Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Overheard at Table 4: The Poet Speaks

Basically, said the poet, it is such as this:

if I, having written lines such as,
"the shards of light of the image of you"
and you, the reader, suddenly remember
the time you broke the mirror in anger, then
I, the poet, have done some
small service indeed.


from 366.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Overread at Booth 3: Christmas Holidays by Thomas Hood

Christmas Holidays by Thomas Hood

Along the Woodford road there comes a noise
Of wheels, and Mr. Rounding's neat post-chaise
Struggles along, drawn by a pair of bays,
With Reverend Mr. Crow and six small boys,
Who ever and anon declare their joys
With trumping horns and juvenile huzzas,
At going home to spend their Christmas days,
And changing learning's pains for pleasure's toys.
Six weeks elapse, and down the Woodford way
A heavy coach drags six more heavy souls,
But no glad urchins shout, no trumpets bray,
The carriage makes a halt, the gate-bell tolls,
And little boys walk in as dull and mum
As six new scholars to the Deaf and Dumb!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Overheard at Table 2: Same Old Story

Always it's the same story: she wants me to write something that will get published, but the INSTANT I sit down at the computer to start working on something it's "hey come help me in the kitchen" or "come watch a Lifetime movie with me" or "you don't love me any more!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Overread at Table 4: perhaps thinking of a lost summer


i took her love and her yellow rose,
i watched her walk across the grove
and then into the wheatfield, where her
disappeared into the golden stalks
that swayed gently
in an unclaimed breeze.

from 360.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Overread at Table 2: Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert

Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.


Copyright © 2005 Jack Gilbert. From Refusing Heaven, 2005, Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission.

This came to me by way of Poem-A-Day, from the Academy of American Poets.
On their site was attached this blurb:

Jack Gilbert died on November 11, 2012 in Berkeley, California after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was 87.
I had never known this poet before, says Verble, I got introduced to him today through this beautiful poem and then he was taken from me only two seconds later. Still, I knew him well enough to say, Farewell, my friend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

At the Counter: Tom Waits' 9th and Hennepin

Well it's Ninth and Hennepin
All the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes
And the moon's teeth marks are on the sky
Like a tarp thrown all over this
And the broken umbrellas like dead birds
And the steam comes out of the grill
Like the whole goddamn town's ready to blow...
And the bricks are all scarred with jailhouse tattoos
And everyone is behaving like dogs
And the horses are coming down Violin Road
And Dutch is dead on his feet
And all the rooms they smell like diesel
And you take on the dreams of the ones who have slept here
And I'm lost in the window, and I hide in the stairway
And I hang in the curtain, and I sleep in your hat...
And no one brings anything small into a bar around here
They all started out with bad directions
And the girl behind the counter has a tattooed tear
One for every year he's away, she said
Such a crumbling beauty, ah
There's nothing wrong with her that a hundred dollars won't fix
She has that razor sadness that only gets worse
With the clang and the thunder of the Southern Pacific going by
And the clock ticks out like a dripping faucet
til you're full of rag water and bitters and blue ruin
And you spill out over the side to anyone who will listen...
And I've seen it all, I've seen it all
Through the yellow windows of the evening train...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Overread at Table 1: This Land is Your Land

Woody Guthrie "This Land is Your Land"

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

© Copyright 1956 (renewed), 1958 (renewed), 1970 and 1972 by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. & TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Overread at the Counter: Walking my Dogs the Morning After Halloween


from 366

Walking my Dogs the Morning After Hallowe'en

Walking my dogs the morning after Hallowe'en
and there are no more voices now, no
tips and tats of laughter from little
ghoulies and zombies and bumblebees and
soccer players, but merely the shades
of their laughter, left here in the morning mist

as my dogs sniff through the grass for traces
of their passed comrades, and the occasional
Kit-Kat wrapper, and the

pumpkin door decor are now
slightly askew, as though already tired of
the end of year holiday trinity, I wonder
how they'll manage Thanksgiving, Christmas, will

there be any laughter left at New Years?

The streetlamps backlight the black leaved trees,
stretching their beams through the mist
as though thick fingers of hazed light are grabbing
at the branches

peeling them back

to reveal all that is obscured.