Monday, February 27, 2012

From Time To Time I Read Some Poetry

But, I confess, not often that by others. Not, I suppose, as often as I should but time is limited. What I read often depends on a citation in some review, maybe in The New York Review, one of the few such journals I see. In one not many months ago I ran not a reference to Louis MacNeice and  his Autumn Journal. Off went an e-mail order to Amazon. Yes it should be read. It stirred the following from me.

Death Without Cause

"...take it...on trust that living is
The only thing worth living and that dying
Had best be left to take care of itself in the end."
Louis MacNeice╦ć
Death just happens, it needs no cause. Being born
parents tried to explain by
displacing myth with analogies about bees,
flowers and, sometimes, birds
whose eggs needed seeds. But apparently
death needed no cause. 
One day your brother came to your school,
said "Father has died and
I'm taking you home."Home where the event
must have ben mentioned.
I don't remember. Someone may have cried
but I don't remember. There
must have been a funeral, I must have been there
since I was fourteen. I know
where he's buried: the name and date in stone.
I've stood there alone
and wondered why I don't know. Death just
happened, needed no cause —
at least I don't know it. You might ask why
I didn't ask. Perhaps I did.
It's the answer that's missing. How would I know
when I didn't know he'd been ill?
Back at school I do recall someone saying: "He
took 'it' remarkably well."
I didn't know what else to do. Dying took care
of itself in the end.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What! Two In a Week? And From Last Night?

I seldom offer poems spontaneously, more often working on a revision of something written two years before. So why not be different now and then? Vicki hasn't been sleeping well recently and we often find ourselves up in what most consider the middle of the night This is an impression from last night, with only typographic changes. (Well. almost only!)

  Idea of February

Viewed from the sofa at four-thirty AM
on this mid-winter day the picture window
is as blank and black as the turned-off TV.
The outside world has gone away, what once
was a frozen pond, a ridge-top deckled
ragged with trees, just isn't there. Nothing is
except a few lights which may be the suns
of some other worlds. But every time I raise
my cup to take a sip the lamp beside us,
the cup itself, the window pane, conspire
and send me a message, just a flash that could
be from "out there", hopelessly sent
from some other beings desperate to know
if they are alone. I suppose I should be suddenly
encouraged, but knowing the inflexibility 
of time and the speed of light, they'll never know
so what does it matter how many other worlds
there may be?  We still feel alone here on this
old settee. We doze for a while and when we wake
the sky is suffused with a pre-dawn cream
which the ice on the pond glows in echo. Only
the ridge line still holds night''s black Those lights
which might have been stars resolve to street lights
dimmed by the trees. A fingernail paring
of the dying moon, hanging over where we know
the water tower will be, seems neighborly. 
We doze and we wait for the promised sun.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Birthday Month

     My granddaughter recently asked, "Why do you think there are so many presidents born in February?" Ignoring for the moment that I too was born in this month (and just survived to be 86). As a biologist the answer came easily: "BECAUSE ABOUT NINE MONTHS AGO IT WAS SPRING."

Born just between Lincoln and Valentine, my mother said I just escaped an even odder name then Robert Maurice (pronounced Morris) Chute (pronounced as chew, not shoe).

Being personal, here is a personal poem. (And, S.P., I will try to post more frequently.)

Remembering What You Don't

How much do you remember
     of that year
when you were little more than four
     and how much
is what you've been told by
     someone older?
There's no call to feel guilty even
     if it was
that year, that summer, your last
     grandparent died.
If you'd been older I'm sure
     you'd remember
not only her death but her — her
My brother Phil did but
     he was ten
and I'd always been six years
     behind him.
Was she sick, couldn't hold me,
     as grandmother's do?
In memory, which can't
     be true,
why do I feel her
     cold disapproval,
her arms stiff, her bosom
Had I told myself this or
     had someone older?