Missouri has a new Poet Laureate, our second 2 year termer. I don't know him, though he teaches at a U up the road a-ways. I feel lucky to count poets, including some of you, among my acquaintance.
An excerpt from "New Year's Eve Letter to Friends" by David Clewell
It used to be the world was so small You could walk out to the end of it and back in a single day. Now it seems to take all year to make it mostly back. And so this is for my friends all over: a new year. Year the longshot comes home. The year letters pour in, full of the good word that never got as far as you before. The year lovers come to know a good thing When they find it in the press of familiar flesh. Walk out onto the planet tonight. Even the moon is giving back your share of borrowed light and you take it back, in the name of everything you can't take back in your life. Imagine yourself filling with it, letting yourself go and floating through the skeleton trees to your place at the top of the sky.
The guy who wrote mine was a friend and neighbor, not a sweetheart or anything. I thought he was an ancient old man at the time. I can remember the words of the poem, hw, but not the title or the punctuation. Something like:
In the Quiet Heart of the Universe by Bob Dyer
Somewhere In the quiet heart of the universe You sit, Sewing leaves together Talking to the bees.
Coltsfoot gives way to dandelions,cherry, plum to apple blossom. Fills our woods,white petals melting like the last late snow. Dogwood's stigmata shine with the blood of this season. How holy forsythia and redbud are as they consume their own flowers,green leaves running down their crowns. Here is the shapeliness of bodies newly formed,the rich cloth that covers frail bones and hides roots that hold fervently to this dark earth.
I will give you a poem when you wake tomorrow. It will be a peaceful poem. It won’t make you sad. It won’t make you miserable. It will simply be a poem to give you When you wake tomorrow.
It was not written by myself alone. I cannot lay claim to it. I found it in your body. In your smile I found it. Will you recognise it?
You will find it under your pillow. When you open the cupboard it will be there. You will blink in astonishment, Shout out, ‘How it trembles! Its nakedness is startling! How fresh it tastes!’
We will have it for breakfast; On a table lit by loving, At a place reserved for wonder. We will give the world a kissing open When we wake tomorrow.
We will offer it to the sad landlord out on the balcony. To the dreamers at the window. To the hand waving for no particular reason We will offer it. An amazing and most remarkable thing, We will offer it to the whole human race Which walks in us When we wake tomorrow.
Here's one of my brother's I happened upon, from his college days I guess. I'd be tempted to tinker with the last line.
Crinoid #1 By Peter Stokely
When drawing the threads of time’s stuff together The woof through the warp, the humming shuttle Sticks, catches and wavers, hesitates: It is about to… But it pauses yet, Listens to the cold trickle of a glacier melting The cosmic drone of field filled with weeds and bees, Smiles, And steps in to the light. Stop when the loom of time breaks down. See if you can sense Irregularities in the texture of the fabric of our days.
My dog has died. I buried him in the garden next to a rusted old machine.
Some day I'll join him right there, but now he's gone with his shaggy coat, his bad manners and his cold nose, and I, the materialist, who never believed in any promised heaven in the sky for any human being, I believe in a heaven I'll never enter. Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom where my dog waits for my arrival waving his fan-like tail in friendship.
Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth, of having lost a companion who was never servile. His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine withholding its authority, was the friendship of a star, aloof, with no more intimacy than was called for, with no exaggerations: he never climbed all over my clothes filling me full of his hair or his mange, he never rubbed up against my knee like other dogs obsessed with sex.
No, my dog used to gaze at me, paying me the attention I need, the attention required to make a vain person like me understand that, being a dog, he was wasting time, but, with those eyes so much purer than mine, he'd keep on gazing at me with a look that reserved for me alone all his sweet and shaggy life, always near me, never troubling me, and asking nothing.
Ai, how many times have I envied his tail as we walked together on the shores of the sea in the lonely winter of Isla Negra where the wintering birds filled the sky and my hairy dog was jumping about full of the voltage of the sea's movement: my wandering dog, sniffing away with his golden tail held high, face to face with the ocean's spray.
Joyful, joyful, joyful, as only dogs know how to be happy with only the autonomy of their shameless spirit.
There are no good-byes for my dog who has died, and we don't now and never did lie to each other.
So now he's gone and I buried him, and that's all there is to it.
Cigalechanta, I'm going to admit right here that I quickly scrolled past that poem. I know it and love it, but as soon as I read the first couple of lines and realized what it was, I decided to spare myself the tears and nose-blowing this time.
In Britain the Royal Mail has announced it is no longer going to include county names in postal addresses, but just use the more prosaic, but precise, postcode on its own. Among the comments in my paper today is this from our Poet Laureate (Carol Ann Duffy, who am I increasingly thinking is a thoroughly good thing):
But I want to write to an Essex girl,
greeting her warmly.
But I want to write to a Shropshire lad,
brave boy, home from the army,
and I want to write to the Lincolnshire Poacher
to hear of his hare
and to an aunt in Bedfordshire
who makes a wooden hill of her stair.
But I want to post a rose to a Lancashire lass,
red, I'll pick it,
and I want to write to a Middlesex mate
for tickets for cricket.
But I want to write to the Ayrshire cheesemaker
and his good cow
and it is my duty to write to the Queen at Berkshire
in praise of Slough.
But I want to write to the National Poet of Wales at Ceredigion
and I want to write to the Dorset Giant
and I want to write to a widow in Rutland
and to the Inland Revenue in Yorkshire
But I want to write to my uncle in Clackmannanshire
in his kilt
and to my scrumptious cousin in Somerset
with her cidery lilt.
But I want to write to two ladies in Denbighshire,
and I want to write to a laddie in Lanarkshire,
Dear Lachlan …
But I want to write to the Cheshire Cat,
returning its smile.
But I want to write the names of the Counties down
for my own child
and may they never be lost to her …
all the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire...
[PS: there are no prizes, but a great sense of self-satisfaction, if you can identify the poetic references!]