Monday, May 13, 2013

Poetry and Home


“Multitude, solitude: identical terms and interchangeable by the active and fertile poet.  The man who is unable to people his solitude is equally unable to be alone in a bustling crowd.”

--Charles Baudelaire, from "Crowds" in Paris Spleen

When I moved, after living for decades in one house, one of the first things I did was create a bedroom like a seaside sanctuary in shades of green and blue and sand.  This is my serene thinking place, with late afternoon’s gold light streaming through the rippling, grey-green curtains.   Next, I liberated my poetry books from their boxes and relocated them to alphabetical places of honor on shelves in my room and the connecting hallway.  I needed their silent wisdom, their beauty, their bright light and deep shadows to surround me.  They flicker alive as each day’s changing light passes over them.

This morning, as I drift barefoot past the shelves, I stop and draw in close to my books.  I breathe them in, as if I can inhale those many words, rich with meaning and messages.  I notice how they stand side by side, companionable, leaning against each other as if whispering.  I touch some of their spines in welcome, admiring their titles.  Some titles are poems in themselves.

I feel compelled to get up from my desk and pull Charles Simic’s books from the shelf.  I carry them back with me, and here they are, sitting on my lap.  His masterpiece titles: “Dime Store Alchemy,” “The Monster Loves His Labyrinth,” “My Noiseless Entourage,” “Night Picnic,” “The Voice at 3:00 A.M.,” “The World Doesn’t End.”  So few words creating such big worlds.   These titles speak to each other, and to me.

With a little electric zap, I realize that my entire community of poetry books creates “found poetry” with their wealth of striking titles.   Titles brought together by alphabetical chance create haiku-like poems of their own.  In twin, triplet, and even quadruplet assemblages, the accidental poems arrive.  Here is Joy Harjo’s “A Map to the Next World,” adjacent to Jennifer Michael Hecht’s “The Next Ancient World.”  Thrillingly, “On Love” by Edward Hirsch stands shoulder to shoulder with “The Lives of the Heart” (Jane Hirshfield), which is next to “Lives of Water” (John Hoppenthaler), which is next to “What the Living Do” (Marie Howe).   And – wonderful – René Char’s “This Smoke That Carried Us” connects with Ye Chun’s “Travel Over Water.”  Some matches are eerily comical: Beckian Fritz Goldberg’s “Never Be the Horse” rubs shoulders with “Circling the Tortilla Dragon” by Ray Gonzalez.  All the magical correspondences turn into inspiration and personal connection.  (And uplifting play.)  That same zap crackles when my eye, hungry for poetry’s odd juxtapositions, forms the bridge that links book to book.  

I love those serendipitous interconnections.  Early-early this morning, I was reading at random from two books, Baudelaire’s “Paris Spleen” and “The Selected Works of Tomas Tranströmer.”  I like to meander inside a varying landscape, sampling surprise vistas as I wander book to book.  I like to inhabit other poets’ eyes and minds and hearts.  Baudelaire’s quote above seems so fitting.  And here are lines, seemingly meant for me, from Tranströmer’s poem, “Baltics”: “Foghorn blasting every other minute.  His eyes reading straight into the invisible. / (Did he have the labyrinth in his head?)”.

Inside my new place, I’m finding my way home.  I still live among the conversations of my community of books: the comforting, the unsettling, the wild and heady and inspiring.  I keep company with so many geniuses.  Together, we have moved through late winter into spring.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Weather Sampler

Fascinating weather on the drive home from Thanksgiving at my daughter's in central NY.  I got a sampler of snow, sunshine, hail, wild wind, majestic clouds in shades from white to black ... and upon my arrival home, a gorgeous moon with a rainbow ring around it. I stopped along the way to take this photo of the ice on my windshield.

Click on image to enlarge.  Photo taken Saturday, 11/24/12.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Five-Leaf Clover

"If you do not expect it, you will not find the unexpected,
 for it is hard to find and difficult."
-- Heraclitus

Lucky five-leaf clover, found 10/6/12.   Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Eye of the Anemone

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
-- Marcel Proust

The eye of the anemone, this morning.

Photo taken 9/27/12.  Anemone from my self-serve bouquet
 from Battenfeld's in Red Hook, NY.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Interior Clouds

"They who dream by day are cognizant of many things
 which escape those who dream only by night."
 -- Edgar Allan Poe, from "Eleonora"

My window, my interior clouds, my daydream.  The camera had fun capturing this one, the image peeking out from reflections.  This carried me floating through the mysterious atmosphere to another quote, from an old song I kept listening to on my vacation drive.  These lines leaped out to me, and I had to hear them again and again:

"Somebody could walk into this room
And say your life is on fire ...."
-- Paul Simon, from "Crazy Love"

Such a fire theme in my life these days.  Pondering ... if your life is on fire, what do you save?  And what do you leave to the flames as you turn your back?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Art and Poetry Collaboration: Jan Turner

Calligrapher and illuminator Jan Turner of Kent, England, e-mailed me to ask for permission to use my poem, "Toadstools," for a project.   She had found it in Decomposition: An Anthology of Fungi-Inspired Poetry, edited by Roehl & Chadwick, from Lost Horse Press.  (Yes, I know -- the perfect themed collection for me.)  This serendipitous art-poetry intersection/collaboration is one of the thrilling benefits of the Internet.  Here's her beautiful finished piece, which includes her "spore print."  Thanks, Jan.

Friday, July 13, 2012

More Dragonfly Magic

My iridescent-winged "Halloween Pennants" are back, right where I knew I'd find them.  Every summer, these intricate dragonflies (Celithemis eponina) welcome me into their circle for an afternoon.  They always allow me to get astonishingly close.  I was surprised there were so many so early.  For the two years previous, I took their portraits in August.  Yesterday they seemed skittish at first; they kept zipping away.  But then we all relaxed into it ... and it was magic.