Monday, August 30, 2010

Four Poems In One, by Anne Porter

Hello Poets,
Anne Porter finds dread certainty in an uncertain world. This is the last stanza.

Four Poems In One

We know little
We can tell less
But one thing I know
One thing I can tell
I will see you again in Jerusalem
Which is of such beauty
No matter what country you come from
You will be more at home there
Than ever with father or mother
Than even with lover or friend
And once we’re within her borders
Death will hunt us in vain.

by Anne Porter, from An Altogether Different Language, 1994

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hello Poets,
Let's not press strangers to explain themselves. Naomi Shihab Nye says serve tea and wait. 
We have much to learn about hospitality from Arab culture.

Red Brocade

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine Nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

by Naomi Shihab Nye, from 19 Varieties of Gazelle, 2005

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Sane Revolution, by D.H. Lawrence

Hello Poets,
D.H. Lawrence had it right. Revolutions are about having fun.
Enough of this stony-faced, sober seriousness. Stop working so hard and things will change radically.

A Sane Revolution

If you make a revolution, make it for fun,
don't make it in ghastly seriousness,
don't do it in deadly earnest,
do it for fun.

Don't do it because you hate people,
do it just to spit in their eye.

Don't do it for the money,
do it and be damned to the money.

Don't do it for equality,
do it because we've got too much equality
and it would be fun to upset the apple-cart
and see which way the apples would go a-rolling.

Don't do it for the working classes.
Do it so that we can all of us be little aristocracies on our own
and kick our heels like jolly escaped asses.

Don't do it, anyhow, for international Labour.
Labour is the one thing a man has had too much of.
Let's abolish labour, let's have done with laboring!
Work can be fun, and men can enjoy it; then it's not labour.
Let's have it so! Let's make a revolution for fun!

by D.H. Lawrence, from Selected Poems, edited by Keith Sagar, 1972

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Real Work, by Wendell Berry


The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

by Wendell Berry, from Collected Poems, 1987

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Wild Iris, by Louise Gluck

Hello Poets,
Louise Gluck's poems seem to come from the direct center, shimming but grounded, prophetic and real, a genuine voice for our times.

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

by Louise Gluck, from The Wild Iris, 1993.