Thursday, February 20, 2014

O Pen: Feb. 17 (see also Feb. 13 and Feb. 24)

Hard on the heels of Valentine’s day, but also many tributes to Maxine Kumin who passed away on February 6, the selection below gathers recent poems posted on Writers Almanac, Verse Daily, the February issue of Poetry. You might enjoy reading which pays tribute to Kumin. In the introduction, to the 1988 issue she edited, she ends by saying, "Here, then, are the things I really want for myself. May my hungers be yours.”
In the spirit of Kumin’s words, I am fascinated by and curious about the poems below: the “how” behind the “what” other writers choose to notice, and note. I look forward to your comments.

Poems for Feb. 17:
After Mowing: Poems introduced by an epigraph by John Gardner. “When you look back there’s lots of bales in the field, but ahead it’s all still to mow.”

Our Ground Time Here Will Be Brief by Maxine Kumin (posted on Writer’s Almanac 2/7/2014)
What's in my journal -- William Stafford
Now you See it, Now you Don't -- Valerie Bandura (Verse Daily)
Whethering -- A.E. Stallings
Sonnet 135 Shakespeare
Sonnagram by K. Silem Mohammad
Poems for Feb. 20
Spring is like a perhaps hand... by E.E. Cummings
The Mayor's Guide to Reelection by Jeffrey Morgan
Chorus of the Mothers-Griot by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
The Mayor's Guide to Reelection by Jeffrey Morgan
First Snow by Mary Oliver
The Same Cold by Stephen Dunn

also sent on Lincoln's Birthday:
Lincoln's Birthday (Feb. 12) the poem by David Shumate posted on Writers' Almanac
If it weren't for the photographs, you might think Aeschylus or
Euripides had made him up. Or that he was one of those biblical
fellows tormented to the brink of what a soul can bear. But there
he stands. Long black coat. Tall hat. Half a beard. Droopy eyes. Ears
large enough to serve several men. Like the offspring of a midwife
and a coroner. A tree impersonating a man. Alongside him, his
generals seem daunted. Anxious for the day they too will grow
into men. Then there's that odd mix of joy and sorrow etched
across his face. As when a joke hits a little too close to home. Given
all that's gone on—Gettysburg, Antietam, both Bull Runs, four
long years of war, more than half a million dead, a wife moaning
on the balconies, a child in the grave—Given all that ... why hasn't
his hair turned pure white?

(Judith found the "offspring of a midwife and a coroner" is a clumsy way to embrace birth and death, and offensive to these professions.)

and tribute to Anne Sexton by Maxine Kumin: How It Is
First stanza:

Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
you've come to visit, he's ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
delivered up last August on Bay State Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
a flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.

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