poetry


Random quote of the day:

“I believed that I wanted to be a poet, but deep down I just wanted to be a poem.”

—attributed to Jaime Gil De Biedma

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

A reminder to myself: “I can’t afford to hate anyone. I don’t have that kind of time.” —Takashi Shimura, in Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru
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Sometimes when I see the Trumpets waving their Trump 2020 signs I think it says Trump ZoZo. (Demon In-Joke)
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I will vote for Bernie if he’s the one although very reluctantly because I think he’s as much a Russian operative as Trump is. But anything blue is better than Trump.
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Yes, I’m wanting a kitty again, why do you ask? Actually, I’m in the process of making the house kitten safe before I take that action. It’s a slow process, given the arthritic knees, but I am working towards that goal.
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Weird irrelevant fact: Five of the accused Salem witches were executed on my father’s birthday, July 19. Eight were executed on my birthday, September 22. The other five were executed on August 19, and Giles Corey, the other victim of the hysteria, was pressed to death on September 19. I’ve always wanted to go to Salem, not so much for the touristy aspects as to pay my respects, but I doubt that will happen now. I watched an episode of America’s Hidden Stories on the efforts to finally locate the actual execution spot. Turns out the family who owns the property had handed down that knowledge through the generations but because no one in town wanted to talk about it, it had never made it into the history books. When the historians who were investigating it showed up on the property, the owner confirmed their suspicions. They erected a memorial there in 2017. So many secrets in Salem, so much official censorship.
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I will admit that Action Bronson watching Ancient Aliens (Viceland) is infinitely more entertaining than Ancient Aliens. With Action, I don’t usually want to throw anything at the TV even once. Granted, Action Bronson is stupid in his own way, just not Ancient Aliens stupid.
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I think the people in the Swiffer commercials are way the hell too anal.
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Everyone is eager to label other people fools, but everyone has something they’re foolish about. I guess it’s a multiplicity of foolishness that makes a true fool—or maybe it’s a blindness to our own idiocy.
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You never know what will launch someone on a screed. Sometimes it seems innocuous but echoes in the haunted chambers of their mind in ways the rest of us can’t see. Which is why I try not to take screeds too seriously. But sometimes they strike one of my private nerves—and we’re off!
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So strange how one’s taste and appreciation changes over time, sometimes dramatically. Yet it’s necessary. If you’re not changing you’re stagnant and dead inside. I was just reading “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold, a poem that made my young undergrad heart go “blech” back in the day. It seemed so stiff and formal. But today when I read it, it flowed, it spoke to me, I really took it in. How strange and wonderful is the passage of time.
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Bridging scenes are the worst. Going from point A to C in a necessary but difficult scene makes me want to scream. Sometimes it indicates I’m going in the wrong direction, other times it just means it’s boring. And will probably be edited out but I still have to write it first.
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Whenever I hear the word Apologia I think it should be the name of one of Prince’s former backup musicians.
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On Carl Jung’s birthday (July 26), I of course had a very interesting dream (said in a cheesy Austrian accent).

Random quote of the day:

“Memory insists with its sea voice
muttering from its bone cave.
Memory wraps us
like the shell wraps the sea.”

—Anne Michaels, “Memoriam”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“While the novelist is banging on his typewriter, the poet is watching a fly in a windowpane.”

—Billy Collins, The Paris Review, Fall 2001, No. 159

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“In the beginning was the myth. God, in his search for self-expression, invested the souls of Hindus, Greeks, and Germans with poetic shapes and continues to invest each child’s soul with poetry every day.”

—Hermann Hesse, Peter Camenzind (tr. Michael Roloff)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Never write a poem about anything that ought to have a poem written about it.”

—Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“I think ‘finding your voice’ is a false concept. It leads you to believe that it’s out there somewhere, like it’s behind the sofa cushions. I think your voice is always inside of you, and you find it by releasing things into your work that you have inside. I grew by allowing aspects of myself that I had previously excluded into my poetry.”

—Billy Collins, The Paris Review, Fall 2001, No. 159

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Eighty years ago on this day, William Butler Yeats transitioned from the earthly realm to wherever mystic poets go when they die. He was in the south of France at the Hôtel Idéal Séjour in Roquebrune Cap Martin, kept company by both his wife George and his last mistress, Edith Shackleton Heald. His friends had taken up a collection to help him move there.

Yeats completed Cuchulain Comforted in the last fifteen days of his life, a poem Seamus Heaney referred to as “one of the greatest ever death-bed utterances.” He completed his last play, The Death of Cuchulain, just before New Years’ day. And he handed over the manuscript of two poems, Are You Content? and The Spirit Medium to his mistress as he lay dying.

He asked George to bury him at the local cemetery in Roquebrune and expressed a wish that after a year’s time she arrange to have him dug up and his body moved to Sligo. Unfortunately, due to an unfortunate combination of misconstrued burial instructions and the beginning of World War II, the poet’s wishes were not carried out as planned. Somehow, he wound up in a pauper’s grave with many other bodies. Because he wore a leather truss for a hernia, they thought they might be able to identify his body, and so in 1948 the attempt was made. And this is where things get even more muddled. An English gentleman, Alfred Hollis, who wore a surgical steel corset for his spine died two weeks after Yeats and was interred in the same plot. A body wearing a medical device was exhumed by French authorities. This body was conveyed with great honor to Galway harbor. Friends and family measured and examined the bones and insisted it was Yeats. But who is in Yeats’ tomb? To this day some say an Englishman resides in it—but both the Yeats and Hollis families found the whole thing so painful they decided to leave things as they were.

I would refer you to this fine article from The Irish Times, written on the 75th anniversary of Yeats’ death and from which I gleaned this information—and so much more. A great read.

You can read the entire Cuchulain Comforted here.

They sang, but had nor human tunes nor words,
Though all was done in common as before;
They had changed their throats and had the throats of birds.

 

Random quote of the day:

“What else is a poem made of? Well, yes, ghosts.
But ghosts are only what accidents give birth to
once you have learned how to make accidents happen
purposefully enough to beget ghosts.”

—John Ciardi, “No White Bird Sings”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Some of ya’ll have seen these before, but today is the day for it.

 

Pixilated

Round and round like a crystal spinning,
my father’s stories stirred
the magic behind my eyes.
Pixilated—fairy-led—that’s what I was,
entranced by his wit,
a slave to my ears, learning
the proper way to tell a proper story.

Dad told many stories.
Some of them were even true.

At seventeen, he lied about his age,
enlisted in the Army to fight the Kaiser:
World War I, the Big Show, the adventure,
to show the Evil Hun
Yankee what-for over there.

“Saw action at Saint Mihel
and at the Ardogne Forest.”

That’s the only story I have
of the charnel house he fought through—
from his discharge papers of 1919,
fresh from the convalescent hospital,
recovering from the poison gas he’d tasted.

If I can hardly comprehend
that flesh of my flesh lived through
that ancient, distant conflict,
looking at me, I imagine,
he couldn’t quite fathom himself
that more than forty years on from that time,
he’d been given new life.

Dad told many stories.
Some of them were even true.

But he never spoke of that horror,
and when I queried of glorious battles,
as children like so much to do,
loquacious Dad broke into silence.
Shifting his eyes to the floor,
he’d mutter, “Enough, now.
You don’t want to hear about that.”

He’d turn the stories neatly
to French m’amselles, especially one
whose father had a cafe in Paris;
to the time he was a cook
on a fishing boat out of Juneau
and the walls of water inside a gale
nearly sent them to the bottom;
or to the lightning strike which took out the boy
sitting next to him on a fence watching baseball . . .

Years after he died I learned the truth
of 1918, that horrible year of mud and carnage
I’ll never truly understand,
though I’ve heard other men’s stories
of sacrificed youth at a bloody altar,
seen grainy black and white photos and films,
peering anxiously at each young Yank,
hoping to see, hoping not to see
the child who would become my father.

Round and round swirled liquid in amber,
the whisky spinning in my father’s bottle,
hot on his lips, straight, no glass, burning
through to that space of not remembering.
Pixilated—demon-led—that’s what he was,
wandering a dark and lonely forest, mute,
trapped by his Celtic blood and all the blood
he’d seen, slave to memories which had no story.

PJ Thompson

 

And happy birthday, Auntie Maxine.

Maxine

Spring went screaming through the hills—
orange yellow green white purple—
dying to be noticed, all along the road
as we drove away from your sickbed.

“Life gives us clichés,” I said.
But the harsh comfort of spring remained.

The dark sky broke apart, the sun
muscled through, burning on the hills,
forcing on us the heartbreak of blue sky.

I want to believe you are in that sky.
I do believe you are in that sky,
or laughing in the hills you loved,
bare toes trailing clouds of wildflowers.

PJ Thompson

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