Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Hodgepodge With a Poem

1. I April fooled my kids. I told them I wasn’t making their traditional Sunday evening pancake dinner, but would be serving liver and onions instead. There were some tears. April Fools! I shouted. They were nonplussed. I would say that overall it was not a successful April Fools joke.

2. It’s National Poetry Month! It’s also International Guitar Month, National Frog Month, and Stress Awareness Month, which of course means that all of my posts will be written in syllabic verse from the perspective of a guitar-playing frog under a lot of stress. He wears a sombrero and his name is Bruce.

(I will be substituting Monday songs for poems, just for the month of April. Please look for next week’s review of my friend Daniel Bowman’s Jr.’s book of poetry A Plum in Leatherstocking Country, published this past January.)

Some thoughts on poetry:

“A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.” Salman Rushdie.

“Poetry is a life-cherishing force. And it requires a vision- a faith, to use an old fashioned term. Yes indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed.” Mary Oliver.

“A Poem begins with a lump in the throat.” Robert Frost.

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” W.H. Auden.

“A poet is a professional maker of verbal objects.” W.H. Auden.

I’m a little bit in love with Auden. If he was alive, not gay, and I was unmarried, I would totally pursue him, even though (and these were also his words) he has a face that looks like a wedding cake left out in the rain.

Unfortunately, these are not minor obstacles.

3. Sometimes you have to dig a grave and bury your dreams. My dream of being a lounge singer is dead. I realize this is a strange dream, but I’ve always wanted to be the one wearing a slinky dress singing smoke songs in a non-smoky establishment where the tinkling of martini glasses and sporadic laughter is the back-up band to my back-up band. Alas, it is not meant to be.

I blame my father entirely.

If YOU had a dad who played the piano ten times better than you can sing, but who says he doesn’t FEEL like playing at events or weddings anymore because he’s getting OLDER, wouldn’t you blame him too? I don’t have time to find a piano player, a bass player, and a drummer! I’m a 34-year old mother of four! What would you do if your dad would rather play Bach than Gershwin?

Am I singing “Embraceable You” right now? Yes, yes I am.

4. It’s also National Humor Month! See, there’s some sort of a theme to this post? Except for the awful sadness of the death of my lounge-singing dream. Of course.

And so I'm adding one more Auden quote for good measure: “Among those I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” (This is why I keep Ella around, actually.)

Your Laughter

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda


Dad said...

It is not my fault that I can't play or you can't sing! They changed the date of the dinner -- I'd made plans based on the date I'd been given.

Holly said...

I knew you'd protest!

Lori Dyan said...

I tried to explain the concept of April Fool's Day to my 8yr old and he said, "It sounds like a really mean holiday." Well...yes. Isn't that the fun? Also, your blog is very fancy with all the poetry and what not.