Wednesday, November 29, 2017

the art of losing: MyPoPerDayMo

One Art | Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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For good reason this is one of the poems we know best, often used as a model for the villanelle form, but this month I set it as the backdrop of MyPoPerDay project.  I'm going to practice being a loser this month and write (not in villanelles!) about losses small and large. It's not an area of mastery for me.


Nov. 29
That White Jacket, 1984-1987
definitely not me

Not until we were in the airport already--warm day, air conditioning--
did I realize I had left the essential layer
for cool East German summers
draped over the exercise bike
in my bedroom:
ripping
help
less
ness.
 
Later
I lost it for real
in the NYC subway.
Somehow that hurt less.
At least maybe someone was using it.


Nov. 30
"Engagement" Bracelet, c. 1994-2014

I miss the heavy, quiet clank of your hollow links, your easy toggle
on and off, the way your sterling silver polished itself
against my wrist, the way you steadfastly balanced
the weight, on my other arm, of any watch
in my parade of big plastic Swatches.
I miss your daily reminder of our
not the same at all
weighty commitment to love.
I took you off to swim
with the family
and you dis-
appeared
in the
grass.

I am
not over
you; I don't
feel like myself
without you; no number
of trendy silver bangles can begin to
replace you. Who cries
over an old
bracelet?
I do.


Dec. 1
Uterus, 1964-2002


We had only just gotten to know each other, really.  Companionably
silent for years, you came into your own, did what you were
designed to do and did it well.  Then complications
arose, and I'm sorry that the rest of me wasn't
up to the task, sorry that you took the
blame on that night of blood
not my uterus, either
and panic.

It was 
strange to
wake up and
find you gone.
We had unfinished 
business,  a contract 
to dissolve, 
a farewell 
to feel. 



drafts (c) HM 12.17

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The round-up on this first day of December is at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee, who is healing herself and the world with daily haiku this month.


Friday, November 17, 2017

live from #ncte17

Like many of our poetry posse, I am lucky enough to be in St. Louis for the annual National Council of Teachers of English convention.  I arrived in time for a walk around its most famous landmark in beautiful crisp sunshine, and then I attended the Elementary Get-Together, which is not just "Hellooo!" and [HUG] and chat but which includes the presentation of various awards.

The specially honored yesterday were Katherine Bomer and Randy Bomer, and rather than summarizing the significance of their work or their talk, I'll pull out one small thing that Katherine said, about how, since her first NCTE in 1989, this event seems to come along just when teachers really need it. "Is it that way for you, too?" she asked, and there were nods and "Mm-hmms" and not exactly any "AMENS," but the room said "yes."

So I'm going back to understand why this 3rd week of November event has felt so important to me over the years, and see how it turns into a poem!



2009 Philadelphia
2010 Orlando
2011 Chicago & boots
2012 Las Vegas
2013 Boston
2014 Washington DC
2015 Minneapolis
2016 Atlanta
2017 St. Louis



November Comes, Town Emerges

Next week--Thanksgiving--
the whole country travels,
travels home for our
"American holiday."
Even the least blessed among us
have something to be thankful for,
right?

But before that travel
some of the more blessed
travel home to English Town,
to Reading Town, to Writing Town,
wherever it may be this year,
and some of us most blessed

come home to Poetry Town.
We meet at the foot of
something large and shiny:
lowly LOVE, a faceted globe,
a bell tower domed in gold,
a gateway arch that leads into
a lofty cloud which opens

onto a village green.
We are surrounded by little cottages
built of books, filled with windows
and mirrors made of words.
We greet each other,
sighing with relief.

In back are the chickens,
which we feed every day
unless something gets in the way,
but we know that our neighbors
will take care if we are distracted.

And there is so much to distract:
the world outside seems made of guns,
made of floods and flame and hate.
We take a knee,

crushed up like velvet
under the weight of statues;
we poets fire back with delicate,
plush, lustrous words, risking
everything with an air of expectancy.

We poets put on our boots
with the transparent, permeable
soles that let in the grass, the puddle,
the crackling leaf, the sand, the snow,
the road less traveled, the mile
in another one's shoes

and we march back out of Poetry Town
towards thanks-giving
leaving the gate on the latch
for any passerby who needs
to come into the house of our poem.


draft HM 2017


The round-up today is with Jane the Rain City Librarian.  Put on your poetry boots and march on over for a visit to Poetry Town!




Friday, November 10, 2017

all the shades of pride

We're pretty stubborn

 All hail the Democrats of Virginia and New Jersey!

Carl Sandburg has a sage comment that seems apropos to the moment, and which also includes boots--which regular readers may remember hold a special charm for me.  I especially must heed Granddad Carl's advice, as must Republicans.



Primer Lesson | Carl Sandburg  1922

Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is
        not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they
        walk off proud; they can't hear you
        calling--
Look out how you use proud words.
 

The round-up today is with Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup, always a delicious dive into culiterary treats.  Yes, I just made that word up, and I think Carl will enjoy today's offering of coffee and donuts.

I'm attending next week!  Are you?  Let's get together!