Country Mountains

Country Mountains

Today is my 90th birthday. It might seem confusing since I have been celebrating
this birthday for several days now.

On Saturday, 19 of my family, across three
generations including four great-grandsons, took me out to Tequila Mockingbird for dinner.

Poetry or the lyrics of songs always accompany any occasion in this family of assorted creatives. Just now I pulled out a birthday folder of 2 poems and Lizzie’s comments following each.

 

I intended to share one poem by Pablo Neruda,
closely related to my own art,when I noticed Lizzie’s comment on the first poem:

The first line made me think of you and how often I say to

you that I long for you to fall in love with yourself, to

remember who you are in your startling beauty and passion.

I push this —and this poem made me realize there is no need

to push this. It happens. It happens. We find that love

when we find it — and until then —we are held in our knowing,

held in patient, loving arms, held in our troubled sleep —

held in our darkness — held in the mountains.”
………………………………………………………………………………..

Here is that first poem:

HERE IN THE MOUNTAINS

There is one memory deep inside you,
in the dark country of your life.
It is a small fire burning forever.

Even after all these years
of neglect
the embers of what you have
known rest contented
in their own warmth.

Here in the mountains,
tell me all the things
you have not loved.
Their shadows will tell you
they have not gone,
they became this night
from which you drew away in fear.

Though at the trail’s end,
your heart stammers
with grief and regret
in this
final night
you will lead down at last
and breathe again on the
small campfire of your
only becoming.

And draw about You
the immensity
of the black sky
which loves your fire’s
centrality.

The deep shadow
that forever
takes
you in its arms.

The low song
of the long
and patient night
that holds you
in your sleep

and stitches
faithfully
with that impossible light
the dark blanket
from which you were born.

……………DAVID WHYTE

Lizzie ended with ‘held in the mountains’, the mountains of memory
for us being the Catskill mountains in New York State.

I love the next to last stanza: ‘the low song of the long and patient
night that holds you in your sleep,’ —- recalling the sound sleep of
youth and memories of each annual trip up to the “country mountains”.

Thank you, one and all, who are sharing this journey with me.

with love …
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Delight

Again, I seem to be noticing simple delights more often than not. Such a wonderful story of my life – to be 98 and welcoming a sense of good luck and a lovely decrease in impatience!

Today’s haiku is a playful way of welcoming the sun after days of rain.

Love Always, Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

“WRITING DOWN THE BONES”

IMG_1607I’ve always loved the title of that small Shambala Pocket Classic,
written 30 years ago.  My dog-eared copy shows those years!

The sub-title, “Freeing the Writer Within” is what hooked me in the
beginning, and since then has proven its worth.
Consider this on page 87:
“I say all writers, no matter how fat, thin, or flabby have good figures.
The are always working out. Remember this. They are in tune, toned up,
in rhythm with the hills, the highway and can go for long stretches and
many miles of paper. They  move with grace in and out of many worlds.” ~ Natalie Goldberg

Yes!  tomorrow I may have a poem but this is my ode to urge you to
pick up a pencil or pen and just write your heart out. No erasures,
no crossed out lines, just go for it, and leave it to continue another day.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

OCCASIONS

PAFA-Image-3
Woman Reading by a Window, 1905 Artist: Gari Melchers

To celebrate the return of the early sun is a kind of wonder.
What do we say to each other?

How about this:

“I wish for you that when you awake

You emulate the leaf and the bird;

That like them, touched with grace, you take

Note of the wind.  You have not heard

Its low-voiced billows yet, nor seen

( Lost in your less elated rest)

The empty light upon the green,

The leaves and tumbling birds that gave

The wind its due, and then redressed

That small excess, each bounding spray

A boat that dances on the wave,

A whip that tingles in the day.”

……………..DANIEL DAVIE, 1922-1995
from an Anthology of the Best Poetry Since 1900,
edited by Michael Schmidt

Very much like the view from my window this April morning.
Celebrate the day.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

A Cool Platter of Cooked Shrimp

imageWeeks after my birthday gift in December, I used my gift card
of $50 to Whole Foods to have this amazing experience of
abundance when the other day I bought a whole pound of fresh
shrimp, cool & cooked, with a balance on that gift card left over
for another foray into food extravaganza.

“Look, I want to love this world
as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get
to be alive
and know it.”

That quote is from a Mary Oliver poem that has nothing to do
with cooked shrimp, but has every thing to do with Joy. When
I knew I could share this odd joy of the cooked shrimp with you,
I went looking for a poem to match the sense of aliveness that
having all you ever wanted of one thing was right there.

It takes only one moment of being in the right place at the
right time to know it’s possible, at no great cost, to find joy
in the smallest moment.

You’ll recognize it when it happens to you. The memory of
this got me up at 3:30 this morning to remind you.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

……….Quote from the poem, October, in the Mary Oliver book of
poems, New & Selected Poems, Vol. 1, 1992.

 

 

CONVERSATION

photo 4WHENEVER I read a poem for the first time, I start out
eager to explore. ( please be advised that this is not
the way to treat a poem)

Because in the middle I am so curious as to where I
will end up, not even where the poem will end up,
that I get to the last line out of breath.

I may suggest that I simply step out of myself,
reach for the poem and let it happen. Yes:

” YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE
A CONVERSATION IS
GOING TO GO

Said Ricky to me one day, “Why is it you
don’t have a tail?”

Well, I just don’t. Maybe once upon a time
I had one, but not anymore.

“What happened? Did you have an accident?”

No, no. Things change. Sometimes. Over
time.

“You mean, maybe sometime I won’t get a walk,
I won’t get dinner? I won’t get hugs? That’s
scary, plain scary.”

No, No, it takes a really long time. In
fact, some things change, over time, and
some don’t.

“Well, how do I know what’s what?”

Day by day, Ricky. You find out.
Has anything changed that troubles you?

“Actually, nothing. I like everything a lot,
every day.”

Well, see? Just keep on liking things
and praying.

” I don’t know anything about that.”

Yes, you do. Every time you wake up and
love your life and the world, you’re
praying, my dear boy. I’m sure of it.

………………………. MARY OLIVER, from her book,
Dog Songs, 2013

I did have to read that one at least three times.
Every time, it changed me.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

 

A ‘DAILY’

imageAt 4am I awoke, looked out my window, and
across the parking lot I saw 3 large deer silently
walking east at the far edge. I went back to bed
but could not sleep, so got up again,
looking for today’s inspiration, and found it:

“THE OPENING OF EYES

That day I saw beneath dark clouds,
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing,
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.”

……….DAVID WHYTE, from his book of poetry
called River Flow, 1984-2007, page 31.

The power of creative expression through art
of any kind to pierce through to the heart’s place,
we are so blessed.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

 

REPORTING POETRY

In the March 2014 issue of Poetry Magazine, there are seven pages on a conversation with PBS News Hour correspondent Jeffrey Brown.

I can only jump from a line there, to see the flavor of news reporting poetry. Crazy thought reporting news of Poetry!  Starting here with what Brown says:

“I spend most days working with my colleagues to produce news stories, and at the appointed hour I speak into the camera, telling what happened. What is the most important, most interesting, most compelling – wars, elections, natural disasters, news you expect to see and hear.

But there is more to tell.

In Haiti there is a small community center, a sort of library, where every Saturday for the past 10 years or so, the “crazy artists” come to meet one another, read their works and hold classes in writing or painting. On (any) day there is much reciting, singing, shouting lines back and forth in Creole and French, with references to the quake, cholera, hunger, death, but also to pleasure, fellowship, drinking and love, love, love.

I was there as a reporter.  What’s it mean, to report?  Give an account for the day, a tricky thing to be there but not of there. So, we accumulate facts and observations and give that account. In Haiti, that day, men and women gathered together to tell their histories, their lives, their hopes and joys, angers and sorrows.  Poetry happened.

There are many other stories and places. I recently witnessed children in a blighted Detroit neighborhood talk of W.S. Merwin’s line on “words hiding inside this pencil” and then pick up their pencils to write.

Indeed, along the way, in this country and abroad, I met many of our finest, most insightful poets and writers. I asked questions about language, words, and lives that we all share.  I learned over and over that the news comes from many directions, in many forms, that there are many ways – including a work of art, a piece of music, lines of poetry – to describe what happened.

Each of us must come to terms with what we see and what we will say.  On that trip to Haiti in 2011, the nation’s best known poet, Frankétienne, surveying what he called a “dying country”, told me “words cannot save the world.  And yet an account must be given.” 

Frankétienne and the “crazy”poets (of that small gathering in Haiti) continue to observe and write the news of the world.  A journalist continues to report the news of the day.”                                                                                               ……………………………………

Something to think about.

always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

Reporting poetry – all her life…..
Young Antoinette sailing to Italy

 

 

 

OUT OF SEASON

I have gotten out of the habit of awaking and reaching
for a poem. Lately, I have chosen to simply go back
to sleep. Tonight, or rather this very early morning,
I got up and reached for a poem:

LESTER TELLS OF WANDA & THE BIG SNOW

“Some years back I worked a strip mine
Out near Tylesburg. One day it starts
To snow and by two we got three feet.
I says to the foreman, “I’m going home.”
He says, “Ain’t you stayin’ til five?”
I says, “I got to see to my cows,”
Not telling how Wanda was there at the house.
By the time I make it home at four
Another foot is down and it don’t quit
Until it lays another. Wanda and me
For three whole days seen no one else.
We tunneled the drifts and slid
Right over the barbed wire, laughing
At how our heartbeats melted the snow.
After a time the food was gone and I thought
I’d butcher a cow, but then it cleared
And the moon come up as sweet as an apple.
Next morning the ploughs got through. It made us sad.
It don’t snow like that no more. Too bad.”

……PAUL ZIMMER,(1934, Canton,OH) ran university presses
at Pittsburgh, Georgia,and Iowa, then retired to his farm
near Soldiers Grove, WI. Author of many collections, he is
known to have said, “Some people view life as food served
by a psychopath. They do not trust it.” But Zimmer expects
always to be happy. Puzzled by melancholy, he pours a
reward and loves the world relentlessly.

Although I am alone here, I laugh out loud at that remark
noted in Garrison Keillor’s book, Good Poems.(2002)

Good morning to you all.

always with love, Mom/Mimi/Antoinette/Toni

“…laughing…. At how our heartbeats melted the snow.”

GOD’S BUCKET

Crossword puzzles didn’t work early this morning.
Sun not up, I had to use a flashlight to reach into
a shelf to find something that just wanted to be
found.

Here it is:

“If this world
Was not held in God’s bucket

How could an ocean stand upside down
On its head and never lose a drop?

If your life was not contained in God’s cup

How could you be so brave and laugh,
Dance in the fact of death?

Hafiz,
There is a private chamber in the soul
That knows a great secret

Of which no tongue can speak.

Your existence my dear, O love my dear,
Has been sealed and marked

“Too sacred,” “too sacred,” by the Beloved —
To ever end!

Indeed God
Has written a thousand promises
All over your heart

That say,
LIfe, life, life
is far too sacred to
Ever end.”

………..from the book,
THE GIFT, Poems by Hafiz,
The Great Sufi Master.
Translations by Daniel Ladinskyf

And so it is.

always with love,
Mom/Mimi/Toni/Antoinette

“There is a private chamber in the soul
That knows a great secret”