Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Philip Seymour Hoffman" by Nick Flynn



Last summer I found a small box stashed away in my apartment,
a box  filled with enough Vicodin to kill me.  I would  have sworn
that  I'd  thrown it away years earlier,  but apparently not. I stared
at the white pills blankly for a long while, I even took a picture of

them,  before  (finally, definitely)  throwing  them away.  I'd been

sober  (again)  for  some years  when  I found that box,  but every

addict  has  one— a  little  box,  metaphorical  or  actual— hidden

away.  Before I flushed them  I held them in my palm,  marveling

that  at  some  point in  the  not-so-distant  past it seemed a good

idea  to  keep a  stash of  pills on hand.  For
an emergency, I told
myself.  What kind of emergency? What  if  I needed  a root canal

on  a  Sunday  night?  This little  box  would  see me through until

the   dentist   showed   up  for   work  the  next  morning.  Half  my

brain  told  me  that,  while  the other half  knew that  looking into

that  box  was  akin  to  seeing  a photograph of myself standing on

the  edge of a bridge,  a bridge  in the  familiar  dark neighborhood

of  my  mind,   that   comfortable  place   where  I  could  somehow

believe that
fuck it was an adequate response to life.

by Nick Flynn

Philip Seymour Hoffman was born on July 23, 1967 in Fairport, New York and died on February 2, 2014 (aged 46) in Manhattan, New York.

This was my birthday. Not a happy event to coincide with one's birthday. I admired the actor's talent very much and I was saddened to hear of his untimely death.

However, as poet, Nick Flynn, demonstrates in the above prose poem, anything can be fodder for poetry or art.

Nick Flynn
Photo Credit: Dion Ogust

For more information about the poet, Nick Flynn, see:

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poet/nick-Flynn
 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Day in the life of" by Avie Williams



Can you help
pick some flowers

for the children and

bury a blackbird.

There's a dead rat outside

can you hurry

they are starting to poke

its eyes out with pencils.

Can you fix the door

it's got a dent in it

there's blood on the carpet

and a pile of sick next door

they are screaming as

they've just seen

what he had for breakfast this morning.

There's a pair of furry bunny ears down the toilet.

The window is cracked and

the toilets are flooded

someone stuck toilet paper and

blocked up the sink.

The newly planted trees

have been stripped bare

the leaves are in a circle of stones

baking in the sun with mud pies.

Are  you able to rescue a pair of scissors out of the tree before it takes someone's eye out.

He's lost a brand new shoe on the roof today

wait until his Mother finds out

she won't be happy.



by Avie Williams


This is a more unusual post in that you may not have heard of this poet, but we don't always have to read the work of those "great poets" who have been showered with accolades and anthologised all over the place.


This is a poem for the everyday, but none the less marvellous for that. This was brought to my attention by a poetry-loving friend.


Avie Williams works as the caretaker at Island Bay School in the southern seaside suburb of Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.


More of his work can be found at his blog here:


http://aviescribblings.blogspot.co.nz/

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "What the Angels Left" by Marie Howe



At first, the scissors seemed perfectly harmless.
They lay on the kitchen table in the blue light.


Then I began to notice them all over the house,

at night in the pantry, or filling up bowls in the cellar


where there should have been apples. They appeared under rugs,

lumpy places where one would usually settle before the fire,


or suddenly shining in the sink at the bottom of soupy water.

Once, I found a pair in the garden, stuck in turned dirt


among the new bulbs, and one night, under my pillow,

I felt something like a cool long tooth and pulled them out


to lie next to me in the dark. Soon after that I began

to collect them, filling boxes, old shopping bags,


every suitcase I owned. I grew slightly uncomfortable

when company came. What if someone noticed them


when looking for forks or replacing dried dishes? I longed

to throw them out, but how could I get rid of something


that felt oddly like grace? It occurred to me finally

that I was meant to use them, and I resisted a growing compulsion


to cut my hair, although in moments of great distraction,

I thought it was my eyes they wanted, or my soft belly


—exhausted, in winter, I laid them out on the lawn.

The snow fell quite as usual, without any apparent hesitation


or discomfort. In spring, as expected, they were gone.

In their place, a slight metallic smell, and the dear muddy earth.



by Marie Howe 



For more information about poet, Marie Howe, see:


http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/marie-howe

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Paired Things" by Kay Ryan



Who, who had only seen wings,
could extrapolate the

skinny sticks of things

birds use for land,

the backward way they bend,

the silly way they stand?

And who, only studying

birdtracks in the sand,

could think those little forks

had decamped on the wind?

So many paired things seem odd.

Who ever would have dreamed

the broad winged raven of despair

would quit the air and go

bandylegged upon the ground,

a common crow?



by Kay Ryan

For more on the poet, Kay Ryan, see:


http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/kay-ryan

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tuesday Poem: "Ravens Hiding in a Shoe" by Robert Bly


There is something men and women living in houses
Don’t understand. The old alchemists standing
Near their stoves hinted at it a thousand times.

Ravens at night hide in an old woman’s shoe.
A four-year-old speaks some ancient language.
We have lived our own death a thousand times.

Each sentence we speak to friends means the opposite
As well. Each time we say, “I trust in God,” it means
God has already abandoned us a thousand times.

Mothers again and again have knelt in church
In wartime asking God to protect their sons,
And their prayers were refused a thousand times.

The baby loon follows the mother’s sleek
Body for months. By the end of summer, she
Has dipped her head into Rainy Lake a thousand times.

Robert, you’ve wasted so much of your life
Sitting indoors to write poems. Would you
Do that again? I would, a thousand times.



by Robert Bly




For more information about the poet, Robert Bly, see:


http://robertbly.com/

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Poem: "Alone" by Jack Gilbert



I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. But if she did, I knew

it would be as a lady in a long white dress.

It is strange that she has returned

as somebody's dalmation. I meet

the man walking her on a leash

almost every week. He says good morning

and I stoop down to calm her. He said

once that she was never like that with

other people. Sometimes she is tethered

on thier lawn when I go by. If nobody

is around, I sit on the grass. When she

finally quiets, she puts her head in my lap

and we watch each other's eyes as I whisper

in her soft ears. She cares nothing about

the mystery. She likes it best when

I touch her head and tell her small

things about my days and our friends.

That makes her happy the way it always did.


by Jack Gilbert

I certainly hope all my readers (both of them) were not alone on Christmas and I hope you had a lovely time with your extended families and that your credit card is still in the black and your waistline is on the right side of respectable.



For more about the poet, Jack Gilbert, see:


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Poem: "Alcohol" by Franz Wright

 
You do look a little ill.

But we can do something about that, now.  

Can’t we.

The fact is you’re a shocking wreck.  

Do you hear me.

You aren’t all alone.

And you could use some help today, packing in the  
dark, boarding buses north, putting the seat back and  
grinning with terror flowing over your legs through  
your fingers and hair . . .

I was always waiting, always here.  

Know anyone else who can say that.

My advice to you is think of her for what she is:  
one more name cut in the scar of your tongue.

What was it you said, “To rather be harmed than  
harm, is not abject.”

Please.

Can we be leaving now.

We like bus trips, remember. Together

we could watch these winter fields slip past, and  
never care again,

think of it.

I don’t have to be anywhere.


by Franz Wright

I'm no wowser (isn't that a terribly punitive label?), but as the "Silly Season" approaches, this might be a timely reminder of the dangers of excessive consumption.



A fascinating piece of trivia for you - Franz Wright and his father, James Wright, are the only people to have both won a Pulitzer in the same category.


For more on the poet, Franz Wright, see:


http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/franz-wright