Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Poems for February 18

The Fist by Derek Walcott
Soldierization -- by Jane Satterfield (Verse Daily 1/13/13)
The Argument -- Robert Peake
The Cricket and the Grasshopper by Dan Beachy-Quick
Valentine for Ernst Mann

You might receive a chuckle about "The Passionate Freudian" to His Love – by Dorothy Parker
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love -- by Christopher Marlowe

but what is each trying to say, establish and how? Is it any different from Richard Wakefield's brilliant
"Writing about Love" where "love" holds the spine, with the writing shifting from one side to another?

Wit and message work hand in hand. I look forward to our discussion!

Poems for February 18: Discussion

Love? I love poems which challenge Hallmark! Love has as many guises as circumstances. I find great comfort from reminders that we are all on this journey together. “There are more like us. All over the world/ There are confused people, who can’t remember / The name of their dog when they wake up, and people /Who love God but can’t remember where // He was when they went to sleep. It’s/ All right. The world cleanses itself this way.

“Writing about Love” is one of those poems worth memorizing. It has that sort of cleansing power. What is “love” in quotation marks, love without quotation marks, and what is love if one is not writing about it? This playful yet deep poem arranges words around the “spine” of love. The lines demonstrate the paradoxical difficulty of writing about love as an experience, which shifts into love as a general subject. Removed from us into memory, we wonder just what love it was we were experiencing, and what it means now.
Both the image of the cave echo where the word “delayed” is delayed to the next line and the image that stays, enjambed to “a moment” further enjambed by “love has gone” to fall onto the next line, “into another room” reminds me of Tosca and Recondita armonia — hidden harmony. Why not write love /on a stick ... and toss it in the river, watch where the word and “real love” join.
Writing about Love – by Richard Wakefield
Love is hard to write about because
love moves. We’re always looking where it was,
saying “love” and pointing to a spot
now void of love, now empty or, if not
empty, then echoing “love” as a cave will say
a name delayed. Or love is an image that will stay
a moment in the eye after our love has gone
into another room. Write “love” upon
a stick and throw it into a river, and “love”
moves no less fluidly than real love.

Perhaps like Derek Walcott’s “Love after Love”, this poem without any stanza pattern
allows us to peel away all the words on either side of love, the way Walcott asks us to ‘Peel your image from the mirror.’ Then we can “give back the heart/to itself...” Walcott also writes in his poem “Oddjob, a Bull Terrier” about our “unreadiness” for sorrow, and what lies deeper than silence, at “love-deep” level “must be said/in a whimper,/in tears,/in the drizzle that comes to our eyes/ not uttering the loved thing’s name,/ the silence of the dead,/ the silence of the deepest buried love is/ the one silence.”
We know we cannot truly live without feeling – and it is only by our emotions as we live, love, lose,
fail, forget, that the “one love” includes ourselves, as we “unpeel” an understanding of ourselves.

Walcott ends by repeating “and it is blest/deepest by loss/it is blest, it is blest.” In French, “blesser”, means to wound. This calls to mind the poem, also by Walcott, “The Fist” where he asks in the first stanza, “When have I ever not loved/ the pain of love? But this has moved // past love to mania.” It feels paradoxical to love “gripping the ledge of unreason, before/plunging into the abyss.” The last line contains two unbroken sentences. “Hold hard then, heart. This is the way at least you live.”

The poems for Feb. 18 were anything but popular Valentines.
“Soldierization”, brings a neologism in the title of the toughness of the process of being a soldier, following orders, keeping cool. It is a dramatic script in two voices that mirror and repeat a woman’s experience with tanks, guns, “chronicle and elegy”. “There’s duty in memory’s mirror, brains and brawn start here.” Satterfield announced, second sentence she would bring her brains to “this”. The repetitions, the choral response are like a prayer. Words may not suffice, but they are the only way thing left. “Poor words, quiet grave.”

“The Argument” seems to call on the old French etymology of the word, "reasoning, opinion; accusation, charge" with the mention of it in the third sentence: “The argument to remain placid is as soft/as the fur-covered thoraxes, as clear/and as light as the transparent wings.” The mention of bees whirring on a face “as close to kissing as they will come,/bound together but without intimacy,/” pulls me as reader to thinking about the arrival of metaphorical bees, some “terror unable to win its case” while the tiny legs “tap their reasons across his pores”. Perhaps we all are in position of beekeeper, able to withstand terror by doing nothing (not reacting to it.) The tone of the poem is concise, scientific yet the description of bees on a beekeeper’s face is poetic, the movement of the bees “rippling like sauce” and the tapping becomes the “music of stillness”.

The next 14 line poem by Dan Beachy-Quick has an appealing flow, enticing diction, and initially I thought some fable might be in store such as the ant and the cricket. Repetition of the word “green” like “grow” moves from first word to last word, “ceases” to “ceasing”, last word to first. “Tangle”, tangles and twins.
repeated three times before ending as owner of “green” as the final word. Poetry of the earth never ceases, the song of the cricket, hidden, yet heard in this chaotic lushness.

Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Valentine for Ernest Mann” remains one of my all-time favorite valentines
opening with a personable observation about poems and a generous sharing of the secret of how to find not just poems, but love in our lives.

The discussion of poems for Feb. 25 seemed to reflect the magic of poetry to “reinvent whatever our lives gives us”—how we curve “poetry as memorable speech” (to quote W.H. Auden) and reach out for what is absent as does Richard Blanco in “Love Poem According to Quantum Theory”. “According to theory”.... repeated in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 6th stanza. “There’s another” changes like Wakefield’s words on either side of love. Enjoy it below. From Looking for the Gulf Motel.

Love Poem According to Quantum Theory

According to theory, there’s another
in an equal and opposite world who
dreams into words all I’ve never

captured in a handful of rain, a feather,
or palms swaying under a tarnished moon.
According to theory, there’s another

who’s growing younger as I grow older,
who’ll remember what I’ll forget soon:
every word, every poem, every letter

I’ve written—memories will wither
and disappear into that dark vacuum
where according to theory another

keeps embracing, kissing all the lovers
I’ve unembraced, unkissed, except you
with me in this world of words I’ll never

find for us, yet always reaching further
than Orion to where the stars all bloom,
and according to theory there’s nother
for you whose words are far more clever.

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