Tag Archives: poetry

As-Salaam-Alaikum

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Image result for prayer rug

Arabic Words I Know

Bismillah

The spider crouches in the bathtub

lurking, all eight hairy legs

and too many eyes.

How did it get there?

Absailing down the windowsill

Hurrying in from the rain?

It does not mean to frighten anyone

though looking at it curls my toes.

I am Ozymandias, fool spider,

look upon me and shudder

while I pick up a slipper

lay it in the bathtub

and let you crawl inside

to the very tip

of the toe

then put it gently

outside my bedroom window

in the shelter of

an oleander plant

out of the rain.

 

Inshallah

There is bread on my table

today.

My family is with me

today.

Random acts of kindness will happen

today.

Beautiful souls will be born

today.

I will not get angry

today.

The sun may show itself

at some point

today.

The spider will crawl

out of my slipper

and weave a web

in the oleander plant

today,

Inshallah.

 

Mashallah

Night falls peaceable.

The air is wet with

autumn dew,

heavier

than in summer.

It graces the spider’s web

with watery jewels.

A moon, gibbous,

hanging like a ripe pear

sun’s blush upon its

cheek

lights your way home.

Dinner waits for you;

it tastes better when

we eat together.

Your step at our front door

rouses the dogs.

They rush to greet you,

I am slower than they are.

I say, “I’m glad you’re home.”

You say, “I love you.”

and all is well.

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

The Song of Penelope: Is it really you, Odysseus?

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We move through our house as guests

so polite.. I am sorry, would you like

to brush your teeth first?

I brew coffee, let the dogs outside.

There is no frost on the grass yet,

but it is cold and wet

with September dew.

October strolls in and it is hard to remember

who it is I wake up next to in bed.

I have lost the idea of you;

or you have changed,

or have I?

Magnanimous strangers the next weeks.

There is morning frost.

I wear slippers when I let out the dogs.

You no longer want coffee in the morning.

I drink alone.

Dreading the wolves of winter,

I would hide from December.

You embrace enforced gaiety.

I embrace a bottle and Morpheus.

Just let me sleep until the new year;

There is promise in January and light.

You love me, you say

momentarily distracted from your own thoughts.

We belong

together.

We are good

together.

I don’t believe this anymore, but I nod.

Ignoring February’s valentines and flowers,

my heart beats elsewhere

the house echoes with its rhythm

my heartbeats go unanswered.

I am utterly alone.

The thaw comes before the rains.

The dogs rush outdoors in the morning

green scent of March still clinging to their coats

when they barrel back inside.

You notice that I am drinking coffee

and ask if there is some left

for you.

I cannot remember how you drink your coffee:

black or brown or white.

You watch me pour with a stranger’s eyes.

I offer you the cup 

and ask how you take it.

Spring and summer

cinematic speed.

I no longer miss you.

I no longer kiss you

goodnight

and yet you tell everyone still

we are so good

together.

I do not know who you are

or if I like you

anymore.

I move through the house like a gust of autumn wind,

October storm to clear away the dust

left too long sitting.

I ask you to move our bed,

politely as I would ask a stranger

for help:

Please shift our bed so that

I can clear away the dust beneath.

You look at me, astonished eyes

and say that our bed

cannot be moved

by man on earth.

Roots of olive

plumb and true,

inlaid with golden hope and

silver dreams,

it cannot be moved

and

by those words

I know you once again.

 

Images from Google

Aside

Kina Gecesi

I probably saw you then

from my balcony,

playing on the grass below.

We called that neighborhood

Little Ankara”.

Mothers, some in hijab, sought shadow

under chestnut trees in that last bake of September

while the little ones

laughed and chased the wind.

Then I was a new bride

in a strange land;

I wore no henna on my hand.

Hüzün.

I didn’t know the word yet

but

my heart ached with it that day.

Tonight…the moon is high,

full to overflowing and white as a pail of milk.

We dance and eat and talk, and laugh

until the girls come in.

The same girls

from Little Ankara

grown up, singing to the bride you are

Yüksek, yüksek tepelere…

Asri, asri memlekete kiz vermesinler…

Your fist, compact as the chestnuts

that grew on the trees in Little Ankara

resolute in refusal

until the coin is offered.

Your hand falls open

like a white flower

and they paint your palm

with henna.

Ben annemi özledim

With eyes as full as the moon,

your mother lets you go.

* Hüzün – wistful melancholy. 

Kina Gecesi

Ik heb je waarschinlijk gezien,

spelend op het plein beneden.

Wij noemde onze eerst wijk

Kleine Ankara”.

De vrouwen in hijab, schaduw zoekend

onder kastanjebomen in dat nogal warm September

terwijl ‘t kleine grut

lachte en de wind opjagden.

Toen was ik een nieuwe bruid

in een vreemd land

geen henna vlek op mijn hand.

Ik had hüzün

maar kende het woord nog niet

en kon het niet eens uitspreken.

Stukje bij beetje was ik het vergeten.

Vanavond de maan is hoog

overvol and wit als een emmer melk.

Wij dansen en eten en praten, het is feest.

De meiden komen binnen.

Dezelfde meisjes waarschijnlijk

van kleine Ankara,

niet jagend achter de wind aan,

maar volwassen zingend om de bruid jij bent.

Yüksek, yüksek tepelere…

Asri, asri memlekete kiz vermesinler…

Doe je hand eens open,

maar je houd het vastgesloten

voor de henna

totdat het muntje komt tevoorschijn

en je laat je hand openvallen

als een bloem.

Ben annemi özledim

Je moeder kijkt je aan,

je ogen slaan neer.

Maar er valt geen traan.

Photo found at Google

Kina Gecesi

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

Poem: The Lament of Isis; 14 Pieces of You

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You are gone.

I cut my hair;

“forest of dreams”

you once called it.

Now a rough field of stubble

barely covers my scalp.

My basket is heavy

with  14 pieces of you,

once scattered to the wind.

I gathered them

and said my prayers,

but you did not rise

whole again with the sun.

There is magic in tears

but not enough in mine

to conjure anything

but gossamer memories;

A whiff of viburnum,

the ghost of your laugh,

faint piano, minor keys,

shades of twilight,

dust of long dried flowers,

your summer burnished shoulders,

a midwinter fog…

The things I try to capture

slip through my fingers like water

and I know

you are gone.

 

* Crossposted from my primary blog:  http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/poem-the-lament-of-isis-14-pieces-of-you

 

Aside

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When all the talk is done,

when everything that can be allowed

is said,

only poetry

remains.

Metaphor to express

caress, a breezy kiss of

water skeeters skimming

the surface of

a deeper

sentimental pond.

Adjectives, light butterflies

flitting shadows over

the page,

dusting the words with

pollen,

making them bloom

opulent colors,

scented with the dreams

of my heart.

Cicada rhythm,

apian melody,

orchestral strings hidden

in

cherry blossom,

stashed

behind

the honesuckle,

concealed

beneath

the wisteria

of my thoughts.

You have the key

to this garden.

Hang it on the hook

by the gate

when you leave.

Come back soon,

as often as you like.

Maybe I will discover

your dewy footprint

on the path

one day.

* Image from Google

Only Poetry Remains