Dailies 6/21/17: the arrival of the past, the creation of humanity, turning into a bulldog, & a really good day

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José Hernández Díaz – Witness

I woke up transformed into a bulldog.
**********I had human thoughts, but could only bark.
****I was confused, but at the same time fascinated.
***********I was a bulldog, but I lived by principle.

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Scott Owens – The Arrival of the Past

You wake wanting the dream
you left behind in sleep,
water washing through everything,
clearing away sediment

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Lizzie Harris – Cellular

There’s no law that says
life needs to get more complicated.
In fact, it’s difficult to grow big.
Humanity has always been improbable,

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Alice Friman – Mirage

 

Across Kachemak Bay
black mountains rise like judgment
towering above the inlet, black
streaked with snow. Black,
white. Nothing in between.

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Good poetry is “elusive and complex, said in the simplest way possible”

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“[poetry’s] intuitive, associative power, [Matthew Zapruder] says, can be lost on people because of the way poetry is taught. He argues that we are too often asked to find the ‘hidden meanings’ in poems, as if a poem is a riddle — telling you something simple, but in the most complicated way possible, as if the poet is being deliberately opaque. Good poetry actually does the opposite, says Zapruder; ‘it’s something elusive and complex, said in the simplest way possible.'”

Have we been taught poetry all wrong? – Elizabeth Flock – PBS NEWSHOUR – 6/19/17

Happy Solstice

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From Jim Harrison’s “Solstice Litany” 

4

The sun should be a couple of million miles
closer today. It wouldn’t hurt anything
and anyway this cold rainy June is hard
on me and the nesting birds. My own nest
is stupidly uncomfortable, the chair
of many years. The old windows don’t keep
the weather out, the wet wind whipping
my hair. A very old robin drops dead
on the lawn, a first for me. Millions
of birds die but we never see it—they like
privacy in this holy, fatal moment or so
I think. We can’t tell each other when we die.
Others must carry the message to and fro.
“He’s gone,” they’ll say. While writing an average poem
destined to disappear among the millions of poems
written now by mortally average poets.
(Poetry Diary 267 – 6/21/17)

Dailies 6/20/17: the awesomeness of a word like “Quetzal,” advice to those have to work twice as hard to be viewed 1/2 as good, Lazarus, & Patty’s Charcoal Drive-In

 

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Arthur Sze – Talisman

Quetzal: you write
 *****the word on a sheet of paper
  ***********then erase it;

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Ali Liebegott – Hope

always the hopeless asked to give others hope
the ones pushed up against wall after wall

when you’re done unpinning yourself
from the wall, please give hope

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 Ricardo Pau- Llosa  – Lazarus

What but poverty earned him your respect
that when our fates were turned he is called
to act as cruelly as I did then? Lot’s wife
turned back in shock, in pity perhaps,
and for this she was robbed of flesh and name.

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Barbara Crooker – Patty’s Charcoal Drive-In

First job. In tight black shorts
and a white bowling shirt, red lipstick
and bouncing ponytail, I present
each overflowing tray as if it were a banquet.

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why “the poet is the anti-Trump”

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“The poet’s strength is in words. If you look at how Trump uses words—like the ‘covfefe’ joke everyone is laughing about—I mean, it’s funny, really, and everyone does a typo, but I can’t help but see it as a symbol, that covfete word for the utter nonsense that he sometimes speaks. He has no care about what kind of impact his dangerous words can have, no care at all.

“In that way, the poet is the anti-Trump, because the poet’s job is to care about the importance of words….”

Zeina Hashem Beck, from “We Weren’t Born In The Cities We Long For”: An award-winning Lebanese poet explains how good art turns strange places into safe havens – Abby Carney –  GOOD – 6/19/17

Zeina Hashem Beck – Maqam
If I die, you say you will let your hair
turn silver, grow long, and you will go
into the dark place, for you’ve already begun
to forget what Mecca means.
Where we come from, you and I,
maqam means home, means music; the Qur’an
can only be read as a song; a sheikh recites the Fatiha
as if he has built a house among the lines, the ayas.

To me, this is a horror poem

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Obsessive
Marvin Bell
It could be a clip, it could be a comb;
it could be your mother, coming home.
It could be a rooster; perhaps it’s a comb;
it could be your father, coming home.
———————————————
(Poetry Diary 266 – 6/20/17)  I did a search under “obsessive” at the Poetry Foundation website today because I’m amused at how obsessed many people–including myself and my husband, as I got him one for Father’s Day–are with their Fitbits.  Fitbits are both wonderful and terrible for obsessive people, as it’s hard to go to sleep if one hasn’t met all of one’s goals (which means that I can occasionally be found jumping on a trampoline or walking around the neighborhood at 11:24 at night….) 🙂
After many years of hard work I’ve gotten my obsessive tendencies under control. (Aside from my Fitbit obsession, that is. Oy. ) But Bell’s poem brought me back to my childhood and adolescence, when I had bad bouts of OCD during which I thought that if I didn’t touch the bathroom doorknob a certain number of times or if I didn’t visit a particular toy mask that was kept in a drawer or if I looked directly at the cement sculpture of a swan in the neighbor’s lawn then someone I loved would get hurt or die.
Unfortunately, we lived next to an old man, so when I tested this theory one day by staring directly at the evil swan statue the old man, by coincidence, (I assume?!)  had a heart attack.
He lived, but oh boy did this mess me up! Freaked me out for years afterwards, until I started therapy in my late adolescence.
Hopefully Bell’s poem won’t have exactly the same effect on other people, but it and the memories it’s bringing up give me the shivers….I wonder whether “Obsessive” as creepy to someone who didn’t have childhood experiences of OCD, or whether it brings similar, universal fears in other readers. I love this poem! But brrrrrrrr……

Dailies 6/19/17: stupid birds, evil cats, loyal dogs, & the rights of disabled people

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Nathan McClain – Aubade

 

Still dark and already

the stupid birds are at it

 

outside the window

how could anyone possibly

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Julie Roorda – Cat’s Eye

 

The same year that Bruno burned,
German shoemaker Jakob Boehme perceived
in a glint of sunlight reflected
from a pewter water jug, the answer
to the problem of evil:
God, like Jung, would rather
be whole than good.

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Greg Watson – Yellow Lab Outside the Coffee Shop

The yellow lab outside the coffee shop
today cannot sit still; but instead

radiates the ever-expectant energy
of a thousand hummingbirds,

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Jillian Weise – Some Rights

Right to property
Right to protect property
Encrypt everything
Make private
I am so right and if I’m not
***I’m gonna burn yr FB wall down

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“It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of poetry in Iranian culture.”

‘Life is like a ball of wool’: how Iranian poetry brought me closer to my father: When I invited my father Bahram to read Persian verse over my music, neither of us were prepared for such an emotional reaction – Cyrus Shahrad – The Guardian – 6/18/2017

“It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of poetry in Iranian culture. As a child, my father was made to commit the ancient poets to heart, and their words continue to provide a moral template for his life, just as they do for much of Iranian society. I’ve seen many a Tehran dinner party end with my father and his friends seated around the table, bouncing lines of Hafez, Saadi or Rumi between each other – one man reciting, another picking up where his friend left off. There are minor humiliations for those who fumble or forget lines, and the whole thing is wrapped in an air of male bravado, but it’s also an experience shot through with emotional openness, and I’ve seen painful verses reduce grown men to tears.”

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