Tag Archives: love

Poems Lost & Found

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Poems Lost & Found

Poetry Folder

I spent most of this evening cleaning up my work area. It is where I write and paint and store most of my books and stuff. I noticed the other day that the stuff was getting to be too much. I couldn’t sit at my desk anymore because of the stuff and the idea of going through all the stuff was rather intimidating so there it remained. Until tonight.

After spending a lovely afternoon with my MIL at Ikea (she needed a new kitchen table, a lamp and a tiny trashcan) I came home to a dark, gloomy house and a sky that was threatening to snow at any minute. I’d promised myself a run before dinner and sundown, but it was just too cold and the time was right to tackle the stuff on my desk.

Clearing away the bills, the junk, the stuff that seems magnetically drawn to my desk because it has no proper place in our house or my life felt great so I moved on to the big messy, cluttered bookshelf. Among all the books I think I should read, but never will and other assorted flotsam, including a statue of Shiva I’m afraid to toss because it will most certainly bring bad luck, I found an accordion file of my writings over the years. Even better, I found a manila folder of poetry in the file.

Folder

I’d forgotten about the manila folder. It wasn’t even mine to begin with. It belonged to my parents’ next-door neighbor, the unsinkable Mary Dwyer Currier, or Maribel as her wonderful husband, Richard and I called her. They had
“adopted” me as their ersatz granddaughter when I was very young and I adored them.

At their house I could escape the drama and chaos of my own. Richard would crack open a few Cokes in the kitchen, put a few Milanos on a fancy plate and we’d spend hours talking about music and art and books and politics. They introduced me to Bach, the theater, Jesuits and John Cheever.

Richard was a gifted pianist, philosopher and mathematician as well as former head of the school district. Maribel was a card-carrying Feminist, Truman-democrat and renegade Catholic. They both loved poetry and collected clippings from journals and newspapers in a manila folder that came into my possession shortly before Maribel passed away. Before tonight I never looked to see what was in there.

The clippings are carefully done. Long strokes with the scissor, not like my choppy haphazard cuttings. The New Yorker, NYT, The Atlantic, American Poetry Review...The poems themselves cover a variety of themes, which give my older adult self new insights into the hearts of two people I loved when I was young, who I love still.

I’d like to share some of the poems in this blog and see where they take us.
I don’t know if I’m breaking any copyright rules, so if I am, let me know.

Late Winter Afternoon
by Charles Wharton Stork

Near and afar now, low and high,
The sharp black boughs and the dull
gray sky.
The air grows chilly, the faint light
fades.
Dismal the hush of the woodland
glades,
As the gathering twilight settles
down
Over the fields of withered brown.

Little of beauty is here, you say,
At the somber close of this winter
day.
But study the exquisite traceries
From trunk to twig of the passive
trees,
And note how toward the horizon’s
end
The tones of the hillside soften and
blend.

The time between January 2 and the first glimpse of spring is a year unto itself in the Netherlands. It snowed a bit today but not much more than meager white dandruff over crusty flat fields. Driving my car over a sandy road no dust rose behind me although my car door felt gritty when I stepped out onto our driveway. The sand itself is frozen down to a distillate that produces no clouds but settles without any fanfare. My gloves make everything clumsier than usual. It seems to take forever in the freezing cold to open our mailbox to collect the post before I go inside. When the front door opens I smell them. My husband brought me daffodils from the market last Saturday– Here, March preview! Yellow flowers with a sunny scent on a January afternoon, by which he means to say he loves me.

Daffs

Goldbach Variations

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Goldbach’s Conjecture is an (as yet) unsolved mathematical conundrum which proposes that every integer greater than 2 can be expressed as the sum of two prime numbers.

Although I am a complete dunce at algebra (fractions, simple addition and subtraction as well, to be honest), the philosophical aspect of mathematical problems fascinates me. The Goldbach Conjecture particulary tickles my fancy because it lends itself so easily to the emotional plane of human experience. While Apostolos Doxiadis had explored this in his wonderful novel Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture, I haven’t seen any poetry written on the subject, so I thought I’d give it a go.

These three poems are about the possibilities and improbabilities of love.

Goldbach’s Conjecture is mathematics, which made me think of Bach, which brought me in a somewhat roundabout, but to my mind boolean way to the Golberg Variations.

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 I

To an Unruly and Most Turbulent Heart

Unruly and most turbulent heart

sought solace in Mathematics, not in Art.

Rules and rigorous stricture desired,

solutions elegant, logic required.

A life cloaked in reason quantified

by numbers, clean angles, reason applied.

No poetry, no books, no colors nor song,

with numbers and facts, what could ever go wrong?

The nimble fey wench on a moonbeam danced by;

creature improbable dropped from the sky,

who spoke in lyrics of flowers and wine,

of music, of starred skies, of stories divine.

Unruly heart laughed, let moonbeams inside,

Love’s lunar blossom burst sweet, open and wide. 

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II

Leaps of Faith

A mathematician I once knew, Kelly T. opined that religious evangelists and lovers are only surpassed by mathemeticians in their ability to make great leaps of faith.

Which is the greater leap of faith?

…accepting the infinite decimals of pi?

Or

…the certainty that pie is invariably delicious?

…entertaining the idea that one day, someone will be able to square Euclid’s circle?

Or

…acknowledging love’s presence without parameters, definition or explanation?

…the possibility of Lychrel numbers?

Or

the conviction that all souls are connected to a greater whole?

The formerly hypothetical Higgs boson particle was confirmed to exist in March 2013.

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 III

Oh Blaise!

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing”

Blaise Pascal

Before we met,

that day I sat behind you

sun glorious late summer washed over the walls

and floors

of the classroom,

The air was heavy with honeysuckle

and goldenrod.

A clock ticked away the afternoon

in hypnotic morpheus rhythm.

Against a windowpane, a single bee buzzed,

wheeling, reeling, pollen intoxicated

trapped by his own foolish gluttony.

Feeling somewhat sleepy,

opiated with equations and integers

as drunk on pollen as the bee,

I might have buried my face in your hair,

to breathe in all of you at once.

I loved the scent,

cypress, patchouli and pine,

slipping from the mobius tangled weight

of your tumbling locks,

though I had yet to see your face

or hear you speak.

* Images found at Google

Afrodite’s Song: The Goddess At 50

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Venus-Goddess-of-Love

Don’t tell me I’m “hot”

     because that word is not

          appropriate for women

               of a certain age,

                     let alone a goddess.

I am ripe

like perfect fruit,

soft and sweet.

My resolve is firm,

my thighs less so.

Don’t say,

     while ogling my decolleté

          that my belly “doesn’t matter”.

               Tell me it is beautiful

                    to cup your hands around.

My belly has borne

children and a lifetime

of giving in

for the greater good.

It has earned the right

to be soft.

Don’t call me “thin”

          like you would toss

               a complimentary wafer

                    at my feet,

                         a pale trinket

                              you honestly believe

                                  will lead you to my bed.

It won’t.

Let me share a secret:

Sex happens between

the ears

before you get between

the sheets.

Admire my strength,

     the curve of my vocabulary,

          the way I carve

               a roast chicken…

I am so much more

than a once pretty face

and body.

Tell me you think I’m wise,

     and that you like

          the sound of my voice

                when I whisper

                     naughty things

                          in your ear…

and I will love you

and be yours forever.

* Image from Google

**Crossposted from my primary blog:   http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=3emv6cbunmywz

Cruel Moon

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Softly the moon slips between

the insiduous slats

of the venetian blind,

caressing your face while I watch,

illuminating each and every

line and imperfection,

revealing a terrible truth:

you are mortal.

The rosy fingers of dawn

are kinder.

They erase every trace

of age, of wear, of care

and you are forever twenty-five

in the morning.

Then I can believe this,

then, I do not hold you

just look and desire

until you open your eyes

and reach for me.

But when the moon shines

over your forehead,

your nose,

your lips,

your chin,

reading aloud all the years

you have seen,

making me want to shield you

from the inevitable,

I pull you closer, out of her light,

and whisper that you must not leave

before I do,

because I could not bear

the moonlight

on my own.

VC 20-12-12

Crossposted from my primary blog

:http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/cruel-moon

Image from Google

A Love Letter from Istanbul

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          Istanbul

19 October

 

 

My love,

After three days, it has finally stopped raining and with the sun, Istanbul is transfomed into the enchanting city once again. It is less enchanting though, than it would be if you were here. There are so many things I would like to show you.

First, the Grand Bazaar, Kapalı Çarşı. Here I always have to orient myself by way of “Ali Baba” which is the place to buy hip scarves, dancing shoes, zills, pottery, cashmere shawls, brocade slippers, kaftans, inlaid chess sets; you get the picture. It is a cave of delight for your favorite magpie. Erkan would greet us at the door and we would be served çay or apple tea before we begin shopping and haggling over the price. I don’t haggle well, it must be my working class roots. From here we would delve into the bazaar proper. The colors, light, noise, busy-ness, the heady scent of spices from all the corners of the earth lay claim to all the senses. I am afraid you might find it overwhelming at first, but if you held onto my arm tightly, the feeling would become more pleasant. Time loses significance here. It is a maze worthy of King Minos himself. I would bring you to shops where all the sweetmeats of the world can be found, feed you real Turkish fruit and let you kiss the sugar from my fingers. We would walk to where the goldsmiths are and let ourselves go dizzy with all the glitter. I would let you buy me an awful bracelet with talismans against the evil-eye and wear it forever, or until it broke. I would find a seller of cashmere scarves and buy you a bright one to keep you warm in the winter. I would drench it in patchouli so that every time you tie it around your neck, you would think of me.

Walking is the best way to see Istanbul, so we would walk of a morning to the Blue Mosque, Sultan Ahmet Camii. “Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim.” Once we pass into the courtyard, it is clear that we are on holy ground. This is the home of God, Allah most gracious, most compassionate. In Istanbul I always carry something to use as a hijab. Today, it is a pashmina, the color of an April sky and with my hair suitably covered, we would remove our shoes and go inside. If you would wonder why the ceiling is so richly decorated, I would be able to tell you, because I’ve thought about this: When in the house of God, one may search for evidence of the divine. What better direction to look for this than toward the heavens?

But before the Ottomans, Istanbul was called Constantinople and the gorgeous Haiga Sophia (Church of Wisdom) was the seat of the Orthodox patriarch. It is a stone’s throw from the Blue Mosque. Nothing remains of the original structure. What we see today is the basilica dating from 537 A.D. Under leadership of Sultan Mehmet in 1453, the Ottomans seized power. The Haiga Sophia converted too. Minarets were added to the structure and between 1453 and 1922, the Haiga Sophia became Aya Sofya and was an Imperial mosque. Since 1935 it has been a museum. I would show you the face of a fresco angel, centuries hidden behind an Ottoman ceiling ornament newly revealed and restored to glory. We would walk along the upper gallery and if there aren’t too many people around, I would pull you behind a pillar and give you a kiss so luscious you’d never forget it.. Apparently this was common practise during the reign of the Byzantine Empress Theodesia. There were edicts issued against this and other public displays of affection in church at the time.

We would hop on the tramline: Sultan Ahmet, Sirkeci, Eminönü, crossing the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn to Karaköy, Tophane to Kabataş. The Bosporus would spread out before us, glittering like the coins on a belly-dancer’s belt. From there we would take the ferry to Heybeliada, one of the Princes’ Islands.

I like the ferry. From here you have the best view of the city: A skyline including the Blue Mosque, the Haiga Sophia, Topkapı Sarayı, and Dolombache Palace, which looks like it is made of confectioners’ sugar. As we enter the Sea of Marmara, the sky goes from blue to nacre, the sea from light emerald to deep jade green. With Asia on the left coast and Europe on the right, it is a magical in-between place where anything might happen. It was on this very sea, called Propontis by the ancient Greeks, that Jason encountered many adventures on his quest for the golden fleece.You could believe that he may have landed on Heybeliada.

Heybeliada is a hilly-piney island retreat where the main mode of transportation requires either shoeleather or (real) horsepower. You know I am dreadfully allergic to horses, so we would walk. We would buy supplies for a picnic: simit with goat cheese and tomato, fresh pomegranate juice, and sticky baklava for desert. Then we would make our way slightly inland, to the pine forest that smells like nowhere else on earth. I would warn you to beware of the wood-nymphs and you would remark that the warning is 26 years too late. It would be too cold to swim so we would sit in the sun and watch the boats go by. In the warm afternoon, on a bed of pine needles, I would fall asleep in your arms. If we were lucky, we would wake before the last ferry back to the city. The return trip would be colder and would seem longer. The other boats would be less jaunty on the water and I would probably feel slightly seasick. But the lights of the city are a beautiful distraction and we would take them in, no need for conversation, just enjoying being together in the quiet of an Istanbul twilight.

Stepping off the ferry, we would hear the call to evening prayer. As the stars begin to shine over the city, I would know that they have come out just for you.

V.

Rainy Istanbul
DSCN0851

 

* Both photos are my own. Please ask permission if you want to use them.

Review: Initial Verses: A Collection of Poems on Love, Loss, Poverty and War by Frank Scarangello

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This debut collection contains what it says on the front cover: “Poems on Love, Loss, Poverty and War”. What the cover doesn’t reveal is the many voices within its pages. By turns the voice is that of the hard-boiled social observer, political commentator, historian, lyric bard, young lover, then again, not-so-young lover, but there is always the recognizable timbre of the master spellbinder running through the words.

 

Although he claims no literary background, Frank Scarangello has a visceral understanding of what makes a poem and how to bring it to life and make it accessible. Art, and that includes poetry which needs to be explained to the reader misses the mark. Frank throws bullseyes.

 

He does this by a simple and elegant use of language with the exception of the Latin phrases in “The Acolyte-1951”, and the German in “I Heard Marlene Dietrich Sing” which are set in the context, so even if you don’t know exactly what the words mean, they make sense. By simple language, I mean accessible language. These poems don’t require having Roget’s Thesaurus or a dictionary at the ready, but they are by no means unsophisticated.

 

This accessiblity makes an for easy passage when the poem takes the reader out of their personal comfort zone. In particular, the poem “Picasso in Kandahar”springs to mind. In dry, rather matter-of-fact tones, we are shown

 

A Picasso face

with one eye a piece of nose

a dented skull distorted melted

cubism done all in red black and blue

one hand one and a half limbs.

 

Most people will know what a Picasso should look like, even iwithout ever having seen one in real life. This is relatively familiar. It is an accurate description and the reader is okay with that, then the poetry happens. Having drawn the reader in, the poet skews the angle of the familiar and changes the context in the next lines:

 

A rearranged montage

of her soldier son.

 

But by now the reader is already hooked. The poem progresses, in the same simple, elegant language to take the reader to several different levels. The voice of the poet demands, in tones most reasonable and polite, that the reader take on the skin of the mother in the poem and think.

 

For my money this is Frank Scarangello at his hardball best.

 

This poet doesn’t just throw hardballs however. From “Picasso in Khandahar” in the turn of a few pages to a complete change of pitch in “Describing Her in Words”, which is slow and sensual as stirring a pot of chocolate over a low flame and shoots straight to the heart. Both this poem and “The Longest Night” call to mind the erotic poetry of Nizar Qabbani in their celebration of the female and lyrical desire.

 

The pace changes and the reader finds his or herself in a New York cab (Streets of Gold), a crowded graveyard (Niches and Stones), Drinking with Art Majors, on the road (Keeping up with the Joads) and Dancing to Perfidia in Addis Ababaand after the last poem disappointment sets in that the trip is (for now) over.

 

On first reading this collection, I found the order of the poems too random. With the second reading, I decided that the randomness only enchanced my experience as a reader. Frank is a seasoned world traveler. His poetry took me all over the place without my ever having to go out the front door and the random switching of location and mood just made it all the more exhilarating.

 

These poems leave the reader wondering if the work is autobiographical. In my correspondence with Frank Scarangello, I managed to slip in the question. He told me that some are, some aren’t. It doesn’t really matter. This poet can write a novel in a few lines and you’ll be inclined to just go with the magic.

 

 

Initial Verses: A Collection of Poems on Love, Loss, Poverty and War

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 30, 2012)

ISBN-10: 1475082681

ISBN-13: 978-1475082685

 

Seeing My Muse in a Marketplace

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I hear you before you come into view.

Luminous muse,

you travel on the vibration

of temple bells

and they warn me of your

presence.

Catching sight of you

emerging

from the summer crowd as though

you’d just stepped from icy highs,

the place called Shang-ri-la.

I am close enough to breathe

your scent,

mountain pine, cedar, patchouli.

“Podunkmarte” ,

a magic word

escapes my mouth

in a whisper

to make you look my way.

My lips taste like mango sherbert

I tell you with my eyes,

Yours tell me

you know that already.

The people scupper

between us

I would reach out to you,

in the summer crowd,

but I don’t

because

if I touch you,

you might  turn to ash.