Love Minus The Awkward Lover

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods, they have not forgotten this….

Terry Prachett

The Orange Cat

by Vikram Seth

The orange cat on the porch
Regards the tiny bird
Out on the pine-tree limb
And yawns without a word.

The mourning air is mild,
The tawny hillsides seem
Halfway from sleep to waking:
The cat appears to dream,

Which is of course illusion;
A harsh jay on the hill
Is answered by three quail
Clucks, and a warbler’s trill.

The cat who is not hungry
Can listen in repose
To birdcalls, with that pleasant
Touch of desire’s throes

We feel before a painting
Of nude or odalisque,
The lost without the pain,
Arousal without risk

Of failure, sweet frisson –
Like drink, and no hangover,,
Sex without friction, love
Minus the awkward lover.


My Dog Practices Geometry

By Cathryn Essinger
 
I do not understand the poets who tell me
that I should not personify. Every morning
the willow auditions for a new role
 
outside my bedroom window—today she is
Clytemnestra; yesterday a Southern Belle,
lost in her own melodrama, sinking on her skirts.
 
Nor do I like the mathematicians who tell me
I cannot say, “The zinnias are counting on their
fingers,” or “The dog is practicing her geometry,”
 
even though every day I watch her using
the yard’s big maple as the apex of a triangle
from which she bisects the circumference
 
of the lawn until she finds the place where
the rabbit has escaped, or the squirrel upped
the ante by climbing into a new Euclidian plane.
 
She stumbles across the lawn, eyes pulling
her feet along, gaze fixed on a rodent working
the maze of the oak as if it were his own invention,
 
her feet tangling in the roots of trees, and tripping,
yes, even over themselves, until I go out to assist,
by pointing at the squirrel, and repeating, “There!
 
There!” But instead of following my outstretched
arm to the crown of the tree, where the animal is
now lounging under a canopy of leaves,
 
catching its breath, charting its next escape,
she looks to my mouth, eager to read my lips,
confident that I—who can bring her home
 
from across the field with a word, who
can speak for the willow and the zinnia—
can surely charm a squirrel down from a tree.

Which Is Like Love

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

The sense of the world is short,—

Long and various the report,—

              To love and be beloved;

Men and gods have not outlearned it;

And, how oft soe’er they’ve turned it,

              ’Tis not to be improved

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Eros

Wedding

by Alice Oswald

From time to time our love is like a sail
and when the sail begins to alternate
from tack to tack, it’s like a swallowtail
and when the swallow flies it’s like a coat;
and if the coat is yours, it has a tear
like a wide mouth and when the mouth begins
to draw the wind, it’s like a trumpeter
and when the trumpet blows, it blows like millions …
and this, my love, when millions come and go
beyond the need of us, is like a trick;
and when the trick begins, it’s like a toe
tip-toeing on a rope, which is like luck;
and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.


A Great Need

by Hafiz

Out
Of a great need
We are all holding hands
And climbing.
Not loving is a letting go.
Listen,
The terrain around here
Is
Far too
Dangerous
For
That.

Between Heaven and Earth

Wang Ping

 

The River In Our Blood

A Sonnet Crown
For Lord Bruce
By Wang Ping

VII

The heart beats alone, keeping its own pace
Fear, rage, sorrow—storms beyond our range
The river bows and bends, birthing new space
To die and live again–this constant change

Veins of water across the delta wrist, opening
Cupped hands…fish, reeds, frogs mating in puddles
Home… where cranes stop for a drink, then rising
Back to their birthplace. The spirit shuttles

Between heaven and earth—how you follow
This primordial path? The brain, a wrinkled mass
Keeps us at bay, eyes on the black swallow
From distant sea…messenger through tall grass

Memory split from the Fountain of Youth
You hold us to the place– this beat, this truth

 


 

If you would like to read Wanda Ping’s entire crown of sonnets, click on the link below:

Wang Ping

 


Immigrant Can’t Write Poetry

Wang Ping 

 

“Oh no, not with your syntax,” said H.V. to her daughter-in-law, a Chinese writing poetry in English

She walk to table
She walks to a table

She walk to table now
She is walking to a table now

What difference it make
What difference does it make

In Nature, no completeness
No sentence really complete thought

Language, our birthright & curse
Pay no mind to immigrant syntax

Poetry, born as beast
Move best when free, undressed

 

 
 

It Was All Of That

Kathleen Norris

In spite of the cost of living, its still popular.

Kathleen Norris

Ascension

by Kathleen Norris

Why do you stand looking up at the skies?
.                                                        . Acts 1:11

It wasn’t just wind, chasing
thin gunmetal clouds
across the loud sky;
it wasn’t the feeling that one might ascend
on that excited air,
rising like a trumpet note.

And it wasn’t just my sister’s water breaking,
her crying out,
the downward draw of blood and bone…

It was all of that,
the mud and new grass
pushing up through melting snow,
the lilac in bud
by my front door, bent low
by last week’s ice storm.

Now the new mother, that leaky vessel,
begins to nurse her child,
beginning the long good-bye.


Mrs. Adam

By Kathleen Norris 
 

I have lately come to the conclusion that I am Eve,
alias Mrs. Adam. You know, there is no account
of her death in the Bible, and why am I not Eve?
Emily Dickinson in a letter,
12 January, 1846

Wake up,
you’ll need your wits about you.
This is not a dream,
but a woman who loves you, speaking.
 
She was there
when you cried out;
she brushed the terror away.
She knew
when it was time to sin.
You were wise
to let her handle it,
and leave that place.
 
We couldn’t speak at first
for the bitter knowledge,
the sweet taste of memory
on our tongues.
 
Listen, it’s time.
You were chosen too,
to put the world together.
 

Look Around You, Look Around!

Mary Howitt

So come to the pond, or the river of your imagination, or the harbor of your longing, and put your lips to the world. And live your life.

Mary Oliver

The Voice of Spring

Mary Howitt (1799 – 1888)

I am coming, I am coming!
Hark! the honey bee is humming;
See, the lark is soaring high
In the blue and sunny sky,
And the gnats are on the wing
Wheeling round in airy ring.

Listen! New-born lambs are bleating,
And the cawing rooks are meeting
In the elms-a noisy crowd.
All the birds are singing loud,
And the first white butterfly
In the sunshine dances by.

Look around you, look around!
Flowers in all the fields abound,
Every running stream is bright,
All the orchard trees are white,
And each small and waving shoot
Promises sweet autumn fruit.

 


May

by Mary Oliver (1935 – 2019)

May, and among the miles of leafing,
blossoms storm out of the darkness—
windflowers and moccasin flowers. The bees
dive into them and I too, to gather
their spiritual honey. Mute and meek, yet theirs
is the deepest certainty that this existence too—
this sense of well-being, the flourishing
of the physical body—rides
near the hub of the miracle that everything
is a part of, is as good
as a poem or a prayer, can also make
luminous any dark place on earth.

 

I Have Not The Cloudy Winds To Keep

John Keats (1795 – 1821)

Even bees, the little almsmen of spring bowers, know there is richest juice in poison flowers.

John Keats

On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

by John Keats

My spirit is too weak—mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet ‘tis a gentle luxury to weep,
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep,
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an indescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.


 

The Human Seasons

By John Keats 
 
Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
     There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
     Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
     Spring’s honied cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
     Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
     He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness—to let fair things
     Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
.     . Or else he would forego his mortal nature. 

 



I’ll Take It All

Ada Limon

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Instructions on Not Giving Up

by Ada Limon

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

 
 

Young Lambs

by John Clare

The spring is coming by a many signs;
The trays are up, the hedges broken down,
That fenced the haystack, and the remnant shines
Like some old antique fragment weathered brown.
And where suns peep, in every sheltered place,
The little early buttercups unfold
A glittering star or two–till many trace
The edges of the blackthorn clumps in gold.
And then a little lamb bolts up behind
The hill and wags his tail to meet the yoe,
And then another, sheltered from the wind,
Lies all his length as dead–and lets me go
Close bye and never stirs but baking lies,
With legs stretched out as though he could not rise.

Child, We’ve Done Our Best

Delmore Schwartz

Heart’s Needle 2

by W. D. Snodgrass

 Late April and you are three; today
         We dug your garden in the yard.
    To curb the damage of your play,
Strange dogs at night and the moles tunneling,   
    Four slender sticks of lath stand guard   
         Uplifting their thin string.

    So you were the first to tramp it down.
         And after the earth was sifted close   
    You brought your watering can to drown
All earth and us. But these mixed seeds are pressed   
    With light loam in their steadfast rows.
         Child, we’ve done our best.

    Someone will have to weed and spread
         The young sprouts. Sprinkle them in the hour   
    When shadow falls across their bed.
You should try to look at them every day   
    Because when they come to full flower
         I will be away.


Do you ever feel like you just can’t get ahead of the sequence in which the order of things would make sense?   I wanted to plant a few fruit trees this spring, but the cold, wet, late spring has made that complicated.   I got 6 trees planted yesterday, blustery, rainy mid-40’s cloudy day, perfect for bare root trees, not so perfect for the gardener.   Now I have to figure out how to keep the deer off them until I can build a proper deer fence.   All my intentions for positioning the orchard were thrown out the window by unexpected complications in designing a new septic field.   We’ll see who wins, but it would have been so much easier if I could have built the fence first, then then plant the trees.     


 

Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day

By Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966)
 
 
Calmly we walk through this April’s day,   
Metropolitan poetry here and there,   
In the park sit pauper and rentier,   
The screaming children, the motor-car   
Fugitive about us, running away,   
Between the worker and the millionaire   
Number provides all distances,   
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,   
Many great dears are taken away,   
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)   
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)
 
(This is the school in which we learn …)   
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days   
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run   
(This is the school in which they learn …)   
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)
 
Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,   
But what they were then?
                                     No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,   
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)   
But what they were then, both beautiful;
 
Each minute bursts in the burning room,   
The great globe reels in the solar fire,   
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)   
What am I now that I was then?   
May memory restore again and again   
The smallest color of the smallest day:   
Time is the school in which we learn,   
Time is the fire in which we burn

The Bookman Comes

Jack The Giant Killer

How frail the bloom, how short the stay

That terminates us all!

Today we flourish green and gay,

Like leaves tomorrow fall.”

John Clare

To John Clare 

By John Clare (1793 – 1864)

Well, honest John, how fare you now at home?
The spring is come, and birds are building nests;
The old cock-robin to the sty is come,
With olive feathers and its ruddy breast;
And the old cock, with wattles and red comb,
Struts with the hens, and seems to like some best,
Then crows, and looks about for little crumbs,
Swept out by little folks an hour ago;
The pigs sleep in the sty; the bookman comes—
The little boy lets home-close nesting go,
And pockets tops and taws, where daisies blow,
To look at the new number just laid down,
With lots of pictures, and good stories too,
And Jack the Giant-killer’s high renown.
 

Prayer 

by John Untermeyer

God, though this life is but a wraith,
Although we know not what we use,
Although we grope with little faith,
Give me the heart to fight—and lose.

Ever insurgent let me be,
Make me more daring than devout;
From sleek contentment keep me free.
And fill me with a buoyant doubt.

Open my eyes to visions girt
With beauty, and with wonder lit—
But let me always see the dirt,
And all that spawn and die in it.

Open my ears to music; let
Me thrill with Spring’s first flutes and drums—
But never let me dare forget
The bitter ballads of the slums.

From compromise and things half-done,
Keep me, with stern and stubborn pride;
And when, at last, the fight is won
God, keep me still unsatisfied.

I Listen For Wind

Janice Gould (1949 – 2019)
 

Six Sonnets of The West

 
by Janice Gould
 
6
Her hand on my thigh, my shoulder,
in my hair. She leans over to kiss my cheek.
We look at each other, smile. For miles
we travel this way, nearly silent, point
with eyes or chins at the circling hawk, the king-
fisher on the snag above the swollen
creek. One night I weep in her arms
as she cries, “Oh, oh, oh!” because I have touched
her scars lightly: throat, belly, breasts.
In that communion of lovers, thick sobs
break from me as I think of my love
back home, all that I have done
and cannot say. This is the first time
I have left her so completely, so alone.


Cante Jondo

by Janice Gould

Wind taps the window at night,
whistles through cracks and keyholes,
summoning.  Along the snowy ridge
she moans a black siguiriya.

I work as darkness encloses my house,
sleep dreamlessly in the afternoon.
When I awaken, burning and hungry,
I listen for wind.  She’ll come

scratching holes in sandy soil,
kicking up gravel, sobbing and singing,
the train of her dark skirt
swaggering magnificently