Thursday, December 10, 2015

Poems for December 9

Dec. 9:
Happiness by Raymond Carver (thank you Carmin)
A Christmas Carol – by Christini Rossetti (Thank you Mary)
Introspection Leaking Out by Judith Judson (her original)
A Puzzler by Paul Brennan (his original)
Paradoxes and Oxymorons by John Ashbery (Thank you Don)
Sanctuary​ by Jean Valentine (Thank you Kathy)
Inspired by O Antiphons, a Dreidel, Shiva’s Third Eye, Peace Flag Symbol by yours truly

Carmin picked the Carver poem as she was reminded even when there is so much bad news in the world, if you stop to pay attention, you find good things. We were reminded of his poem, "Last Fragment" -- And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?

That "even" is such an important word and reappears here, towards the end, in that minute, where "death and ambition, even love" don't enter. So, the given (we all die); the drive and "how" of engagement (ambition) and even the universal sacred without a contradistinction, cannot touch a singular moment when one feels a sense of "oh boy" (Judith's reference to Kipling's expression for the inexpressible "wow", part eureka of discovery, part delight without any strings attached).
Just as the boys "come on", so does "happiness/
unexpectedly and goes beyond, really"...
and back to the early morning talk, the usual early morning stuff milling in the mind.

The observation of the two boys hints at their happiness, but it is more a projection of the speaker of the poem.
There they are, delivering newspapers, together, perhaps an implied jauntiness with the caps and sweaters, one with a bag on his shoulder... and regardless if the reader is male or female, a memory of innocence, an idealization of childhood,
comes to mind. The boys are more alive than the news in the paper, deliver something extraordinary in the ordinary act of their job. Grace comes unbidden... Maura reminded the group of Dag Hammarskjold's remarks: a chase after happiness is like pursuing a butterfly-- the harder you seek to capture it, the more it eludes you.

At Rundel, Jim brought up the juxtaposition between the ordinary [newspapers (the headlines, the drudge of fact)], and the extraordinary, of an unbidden moment allows us to leave our "umwelt" of a private bubble to experience how we imagine the feeling we project onto the blithe togetherness of the boys. Oh Boy!

Mary's choice of the Rossetti, known in the setting of the music as a popular Christmas carol, was to offset the commercialization of Christmas with the original circumstances of Christ and the story of his birth. Indeed, what is the best gift we can give? Our hearts.

The next two poems speak to the spirit of amity and friendship. The context was merely that Paul was still talking when we started up discussion and Judith took his comment "... oh it’s just “introspection leaking out” to cummings-eque heights, replete with a dramatic performance. As he put it, Judith has provided him with the most artful way he's ever seen for being told to "shut up".

His poem reflects a fascination with puzzles and palindromes -- who can resist "racecar" as a symbol for life... Opening with "somebody" reminds me of Dickinson's "I'm Nobody who are you" -- or Cummings, "Everybody? Never met him."

From wit to surrealistic challenge. Ashbery in his inimitable way, plays with language, so the entire poem is a paradox, built of smaller paradox... The poem is concerned with language... but one step further -- concerned with language on a very plain level. However, he doesn't stay there. He plays with "it" as pronoun, with several possibilities of "you" (speaker to himself; understood you; you the reader of the poem; you the poem itself; an I in the second stanza, and the final stanza embracing both I and you, but still teasing... Try reading the poem backwards, and it makes just as much, if not better sense. The longer one spends with the words, the more one feels on the edge of understanding and yet, the rational part of the brain has difficulty with this...
How can you "pretend" to fidget? And how does this choice fit with a look out a window when "it" talks to you-- and which "it" is it? the poem, language? Is "it" the same throughout, or just as slippery as language, the poem and you? How do we change in our subjectivity and attitudes?
Unlike "happiness" is there something important or insubstantial being put into words? Is the main point the steam and chatter of putting it into being? Delightful, annoying, intriguing or perhaps maddening... but one takes away questions about what anything is "deeper outside", inside, dreamed, doubted, now you see it, bird in the hand, now you don't, the hand is the bush...

Kathy's pick of Sanctuary also picks up on the pronoun "you" -- who is speaking, and how does the "other" listen, or is it a divided self. Without the title or epigram would you find it a scary poem? Each word becomes a house, without one's own constructed house. Scattered appears three times -- twice in reference to the Antiphon 12 "Spare O Lord, your people so we do not scatter the voices" -- and the risk of "scattering life", not having listened, not having asked...
To die without having lived is to die without having created relationship.

My little poem is a gift of an ornament -- lots of numerology there -- but also, combining 4 religions and symbols
in this season of light and miracles as yet more unrest continues on the memorial of Pearl Harbor and this year the shared celebration of Diwali and Armistice Day.

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