Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quote of the Day


Nobody's free until everybody's free. 

                                                                        - Fannie Lou Hamer

The Fly
- William Blake

Little fly,
Thy summer’s play
My thoughtless hand
Has brushed away.

Am not I
A fly like thee?
Or art not thou
A man like me?

For I dance
And drink and sing,
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength and breath,
And the want
Of thought is death,

Then am I
A happy fly,
If I live,
Or if I die.

from: Songs of Experience.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quote of the Day


I have no enemies. But my friends don't like me.

                                                                 - Philip Larkin

The Last Slow Days of Summer

- Phillip Lopate

“BE YOUR OWN MASTER!” says the Vedanta Society sign.
Why not?…In the park
Some clouds roll over me like Greenland on a map.
If I wanted to I could imagine I was flying over
The Greenland coast and gazing down at the white fjords.
Instead I’m lying on the grass, listening to city sounds.
They come to me in three-dimensional form,
Like a loaf of Wonder Bread. Baby carriages squeak
Near the middle. Cars humming through Central Park,
Somewhere near the back of the loaf.
What sound would be the end-piece, the round brown sliver?
The unzipping of airline bags.
Or a glove thwacked
By a rookie pitcher who falls apart
In the eighth inning. The manager takes the ball silently,
Like a man who has eaten a full loaf of bread
And has a stomach pain. Don’t glamorize silence.
There is nothing profound about quiet, it is usually
Only the universe holding its stomach.
Delmore Schwartz must have been a great talker.
They say he put most of his talent into his life
But I don’t know, I think his prose is pretty great;
He made a better storywriter than a poet.
I could write a thousand-page biography
Propounding that stance, and interview all the old rummy
Critics who are powerful now;
They would let their hair down about Delmore,
And the final crackup.
The reason I’m thinking of Delmore Schwartz is that
He wrote a poem about city parks. And it wasn’t that successful,
It went on for about twelve pages, but I admired him
For writing a poem with so little point,
And so much prosy description. I think he was trying to
Eulogize normal middle-class happiness on a Sunday afternoon,
And how he felt out of it. But that wouldn’t have
Taken twelve pages…He was probably being ironic
About the people’s happiness, and secretly thought
They weren’t happy. He wrote it about the same time
Robert Moses was carving out his parks empire
By forcing the Long Island millionaires to give up their privacy
So that the middle class could get to the beach.
Of course it was also supposed to benefit
The poor slum-dwellers, but how many of them
Ever made it to Sunken Meadows?
Or Jones Beach?
What’s strange about parks—innocent greenery—
Is that no one ever suspected them to ruin New York.
Yet what finally gutted the city were the parkways
Moses built, slashed through all five boroughs
Quiet lower-middle-class neighborhoods bulldozed
For cars to get to the picnic grounds faster,
Or the Hamptons—
A life of paperwork capped by a summer home.
But I can’t blame them: I’d like a summer home myself!
I don’t really believe New York is dying, no more than
The universe is dying. I have no stake in seeing
This poem end pessimistically.
I’d like to leave people with a good feeling.
Robert Moses, Delmore Schwartz.
Two ambitious Jews, like myself.
They tried to be their own masters…
It’s hard to imagine New York going under
On a slow summer day like today
Without even a loud noise to mark it
Like the Empire State Building keeling over
And everyone running to the scene of default.
The helicopters will be standing by,
Ready to take us to Greenland.
A special airlift for poetic men of letters,
A jumbo Boeing crammed to the teeth,
And you can’t get in if your name isn’t
Listed in Poets and Writers Directory.
“So long, New York School of Poets!”
I’ll stay behind, tending the weeds
And sleeping in deserted Central Park.
Soon I’ll be hearing about the Godthaab School:
Their seemingly infinite talent for “chatty brilliance,"
Buddhism, and marathon readings.
I’ll shake my head and sigh: What are
Anne and Michael doing now?
How was this year’s big Halloween party,
Or do they even celebrate Halloween in Greenland?
Maybe they’re into solstice holidays, like Midsummer Night.

from: At the End of the Day: Selected Poems and an Introductory Essay. Copyright 2009.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quote of the Day


No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.

 - Alice Walker

The White Room

- Charles Simic

The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too.
I listened to the trees.

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me—
And then didn’t.

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses,
Always more dark houses,
Hushed and abandoned.

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors.
The fear of it, and the wonder,
Kept me sleepless.

The truth is bald and cold,
Said the woman
Who always wore white.
She didn’t leave her room.

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact.
The simplest things,

Difficult in their obviousness.
They made no noise.
It was the kind of day
People described as “perfect.”

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins, a hand-mirror,
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn’t it.

Just things as they are,
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light—
And the trees waiting for the night.

from: The Book of Gods and Devils. Copyright 1990.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vespers

- Louise Glück

In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

from: The Wild Iris. Copyright 1992.