Monday, July 20, 2015

poems for July 20

The Flower Press by Chelsea Woodard
Hedgehog by Paul Muldoon
Hurry by Marie Howe (on poets walk)
Wisteria can pull down a house by Marge Piercy
American Summer by Edward Hirsch
One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII by Pablo Neruda
Never by Meaghan O’Rourke
Breakage by Mary Oliver

John Offered these links to Jackson Browne -- worth a read and listen in the context of these poems!


It's quite a marathon of poems -- but in a group of 14, we were able to read, and savor each one.

The first poem, echoes the verbal "pressed, wilted flowers" in the noun of a flower press--
both gifts but decidedly different. One, set in a foreign country, the other, from the world of the child. The poem is a sonorous delight where the words taste as delicious as they sound. Yet for all the beauty, the verbs paint a cruel undertone, a momento mori, as living beauty is pressed into lifeless memory. crushed, pried, turned the screw.
"the star shaming" the others not selected arrives as the worthy prize the "stalking" in the meadow yields, "the belle amid the mass" which could be read as beauty, simply, or bell of a bloom, or church bell.

The final poem has the same sonic entrancement, yet, is called "breakage"-- and in spite of words like "scarred" and "tattered" a childlike sense of discovery of predation... that nothing stays whole, there is a beauty of broken things...

The second poem, Hedgehog by Paul Muldoon was intriguing -- how we anthropomorphize, and how an Irish poem would have an infusion of catholicism, especially in the 3rd stanza.
As Benjamin Franklin says, (thanks John W. who just finished a bio about him): "If you would keep your Secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend."

One technique I enjoy is to try imagine a poem with a message as a prose passage, and then see what would be lost. I was prompted here by the opening two lines which break on "a",
The snail moves like a
Hovercraft, held up by a
Rubber cushion of itself
Sharing its secret

-- we'd lose the unfolding, hesitations, the liquid trail... sn... sh... sh... sss
the Hovercraft and Secret, and the fact that the stanza break brings the secret to the hedgehog, who closes his stanza on a definitive period.

The short quatrains involve three characters, (snail, hedgehog and human) the idea of outside protection and inner vulnerability, and our curiosity about why the hedgehog distrusts...
Is it a "put up job" David wondered, quoting Frost...where the end is known and the idea is to arrange the poem to arrive there? The more we discussed, more levels appeared -- a parable
about trust, or a way to wonder if God has something better than what the world offer?
As human beings, we never quite say what we mean, or surprise ourselves with what we say, not expecting some unpredictable comment. Nor do poets or hedgehogs say things directly, or openly about our sense of vulnerability...
The example of the first confession... which is a lie, and hence, a sin and confessable came to mind.

David proposed reading G.M. Hopkins Windhover, Paul cited these lines from Chesterton's
“The Ballad of the White Horse”:

For the Great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad.

and John also offered original poetry.

Unlike the snail, Marie Howe's poem on Poets Walk, "Hurry" takes a typical mother-daughter scene, but with the delightful turn in the last three lines, where the daughter is given the opportunity to practice being the one in charge. Both say "hurry" four times, the mother, in a spread of place to place to hurry to, but for the little girl, "hurry up honey" turns into a more concentrated and intimate "hurry up darling" and ending up holding the key.
We were reminded of Cat's in the Cradle, and Kathy brought up the idea of being on “Ordinary time”...which Marie Howe wrote about in her book dedicated to her (adopted) child...where the church does not interfere with every day with some ritual...

Marge Piercy's poem can be read on several levels -- the primal, survival mode of the wisteria overtaking the house as jungle or sea monster... or political... or a fine linguistic eeee...
weaving through allowing us perhaps to imagine the earth without us... The hedgehog came up again, as also the thought of God at odds with as place of conflict.
Her Short Stories are marvelous too : "Dynastic Encounter" and "Sleeping with Cats".

Hirch's poem paints a great summer of a 16 year old -- twisting details of the work day with the night baseball -- a great way to think of identity -- the work self, and our free individual self...
"and each day was another lesson in working,
a class in becoming invisible to others,
but each night was a Walt Whitman of holidays,

the parameters of work open the gates... "the clarity of a whistle at 5 P.M.,
the freedom of walking out into the open air.

From Adolescent love, to a more mature view -- beyond cliché --
rose of salt!
topaz! or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

the odd dichotomies ending up in the pair of lovers are twined so closely, they share eyelids and dreams--
captured in the translation which blends proximity to physically closing:
"so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

"Never" beautifully winds the sounds of loss, the pull of forever yours, never...
ever... aver...

which leads us to the final poem and carefully chiseled sounds of shells breaking.

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