June 5, 2011
“Reverse: A Lynching” (full poem here) by Ansel Elkins:
Return the tree, the moon, the naked man
Hanging from the indifferent branch
Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart
Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body
Untie the knot, undo the noose
Return the kicking feet to ground
Unwhisper the word jesus
Rejoin his penis with his loins
Resheathe the knife Regird the calfskin belt through trouser loops
Refasten the brass buckle
Untangle the spitting men from the mob
Unsay the word nigger
Release the firer’s finger from its trigger
Return the revolver to its quiet holster
Return the man to his home
Unwidow his wife
Unbreak the window
Unkiss the crucifix of her necklace
Unsay Hide the children in the back, his last words
Repeal the wild bell of his heart
Reseat his family at the table over supper
Relace their fingers in prayer, unbless the bread …
This poem is powerful. It deals with a different time period but reminded me of this movie that was on TV today.
(Photo: A postcard of a Duluth lynching, June 15, 1920 via Wikimedia Commons) (h/t: The Dish)
May 22, 2011
Are we in the inside only to leave?
Leaving is just for the masks,
for pulpits and conventions.
Leaving is just
for the siege-that-comes-from-within,
the siege that comes from the Bedouin’s loins,
the siege of the brethren
tarnished by the taste of the blade
and the stink of crows.
We will not leave!
Outside they’re blocking the exits
and offering their blessings to the impostor,
Almighty God for our deaths.
” by Taha Muhammad Ali. Photo of the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem on May 13, 2011 by Flickr user Omar Robert Hamilton
May 17, 2011
John Stewart from The Daily Show was on the O’Reilly Factor. In my opinion, John had the upper hand in part one and Bill had the upper in part two. You be the judge on who wins this pointless battle over a poet (who I see as pretty tame compared to other rappers today) coming to the White House.
Tim Wise also discusses this on CNN.
May 15, 2011
This is a great video, but a great quote can also go with it:
“In the end, like in Stardust Memories, we all get flushed. The beautiful ones, the accomplished ones, the Einsteins, the Shakespeares, the homeless guys in the street with the wine bottles, all end up in the same grave. So, I have a very dim view of things, but I think about them, and I do feel that I’ve come to the conclusion that the artist can not justify life or come up with a cogent reason as to why life is meaningful, but the artist can provide you with a cold glass of water on a hot day,” – Woody Allen.
May 13, 2011
This wouldn’t be the first time, but check out what John Stewart has to say on the recent blowup surrounding Common coming to the White House.
May 12, 2011
Rapper Common at the White House, regardless of the allegations he was asked not to come:
December 6, 2010
This is a simple but deep poem by Mark Jarman titled ‘Psalm’.
Lord of dimensions and the dimensionless,
Wave and particle, all and none,
Who lets us measure the wounded atom,
Who lets us doubt all measurement,
When in this world we betray you
Let us be faithful in another.
December 5, 2010
‘The Sound of Trees‘ by Robert Frost is a great poem. I just read it and it riveted through my insides.
I wonder about the trees:
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice,
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.
Photo courtesy of lambertwm
November 29, 2010
The Daily Dish has a huge fan base that not only visits the Dish but writes in great notes. This one came from a reader as they were reading through George Benard Shaw’s play Geneva:
“What an amazing young woman! You really think she will get in?”
“Of course she will. She has courage, sincerity, good looks, and big publicity…Everything our voters love.”
“But she hasn’t a political idea in her head..[S]he is a complete ignoramus. She will give herself away everytime she opens her mouth.”
“Not at all. She will say pluckily and sincerely just what she feels and thinks. You heard her say that there are lots of people in Camberwell who feel and think as she does. Well, the House of Commons is exactly like Camberwell in that respect.”
Does this ‘she’ sound like someone we all know?
October 3, 2010
By David Yezzi. Circa 2007.
Accept the things you cannot change:
the bleating clock,
the nightly go
—dog leash in tow—
around the block,
a longing stare
and X-ray eye,
and the niggling fact
that things will stay
roughly this way,
to be exact.
Forgive the things you cannot have:
the supple bod,
a nicer pad,
long chats with God,
an older name,
your peers’ respect,
the oll korrect,
a sense of ease
in your own skin,
a lighter burden
not yet, but after
your will resigns
a few more times
with heavy laughter.
The life you’d swap for on the train
is much like yours
though it appears
So, why this pain
that shorts the breath
and spoils your health?
You grow serene—
September 26, 2010
“When the Young Husband…” by Donald Hall appeared in The Atlantic in March of 1993:
When the young husband picked up his friend’s pretty wife
in the taxi one block from her townhouse for their
first lunch together, in a hotel dining room
with a room key in his pocket,
midtown traffic gridlocked and was abruptly still.
For one moment before Klaxons started honking,
a prophetic voice spoke in his mind’s ear despite
his pulse’s erotic thudding:
“The misery you undertake this afternoon
will accompany you to the ends of your lives.
She knew what she did, when she agreed to this lunch,
although she will not admit it;
and you’ve constructed your playlet a thousand times:
cocktails, an omelet, wine; the revelation
of a room key; the elevator rising as
the penis elevates; the skin
flushed, the door fumbled at, the handbag dropped; the first
kiss with open mouths, nakedness, swoon, thrust-and-catch;
endorphins followed by endearments; a brief nap;
another fit, restoration
of clothes, arrangements for another encounter,
the taxi back, and the furtive kiss of good-bye.
Then, by turn: tears, treachery, anger, betrayal;
marriages and houses destroyed;
small children abandoned and inconsolable,
their foursquare estates disestablished forever;
the unreadable advocates; the wretchedness
of passion outworn; anguished nights
sleepless in a bare room; whiskey, meth, cocaine; new
love, essayed in loneliness with miserable
strangers, that comforts nothing but skin; hours with sons
and daughters studious always
to maintain distrust; the daily desire to die
and the daily agony of the requirement
to survive, until only the quarrel endures.”
Prophecy stopped; traffic started.
(Image by Flickr user dawnnakaya), H/T: TDD
September 20, 2010
“The Gift Of Tritemius” by John Greenleaf Whittier was originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in November, 1857:
Tritemius of Herbipolis one day,
While kneeling at the altar’s foot to pray,
Alone with God, as was his pious choice,
Heard from beneath a miserable voice,–
A sound that seemed of all sad things to tell,
As of a lost soul crying out of hell.Thereat the Abbot rose, the chain whereby
His thoughts went upward broken by that cry,
And, looking from the casement, saw below
A wretched woman, with gray hair aflow,
And withered hands stretched up to him, who cried
For alms as one who might not be denied.
She cried: “For the dear love of Him who gave
His life for ours, my child from bondage save,
My beautiful, brave first-born, chained with slaves
In the Moor’s galley, where the sun-smit waves
Lap the white walls of Tunis!” “What I can
I give,” Tritemius said,–“my prayers.” “O man
Of God!” she cried, for grief had made her bold,
“Mock me not so: I ask not prayers, but gold;
Words cannot serve me, alms alone suffice;
Even while I plead, perchance my first-born dies!”
“Woman!” Tritemius answered, “from our door
None go unfed; hence are we always poor.
A single soldo is our only store.
Thou hast our prayers; what can we give thee more?”
“Give me,” she said, “the silver candlesticks
On either side of the great crucifix;
God well may spare them on His errands sped,
Or He can give you golden ones instead.”
Then said Tritemius, “Even as thy word,
Woman, so be it; and our gracious Lord,
Who loveth mercy more than sacrifice,
Pardon me if a human soul I prize
Above the gifts upon His altar piled!
Take what thou askest, and redeem thy child.”
But his hand trembled as the holy alms
He laid within the beggar’s eager palms;
And as she vanished down the linden shade,
He bowed his head and for forgiveness prayed.
So the day passed; and when the twilight came
He rose to find the chapel all a-flame,
And, dumb with grateful wonder, to behold
Upon the altar candlesticks of gold!
(Image from Flickr user Stuck in Customs)
September 19, 2010
“I Studied Love” by Yehuda Amichai (1924 – 2000) translated by Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld first appeared in The Atlantic in July of 1998:
I studied love in my childhood in my childhood synagogue
in the women’s section with the help of the women
behind the partition
that locked up my mother with all the other women
But the partition that locked them up locked me up
on the other side. They were free in their love while I
locked up with all the men and boys in my love, my longing.
I wanted to be over there with them and to know their
and say with them, “Blessed be He who has made me
according to his will.” And the partition
a lace curtain white and soft as summer dresses, and
swaying to and fro with its rings and its loops,
lu-lu-lu loops, Lulu, lullings of love in the locked room.
And the faces of women like the face of the moon behind
or the full moon when the curtain parts: an enchanted
cosmic order. At night we said the blessing
over the moon outside, and I
thought about the women.
(Photo: An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man looks at a Palestinian shop owner reading the Muslim holy Koran outside his shop near the Ibrahimi Mosque, or Tomb of the Patriarchs, in the divided West Bank city of Hebron on September 15, 2010. By Hazem Bader /AFP/ Getty Images)
September 12, 2010
By William Bronk.
The second time the flesh was harder to put on
and there was no womb to shape and soften it,
unless it were Joseph’s tomb in the cut rock
that shaped, perhaps, but more misshaped to a kept
mask, as a wet shoe is hardened as it dries
to a foot shape and the print of a step, but not
to the moving muscle and bone that walking was.
What wonder then that Mary, who loved his life,
mistook him for the gardener, and humbled by love,
asked only where they had lain him that took him away.
The men, too, were uncertain they saw at first.
Thomas doubted and thrust his hand in the wounds.
There must have been some subtle difference gone
from the flesh they loved, or a difference newly come
to make a change in it. Say the change was death
that had wrought hard with it; or say the fact
this flesh appeared and disappeared without
their knowing bewildered them. They did rejoice,
but only as though their hope had stretched too far.
And Peter went back to cast his nets on the sea.
Some grief is stronger than any joy before
or after it, and life survives. It feeds
within itself on grief, not nourished then
by other food, as winter trees survive
because they do not feed. Their mouths refused,
almost, the taste of the brief return; grief seared,
they could not savor it. The time did come—
but it was afterwards, that a new joy
leafed over their grief as a tree is leafed.
It was the tree of grief that grew these leaves.
We share the movement that young birds learn
when clumsy with size, they grow to empty air
and fall, and find the empty air sustains.
So we are lofted in our downward course by the wide
void of loss through which we fall to loss
and lose again, until we too are lost
in a heavier element—the earth or sea.
We grow in stature: grief is real and loss
is for life, as long as life. Long flight,
soar freely, spiral and glide in the empty air.
Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan