Category Archives: Poetry Thursday

>Poetry before 7 am

>A few days ago I wrote here about a quote from Rilke regarding experience and emotion in poetry. This morning, I read the following poem by Donne. Another way, it seems to me, to express the same idea. I’ve been rereading Donne, having not read him for many years. I had forgotten how beautiful and concise his poetry was. Perhaps Donne’s poetry is better understood by someone middle-aged. It takes a few years to realize one is a fool, and many more to understand the fool’s wisdom.

The Triple Fool
John Donne

I am two fools, I know,

For loving, and for saying so

In whining poetry ;

But where’s that wise man, that would not be I,

If she would not deny ?

Then as th’ earth’s inward narrow crooked lanes
Do purge sea water’s fretful salt away,

I thought, if I could draw my pains

Through rhyme’s vexation, I should them allay.
Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce,
For he tames it, that fetters it in verse.

But when I have done so,

Some man, his art and voice to show,

Doth set and sing my pain ;

And, by delighting many, frees again

Grief, which verse did restrain.

To love and grief tribute of verse belongs,
But not of such as pleases when ’tis read.

Both are increased by such songs,

For both their triumphs so are published,
And I, which was two fools, do so grow three.
Who are a little wise, the best fools be.

(I really am frustrated by not knowing how to ident lines in Blogger without messing with the CSS template. Obviously, I didn’t get it right here. Any suggestions?)

And here is a poem I stumbled across unexpectedly this morning–sometimes it pays to read those email ads from the big box bookstore. Hadn’t read this one in a while. Wow! Two cool poems before 7am!

Fame is a bee.
It has a song —
It has a sting —
Ah, too, it has a wing.

–Emily Dickinson

And, because it’s Thursday, which means it’s Poetry Thursday, here is a page with lots of links to on-line literary magazines, some of them exclusively poetry. Thanks to Susannah at Ink on My Fingers for leading me to this page.

>A brief reflection on a quote by Rilke

>“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke

I came upon this quote yesterday while clicking through links on some blogs (I wish I had made note of where I found this….) Poetry Thursday’s writing prompt this week is to reflect on one poem. Instead I think I’ll reflect on this quote.

I like that it states that poems are “not…simply emotions“. It doesn’t reject the emotional, but reflects on the depth of those emotions. It’s easy to think of experiences as being the superficial, with the emotion of that experience what comprises the memory of it. But, with a poem, in capturing the essential feeling of the experience, the poet captures the emotion and creates a new experience.

And then, that experience of the poem — or the memory, the emotion, of it — becomes the reader’s own experience, her own emotion, yet another new ‘creation’. I like the iterative nature of that, like the painter painting himself into the landscape with a painter painting the landscape….

>Physics for Scientists and Poets

>Place: The 12th annual Back-to-School night (for this parent at least):
Setting: 2nd year AP Physics Class
Timing: Mid-way through the teacher’s 7 minute speech


“The text is this book. (Holds up book for viewing) It’s the best text there is. Physics for Scientists and Engineers

“Named so because it’s for, well, scientists. And engineers”.

(Long pause to allow teacher to do a reality check, assessing the following:

a. Parents who are not listening;
b. Those who take this W-A-Y too seriously;
c. Anyone with a dry sense of humor.

Teacher continuing….)

“As opposed to the Physics for Poets and Lovers, which is a much easier text. Too easy for your kids.”

But probably better written! I think. I was the only one who laughed out loud.

Earlier in the day, I had read Jim’s wonderful poem “Contemplating God in the 11th Dimension / String Theory / Mottled Ducks”. In response, I was inspired to write the following poem (now slightly revised) in the comments section.

Jim, maybe one of us should write that Physics for Poets and Lovers book. What do you think?

Twisting Physics Makes a Poem
I thought about writing a poem
about a mobius strip
–or a Klein bottle
for added dimension–
No direction to start,
so I jumped right in
along the thin edge,
around and around,
until I came back to me,
twice as long again
at the beginning
and the end.

If you haven’t visited Jim’s site before, click on over to I Am Big. It’s the Pictures That Got Small. He’s a wonderful poet.

>Poetry Thursday

>This week’s Poetry Thursday prompt was to write about time. I had been thinking about time as a distance earlier this week when I drove by what I used to think was just a shallow, man-made retention pond nearby my home. Earlier this summer, a car slid into the pond and I was amazed when I heard on the news that the pond was 80 feet deep. I wish that I could look at this pond and only be joyful for the young boy who was rescued from the sinking car; but instead, knowing how deep it is, I shudder now at how what looks like such an innocous pond, its shoreline receded during times of drought, is treacherously deep.


The ducks paddle carelessly,
not knowing what stirs
beneath in algal water,
murky and still.
Innocent, pastoral, and calm,
until the SUV rolls back
across the parking lot,
clearing the low rail
like a lumbering elephant.
Unfathomable screams ripple across the surface
stealing air from a mother’s lungs,
freezing her heart with dankness
as, across time in slo-mo,
all of his life falls out of the sky
towards the bottom.

No feet put on solid ground,
only wrinkles in glass;
air bubbles surfacing.
13 fathoms measured in seconds,
ticking off the lost years
of childhoods yet to be,
the comfort not to be had
if he reached for the far bottom too soon.
80 feet too close towards the future,
feet measured in seconds and breath,
until the earth stops spinning
and he stops falling, rising to the top,
with a splash kick of air and fire,
to see the light of day
in his mother’s fearful smile.

Now as I travel nearby,
I wonder how many seconds separate us,
how many feet exceed our tiny grasp?
I am not a strong swimmer
and let murky time slip through
my chilled fingers like melting snowcaps.
How many times do we set out on
journeys with arcs unmeasurable:
the curve of the horizon
much farther than the blazed trail;
the valleys of the heart much deeper
than we can imagine?
How many times does the earth,
having swallowed a life whole,
spit it out to fall
into the bright blue sky?

>A late Poetry Thursday post

>Leaving the restaurant

I was late, as usual,
and called and had you order for me
Too fatigued to think, anything would be fine.
But I forgot to say except the soup.
Their soup is winter soup
— cheesy January snow, fireplace comforting soup —
too out of place in July.
So, I ate the soup
and felt like I should be wearing
skiboots and a cableknit sweater
as I walked into the humid evening air,
still smelling of day and the city,
nighttime hours away,
a trick of the clock to hold back the fleeting day.
Behind me, the sun sets despite us
–like clockwork, you might say–
the eastern sky looks like snow.
Summer displaced by low grey clouds,
heavy soup and cold dashboard air.
Confusion continues for a few miles
as I try to reconcile
the shining sun to the dark sky,
the horizon falling like a grey curtain
just beyond the next interchange.
I smell the storm before I see it,
as the vents fill with the mix
of dirt and oil and rain,
making my nostrils flare like a horse
and my pores open with the change in temperature,
wind cooling across my skin.
Now on the other side of the median,
pavement is wet, but not a drop is falling.
Now it is here, slowly at first beading the windshield,
now covering in sheets, now pounding,
obliterating painted lines and taillights.
And then the sound, growing louder,
an approaching cavalry, volleying pellets of ice
from watercannons.
Ground and pavement and sky merge
into an uncharted sea,
in a blizzard of spring rain.
There must be a rainbow,
obscured by the Peterbilt
that is defining the next lane
behind the cover of water.
The furious wet frenzy continues
until I exit into the foggy pea soup
marsh near home, and I am back
to hot, humid cook-on-the-grill summer.

>Poetry Thursday: Box of Poems

>Last week my Poetry Thursday post was a poem I had found in a box tucked away in the basement. It’s not that I didn’t know I had the box; I just hadn’t looked in it in several years and had forgotten what was in it: a few short story drafts, lots of clippings and notes, some old letters that I don’t remember keeping, and some poems. Some were good, some have potential to be if I do some smithing, some were just in the ‘ugh! What an embarrassment that I wrote that!’ category.

I was planning to post a different poem than the ones below, but I haven’t finished revising it yet so it will have to wait. I’ve started, but it was originally written in a very chaotic, confusing and depressing time in my life, and I haven’t been able to work on it with any clarity of mind, except in very short stretches. It might be a gem, if can get past the mawkishness of it.

This is my 4th Poetry Thursday post and this has been so much fun! Each week’s ‘completely and totally optional idea’ has prompted me to write something, although I haven’t finished the ‘overheard line’ poem. I have a great line, but I’m still chiseling away at the stone to find the statue inside. The best thing about Poetry Thursday is that I’ve started writing again — something I haven’t done in over a decade. Or maybe the best thing is that I have had people read these poems. Wow! And comment on them. The feedback has been both constructive and encouraging.

Below are two poems from the box that I wrote many years ago; the first over 20 years ago, revised just this week. The second I wrote about 16 or 17 years ago.

Living Alone
I don’t miss you
except sometimes at night
when 3am chair-to-chair
cat jumps wake me.
And then in the morning,
when no one is there
to pick white cat hairs off
the back of my blue, wool coat.

Soliloquy: Sunday Solitude
white roof tops
winter-dead branches
Sunday afternoon

baby sleeping
husband gone
alone in my room

the furnace buzzes
the computer hums
noise in tune

papers to be graded
supper to be made
activity too soon

>It’s Poetry Thursday Again!

>I’m choosing to ignore this week’s writing prompt. Here is a poem I wrote many years ago, but just now found:

God! I Hate Gertrude Stein

The land
is a poem
is the land.

Your face
is a poem
is your face.

My soul
is a poem
is my soul.

Is a poem
is my soul
is the land
is your face

Is a poem?

>Poetry Thursday: Origins Unknown and Forgotten

>Origins Unknown and Forgotten

I looked in the box and picked up a small, smooth stone,
out of place with the polished gems,
the forgotten suddenly in view,
as if a bloodhound picking up a long cold trail,
had revealed an old hiding place.

I knew where I found this once.
It had meant something –
a feeling, a place, a sense:
flat, thin, cool sandstone,
worn down by water dancing over rock;
reddish-brown colored like southern clay hills,
or the windy desert at dusk as the sun widens her arms
in a desperate attempt to block out the night
and provide enough warmth for the stars until dawn.

Did you first smell the earth’s musk in some gravelly hillside vineyard?
On what forest trail did you first see the trees?
Where was that sea where you heard a tidal song
and were surprised it tasted of salt?
How does it feel to have arrived here, in this box,
so far from roots of sedimentary rock,
origins unknown and forgotten?

Resting for awhile on my desk,
below the monitor where I could see it every day,
I used to pick it up when on the phone,
intertwining it with my fingers,
passing from one digit to the next
the way some old cigar-smelly uncle
would do with a quarter
when trying to pretend a magic trick,
enthralling the small children at the party.
He’d laugh and we’d laugh, but it wasn’t the same;
we’ve learned to stifle that kind of smoky laugh
now that our hearts are more steely,
steadied by pacemakers for our emotions.

I’d gently raise the small stone
to my check, caressing softly;
a bittersweet kiss, an earthy scent,
the sound of the sea muffled by years.
I used to think of you when I saw this,
held this, absorbed the terroir through my skin,
drank in its perfume, almost unconsciously,
like your touch on moonless nights.

But I don’t remember the origins,
and I no longer can remember you.

This week’s poetry prompt at PoetryThursday was to read a poem aloud. I had already started this poem when Liz Elayne and Lynn had posted the prompt, but I made an effort to read ALOUD when I revised, not just ‘in my head’. While I think this is still draft mode (there are some parts that don’t work the way I’d like), I think the reading aloud exercise forced me to make changes I might not have thought about if I hadn’t stumbled over the words when speaking them.

>Poetry Thursday Poem: Archeology


We asked your opinion and
you said ‘It depends’,
And we both echoed ‘On the red wheelbarrow’,
laughed, exchanging knowing smiles.

You were perplexed by yet
another oddity of adults,
pissed, not in on the joke,
locked out across the dinner table by an age.

Your mom being weird,
reciting poetry or whatever you call it:
another artifact of the cryptic,
illusive world you seek to unearth.

How much you already know about
the world because you know:
there is much to discover,
And that it all depends.

Text here of The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams

>Unexpected, All Around


Looking down through the trees,
an unexpected, privileged
glimpse into Nature’s bedroom
through curtains parted.
Private, serene beauty hidden,
spied on a foggy sad morning.