Poetry Friday

I first heard this poem when James Howe read an excerpt at the TC Reunion.  His reading brought tears to my eyes, as he explained that Marie Howe wrote the poem to her brother after he passed away from AIDS.

 

WHAT THE LIVING DO

by Marie Howe

 

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.

And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

 

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.

It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

 

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.

For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

 

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those

wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

 

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.

Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

 

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want

whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss–we want more and more and then more of it.

 

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,

say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

 

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:

I am living. I remember you.

 

From The Atlantic

Happy Independence Day!

For Poetry Friday, I decided to include a little Bruce Springsteen.  The Boss grew up in my area and still lives here today, so he is a hometown hero.

Independence Day (Bruce Springsteen)

Well papa go to bed now it’s getting late
Nothing we can say is gonna change anything now
Ill be leaving in the morning from st. marys gate
We wouldn’t change this thing even if we could somehow
`cause the darkness of this house has got the best of us
There’s a darkness in this town that’s got us too
But they can’t touch me now and you can’t touch me now
They aint gonna do to me what I watched them do to you

So say goodbye it’s independence day
Its independence day all down the line
Just say goodbye it’s independence day
Its independence day this time

Now I don’t know what it always was with us
We chose the words and yeah we drew the lines
There was just no way this house could hold the two of us
I guess that we were just too much of the same kind

Well say goodbye it’s independence day
All boys must run away come independence day
So say goodbye it’s independence day
All men must make their way come independence day

read the rest here

Have a great holiday!

Dolphins, Poetry, and Madeline L’Engle

Picture from Asbury Park Press

some text

The big news in my area is that a pod of coastal dolphins has been spending their time in a local river and estuary. At first, officials were worried that they were offshore dolphins, which would present a problem because they don’t have a food source in the area. However, today it was confirmed that they are coastal dolphins and have been feasting on the abundance of bunker in the river! Now, officials are keeping an eye on them and hoping they make their way back to the ocean before the July 4th holiday, when the river will be crowded with boats.

They have been attracting quite a crowd and last night I headed down to try and see them. I did not spot them, but today my mother and sister were lucky enough to spend some time down by the river. They counted 8 dolphins, including a few young ones, and even saw them leaping from the water! I am extremely jealous, needless to say.

Dolphins have always been my favorite animals. Their intelligence, love, and compassion can be seen when they interact with each other in the wild. Because of my affinity for dolphins, Madeline L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light has always been a particular favorite of mine. To borrow from Amazon’s summary, “Vicky Austin is filled with strong feelings as she stands near Commander Rodney’s grave while her grandfather, who himself is dying of cancer, recites the funeral service. Watching his condition deteriorate as the summer passes on beautiful Seven Bay Island is almost more than Vicky can bear. To complicate things, she finds herself the center of attention for three very different boys: Leo is an old friend wanting comfort and longing for romance; Zachary, whose attempted suicide inadvertently caused the Commander’s death, is attractive and sophisticated but desperately troubled; and Adam, her older brother’s friend, offers her a wonderful chance to assist in his experiments with dolphins but treats her as a young girl just when she’s ready to feel most grown-up. Called upon to be dependable, stable, and wise, Vicky is exhilarated but often overwhelmed. Forces of darkness and light, tragedy and joy, hover about her, and at times she doesn’t know which will prevail.” A Newbery Honor book in 1980, this is my favorite L’Engle novel.

While looking out into the river, I was reminded of the Henry Vaughan’s famous poem, “The World”, which plays a vital part in the story. A perfect addition to Poetry Friday, I decided to present the first stanza using Wordle.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Poetry Friday

Yesterday was our last day of school.  I was very sad to see this class go, as they have been wonderful this year!  Most of my students are big fans of Guitar Hero (the video game), so there was a lot of singing at dismissal.  Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” was the biggest hit!  It may not be the best choice for Poetry Friday, but it makes me smile to think of my kids singing at the top of their lungs!

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely

Poetry Friday

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

Alright, it’s really a rainy day in May, but the sentiment is correct.  Overnight, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and the rain has been falling all day.

Poetry Friday

I’m in Poetry Friday this week with a poem of my own. I normally choose a poem by a “real poet”, but as I have been encouraging my students to share their poetry, I should do the same. The following poem was inspired by my trip to Tenochtitlan, where I stood at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun- the third largest pyramid in the world.

Time Atop the World

Standing atop the ancient world, stone pyramid beneath my feet.
Surveying the land spread below,
I wonder
who else has stood where I am standing?
Ancient priests?
Victims of sacrifice?
Unknown cultures?
The cool breeze
lightly kisses my skin.
I reach toward the sky
so close.

As far as the eye can see,
pyramids to the left and right.
Below, crowds are no more than small ants,
Flowing down the Avenue of the Dead.
Their voices carry to the top,
and I imagine the crowds
that once passed by this,
ancient temple,
crowds of men
and women
who lived and died
thousands of years ago.

Who will stand here in the future?
What will they see
when they stand atop
the ancient
and modern world,
surveying the land below.

Will they wonder about me?

My Seventh of Eight Poems

Today has not been a good day, professionally.  Needless to day, I am all over the place and couldn’t get anything down on paper for my poem.  Anything I did get down, I didn’t feel comfortable sharing over the internet.

Sometimes

life just doesn’t go the way you want.

But

when one door closes,

a window should open.

Even

if it takes a while

to find your way to that window.

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