Mother: A Poem

Dedicated to a friend of mine, whose mother is ill.  I’ve been waiting for the right time to post this.  It’s one of my favorite poems.  We’re also approaching Earth Day, and this seems appropriate for that too.

Mother
Erica Mann Jong

Ash falls on the roof
of my house.

I have cursed you enough
in the lines of my poems
& between them,
in the silences which fall
like ash-flakes
on the watertank
from a smog-bound sky.

I have cursed you
because I remember
the smell of Joy
on a sealskin coat
& because I feel
more abandoned than a baby seal
on an ice floe red
with it’s mother’s blood.

I have cursed you
as I walked & prayed
on a concrete terrace
high above the street
because whatever I pulled down
with my bruised hand
from the bruising sky,
whatever lovely plum
came to my mouth
you envied
& spat out.

Because you saw me in your image,
because you favored me,
you punished me.

It was only a form of you
my poems were seeking.
Neither of us knew.

For years
we lived together in a single skin.

We shared fur coats.
We hated each other
as the soul hates the body
for being weak,
as the mind hates the stomach
for needing food,
as one lover hates the other.

I kicked
in the pouch of your theories
like a baby kangaroo.

I believed you
on Marx, on Darwin,
on Tolstoy & Shaw.
I said I loved Pushkin
(you loved him).
I vowed Monet
was better than Bosch.

Who cared?

I would have said nonsense
to please you
& frequently did.

This took the form,
of course,
of fighting you.

We fought so gorgeously!

We fought like one boxer
& his punching bag.
We fought like mismatched twins.
We fought like the secret sharer
& his shade.

Now we’re apart.
Time doesn’t heal
the baby to the womb.
Separateness is real
& keeps on growing.

One by one the mothers
drop away,
the lovers leave,
the babies outgrow clothes.

Some get insomnia —
the poet’s disease —
& sit up nights
nursing
at the nipples
of their pens.

I have made hot milk
& kissed you where you are.
I have cursed my curses.
I have cleared the air.
& now I sit here writing,
breathing you.

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Geology Lesson

Inspired by a trip my family took to Mammoth Cave National Park earlier this month.

Geology Lesson
-Katie Ford Hall

A single drop starts it all
Mingling with air it
picks up carbon and
becomes mildly acidic,
the way you might
absorb the
bad childhood
of that one special
person you
tried to save –
the project.
The one who drops
his baggage on the way
out the door.
The one whose pain
wears a small but hard

edge on you.
If that drop falls on
sandstone it
dissipates
evaporates
regroups
tries again somewhere else.
Like that bible story about
mustard seeds and
dirt.
But if that drop finds
limestone
it makes a tiny imprint
and a hundred years later
a few more drops hit
the same spot and
the dent gets bigger.
Thousands more and you have

Other PoemsMother: A PoemTude

a cave and tourists led
by slaves with candles,
probably glad to get away
from back-breaking fields
of tobacco.
In the damp 55 degrees
one hand brushes another
and oversized shadows dance
grotesque on droplet-
hewn stone walls.
Maybe there’s something
charged with possibility on
its way to becoming lore
or maybe it’s another
forgettable moment of
nothing at all.

Flying Pig

Even though I’m only up to running 2.25 miles, I think I’m going to go ahead with my plan for running the 5K in Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon this weekend.  What’s the worse that can happen?  I mean, other than sudden death and broken bones and crushed spirits?  Maybe I’ll have to walk part of it.

What my iPod looks like

So here’s where you come in.  What iPod songs do you recommend?  Here’s what I ran to yesterday, so you can get a feel for my taste. I’ve picked a few hours of music from my iTunes, but am wondering if you have any favorites I might be missing.

Suspect Device, Stiff Little Fingers
Church of the Holy Spook, Shane MacGowan, and the Popes
A-Bomb in Wardour Street, The Jam
Be Sweet, Afghan Whigs
Series of Dreams, Bob Dylan
Thunder on the Mountain, Bob Dylan
Just Like Heaven, Dinosaur Jr
Dreaming, Blondie

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Lamium

Lamium
by Louise Gluck

This is how you live when you have a cold heart.
As I do: in shadows, trailing over cool rock,
under the great maple trees.

The sun hardly touches me.

Sometimes I see it in early spring, rising very far away.
Then leaves grow over it, completely hiding it. I feel it
glinting through the leaves, erratic,
like someone hitting the side of a glass with a metal spoon.

Living things don’t all require
light to the same degree. Some of us
make our own light: a silver leaf
like a path, no one can use, a shallow
lake of silver in the darkness under the great maples.

But you know this already.
You and the others who think
you live for truth and, by extension, love
all that is cold.

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Reliving History

Reliving History 
Francette Cerulli

This must have been what it was like
the summer before the Great War,

quiet towns just like this, men and women
riding their bicycles through the streets
after dinner, no sound except their pedaling
and the squeaking of their seats under them,

the wet metal sound of grass being cut
always behind houses, out of sight,
all human voices murmuring or far away,
the pink and red zinnias blazing out at them
in that moment before dark,
the mix of the first woodsmoke
and the last apples so sharp
and sweet you could weep.

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The Faces of Children

The Faces of Children
~Elizabeth Spires

Meeting old friends after a long time, we see
with surprise how they have changed and must imagine,
despite the mirror’s lies, that change is upon us, too.

Once, in our twenties, we thought we would never die.
Now, as one thoughtlessly shuffles a deck of cards,
we have run through half our lives.

The afternoon has vanished, the evening changing
us into four shadows mildly talking on a porch.
And as we talk, we listen to the children play

the games that we played once. In joy and terror,
they cry out in surprise as the seeker finds the one in hiding,
or, in fairytale tableau, each one is tapped and turned

to stone. The lawn is full of breathing statues who wait
to be changed back again, and we can do nothing but stand
to one side of our children’s games, our children’s lives.

We are the conjurors who take away all pain,
and we are the ones who cannot take away the pain at all.
They do not ask, as lately, we have asked ourselves

Who was I then? And what must I become?
Like newly minted coins, their faces catch what light
there is. They are so sure of us, surer

than we are of ourselves. Our children: who gently
push us toward the end of our own lives. The future
beckons brightly. They trust us to lead them there.

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