Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Poems for August 13

Poems for August 13
Crossing Over By William Meredith
Only in Things -- W.S. di Piero
A Morning of Sunflowers (for Fukushima) – by Jeanine Gailey
I could take -- by Hayden Carruth
After Television – by Hayden Carruth
A Mown Lawn by Lydia Davis

he first “sunbeam” quote in The Sun, August 2012 issue:
“Life is bitter and fatal, yet men cherish it and beget children to suffer the same fate.”

The poems discussed today embraced the difficulty of living with uncertainty, whether as slave crossing the Ohio river on ice floes, navigating through a relationship, or witness to “centuries of egomania”. Meredith takes the ice floe image, separating, enjambing subject/verb as lines leap from couplet to couplet: the “whole river/ “is milling”,
we/ to are going to find new ways of understanding the opening line: “That’s what love is like.” How wonderful to have a line like like, “I contemplate this unfavorable aspect of things” taken straight from the passage cited from Uncle Tom, just as is “undulated raft”. As Kathy remarked, the cultural background of the epigram is taken to the personal. The ending couplet starts with an enjambed “anyhow.” What we do in spite of anything? We discussed the role of the fool – the one who is wise enough to be outside of society and point a finger at it. How to learn to deal with our weight (carbon footprint perhaps?) and walk light. Rich cited the new report by Jorgen Randers, Club of Rome, see
and his forthcoming book, 2052.
Love as an important thread – I can’t remember how Martin arrived at citing the 60 minutes program interviewing Louis Zanparini – how if we do not forgive, we will remain poisoned by what has harmed us.

The 14 line poem Only in Things by di Piero uses nouns with full weight. Swaths of sky; leafage; tailpipes, smokestacks orating sepia exhaust;
nature (pistil) and man-made (mailbox key) rendered as smaller enthusiasms, the whale-gray taken up again by unchanged half-tones yet changing (expressed by wheel, wind-trash, revolving doors). The question: Who can stare at .... and not weep... Our choices: wakefulness or distraction. be woven or dumped into? and into what?
The volta (turn) lands on the 9th line, a fragment. “This constant stream of qualia we feel in our stomachs. Emily wished there were more of the “sun arriving” – Rich remarking that sun is treated as rare, a stranger... and that draws to mind the sacred worship of the sun, sense of holy...
the “rain rushes us” is stopped by a line break, and the enigmatic “love to love”
and further enigmatic stop to stop with a comma before listing what perhaps is in pursuit of us
and what we are becoming. Unsettling.

Back to Meredith, how do we walk light through it?
A poem like Carruth’s “I could take” brings hope. The poem eases into the complexity of an act of sharing (shearing) a leaf, a word, piecing together the two torn edges, unique, raggedy, “imperfections that match”.

Some thought Meredith’s poem would be appropriate for a wedding ceremony. Carruth’s poem, for a celebration of such union on anniversaries!

Just what are we doing with our environment, and how do we love, seem to be parallel threads to living. Jeanine Gailey’s poem, A Morning of Sunflowers (for Fukushima) promoted a lively discussion of what we think will help the environment, with some finding it optimistic to use lanterns, seeds, -- build, plant, set things alight in all the senses of the word.
Discussion ranged from wondering at the negligence of government not taking into account what scientists even science cannot control... and how a poem can transform something so scary it terrifies us, into a thing of beauty and give us hope to keep trying.

“After Television” by Hayden Carruth is fun to analyze by looking at how he handles linebreaks and enjambments – and where not. Discussion revolved around how easily we toss out animals, family, the effect of television can be numbing, but also make us think we can turn on and off any aspect of life. Watching a nature program, we can feel marvel, distress, but that changes nothing in how we relate to nature... The topic of safari clubs providing animals for a fee came up. How, not only are we cut off from animals, our animal nature, but also our literature. TV= pragmatism – but are we willing to accept that as our definition?

We ended by my reading “Mown Lawn” – witty and fun, but driving home an unease.

Ah... poems. Thank you. Poets would be dead without readers

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