Archives for posts with tag: writer

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GRAVITY
by John Frederick Nims

Mildest of all the powers of earth: no lightnings
For her—maniacal in the clouds. No need for
Signs with their skull and crossbones, chain-link gates:
Danger! Keep Out! High Gravity! she’s friendlier.
Won’t nurse—unlike the magnetic powers—repugnance;
Would reconcile, draw close: her passion’s love.
 
No terrors lurking in her depths, like those
Bound in that buzzing strongbox of the atom,
Terrors that, lossened, turn the hills vesuvian,
Trace in cremation where the cities were.
 
No, she’s our quiet mother, sensible.
But therefore down-to-earth, not suffering
Fools who play fast and loose among the mountains,
Who fly in her face, or, drunken, clown on cornices.
 
She taught our ways of walking. Her affection
Adjusted the morning grass, the sands of summer
Until our soles fit snug in each, walk easy.
Holding her hand, we’re safe. Should that hand fail,
The atmosphere we breathe would turn hysterical,
Hiss with tornadoes, spinning us from earth
Into the cold unbreathable desolations.
 
Yet there—in fields of space—is where she shines,
Ring-mistress of the circus of the stars,
Their prancing carousels, their ferris wheels
Lit brilliant in celebration. Thanks to her
All’s gala in the galaxy.
 
                                   Down here she
Walks us just right, not like the jokey moon
Burlesquing our human stride to kangaroo hops;
Not like vast planets, whose unbearable mass
Would crush us in a bear hug to their surface
And into the surface, flattened. No: deals fairly.
Makes happy each with each: the willow bend
Just so, the acrobat land true, the keystone
Nestle in place for bridge and for cathedral.
Let us pick up—or mostly—what we need:
Rake, bucket, stone to build with, logs for warmth,
The fallen fruit, the fallen child . . . ourselves.
 
Instructs us too in honesty: our jointed
Limbs move awry and crisscross, gawky, thwart;
She’s all directness and makes that a grace,
All downright passion for the core of things,
For rectitude, the very ground of being:
Those eyes are leveled where the heart is set.
 
See, on the tennis court this August day:
How, beyond human error, she’s the one
Whose will the bright balls cherish and obey
—As if in love. She’s tireless in her courtesies
To even the klutz (knees, elbows all a-tangle),
Allowing his poky serve Euclidean whimsies,
The looniest lob its joy: serene parabolas.

SOURCE: “Gravity” appears in John Frederick Nims’ collection The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems (New Directions, 1990), available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet and academic John Frederick Nims (1913-1999) graduated from DePaul University, University of Notre Dame with an M.A., and from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. He taught English at Harvard University, the University of Florence, the University of Toronto, Williams College and the University of Missouri. His books of poetry include Zany in Denim (University of Arkansas Press, 1990); The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems (1990); The Kiss: A Jambalaya (1982); Knowledge of the Evening (1960), nominated for a National Book Award; A Fountain in Kentucky (1950); and The Iron Pastoral (1947). Among his honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities grant, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, The Guggenheim Foundation, and The Institute of the Humanities. He served as editor of Poetry magazine from 1978 to 1984.

Painting: ”Le Château des Pyrénées” by René Magritte (1959)

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MOON HAIKU
by Matsunaga Teitoku (1571-1654)

Many solemn nights
Blond moon, we stand and marvel…
Sleeping our noons away. 

PHOTO: The moon rises behind the helicopter from the original Batman television show, which people can ride at the New Jersey State Fair, Saturday, June 22, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.  (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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GRAVITY HAIKU
by Philip Hart

The sun does not set,
Leaving the world in darkness – 
The world turns away.

PAINTING: “Sunset on the Seine in Winter” by Claude Monet (1880)

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ODE TO ENCHANTED LIGHT
by Pablo Neruda

Under the trees light
has dropped from the top of the sky,
light
like a green
latticework of branches,
shining
on every leaf,
drifting down like clean
white sand.

A cicada sends
its sawing song
high into the empty air.

The world is
a glass overflowing
with water.

PAINTING: “A Ray of Light,” watercolor by Derek Collins, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at etsy.com.

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“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him and whom he will miss terribly.” PABLO NERUDA

Illustration: Wall Art in Valparaiso, Chile — photo by Janet Rudolph, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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ODE TO THE PRESENT
by Pablo Neruda

This
present moment,
smooth
as a wooden slab,
this
immaculate hour,
this day
pure
as a new cup
from the past–
no spider web
exists–
with our fingers,
we caress
the present; we cut it
according to our magnitude
we guide
the unfolding of its blossoms.
It is living,
alive–
it contains
nothing
from the unrepairable past,
from the lost past,
it is our
infant,
growing at
this very moment, adorned with
sand, eating from
our hands.
Grab it.
Don’t let it slip away.
Don’t lose it in dreams
or words.
Clutch it.
Tie it,
and order it
to obey you.
Make it a road,
a bell,
a machine,
a kiss, a book,
a caress.
Take a saw to its delicious
wooden
perfume.
And make a chair;
braid its
back;
test it.
Or then, build
a staircase! Yes, a
staircase.
Climb
into
the present,
step
by step,
press your feet
onto the resinous wood
of this moment,
going up,
going up,
not very high,
just so
you repair
the leaky roof.
Don’t go all the way to heaven.
Reach
for apples,
not the clouds.
Let them
fluff through the sky,
skimming passage,
into the past. You
are
your present,
your own apple.
Pick it from
your tree.
Raise it
in your hand.
It’s gleaming,
rich with stars.
Claim it.
Take a luxurious bite
out of the present,
and whistle along the road
of your destiny.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was the pen name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftali Ricardo ReyesBasoalto. He chose his pseudonym after Czech poet Jan Neruda. In 1971, Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Neruda often wrote in green ink because it was his personal symbol of desire and hope. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Illustration: “Apple Abstract” by Susana Fernandez, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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MY QUILL
by George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

Oh, nature’s noblest gift, my grey goose quill,
Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
Torn from the parent bird to form a pen,
That mighty instrument of little men.

Illustration: “Quill,” 19th century engraving, available at fineartamerica.com

 

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THE MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH’S BEER BOTTLES
Poem by Richard Brautigan

When we were children after the war
we lived for a year in a house next
to a large highway. There were many
sawmills and log ponds on the other side
of the highway. The sound of the saws could
be heard most of the time and when there
was darkness trash burners glowed red
against the sky. We did not have a father
and our mother had to work very hard.
My sister and I got our spending money
by gathering beer bottles that had been
thrown along the highway or left around
the sawmills. At first we carried the
bottles in gunny sacks and cardboard boxes
but later we found an old baby buggy
and we used that to carry our bottles in.
We took the bottles to a grocery store
and were paid a penny for small beer bottles
and two cents for large ones. On almost
any day we could be seen pushing our baby
buggy along the highway looking
for beer bottles. 

PHOTO: “Baby buggy” by Jill Battaglia, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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AT THE RESTAURANT
by Stephen Dunn

Six people are too many people
and a public place the wrong place
for what you’re thinking–
 
stop this now.
 
Who do you think you are?
The duck à l’orange is spectacular,
the flan the best in town.
 
But there among your friends
is the unspoken, as ever,
chatter and gaiety its familiar song.
 
And there’s your chronic emptiness
spiraling upward in search of words
you’ll dare not say
 
without irony.
You should have stayed at home.
It’s part of the social contract
 
to seem to be where your body is,
and you’ve been elsewhere like this,
for Christ’s sake, countless times;
 
behave, feign.
 
Certainly you believe a part of decency
is to overlook, to let pass?
Praise the Caesar salad. Praise Susan’s
 
black dress, Paul’s promotion and raise.
Inexcusable, the slaughter in this world.
Insufficient, the merely decent man.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in New York City in 1939, Stephen Dunn is the author of 15 collections of poetry, including DIFFERENT HOURS, which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, three National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship. Dunn is the Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Richard Stockton College and lives in Frostburg, Maryland, with his wife, the writer Barbara Hurd.

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MY NAME
by Richard Brautigan

I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am,
but I am one of those who do not have a regular
name. My name depends on you. Just call me
whatever is in your mind.

If you are thinking about something that
happened a long time ago: Somebody asked
you a question and you did not know the
answer.
That is my name.

Perhaps it was raining very hard.
That is my name.

Or somebody wanted you to do something.
You did it. Then they told you what you did was
wrong — “Sorry for the mistake,”– and you had
to do something else.
That is my name.

Perhaps it was a game that you played when
you were a child or something that came idly
into your mind when you were old and sitting
in a chair near the window.
That is my name.

Or you walked someplace. There were flowers
all around.
That is my name.

Perhaps you stared into a river. There was
somebody near you who loved you. They were
about to touch you. You could feel this before
it happened. Then it happened.
That is my name.

Or you heard someone calling from a great
distance. Their voice was almost an echo.
That is my name.

Perhaps you were lying in a bed, almost ready
to go to sleep and you laughed at something, a
joke unto yourself, a good way to end the day.
That is my name.

Or you were eating something good and for
a second forgot what you were eating, but still
went on, knowing it was good.
That is my name.

Perhaps it was around midnight and the fire
tolled like a bell inside the stove.
That is my name.

Or you felt bad when she said that thing to
you. She could have told someone else:
Someone who was more familiar with her
problems.
That is my name.

Perhaps the trout swam in the pool, but the
river was only eight inches wide, and the moon
shone on and the watermelon fields
glowed out of proportion, dark, and the moon
seemed to rise from every plant.
That is my name.
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“My Name” appears in Richard Brautigan‘s novella In Watermelon Sugar (1968), available at Amazon.com.

Photo: ”Forest’s Edge” by Holly Northrop, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.