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Virtual Poetry Circle: Mary Oliver

Hello Everyone!

It’s National Poetry Month and in honor of April as National Canine Fitness Month, I’m going to share one of my favorite Mary Oliver Poems about dogs.

I’m sharing one of my favorite poems about dogs:

LITTLE DOG’S RHAPSODY IN THE NIGHT

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

Feel free to share your favorites in the comments.

Virtual Poetry Circle: Earth Day Poems

Hello everyone!

It’s National Poetry Month and in honor of April as Keep American Beautiful Month and Earth Day celebrations on April 22, I’m sharing one of my favorite poems about the beauty of our world. A little reminder to slow down and protect the only home we have.

The Thaw by Henry David Thoreau

I saw the civil sun drying earth’s tears —
Her tears of joy that only faster flowed,

Fain would I stretch me by the highway side,
To thaw and trickle with the melting snow,
That mingled soul and body with the tide,
I too may through the pores of nature flow.

But I alas nor tinkle can nor fume,
One jot to forward the great work of Time,
‘Tis mine to hearken while these ply the loom,
So shall my silence with their music chime.

There’s a sense of desire to be part of nature around him, a seeping of the human self into that seamless flow. But he can merely sit and marvel. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have that time to sit and marvel at it all.

Check out these other Earth Day poems:

Feel free to share your favorites in the comments.

Virtual Poetry Circle: Mahmoud Darwish

Hello everyone!

It’s National Poetry Month and in honor of April as Arab-American Heritage Month, I wanted to share one of my favorite poems from Mahmoud Darwish.

I Belong There

I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is
     born.
I have a mother, a house with many windows, brothers, friends, and
    a prison cell
with a chilly window! I have a wave snatched by seagulls, a panorama 
    of my own.
I have a saturated meadow. In the deep horizon of my word, I have
    a moon,
a bird's sustenance, and an immortal olive tree.
I have lived on the land long before swords turned man into prey.
I belong there. When heaven mourns for her mother, I return 
    heaven to her mother.
And I cry so that a returning cloud might carry my tears.
To break the rules, I have learned all the words needed for a trial by 
    blood.
I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from 
    them a
single word: Home.

This poem is a reflection on the trauma and turmoil, but also the blessed things in a home torn by fighting. There a deep longing for the home in his mind, one filled with light and beauty, but the reality is that it is a country torn.

Please share one of your favorite Arab-American poets. Or take some time check find one on poets.org.

Virtual Poetry Circle: Naomi Shihab Nye

Hello everyone! It’s National Poetry Month and in honor of April as Stress Awareness Month, I wanted to share one of my favorite poems from Naomi Shihab Nye.

Sometimes There Is A Day

Sometimes there is a day you just want
to get far away from.
Feel it shrink inside you like an island,
as if you were on a boat.
I always wish to be on a boat.
Then, maybe, no more fighting
about land. I want that day to feel
as if it never happened, when Ahmad was burned,
when people were killed, when my cousin was shot.
The day someone went to jail
is not a day that shines. I want to have a clear mind
again, as a baby who stares at the light
wisping through the window and thinks,
That’s mine.

In this poem, I see that island. Maybe there’s a large erupting volcano, much like the stress we can face from war, pandemics, etc. Even little eruptions that strike fear and deep loss in us, like the bills piling up or the dead end job or family drama, can seem overwhelming. In this poem, we get to journey away from that island on a boat, watch that stress shrink until we are babies discovering the world anew.

What are some of your favorite poems that provide you stress in times of solace or just speak to you about stress/turmoil in general?

Virtual Poetry Circle: Nikki Giovanni

 

Hello everyone! It’s National Poetry Month and in honor of Women’s History Month in March, I wanted to share one of my favorite Nikki Giovanni poems.




Legacies

her grandmother called her from the playground   
       “yes, ma’am”
       “i want chu to learn how to make rolls” said the old   
woman proudly
but the little girl didn’t want
to learn how because she knew
even if she couldn’t say it that
that would mean when the old one died she would be less   
dependent on her spirit so
she said
       “i don’t want to know how to make no rolls”
with her lips poked out
and the old woman wiped her hands on
her apron saying “lord
       these children”
and neither of them ever
said what they meant
and i guess nobody ever does

I love how the exchange here between the older woman and the girl is simple. It is a normal conversation between an elder looking to teach a child and a child’s response, but there is that undercurrent of fear and connection that I love so much about this poem.

The child wants to stay connected to this woman, but knows that death is nearing for her and she hopes that by rejecting the teaching, she can stave off that inevitable moment and disconnection.

What are some of your favorite poems celebrating women?

Virtual Poetry Circle: Langston Hughes

With the return of the Virtual Poetry Circle, I hope that you’ll read the poem or listen to it if it is available.

I’ll leave the comments open for discussion, first impressions, emotional reactions. I’d love to hear what you think about today’s poem from Langston Hughes.

Feel free to share poems you are reminded of, favorite lines, and whatever comes to mind when reading this poem.

I look are the lines in this poem and they ring so true. Dreams can be hard to hold onto in the face of adversity, but without them, life seems empty.

Virtual Poetry Circle: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

With the return of the Virtual Poetry Circle, I hope that you’ll read the poem or listen. I’ll leave the comments open for discussion, first impressions, emotional reactions. I’d love to hear what you think about today’s poem from Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Feel free to share poems you are reminded of, favorite lines, and whatever comes to mind when reading this poem.

While I find this very egocentric in that poets can save the world, I do like that he reminds us how powerful words can be.

Virtual Poetry Circle: Gwendolyn Brooks

For 2021, I’m experimenting with the Virtual Poetry Circle in which I share a poem and leave the comments open for discussion, first impressions, emotional reactions. I’d love to hear what you think about today’s poem from Gwendolyn Brooks.

Feel free to share poems you are reminded of, favorite lines, and whatever comes to mind when reading this poem.

When I first read this poem, I was struck by the Jazzy tone of it, or what I imagined Jazz to be — improvisational. But the last line still upsets me.

Transforming the Virtual Poetry Circle

It has been a joy to share poems with everybody each week and to have discussions about them. The Virtual Poetry Circle has been a staple here on the blog for many years, but I’ve been looking for ways to change it and incorporate greater audience participation.

To that end, I’m no longer going to showcase work found across the web from published poets.

Instead, I want to put out a call to readers and their friends who write their own poems.

I would love for anyone interested to submit a poem about resistance (broad term and doesn’t have to be about the current administration, etc.) for posting on Saturday, Feb. 4. Send 1 poem per person to savvyverseandwit AT gmail [dot] com by Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Include a short 50 word bio with any social media links you want included.

I will choose one poem to feature. Happy writing.

393rd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 393rd Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Anthony Hecht:

The Transparent Man

I’m mighty glad to see you, Mrs. Curtis,
And thank you very kindly for this visit—
Especially now when all the others here
Are having holiday visitors, and I feel
A little conspicuous and in the way.
It’s mainly because of Thanksgiving.  All these mothers
And wives and husbands gaze at me soulfully
And feel they should break up their box of chocolates
For a donation, or hand me a chunk of fruitcake.  
What they don’t understand and never guess
Is that it’s better for me without a family;
It’s a great blessing.  Though I mean no harm.
And as for visitors, why, I have you,
All cheerful, brisk and punctual every Sunday,
Like church, even if the aisles smell of phenol.
And you always bring even better gifts than any 
On your book-trolley. Though they mean only good,
Families can become a sort of burden.
I’ve only got my father, and he won’t come,
Poor man, because it would be too much for him.
And for me, too, so it’s best the way it is. 
He knows, you see, that I will predecease him,
Which is hard enough.  It would take a callous man
To come and stand around and watch me failing.
(Now don’t you fuss; we both know the plain facts.)
But for him it’s even harder.  He loved my mother.
They say she looked like me; I suppose she may have.
Or rather, as I grew older I came to look
More and more like she must one time have looked,
And so the prospect for my father now
Of losing me is like having to lose her twice.
I know he frets about me.  Dr. Frazer
Tells me he phones in every single day,
Hoping that things will take a turn for the better.
But with leukemia things don’t improve.
It’s like a sort of blizzard in the bloodstream,
A deep, severe, unseasonable winter,
Burying everything.  The white blood cells
Multiply crazily and storm around,
Out of control.  The chemotherapy
Hasn’t helped much, and it makes my hair fall out.
I know I look a sight, but I don’t care.
I care about fewer things; I’m more selective.
It’s got so I can’t even bring myself
To read through any of your books these days.
It’s partly weariness, and partly the fact
That I seem not to care much about the endings,
How things work out, or whether they even do.
What I do instead is sit here by this window
And look out at the trees across the way.
You wouldn’t think that was much, but let me tell you,
It keeps me quite intent and occupied.
Now all the leaves are down, you can see the spare,
Delicate structures of the sycamores,
The fine articulation of the beeches.
I have sat here for days studying them,
And I have only just begun to see
What it is that they resemble.  One by one,
They stand there like magnificent enlargements
Of the vascular system of the human brain.
I see them there like huge discarnate minds,
Lost in their meditative silences.
The trunks, branches and twigs compose the vessels
That feed and nourish vast immortal thoughts.
So I’ve assigned them names.  There, near the path,
Is the great brain of Beethoven, and Kepler
Haunts the wide spaces of that mountain ash.
This view, you see, has become my Hall of Fame,
It came to me one day when I remembered 
Mary Beth Finley who used to play with me
When we were girls.  One year her parents gave her
A birthday toy called “The Transparent Man.”
It was made of plastic, with different colored organs,
And the circulatory system all mapped out
In rivers of red and blue.  She’d ask me over
And the two of us would sit and study him
Together, and do a powerful lot of giggling.
I figure he’s most likely the only man
Either of us would ever get to know
Intimately, because Mary Beth became
A Sister of Mercy when she was old enough.
She must be thirty-one; she was a year 
Older than I, and about four inches taller.
I used to envy both those advantages
Back in those days.  Anyway, I was struck
Right from the start by the sea-weed intricacy,
The fine-haired, silken-threaded filiations
That wove, like Belgian lace, throughout the head.
But this last week it seems I have found myself
Looking beyond, or through, individual trees
At the dense, clustered woodland just behind them,
Where those great, nameless crowds patiently stand.
It’s become a sort of complex, ultimate puzzle
And keeps me fascinated.  My eyes are twenty-twenty,
Or used to be, but of course I can’t unravel
The tousled snarl of intersecting limbs,
That mackled, cinder grayness.  It’s a riddle
Beyond the eye’s solution.  Impenetrable.
If there is order in all that anarchy
Of granite mezzotint, that wilderness,
It takes a better eye than mine to see it.
It set me on to wondering how to deal
With such a thickness of particulars,
Deal with it faithfully, you understand,
Without blurring the issue. Of course I know
That within a month the sleeving snows will come
With cold, selective emphases, with massings
And arbitrary contrasts, rendering things
Deceptively simple, thickening the twigs
To frosty veins, bestowing epaulets
And decorations on every birch and aspen.
And the eye, self-satisfied, will be misled,
Thinking the puzzle solved, supposing at last
It can look forth and comprehend the world.
That’s when you have to really watch yourself.
So I hope that you won’t think me plain ungrateful
For not selecting one of your fine books,
And I take it very kindly that you came
And sat here and let me rattle on this way.

What are your thoughts?

392nd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 392nd Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Helen Hunt Jackson:

January

O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire, 
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn 
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn 
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire 
The streams than under ice. June could not hire 
Her roses to forego the strength they learn 
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn 
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire 
In vain to build. 
        O Heart, when Love’s sun goes 
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease, 
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace. 
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose. 
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows, 
The winter is the winter’s own release.

What are your thoughts?

391st Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 391st Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Mary Karr:

Requiem for the New Year

On this first dark day of the year
      my daddy was born lo
these eighty-six years ago who now
      has not drawn breath or held
bodily mass for some ten years and still   
      I have not got used to it.
My mind can still form to that chair him   
      whom no chair holds.
Each year on this night on the brink
      of new circumference I stand and gaze
towards him, while roads careen with drunks,   
      and my dad who drank himself
away cannot be found. Daddy, I’m halfway   
      to death myself. The millenium
hurtles towards me, and the boy I bore   
      who bears your fire in his limbs
follows in my wake. Why can you not be   
      reborn all tall to me? If I raise my arms
here in the blind dark, why can you not   
      reach down now to hoist me up?
This heavy carcass I derive from yours is   
      tutelage of love, and yet each year
though older another notch I still cannot stand   
      to reach you, or to emigrate
from the monolithic shadow you left.

What do you think?