Category Archives: poetry

close as two pages…

Because I do like me some book-ish poetry…

by Elizabeth Bishop

Close close all night
the lovers keep.
They turn together
in their sleep,

close as two pages
in a book
that read each other
in the dark.

Each knows all
the other knows,
learned by heart
from head to toes.


books on my desk

A few of the books that are regularly stacked on my desk at home…

resolved #2, 2015

This photo has nothing whatsoever to do with poetry.  It's a snap of the kids sitting on the back porch in the sunshine over the holidays.

This photo has nothing whatsoever to do with poetry. It’s a snap of the kids sitting on the back porch in the sunshine over the holidays.   🙂

For those of you who are longtime readers of my blog, you know that I have a certain fascination with poetry.  At times I’ve penned a bit of poetry for this space and have often linked to, or included poetry in my posts.

Why poetry?  I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with the chewiness and brevity of a poem.  It does so much work in so little space.  This appeals to the minimalist in me.

So as a way to include my poetry in my year, I resolved to listen to The Writer’s Almanac podcast each morning as I sit down to breakfast.  I must say that it’s great to start the day with beautiful words.

Mary Monday: renewal

Returning to my “Mary Monday” poetry series, from oh-so-long ago….

How I wish that I’d read this poem before I spent three hours at the DMV last week, getting my stolen Driver’s License replaced:

(from the Writer’s Almanac):


by Jeffrey Harrison

At the Department of Motor Vehicles
to renew my driver’s license, I had to wait
two hours on one of those wooden benches
like pews in the church of Latter Day
Meaninglessness, where there is no
stained glass (no windows at all, in fact),
no incense other than stale cigarette smoke
emanating from the clothes of those around me,
and no sermon, just an automated female voice
calling numbers over a loudspeaker.
And one by one the members of our sorry
congregation shuffled meekly up to the pitted
altar to have our vision tested or to seek
redemption for whatever wrong turn we’d taken,
or pay indulgences, or else be turned away
as unworthy of piloting our own journey.
But when I paused to look around, using my numbered
ticket as a bookmark, it was as if the dim
fluorescent light had been transformed
to incandescence. The face of the Latino guy
in a ripped black sweatshirt glowed with health,
and I could tell that the sulking white girl
accompanied by her mother was brimming
with secret excitement to be getting her first license,
already speeding down the highway, alone,
with all the windows open, singing.

Have I not been ready…

Today is a day for a poem. You know that kind of day…when morning comes while you’re standing stocking-footed in the garden and eating greek yogurt with toasted almonds and a sprinkle of nutmeg and realizing that the rosebushes in your backyard are covered with new buds (again).  And you can’t help but think that sometimes such beauty hurts just as much as it heals…

From Mary Oliver’s “Am I Not Among the Early Risers”

Here is an amazement–once I was twenty years old and in
every motion of my body there was a delicious ease,
and in every motion of the green earth there was
a hint of paradise,
and now I am [forty] years old, and it is the same.[..]

I bow down.

Have I not loved as though the beloved could vanish any moment,
or become preoccupied, or whisper a name other than mine
in the stretched curvatures of lust, or over the dinner table
Have I ever taken good fortune for granted?

Have I not, every spring, befriended the swarm that pours forth?
Have I not summoned the honey-man to come, to hurry,
to bring with him the white and comfortable hive?

And, while I waited, have I not leaned close, to see everything?
Have I not been stung as I watched their milling and gleaming,
and stung hard?

Have I not been ready at the iron door,
not knowing to what country it opens–to death or to more life?

Have I ever said that that the day was too hot or too cold
or the night too long and as black as oil anyway,
or the morning, washed blue and emptied entirely
of the second-rate, less than happiness

as I stepped down from the porch and set out along
the green paths of the world?

a great lover…

pale pink rose

A friend shared the poem below on my Facebook page recently, and it literally left me breathless as I read (note: I’ve made a few changes here to make it a bit more female-positive).

A few days ago I was having a thoughtful chat with another friend and it struck me how hard my life has often been–in that I’ve had to bend and alter my path because of situations beyond my control.  So many of my wishes and desires are unfulfilled.  There are so many ‘what ifs’ to my life that I simply can’t pursue because of circumstance.  But despite this, I feel as though I’ve surrendered myself to these restrictions and found even more freedom through doing so.  In large part, I think my ability to surface from a morass is because I simply love life so much, and I find huge pleasure in the smallest of things.  Perhaps that’s the result of having survived so much already, or perhaps it’s simply my nature.  I don’t know.  But it makes me feel buoyant and strong.

The Great Lover
by Rupert Brooke

I have been so great a lover: filled my days
So proudly with the splendour of Love’s praise,
The pain, the calm, and the astonishment,
Desire illimitable, and still content,
And all dear names [wo]men use, to cheat despair,

For the perplexed and viewless streams that bear
Our hearts at random down the dark of life.
Now, ere the unthinking silence on that strife
Steals down, I would cheat drowsy Death so far,
My night shall be remembered for a star

That outshone all the suns of all [wo]men’s days.
Shall I not crown them with immortal praise
Whom I have loved, who have given me, dared with me
High secrets, and in darkness knelt to see

The inenarrable god[dess]head of delight?

Love is a flame;—we have beaconed the world’s night.
A city:—and we have built it, these and I.

An emp[ress]:—we have taught the world to die.
So, for their sakes I loved, ere I go hence,
And the high cause of Love’s magnificence,
And to keep loyalties young, I’ll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that [wo]men may know,
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming….
These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen

Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;

The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such—
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair’s fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year’s ferns….
Dear names,
And thousand others throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water’s dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing:
Voices in laughter, too; and body’s pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;

And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold

Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;—
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass.
Whatever passes not, in the great hour,
Nor all my passion, all my prayers, have power
To hold them with me through the gate of Death.
They’ll play deserter, turn with the traitor breath,
Break the high bond we made, and sell Love’s trust

And sacramented covenant to the dust.
—Oh, never a doubt but, somewhere, I shall wake,
And give what’s left of love again, and make

New friends, now strangers….
But the best I’ve known,

Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living [wo]men, and dies.
Nothing remains.

O dear my loves, O faithless, once again
This one last gift I give: that after [wo]men
Shall know, and later lovers, far-removed
Praise you, “All these were lovely”; say, “[S]he loved.”

we need more worlds…


Religious Consolation

by John Updike

One size fits all. The shape or coloration
of the god or high heaven matters less
than that there is one, somehow, somewhere, hearing
the hasty prayer and chalking up the mite
the widow brings to the temple, A child
alone with horrid verities cries out
for there to be a limit, a warm wall
whose stones give back an answer, however faint.

Strange, the extravagance of it—who needs
those eighteen-armed black Kalis, those musty saints
whose bones and bleeding wounds appall good taste,
those joss sticks, houris, gilded Buddhas, books
Moroni etched in tedious detail?
We do; we need more worlds. This one will fail.

Here I am all myself…


I Am Like a Rose

I am myself at last; now I achieve
My very self, I, with the wonder mellow,
Full of fine warmth, I issue forth in clear
And single me, perfected from my fellow.

Here I am all myself. No rose-bush heaving
Its limpid sap to culmination has brought
Itself more sheer and naked out of the green
In stark-clear roses, than I to myself am brought.

~DH Lawrence


Poetry is such a personal thing.  But it seems that more often than not, when friends share some stanzas of poetry with me, I find that it resonates with me at some level.  Like the passage above, sent by a friend yesterday.  It’s perfect for me and where I’m at right now…

These past few days have had me falling in love hard and fast.  With just about everything.  Some of these include

–My first few steps at learning parsel-tongue.  So I can call myself a genuine digital humanist.

–Hot waffles full of melted cheese when it’s cold and rainy outside.

–Sitting cross-legged on my fluffy carpet every morning, as I contemplate the day ahead.

–Cooking crepes (in my new Calphalon pan) and pots of soup and cinnamon rolls and fresh bread.

–Cheese sauce.

–Hamburgers (at Haven and Bruxie and Ruta’s and In-n-Out and Norm’s and the Grinder and…)  Have I mentioned that these past few months I have been craving hamburgers? Just craving.

–Making travel plans (with a flight leaving in just a few hours!).

–A friend’s offering of Girl Scout cookies, after an evening of talking, talking, talking.

–Joan Jett (she is so rocker-tough-cool).

–Being in first place until the final round of pub trivia, on our team’s very first attempt at working together (and I so want them all on team next time!).

–Snuggling into the cozy purple chair for movie night.



–Sepia-toned photos (for decoupage).


–A somewhat spontaneous piano concerto concert and the good conversation afterwards.

–An important package that arrived in the mail today and the awesome friends who signed for it while I was away at work.

–Huge hugs from CatGirl and GameBoy when I walk in the door each evening.

–Tea and shawls.  Tea and shawls.  Tea and shawls….

seeing red

mon cheriThis morning I’m contemplating an exciting weekend ahead and realizing that today is simply feeling “red”–full of energy and possibility.

This little poem excerpt from Eugene Fields is a favorite–one that I learned from a biography of Minerva Teichert (a painter who knew how to user her red!):

Any color, so long as it’s red,
Is the color that suits me best,
Though I will allow there is much to be said
For yellow and green and the rest;
But the feeble tints which some affect
In the things they make or buy
Have never–I say it with all respect–
Appealed to my critical eye…

une orange sur la table

an orange (for lunch)
A lot of questions are bubbling up about the future. About what I want for my life and where I see myself headed. On so many fronts, I simply have no idea. Sure, I’ll keep working at my job and on my dissertation. I’ll continue caring for my children. For the time being I’ll stay in my current home. But my days are filled with moments where I realize, I just don’t know what lies ahead. And I’m not sure I even care to think too deeply about it either. Yes, I worry occasionally (which usually prompts me to go check my bank account balances and take a few deep breaths).

The past few days I’ve been in a whirlwind of busy-ness because of the THATCamp conference I hosted at Chapman. Organizing such an event is an absolute delight–especially sitting at the feet of scholars whose work outshines mine in so many ways. But now I have a ‘to-do’ list that is quite long. I put off many personal tasks until this event was over, knowing that I could only handle ‘so much’ this past week given all that’s been happening in my life.

However, instead of thinking about the future and my lists and my uber-weird life, I am sitting here looking out the window at this fresh new day and am just being. A friend brought me a tree-ripened orange yesterday and I’m slowly slicing it and savoring each bite. And remembering my favorite poem of orange– the first French poem that I ever attempted to translate–and focusing on the “sweet present of the present” and realizing that sometimes that is simply enough.


Une orange sur la table
Ta robe sur le tapis
Et toi dans mon lit
Doux présent du présent
Fraîcheur de la nuit
Chaleur de ma vie

~Jacques Prevert

The orange in the picture above was one that I picked from the satsuma tree in my garden. A tree that was a birthday gift from my mother a few years ago & now sits in a pot on my porch.