McDoc

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Posts Tagged ‘autumnal poems’

Poems for September 2011

Posted by mcdoc on September 6, 2011

Freya Manfred
(1944-)

Green Pear Tree in September

On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears
with pert tops, plump bottoms,
and long curved leaves.
Until the green-haloed tree
rose up and sang hello,
I had forgotten…
He planted it twelve years ago,
when he was seventy-three,
so that in September
he could stroll down
with the sound of the crickets
rising and falling around him,
and stand, naked to the waist,
slightly bent, sucking juice
from a ripe pear.

Lynn Ungar

Boundaries

The universe does not
revolve around you.
The stars and planets spinning
through the ballroom of space
dance with one another
quite outside of your small life.
You cannot hold gravity
or seasons; even air and water
inevitably evade your grasp.
Why not, then, let go?

You could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless or ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing
the native element.
Why pretend you can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in your blood before
breath releases you into
the world again. Did you think
the fragile boundary of your skin
could build a wall?

Listen. Every molecule is humming
its particular pitch.
Of course you are a symphony.
Whose tune do you think
the planets are singing
as they dance?

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Poems for October 2010

Posted by mcdoc on October 1, 2010

Thomas Centolella

Solar

On a gray day, when the sun
has been abducted, and it’s chill
end-of-the-world weather,
I must be the sun.
I must be the one
to encourage the young
sidetracked physicist
working his father’s cash register
to come up with a law of nature
that says brain waves can change
the dismal sky. I must be the one
to remind the ginger plant
not to rest on the reputation
of its pungent roots, but to unveil
those buttery tendrils from the other world.
When the sky is an iron lid
I must be the one to simmer
in the piquant juices of possibility,
though the ingredients are unknown
and the day begins with a yawn.
I must issue forth a warmth
without discrimination, and any guarantee
it will come back to me.
On a dark day I must be willing
to keep my disposition light,
I have to be at the very least
on stray intact ray
of local energy, one small
but critical fraction
of illumination. Even on a day
that doesn’t look gray
but still lacks comfort or sense,
I have to be the sun,
I have to shine as if
sorry life itself depended on it.
I have to make all the difference,

David Budbill
(1940 – )

The Woodcutter Changes His Mind

When I was young, I cut the bigger, older trees for firewood, the ones
with heart rot, dead and broken branches, the crippled and deformed

ones, because, I reasoned, they were going to fall soon anyway, and
therefore, I should give the younger trees more light and room to grow.

Now I’m older and I cut the younger, strong and sturdy, solid
and beautiful trees, and I let the older ones have a few more years

of light and water and leaf in the forest they have known so long.
Soon enough they will be prostrate on the ground.

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Poem for the Autumnal Equinox 2010

Posted by mcdoc on September 22, 2010

Mary Oliver (1935 – )

Fall Song

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

Posted in Equinoctial Poem | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Poems for September 2010

Posted by mcdoc on September 4, 2010

Sharon Olds (1942 – )

Diagnosis

By the time I was six months old, she knew something
was wrong with me. I got looks on my face
she had not seen on any child
in the family, or the extended family,
or the neighborhood. My mother took me in
to the pediatrician with the kind hands,
a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:
Hub Long. My mom did not tell him
what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.
It was just these strange looks on my face—
he held me, and conversed with me,
chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother
said, She’s doing it now! Look!
She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,
What your daughter has
is called a sense
of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me
back to the house where that sense would be tested
and found to be incurable.

W.S. Merwin (1927 – )

September Plowing

For seasons the walled meadow
south of the house built of its stone
grows up in shepherd’s purse and thistles
the weeds share April as a secret
finches disguised as summer earth
click the drying seeds
mice run over rags of parchment in August
the hare keeps looking up remembering
a hidden joy fills the songs of the cicadas
two days’ rain wakes the green in the pastures
crows agree and hawks shriek with naked voices
on all sides the dark oak woods leap up and shine
the long stony meadow is plowed at last and lies
all day bare
I consider life after life as treasures
oh it is the autumn light
that brings everything back in one hand
the light again of beginnings
the amber appearing as amber

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Poems for December 2009

Posted by mcdoc on December 1, 2009

Maria Mazziotti Gillan (1940 – )

In My Family

In my family we’re all tenacious, decide what we want and go after it.
We work hard, moving forward, when we’re exhausted, and
think we can’t move one inch more. I wonder if it’s in the
genes, this need to finish everything we start, this belief that
hard work and perseverance will get us through. My sister
kept going to work for months after she had seizures and
couldn’t walk. Her live-in aide took her to work in a wheel-
chair, pushing her down the road, because the sidewalks in
Hawthorne aren’t handicapped accessible.
My father had a degenerative disease of the spine. He dragged
one paralyzed leg behind him wherever he went, and went he
did, driving until he was eighty-seven years old, cloth around
the pedals of the car so he could reach the brake, one shoe
built up to compensate for the unevenness of his legs, driving
to his friends’ houses to play cards and visit, driving to the
courthouse in Paterson to file a petition for his friends or reg-
ister the legal papers he drew up, his body failing him, but his
mind sharp and willing him on.
My son John wants to think he is not like us. I hear how even
at thirty-two he takes responsibility for his life, how he gets up
at 5 a.m., so he can be at his office by 5:30, how he handles the
complex legal problems of a large corporation, working
straight through till he returns at 6 p.m. to help with the chil-
dren and to deal with the house, the yard, repairs. He takes
everything seriously. I love the way John carries his son in his
arms, the child running to him for comfort and the way they
speak to each other without words. I know that even my son,
who wants to think he is not like our family, is driven as we
are to keep on going, no matter what.
These are the things my mother taught us by example, my
mother who tripped over our skates when we were children
and got up and walked the twelve blocks to Farraro Coat
Factory on River Street. She worked until noon, walked back
home to make our lunches, and then walked back to work.
Only after she came home at 3:30, so she could be there when
we got home from school, did she collapse into a chair unable
to move. When she came back from the hospital clinic with a
cast on her leg, fourteen bones in her foot broken, she had to
rest her leg on a stool. That was one of the few times in her
life that I saw her cry, not because of the pain, but because she
couldn’t do the work she told herself she had to do.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Birches

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter of fact about the ice storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from the town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

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Poems for November 2008

Posted by mcdoc on December 28, 2008

Paul Zimmer (1934- )

The Tenth Circle

“More than three (3) health emergency calls in one month from apartment to switchboard shall be conclusive evidence to landlord that occupant is not capable of independent living. Landlord can then have tennant moved to such health care facility as is available.”

Dear Dad,

Do not fall for the third time,
Or if you do, tell no one.
Hunch over your agony and
Make it your ultimate secret.
You have done this before.
Shrug, tell a joke, go on.
If an ambulance slips up
Quietly to the back door
Do not get on. They mean to
Take you to the tenth circle
Where everyone is turned in
One direction, piled like cordwood
Inside the cranium of Satan
So that only the light of
Television shines in their eyes.
Dad, call if you need help,
But do not let them take you
Easily to this place where
They keep the motor idling
On the long, black car, where if
Someone cries out in the night
Only the janitor comes.

Jane Hirshfield (1953- )

The November Angels

Late dazzle
of yellow
flooding
the simplified woods,
spare chipping away
of the afternoon-stone
by a small brown finch—
there is little
for them to do,
and so their gossip is
idle, modest:
low-growing,
tiny-white-flowered.

Below,
the Earth-pelt
dapples and flows
with slow bees
that spin
the thick, deep jute
of the gold time’s going,
the pollen’s
traceless retreat;
kingfishers
enter their kingdom,
their blue crowns on fire,
and feast on
the still-wealthy world.

A single, cold blossom
tumbles, fledged
from the sky’s white branch.
And the angels
look on,
observing what falls:
all of it falls.

Their hands hold
no blessings,
no word
for those who walk
in the tall black pines,
who do not
feel themselves falling—
the ones who believe
the loved companion
will hold them forever,
the ones who cross through
alone and ask for no sign.

The afternoon
lengthens, steepens,
flares out—
no matter for them.
It is assenting
that makes them angels,
neither increased
nor decreased
by the clamorous heart:
their only work
to shine back,
however the passing brightness
hurts their eyes.

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Poems for October 2008

Posted by mcdoc on October 13, 2008

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Spring and Fall
to a young child

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Here is a reading of this difficult-to-read poem.

e e cummings (1894-1962)

from Ninety-five Poems

1(a

le
af

fa
ll

s)

one
l

iness

2

to stand(alone)in some

autumnal afternoon:
breathing a fatal
stillness;while

enormous this how

patient creature(who’s
never by never robbed of
day)puts always on by always

dream,is to

taste
not(beyond
death and

life)imaginable mysteries

3

now air is air and thing is thing:no bliss

of heavenly earth beguiles our spirits,whose
miraculously disenchanted eyes

live the magnificent honesty of space.

Mountains are mountains now;skies now are skies—
and such a sharpening freedom lifts our blood
as if whole supreme this complete doubtless

universe we’d(and we alone)made

—yes;or as if our souls,awakened from
summer’s green trance,would not adventure soon
a deeper magic:that white sleep wherein
all human curiosity we’ll spend
(gladly,as lovers must)immortal and

the courage to receive time’s mightiest dream

Posted in Monthly Poetry Installment | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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