“Leisure”

What is this life if busy as hell

We have no time to sit and smell?

No time to sit beside the bogs

And smell as long as cats or dogs,

No time to scent when fields we pass

Where some one stopped to drag his ass,

No time to find, as though alone,

Where someone chucked a chicken bone,

No time to ponder every track

Of each deer passing onward, back,

To use your nose to best avail

To search the neighbor’s garbage pail,

No time to sit and contemplate

What each and every neighbor ate.

A poor life this, if busy as hell

We have no time to sit and smell.

 

 

I wrote this somewhat iffy poem ages ago—a parody of one of my favorite old poems, “Leisure,” by William Henry Davies— when we had an airedale. We have another dog now, and it still applies.

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TIME IS A STRANGE THING

TIME IS A STRANGE THING

At times I get up in the middle of the night and stop all the clocks, all of them.

~Hugo von Hofmannsthal, from Die Rosenkavalier

 

She stops the clocks

to hear the silence

defined by their tick and chime.

One must not fear the time.

 

She stops the needle,

and feels the space beyond

that only the compass knows.

That’s the place she goes.

 

May 17, 2017

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

~Prompt–for a book you haven’t written

 

 

First of all, I must thank my parents.

Without them, I would be normal,

and this book would not

have been possible.

 

My husband did not

comment on it, or even read it.

In fact, for the past eight months,

he has been living

in a tent in the woods.

I love you, sweetie.

Words cannot express

my gratitude.

 

My children are grown

so I thank them for not

getting in my way

(except for two hysterical

phone calls which only

kept me awake nights

for a week or so).

 

I am grateful to my agent,

despite her claim that

I was the direct cause

of her most recent breakdown.

I am not responsible for everything,

but she is responsible

for finding a home for my work.

 

All my editors—every single

one of them—have been

marvelous.

 

The Spring St. Poets

have provided occasionally helpful

feedback and comic relief for years.

Thanks, guys!

 

It takes a village

to produce a book, so I owe

a great deal to my neighbors

who put up with my midnight

hurdy-gurdy/bagpipe fests

and afternoon target practices,

and only called the police three times.

 

These poems

are for them.

 

 

MP   March 1, 2017

‘QASIDA

‘QASIDA

November. I drove through the woods alone.

The chapel had not changed—yellow stone,

pine benches, carven altar, the wide, worn

boards of the floor, pale ceilings adorned

with stenciled flowers. I watched the sun

mark the walls with pattern as it shone

through the western window, low.

Once this was a shelter from the storm

around us.  Once, with you, I won

what my heart desired. But you are gone.

On the forest paths, in shadow, once we roamed,

no need for touch or speech. Some

nights we sang by the lake while moon-

light and starlight from heaven’s dome

brushed us with silver. My voice, a golden horn,

blessed the stones with song. Oh, none

but I can praise our music well, or write this poem!

Free and wise and fair were we, born

between the mountains and the sea, who turned

the wild wood into home.

 

The Qasida is an elaborate form. This is a feeble attempt.

TEN RULES FOR POETRY, #6, #7, #8

10 RULES FOR POETRY

#6

Stop being superstitious. You do not

need a special pen or a blue notebook.

You do not need a tidy study with

a writing desk, or a corner table

in a dark café. You do not need to

drink anything but water, and any

cup will do. You do not need stars aligned,

flights of birds, a yellow candle, a white stone.

You do not need melancholy or fear.

You do not need to be in love or war.

You do not need an oracle or a muse.

All you need is a word, and another word.

 

#7

You have to do something besides it.

Reading resembles it too much except

for books about the Civil War or bird-

watching. Birdwatching is good, except for

seagulls, who steal words. Robbery is okay,

but do you really need more things? Taking

care of things, in moderation, can be

helpful, except for electronic things

that claw out your eyeballs. Nobody wants

to read any poetry about that.

 

#8

Silence is essential but not absolute.

Breezes are allowed, a bit of birdsong,

some water sounds—no seagulls or faucets.

The undertow of café chatter is fine,

but not the shrill of phone chat. Purring cats,

yes. Barking dogs, no. If your husband is

drilling or sawing in the next room no

matter how much you want a new tub surround,

you might as well give up.

TEN RULES OF POETRY, #5

10 RULES FOR POETRY, #5

 

Don’t forget that poems come at you sideways.

The ones in the night generally make no sense

 

even if you remember to write them down.

The ones you work on for days, months,

 

will take on smells and textures

you did not intend at all.

 

If you are lucky, your friends

will point this out so you can rejoice,

 

or despair. Using a simple prompt, often

you will find that oddness slides in acutely.

 

Try to write about “Rules for Poetry”

and you may find yourself thinking

 

about your geometry teacher who wore

moccasins and glasses with rhinestone corners

 

and tied silk scarves around her waist.

She lived with her aged mother.

 

During Christmas vacation she went to Egypt

and rode a camel around the pyramids.

 

Sometimes she wrote obscure quotations

on the blackboard in colored chalk:

 

Size does not matter, or the cow would catch the rabbit.

If you can’t draw a tiger, draw a dog.