my ears get fooled by neighbors
and all the wrong that i hear
and my feet get sore from foxtails
those insidious small devils
and don’t you ever wonder
i mean, doesn’t it ever get to you
how He is still everywhere
and everything no matter what?
and i almost forgot without
this morning when i left
in a huff that i snapped
one picture of a pink mildness
i looked at it once, and now twice
and on the third time viewing
i finally saw its burnt edges
yet i think it cannot detract
from the multiplication of
sympathies He’s given me
in this very continuous moment
as i look and re-look at earth
in this very important flower
don’t you see a prayer?
don’t you see an instruction
to quiet self, to get out,
without the weight of ego
to be only soft and burning, —
an open-fisted body
for Real Toads &after Mary Oliver’s
When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention
and i don’t even know
how i am doing it
prancing to the playground
calling dibs on the swings
hanging fancy words
on the jungle gym bars
flipping my hair forever free
from real-life verbs
like rush and race
i go hunting-up some honey
which is always given
after i learned how to poise
my asking to approximate
kindness i simply need
to borrow from the bees
and pay no attention to
Jon Lucas, the pissy pirate
to all the pretty posey girls
(he only likes saying
I can see your underwear)
in the whole scheme of things
what you think is the next to
the last thing, never really is
Jon, if you keep on twirling
10,000 more days, months, or
years, — honest to god this is
the easiest way,
29: NaPoWriMo and Real Toads
,and i could have died thereof
on roller coaster hill.
but my heart-struck feet
kept a padding up and over,
up and over the next mogul
threatening to come between Her
and i, and before i knew it, the blonde
field sections next to me started humming
in orchestral reaction to all the astral dust
She was throwing down in Chapman, —
where tornadoes tend to go,
where i knew if i’d get there too,
She’d take me up as Her child
of the great western plains, —
the cows weak-kneed in prayer
the mosquitoes still sleeping
Kansas: the Land of Ah’s
Best state to watch sunsets/sunrises
Percy, the wonderful rover
is leashed, suddenly controlled
by his wooly neck and nylon tether.
And now isn’t he well behaved?
Sitting on his haunches, his
monkey butt at rest. Heeling
at a pleasurable rhythm that
gets easier and easier to establish.
Percy, come. Percy, heel. Percy, stay.
He and I, exactly pretending that
riding lawn mowers don’t add measure
to our step, that prancy park dogs
don’t warrant our wild, rapt attention.
We walk together in collusion
like this, silently agreeing
that the minute Percy comes back
when I ask him to come– come back Percy,
is the agreed upon moment I’ll finally
free his animal neck (which everyone knows
is at the top of my list of the world’s
most beautiful sights– a dog off-leash).
I cannot say as much for obedience school
as Percy can say about the pleasure of his
freed body. His feet fluidly romping and
writing letters far sweeter than any poem.
Even so, that genius dog, I celebrate
every single one of his returns and grab
his bristly little neck.
For Real Toads after Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs
From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.
Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
-Mary Oliver, “A Pretty Song”
With our mouths tiny and slanted
I tell mine to open with the same air
I forgot I was saving back for repeating
your name, so it goes, and in doing so
the very air reinflates the whole of you
living forever in the moment I’m renewed
and full of you &the shimmering particles
we once shared unpretentious in rhythm
once rising, now falling asunder; bestrewn
from the complications of loving you.
And there is nowhere you are not.
If I seek the difficult church to go easy
you are the whispering stained flower.
If I fall apart on the speckled sand
my soles create your small impression
so I ask the long shadows to burn
the backs of my retinas once over
for good measure; surely for lassitude
the shackle of you must continually churn;
I think there is no end or return.
Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods
and I dare myself to hold my breath
as if in a tunnel counting by ones &tens
half-hoping you will fill my lungs–
lungs that transliterate ‘thirsty’ to ‘spit’
like the daisies in their new fields
collecting themselves to wildly spread
superfluous on all things unlit;
no answer, no coming out of it.
Will I be freed by this first white
death? Soft as a bare shoulder,
as white as the snow-laden sky
in the winter of a late afternoon?
Non-elaborate, but fully clothed
in love, and light, and joy, and a bit
of song as sweet as any sleeping world
where fingers and bodies reminisce over
a patience of patience; a heart we admit
which is the only way to love, isn’t it?
inspired by Bjorn’s form over at dVerse
where they want to know who inspires me
why are you still awake walt whitman? singing of birds, flowers, and sex; those blades of grass rejoicing over every sinew, every swallow of water.
and why are you still awake mary oliver? your lover is gone yet you watch in the woods for one moment of transcendence with two deer; proof that breathing a little isn’t living. are you right?
and why am i still awake? have you both stopped somewhere to wait for me; for holy communion with this grass growing in a democratic way encompassing everything, risking no words at all. a yawp, a pretty mouth? Unequivocal communion.
From living the chronic red angers which is you
I put too much stock in bright yellow flowers,
Into the misguided notion of the power of positive
Thinking in a ridiculous twenty-two step book I hold
In my hands like a small sacred Bible which reads
More like a mass-market mantra, like something that
Bears repeating: So I repeat it: “I have so much that
It’s hard to believe I’ve been this fortunate.” But it
Overlooks that you, named as father, &I as daughter
Will never part, so there’s no coming out of the deep dark
Which is you crying with dry eye I’m-never-going-to-be-happy,
But you-almost-make-me-want-to-live-again, but not really,
And because your-mother-is-overweight-it’s-all-her-fault-
Shifting madness. So I grow rail thin; but my fingers
Still look pretty cocked on a gun and nobody knows
You are (the) shrinking sun in my colder-by-the-minute
Universe; and I curse my heart for wanting to pray for you,
“Come out of yourself, dead man, &live.”
And my body continues to recite a thin song…
[I resolve to be cheerful, no matter what happens.]
[I resolve to be cheerful, no matter what happens.]
After Mary Oliver’s Poem “A Pretty Song”
Real Toads prompt: What Sparked Your Poetic Heart?
“Be a lotus in the pond,” she said, “opening
slowly, no single energy tugging
against another but peacefully,
I couldn’t even touch my toes.
“Feel your quadriceps stretching?” she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching.
Standing impressively upright, she
raised one leg and placed it against
the other, then lifted her arms and
shook her hands like leaves. “Be a tree,” she said.
I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond
opening slowly, and very slowly rising–
that I could do.
-From Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses Poems
Monday, November 10 Prompt:
What knowledge do you have that others don’t? Write a “how to” post about anything you’ve got skills for, small or large.
I’ve got yoga skills, but didn’t have enough time to write about it as well as Mary Oliver did.
The Poet Reflects on Her Time in Kansas
No pretense here.
She could be your eye;
this 200-mile dramatic sky
skirting tallgrass prairies,
squeezing the sun,
grandma’s hand, mother’s lame knee.
Also, Uncle Bob. The one I didn’t know before I came.
A grotesque, gnarly growth on the top
of his right petrified hand, I deeply loved!
Oh wonderful, work of art.
I was here.
At a cottonwood tree
standing next to dad in the sun
which, by the way, is exactly where we both belong.
Facing east, talking of trees.
Their leaves are shiny. See.
Electric butterflies, I say,
not knowing that what I mean to say is
that the light on the leaves is really a fire on the ocean,
sails set in your eyes.
Such a fine time I had in Kansas.
You tell me if it was worth it.
I’ve left Kansas, but it hasn’t left me! I took this photo of the cottonwood that mesmerized me with its living, breathing leaves. I loosely framed my poem after Mary Oliver‘s The Poet Goes to Indiana. The last two lines are pretty much hers, with the exception of Kansas substituting for Indiana. Awk! Which reminds me…back to substitute teaching tomorrow. Hope you don’t tire of my Kansas inspired posts, because I think I have a few more to burn!
The Uses of Sorrow
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
(In her sleep, poet Mary Oliver, dreamed this poem)
that this, too, was a gift.