monarchs
what seemed your own inner blazonry
flapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?
Weren’t you reassured to think these flimsy
hinged beings, and then their offspring,
and then their offspring’s offspring, could
navigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,
to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,
by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestors
who fell in this same migration a year ago?
Doesn’t it outdo the pleasures of the brilliant concert
to wake in the night and find ourselves
holding hands in our sleep?
The Sleepless Toads Are Murmuring
Poetry is the art of imaginary gardening with real toads.Marianne Moore
by Archibald Lampman
How deep the April night is in its noon,
The hopeful, solemn, many-murmured night!
The earth lies hushed with expectation; bright
Above the world’s dark border burns the moon,
Yellow and large; from forest floorways, strewn
With flowers, and fields that tingle with new birth,
The moist smell of the unimprisoned earth
Come up, a sigh, a haunting promise. Soon,
Ah, soon, the teeming triumph! At my feet
The river with its stately sweep and wheel
Moves on slow-motioned, luminous, gray like steel.
From fields far off whose watery hollows gleam,
Aye with blown throats that make the long hours sweet,
The sleepless toads are murmuring in their dreams.
Spring on the River
by Archibald Lampman
O sun, shine hot on the river;
For the ice is turning an ashen hue,
And the still bright water is looking through,
And the myriad streams are greeting you
With a ballad of life to the giver,
From forest and field and sunny town,
Meeting and running and tripping down,
With laughter and song to the river.
Oh! the din on the boats by the river;
The barges are ringing while day avails,
With sound of hewing and hammering nails,
Planing and painting and swinging pails,
All day in their shrill endeavor;
For the waters brim over their wintry cup,
And the grinding ice is breaking up,
And we must away down the river.
Oh! the hum and the toil of the river;
The ridge of the rapid sprays and skips:
Loud and low by the water’s lips,
Tearing the wet pines into strips,
The saw mill is moaning ever.
The little grey sparrow skips and calls
On the rocks in the rain of the water falls,
And the logs are adrift in the river.
Oh! restlessly whirls the river;
The rivulets run and the cataract drones:
The spiders are flitting over the stones:
Summer winds float and the cedar moans;
And the eddies gleam and quiver.
O sun; shine hot, shine long and abide
In the glory and power of the summer tide
On the swift longing face of the river.
And Then Time Passes
Life is like riding a bicycle, you must keep moving forward.Albert Einstein
Einstein’s Happiest Moment
by T. A. Fry
No one can disprove Einstein’s theory of special relativity,
theoretical physics requires trust, as do all physical relationships.
E = mc2 equals;
Energy = married couple2
Energy = married* (Me and You, which together raises us to the power of two)
The gravity and electromagnetism of our attraction, distorting our time and space continuum.
The eloquence of this theory can be better understood, through a series of calculations, proving the universal theory of love, for all who confuse momentum with energy.
Energy = married* Me*You
Energy/Me = Married* You
Job(Energy/me) = Job(Married*You)
Since mortgage and monthly bills are equivalent.
(Job(Energy/me)/(mortgage)) + Child A= (((Job/Child care Bills)*(Married*You))/(Monthly Bills)) + Child A
Then it happens:
(Job(Energy/me)/(mortgage) + Child A = Momentum
Which allows us to rewrite it following child 2 as:
(Momentum) + (Child A2 + Child B2/Childcare Bills) = (((Job/Child Care Bills) * (Married*You) + (Child A2+ Child B2),
Because everyone knows having a second child changes the stress level to a new logarithmic scale.
(Job/Child Care Bills) = 1, Which allows us to rewrite as:
(Momentum) + (Child A2 + Child B2) = (Married*You)+ (Child A2+ Child B2)
And then time passes.
Time is measured differently when the black hole of middle age sucks in the light. The theorem can now be re-written as:
(((Momentum) + ((Child A2 graduates and moves out = 0))+ (Child B2*Tuition))) / extended family drama = (Married*You)+(Child A2 Graduates and moves out = 0) + (Child B2 * Tuition))/ extended family drama
Which can be rewritten as:
(((Momentum) + (Child B2 *college tuition))/Squabble over inheritance = ((Married*You)+ (Child B2*college tuition)/feud over family cabin.
With momentum declining, the equation in a few years can be rewritten again:
((Job(Energy/me)/(mortgage))/college tuition2 * (Being laid off)) = ((Married*You)/college tuition2 )) * (Health scare)
(((Job/me=1)*(Energy)/(mortgage)/college tuition2 /(knee replacement + Type II Diabetes)) = ((Married*You)/college tuition2)/(Fibromyalgia + Menopause).
Dividing resentment and weight gain on both sides of the equation derives the following:
Energy/debts = Married*You
(Energy/debts)/Married) = You
Which can be rewritten as:
Divorce Lawyer + (Energy/debts)/Married) = You+ Divorce Lawyer
Divorce Lawyer +(Energy/debts *Married)= 0
0 = You + Divorce Lawyer