Archives for posts with tag: aging

red-hills-lake-george
VEHICLE
by Tamara Madison

This body is the vehicle
by which I navigate the world.
Here is a photograph
of its younger self
crouched on a rock.
Those feet are the feet
by which I have always
trod the earth, but the photo
was taken before living
had given them
bunions and fungus.
The hair that falls
in a hazy fan
down the shoulder
is this hair before it took on
shades of silver and gray.
The face in the photo
is turned away, watching
the winter sun drift down
behind the mountains
while the future
crouches behind the rock,
waiting to climb up
the young back,
this same back with the turn
in its spine which forms
the little hump where
for six decades I have stored
my slights and sorrows.
My body’s scaffold of bones
is the same, but all the cells
are brand spanking new.

IMAGE: “Red Hills, Lake George” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1927).

tamara_madison

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle. I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

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CALENDARS
by Jim Harrison

Back in the blue chair in front of the green studio

another year has passed, or so they say, but calendars lie.

They’re a kind of cosmic business machine like

their cousin clocks but break down at inopportune times.

Fifty years ago I learned to jump off the calendar

but I kept getting drawn back on for reasons

of greed and my imperishable stupidity.

Of late I’ve escaped those fatal squares

with their razor-sharp numbers for longer and longer.

I had to become the moving water I already am,

falling back into the human shape in order

not to frighten my children, grandchildren, dogs and friends.

Our old cat doesn’t care. He laps the water where my face used to be.
***
“Calendars” appears iin Jim Harrison’s collection In Search of Small Gods (Copper Canyon Press, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: “Cat in birdbath” by Jim Vansant. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

103rdst
LET ME PLEASE LOOK INTO MY WINDOW
by Gerald Stern

Let me please look into my window on 103rd Street one more time—
without crying, without tearing the satin, without touching
the white face, without straightening the tie or crumpling the flower.

Let me walk up Broadway past Zak’s, past the Melody Fruit Store,
past Stein’s Eyes, past the New Moon Inn, past the Olympia.

Let me leave quietly by Gate 29
and fall asleep as we pull away from the ramp
into the tunnel.

Let me wake up happy, let me know where I am, let me lie still,
as we turn left, as we cross the water, as we leave the light
***
“Let Me Please Look Into My Window” appears in Gerald Stern‘s collection This Time: New and Selected Poems © W.W. Norton & Co., 1998, winner of the National Book Award for poetry. Find the book at Amazon.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1925,  Gerald Stern studied at the University of Pittsburgh (BA, 1947) and Columbia University (MA., in 1949). His work became widely recognized after the 1977 publication of Lucky Life,  that year’s Lamont Poetry Selection, and of a series of essays on writing poetry in American Poetry Review. He has received many prestigious awards for his writing, including the 1996 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1998 National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems, and the 2012 Library of Congress Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Award for Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992. He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2000-2002 and received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2005. Since 2006, Stern has been a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. 

Photo: 103rd St. windows

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MORNING GLORY
by Tomiyasu Fusei

I love the rest of my life
Though it is transitory
Like a light azure morning glory.

Photo: Mailman17013, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Note: This poem is found in the beautiful book Zen Poems, Edited by Manu Bazzano with Illustrations by André Sollier. Find it at Amazon.com.

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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.)

103rdst
LET ME PLEASE LOOK INTO MY WINDOW
by Gerald Stern

Let me please look into my window on 103rd Street one more time—
without crying, without tearing the satin, without touching
the white face, without straightening the tie or crumpling the flower.

Let me walk up Broadway past Zak’s, past the Melody Fruit Store,
past Stein’s Eyes, past the New Moon Inn, past the Olympia.

Let me leave quietly by Gate 29
and fall asleep as we pull away from the ramp
into the tunnel.

Let me wake up happy, let me know where I am, let me lie still,
as we turn left, as we cross the water, as we leave the light

“Let Me Please Look Into My Window” appears in Gerald Stern‘s collection This Time: New and Selected Poems © W.W. Norton & Co., 1998, winner of the National Book Award for poetry. Find the book at Amazon.com.

Photo: 103rd St. windows

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FINDING A LONG GRAY HAIR 
by Jane Kenyon

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
And when I find a long gray hair
floating in the pail,
I feel my life added to theirs

###

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on May 23, 1947, Jane Kenyon earned a BA from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an MA in 1972. That same year, Kenyon married the poet Donald Hall, and moved to Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire. Kenyon’s published books of poetry include Constance (1993), Let Evening Come (1990), The Boat of Quiet Hours (1986), and From Room to Room (1978). In December 1993, she and Donald Hall were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, “A Life Together.” At the time of her death from leukemia, in April 1995, Jane Kenyon was New Hampshire’s poet laureate.

Photo: Jane Kenyon, late 1980s.

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STILL MISSING THE JAYS

by Stanley Plumly

Then this afternoon, in the anonymous

winter hedge, I saw one. I’d just climbed,

in my sixty-year-old body—with its heart

attacks, kidney stones, torn Achilles tendon,

vague promises of ulcers, various subtle,

several visible permanent scars, ghost-

gray hair, long nights and longer silences,


impotence and liver spots, evident

translucence, sometime short-term memory loss—

I’d just climbed out of the car and there

it was, eye-level, looking at me, young,

bare blue, the crest and marking jewelry

penciled in, smaller than it would be

if it lasted but large enough to show

the dark adult and make its queedle

and complaint. It seemed to wait for me,

watching in that superciliary way

birds watch too. So I took it as a sign,

part spring, part survival. I hadn’t seen a jay

in years—I’d almost forgotten they existed.

Such obvious, quarrelsome, vivid birds

that turn the air around them crystalline.

Such crows, such ravens, such magpies!

Such bristling in the spyglass of the sun.

Yet this one, new in the world,

softer, plainer, curious. I tried

to match its patience, not to move,

though when it disappeared to higher ground,

I had the thought that if I opened up my hand—

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in 1939, Stanley Plumly is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. HIs poetry has been published in the Atlantic Monthly, American Poetry Review, New Yorker, New York Times, and Paris Review. In 2009, Plumly was named Poet Laureate for the State of Maryland. He has received many awards and honors for his work, including six Pushcart Prizes and the Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Photo: “Baby Blue Jay” by Drewcjm, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Photographer’s note: This baby Blue Jay fell out of a tree while trying to fly on May 14, 2011. Photo shot in the Merchants Walk parking lot, Lakeland, Florida.

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MORNING GLORY

Zen Poem by Tomiyasu Fusei

I love the rest of my life

Though it is transitory

Like a light azure morning glory.

Photo: Mailman17013, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Note: This poem is found in the beautiful book Zen Poems, Edited by Manu Bazzano with Illustrations by André Sollier. Find it at Amazon.com.

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THIS GRAY HAIR MEANS SOMETHING (Excerpt)

Story by Thom Kudla

…I was 18 when I noticed my first gray hair. Actually, it wasn’t me that noticed. My girlfriend, my high school sweetheart at the time – she noticed that gray hair. That single gray hair wandering from the center of my scalp, as if aware of the wars fought inside my mind, sought refuge in the escape toward the sun. We laid there, our eyes entranced with that shining orb’s setting motion in all its variegated splendor, and she brushed her petite hands through my hair. She always loved how soft my hair was, “for a guy.” We lay there, watching that sun sink deeper toward the earth, and we talked about many things – I discussed my parents’ impending divorce; she told me about how happy her parents were together. I mentioned how sad I can get sometimes; she said she smiles whenever she feels that mood strike her, and it changes everything. Then she found it – that gray hair.

“You’ve already got a gray hair,” she said, her dimpled smile and light voice hiding her judgment. “You work too hard. You stress too much. Someone your age shouldn’t have gray hairs.”

I laughed it off and kissed her. I kissed it away, all my fears about being too serious or being too sad or being too dysfunctional or not being enough for her or being too much for her. I kissed it away. She reciprocated my kisses in innocent pecks, naïve to the reality of where those gray hairs came from. She thought she knew. But I knew better.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thom Kudla is an accomplished author and poet  from Chicagoland. He has written a variety of books, including the novel Confessions of an American (2005), a nonfiction book What My Brain Told Me — finalist in the 2009 National Indie Excellence Awards — and a poetry collection entitled Commencement.

NOTE: “This Gray Hair Means Something” a 1,000-word story by Thom Kudla will appear in the upcoming Silver Birch Press release Silver: An Eclectic Anthology of Poetry & Prose (available November 15, 2012).