Friday, April 27, 2012

National Poetry Month is nearing its end

Here is a poem I love by Naomi Shihab Nye. 

Valentine for Ernest Mann 

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate. 

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide.  In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping.  They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up.  What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious.  He was a serious man
Who lived in a serious way.  Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so.  He really
liked those skunks.  So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him.  And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems.  Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Birthdays, Birthdays, All the time

Yesterday was the marking of another year on this earth for me.  There are lots of great things that I can think of that are worth celebrating another year of, but I want to talk for a few minutes about the things I see that aren't so great.

Recently I saw the President of the Maldives on a television news show.  He was saying that the people in his country are afraid that within a year there will be no Maldives.  The country consists of a group of islands located in the Indian Ocean.  The highest point on their islands is only 6' above sea level.  With the climate change that is occurring, the Oceans are expanding.  Soon there will be no Maldives.  He said that the leaders in  his country are traveling around the world, trying to find land big enough to move their 328,000 citizens.  This is a tragedy for them.  Their main source of revenue has been tourism because they live in a veritable paradise.

It makes me sick to think of the regal polar bears swimming until they drown because there is no- where for them to pull themselves out of the water.  And that is happening.  I feel terrible that even in this time we allow animals to become extinct by encroaching on the land on which they live.

I worry that our Senators and Representatives are so far removed from the rest of us that they have completely lost touch with the reality of life as most of us know it.  They all make wonderful wages for now and will leave office with a pension for the rest of their lives.  It is no wonder they don't think Social Security and Medicare are important - they will never need them.  Are they so blind that they cannot see how it is for old people in this country?  Are they so blind that they do not see that each year, with inflation and budget cuts, it gets worse for those same people?

I heve two daughters and I worry about how things will be for them in the future.  Will their be any help for them when they get old?  How can they possibly save money for the future when they are just getting by now from paycheck to paycheck?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April is National Poetry Month

I tried writing sonnets, but somehow always stumbled.  Then I took a class from a woman who wrote wonderful sonnets.  She said, "Choose the end words first."  So simple and yet it had eluded me for years.  Here is a sonnet I wrote for my husband many years ago.


On First Bringing My Husband To Lake Superior




Lying, protected by these blazing sun-
flowers, my shoulders stinging, pinking, red
with too much sun.  Before this day is done
and we leave this sanctuary, I head
into Superior’s blue again.  White-
caps slap my ankles; north wind bites my cheeks.
This is my gift to you – my great delight –
In wind and these shrill gull-calls my God speaks.


Chicago boy, now grown to man, I know
your soul.  Your rapt attention to this sound
will become your sonata once we go.
This beach and Lake, to me, are hallowed ground.
I bring you to this sacred space to share
this cerulean inland sea, so rare.