Thursday, December 22, 2016

Poems for December 21

Poem for the New Year by Devin Johnston
Home Town by William Stafford
The Man-Moth by Elizabeth Bishop
I am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Writ on the Steps of Puerto Rican Harlem by Gregory Corso
The Bee Carol by Carol Ann Duffy

As we draw close to Christmas and the end of the year, what statistics do you keep?
What memories of your home town? What accidents and mistakes have produced turns in the path of your life you might not have predicted? What do you wait for? How do you respond to Greg Corso's poem, feed the cluster of shivering bees?

For the first poem: The group commented on the density; regular rhythm; irregular stanza length ... One person commented that
he looks back on the old year, no plans for the new. Then again, it behooves us to reckon with the old before plunging into the new. Dorothy Thompson: first journalist tossed out of Germany. Sinclair Lewis: It can’t happen here...
We are living in a time where we need to look carefully at what has happened...

The 2nd stanza reference to Tao te Ching or book of changes helps stabilize "each dawn a color wheel
to gauge the shifting moods". There is also a shift in tone -- almost humorous if you don't know the Eastern sages.
"each day brings more
and more of less
less and still less
with no end to nothing
and nothing left undone"

From there to the third stanza, where emptiness filled with sound -- of silence, of trucks, planes, the wording is arranged so that simultaneous readings layer together in a shrinking sense of loneliness.

Even here in Bellefontaine
along a winding street
silence brings an interval
holds the less and less
of yet more distant sound
trucks along the interstate
a plane behind the clouds.

One reading: silence brings... holds... trucks along--it
becomes a geometry behind clouds.
We are familiar with "the less and less of yet more distant sound"; trucks and planes can be vehicles producing sound.
The mood is foreboding... a sense of "has been" as if visiting a cemetery.

**The William Stafford poem paints a home town "Norman Rockwell" style -- which is not to say without odd angles,
such as the "bombshell" library. It reads as a prayer for bestowal of goodness.. Peace ON... not "Peace be with..."
Stafford, a conscientious objector – wrote this as a young 28 year old in WW 2...

We admired the line-up of adjectives : safe/comforting/impersonal immensity
continuous/ hidden/ efficient (Sewer system)
Sharp/ amazed/ steadfast regard on the judging ones of the citizenry...
those nosy/incredible/delicious neighbors

I love the "moon-gilding" of "regular breaths of old memories"...
the old whispers, old attempts, old beauties, ever new.

Then ending with the little town, haze-blessed/sun-friended
under the "world champion sky" -- as if to remind us we all live under it.

It brought up the song, "Your State Name's here".

The Bishop poem, inspired by a typo, allows the artist to juxtapose Man with this hybrid, imaginary creature
who observes him. Perhaps autobiographical. One person commented that it sounds a little drunk.
Surreal...and so lonely... The struggle to reach what may well destroy, like the moth drawn to candle flame.
Moon, only a reflection of the sun's light... just as words and poems are only reflection of reality...
Moon, as realm of imagination, vs. Sun as realm of reason...

Indeed, one waits... and applauds Ferlinghetti's marvelous use of anaphor and refrain... awaiting a "rebirth of wonder"...
The power of such a refrain multiplies as each stanza leads up to it in a different way, "rounding a different corner."

Comments: Imagine Trump voters this way... they too are yearning and wishing and needing. The absurdity of what is waited for...

Wonder reborn with every child, but harder to maintain... as one gets older... wonder is at risk of being callused.
Re-birth of wonder – that’s the answer... but will it ever be possible for a collective?

How different from the Corso poem -- where "Writ" could be noun, or vernacular verb.
The disparity between what could be -- like a sense of wonder... and what is...
This line goes straight to my heart.
"Because I want to know the meaning of everything
Yet sit I like a brokenness"
God, death, and hard, hard, hard.

Beautifully read by this teen for Poetry Out Loud:

The Bee Carol with its soothing music brought us out: Same rhythm as Rosetti sung to "I heard the bells on Christmas day".
The golden jar of honey, to feed the bees, to allow them to continue. Be mindful of their shivering cluster.

It is getting harder and harder to summarize and capture all the various commentaries each week.
I hope that people read these poems, imagining our large and multi-faceted group, the richness of the reading aloud, the sharing of craft noticed, associations triggered.

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