Poem of the Week, by Danusha Lameris

img_1857At a wedding last weekend I sat near a curvy, beautiful woman with a deep voice who radiated a wild and warm confidence. She was free with opinions and didn’t care what others thought; an artist expressed admiration for a specific modern museum and she laughed outright.

She moves through the world in a way I don’t. My voice doesn’t project; I need a mic when giving a talk. A friend once described my narrow body, turned sideways, as like a piece of paper he could slip into his bookshelf. The wedding woman claims space in the world with her solid belief in herself. I claim space in the world by distilling it into stories made of all the ways it overwhelms me. Nonetheless we are alike, both of us caught inside the cathedral, singing inside the song.

 

Bonfire Opera, by Danusha Lameris
 
In those days, there was a woman in our circle
who was known, not only for her beauty,
but for taking off all her clothes and singing opera.
And sure enough, as the night wore on and the stars
emerged to stare at their reflections on the sea,
and everyone had drunk a little wine,
she began to disrobe, loose her great bosom,
and the tender belly, pale in the moonlight,
the Viking hips, and to let her torn raiment
fall to the sand as we looked up from the flames.
And then a voice lifted into the dark, high and clear
as a flock of blackbirds. And everything was very still,
the way the congregation quiets when the priest
prays over the incense, and the smoke wafts
up into the rafters. I wanted to be that free
inside the body, the doors of pleasure
opening, one after the next, an arpeggio
climbing the ladder of sky. And all the while
she was singing and wading into the water
until it rose up to her waist and then lapped
at the underside of her breasts, and the aria
drifted over us, her soprano spare and sharp
in the night air. And even though I was young,
somehow, in that moment, I heard it,
the song inside the song, and I knew then
that this was not the hymn of promise
but the body’s bright wailing against its limits.
A bird caught in a cathedral—the way it tries
to escape by throwing itself, again and again,
against the stained glass.

 

 

For more information about Danusha Lameris, please check out her website

Poem of the Week, by Darrell Bourque

IMG_E4567Last week I stood reading Vincent Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo. Back then the mail came two or three times a day, sometimes overnight from Paris to Amsterdam or wherever Vincent was living: the yellow house in France, the room in his parents’ house where he would sometimes retreat, from behind the barred window of the asylum where he committed himself.

The great love between the brothers was clear. So was Vincent’s belief that art would save him from the anxiety and despair that overwhelmed him. In the seventy days before he shot himself, he made seventy-five paintings filled with light, and sun, and the brilliant colors he loved and made his own.

Self-portraits filled one whole room of the museum. In each, his blue eyes shone out at me. They must have shone out at him, too, in the moment he painted himself. When I walked out into the Amsterdam afternoon, I thought of this poem.

 

Lumina
      – Darrell Bourque

We’re all extensions
          of someone or another’s
                     golden light.

In the moment
          I was made
                     stars filled the sky

& some parts
          of the bodies
                     making me

were fleetingly
          illuminated—
                     briefly luminous.

Druids see light
          in wood
                     and worship trees.

When we wave
          in recognition,
                     we disperse light,

set light in motion
          toward
                     the beloved.

We string our trees
          with lights
                     in wintertime.

We want
          to see ourselves
                     in the dark.

 

For more information on Darrell Bourque, please click here.

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Poem of the Week, by ee cummings

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Twenty years ago, when my grandmother died, I put two of her flowered dresses in a plastic bag and tied it up tight. That bag has sat on a closet shelf every place I’ve lived since. Sometimes I open it up and breathe deep. Her scent brings the physical sensation of her love back to me.

That particular kind of love is why I keep my children’s doors shut tight. They are grown and live in distant cities but when I open their doors and step inside, there they are again in the lingering scent of their clothes, their blankets, their essence. Unlike when they lived at home, their beds are neatly made. Making beds, that small daily antidote to chaos, soothes me.

Someday I won’t be here to make my bed anymore. And while I don’t know what I smell like, the people I love probably do.

 

in spite of everything, by e.e. cummings

in spite of everything
which breathes and moves, since Doom
(with white longest hands
neatening each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds

– before leaving my room
i turn, and (stooping
through the morning) kiss
this pillow, dear
where our heads lived and were.

 

​For more information about ​ee cummings, please click here.

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Poem of the Week, by Mike White

IMG_E4417At a museum yesterday I sat and stared at this painting. It transported me to a world with a wooden school desk and a clock ticking on the wall. The hot waxy smell of melted crayons. Balloons in a summer rain sinking slowly to the ground. A miniature wooden circus in a clearing in the woods. Indistinct voices in the distance playing some kind of game.

Looking at the painting was like looking through a scrim at a dreamy, long-ago childhood I may have lived or may have imagined living. When I left the museum I thought of the below poem by Mike White, a poem I recite to myself pretty much every day.

 

Alley in Winter, by Mike White 

Let the work
of art be

beautiful
as the fire

escape is
beautiful

dazzled in ice
after the fire

 

 

For more information about poet Mike White, please click here,

For more information about painter Sam Francis, please click here.

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