Archives for category: Seasonal

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APRIL GALE
by Heidi Mordhorst

Oh, how the wind howls,
howls the blossoms from the boughs;

Oh how the boughs bend,
bend and willow to the ground;

Oh, how the ground wells,
wells with blossoms blown to hills;

Oh, how the hills sound,
sound a whisper pink and loud.

SOURCE: “April Gale” appears in Heidi Mordhorst’s collection Pumpkin Butterfly; Poems from the Other Side of Nature (Boyds Mills Press, 2009), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Cherry Blossoms,” original oil painting available at fengshui-paintings.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teacher and poet Heidi Mordhorst earned a BA in American studies from Wesleyan University, an MS in education from the Bank Street College of Education, and an MA in language and literature from the Institute of Education, University of London. She has published two books of poetry for children, Squeeze: Poems from a Juicy Universe (2005) and Pumpkin Butterfly: Poems from the Other Side of Nature (2009). Mordhorst currently resides in the Washington, DC, metro area, where she works as a Reading Initiative teacher with first-graders. 

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THE TILTED EARTH AT ITS “EQUAL NIGHT OF SPRING” (Excerpts)

New York Times, March 20, 2007

by Natalie Angier

…the vernal equinox is a momentous poem among moments, overspilling its borders like the swelling of sunlight it heralds. As with everything else about the seasons, the equinox is the result of Earth’s sizable tilt, 23.5 degrees relative to the plane of the orbit. That tilt is fairly fixed, and as Earth makes its way on its circumsolar migration and rotates on its imaginary skewer, the northern tip of the skewer always points toward the same spot in space, the bold sparkle of Polaris, the North Star.

Sometimes the northern skewer tip happens to be facing the Sun, and the northern hemisphere is bathed in the direct sunbeams and generous long days of summer, while the southern hemisphere receives only indirect lighting and hence calls the time winter. Six months later, the scene is reversed, with the northern axis tilted away from the Sun, and its hemisphere left to make do with the Sun’s cool, oblique glances.

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Twice a year the axial skewer tips are pointing neither toward nor away from the Sun, but instead are positioned exactly off to the side…These are the times of the equinox, when the linked geometry of Earth’s rotational and orbital planes together bestow a day of equal parts light and night across the entire globe. And while the equinox is formally calculated based on the moment when Earth first enters its profile position, the Sun is so comparatively huge that it takes us time to pass any point of it, and equinoctial conditions will effectively persist for several days.

Vernal equinox, the lovely little Latinate term that means “equal night of spring,” is used to indicate the March-based equinox even in the southern hemisphere, where the event is really the start of autumn…

The Great Sphinx of Egypt, built some 4,500 years ago, is positioned to face toward the rising sun on the vernal equinox.

In the 1,500-year-old Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, the magnificent Kukulcán Pyramid practically slithers to life each spring equinox evening, as the waning sun casts a shadow along its steps of seven perfectly symmetrical isosceles triangles, a pattern suggesting the diamondback skin of a snake.

In the West, the equinox is intimately fastened to the holiest of Christian holidays: Easter is timed to occur the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the vernal equinox.

Ecstatic, ecclesiastic, serpentine or Dionysian, the rebirth of the Earth offers a second chance to us all. Aren’t you glad you have two days to do it?

SOURCE: New York Times, 3/20/2007. Read the entire article at nytimes.com.

ILLUSTRATION: “Orange and olive” by Serge Bloch, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

ILLUSTRATION: “Vernal Equinox” by Ernestine Grindal. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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LOOK (Excerpt)
by Rumi

Look at the union of the
spring and winter
manifested in the equinox

you too must mingle my friends
since the earth and the sky
are mingled for you and me…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rumi (1207–1273) was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. In 2007, he was described on a BBC program as the “most popular poet in America.” (Source: wikipedia.org.)

ILLUSTRATION: “Vernal Equinox” by Rosalyn Stevenson. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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AT THE EQUINOX
by Arthur Sze

The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,

but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.

In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
and, at the equinox, bathe in its gleam.

Using all the tides of starlight,
we find
vicissitude is our charm.

On the mud flats off Homer,
I catch the tremor when waves start to slide back in;

and, from Roanoke, you carry
the leafing jade smoke of willows.

Looping out into the world, we thread
and return. The lapping waves

cover an expanse of mussels clustered on rocks;
and, giving shape to what is unspoken,

forsythia buds and blooms in our arms.

IMAGE: “Overcoming Winter” by Marianne Beukema. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is a second-generation Chinese American. Educated at the University of California, Berkeley, Sze is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); Quipu (Copper Canyon Press, 2005); The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1998); and Archipelago (Copper Canyon Press, 1995). His other collections include River River (Lost Roads Publishers, 1987); Dazzled (Floating Island Publications, 1982); Two Ravens (Tooth of Time Books, 1976; revised, 1984); and The Willow Wind (Tooth of Time Books, 1972; revised, 1981). His honors include an American Book Award, a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Western States Book Award for Translation, three grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, and fellowships from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2013, he was awarded the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers magazine. Sze was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012, and is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is the first poet laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives. Find his books at Amazon.com.

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LAUGHING SONG
by William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing “Ha, ha he!”

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, ha, he!”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Blake (1757-1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. For the most part unrecognized during his lifetime, Blake is now considered one of the greatest poets of all time in any language. As a visual artist, he has been lauded by one art critic as “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced.” (Source: Wikipedia)

PHOTO: Zsaj, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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OCEAN CITY: EARLY MARCH (Excerpt)
by Elizabeth Spires 

Along Ocean Highway, apartments rise up
to ten and twenty stories,
white, hallucinatory, defying the shifting sand,
the storm moving in off the Atlantic
that drives the rain, needlelike,
across the windshield so that we can’t see,
so that we stop in Ocean City to wait the storm out
at the Dutch, the only bar on the boardwalk
open this time of year, all the concessions
boarded up, weather-beaten, closed against the season…

Long, narrow, and dark,
the Dutch, with its shifting clientele—
from summer weekend pickups to Ocean City regulars—
allows for strangers. We order Irish coffee,
then two more, and use our change to play an arcade game.
Aliens, half an inch high, in green armor,
drop out of a glowing sky and quickly multiply.
Our backs to the storm, we play out
old anxieties, losing each game to time and starting over:
we must save what’s being threatened and not ask why.

SOURCE: “Ocean City: Early March” appears in Elizabeth Spires’s collection Swan’s Island (Carnegie Mellon, 1997), available at Amazon.com. Read the poem in its entirety at poetryfoundation.org.

IMAGE: Ocean City, Maryland, postcard by Curt Teich & Co.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A critically acclaimed poet and children’s book author, Elizabeth Spires lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. Spires won a 1996 Whiting Award for her volume Worldling. Her children’s books include With One White Wing and Riddle Road: Puzzles in Poems and Pictures, and The Mouse of Amherst.

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MARCH
by Richard Kenney

Sky a shook poncho.
Roof   wrung. Mind a luna moth
Caught in a banjo.

This weather’s witty
Peek-a-boo. A study in
Insincerity.

Blues! Blooms! The yodel
Of   the chimney in night wind.
That flat daffodil.

With absurd hauteur
New tulips dab their shadows
In water-mutter.

Boys are such oxen.
Girls! — sepal-shudder, shadow-
Waver. Equinox.

Plums on the Quad did
Blossom all at once, taking
Down the power grid.

NOTE: Richard Kenney discusses “March” at poetryfoundation.org.

IMAGE: “Luna Moon I” by Betsy Gray. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Kenney’s first collection of poetry, The Evolution of the Flightless Bird (1984), received the Yale Younger Poets Prize.

Kenney’s second book, Orrery (1985), took its name from an eighteenth-century device used to display the movements of the solar system. During the 1980s and ‘90s Kenney received a number of prestigious awards, including the Lannan Award, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 2008 he published One-Strand River: Poems 1994-2007. Kenney is professor of English at the University of Washington, where he teaches in the MFA program. He lives with his family in Port Townsend, Washington.

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MID-MARCH
by Lizette Woodworth Reese

It is too early for white boughs, too late
For snows. From out the hedge the wind lets fall
A few last flakes, ragged and delicate.
Down the stripped roads the maples start their small,
Soft, ’wildering fires. Stained are the meadow stalks
A rich and deepening red. The willow tree
Is woolly. In deserted garden-walks
The lean bush crouching hints old royalty,
Feels some June stir in the sharp air and knows
Soon ’twill leap up and show the world a rose.

The days go out with shouting; nights are loud;
Wild, warring shapes the wood lifts in the cold;
The moon’s a sword of keen, barbaric gold,
Plunged to the hilt into a pitch black cloud.

IMAGE: “Sunset in the forest in late winter” by wallpaper-million.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856-1935) was born in Huntingdon (now Waverly), Maryland, to a Confederate soldier and his German wife. She attended Baltimore private schools and, upon graduating from high school, embarked on a nearly 50-year career as an English teacher in the Baltimore schools. Her first poetry collection, A Branch of May (1887), brought wide recognition. She published an additional eight volumes of poetry, two long narrative poems, two memoirs, and one autobiographical novel. In 1931 she was named poet laureate of Maryland, and was granted an honorary doctorate from Goucher College.

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AUTUMN NITE
by Jack Kerouac

Cloudy autumn nite
— cold water drips
in the sink.

ILLUSTRATION:  “Vintage Faucet” by Anahi DeCanio. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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WALKING HAIKU
by Jack Kerouac

Walking down road with Allen —
Walking down the road in Autumn.

“Walking Haiku” appears on page 668 in Jack Kerouac Collected Poems, a 700+-page collection of Kerouac’s poetry published by The Library of America in 2012, available at Amazon.com.

GRAPHIC: “Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg in Autumn” by Silver Birch Press