Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ask Me : Poem In Your Post

Some time when the river is ice ask me                                     
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say. 
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

                                             - William Stafford

We are just a smackerel's-scooch away from National Poetry Month and I am so ready.   Please, Nature: up with the flowers, up with the sunshine and the baby birdies and the warm afternoons on the front porch perusing poems. 

This year, I'm following fate:  the confluence of reading a novel about Rumi & Shams and the dawn of my favorite annual word-fest will inspire this month's Poem In Your Post selections.  So expect a month-long series focused on moments when the numinous meets the undeniably solid, poems focusing our gaze on the ecstatic in the everyday.   In other terms:  pull up your "I welcome the cryptic" pants and get ready to ponder the mysteries.

I suspect that - had he met Rumi and Shams - William Stafford would have given the ancients a run for their money in many ways, and all would have enjoyed the exchange.  Ah, the limits of perceived time...

So enjoy today's offering, live each moment in joy, and get ready to gyre and gimble in the wabe.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Poet's Progress : Poem In Your Post

Poet's Progress

           for Sandra Cisneros

I haven't been
much of anywhere,
books my only voyage,
crossed no bodies
of water, seen anything
other than trees change,
birds take shape - like the rare
Bee Hummingbird that once hovered
over the promise of salsa
in my garden: a fur feathered
vision from Cuba in Boulder,
a wetback, stowaway, refugee,
farther from home than me.
Now, snow spatters its foreign
starch across the lawn gone
crisp with freeze.  I know
nothing tropical survives 
long in this season.  I pull
the last leeks from the frozen
earth, smell their slender
tubercular lives, stand
in the sleet whiteout 
of December:  roots
drawn in, threads of relatives
expand while solitude, the core,
that slick-headed fist of self, is 
cool as my dog's nose and pungent
with resistance.  Now when
the red-bellied woodpecker
calls his response to a California
owl, now, when the wound
transformer in the womb
slackens, and I wait
for potential: all
the lives I have
yet to name,
all my life
I have willed into being
alive and brittle with the icy
past.  And it's enough now,
listening, counting the unknown
arachnids and hormigas
who share my love of less
sweeping.  For this is what
I wanted, come to, left
alone with anything
but the girlhood horrors,
the touching, the hungry
leaden meltdown of the hours.
Or the future - a round negation,
black suction of the heart's 
conception.  Save me
from a stupid life!  I prayed.
Leave me anything but
a stupid life.
And that's poetry.  

                       - Lorna Dee Cervantes

Sometimes, rather than leading me into a reflection of my life, a poet lifts me out of my own time, place, and experience and sets me down intimately into another.  

I haven't lived what Cervantes is alluding to here, but I am transported into her (or her speaker's) consciousness long enough to experience these moments from within her awareness.  

For a short space of time, it's December in Boulder, and I haven't traveled, and I've seen a Bee Hummingbird, shared spaces with spiders, and prayed for a future that is, at least, not stupid. 

And now I'm returned to the present moment, sitting on my sofa in grey mid-March, looking out at my one black hen under her lichen-riddled plum tree as it reaches through the back fence, just about to burst into bloom.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Rosie Project : What She Read Review


What a joy this little novel is, from start to finish.  Funny and smart and a welcome reprieve from my string of worthy but mighty bleak books of late.

It started as an award-winning screenplay by Graeme Simsion, who turned it into a book which earned him million-dollar bids from U.S. and British publishers after hitting the bestseller lists in Australia.  The Rosie Project is now an international bestseller and a movie-in-the-making. Incredible.

It's a light romantic romp led by narrator-protagonist Don Tillman, whose brilliance as a genetics professor doesn't quite sync up with his (lack of) interpersonal skills.  Readers will quickly infer that Don's internal monologue and external actions point toward some level of Asperger's, yet Don seems entirely unaware that he is "suffering from a syndrome".  And it's the tension between Don's infrequent moments of incisive self-awareness and his frequent misunderstanding of social situations that fuel plenty of the plot here.   Pepper Don's days with a cast of diverse - and often also eccentric - supporting characters then focus Don's considerable determination and gift for logical planning upon "The Wife Project" and you've got yourself a story that provokes grin after grin.

To enjoy this novel fully, you must accept the rom-com structure, knowing that - however unlikely - all will work out well in the end and you must feel comfortable with the idea that each human being is a specific person, not simply a "syndrome".  Simsion made a wise choice in voicing this novel from Don's perspective, as it helps us readers to laugh with rather than at the protagonist.  If you can do that, you will find much to enjoy about The Rosie Project.

Don's voice, his perspective, and his journey kept me swiftly turning the pages through the first third of this novel and then rationing chapters when the beautifully voiced audiobook from the library arrived:  I simply wanted to savor the lightness of this novel during these darker days.  And I hereby encourage you to do the same.

MFB with a smile on my face,

p.s.  I should confess that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon are two of my all-time favorite tandem (print alternating with audiobook) "reads" of all time, so perhaps I have a particular fascination with listening in on the lives of brilliant, decent, yet socially atypical protagonists.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Snowman : Poem In Your Post

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

                                  - Wallace Stevens, 1921

This afternoon I greet another snowfall with joy, as always, yet I sense that many in other regions of our land will greet their coming storms with resignation or frustration or even fear. Different circumstances, different reactions.  

Perhaps if your circumstances won't allow you to fully embrace the beauty of snowfall because of its potentially damaging or uncomfortable results, then you might summon the "mind of winter" that Stevens suggests here and find yourself in stark harmony with the natural world.



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