Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Introduction by Billy Collins - NPM28

I don’t think this next poem
needs any introduction-
it’s best to let the work speak for itself.

Maybe I should just mention
that whenever I use the word five,
I’m referring to that group of Russian composers
who came to be known as “The Five,”
Balakirev, Moussorgsky, Borodin–-that crowd.

Oh--and Hypsicles was a Greek astronomer.
He did something with the circle.

That’s about it, but for the record,
“Grimk√©” is Angelina Emily Grimk√©, the abolitionist.
“Imroz” is that little island near the Dardanelles.
‘Monad”--well, you all know what a monad is.

There could be a little problem
with mastaba, which is one of those Egyptian
above-ground sepulchers, sort of brick and limestone.

And you’re all familiar with helminthology?
It’s the science of worms.

Oh, and you will recall that Phoebe Mozee
is the real name of Annie Oakley.

Other than that, everything should be obvious.
Wagga Wagga is in New South Wales.
Rhyolite is that soft volcanic rock.
What else?
Yes, meranti is a type of timber, in tropical Asia I think,
and Rahway is just Rahway, New Jersey.

The rest of the poem should be clear.
I’ll just read it and let it speak for itself.

It’s about the time I went picking wild strawberries.

It’s called “Picking Wild Strawberries.”

Collins, Billy "The Introduction" The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 2005. 61-2.

Monday, April 27, 2015

NaPoWriMo - day twenty seven


i walked through the door
and she was already talking.
not a stream of words
but a torrent, a wave.

she just kept talking,
drowning me in sound -
a wall of noise -
a battering ram
against my thoughts
in this previously
quiet moment

non-stop talking
as if desperate
to fill the spaces
with something,
anything but
silence, talking
in circles, the same
introductions, the same
invocations unchanging
rhythm of the same phrases
lurching back and forth.

the talking continues
even now at home
as she kneels
to say her prayers
unwilling to receive
the peace, nothing
in her mouth
but her own

The Student by Billy Collins - NPM27

My poetry instruction book,
which I bought at an outdoor stall along the river,

contains many rules
about what to avoid and what to follow.

More than two people in a poem
is a crowd, is one.

Mention what clothes you are wearing
as you compose, is another.

Avoid the word vortex
the word velvety and the word cicada.

When at a loss for an ending,
have some brown hens standing in the rain.

Never admit that you revise.
And--always keep your poem in one season.

I try to be mindful,
but in these last days of summer

whenever I look up from my page
and see a burn-mark of yellow leaves,

I think of the icy winds
that will soon be knifing through my jacket.

Collins, Billy "The Student" The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems. New York: Random House, 2005. 51.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

NaPoWriMo - day twenty six


let’s say the body is a window. not like. is.

let’s open it up. carefully. find the pockets.

where disease sits and waits. where possibility lies slumbering.

the body is an amazing thing. relentless.

discover the life in it. every cell determined.

let’s agree that you are not your body.

look. we just might see eternity through it.

take my hand. now say it like you believe it.

Abstract by Sam Hamill - NPM26


It was a dream and you were walking through a field of hosannas
and the immense sea rocked with the blue voices of the dead
when you stretched out supine to dream lotus dreams which I
could not read.

A cathedral of sky arched overhead. I wanted to know
whether your eyes were closed, I wanted your dream of song or prayer,
o I wanted, and the sun grew brighter and the breeze fairer
that immaculate day

unfolding like a poem, like a song I half-remember and ask,
Did we sing it once a long time ago, did we sing it together,
was it our hymnal, our beautiful tragic chorus, our anthem,
the day like a new white canvas.

and here I add marine blue, and there cobalt blue, and a cloud in amber,
and the light is transparent yellow, and the brush makes a sound
like wind over sand, but there are no whitecaps, no sailboats,
only canvas and paint and the body's dance.

No kite. No gull. No things. Everything goes.
No dream, no dreamer. No certainty, no doubt.
Only the infinitely blossoming hosannas of the emptiness within,
echoing the emptiness without.

Hamill, Sam. "Abstract". The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review. Berg, Stephen, David Bonanno and Arthur Vogelsang, Eds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 236-7.