Tag Archives: poetry

two poems, ROWING & THE AUTHOR OF THE JESUS PAPERS SPEAKS by Anne Sexton


ROWING
A story, a story!
(Let it go. Let it come.)
I was stamped out like a Plymouth fender
into this world.
First came the crib
with its glacial bars.
Then dolls
and the devotion to their plasctic mouths.
Then there was school,
the little straight rows of chairs,
blotting my name over and over,
but undersea all the time,
a stranger whose elbows wouldn’t work.
Then there was life
with its cruel houses
and people who seldom touched-
though touch is all-
but I grew,
like a pig in a trenchcoat I grew,
and then there were many strange apparitions,
the nagging rain, the sun turning into poison
and all of that, saws working through my heart,
but I grew, I grew,
and God was there like an island I had not rowed to,
still ignorant of Him, my arms, and my legs worked,
and I grew, I grew,
I wore rubies and bought tomatoes
and now, in my middle age,
about nineteen in the head I’d say,
I am rowing, I am rowing
though the oarlocks stick and are rusty
and the sea blinks and rolls
like a worried eyeball,
but I am rowing, I am rowing,
though the wind pushes me back
and I know that that island will not be perfect,
it will have the flaws of life,
the absurdities of the dinner table,
but there will be a door
and I will open it
and I will get rid of the rat insdie me,
the gnawing pestilential rat.
God will take it with his two hands
and embrace it.

As the African says:
This is my tale which I have told,
if it be sweet, if it be not sweet,
take somewhere else and let some return to me.
This story ends with me still rowing.

– from The Awful Rowing Towards God 1975
( Her eighth collection of poetry is entitled The Awful Rowing Toward God.The title came from her meeting with a Roman Catholic priest who, unwilling to administer last rites, told her “God is in your typewriter.” This gave the poet the desire and willpower to continue living and writing. The Awful Rowing Toward God and The Death Notebooks are among her final works, and both center on the theme of dying

1928–1974
Anne Sexton

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Sexton#Death

Within 12 years of writing her first sonnet, she was among the honored poets in the U.S.: a Pulitzer Prize winner, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the first female member of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.[10][11]

On October 4, 1974, Sexton had lunch with Kumin to revise galleys for Sexton’s manuscript of The Awful Rowing Toward God, scheduled for publication in March 1975 (Middlebrook 396). On returning home she put on her mother’s old fur coat, removed all her rings, poured herself a glass of vodka, locked herself in her garage, and started the engine of her car, ending her life by carbon monoxide poisoning.[12]

In an interview over a year before her death, she explained she had written the first drafts of The Awful Rowing Toward God in 20 days with “two days out for despair and three days out in a mental hospital.” She went on to say that she would not allow the poems to be published before her death. She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery & Crematory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts.

Sexton is seen as the modern model of the confessional poet. Maxine Kumin described Sexton’s work: “She wrote openly about menstruation, abortion, masturbation, incest, adultery, and drug addiction at a time when the proprieties embraced none of these as proper topics for poetry.”[13]


THE AUTHOR OF THE JESUS PAPERS SPEAKS

In my dream
I milked a cow,
the terrible udder
like a great rubber lily
sweated in my fingers
and as I yanked,
waiting for the moon juice,
waiting for the white mother,
blood spurted from it
and covered me with shame.
Then God spoke to me and said:
People say only good things about Christmas.
If they want to say something bad,
they whisper.
So I went to the well and drew a baby
out of the hollow water.
Then God spoke to me and said:
Here. Take this gingerbread lady
and put her in your oven.
When the cow gives blood
and the Christ is born
we must all eat sacrifices.
We must all eat beautiful women.

Anne Sexton  from The Book of Folly 1972

the girls i knew in high school were all enamored with Sylvia. and i must admit i was some what smitten. but there was this teacher of English. she did not debate but rather exposed the rare woman genius the all too common crucifixion the dark stronger that the bright, the strength to take control in a time in a place where all is only waiting around food feeding on food attracted like horseflies to tenderness. the time was she said now and so the time was and so she said it was therefore it would be now and never any other time but. – pd lyons
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love poem by pd lyons inspired by the meeting on the turret stairs


National gallery of Ireland – Hellelil and Hildebrand, the Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Frederic William Burton

 

I know now

These cold stones

Lead up and down

to nowhere

 

I know now

These shadows

Indeed empty

Conceal not

your warm embrace

 

I know now

How little all else matters

Such as duty bound

or destiny

 

I know now

A love enduring

Having lost all

Is left with needing not.

 

When last my love we met here

Your strong arms to hold me

Barley room to turn my tears away

 

The kiss you stole

The kiss I gave

 

Only empty shadows now

Will meet me here upon the turret stairs

what if i could tell you, by pd lyons


What if i could tell you about the day?  first real snow? Crows huddled in the grey fingers of that tree, watching as if waiting for  for something I didn’t have to give

 

What if I could tell you, that poem you wrote? I’ve hung copies of it up on the bedroom wall, the back door, the horses’ stalls, and along the straight wire fluttering like little white flags between the paddocks and the pasture.

If you were here? Oh I know what you would say, you never liked it anyway, kept it only out of loyalty. That poem you tried to write for me

now like some accidental prophecy  no longer needing to be read

 

mix media by morgan lyons

 

six poems by pd Lyons recently rejected by kettle blue review


Love Poem for R.B.

 

Today I heard on the radio that Richard Brautigan

Killed himself last fall.

Then some girl who was 17 in 1970 read his Love Poem.

She said that her then lover was a DJ on a college

Station and had dedicated a recording of the poem

To her, over the air, before he disappeared in a

Californian direction.

 

Anyway, I don’t know where I was.

Maybe I was washing clothes or asleep.

Maybe I was with Jenny or Eva or somebody.

I could a been drunk, or depressed

As if by some sort of intuition.

All I really know is that I’ll never know where I was

When he did it.

 

I wonder how he did it.

Maybe I should go down to the library look him

Up on the newspaper micro-film file?

Most likely I won’t though, the library is closed now

And I’m not sure I care that much anyway.

Besides it’s one of those details I’m sure will

Accidentally find its way to me.

 

It kinda pisses me off that he did it, I mean he

Wrote that Watermelon Sugar book, I read it years ago

When Mary gave it to me and I, 15 in 1970.

Watermelon Sugar and Mary my first lover go good together.

I don’t know about this suicide stuff though.

But maybe it’s nice not having to wake up alone with yourself

 

When you just don’t want to any more.

 

6/6/85

 

 

the sea made her way

 

 

sneaking up river

daring an overland short cut

crossed the lake

a hitched ride over the high land

where the old man sat

back against white stucco

smoking a Cuban cigar

 

right away she began;

whispered

rolling waves

sounds of silver birds

stars like diamonds

pure black

as if travelling among them there would never be another horizon

 

behind his eyes the old man smiled

o ribbons of smoke

barely audible ahh

 

at which she paused

looked

saw

him as he now was

and knew all she could do was to return from whence she came

never to kiss his pale grey eyes again

 

She Would

 

turn the armadillo

tickle his stomach with her tongue

 

black beetle tears swell

June bugs high heel snaps

crickets rip trying on new clothes

caterpillars hum dull dreams of a sex life

 

through irises and junipers

these she breaths

 

on her toes

sneakers let the ballet

peer out with wonder

along these New Haven streets

amid this morning

slipping into the haze

 

who is it

whispered water lily secrets

when your mornings got too heavy?

 

leaving the Stars behind

called you flower by moonlight

called you cypress by spring

watched you from the evening change

grey misty morning across the spider down day

 

the old man I have sat with

 

the old man I have sat with

anarchist veteran

wars wound down across an age of cigarettes

jokes spun in and out upon the swirl of pastis and water

croissants and coffee through to charcuterie

against the warm summer stones of Montesquieu

old man and me, our laughter.

to not ever be forgotten,

our fear.

 

 

Mogambo

 

in the back yards of the moon

mountains ever silk with smoke

a cigarette a champagne

a dress for dinner

as if we would ever

be back

the only true things

ghosts unable to sleep

unable to abide this weight of age and flesh

 

princesses and big cats

a woman afraid of her own jungle

hunter of the caged

a man afraid of mortality

how could our hungers meet?

how could our true nature reveal,

those ghosts we fear so much

are all the spirit we could have been.

all we traded away so cheap.

 

in the obligations of our evenings

in the entitlement of our heritage

sweat black the spear singers

sweat black the towel holders

as if the pale god held sway

without the guns of our own steel,

without the cripple nature of our own fears

we could never make our way a way

 

Bigger Than the Sky If a Star Was Your Eye

 

Without sadness there can be no kindness.

Depression while it may be unkind

Is not a kind of sadness.

 

Someday children learn:

Daddies don’t know everything

Daddies aren’t always there

Daddies cannot protect in an omnipotent way

And on top of that neither can mommy.

Not even if we are believed to be gods.

 

I have lived in houses of the dead.

Those who died before my age

Those who lived to be a hundred a hundred years ago.

Someday these stairs I sweep will still be here

And I will not be anywhere.

Someday all those I ever knew and who knew me,

No matter how intimately; will be no more.

Not even forgotten because there will be none

Whoever even knew them or us or me.

 

My daughter age 7 asks “What happens when you die daddy?”

“What really happens after you die dad?”

 

Am I afraid of death?

Afraid of not being me anymore?

Am I afraid of life?

Afraid of not knowing answers

Growing old?

Forgetting?

 

My daughter loves the sea

we don’t live near it

sometimes get to visit

dancing in and out the surf

Up and down the Dogs Bay regardless of the weather.

 

My son now in his thirties

hardly ever leaves his house

the one he bought from my father’s estate

The house me and the siblings grew up in

Some I argued with, so he could live there

Like his grandpa said.

 

And maybe it’s not so bad to forget?

be free of history

be new

make space for right now

stop so much looking back.

 

and maybe it can be that way with death?

not so bad,

letting go of all this me?

making space for something new?

 

But I’ve a strong ego

Tuff as nails

A Buddha’s nightmare

Veteran of all kinds of wars.

Maybe that’s the equation:

stronger the ego – stronger the fear?

 

I am not the god of my children

too old to fool them with immortality

Anyway, they’re too smart to not perceive

My purely human heart.

 

Love is not an answer but a response.

A response to all those unanswerable questions.

 

Not knowing anything

I love.

The more answers I don’t have?

The more I feel my own true love.

 

So, I tell her –

I don’t know what really happens when we die

But I do know how much I love you ~

 

20 Jan 09

This Morning On The Back Steps Sobbing Into Her Nightgown by pd Lyons


In the language of flowers

It meant good-bye with regrets

 

Left on the kitchen table

An emptied cup of coffee

half-eaten slice of toast

 

Hardly a hesitation

Picks up the toast

Held away between thumb and finger

Some dead thing she didn’t wish to touch

 

Steps out

Leans against the wood rail

As far as possible the offending slice

Tossed into the garden

 

As she does the wind

slams the door behind her

Startled but then relief,

Its off the latch…

As if somehow he’d known…

 

Fallen Lilies by pd lyons


 

We will surround you with silence

Like the voices of our children never to be heard again

 

We will surround you with fallen lilies

Like each of one our children cut mid bloom

 

We won’t ever know what to do

With a hypocrite’s thoughts and prayers

We won’t ever find anything

In a hypocrite’s concern for our grief

 

But we’ll not match the hardness of such hearts

By hardening our own

We will not meet such hearts with violence

We know too well that path of sorrow

 

So, we will meet you in silence

Like the voices of our children never to be heard again

We will meet you in fallen lilies

Like each one of our children cut mid bloom

 

Unlike you

We will do what must be done

 

Unlike you

We will remember and continue to find days to be thankful for

 

Mothers rocking babies rocking mothers

Fathers rocking babies rocking fathers

 

 

he had watched her soft like snow edited by pd lyons


He had watched her

Soft like snow

Every movement

A steady meticulous tenderness

Touching each part of the world

One particle at a time

Acknowledged gently

Precisely

Irrevocably

 

he had watched her soft like snow by pd lyons


 

He had watched her

Soft like snow

Every movement

As if the whole world

More tender than herself

A steady meticulous tenderness

~

She was not afraid

She was aware

Touching each part of the world

One particle at a time

Acknowledged gently

Precisely

Irrevocably

 

The Things I Didn’t Want to Do, by pd lyons


All my life of lingering lies

Each and every single one

A point to point of indelible regret

 

So dig in deep and hold your mark

Squeeze the trigger, don’t black out

Ain’t that a fitting way for it to end

 

Slow and steady always just a mere formality

I could only follow where the strings were pulling me

 

Like the nagging of my mamma

And the raging of my pa

Those class rooms full of things I couldn’t really understand

And those laws that seemed only to apply to me

 

So dig in deep and hold your mark

Squeeze the trigger, don’t black out

Ain’t that a fitting way for it to end

 

 

And where’s the love like in those songs

And where’s the joy of that gospel god?

The fame and fortune like in those magazines

Fulfilling all those promises made by my TV screen

 

All those things I ever learned

All those lessons so absurd

I was only running after someone else’s manufactured dream.

 

So I’ll dig in deep hold my mark

Squeeze the trigger and not black out

And maybe hope for reinforcement will pan out.

 

 

did the Yankees still have a chance for the pennant by pd lyons


Today

at the counter

pastrami on rye

coffee black

just off the peripheral

this guy and woman at a table

he was going on & on

you know right away

a bunch of bullshit

rather loudly too

I had no interest in him

or what he was selling

but she had caught my eye

noticed her the minute i came in

by the time i finished my sandwich

she still hadn’t said a word

he of course hadn’t stopped

people just tried to piss him off

daughter 13 years old competing already

lack of parenting by all others

ad nauseam

I asked the waitress for a refill and the check

turned to get a better look at them

maybe she was speaking,  just too soft for me to hear?

but no. she was just sitting there taking it all in.

no longer interested but rather sorry for her

turned to finish my coffee

wondered how long the rain would hold off

did the Yankees still have a chance for the pennant…

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