Thursday, April 26, 2018

Poetry Friday: The Poems in my Pocket, by Amit, Emily, and Me

I'm writing this on Thursday night, at the end of Poem in your Pocket Day.  This morning my daughter sent me a quirky, funny ghazal called "By Accident," by Amit Majmudar (my daughter had recently heard him speak), and that was my poem for the day.  It's from his book 0°, 0°, and it contains the following words:

First she gave me the wound by accident.
Then the tourniquet she tied unwound by accident.

Your friend may want to start running.
I gave his scent to the hounds by accident.


Only surfaces interest me.
What depths I sound I sound by accident.

What should we look for in a ghazal, Amit?
Inevitabilities found by accident.

You can observe some of the rules of a ghazal in this excerpt, if you aren't familiar with them, and here's a link giving a little more explanation and a few more examples.

I was happy to have a poem in my pocket, and then later in the day, I saw a Facebook post by the Academy of American Poets suggesting this Emily Dickinson poem as one to keep in one's pocket.  This one was definitely an inevitability found by accident, just as Amit suggested.

It's All I Have to Bring Today

It’s all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.

Emily Dickinson

Isn't it a little annoying that we always have to take our hearts with us wherever we go?  In the Bible it talks about God replacing our heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and I often think that a heart of stone would be a lot easier to deal with.  It might not pump blood very efficiently (and that is, after all, one of the main uses of a heart), but it would hurt less than the flesh variety.   I lug it all with me: fields, meadows, bees, and that pesky heart, always slowing me down.

Here's my response to Emily, and maybe I'll stick this one in my pocket for tomorrow, commonly known as Day After Poem in your Pocket Day.

It's all I have to bring today --
My pesky heart of flesh --
Bandaged and bruised from all its wounds --
And often hurt afresh --
As armloads of clover make me sneeze --
My heart continues strong --
My bee-stung, sunburned, sturdy heart --
For it's survived this long --

Ruth, from

The incomparable Irene has today's roundup.  I've been loving her NPM project this year; take a look at her poems inspired by art from the Harlem Renaissance.  


Jane @ said...

There have definitely been times when I wished I had a heart of stone, because this heart of flesh just hurt so bad I thought it would break apart. But it seems our hearts are stronger than we sometimes think they are, and they do manage to keep on beating somehow.

Irene Latham said...

Dear Ruth, I happen to love your pesky heart. Thank you for lugging it to your blog and sharing it with all of us. And how beautiful you sharing poems with your daughter! I LOVE that! xo

Linda B said...

You often make me think anew of life, Ruth, and this post is no different. It's great that your daughter sends you poems that, hopefully, add balm to that "pesky heart". Your response to Emily D's poem is lovely, "My pesky heart of flesh --" gives a firm & loving answer to those who might prefer living with a heart of stone. Have a wonderful "day after poem in your pocket day".

Kay said...

I love your response to Emily's poem. Yes that pesky heart can be hurt, but that heart of stone inflicts so much damage in trying to protect itself.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

What a generous response! I especially love "My bee-stung, sunburned, sturdy heart." Now I want to know more about the ghazal.

Tara said...

Thank you for sharing your pesky heart with us, Ruth!

Michelle Kogan said...

I'll take your "pesky heart of flesh --"and "bee-stung, sunburned, sturdy heart --" over the heart of stone any day even with the pain–glad you responded to her poem. I've written one ghazal–your daughter's sounds like it ought to join the Tabatha's "Imperfect" blog, thanks Ruth!

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Love your response to Emily! Thank you for sharing :)

Alice Nine said...

Oh, Ruth, I've enjoyed your post. I love your "pesky heart of flesh / Bandaged and bruised from all its wounds."I think the weight of a stone heart would be too burdensome to bear. Ps. 147:3 is first-aid for my heart.

Anonymous said...

What a happy accident to find that poem today. And I love writing responses to poems.

Linda Mitchell said...

Good Sunday Morning, Ruth. I have had a very teen-centric weekend. So, I am catching up on Poetry Friday rounds when I can and a sure bet is Sunday morning when they are insistently sleeping until I rouse them for church!

What a wonderful response to Miss Emily.
Yes, our hearts of flesh are absolutely awkward and impractical for accomplishing all that we want to accomplish. But, the unexpected joys cannot come from stone. So, there we are. Stuck with the least able organ doing the most important jobs.

Mary Lee said...

I'll put both yours and Emily's in my pocket for the holiday commonly know as I Missed Poem in a Pocket Day But It Should Really Be Every Day, Shouldn't It.

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

Such a moving, startling poem from your daughter. And a lovely gift from Emily. I like where you take them with your "My bee-stung, sunburned, sturdy heart". May it survive much longer.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Happy belated blog birthday, Ruth--a lovely array of choices for Poem in Your Pocket Day, and oddly Emily's poem reminded me of a scene from "The Jerk" which is both hysterical and poignant...

And if it wasn't clear from my post, your opening poem in Imperfect is extraordinary. Thank you.