last ditch effort

Once upon a life, poetry was it for me. I lived a semi-poetic existence and none or my friends understood it. I loved Yeats, they loved beer. I’ve always lived at the corner of Pop and Nerd, never really living on either street. My doors open to both sides. A friend once told me that he was mad at the world that I could not live my life as a poet and survive. He told me to quit my job and write. I quit writing instead. Last night I took down a book from my bookshelf and read a poem to a friend. I’ve never done that before. I felt like I stepped a bit into the world of Sylvia Plath where poetry dined at her dinner table.

April is poetry month and in a last ditch effort I will say goodbye to this month with some of my favorites and even one of my own (gasp). Be kind.

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

~Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop is a classic and this poem is one of the most amazing ever. It’s a villanelle, a very difficult form and here you barely notice it because she weaves it in so well with her context. And, we’ve all lost something.

Breeze in Translation

Me I like to putz in the kitchen and regard
fat garlic and hum about nothing. Make it up. Word
for blues. Like dragging down the street
in a hundred-and-four heat--you know
when air temp tops body temp, how buzzed and weird

you get? Word for trance. So this character
taps me: remember me, mon amie? Name’s
Breeze. Then she dictates most fabulous. I’m
blessed. She’s benign. Word for pixilated.

She’s a scholarship girl at the School of Beauz-Arts
so she drags me down the line to an out-of-town
show. Rattle express. Word for

kismet. This lady with the face of an old walnut
sits by us making lace with an eye-fine
hook and when the train dives into the tunnels
she keeps on working in the dark. Word’s

exquisite. Breeze sings
scat all the way to the opening:
sculpture of heating ducts, stovepipes and stones.
Breeze is prole to the bone. The tablecloth’s

spattered with blood of the lamb,
wine on the lace. The critic pronounces optimism
vulgar, and asks: Why have there been so few
great women artists?
We ask ourselves. The word is

jerkoff. Breeze, who is terrifyingly fluent,

challenges him to sew a bride’s dress. From
acratch. Femmes aux barricades! The critic can’t weave
a cat’s cradle. Breeze spits: By hand. French lace.

~Belle Waring

This poem drew me in to poetry. It was the first poem I ever emulated and the one that got my poems flowing. I love the rhythm and the juxtaposition of languages even though the French is lost on me.

Poem Not to Be Read at Your Wedding

You ask me for a poem about love
in lieu of a wedding present, trying to save me
money. For three nights I’ve lain under
glow-in-the-dark stars I’ve stuck to the ceiling
over my bed. I’ve listened to the songs
of the galaxy. Well, Carmen, I would rather
give you your third set of steak knives
than tell you what I know. Le me find you
some other store-bought present. Don’t
make me warn you of stars, how they see us
from that distance as miniature and breakable,
from the bride who tops the wedding cake
to the Mary on Pinto dashboards
holding her ripe red heart in her hands.

~ Beth Ann Fennelly

I’ve always felt akin to this poem. I could have/ should have written it.

Peach Trees

Because I can’t write a poem
I’ll pray to some Catholic saint
to bring me metaphors
and set them at my door
along with similes and alliterations.
I’ll pray for images of emerald fields
with grass so tall and strong
that when the blades sway in the breeze
the waves they create birth sailboats,
their sails full blown
and the hulls cutting the green grass,
crisscrossing each other, using the wind,
the way peach trees use rain to keep going,
keep growing, to put fruit on the branch.
And they do it every season, every year.
Perfect, sweet fruit.
To pick it, cup the sphere in my hands
feel the warm fuzz of a newborn baby,
pale pink and crying,
with just a hint of the full head of hair
he will surely have some day.

~Anna (me)

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