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Archive for national poetry month

John Haines – A Winter Light

A Winter Light, by John Haines

We still go about our lives
in shadow, pouring the white cup full
with a hand half in darkness.

Paring potatoes, our heads
vent over a dream—
glazed window through which
the long, yellow sundown looks.

By candle or firelight
your face still holds
a mystery that once
filled caves with the color
of unforgettable beasts.


Photo below shared from Alaska Dispatch News which features a piece about writer/musician John Luther Adams and being influenced by John Haines.
J Haines JL Adams 3x2


From TWENTY POEMS, Unicorn Press, 1973

Poetry – Mark Doty – To Jackson Pollock

To Jackson Pollock
Mark Doty

Last night somebody murdered a young tree on Seventh Avenue
between 18th and 19th—only two in that block,
and just days ago we’d taken refreshment in the crisp and particular shade

of that young ginkgo’s tight leaves, its beauty and optimism,
though I didn’t think of that word until the snapped trunk this morning,
a broken broomstick discarded, and tell me what pleasure

could you take from that? Maybe I understand it,
the sudden surge of rage and the requirement of a gesture,
but this hour I place myself firmly on the side of thirst,

the sapling’s ambition to draw from the secret streams
beneath this city, to lift up our subterranean waters.
Power in a pointless scrawl now on the pavement.

Pollock, when he swung his wild arcs in the barn-air
by Accabonac, stripped away incident and detail till all
that was left was swing and fall and return,

austere rhythm deep down things, beautiful
because he’s subtracted the specific stub and pith,
this wreck on the too-hot pavement where scavengers

spread their secondhand books in the scalding sunlight.
Or maybe he didn’t. Erase it I mean: look into the fierce ellipse
of his preserved gesture, and hasn’t he swept up every bit,

all the busted and incomplete, half-finished and lost?
Alone in the grand rooms of last century’s heroic painters
—granted entrance, on an off day, to a museum

with nobody, thank you, this once nobody talking—
and for the first time I understood his huge canvases
were prayers. No matter to what. And silent as hell;

he rode the huge engine of his attention toward silence,
and silence emanated from them, and they would not take no
for an answer, though there is no other. Forget supplication,

beseechment, praise. Look down
into it, the smash-up swirl, oil and pigment and tree-shatter:
tumult in equilibrium.


Shared from https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/jackson-pollock

Poetry – Jim Harrison – Return

“Return” by Jim Harrison


The sun’s warm against slats of the granary,
a puddle of ice in the shadow of the steps;
my uncle’s hound
lopes
across the winter wheat,
fresh green cold green.
The windmill long out of use, screeches
and twists in the wind.
Spring day, too loud for talk,
when bones tire of their flesh
and want something better.


http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/jim-harrison

2016 National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month is upon us. We will be posting selections from writers that we have been influenced by over the years, including John Haines of course. If anyone has suggested writers and personal favorites please share here as I would love to expand my library and keep poetry alive and relevant.

Poem – Carl Sandburg – Fog

This reader suggested poem is “Fog” by Carl Sandburg.


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Poem shared from the following resources.

http://carl-sandburg.com/fog.htm
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174299

Poetry Month – Poem by Layman Pang Yun

The following two poems from the book The Recorded Sayings of Layman Pang, Weatherhill 1971, translated from the Chinese by Ruth Fuller Sasaki, Yoshitaka Iriya, and Dana R. Fraser


#1

I have a great robe
Not of this world’s silk.
It can’t be dyed by any color,
Being crystalline, like white floss.
No scissors were used to cut it,
No thread was used to stitch it.
I keep it always close about me,
But there’s no man who of himself has seen it.
It shelters a Trichilial** Cosmos from heat and cold,
Covering over sentient and non-sentient alike.
Should you be able to obtain this great robe,
Having donned it, you straightway enter the palace of the King of emptiness.

**A thousand to the third power, or one billion worlds. This is said to constitute the domain of a buddha.

#2

The past is already past–
Don’t try to regain it.
The present does not stay–
Don’t try to touch it from moment to moment.
The future is not come–
Don’t think about it beforehand.
With the three times non-existent,
Mind is the same as Buddha-mind.
To silently function relying on Emptiness–
This is profundity of action.
Not the least dharma exists–
Whatsoever comes to eye leave it be.
There are no commandments to be kept,
There is no filth to be cleansed.
With empty mind really penetrated,
The dharmas have no life.
When you can be like this
You’ve completed the ultimate attainment.


Layman Pang

Layman Pang

Poetry Month – Poems By Zen Masters

The following translations are from the book Original Teachings of Chan Buddhism, by Chang Chun-Yuan, A Vintage Book, 1971.


From Master Tsao-shan

He who says that a dragon is singing in the dry woods
Is he who truly sees Tao.
The skull has no consciousness,
But wisdom’s eye begins to shine in it.
If joy and consciousness should be eliminated,
Then fluctuations and communication would cease.
Those who dry this do not understand
That purity is impure.

From Master Fen-yang

Under the moonlight are the towers and chambers of a thousand houses;
Lying in the autumn air are lakes and rivers of myriad li.
Blossoms blow in the reeds, differing not in their colors.
A white bird descends the white sandbank of a stream.

Poetry Month – Poems by Zen Master Ryokan

Selections 4 and 5 for National Poetry Month. These two poems of Zen Master Ryokan are from Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, Zen Poems of Ryokan, translated by John Stevens.


Untitled

If someone asks
My abode
I reply:
“The east edge of
The Milky Way.”

Like a drifting cloud,
Bound by nothing:
I just let go
Giving myself up
To the whim of the wind

The Autumn Moon

The moon appears in every season, it is true,
But surely it’s best in fall.
In autumn, mountains loom and water runs clear.
A brilliant disk floats across the infinite sky,
And there is no sense of light and darkness,
For everything is permeated with its presence.
The boundless sky above, the autumn chill on my face.
I take my precious staff and wander about the hills.
Not a speck of the world’s dust anywhere,
Just the brilliant beams of moonlight.
I hope others, too, are gazing on this moon tonight,
And that it’s illuminating all kinds of people.
Autumn after autumn, the moonlight comes and goes;
Human beings will gaze upon it for eternity.
The sermons of Buddha, the preaching of Eno,
Surely occurred under the same kind of moon.
I contemplate the moon through the night,
As the stream settles, and white dew descends.
Which wayfarer will bask in the moonlight longest?
Whose home will drink up the most moonbeams?


ryokan

Poetry Month – Poem by Robinson Jeffers

Selection #2 and #3 for National Poetry Month is Sign-Post and Evening Ebb by Robinson Jeffers, from his collection The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, 2001 Stanford.


Sign-Post
Civilized, crying how to be human again: this will tell you how.
Turn outward, love things, not men, turn right away from humanity,
Let that doll lie. Consider if you like how the lilies grow,
Lean on the silent rock until you feel its divinity
Make your veins cold, look at the silent stars, let your eyes
Climb the great ladder out of the pit of yourself and man.
Things are so beautiful, your love will follow your eyes;
Things are the God, you will love God and not in vain,
For what we love, we grow to it, we share its nature. At length
You will look back along the stars’ rays and see that even
The poor doll humanity has a place under heaven.
Its qualities repair their mosaic around you, the chips of strength
And sickness; but now you are free, even to be human,
But born of the rock and the air, not of a woman.

Evening Ebb
The ocean has not been so quiet for a long while; five night-herons
Fly shorelong voiceless in the hush of the air
Over the calm of an ebb that almost mirrors their wings.
The sun has gone down, and the water has gone down
From the weed-clad rock, but the distant cloud-wall rises. The ebb
whispers.
Great cloud-shadows float in the opal water.
Through rifts in the screen of the world pale gold gleams and the evening
Star suddenly glides like a flying torch.
As if we had not been meant to see her; rehearsing behind
The screen of the world for another audience.


robinson-jeffers-on-california-coast2

Poetry Month – Poem by Wendy Brown-Baez

For the 2014 National Poetry Month, a poem by Wendy Brown-Baez


At the Western Wall, by Wendy Brown-Baez
From transparencies of light, 2011, Finishing Line Press

I saw here at the Wall
flattened against the stones by prayer
and I thought:
Where is her God
now that our tears
have tuned to blood?

She brushed the wind
out of her hair, and wiped
her eyes on the tiny slip of paper
folded and refolded
as if to protect
the fragile message inside,
as if the crushing weight of war
had not already torn it into shreds.

Can God read
invisible ink?
and I thought of how our
hearts were like that paper
folded within themselves
destined to the least crack in the stones.


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2013 Poetry Month – My Father’s Closet

I have chosen “My Father’s Closet” by D. Nurkse as the first piece for National Poetry Month.  This is taken from the book “Burnt Island”, published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf.

1. HAT

As soon as I put in on
Brooklyn went dark,
but when I took it off
my wooden horse stared at me
with dazzling glass eyes.

2. COAT

The shirred hem
swished on the floor.
Huge shoulders sloped
like pines under snow.
A panel in the lapel
read: Kuut, Tallinn
in thread letters.
I hid at the center
behind jet buttons
too round to undo.
That coarse-nap wool
outlasted Estonian winter
but now the moths
left a trellis of holes
so it was never dark
when I curled up
hugging my knees.
My mother cried out:
Who are you? I answered
in my deepest voice:
His coat.

3. SHOES

I shoved my hands in
and taught them to walk:
now stumble: now march
against your will, left, right.
to the Narva Front:

now dance:
and somewhere
in that immense city
where snow trembled
in high lit windows,
a footstep receded,
rapid, urgent,
indelible as a name.