This poem comes to us courtesy of Kathy Ossip: This time doth well dispense -- Thomas Campion
Now Winter Nights Enlarge
Now winter nights enlarge
The number of their hours,
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze,
And cups o’erflow with wine;
Let well-tuned words amaze
With harmony divine.
Now yellow waxen lights
Shall wait on honey love,
While youthful revels, masques, and courtly sights
Sleep’s leaden spells remove.
With lovers’ long discourse;
Much speech hath some defence,
Though beauty no remorse.
All do not all things well;
Some measures comely tread,
Some knotted riddles tell,
Some poems smoothly read.
The summer hath his joys
And winter his delights;
Though love and all his pleasures are but toys,
They shorten tedious nights.
This time doth well dispense
-- Thomas Campion
It was an exciting thing
for a guy like him to become a clown overnight.
For a while, he was quite a success.
You wouldn’t believe how many people saw him.
Only he didn’t know any games
or funny things to say.
He would just show up at kids’ parties
and sit there.
– Elaine Equi
by Mary Oliver
She would fall at my feet, she would draw the black skin
from her gums, in a hideous and wonderful smile –
and I would rub my hands over her pricked ears and her
and I would hug the barrel of her body, amazed at the unassuming
perfect arch of her neck.
It took four of us to carry her into the woods.
We did not think of music,
but anyway, it began to rain
Her wolfish, invitational, half-pounce.
of happiness as she barged
through the pitch pines swiping my face with her
wild, slightly mossy tongue.
Does the hummingbird think he himself invented his crimson throat?
He is wiser than that, I think.
A dog lives fifteen years, if you’re lucky.
Do the cranes crying out in the high clouds
think it is all their own music?
A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you
do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the
trees, or the leaves that pertain to them.
Does the bear wandering in the autumn up the side of the hill
think all by herself she has imagined the refuge and the refreshment
of her long slumber?
A dog can never tell you what she knows from the
smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know
Does the water snake with his backbone of diamonds think
the black tunnel on the bank of the pond is a palace
of his own making?
She roved ahead of me through the fields, yet would come back, or
wait for me, or be somewhere.
Now she is buried under the pines.
Nor will I argue it, or pray for anything but modesty, and
not to be angry.
Through the trees there is the sound of wind, palavering.
The smell of the pine needles, what is it but a taste
of the infallible energies?
How strong was her dark body!
How apt her grave place!
How beautiful her unshakeable sleep.
the slick mountains of love break
from New and Selected Poems, Beacon, 2005
Holly Orem 1997-2008
Life goes on and so does finance! It's Christmas day and the middle of Chanukah, but money takes no holidays. So here's part two of our talk with Scrooge McDuck about the Bernard Madoff affair. (Feh, feh! "Beets should grow in his belly!")
MS: There was a long article in the New York Times entitled, "In Madoff scandal, Jews feel an acute sense of betrayal."
Scrooge McDuck: Yeah, that's a big load of horse shit. I'll admit there have been times in my life when my faith has wavered, but never again. This Madoff incident is a supreme metaphysical gift. Once and for all, it has really made me believe in G-d.
MS: What a strange thing to say!
Scrooge McDuck: Well, let me put it differently. It's made me believe in intelligent design. You see, the whole Madoff thing could not possibly have happened by accident. It's just too fantastic. Consider the name "J. Ezra Merkin." This was one of Madoff's chief money conduits, the man who got Madoff the endowment funds from Yeshiva University. No ordinary human could have come up with the name "J. Ezra Merkin."
MS: Isn't a "merkin" a pubic hair wig?
Scrooge McDuck: Exactly. Only G-d could think of that name. Or if not G-d, then some hyperintelligent, supremely creative life form sitting at a computer terminal somewhere in the tenth dimension playing games with us. Isaac Singer once compared G-d to a writer of pulp novels, "page turners," and now I see that this is not just a metaphor. It's literally true! If you want to know G-d, don't waste your time with Gershom Scholem or Martin Buber or any other eggheads. You've got to read Jackie Collins and Danielle Steele. You've got to deeply understand "The Other Side of Midnight," by Sidney Sheldon. Above all -- and I'm hardly the first to say this -- you've got to study "The Godfather," both the book and the first two movies. And also the Bible itself, of course.
MS: You're saying "The Godfather" reveals the secrets of life?
Scrooge McDuck: I'm saying it reveals the mind of God, and the Madoff scandal does the same thing. But we'll have to stop now. For me, speaking of these matters brings an on an irresistible urge for Torah study. There will be more time for Madoff later.
MS: "More Time for Madoff" would be a good name for a television show.
Scrooge McDuck: It's playing right now in the Upper Worlds!
if that’s your name
how come the daily special
is always the same?
Even a lousy anchovy
can vary its game
an egg over easy
has something it overcame
if that’s your name
if that’s your name
the light under your bushel
is dying of shame
even a soda fountain
can express an aim
an awful pie counter
can make a counterclaim
against my plaintive songs of love
through the diner where you cook
can’t you take off your food handler’s glove
at least while you cock a snook
at my calling out from beyond the soda fountain
at my calling out from behind the mountain?
if that’s your name
must you always stand vigil
in the kitchen doorframe?
even this infernal
fan can take some blame
a stinking back burner
can cherish a flame
if that’s your name
-- Paul Muldoon
Posted by Jennifer Michael Hecht on December 24, 2008 at 12:51 PM in Jennifer Michael Hecht, The Lion and the Honeycomb | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Bleaders and Celebrants,
Posted by Jennifer Michael Hecht on December 24, 2008 at 12:05 PM in Jennifer Michael Hecht, The Lion and the Honeycomb | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
What is it about the circle that suggests itself as a poem form for a sacred season?
I'm thinking here of a beautiful Christmas "garland" by Marilyn Hacker, called "A Christmas Crown." It begins, "Son of the dark solstice descends the tree/into the winter city" and ends six sonnets later with "The children sing/below our gossip. Roast and fruit and wine/and smoke mix in the air near dinnertime./The guests file foodward while the darkening/sun of the dark solstice descends the tree."
Long ago last spring, when the season was all shoots and ladders, poetry correspondent Mitch Sisskind posted a Poetic Term of the Day. He instructed us that Serpentine Verses are poems comprised of lines that begin and end with the same word. BAP leader extraordinaire, David Lehman, then demonstrated with a serpentine verse of his own in the Comments section. Such poetry circles make little loops out of each line; links in a chain disconnected from each subsequent link. Mirror poems, by contrast, are one bigger Circle: their end words repeat in reverse order, iterating themselves on the way in and the way out.
So here in the Spirit of the Circle is a modified depiction of both these poetic shapes by long-dead genius, George Herbert. His "A Wreath" turns the serpentine line progressive, connecting each chunk of chain to the one that follows, and finally clasping it around with a complete mirror. Here it goes:
A wreathed garland of deserved praise,
Of praise deserved, unto thee I give,
I give to thee, who knowest all my ways,
My crooked winding ways, wherein I live,
Wherein I die, not live: for life is straight,
Straight as a line, and ever tends to thee,
To thee, who art more far above deceit
Then deceit seems above simplicity.
Give me simplicity, that I may live,
So live and like, that I may know they ways,
Know them and practice them: then shall I give
For this poor wreath, give thee a crown of praise.
So, Writers, as we shoot and ladder forward into 2009, here's my wish for you all: a season that circles as it climbs, that mirrors only the best. As the short days fade, Writers write: write and bloom.
i.m. Philip Whalen
The holidays are said
to give one a chance
to get in touch with others
but what held back that chance
the rest of the year?
What it means is
that the holidays are a time
when we should behave
like other people, as if
in junior high school,
jury duty, or the Army,
whereas what Philip Whalen
wanted was to take a holiday
from holidays, and then
he wavered, beautifully.
-- Ron Padgett
from Jacket #32 (feature edited by Elaine Equi)
RIP Van Johnson (1916-2008)
You're quite the ladies man.
Just how'd you do it, Van?
It can't all be publicity.
The boys at Metro call it "Personality."
Say Frank, you're awfully thin,
Just how did you begin
To set the style in the swoon industry?
I did it with my famished. . . personality.
I know it's not my place to make this crack,
But I hear tell that Gable's back.
Frankie, here's a bromo.
A. . . Como.
FS & VJ:
We're thankful to the flocks
Who wear the bobby sox
For without them we both must agree:
We never would have made it with our personality.
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.