Saturday, July 9, 2016

7/9/2016 - Collection month, Week 1 - Maggie Stiefvater - The Raven Cycle

Four books: The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Lily Blue, Blue Lily, and The Raven King

A friend of my wife recommended these, so she read them, and then handed them to me. She contended that I should review them one at a time, and read them as I reviewed them, but I'm an idiot and didn't do that. Instead, I read them all at once. Well, that's a lie, I read them all in a row, but with other books in between them, and I really shouldn't have done that, because there is a fantastic growth of characters, style, and strength of writing over the course of the series. That's lost, a little (for reviewing purposes) when read all together. So, this is not as good a review as it could be, because I should have spent all month reviewing them one at a time. Oh well.

These books are fantastic. Book one starts slow, with a standard introduction of characters - the Raven boys are attending a private boarding school in rural Virginia (I love boarding school novels, but this isn't really a boarding school novel), the mascot/crest is a raven. Richard Gansey III (Gansey), Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch - Gansey and Ronan share an apartment off campus, Adam rounds out their Three Musketeers, but refuses to live with them. Blue is a townie, and the child of a family of psychics. She's known since early childhood that when she kisses her true love, he will die. And, at the beginning of this book, we learn that this year will be the year in which that happens. Oh, and Blue is not herself psychic; however, she enhances the abilities of psychics when she's around. She meets the Raven boys when they come for a reading - Gansey is searching for the tomb of a Welsh king he believes was shipped to the New World for a hidden burial - he believes the tomb is nearby, and has something to do with the local ley lines. So, it's a coming of age series (as suggested by the themes of love, and the incidental setting of a boarding school), it's a fantasy series (as suggested by the psychics and the ley lines), it's a mystery/exploration series (as suggested by the lost king's tomb), and it's also shockingly, amazingly deep. Three books in, my wife said to me that she thought it might, for the right sort of reader, be a "warm blanket" series - the sort of books that you return to when everything around you seems confusing and gross. Having read the books, I concur - the characters deal with and resolve mysteries of missing Welsh kings and magic, but also the more mundane mysteries of love, friendship, family, loyalty and making the sort of decisions about life paths that create the sense of confusion and grossness which precipitates the need for such "warm blanket" books. At the end of the series, there is a strong sense that, even if not everything ends happily, everything ends, and sometimes happiness can be wrung, through great effort, from the ending of things. There is a delight and a comfort in watching other people struggle with, and overcome, issues of life.

Oh, but these books are also more than that! I read them in and amidst June's poetry, and Stiefvater has a decidedly poetic style. As the series grows, so too does the style; Stiefvater uses language with a delightful and delicate touch that builds a sense of character, enhances the tension of the novels, and, really, makes these a pure joy to read.

I can't guarantee that they will be "warm blanket" books for you - I don't think they will be for me, because I already have a number of those tucked away as needed - but I can say this: if you like mysteries magical and mundane, books about love, life, and loyalty, strong characters who consistently surprise and delight, and poetic language which does not detract from the solidity of the overall work, then you will almost certainly like these books.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 30, redux, Miriam Dunn, _Who Will Love the Crow

Publishing poetry has become increasingly easy over the past ten years. (Making money publishing poetry - still fiendishly difficult, but a different story). This is a slim volume of poetry and some photographs. Many of the poems were delightful. I especially liked Dunn's quirky rhyme scheme (in the poems that had rhymes) - making poems rhyme is actually really really hard, and making them rhyme is a way that is not ABBA CDDC and such is even harder. Also, Dunn's use of rhythm (in the poems where there was a consistent rhythm) throughout is good, pulling the reader through the poem. A few of the poems felt a little self-indulgent - but then the poem that I find self-indulgent may resonate more fully with you, and vice-versa. There are also some pleasantly silly poems, and a series of haiku.

If that all sounds eclectic - well, it is. My chief criticism is that there is no cohesion here, no theme which pulls the whole book together, just a collection of poems, all (well, mostly) individually excellent, but with very little to suggest why they should be placed next to each other.

There were several poems that I found really really good, but because I posted some Matthew Arnold the other day, this one seems most appropos:

Still, Dover Beach

The ebb and flow of love,
smooth pebbles tossed against the shore,
leaves unbelievers lost,
rough tumbled in its roar.

Pale specter of the world,
its shadows fall on darkling plain;
white cliffs will still loom tall
'ere crumbling once again.

And melancholy night
in timeless paths across the sky,
are stilled by lovers' words,
though long centuries pass them by.

For rivers of our time
still interweave with currents past;
covenants conceived,
collected like sea-glass.

A note hangs in the air;
the channel's cry at end of day,
voluminous with life,
before its sweet decay.

And there still hangs the moon,
on Dover's tide, its plaintive song;
eternal notes abide.
Sea of faith still moves as strong.

Old Sophocles could hear
the voice of time within the spray;
and now the voice is mine,
lest my words be washed way.

The ebb and flow of time,
a love sea-tossed against the strand,
retreat and then return,
back to the moon-blanched land.


That sort of reply/response to other poetry, that's a thing I don't think you see (ever? often?) in any other forms of writing. Maybe in painting? Maybe in music, a little (although, that might result in a lawsuit these days). But the idea that a poet can have a conversation - well, a short one, perhaps - with another poet, although long dead - that's just wonderful.

Poetry Month Day 30

I am sick. I have a (very very mild) fever, and my brain does not work. I really really want to post a coherent review of a collection of poetry here, but I don't trust my ability to type a full review. So you'll just have to wait, and hope that I'm better tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 28, William Blake, "Laughing Song"

There are poems about negative outrageous fortune, many and many. Poetry is really good at expressing dismay at the unpleasant surprises that life affords. There are not so many poems about positive fortune - at least, I could not find any (if you know any, please, share!). Instead, here's a silly little bit by the normally gloomy and serious William Blake:

Laughing Song

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

when the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing "Ha, ha he!"

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of "Ha, ha, he!"

Poetry Day 27 (belated), Computer sonnet

I was going to post this yesterday, I swear! From NPR's All Tech Considered, computer written sonnets.

Quake with true fear of just reproach my shame
while her eyes came to me we sweetly sing
hand clasped in her breast her withered hands fling
yet by and claim loves boon nor let the tame
But this affliction sure thy heart inflame
he in silence come and assistance bring
then comes a small bright spark comes wandering
sorrows for him you gave that love once came.

Of doom lest any see the signal hear
that tremble through their incandescent nights
wave must dare if the while himself he cheers
what sudden bird will bring us any cheer
Fled to that audit by advised respects
a sequent day to your world of gain roars.

So, the idea was to have computers write sonnets in an effort to pass the Turing Test (which is to say, a computer which acts sufficiently like a human to fool another human). Poetry is a big step, since human poetry follows certain rules (as in sonnets - a certain number of lines, a particular number of syllables per line, and a cohesive rhyme scheme, often ABBA CDDC and the like, although there are several versions), which computers are good at, but also contain coherent and consistent images and sustained metaphor, which computers are not good at at all. (Having a computer compose blank verse might be more successful - you could convince the judges that the computer was a moody teenager, perhaps). The above was written by a computer, and it's not the worst poem I've read, but it's clear that the computer is still stringing words together to follow a set of programmed rules instead of crafting metaphors.

A green nub pushes up from moist, dark soil.
Three weeks without stirring, now without strife
From the unknown depths of a thumbpot life
In patient rhythm slides forth without turmoil,
A tiny green thing poking through its sheath.
Shall I see the world? Yes, it is bright.
Silent and slow it stretches for the light
And opens, uncurling, above and beneath.
The sun warms it and with a little time
Another slight leaf joins its neighbor,
They crown slowly and birth without labor
Feeding on the air’s breath like a rhyme.
How can we know with body and with brain,
The force that makes the earth suck up the rain.

By contrast, this is a human written sonnet - note the sustained metaphor; every phrase building to a logical image with a message and meaning. So, in a world run by computers, humans will still write poetry (for now...).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 26, Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach"

Today, we are going to the lake, because it is Sunday and it is hot. So, here is a poem about a beach, and also for the Brexit vote, in a certain sort of way.

Dover Beach

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The sea is calm tonight. 
The tide is full, the moon lies fair 
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light 
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, 
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. 
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! 
Only, from the long line of spray 
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land, 
Listen! you hear the grating roar 
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, 
At their return, up the high strand, 
Begin, and cease, and then again begin, 
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring 
The eternal note of sadness in. 

Sophocles long ago 
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought 
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow 
Of human misery; we 
Find also in the sound a thought, 
Hearing it by this distant northern sea. 

The Sea of Faith 
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore 
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. 
But now I only hear 
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, 
Retreating, to the breath 
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear 
And naked shingles of the world. 

Ah, love, let us be true 
To one another! for the world, which seems 
To lie before us like a land of dreams, 
So various, so beautiful, so new, 
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, 
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; 
And we are here as on a darkling plain 
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, 
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


Arnold is, of course, one of those poets you read in school. This has a strong rhyme scheme and a compelling rhythm. He addresses universal issues - love, life, disappointment - and uses some fairly obvious images to do so. The last stanza feels a little depressing - the world has no joy or love or light or anything like that - but think of it as Sir Pratchett suggested - if you ground up the universe into tiny dust, and sifted it, would you find any particles of jo, or love, or light or any of that? And yet... 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 25, Christopher Morley, "To the Little House"

Once again into the Funk and Wagnall's collection.

To the Little House

Dear little house, dear shabby street,
Dear books and beds and food to eat!
How feeble words are to express
The facets of your tenderness.

How white the sun comes through the pane!
In tinkling music drips the rain!
How burning bright the furnace glows!
What paths to shovel when it snows!

O dearly loved Long Island trains!
O well remembered joys and pains.
How near the housetops Beauty leans
Along that little street in Queens!

Let these poor rhymes abide for proof
Joy swells beneath a humble roof;
Heaven is not built of country seats
But little queer suburban streets!


Some delightful oddities in this collection, yes? I mean, first of all, it's interesting to see what the editors considered to be "the best poetry" - they clearly valued rhyme and tight structure. There are also lots of poems about domesticity and such - and some love poetry, true, but even the classical stuff (Plato and Homer feature) tend to be quiet little paeans to domestic bliss. Second, I don't know that I'd consider Queens suburban anymore - but, perhaps I am wrong? Ahhh, but it WAS suburban, in a certain sort of way, before the 1950s suburbanization began - this is a train based suburban setting, when the "urbs" were smaller, and when most of Long Island was still potato farms. Hmmm. I wonder if I can use this in a class? I bet I can!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 24, Robert Francis (by way of Mother Crane), "Summons"

Today, we spent the day at the New York Faerie Festival, which runs all weekend (although we're only going for today). One of the regular performers is Mother Crane, who approaches visitors and reads them a random poem, which she then gives them (on a card). My poem today:


Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look. Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I'm half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I'm not too hard persuaded.

Robert Francis

And now I have shared it with you, so it is your poem for today as well.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Poetry Month Day 23, Selections from _Swidden Fields_

So, a million years ago, when I was doing my first degree (BA English/History), I took a class on poetry writing, which was amazing. It was a once a week seminar, where 15 of us met, shared new poems (at least one a week, that was the rule), critiqued each others work, and generally dug deeply and drank fully of each others passion and such. Often, we met off campus, with food and sometimes alcohol. Occasionally, we would leave class (it was an evening class) and go to a bar. It was very very good, exactly the sort of thing everyone tells you college is going to be (except it mostly isn't. Except when it is, and when it is, it sort of makes the rest of it worth the effort). At the end of the semester, we printed a short chapbook to which each of us contributed a poem or two (it's got an ISBN, it counts as a publication credit!). Here are three or four selections from the chap book (not my offerings, other peoples.)

Des Davidge (Des was an older gentleman, somewhat of an anomaly in the class, which was mostly female and mostly younger - college seniors, not senior citizens. His poetry has a lot of nature imagery, and tends towards the narrative or descriptive, which is great.)

Harvest Journey

We climb to the top of the last load of the day
         swaying on that rutted road.

Our bodies mold a bed in rich fresh scent,
the sound of horses' hoofs and metal wheels
               muffled by the evening
you measure the soft white of your hand
          against my callused fingers.

     Seeded heads tickle along my spine
the smell of you mingling with the aroma of hay
                         soft and quiet
        I am full - only my eyes can speak.

Catherine Glass

More than Sex

The salty taste of your skin
Keeps me buoyant
Like a swimmer in the Dead Sea

(We were young, 18, 19, 20. Lots and lots of poems about sex, more or less)

Dianna Graham

wilderness notes

the skin of still-blind mice in winter
the eyelid's gloss

the freshborn flesh of tadpoles
irises flicking

a fiddlehead  cupped gently in my palm
     your body   naked
          furled upon my bed

(See? Also, we did a lot of playing with the position of text on the page; odd line breaks and spacing - and some of us thought we were e.e. cummings, you know?)

M (don't mock - my poems were published under the name Michael Delphinius - we were young and soooo pretentious! But the poetry was pretty good.)

Let us come to some conclusion

Let us come to some conclusion
something to cancel the crease of time
Let us seize the distance between cities
the dept separating silence and slumber
Let us carve the ceiling   paint it blue

              (let us create the sky anew).

Sarah Mayes (I seem to remember Sarah as the youngest of the group?)


my strand
    of hair
on your collar
    is a snake
           to strike

Carolyn Tilley (Carolyn is the only one of the group I've stayed in touch with - I knew her before the class. Carolyn was always a little crazy; I met her because she posted posters with a rant about Miss Piggy all over campus [she was a strong supporter of Miss Piggy, I seem to recall] and included her e-mail address. This was back when e-mail was still kinda new and exciting. A poet all the way down to her combat boots)


A hand on my shoulder
and one on my back...
I wish you wouldn't
but you seem earnest,
so I'll let it pass.

A lean, a whisper, a wink...
You say I have the eyes of an actress,
I say, it takes one to know one.
You tell nice lies,
so I'll let it pass.

Has practice made you convincing?
Or is it thinking that you're the best -
the confidence of an artist?

I wonder at the years that brought you to me,
are you watching this or ... directing?


Ahhhh, the fruits of a mis-spent (or properly spent?) youth.

Poetry Month, Day 22, belated, Mike Timonin, "Goliath's Mother's Lament"

Ack! Yesterday was a little crazy, for reasons, but that's not an excuse. I even had a poem planned to share! Here it is, the response I wrote to Amal's poem from "yesterday." Obviously, I cannot review my own work, but here's the background - I'm working (slowly - so slowly that I'm not sure it counts as "working") on a cycle of poems based on the Old Testament; specifically, stories of people who didn't make it into The Book. So. Here's the backstory on Goliath. (Oh - I like to write narrative poetry, and I also like to write short, epigramatic poems. This is from the first sort!)


Goliath’s Mother’s Lament

I had a son once, you know,
Strong and big and brave – not so smart, but smart is overrated, I think.
I had a son once, and I thought he would live forever,
And he thought he would live forever,
And why not? He was strong, and big, and brave,
And all I had – surely Death would not dare to take him?
I had a son once, and when he was born the midwives said
“he will be strong, and big, and brave, and he will help on the farm,”
And they were right – he grew fast, and could lift two goats when he was just a boy,
He was strong, yes, but gentle:
the cows gave sweeter milk when he tended them, I swear.
He was gentle, yes, but not soft:
When the ox gored his father, my son carried the broken, bleeding body home to me,
And then he killed the ox as a death gift; but gently, one strike to its head:
He carried that body home, too.
I had a son once, strong and brave, big and gentle;
He would not fight with the other boys,
He was too big, he said,
But I saw him bruised and bleeding more than once,
Because he would not back away when someone smaller needed help.
I had a son once, so big and strong that, soon, he did not need to fight,
The sound of his footstep was enough,
The sight of the fist he used to kill the ox sufficed.
I had a son once,
So big and brave,
The men came with bronze armor and a sharp sword,
They said, “your son is big, and strong, and brave, and we need him,
He won’t have to fight – just the sight of him, like a bronze clad tower,
With a sword like God’s own scythe,
Our enemies will flee like insects when you light a lamp,”
And they took my son, so brave, so big, so strong,
And we were wrong,
Death dared to come – not at first, but in time,
Death came in the form of a small boy,
Death came in the form of a small sling,
Death came in the from of a small stone,
And who could carry that body home to me,
Broken and bleeding?
And who could make a death offering of that boy,
With one strike of the fist?
And who will gentle the sweet milk out of my cows now,
And lift the goats, two at a time, into to olive trees?

I had a son once, you know.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 21, Amal El-Mohtar, "Day 11 - Blackberry Honey"

Administrative stuff: ChimeraCat notes that posting comments is complicated by the fact that the comment section is not secure. Sorry - I'm not sure if that's a thing I can fix? I'll look into it.

ChimeraCat also notes that zi doesn't usually like poetry. I think many of us feel that we don't like poetry - maybe it is something to do with the way we've been taught to analyze rather than enjoy poetry?

Yesterday, I posted a summer poem by a noted Arabic poet. That, naturally, made me think of my friend Amal, also an Arabic poet (also, Canadian). Long time readers of the blog will remember that I reviewed, extensively, her collection The Honey Month back in 2011 (newer readers, the series starts here, and runs for 28 days). This was, as the title suggests,the poem from day 11 of February 2010 (the project was 28 poems/short works of fiction written over the course of the month of February, accompanied/inspired by 28 different flavors of honey). This was my favorite poem from the collection (I think - I may have said differently back when - say, rather, this is my favorite from the collection right now).

My body is a knot of limbs
and I dream of Alexander
of a clean bright blade to slice
through the tangle of what is left.

They pulled me from the rubble
like a fabled sword; never
was Excalibur so tarnished, never
did dustier hands reach
for so shattered a hilt.

Blueberries washed the ash from my tongue
after they came; after the metal and the phosphor
that washed us all so red, so white. Perhaps
if we powdered our cheeks so every day
they would come to think us beautiful?
We might ornament their lawns, their homes
that once were ours, their swimming pools
and tourist traps, their cafes and museums.
Behold! The savage Philistine
undone by David's sling! See
how his mighty giant's body
is limned in our pale chalk!
The Americans would live it
buy a t-shirt to take home.

Yesterday I had daughters. Today
I have these berries on my tongue.

I am lucky, they say, to live; to have
blueberries and water, medicine for my wounds.
I am lucky, they say, to breathe
the air thick with stone
that was my house; safe in my lungs
who would think to take it?

I am lucky, they say, to sleep. To dream.
I lay my head where the Son of Man once did
and close my eyes. To think,
tomorrow I may yet wake
to better.

I cannot sleep.
The earth is knotted with screams.
I taste blueberries on my tongue
and dream of nothing.


This poem is explicitly political, which is made most clear when you understand that the Biblical Philistines are today's Palestinians. I've been preparing a lesson plan which addresses the status of Jews in Europe at the time of the French Revolution (yes, there's more to that story). Consequently, I am sympathetic to the ongoing need for some sort of Jewish homeland. However, I'm sure that there could have been a more equitable way of creating such a homeland. And that's as political as I'm going to get right here.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 20, Nizar Qabbani, "In the Summer"

In The Summer

In the summer I stretch out on the shore And think of you
Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me. 


Short, sweet, and to the point. Nizar Qabbani was a Syrian diplomat and poet, known for his short, sweet love poetry. If this poem is indicative of his work, I'll need to find more - the simplicity is delightful.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 19, Poems about Fathers

So, I think the theme today is pretty self explanatory. It's Fathers' Day, so some poems about or involving fathers are in order.

On the Beach At Night, Walt Whitman

ON the beach, at night,
Stands a child, with her father,
Watching the east, the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading,
Lower, sullen and fast, athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends, large and calm, the lord-star Jupiter; 
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate brothers, the Pleiades. 

From the beach, the child, holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower, victorious, soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.

Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears; 
The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky- shall devour the stars only in
Jupiter shall emerge- be patient- watch again another night- the
Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal- all those stars, both silvery and golden, shall
shine out again, 
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again- they
The vast immortal suns, and the long-enduring pensive moons, shall
again shine.

Then, dearest child, mournest thou only for Jupiter? 
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars? 

Something there is,
(With my lips soothing thee, adding, I whisper,
I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,) 
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,) 
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter, 30
Longer than sun, or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant brothers, the Pleiades. 


I'm not a huge Whitman fan - as Homer Simpson says, "Leaves of Grass, my ass!" - but I like the image here of a father and daughter on the beach at night, looking up at the stars and such. 


Father William, Lewis Carroll

'You are old, father William,' the young man said,
'And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?'

'In my youth,' father William replied to his son,
'I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.'

'You are old,' said the youth, 'as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door -
Pray, what is the reason of that?'

'In my youth,' said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
'I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
Allow me to sell you a couple.'

'You are old,' said the youth, 'and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?'

'In my youth,' said his father, 'I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.'

'You are old,' said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?'

'I have answered three questions, and that is enough,'
Said his father; 'don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!'


From Alice in Wonderland, obviously. I'm a great fan of Alice and her adventures, and I particularly like Carroll's pastiches of popular educational poetry.


Father's Chore, Edgar Allen Guest

My Pa can hit his thumbnail with a hammer and keep still;
He can cut himself while shaving an' not swear;
If a ladder slips beneath him an' he gets a nasty spill
He can smile as though he really didn't care.
But the pan beneath the ice-box- when he goes to empty that- 
Then a sound-proof room the children have to hunt;
For we have a sad few minutes in our very pleasant flat
When the water in it splashes down his front.

My Pa believes his temper should be all the time controlled;
He doesn't rave at every little thing;
When his collar-button underneath the chiffonier has rolled
A snatch of merry ragtime he will sing.
But the pan beneath the ice box- when to empty that he goes- 
As he stoops to drag it out we hear a grunt;
From the kitchen comes a rumble, an' then everybody knows
That he splashed the water in it down his front.

Now the distance from the ice box to the sink's not very far- 
I'm sure it isn't over twenty feet- 
But though very short the journey, it is long enough for Pa
As he travels it disaster grim to meet.
And it's seldom that he makes it without accident, although
In the summer time it is his nightly stunt;
And he says a lot of language that no gentleman should know
When the water in it splashes down his front. 


We've seen some of Guest's poetry before. Apparently, fathers and fatherhood are some of his favorite topics, I've found seven or eight by him in this vein. I like this one.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Poetry Month, Day 18, Lytton Bell, "Jane's Heartbreak Yard Sale"

Today was yard sale day - we made a whole whopping $50, but we did manage to get rid of a pair of tents. So, today, a poem about yard sales.
Here is a link to where I found the poem, which includes a reading, I presume by the author. I really like the last stanza - I find that really makes the whole poem pop. The first stanza is quite provocative as well...
Who sells used sex toys at a garage sale?
I knew I had to pull over
as soon as I saw that table full of dildos
just to hear this woman’s story
A whole bed was for sale
and a claw-footed bathtub
a motorcycle, a large stack of books
lingerie and ten photo albums
Photo albums?
Leafing through, I could see that they were all
happy couple love photos:
their trip to Hawaii
backpacking through Europe
mountain climbing in Tibet
And I shouldn’t forget to mention all of the love notes
three huge cardboard boxes full of them. I picked one up:
I stood outside your window for hours last night
while you were sleeping
hoping you would feel me there, and pull open the curtain
I approached her as she sat by the cash box
wearing a pair of oversized pink sunglasses
So, this is everything he ever gave you? I asked her, trying to be nonchalant
She nodded
I was going to light it all on fire, she told me
But what’s the point?
True, I replied, not sure what else to say
She seemed so peaceful about it. Almost happy
Just then I noticed a pile of cds:
Jane’s Joy Ride Mix
Jane’s Taking a Bath Mix
Mix for Jane for When She’s Feeling a Little Blue
And one called
In Case of an Emergency, I LOVE YOU
It was sealed with yellow CAUTION tape
and had obviously never been opened
Can I buy this?I asked her
$3.50, she said
I gave her the money and put the cd in my car
and cried and could not open it

Friday, June 17, 2016

Poetry Day 17, Lora Timonin, "Untitled Poem on a Hardees Wrapper"

Before we dated, way before we got married, my lovely wife wrote this poem for me. As today is our 18th anniversary, and since she apparently kept the original, written on the back of a (clean) Hardees burger wrapper (she was working at Hardees when we met), I shall retype it here. For posterity.

Now Ladies looking
for a Good Man
We've got this bachelor
on the stand

We'll start the bidding
close to nil
You can't imagine such a steal
He calls you when he says he will
he happily will foot the bill

He's witty
He's charming
He's debonair
And notice -
Such cute red hair*

Such a good deal cannot last
this one should be going fast
He'll write you poems
He'll bring you flowers
He'll sit and talk with you for hours

He's sweet
He's single
He isn't gay!**
And so much more
that we could say
Ladies Ladies, don't delay
Come and claim this Mike today!

* Uh, only in my beard. And not so much anymore, much more grey.

** I recall I was afraid that girls thought I was gay - not because I had any problem with people being gay, but I felt that it hurt my chances with them if they dismissed me as unavailable off the bat.***

***I'm not sure WHY I was worried about this. I had NONE of the stereotypical gay attributes. I think I maybe heard some girls talking about it? Or something?

Editing to add: