Monday, November 29, 2010

Allegiances, by William Stafford

Hello Poets,
As the nights lengthen, I turn to Bill Stafford's poems. They nourish with their common wisdom and everyday joy.
Bill famously wrote a poem every morning before sunrise. Allegiances is from his 1970 volume of the same name and I can imagine him this cold, dim morning sitting down in the dark before everyone wakes and writing these simple truths.
Best to you all,


It is time for all the heroes to go home
if they have any, time for all of us common ones
to locate ourselves by the real things
we live by.

Far to the north, or indeed in any direction,
strange mountains and creatures have always lurked—
elves, goblins, trolls, and spiders:—we
encounter them in dread and wonder,

But once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold,
found some limit beyond the waterfall,
a season changes, and we come back, changed
but safe, quiet, grateful.

Suppose an insane wind holds all the hills
while strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears,
we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love
where we are, sturdy for common things.

by William Stafford, from Allegiances, 1970

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Third Body, by Robert Bly

The Third Body

A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do
  not long
At this moment to be older, or younger, or born
In any other nation, or any other time, or any other
They are content to be where they are, talking or not
Their breaths together feed someone whom we do
  not know.
The man sees the way his fingers move;
He sees her hands close around a book she hands to
They obey a third body that they share in common.
They have promised to love that body.
Age may come; parting may come; death will come!
A man and a woman sit near each other;
As they breathe they feed someone we do not know,
Someone we know of, whom we have never seen.

by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words, 1999

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lines Written In The Days Of Growing Darkness, by Mary Oliver


Lines Written In The Days Of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to say,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?
So let us go on

through the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

by Mary Oliver, from New York Times, Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Low Road, by Marge Piercy

Hello Poets,
What's unnerving after the recent election is the atomized, isolated, knocked down feeling of being clobbered. But the vanquished are also strangely at liberty to look forward to a new beginning, unencumbered by the ruinous missteps that led to defeat.
As Marge Piercy knows, it happens one person at a time and grows from there.

The Low Road

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t blame them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

by Marge Piercy, from The Moon is Always Female, 1980

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Wind Blows Through The Doors Of My Heart- Deborah Digges

Hello Poets,
When Deborah Digges died in the spring of 2009, at the age of fifty-nine, she left a gathering of poems from which this is taken.
It speaks of a disturbing inner wind, a change of seasons gale that touches everything, leaving no settled thing the same.

The Wind Blows Through The Doors Of My Heart

The wind blows
through the doors of my heart.
It scatters my sheet music
that climbs like waves from the piano, free of the keys.
Now the notes stripped, black butterflies,
flattened against the screens.
The wind through my heart
blows all my candles out.
In my heart and its rooms is dark and windy.
From the mantle smashes birds' nests, teacups
full of stars as the wind winds round,
a mist of sorts that rises and bends and blows
or is blown through the rooms of my heart
that shatters the windows,
rakes the bedsheets as though someone
had just made love. And my dresses
they are lifted like brides come to rest
on the bedstead, crucifixes,
dresses tangled in trees in the rooms
of my heart. To save them
I've thrown flowers to fields,
so that someone would pick them up
and know where they came from.
Come the bees now clinging to flowered curtains.
Off with the clothesline pinning anything, my mother's trousseau.
It is not for me to say what is this wind
or how it came to blow through the rooms of my heart.
Wing after wing, through the rooms of the dead
the wind does not blow. Nor the basement, no wheezing,
no wind choking the cobwebs in our hair.
It is cool here, quiet, a quilt spread on soil.
But we will never lie down again.

by Deborah Digges, from The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart, 2010