(photo by dreamsofmountains.com)
When I lie flat under the stars
white curve of bone beneath my flesh
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
a woman can’t survive
by her own breath
she must know
the voices of mountains
she must recognize
the foreverness of blue sky
she must flow
with the elusive
of night wind women
who will take her into
her own self
look at me
I am not a separate woman
I am a continuance
of blue sky
I am the throat
of the sandia mountains
a night wind woman
with every breath
“We are glued to our screens of all sizes not for amusement or business, but because we think something is going to be announced. We can’t bear to miss it. We are waiting for the oppression of ’what’s next?’ to be lifted. We are, in a deeper sense, waiting for our poet.” -Sven Birkerts, Poetry Magazine, April 2012
Would I miss the way a breeze dimples
the butter-colored curtains on Sunday mornings,
or nights gnashed by cicadas and thunderstorms?
The leaning gossip, the half-alive ripple
of sunflowers, sagging eternities of corn
and sorghum, September preaching yellow, yellow
in all directions, the windowsills swelling
with Mason jars, the blue sky bluest borne
through tinted glass above the milled grains?
The dust, the heat, distrusted, the screen door
slapping as the slat-backed porch swing sighs,
the hatch of houseflies, the furlongs of freight trains,
and how they sing this routine, so sure, so sure—
the rote grace of every tempered life?
-Carol Light, “Prairie Sure”
“It used to be a writer’s town and it’s always been a fighter’s town. For writers and fighters and furtive torpedoes, cat-bandits, baggage thieves, hallway headlockers on the prowl, baby photographers and stylish coneroos, this is the spot that is always most convenient, being so centrally located, for settling ancestral grudges. Whether the power is in a .38, a typewriter ribbon or a pair of six-ouncers, the place has grown great on bone-deep grudges: of writers and fighters and furtive torpedoes.
“‘City of big shoulders’ was how the white-hair poet put it. Maybe meaning that the shoulders had to get that wide because they had so many bone-deep grudges to settle….”
-Nelson Algren, from Chicago: City on the Make (1951).