Poem in your Pocket

It's Poem in your Pocket day, which means I should have copies of my favorite poems to share. Please consider this my metaphorical pocket, and enjoy some of my favorite poems.


You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

--Billy Collins
Sonnet 4

Only until this cigarette is ended,
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.
A little moment at the end of all,
While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
And in the firelight to a lance extended,
Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
The broken shadow dances on the wall,
I will permit my memory to recall
The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
And then adieu,--farewell!--the dream is done.
Yours is a face of which I can forget
The colour and the features, every one,
The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
But in your day this moment is the sun
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.  
--Edna St. Vincent Millay

Crayon Pirate
There was a single blue line of
crayon drawn across every wall
in the house. What does it 
mean? I said. A pirate needs
the sight of the sea, he said and then
he pulled his eye patch down and
turned and sailed away.
--Brian Andreas

Go here and here for some other poems...


Random Happenings

These things have happened in the last 16 or so hours hours:

I freaked out about a meeting of senior management and medical directors that I was supposed to attend today, and consequently bought a new shirt and some trousers to wear to the meeting so as to not look like a grungy manager. Wore new clothing to meeting, didn't say a word... Boss Lady took over the presentation. But I looked presentable as I sat next to her.

I just saw someone post on Facebook that Bridal Showers are a great way to "stalk" your kitchens. I had a split second of utter panic: "Who's stalking my kitchen? Why? Am I in danger from some dark kitchen killer?" before I realized what she meant. Spelling matters, people.

I picked up my journal for the first time in two years last night. There were some things I needed to purge, and my journal was the only appropriate forum.

I started a new poem.

This song:

I laughed really hard at this from Married to the Sea:

I cried. It wasn't a very cleansing cry, though, so I anticipate another one coming shortly.

I had a lengthy and pitiful discussion with myself about... oh, about a lot of things. What my job means, why I'm doing it (benefits, mostly), how I reconcile myself to knowing that I'm captaining a sinking ship here, and wondering what the fix is. A self-assessment of health. A long look in the mirror (I mean literally, not figuratively). There were other things, but those went in the journal. And this whole scene was where the tears came in. This discussion wasn't productive, nor did it make me feel better. I think tonight it will be a lengthy and less pitiful prayer.

I read this poem: "Fishing on the Susquehanna in July" by Billy Collins, and it soothed me.

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure--if it is a pleasure--
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one--
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table--
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

 And Diet Coke. Diet Coke happened.



Near the tail end of Harry Potter's cinematic journey, Dumbledore tells him "Words are... our most inexhaustible source of magic." I love that. It's like everything I believe about language -- the beauty and the power of words -- in a perfect soundbite. I have never ceased to be amazed at words; what they can do, what they can evoke, how they feel when they're put together well. Words, and the using of them, are magic.

This was brought powerfully home in a very personal way a couple of days ago. I've recently made a new friend, and we text, very casually; generally in the "Hi, have a good day" vein. A couple days ago, he said that, and followed it up with, "How are you?" This was new. This was the invitation to a conversation. This was care and concern. Three words. Simple, often throw-away words. These were sincere, though. I could tell. And let me tell you, they bloomed for me. I so needed them. In that minute, I needed to know that someone cared how I was doing. Beyond the implied invitation to take our friendship just a little deeper, which I value, there was the awareness of someone giving a damn about me, if only for a moment. I love poetry; I celebrate it. I devour books. I listen intently to songs to really hear the lyrics. I like to talk about language and how it works, and why it works; I like to write. I'm a little intense about words. But those words? Those small words made my day. Helped my heart.Were magic.


Song Selection

This song is really speaking to me the last few days...


Best Thing to Happen to Today

This. This is the best thing to happen to today. One, because I really like this song. Two, because the guy in the v-neck is Matt Bomer. I would chew his gum.

On Friends

The last week has been an interesting one for me, in terms of friends. Some I thought I had, I think maybe I don't. Some I didn't think I would get, I maybe have. And some have shown up, unsought, but so welcome. I said a few posts ago that I don't think I have a "best friend." I first said this to a friend (who has and claims a best friend, which I love for her), on a gorgeous fall day, as we wound along the road somewhere between Washington D.C. and Williamsburg, and I've thought a lot about it since then, and I've worried about it. What did I mean? Do I sound insensitive to the people I am lucky enough to call friend? Do I need a best friend? What happened to the friends I used to categorize as "best?" It may sound insensitive, yes, and for that: I'm sorry. As for what happened: time and distance, a shift in lives, movement, miles, nothing more. Also, this: I don't think I need a best friend, or to claim one. I'm selective now (perhaps a little cautious). If you are in my life, and I call you friend, that's enough for me. It means enough to me. I have people whom I call friend that I have known nearly my entire life. They are part of me, sprinkled through my memories; what more is there?  I love my friends; how deeply depends on time alone, but I love them equally.

I find myself humbled by the people who claim me as friend. By those amazing, beautiful, wonderful men and women who allow me into their lives. I am grateful for old friendships, as comfortable as breathing. I am grateful for new friendships, the reshaping of my life to accommodate them, because it means I'm alive. I am grateful for friends who I am still getting to know, for the adventure and magic that comes with that. I am grateful for those friends who have come and gone, for all these reasons and because I've been transformed by them.

My sisters, Sara, Megan, Molly, you -- and you alone -- I will claim as best, because ours is eternal. I love you.

One needs friends, and thank Heaven, I have them.


National Poetry Month

It's my favorite time of year! National Poetry Month, in celebration of poetry, language and beauty. I share poems all month long on my other blog, so if you're interested, head on over: Psyche's Candle.