Thursday, April 23, 2015

NPM 2015: Joyce Peseroff

Lilacs on my Birthday
The flowerets look edible before they open,
like columns of sugar dots on tiny strips
I bought as a child. Hard to bite the candy without

some paper adhering, as adding machine tape will
to large, red numbers. Lilacs are like that: another year
unspools without major accomplishment,

while I question "major" and "accomplishment."
And when I find in Costco those clusters
of pointillist pastel, I hope they will become

someone else's nostalgia—honorable emotion
propelling Ulysses toward Ithaca, and a woman
to set lilacs in her dooryard as her mother did.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

National Poetry Month 2015: Walt Whitman

How terrible I've been this year. The most magical of months is nearly over, and I haven't posted a single poem. Even now, as I write this, I should be writing a paper on Israel and Palestine, and yet I need to make sure at least a single poem graces this blog before the month is out. And as always, that's the trouble: which one?

I've always had a soft spot for Whitman, one that just got stronger as I got older. I admire his command of the language, certainly, melodic and haunting. I admire his politics, close to my own, or at least an ideal of my own. His early optimism is refreshing to me, even as it seems unfounded; reading "Song of Myself" it's amazing how Whitman (and Emerson, for what it's worth) could be so damned upbeat about things, considering that as Leaves of Grass was being published, the Civil War was raging on mercilessly. And after the Civil War come the World Wars, where it must have seemed like the world was going insane, certainly that was the view that T.S. Eliot took after World War I was through. Whitman, even in his later, more troubled works, just makes me feel renewed, and it's probably the type of thing I should read more often, lest I become a miserable bastard like Eliot. Something sweet for a month of magic. I'll try to have a couple more before the month is through.

"Out of the Rolling Ocean, The Crowd"

Out of the rolling ocean the crowd came a drop gently to me,
Whispering, I love you, before long I die,
I have travell’d a long way merely to look on you to touch you,
For I could not die till I once look’d on you,
For I fear’d I might afterward lose you.

Now we have met, we have look’d, we are safe,
Return in peace to the ocean my love,
I too am part of that ocean, my love, we are not so much separated,
Behold the great rondure, the cohesion of all, how perfect!
But as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us,
As for an hour carrying us diverse, yet cannot carry us diverse forever;
Be not impatient – a little space – know you I salute the air, the ocean and the land,
Every day at sundown for your dear sake, my love.