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A Word About Poetry

Today is Sunday.  Today my rest looks like watching football and doing laundry.  I’ll be setting up my week and possibly lounging in my pj’s all day long.  Or maybe not.  It’s a fluid day.   A flow where the river takes me day.

But I would love to give to you some poetry.  Don’t be intimidated because they’re poems.  If you can read, you can read poetry.  When there is a period, pause, breathe.  You don’t have to stop at the end of every line.  You don’t have to be afraid  you won’t understand it.  Poetry is all about breath and pause.  This gives the words time to reverberate through you.  To call to memories and echoes of memories.  To conjure images that will delight and wreck and heal you.  Read and breathe.  Read and pause.  Allow yourself to be healed.

If you know how to read poetry, or not, if you have been delighted or wrecked or healed, let’s be friends~

On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel

like I’m coming down with something,

something worse than any stomach ache

or the headaches I get from reading in bad light –

a kind of measles of the spirit,

a mumps of the psyche,

a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,

but that is because you have forgotten

the perfect simplicity of being one

and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.

But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.

At four I was an Arabian wizard.

I could make myself invisible

by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.

At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window

watching the late afternoon light.

Back then it never fell so solemnly

against the side of my tree house,

and my bicycle never leaned against the garage

as it does today,

all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,

as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.

It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,

time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe

there was nothing under my skin but light.

If you cut me I would shine.

But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,

I skin my knees, I bleed.

The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart by Jack Gilbert

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,

And frightening that it does not quite.  Love we say,

God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words

get it wrong.  We say bread and it means according

to which nation.  French has no word for home,

and we have no word for strict pleasure.  A people

in northern India is dying out because their ancient

tongue has no words for endearment.  I dream of lost

vocabularies that might express some of what

we no longer can.  Maybe the Etruscan texts would

finally explain why the couples on their tombs

are smiling.  And maybe not.  When the thousands

of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,

they seemed to be business records.  But what if they

are poems or psalms?  My joy is the same as twelve

Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.

O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,

As grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.

Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts

of long-fibered Egyptian cotton.  My love is a hundred

pitchers of honey.  Shiploads of thuya are what

my body wants to say to your body.  Giraffes are this

desire in the dark.  Perhaps the spiral Minoan script

is not a language but a map.  What we feel most has

no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.

2 thoughts on “A Word About Poetry”

  1. My mind was in turmoil when I woke up this morning. Bad dreams-again, that left me feeling agitated. And then I read your poetry blog and I am breathing again and smiling. Thank you Taya. It was exactly the reminder I needed that everyday we need beauty in our lives. Thank you! Thank you!

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