Friday, February 10, 2017

Poetry Friday: A Poem I Wish I'd Written

Patrick Kavanaugh with a ....potato?

Here is one of my favorite poems.  If I'd written it, I'd die happy. Of course, I think I'll die happy even though I didn't write it. But I love sentences that begin with "If..." and end with "I'd die happy." So many possibilities!

The poem, an ars poetica if you read it carefully, is by the wonderful Irish poet, Patrick Kavanagh. Just look at the masterful way he names places and objects. Dazzling.

[The Poetry Friday round-up this week is being hosted by Katie at The Logonauts. When you've read this poem, head over there to see what other people have posted.]

Kerr's Ass

We borrowed the loan of Kerr's ass
To go to Dundalk with butter,
Brought him home the evening before the market
And exile that night in Mucker.

We heeled up the cart before the door,
We took the harness inside —
The straw-stuffed straddle, the broken breeching
With bits of bull-wire tied;

The winkers that had no choke-band,
The collar and the reins . . . 
In Ealing Broadway, London Town
I name their several names

Until a world comes to life —
Morning, the silent bog,
And the God of imagination waking
In a Mucker fog. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Poetry Friday: Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye
I've been a bit under the weather lately (better now) and have posted infrequently, but I want to be sure to share this lovely poem by Naomi Shihab Nye for today's Poetry Friday. Nye has just been named the May Hill Arbuthnot Lecturer 2017 by the ALSC, and she is a role model for all of us - as a poet, as a citizen, and as a child of immigrants. [July 2017 update: Nye's Arbuthnot lecture will be delivered in Bellingham, WA., my new home town! ]  BTW: Snow on the ground tonight in Seattle!

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.
Skin had hope, that’s what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers—silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin’s secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.