Archive for the 'poetry' Category

Relax into a poem by Elan Mudrow

I sit with her Placing her in memory Giving thoughts strength, yet In her silence, she frightens me. I rely on others Camping upon her shore To soothe my worry. And although I haven’t Seen her rimmed with snow Echoing the clearest of nights, Pitted with raindrops Upon her clear face, Witnessed her held tight […]

via Mountain Lake — Elan Mudrow


Hilde Domin – reading

Thanks to Buchmerkur Schroersche Berlin [Link here], I have started searching for English/German side by side publications of Hilde Domin’s poetry. I’ve stumbled onto the poems translated by Meg Taylor and Elke Heckel online here. Autumn eyes/Herbstaugen is particularly lovely.

I’ve also been enjoying a book on Harlem by Jonathan Gill. From the first altercation between the people already living there and the Dutch, to its place in history as a place for Jewish and Irish immigrants to start out, race clashes, and the Harlem Renaissance. The book continues through 400 years, and I’ve only reached the jazz era. 🙂 But it’s all history we didn’t learn in school, so I’ve been having a great time learning how much I didn’t know.


I live in the city now, where street lights,
House lights, glowing red then green then amber lights
Block the stars from the world.
Even though I knew there was too much light noise
I walked into the yard to squint with hands up
To block security’s glare from the next house, and wondered

Was that one?

Was that?

And doubted my own eyes…

Memory conjured up cool meadows by forests
Where we used to camp….When woken by parents, I
Struggled out of my cocooned sleep,
Eyes not quite awake,
To look at the sky. I sat and watched stars dash across my limits
Until I reluctantly looked away, and walked back from a dream.

Clouds crossed the skies on Friday, but still I waited,
Knowing if I turned away, a meteor would streak the sky
Like a fingernail thru frost.

— rjn, 13 August 2016

Vantage points

In life, there are different perspectives…
Hearts beat to different times,
Memories are caught in grand moments
— or small —
That we cannot explain to others, as though trapped
In a Faulkner novel that repeats

That repeats
That re-beats

Until it falls out of memory and skips back to
Moving forward.
With just one timeline to light our steps.

 ©rjn, 13 April 2016

It was the end of summer

With dried roses on the arbor, and Indian summer a month away, Lina paused in the garden to feel the coolness of grass and trees before stepping out onto hot pavement. Early mornings were the time to linger outside, enjoy the flight of songbirds, spy on the rabbits in the backyard. By noon, the neighborhood would be deserted by Lina and all the other commuters.  The rabbits and songbirds would be staying under the deep shadows of the mulberry trees. Only the crows would walk down the center of the street, picking at grass mulch and the Queen Anne’s lace that had pushed up through cracks in the tarred surface. Down the street, Lina heard the hiss of the northbound bus’s brakes. She stooped to pick up her backpack and bottled water, walked out the garden gate, and let it shut behind her without looking. Tuesday was waiting, and the next bus south into the city would arrive in 5 minutes.

–Not quite sure it’s a story yet, or even a decent paragraph. But if this turns into something, I’ll start a separate section for it. rj

Reading: Owls in winter — from Mary Priestley’s A Book of Birds

While cold and sharp and shining sheer Orion’s dagger pricks my ear, Under an old fir’s grizzled cowl,

Big with his drowsy wide surprise

Wakens the hunched and pawky owl

And blinks his big moon-marvellous eyes…

Excerpt from the lovely poem “Too-Hoo” by James Mackereth. A Book of Birds is filled with notes about bird behavior, snippets of poems, extracts from people’s diaries, and lovely wood engravings by C.F. Tunnicliffe. Some of the diary entries quoted, about hunting, or eating pickled auks, aren’t my cup of tea. But the poetry is charming, the illustrations are lovely, and my copy has a little penciled note for my Uncle from his little sister “A very happy birthday — lots of love…” The perfect thing to read while anticipating spring, especially now that the robins have come back to the backyard, and we can hear small birds in the bramble bushes.

Following someone else’s annotations 2

Dad’s copy of Wordsworth’s The Prelude is filled with comments, but only in specific sections: Books 1, 6-7, 13. I can’t tell if, perhaps, the notes reflect a paper he was working on, or notes scrawled in the margins during the class. It’s interesting what Dad noticed or jots down: the penciled words “disregard for rules” right beside a passage “This spurious virtue, rather let it bear/A name it now deserves, this cowardice,/Gave treacherous sanction to that over-love/Of freedom which encouraged me to turn from regulations even of my own…” The Prelude, Book 6, lines 30-34. Whereas I get lost in beautiful descriptions:

“….Often have I stood
Foot-bound uplooking at this lovely tree
Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere
Of magic fiction, verse of mine perchance
May never tread: but scarcely Spenser’s self
Could have more tranquil visions in his youth,”
The Prelude Book 6, lines 85-90.

In this passage I can see allusions to Spenser’s Faery Queen, references to an ash tree with ivy hanging from it, and the frost filled air of a campus in winter. My father (before he was a father) seemed concerned about disregarding rules, or ways that Wordsworth talked about disrespecting authority. And, I get the feeling from other scribbling that he might not have been enjoying himself, and I’m so glad that when I studied Wordsworth, he wanted me to enjoy the poetry, even when he wanted me to enjoy his parodies. He was patient with my enthusiasm, and gave me the gift of deciding what I liked. So, have you read The Prelude? Any thoughts on it? Did your teachers make you “skip around” in it, or let you plow through? In my courses, there wasn’t the time I have now, to sit and enjoy, so I’ll keep going, until I get to the end. I’m more than halfway done, after all.

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