Married to the painter Fairfield Porter, she raised five children in a busy, artistic household, frequently forced to pursue writing on the side. When her husband died in 1975, she began to write poetry much more seriously. As she told the Wall Street Journal: “I remember realizing that I was alone, and I'd have to be more organized. I had these poems, and I thought that it would be worthwhile working on them. I started to write.” Her first collection, An Altogether Different Language (1994), published when she was 83, was named a finalist for the National Book Award.
Friday, October 16, 2020
Friday, October 09, 2020
Next week is the anniversary of the death of poet extraordinaire, Richard Wilbur. I miss him. I've shared his poem "The Writer" (one of my all-time-I-will-never-stop-loving-this-poem favorites) more times than I can remember (and you can find all of my Richard Wilbur posts here) but it's time to share it again. (If it's been more than ten minutes, it's time.)
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Yowza, I missed two Poetry Fridays in a row! Where have I been? What have I been doing!? Let's see. Living (with caveats ... pandemic, you know), teaching, writing, baking (sans flour), prepping for the Catholic Moms' Summit, and trying to retrain my mind to really read a book. (Reading in the time of Covid ... whoosh, it's been a whole thing for me. Or rather, the lack of the thing. I have read far fewer books in the last six months than at any other time I can think of. I. Don't. Like. That.)
Time to get back to my favorite thing to do on a Friday: share some poetry.
And autumn is here! Autumn is here! Though we still have to deal with the torpor of a pandemic, at least the torpor of summer is folding in on itself. Yes, it's been hot here this week, but, hey, hot? Your days are numbered.
"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?"
"Don't be morbid," Jordan said. "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."~~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Friday, September 04, 2020
(With apologies to Wallace Stevens. Original lines from his poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird are in italics. Obviously, all the good lines are his. The children, however, are mine.)
In the stillness of night,
The only moving thing
is a child.
I was of three minds:
sleep, motherhood, sleep.
I pretended not to care that I was awakened.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
There is my "to do" list, and then there is God's.
These are not the same thing.
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a child
Add, mix and stir: my daughters' "to do" lists are mine.
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The life with the child
or the thought of that life.
Chatter filled the long day
The company of children
Transformed a mood. Sometimes
for better. Sometimes ... not.
O, dear control-freak-self,
Why do you imagine a different life?
Do you not see how the life
you've been given is unspeakable gift?
I know of a tidy life,
of elegance, rhythm and control.
But I know, too, That a child is involved
In what I know.
When my children have grown,
They will mark the edge
Of one of many circles.
I will be grateful for their imprint.
At the sight of children
I used to say, "Not for me, please.
An unwelcome interruption."
But something shifted. I gave myself
Over to motherhood, and held on tight.
Once, a fear pierced me,
that I would never rise to this task,
would not die to self.
3:20 a.m.: A nightmare. She needs me more
than I need this sleep.
I rise. I go.
A child will not wait for morning.
It was nighttime all day.
I loved her and I was going to love her.
The child sat entwined in my limbs.
The interruption sweetly complete.
Find more posts about Wallace Stevens here.
Friday, August 28, 2020
Ray Bradbury knew it:
"And besides, I like to cry. After I cry hard it's like it's morning again and I'm starting the day over."
"I heard everything now."
"You just won't admit you like crying, too. You cry just so long and everything's fine. And there's your happy ending. And you're ready to go back out and walk around with folks again...."
"That don't sound like no happy ending to me."
"A good night's sleep, or a ten-minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine, Doug."
~ Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
Galway Kinnell knew it, too:
by Galway Kinnell
(from Three Books)
Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
Then you can throw open your window
and, "Ha ha! ha ha!"
And if people say, "Hey
what's going on up there?"
"Ha ha!" sing back, "Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha!"
Friday, August 14, 2020
For Once, Then, Something
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.
("For Once, Then, Something" is in the public domain.)
Friday, August 07, 2020
Spotted in the backyard yesterday, thanks to Anne-with-an-e (who, in her 20s, still stops what she's doing to notice an astonishing little bit of beauty, and then share it with others):
Thursday, July 23, 2020
|Thanks, Jama Rattigan, for leading us to the bobblehead.|
(And no, I don't care how he throws a baseball.)
This mask is your basic, utilitarian pandemic gear:
Friday, July 10, 2020
Well, I didn't actually go to a lot of parties pre-COVID. My INFJ/Enneagram 4/Melancholic/Introverted self didn't exactly seek them out on a regular basis. But, hey. I miss having the option to go to a party. I miss having a few people over for dinner. And mostly, I'm sad that we didn't get to throw the big bash we'd planned for Ramona, who graduated from our homeschool this year.
It would have been the kind of party that John Brandi sums up in this haiku. I can imagine our most beloved friends and family: meaning to leave, but lingering, having one more beer, just another glass of wine, a few more minutes of talk and laughter, moments that stretch into a few more hours.
We'll have that party for Ramona someday.
In the meantime, friends, there's poetry.
Thursday, July 02, 2020
by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
(Read the rest here, at The Poetry Foundation.)
Friday, June 19, 2020
A Small Needful Fact
by Ross Gay
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,...
(Karen here ... it's such a short poem that I can't share much without violating copyright, so let's jump to the final lines, which are heart-wrenchingly — again, and again, and again, and again, and again — relevant.)
... like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
(Read the whole thing here.)
Friday, June 05, 2020
Late last night, I picked up the Anne Lamott book Atticus gave me for my birthday. 2018's Almost Everything: Notes on Hope opens with Lucille Clifton's poem, "blessing the boats," followed by the words, "I am stockpiling antibiotics for the apocalypse, even as I await the blossoming of paperwhites on the windowsill in the kitchen."
And I knew I had my poem for this week. Thank you, Lucille Clifton; thank you, Anne Lamott.
blessing the boats
by Lucille Clifton
(at St. Mary’s)
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
(Read the whole short and perfect poem here, at Poets.org.)
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Friday, May 08, 2020
by Ada Limón
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
(Read the whole thing here, at Poets.org.)
Thursday, April 30, 2020
My time, your time, the concept of time, the passing of time, the tyranny of time, the luxury of time, the burden and the gift of time.
And somehow Janet Norris Bangs' short poem, which appeared in the February, 1933 issue of Poetry magazine is a perfectly appointed reflection on the paradoxes of Time in the time of coronavirus.
Photo credit: Jordan Benton