Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 2010 poems

Little Owl Who Lives in the Orchard
by Mary Oliver

His beak could open a bottle,
and his eyes - when he lifts their soft lids -
go on reading something
just beyond your shoulder -
Blake, maybe,
or the Book of Revelation.

Never mind that he eats only
the black-smocked crickets,
and the dragonflies if they happen
to be out late over the ponds, and of course
the occasional festal mouse.
Never mind that he is only a memo
from the offices of fear -

it’s not size but surge that tells us
when we’re in touch with something real,
and when I hear him in the orchard
down the little aliminum
ladder of his scream -
when I see his wings open, like two black ferns,

a flurry of palpitations
as cold as sleet
rackets across the marshlands
of my heart
like a wild spring day.

Somewhere in the universe,
in the gallery of important things,
the babyish owl, ruffled and rakish,
sits on its pedestal.
Dear, dark dapple of plush!
A message, reads the label,
from that mysterious conglomerate:
Oblivion and Co.
The hooked head stares
from its house of dark, feathery lace.
It could be a valentine.

Notes from the Other Side

By Jane Kenyon

I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.

Now there is no more catching
one’s own eye in the mirror

there are no bad books, no plastic,
no insurance premiums, and of course

no illness. Contrition
does not exist, no gnashing

of teeth. No one howls as the first
clod of earth hits the casket.

The poor we no longer have with us.
Our calm hearts strike only the hour,

and God, as promised, proves
to be mercy clothed in light.

Money Goes Upstream
By Gary Snyder

I am hearing people talk about reason
Higher consciousness, the unconscious,
looking across the audience
through the side door
where hot sunshine blocks out
a patch of tan grass and thorny buckbrush
There are people who do business within the law.
And others, who love speed, danger,
Tricks, who know how to
Twist arms, get fantastic wealth,
Hurt with heavy shoulders of power,
And then drink to it!
they don't get caught
own the law.
Is this reason? Or is it a dream.

I can smell the grass, feel the stones with bare feet
though I sit here shod and clothed
with all the people. That's my power.
And some odd force is in the world
Not a power
That seeks to own the source.
It dazzles and it slips us by,
It swims upstream.
Ode to Boudin
By Kevin Young
You are the chewing gum
of God. You are the reason
I know that skin
is only that, holds
more than it meets.
The heart of you is something
I don't quite get
but don't want to. Even
a fool like me can see
your broken
beauty, the way
out in this world where most
things disappear, driven
into ground, you are ground
already, & like rice
you rise. Drunken deacon,
sausage's half-brother,
jambalaya's baby mama,
you bring me back
to the beginning, to where things live
again. Homemade saviour,
you fed me the day
my father sat under the flowers
white as the gloves of pallbearers
tossed on his brier.
Soon, hands will lower him
into ground richer
than even you.
For now, root of all
remembrance, your thick chain
sets me spinning, thinking
of how, like the small,
perfect, possible, silent soul
you spill out
like music, my daddy
dead, or grief,
or both--afterward his sisters
my aunts dancing
in the yard to a car radio
tuned to zydeco
beneath the pecan trees
“I want a lot.”
By Rainer Maria Rilke
You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that so work and feel thirst....

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.