Archives for category: Summer

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ODE TO THE WATERMELON (Excerpt)
by Pablo Neruda

…the round, magnificent,
star-filled watermelon.
It’s a fruit from the thirst-tree.
It’s the green whale of the summer.
The dry universe
all at once
given dark stars
by this firmament of coolness
lets the swelling
fruit
come down:
its hemispheres open
showing a flag
green, white, red,
that dissolves into
wild rivers, sugar,
delight!…
When we’re thirsty
we glimpse you
like
a mine or a mountain
of fantastic food,
but
among our longings and our teeth
you change
simply
into cool light
that slips in turn into
spring water
that touched us once
singing.
And that is why
you don’t weigh us down
in the siesta hour
that’s like an oven,
you don’t weigh us down,
you just
go by
and your heart, some cold ember,
turned itself into a single
drop of water.

Painting: “Viva La Vida” by Frida Kahlo (1954) — Kahlo’s last painting.

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IT’S HOT
by Shel Silverstein

It’s hot!
I can’t get cool,
I’ve drunk a quart of lemonade.
I think I’ll take my shoes off
And sit around in the shade.

It’s hot!
My back is sticky.
The sweat rolls down my chin.
I think I’ll take my clothes off
And sit around in my skin.

It’s hot!
I’ve tried with ’lectric fans,
And pools and ice cream cones.
I think I’ll take my skin off
And sit around in my bones.

It’s still hot!

“It’s Hot” appears in Shel Silverstein‘s collection of poems of drawings A Light in the Attic.

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“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”  HARPER LEE, To Kill A Mockingbird (J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960)

Photo: Author Harper Lee pushes actress Mary Badham (Scout Finch) during production of the 1962 film version of her novel. To Kill a Mockingbird was filmed in Southern California, and some sharp-eyed viewers have noticed mountains in the background of the “mad dog” scene — geographic features that don’t occur in the story’s setting (Maycomb, Alabama).

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FAT SOUTHERN MEN IN THEIR SUMMER SUITS
by Liam Rector

Fat Southern men in their summer suits,
Usually with suspenders, love to sweat
Into and even through their coats,

Taking it as a matter of honor to do so,
Especially when the humidity gets as close
As it does each Southern summer.

Some think men could do better
By just going ahead and taking the damned
Coats off, but the summer code stays

Because summer is the time
For many men, no matter what their class,
To be Southern Gentlemen by keeping

Those coats on. So late in life here I am
Down here again, having run to fat
(As Southern men tend), visiting the farm

Where my grandfather deposited
So much of his own working sweat,
Where Granddaddy never bought into any

Of “that Southern Gentleman crap.”
Up north where I landed in the urban
Middle class I am seldom caught

Not wearing a coat of some kind. I love
The coats, and though I love them most
In the fall I still enact the summer code,

I suppose, because my father and I did buy
That code, even though I organized students
To strike down any dress code whatsoever

In the high school I attended (it was a matter
Of honor). And it still puts me in good humor
To abide with the many pockets, including

One for a flask. So whether it’s New York,
Vermont, or Virginia, the spectacle
Of the summer seersucker proceeds,

Suspenders and all, and I lean into the sweat
(Right down to where the weather really is)
Until it has entirely soaked through my jacket.

…From Liam Rector‘s collection The Executive Director of the Fallen World (University of Chicago Press, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

Photo: Ned Beatty as Big Daddy in a 2003 production (on Broadway in NYC) of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams.

ImageABOUT THE AUTHOR: Liam Rector (1949-2007) received an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His books of poems include The Executive Director of the Fallen World (University of Chicago Press, 2006), American Prodigal (1994) and The Sorrow of Architecture (1984). Rector’s honors include fellowships in poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friend to Writers Award from PEN New England. He served as poetry editor of Harvard Magazine and as associate editor of Harvard Review and Agni. Rector taught at Columbia University, The New School, Emerson College, George Mason University, and elsewhere. He founded and directed the graduate Writing Seminars at Bennington College, and administered literary programs at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. (Read more at poets.org.)

Author photo by Star Black

Editor’s Note: We have been suffering with killer heat in Los Angeles for the past four days, which sent me on a search for poetry about surviving the heat. Couldn’t resist posting “Fat Southern Men in Their Summer Suits.” I must add that I’ve spent a lot of time in South during various summers, and — at least for me — the heat in the Southern states can’t match anything in Southern California. One more thing…a nod to those Southern gentlemen who suffer through the heat in their seersucker suits — your gallantry has not gone unappreciated.

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SUMMER X-RAYS (Excerpt)
by Nina Cassian

…Despite all my inner crumblings,
I’m still able to recognize a perfect day:
sea without shadow,
sky without wrinkles,
air hovering over me like a blessing…

“Summer X-Rays” appears in Nina Cassian‘s collection Contiunum (W.W. Norton, 2009) , available at Amazon.com. Read “Summer X-Rays” in its entirety at poets.org.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nina Cassian (pen name of Renée Annie Cassian, born on November 27, 1924) is a Romanian poet, composer, journalist and film critic. She is noted for translating into Romanian the works of William Shakespeare and Bertolt Brecht and has published more than fifty books of poetry. (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

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To celebrate Charles Bukowski’s summer birthday, we are offering a free Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology on Friday, August 16, 2013. The collection features summer-related poetry & prose from over 70 established and up-and-coming writers around the world — including some classic authors from the past. 

Find your free Kindle of the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology at Amazon.com. (If you don’t have a Kindle device, get free kindle reading apps for your computer at this link.)

We would appreciate any reblogs, tweets, or Facebook posts about this offer! 

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AUGUST FIRST
by Hayden Carruth

Late night on the porch, thinking
of old poems. Another day’s
work, another evening’s,
done. A large moth, probably
Catocala, batters the screen,
but lazily, its strength spent,
its wings tattered. It perches
trembling on the sill. The sky
is hot dark summer, neither
moon nor stars, air unstirring,
darkness complete; and the brook
sounds low, a discourse fumbling
among obstinate stones. I
remember a poem I wrote
years ago when my wife and
I had been married twenty-
two days, an exuberant
poem of love, death, the white
snow, personal purity. now
I look without seeing at
a geranium on the sill;
and, still full of day and evening,
of what to do for money,
I wonder what became of
purity. The world is a
complex fatigue. The moth tries
once more, wavering desperately
up the screen, beating, insane,
behind the geranium. It is an
immense geranium,
the biggest I’ve ever seen,
with a stem like a small tree
branching, so that the two thick arms
rise against the blackness of
this summer sky, and hold up
ten blossom clusters, bright bursts
of color. What is it — coral,
mallow? Isn’t there a color
called “geranium”? No matter.
They are clusters of richness
held against the night in quiet
exultation, five on each branch,
upraised. I bought it myself
and gave it to my young wife
years ago, in a plastic cup
with a 19cent seedling
from the supermarket, now
so thick, leathery-stemmed,
and bountiful with blossom.
The moth rests again, clinging.
The brook talks. The night listens.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Hayden Carruth (1921-2008) wrote more than 30 books of poetry, four books of literary criticism, essays, a novel, and two poetry anthologies. He served as editor of Poetry magazine, as poetry editor of Harper’s, and as advisory editor of The Hudson Review 20 years. He was awarded a Bollingen Prize as well as Guggenheim and NEA fellowships. In 1992, he  received the National Book Critics Circle Award for his Collected Shorter Poems and in 1996 the National Book Award in poetry for his Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey. Shortly after the debut of Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey, he won the $50,000 Lannan Literary Award.  Other awards included the Carl Sandburg Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the 1990 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the Vermont Governor’s Medal and the Whiting Award. (Read more at Wikipedia.org.)

Painting: “Geranium Sketch” by Declan O’Doherty, based on an idea by Catherine Carey, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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AUGUST MORNING
by Albert Garcia

It’s ripe, the melon
by our sink. Yellow,
bee-bitten, soft, it perfumes
the house too sweetly.
At five I wake, the air
mournful in its quiet.
My wife’s eyes swim calmly
under their lids, her mouth and jaw
relaxed, different.
What is happening in the silence
of this house? Curtains
hang heavily from their rods.
Ficus leaves tremble
at my footsteps. Yet
the colors outside are perfect–
orange geranium, blue lobelia.
I wander from room to room
like a man in a museum:
wife, children, books, flowers,
melon. Such still air. Soon
the mid-morning breeze will float in
like tepid water, then hot.
How do I start this day,
I who am unsure
of how my life has happened
or how to proceed
amid this warm and steady sweetness?

Poem copyright © by Albert Garcia from his book Skunk Talk (Bear Starr Press, 2005), available at Amazon.com.

Painting: “Melon,” watercolor by Ema Angelova, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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SUMMER HAIKU
by Diane Eagle Kataoka

This giant blue spruce
soars higher into the sky
lying here smelling sun

Illustration: “Blue Spruce,” watercolor by Brenda Owen, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

“Summer Haiku” by Diane Eagle Kataoka appears in the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology, available at Amazon.com.

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SUMMER HAIKU by Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

Along the mountain road

somehow it tugs at my heart —

a wild violet