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Category: 2015

“No Ideas But In Things” – Jessica Greenbaum‏

   "Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling" (c.1527) - Hans Holbein the Younger

Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling (c.1527)

Hans Holbein the Younger

__________

it’s been a while since I’ve offered
up a poem, it’s been a while since
I’ve read one, and I miss them

but this one inadvertently this
morning struck a conversational
tone I found particularly engaging,
easy to read, though with cadences

no paragraphs

Jessica Greenbaum uses longer
iambic pentameters than I do, you
might note, decidedly more
punctuation

but she sings her lines, her daily
prose, as if they were poems

that’s what I especially like

Richard

_____________

No Ideas But In Things

We checked the vents and hidden apertures of the house,
then ran out of ideas of where it might be open to the world.
So we couldn’t figure out how the squirrel was getting in.
We each had methods that succeeded in shooing him,
or her, out the door—but none of them lasted. Whether
it was the same squirrel—terrified when in the house, and
persistently so—or various we couldn’t tell because,
tipped off by a glance, he zigzagged from froze-to-vapor,
vanishing, Zorro-like, until signs would tell us he had
revisited the sideboard to dig in the begonia. (Escaping
Newcastle in a search for coal.) We plotted his counter-
escape, laying a path of pecans to a window opening
on the yard. A few days would pass, and, believing him
gone, we felt inexplicably better than when we began.
Then, from another room, the amplified skritch of nutmeg
being grated—and, crash. Bracelets off dresser tops, bud
vases, candy dishes, things houses have that the back yard
doesn’t. You don’t think of squirrels knocking things over,
but inside it was like living with the Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
When we couldn’t trust the quiet or prove his absence,
we cast him as that hapless shade: worry. Our own gray
area, scat-trailing proof of feral anxiety. But after a few
cycles of release-and-catch I grew bored with the idea,
with its untamed projections. Since he dashes up walls,
(yanked, like a pulley), or seeks treasure in a five-inch pot,
daily, why not adopt him as optimism’s travelling rep?
I tried. But the sun comes up, we step toward the stove,
and he shoots out like a cue ball, banks off the kitchen door
—what mayhem is caused by going to make coffee!—
and the day, again, begins with a shriek. We are now in
week three and I accept that, inside, the squirrel is going
to stand for something else. And so is the May rain
and so is the day you took off your coat and the tulips
joined in with the cherry blossoms and the people came out
and the pear-tree petals floated down in polka dots
around the tulips, and even around the cars. We name life
in relation to whatever we step out from when we
open the door, and whatever comes back in on its own.

Jessica Greenbaum

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my Valentine

"A Bouquet of Roses" (1879) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A Bouquet of Roses” (1879)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

___________

happy Valentine’s Day, Apollo said
over the phone at about ten this morning

hi, I said, can I call you back

I’ll call you back later, he answered

roger, we agreed, out

later he called to say it again, I found it
amusing, verging on charming, but later
still when we met serendipitously on the
street, where he’d sensed it would
imminently happen, though it hardly ever
does, he appeared bathed in golden light,
crossing the street towards me beaming,
very, indeed, Apollo, cutting a path
through the traffic and throng

I, of course, melted as I usually do, but
managed to hold onto my bags

happy Valentine’s Day again, he said,
I’d’ve bought you a rose, he suggested,
but they’re in bunches today, fifteen
dollars, that seemed excessive

where would I put them anyway, I
decided

we talked about a sign up saying, help,
I’ve fallen for you and I can’t get up, I’d
seen at the market, which, along with
the crush of roses and people on the
streets, had been enlivening, inspiring,
recollective

you could say it back, he said

you haven’t said it in seventeen years,
I retorted, I tried it back then several
times but it never seemed to work, I
gave up

I knew you’d say that, he contritely
replied, playing sheepishly along

okay, I said, happy Valentine

and I love you

I love you too, he replied

we embraced

the trees were sporting cherry
blossoms

birds, I think, sang

Richard

Freedom

Alexandru Ciucurencu - "May Day in Freedom" (1958)

May Day in Freedom (1958)

Alexandru Ciucurencu

__________

two events took place after the fall
of the Berlin Wall, which have
remained cultural landmarks since,
nothing much comes close to their
historical significance, music to
declare a new world order

on December 25, 1989, Leonard
Bernstein conducts Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony at the
Schauspielhaus in the former
East Berlin, it is remembered as
the “Freedom Concert” for having
replaced the word “Joy” in
Schiller’s poem during the “Ode
to Joy”,
the vocal novelty of the
Ninth, also its triumph, with the
word “Freedom”, a whim of the
conductor, not inappropriately

on July 21, 1990, Roger Waters
puts on The Wall“, Pink Floyd’s
20th-Century counterpart for the
Beethoven, the clarion call to do
away with barriers, fences, it’s
hard to dismiss its prescience
when the piece had been written
eight years earlier, seven years
before the fall of the Wall, as
though Pink Floyd had been
prophetic

like Beethoven had been, not
at all coincidentally here
, in
his own day

both concerts are beyond
description, extraordinary

just click

watch for unexpected guest
appearances in either of,
everywhere, the very highest
quality

Richard

 

a February poem‏

Aidan wants 6 Power Rangers (November, 2014)

Aidan wants 6 Power Rangers (November, 2014)

____________

February 15, 1959, John is born,
August 25, 1989, John dies, I
think it is the end, but somehow
I survive

February 15, 2010, Aidan is born,
my partner’s grandson, John has
returned, I surmise, giving me
manifest reason to have
remained alive

____________

we’re going to Buenos Aires for a
month next C***mas

plus my mom

I’ll keep you posted

Richard

“A Year’s Carols” – Algernon Charles Swinburne


"February Forest with Sheep" - Diana Harrison

February Forest with Sheep

Diana Harrison

__________

happy poems about February are not
easy to find, nor are poems by any
poet written for each month of the
year

but here are Algernon Charles
Swinburne
‘s “January” and “February”
from his A Year’s Carols

January

Hail, January, that bearest here
On snowbright breasts the babe-faced year
That weeps and trembles to be born.
Hail, maid and mother, strong and bright,
Hooded and cloaked and shod with white,
Whose eyes are stars that match the morn.
Thy forehead braves the storm’s bent bow,
Thy feet enkindle stars of snow.

February

Wan February with weeping cheer,
Whose cold hand guides the youngling year
Down misty roads of mire and rime,
Before thy pale and fitful face
The shrill wind shifts the clouds apace
Through skies the morning scarce may climb.
Thine eyes are thick with heavy tears,
But lit with hopes that light the year’s.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

March’ll have to wait

most of us have never even heard of
Swinburne, I actually thought he was
German, he’s not, he was English,
and decadent, apparently, like his
compatriots then, Dante Gabriel
Rossetti
and Oscar Wilde, who
thought Swinburne, however, was
a sham

though he never received a Nobel prize,
he was nominated for one in literature
each year from 1903 to 1907, then
again in 1909

to Swinburne

Richard

“The Poet’s Calendar” (February) – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‏

 "Facsimile of February: Farmyard Scene with Peasants" -  Limbourg brothers

Facsimile of February:
Farmyard Scene with Peasants

the Limbourg brothers

___________

if there are paintings about February,
there must be poems about February,
I thought, hence the following entry,
though preceded by a belated January,
or Janus, as it turns out, held back by
nothing other, surely, than the “fields
with snow”, the “frosts”, and the
fowl-filled “frozen fen”

both are from a very calendar of
poems by Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow
, whom I’ve always
imagined tall, however
inappropriate, kind of like thinking
that because my name is Richard
I’m rich

it’s called, appropriately enough,
The Poet’s Calendar, just click

January

Janus am I; oldest of potentates;
Forward I look, and backward, and below
I count, as god of avenues and gates,
The years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow;
I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen;
My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow,
My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.

February

I am lustration, and the sea is mine!
I wash the sands and headlands with my tide;
My brow is crowned with branches of the pine;
Before my chariot-wheels the fishes glide.
By me all things unclean are purified,
By me the souls of men washed white again;
E’en the unlovely tombs of those who died
Without a dirge, I cleanse from every stain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

March will have to wait

Richard

psst: lustration is a purification, Janus, the
god with two faces, who can see
backwards and forwards, fen,
marshland

February, 2015

 "February" - Michael Sowa

February

Michael Sowa

_______

rather than a pictorial representation of
February, more snow over a picturesque
village, February in February is a
February of the mind, the mood, the
cocoon, the armchair, the paper, the cat
at the window watching penguins fly

or, extrapolating, watching pigs fly,
maybe

happy February

Richard

January, internationally revisited‏

 Fern Coppedge - "January Sunshine"

January Sunshine

Fern Coppedge

________

friends have written

From: Penticton, B.C., Canada
Subject: Re: “January Sunshine” – Fern Coppedge
Sent: January-23-15 6:00:48 PM
To: me

Wood in the fireplace + scent of bread baking and casserole with onions, garlic, various vegetables, pie in the oven, reading a psychological thriller and wearing comfortable warm clothes. Cocooning…

Thank you for the picture

Have a very pleasant weekend

XX

Dorothy

From: Australia
Subject: Re: “January Sunshine” – Fern Coppedge
Date: January-23-15 6:08:41 PM
To: me

Thanks for this Richard
Now our January at the other side of the world is totally opposite. We have beaches to lie on, fires to fight, koalas to save, frackers to stop, flocks of birds to welcome home, festivals to dance in and the majesty of knowing that to live in this land is an unsurpassable gift.

I believe Canada is as wonderful but with a cooler outlook.

From: Greece
Subject: Re: “January Sunshine” – Fern Coppedge
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 2015 19:20:08 +0200
To: me

Actually this is very much like home for me. My new home that is. This is what my village sort of looked like about a month ago when we had a huge snow fall. The snow has slowly been melting since then and bits of red crumpled Marlboro cigarette packets and now yellowish Amstel cans are appearing. I wait for spring so they can be covered again this time in green.
Thanks again Richard.

Sent from my iPad

_______________

here from my picture window the
mountains are shrouded in cloud,
the rain, adamant yet gentle, has
been relentless the past few days,
though the clement temperature
has risen to a balmy 12, a weather
front wafting in from Hawaii

under my paisley umbrella soon
I’ll be off to read Shakespeare with
a friend, to add poetry to an
otherwise grey day, with only the
glow yet of cherry blossoms, like
radiant little rosy souls, prefiguring,
on the limbering branches of still
skeletal trees, the advent of an
already resurgent spring

Richard

psst: but what is January in the great
scheme of things, in the universe,
but an anthropomorphous
poeticization of, however
significant, a localized merely,
and only incidental there even,
condition, however global

January is, in other words, one’s
particular potential, I gather, for
poetry, what you make of it

which should apply, theoretically
of course, to everything

if you’ll allow me the extrapolation

January


"January Sunshine" - Fern Coppedge

January Sunshine

Fern Coppedge

________

it might be late in the month to send out
this evocation of January, nothing at all
like home, but full of its emotions, things
cropped up, discretion, reserve, the
considerations, if you’ll believe it, of a
writer, not to mention a poet, no matter
how glib, as well as the lethargy of
hibernation, dishes to wash, hackers
to counter, dinners out, less clement
weather, in other words, January

I promise February will show up on time

Richard