373rd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 373rd 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 Li-Young Lee:

The Hammock

When I lay my head in my mother’s lap
I think how day hides the stars,
the way I lay hidden once, waiting
inside my mother’s singing to herself. And I remember 
how she carried me on her back
between home and the kindergarten,
once each morning and once each afternoon.
I don’t know what my mother’s thinking.
When my son lays his head in my lap, I wonder:
Do his father’s kisses keep his father’s worries
from becoming his? I think, Dear God, and remember
there are stars we haven’t heard from yet:
They have so far to arrive. Amen,
I think, and I feel almost comforted.
I’ve no idea what my child is thinking.
Between two unknowns, I live my life.
Between my mother’s hopes, older than I am
by coming before me, and my child’s wishes, older than I am
by outliving me. And what’s it like?
Is it a door, and good-bye on either side?
A window, and eternity on either side?
Yes, and a little singing between two great rests.

What do you think?

255th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 255th 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 Li-Young Lee from Rose:

Persimmons (page 17)

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner   
for not knowing the difference   
between persimmon and precision.   
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.   
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.   
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.   
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.   
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.   
Naked:   I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo:   you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,   
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.   
Wrens are small, plain birds,   
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.   
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;   
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class   
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun   
inside, something golden, glowing,   
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,   
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,   
where each morning a cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding   
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night   
waiting for a song, a ghost.   
I gave him the persimmons,   
swelled, heavy as sadness,   
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking   
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,   
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.   
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,   
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,   
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times   
eyes closed. These I painted blind.   
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,   
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

What do you think?

Rose by Li-Young Lee

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 71 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Rose by Li-Young Lee is a collection of poems filled with esteem and reverence for a father who is not fallible, but who is unattainable because of the myth a son has created about him.  Like roses, fathers can be beautiful and yet dangerous creatures, prickly to the touch and radiant.  On the face of Lee’s verse, it is simple, but looking more closely, readers will discern multiple levels of meaning.

From “The Weight of Sweetness” (page 20)

The good boy hugs a bag of peaches
his father has entrusted
to him.
Now he follows
his father, who carries a bagful in each arm.
See the look on the boy’s face
as his father moves
faster and father ahead, while his own steps
flag, and his arms grow weak, as he labors
under the weight
of peaches.

Like in “The Weight of Sweetness,” the boy is beaming with joy that his father would entrust him with something as precious as a bag of peaches, like knowledge passed from one generation to another, only to have that precious gift become a burden and weigh down the child’s steps as he moves forward.  Although there are some poems laden with a heaviness, there are also moments of sweetness, like that in “The Gift”: (page 15)

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,

Here it is clear that the child, who has become a man, continues to esteem his father, holding him high and praising any small gift bestowed upon him, even if it is the most mundane knowledge.  Many kids look up to their parents, and it is a wonder when kids become adults and still admire their parents — faults included — but Lee touches on the big question mark in all these relationships, the inability of us all to truly “know” our parents — to understand their motivations — so that we can learn to emulate the best parts of them.  Rose by Li-Young Lee is powerful, endearing, and filled with heartbreaking awe.

About the Poet:

Li-Young Lee is an American poet. He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. His maternal grandfather was Yuan Shikai, China’s first Republican President, who attempted to make himself emperor.

28th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.






Book 15 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

Mailbox Monday #270

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has gone through a few incarnations from a permanent home with Marcia to a tour of other blogs.

Now, it has its own permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. Darkness Bound by J.T. Geissinger, an unexpected surprise from Amazon.

Tough, smart, and seriously ambitious, reporter Jacqueline “Jack” Dolan despises the secretive clan of shape-shifters known as the Ikati—and has become determined to destroy them. After she writes an editorial arguing for their extermination and turns public opinion against them, the Ikati vow to fight back. They plot to send one of their own to seduce the reporter, then blackmail her into writing a retraction.

Women practically fall at the feet of hulking, handsome Hawk Luna, and Hawk relishes the idea of conquering and destroying the fiery redhead who’s caused so much trouble for his kind. The last thing he expects is to develop real feelings for her, but their liaison awakens a hunger in him that he cannot deny. He kidnaps Jack and brings her to his Amazon jungle colony, but the two lovers are soon embroiled in deadly colony politics and threatened by a looming global species war.

2.  A Long Time Gone by Karen White for review in June.

When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she’d left, that’s exactly what happens—Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children.

What she hopes to find is solace with “Bootsie,” her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was.

3. Midsummer by Carole Giangrande for a TLC Book Tour in May.

All her life, Joy’s been haunted by a man she’s never met — her visionary grandfather, the artist Lorenzo. At work on digging a New York subway tunnel, his pickaxe struck the remains of an ancient Dutch trading ship — and a vision lit up the underground, convincing him that he was blessed. As it turned out, his children did well in life, and almost a century later, his granddaughter Joy, a gifted linguist, married the Canadian descendant of the lost ship’s captain. Yet nonno’s story also led to the death of Joy’s cousin Leonora, her Aunt Elena’s only child. It was a tragedy that might have been prevented by Joy’s father, Eddie, a man who’s been bruised by life and who seldom speaks to his sister. Yet in the year 2000, he has no choice. Wealthy Aunt Elena and Uncle Carlo are coming from Rome to New York City to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They’ve invited the family to dine at the sky-high tower restaurant above the tunnel where nonno Lorenzo saw his vision long ago.

4.  The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery from the library sale.

The story of two women whose lives intersect in late-nineteenth-century Japan, The Teahouse Fire is also a portrait of one of the most fascinating places and times in all of history—Japan as it opens its doors to the West. It was a period when wearing a different color kimono could make a political statement, when women stopped blackening their teeth to profess an allegiance to Western ideas, and when Japan’s most mysterious rite—the tea ceremony—became not just a sacramental meal, but a ritual battlefield.

We see it all through the eyes of Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by the Shin family, proprietors of a tea ceremony school, after their daughter, Yukako, finds her hiding on their grounds. Aurelia becomes Yukako’s closest companion, and they, the Shin family, and all of Japan face a time of great challenges and uncertainty.

5.  Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith from the library sale.

The first is the potential demise of an old friend, her tiny white van. Recently, it has developed a rather troubling knock, but she dare not consult the estimable Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni for fear he may condemn the vehicle.  Meanwhile, her talented assistant Mma Makutsi is plagued by the reappearance of her nemesis, Violet Sephotho, who has taken a job at the Double Comfort Furniture store whose proprietor is none other than Phuti Radiphuti, Mma Makutsi’s fiancé.  Finally, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has been hired to explain the unexpected losing streak of a local football club, the Kalahari Swoopers.  But with Mma Ramotswe on the case, it seems certain that everything will be resolved satisfactorily.

6. Rose by Li-Young Lee from the library sale.

In this outstanding first book of poems, Lee is unafraid to show emotion, especially when writing about his father or his wife. “But there is wisdom/ in the hour in which a boy/ sits in his room listening,” says the first poem, and Lee’s silent willingness to step outside himself imbues Rose with a rare sensitivity. The images Lee finds, such as the rose and the apple, are repeated throughout the book, crossing over from his father’s China to his own America. Every word becomes transformative, as even his father’s blindness and death can become beautiful. There is a strong enough technique here to make these poems of interest to an academic audience and enough originality to stun readers who demand alternative style and subject matter.

Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, “Soho Weekly News,” New York

7.  Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich from the library sale.

In this reissue of her seventh volume of poetry, Adrienne Rich searches to reclaim—to discover—what has been forgotten, lost, or unexplored. “I came to explore the wreck. / The words are purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail.” These provocative poems move with the power of Rich’s distinctive voice.


8.  Peter Rabbit Jigsaw Puzzle Book by Beatrix Potter from the library sale.

With seven large jigsaw puzzles, this book is a great interactive way to meet Peter Rabbit and his family. Follow Peter, his sisters, and Mrs. Rabbit through a busy day, and build a different nine-piece puzzle on each spread. Puzzle pieces are color-coded, for easy sorting, and the illustrations match the puzzle images, so they can be used for reference. Bright and lively Peter Rabbit Seedlings art is perfect for making puzzles, and this book is sure to be a favorite, providing hours of fun.

9.  Seek and Slide: In the Wild illustrated by Debi Ani from the library sale.

Children will have lots of fun matching the names of wild animals with the correct pictures. The innovative sliding windows and simple seek-and-find challenges make learning an exciting hands-on experience!

What did you receive?

206th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 206th Virtual Poetry Circle!

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

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books 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.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is in honor of those fathers out there. It is from Li-Young Lee:

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

What do you think?

142nd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 142nd Virtual Poetry Circle!

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

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books 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.

Also, sign up for the 2012 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please visit the stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour from April 2011 and beginning again in April 2012.

Today’s poems is from Li-Young Lee

Black Petal

I never claimed night fathered me.
that was my dead brother talking in his sleep.
I keep him under my pillow, a dear wish
that colors my laughing and crying.

I never said the wind, remembering nothing,
leaves so many rooms unaccounted for,
continual farewell must ransom
the unmistakable fragrance
our human days afford.

It was my brother, little candle in the pulpit,
reading out loud to all of earth
from the book of night.

He died too young to learn his name.
Now he answers to Vacant Boat,
Burning Wing, My Black Petal.

Ask him who his mother is. He'll declare the birds
have eaten the path home, but each of us
joins night's ongoing story
wherever night overtakes him,
the heart astonished to find belonging
and thanks answering thanks. 

Ask if he's hungry or thirsty,
he'll say he's the bread come to pass
and draw you a map
to the twelve secret hips of honey.

Does someone want to know the way to spring?
He'll remind you
the flower was never meant to survive
the fruit's triumph.

He says an apple's most secret cargo
is the enduring odor of a human childhood,
our mother's linen pressed and stored, our father's voice
walking through the rooms.

He says he's forgiven our sister
for playing dead and making him cry
those afternoons we were left alone in the house.

And when clocks frighten me with their long hair,
and when I spy the wind's numerous hands
in the orchard unfastening
first the petals from the buds,
then the perfume from the flesh,

my dead brother ministers to me. His voice
weighs nothing
but the far years between
stars in their massive dying,

and I grow quiet hearing
how many of both of our tomorrows
lie waiting inside it to be born.

What do you think?