Edward Wilson: Moonrise

Always
surprised again
to see that monstrous
stone floating
in the sky.

Our only hint’s
the sea, sighing
as it warps, hissing
across the sand,
reaching as far
as it can.

Few know
the calculus that
holds the moon
in its arc and
fewer still

(and maybe only
late in strange rooms
waking alone with that
pale spill across
the sheets)

sense what terrible
weight things bear
and still go on.

If you weren’t
there, if we didn’t
dance, I’d surely
loop away into
the dark.

A miracle
no less than that
a thing so ruined
can shine.

–Edward Wilson

 

Christian Wiman: I Sing Insomnia

I sing insomnia
                          to the minor devils
prowling alleys
                         of my mind
loneliness’s lipsticked leer
                                            fear
no fix can ease
                         envy sipping bile
I make a lullaby
                           to make myself
into a sleeper
                      of the faith
awake
             my little while
alive
         without a why
                    –Christian Wiman, from Every Riven Thing

W. H. Auden: Musee des Beaux Arts

Today is the anniversary of W. H. Auden’s death (Sept. 29, 1973). In this poem, Auden refers to several paintings by the Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel. Hopefully the images I downloaded will come out clear enough. Even without the paintings, the poem is remarkable.

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

A Dead Deer Reminds Me of William Blake

A Dead Deer Reminds Me of William Blake
She hit it before she had time
to swerve or stomp on the brakes—
the deer wide-eyed in the windshield,
then stretched out on the roadside
as if placed there on purpose.
A tan and white mound of once-life
now dying, the round red intestines
exposed on the grass still
digesting the last meal of clover.
While the deer stubbornly died
she trembled at the curb
in helpless sorrow and cried,
and I couldn’t help but think that her tears
were proof that sometimes we can
even comprehend Blake:
Every thing that lives is Holy.
But what about the dead? Blake again:
If thou art the food of worms,
how great thy blessing!
A day later the buzzards gathered,

nodding bald heads in agreement.

_______________________
Last October I wrote my first poem for dVerse, a marvelous online poetic community. It happened to be a Meeting the Bar prompt. So imagine my happiness to find that for tonight’s Meeting the Bar Tony Maude has invited us to choose a prompt from the previous year to use as inspiration for a poem. I blended a few prompts together for this one–obviously, Victoria’s Literary Allusion prompt. And Anna’s prompt, The Unfathomable, which I didn’t have opportunity to write for the first time around. One might also judge this poem as an example of Anna’s High/Low Art prompt. At any rate, while it’s been a fun year, I wish I could have been more consistent. A poet’s family cannot live by words alone!

Family Tradition

Three-Word Wednesday, prompt words: stress, juicy, figure.

Family Tradition

At odds again. Head under
pillow he listens, loud words
shouted with spiteful stress.
Through thin walls neighbors
also hear, just a juicy
tidbit to share. Proficient
hands land on his tired
figure. He stifles sobs,
but nothing’s lost—his voice
grows stronger, fists harder,
every day saving up
the lessons learned
with more to follow.