Friday, February 28, 2020

Wild Fridays #8: The Living Dead



I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
        full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.


You might see an angel anytime
and anywhere. Of course you have
to open your eyes to a kind of
second level, but it’s not really
hard. The whole business of
what’s reality and what isn’t has
never been solved and probably
never will be. So I don’t care to
be too definite about anything.
I have a lot of edges called Perhaps
and almost nothing you can call
Certainty. For myself, but not
for other people. That’s a place
you just can’t get into, not
entirely anyway, other people’s

I’ll just leave you with this.
I don’t care how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin. It’s
enough to know that for some people
they exist, and that they dance. 

Watering the Stones

Every summer I gather a few stones from
the beach and keep them in a glass bowl.
Now and again I cover them with water,
and they drink. There’s no question about
this; I put tinfoil over the bowl, tightly,
yet the water disappears. This doesn’t
mean we ever have a conversation, or that
they have the kind of feelings we do, yet
it might mean something. Whatever the
stones are, they don’t lie in the water
and do nothing.

Some of my friends refuse to believe it
happens, even though they’ve seen it. But
a few others—I’ve seen them walking down
the beach holding a few stones, and they
look at them rather more closely now.
Once in a while, I swear, I’ve even heard
one or two of them saying “Hello.”
Which, I think, does no harm to anyone or
anything, does it?

– By Mary Oliver (1935-2019)
(These poems are not in the book pictured here; I chose it because her photo is on the cover.)

There are times for facing up to the serious problems of the world, and trying to figure out what we can do to create change. And then there are other times when we long for some moments of peace, to remember all the lovely things there are about the world and what it is that we want to preserve if we can; even, perhaps, to contemplate spiritual mysteries, believing in powers for good beyond the immediately apparent.

Finding myself in that second mood, I had a yen for the poetry of Mary Oliver, who so delights in the natural world and reveals it to us with unsurpassed beauty. I own several of her books, but I found these particular poems online (as part of an article on her work by Alex Luppens-Dale at a site called Book Riot). They all have the gentleness and wonder which I craved. 

The first is grounded in the natural world, showing us how to pay close attention to its details, to learn about its truths and mysteries. She is a master at showing us how the factual is also, simultaneously, miraculous. The fact that in this piece the wonder resides in broken, damaged things seems appropriate just now – a necessary reminder, in our troubled times, that it can be so.

And then the next two deal almost matter-of-factly with the mystical/magical in a way that I find absolutely engaging. Well, it happens that I am one for whom angels exist and stones are sentient beings – but even if not, I think I might find these poems delightfully persuasive.

Reading Mary Oliver always seems calming, somehow, at the same time as it awakens me to boundless possibilities. Entertaining the idea of dancing angels, contemplating stones that drink, or piecing together the meaning in broken shells – all these suddenly seem valid, worthy pursuits, just as important as worrying about all the serious practical matters which demand our attention.

Do we need poems like these as a temporary relief from more disturbing preoccupations, a means of restoring ourselves so as to go on trying to cope and find answers? Or are the things Oliver engages with the very things which make the state of the planet – and humanity – matter?

Material shared in 'The Living Dead' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings and images remain the property of the copyright owners, where applicable (older poems may be out of copyright).

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Weekly Scribblings #8: Red Fruit Rendition

Still Life with Ewer and Fruit by Milne Ramsey, Pinterest

"Fine fruit is the flower of commodities. It is the most perfect union of the useful and the beautiful that the earth knows. Trees full of soft foliage; blossoms fresh with spring bounty; and, finally, fruit, rich, bloom-dusted, melting, and luscious."  Andrew Jackson Downing

Hello everyone and welcome to another round of Weekly Scribblings! Many Poets have written about fruit over the years whether it's apples, oranges or figs. And why not? Where would Poetry be without fruit? It would be like Milton's 'Paradise Lost.' But not just any fruit — delicious, mouth-watering red fruit! Here are a few examples:

Strawberries      Loganberries         Pomegranate          Red Peppers         Blood Orange
Tomatoes           Red Grapes              Cherries                 Cranberries           Raspberries
 Apples                 Watermelon          Victoria Plums       Agarita berry        Grapefruit

Your challenge today is to write while inspired by red fruit. Fruit as a metaphor, analogy, a persisting idiom, as a symbol or even as eroticism. Feel free to interpret this challenge in any manner that suits your tastes, preferences, interests, or desires. 

We at Poets and Storytellers United accept both poems and prose pieces (i.e. stories, essays, articles) You may contribute more than one entry. Also, if you opt to write prose then please keep it to 369 words or fewer. The Prompt will remain open until next Wednesday!

Goblin Market
by Christina Rossetti

Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bow’d her head to hear,
Lizzie veil’d her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
“Lie close,” Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
“We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?”
“Come buy,” call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen...

by Thomas Campion

There is a garden in her face
Where roses and white lilies blow;
A heavenly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
There cherries grow which none may buy
Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

Those cherries fairly do enclose
Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
They look like rose-buds filled with snow;
Yet them no peer nor prince can buy
Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

Her eyes like angels watch them still;
Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat'ning with piercing frowns to kill
All that attempt with eye or hand
Those sacred cherries to come nigh,
Till “Cherry-ripe” themselves do cry.

Good luck composing your masterpieces. I look forward to reading what you come up with. Please do visit others and remember to comment on their work. Also, enjoy this musical inspiration by Coldplay. Have fun!🍎