April is National Poetry Month
I can’t let that pass without comment. And what better time than now for poetry?
So I may not be laughed off the stage and met with total derision, I staunchly affirm that poetry is good for what ails us, regardless of the time or season. It explores our humanity, our foibles, our problems, our illusions and our obsessions, not to mention our joys, our loves and achievements.
I believe poetry begets poetry in all of us. We all need it in one form or another in our lives. Those of you brave enough to click “read more” will find joy, wisdom and love.
I encourage readers to send me your favorite poem.
Some poems are prosaic and practical such as Marge Piercy in her poem “To be of use” writes:
The people I love the best
Jump into work head first
Without dallying in the shallows
And swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
The black sleek heads of seals
Bouncing like half-submerged balls.
Julia Kasdorf writes in “What I Learned from My Mother”:
I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
Still stuck to the buds.
Charles Simic observes in “Private Miseries”:
More than this crippled veteran playing the banjo
I have no right to grumble,
More than this old woman cracking open her purse
To give him a quarter,
I pass the homeless huddled in doorways
Upon a winter morning and dare not
Grouse about my own sleepless night,
And my cold feet that make me hurry past them.
Other poems are exuberant and full of life and rhythm, such as Robert Burns “A Red, Red Rose”:
O my luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly played in tune.
And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.
Billy Collins, our nation’s Poet Laureate some years ago, writes in “Days”:
Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.
Other poems are thought provoking such as Oregon’s own Poet Laureate William Stafford when he muses in “Ritual to Read to Each Other.”
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
for it is important that awake people be awake,
or the breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give – yes or no, or maybe –
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
Or when May Sarton in “August Third” observes,
Mother, be with me.
Today on your birthday
I am older then you were
When you died
Thirty-five years ago.
Thinking of you
The old camel gets to her knees,
Moves forward slowly
Into the new day.
If you taught me one thing
It was never to fail life.
So here we are its April and National Poetry Month and I am reminded of Billy Collins and his poem “The Trouble with Poetry.”
The trouble with poetry is
That it encourages the writing of more poetry,
But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.
I can’t resist ending this miscellany of poems with Emily Dickinson’s #1263:
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.