Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poem in Your Pocket Day

I'm going to start by saying if you haven't read poetry since college (or maybe high school) you should start. There are so many great poems in the world just waiting to be read -- please give poetry a chance. Now, I'm stepping off the soapbox to share with you my selection(s) for my Poem in my Pocket. As I mentioned in my newsletter April is National Poetry Month and April 30th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. This is a day to celebrate poetry by carrying a poem around in your pocket and sharing it with your friends, colleagues and if you are bold enough, strangers. And please, share your favorite poem with me.
I'm going to share two poems I have taped on my bulletin board above my desk. These are from two of my favorite poets, Philip Shultz (who I studied with at NYU) and Mary Oliver.
My favorite line in The Truth is "those own a little are contrite and feaful of those who own too much," favorite in Daisies is "it is heaven itself to take what is given, to see what is plain: what the sun lights up willingly"

The Truth
You can hide it like a signature
or birthmark but it's always there
in the greasy light of your dreams,
the knots your body makes at night,
the sad innuendos of your eyes,
whispering insidious asides in everyroom you cannot remain inside. It's
there in the unquiet ideas that drag and
plead one lonely argument at a time,
and those who own a little are contrite
and fearful of those who own too much,
but owning none takes up your life.
It cannot be replaced with a house or a car,
a husband or wife, but can be ignored,
denied, and betrayed, until the last day,
when you pass yourself on the street
and recognize the agreeable life you
were afraid to lead, and turn away.
---Philip Shultz

It is possible, I suppose that sometime
we will learn everything
there is to learn: what the world is, for example,
and what it means. I think this as I am crossing
from one field to another, in summer, and the
mockingbird is mocking me, as one who either
knows enough already or knows enough to be
perfectly content not knowing. Song being born
of quest he knows this: he must turn silent
were he suddenly assaulted with answers. Instead

oh hear his wild, caustic, tender warbling ceaselessly
unanswered. At my feet the white-petalled daisies display
the small suns of their center piece, their -- if you don't
mind my saying so -- their hearts. Of course
I could be wrong, perhaps their hearts are pale and
narrow and hidden in the roots. What do I know?
But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example -- I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch --
the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.
--Mary Oliver

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love your favorite poems, Teri. Here is one of mine.

To Be of Use
Marge Piercy (1973, 1982)

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.