Friday, November 28, 2014

Poetry Friday: Praise!

Perhaps what I am most thankful for this Thanksgiving is some rest and time off.  So this poem seems appropriate:

In Praise of My Bed

by Meredith Holmes
At last I can be with you!
The grinding hours
since I left your side!
The labor of being fully human,
working my opposable thumb,
talking, and walking upright.
Here's the rest.   (Don't worry - it's short.  You'll still have time for a nap.)

Here's today's roundup.  Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Poetry Friday: Odes

I always do odes with my eighth graders at Thanksgiving.  I think I've started about four posts with that sentence so far on this blog.  (Here are my previous ode-related posts.)  We read several examples, and some of them write one. 

Here's a wonderful one, Ode to a Box of Tea, by Pablo Neruda.  It starts like this:

Box of tea
elephant country,
now a worn
sewing box,
small planetarium of buttons:
you brought
into the house
a sacred,
unplaceable scent,
as if you had come from another planet.

You can hear my brother reading the whole thing here.  

If you need some odes and don't have any Pablo Neruda books on hand, here's a link to a nice pdf collection you can start with, including the full text of the Ode to a Box of Tea:  Odes.

Why not write an ode to something you're thankful for?  And check out today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Poetry Friday: Beach Music

Last Saturday we went to the beach.  We went because our neighbors were having a party on Saturday night, and when they have a party, nobody in our house sleeps.  There aren't noise ordinances where I live, so the best way to handle it, remain on good terms with the neighbors, and sleep, is to go away somewhere.  When that somewhere is the beach, so much the better.

We slept peacefully and had a great time, but during the day, there was music playing most of the time.  On Sunday the morning peace was shattered by a DJ blasting out Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust."  Repeatedly.  At mealtimes in the hotel restaurant there were many musical offerings, such as "Turn Up the Love."  (This lyric made us giggle: "We're breathing in the same air/ So turn up the love...."  Our paraphrase: "You exist and so do I!  Turn up the love!"  Seems like a pretty low set of requirements to hook up with someone.)

But the one that amused us the most was a song called "Give me everything."  You can watch it here.  The lyrics, subtly, request, "Tonight I want all of you tonight/ Give me everything tonight/ For all we know we might not get tomorrow/ Let's do it tonight..."  The first time this song played, I commented, "Hey!  It's gather ye rosebuds while ye may!"

So in honor of our beach music, here's Gather Ye Rosebuds...

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Robert Herrick
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
   Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
   Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 
   The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
   And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
   When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
   Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time,
   And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
   You may forever tarry.

So yeah, we might not get tomorrow, yo.

We also thought of Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress."  Robin Hood Black posted it here back in September with appropriate musings about carpe diem and poetic invitations.  Marvell starts out:

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime. 

He goes on to explain that they don't have world enough and time, and in fact, turn up the love! You can read the rest, expressed far more beautifully, here.

I don't really have any profound conclusions to draw here, but as I commented on Robin's post in September (linked above), I think it's funny when people talk about poetry as something for sissies.  So much of it is about seduction.   My daughter asked whether I thought these poems, by Herrick and Marvell, were effective in their day, and I said, "Oh yes." I find them more effective than "Give me everything," for sure, but maybe that's just me.

Turn up the love and have a great Friday!  Here's today's roundup

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wandering in my Neighborhood

Rachel at Djibouti Jones recently learned the French word flâner, to wander without a goal, and encouraged us to become flâneurs in our own neighborhoods and write about the experience.  Today she's featuring my post about my neighborhood.  See with fresh eyes, she said, but that was a little harder to do than it seemed.  You can read my attempt here.  

Friday, November 07, 2014

Poetry Friday: Dinner with a Friend

Over the summer, my family and I got to have dinner with a friend from way back, someone we hadn't seen in years.  He and his wife (whom we hadn't met) joined us at an Indian restaurant one evening during our travels.  Afterward I wrote this poem. 

Dinner with a Friend, July 2014

You talk at dinner about what you’ve been reading,
A book on the geology of Tennessee. 
You tell us about the four layers of rock in the earth
And how you can see millions of years of history
And find fossils of ocean creatures along the freeway.
You talk about the New Madrid Fault
And how a giant earthquake there like the ones in 1811 and 1812
Would destroy Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis…
In 1811 the shaking rang church bells in Montreal.
Oh, and, you say, a book about the problem of evil.
And I smile and say I remember
That’s what you were reading the last time we talked about books
Years ago when we were all in our twenties
And most of our lives hadn’t happened yet,
All those earthquakes real and figurative.
I don’t know about you, but back then I had a strange idea
That the world would pretty much stay the way it was,
That the problem of evil was mostly an intellectual one
To be discussed over our kitchen table or yours
Rather than a battleground of pain and blood,
And that the forests we hiked through and the roads we cycled
Were there to stay, solid under our feet.
These days it’s easier for me to imagine everything changing,
Buildings falling, landmarks gone, bodies in the streets,
Ocean creatures swimming down highways in a landlocked state.
I know now that someday soon we’ll all be gone.
That thought does make me shudder a little,
But it also focuses my attention on the delicious naan I’m eating right now
And how good it is to see you again.

Here's today's roundup.  Happy Poetry Friday!