Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Moth, the Mountains, the Rivers

Who can guess the luna's sadness who lives so
briefly? Who can guess the impatience of stone
longing to be ground down, to be part again of
something livelier? Who can imagine in what
heaviness the rivers remember their original
clarity?

Strange questions, yet I have spent worthwhile
time with them. And I suggest them to you also,
that your spirit grow in curiosity, that your life
be richer than it is, that you bow to the earth as
you feel how it actually is, that we--so cleaver, and
ambitious, and selfish, and unrestrained--are only
one design of the moving, the vivacious many.

--Mary Oliver

Today

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

--Mary Oliver

Foolishness? No, It's Not

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count 
the leaves on a single tree. To do this I 
have to climb branch by branch and 
write down the numbers in a little book. 
So I suppose, from their point of view, 
it's reasonable that my friends say: what 
foolishness! She's got her head in the clouds 
again.

But it's not. Of course I have to give up, 
but by then I'm half crazy with the wonder 
of it--the abundance of the leaves, the 
quietness of the branches, the hopelessness 
of my effort. And I am in that delicious 
and important place, roaring with laughter, 
full of earth-praise.

--Mary Oliver

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Manic Panic

Live fast
and dye your hair.

That’s what I wrote on my
Converse in 8th grade.

Maybe it was the way
the feeling pulled me

like a girl
pulling a ponytail.

Maybe I didn’t get the job
cause of the polka dots.

Maybe I don’t care
cause of the wave.

Today I’m blue.
Tomorrow I could be anywhere.

All these pop songs about dying young
like it’s gonna be so epic.

The only difference between 8th grade
and now is the blowing up

the use of color
& perspective.

Things that are with you
when you wake up

& you feel like
someone’s there.

Same rainbows
under her eyes

clouds floating in the air.

--Marisa Crawford

Saturday, September 6, 2014

In the current P&W mag, interview with Edward Hirsch

PW: Some people would say that there isn’t enough poetry of joy nowadays—that contemporary poetry needs to lighten up.

EH: I think to have poetry, you need to have all kinds of different poets. We need poets who write playful, funny poems, poets who write light verse; I don’t think we should neglect that. But should that be the defining feature of your poetry? Is that how you want your poetry to be remembered? I guess that’s up to people in the culture. But it’s also true that we live in a very superficial culture. We live in a culture that’s driven by entertainment, by celebrities, so there’s plenty in the culture to distract us and lighten us up. People who turn to poetry...I don’t think they’re looking for something gloomy, but I do think they’re looking for something deeper than the superficial experiences you get in the culture every day. If we’re addicted to poetry, we’re addicted to the deeper experiences that poetry gives us. We have a great challenge in our culture because of the tremendous success of the mass media. But there will always be people who will care about the deeper aspects of what it means to be human.

A Private Singularity

I used to like being young, and I still do,
Because I think I still am. There are physical
Objections to that thought, and yet what
Fascinates me now is how obsessed I was at thirty-five
With feeling older than I was: it seemed so smart
And worldly, so fastidiously knowing to dwell so much
On time — on what it gives, what it destroys, on how it feels.
And now it’s here and doesn’t feel like anything at all:
A little warm perhaps, a little cool, but mostly waiting on my
Life to fill it up, and meanwhile living in the light and listening
To the music floating through my living room each night.
It’s something you can only recognize in retrospect, long after
Everything that used to fill those years has disappeared
And they’ve become regrets and images, leaving you alone
In a perpetual present, in a nondescript small room where it began.
You find it in yourself: the ways that led inexorably from
Home to here are simply stories now, leading nowhere anymore;
The wilderness they led through is the space behind a door
Through which a sentence flows, following a map in the heart.
Along the way the self that you were born with turns into
The self that you created, but they come together at the end,
United in the memory where time began: the tinkling of a bell
On a garden gate in Combray, or the clang of a driven nail
In a Los Angeles backyard, or a pure, angelic clang in Nova Scotia — 
Whatever age restores. It isn’t the generalizations that I loved
At thirty-five that move me now, but particular moments
When my life comes into focus, and the feeling of the years
Between them comes alive. Time stops, and then resumes its story,
Like a train to Balbec or a steamer to Brazil. We moved to San Diego,
Then I headed east, then settled in the middle of the country
Where I’ve waited now for almost forty years, going through the
Motions of the moments as they pass from now to nothing,
Reading by their light. I don’t know why I’m reading them again — 
Elizabeth Bishop, Proust. The stories you remember feel like mirrors,
And rereading them like leafing through your life at a certain age,
As though the years were pages. I keep living in the light
Under the door, waiting on those vague sensations floating in
And out of consciousness like odors, like the smell of sperm and lilacs.
In the afternoon I bicycle to a park that overlooks Lake Michigan,
Linger on a bench and read Contre Sainte-Beuve and Time Reborn,
A physics book that argues time is real. And that’s my life — 
It isn’t much, and yet it hangs together: its obsessions dovetail
With each other, as the private world of my experience takes its place
Within a natural order that absorbs it, but for a while lets it live.
It feels like such a miracle, this life: it promises everything,
And even keeps its promise when you’ve grown too old to care.
It seems unremarkable at first, and then as time goes by it
Starts to seem unreal, a figment of the years inside a universe
That flows around them and dissolves them in the end,
But meanwhile lets you linger in a universe of one — 
A village on a summer afternoon, a garden after dark,
A small backyard beneath a boring California sky.
I said I still felt young, and so I am, yet what that means
Eludes me. Maybe it’s the feeling of the presence
Of the past, or of its disappearance, or both of them at once — 
A long estrangement and a private singularity, intact
Within a tinkling bell, an iron nail, a pure, angelic clang — 
The echo of a clear, metallic sound from childhood,
Where time began: “Oh, beautiful sound, strike again!”

--John Koethe