mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 25th, 2008 04:05 pm)
I recommended this poem to [ profile] ann1962 but now that I think about it, some of the rest of you might like it:

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

- Li-Young Lee
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jun. 14th, 2006 09:44 am)
One of many,many reasons I'm glad that Donald Hall was selected (and I kind of include the ghost of Jane Kenyon with him now in all his poems):

An old life

Snow fell in the night.
At five-fifteen I woke to a bluish
mounded softness where
the Honda was. Cat fed and coffee made,
I broomed snow off the car
and drove to the Kearsarge Mini-Mart
before Amy opened
to yank my Globe out of the bundle.
Back, I set my cup of coffee
beside Jane, still half-asleep,
murmuring stuporous
thanks in the aquamarine morning.
Then I sat in my blue chair
with blueberry bagels and strong
black coffee reading news,
the obits, the comics, and the sports.
Carrying my cup twenty feet,
I sat myself at the desk
for this day's lifelong
engagement with the one task and desire.

Donald Hall from
The New Criterion (Jan. 1995)

Apologies for not having the patience to set all the indents correctly. You can see it as it should be at

And here is Jane Kenyon:

Peonies at Dusk

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They're staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it's coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one's face.

Jane Kenyon from

In honor of this day, [ profile] oracne already has posted Owen's "The End." And here's another of his poems:

Strange Meeting

by Wilfred Owen

It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which Titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall;
With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange, friend," I said, "Here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said the other, "Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something has been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . ."
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 24th, 2005 01:36 pm)
I'd forgotten how much I love Berkeley. I used to live here a long time ago--I got married here the first time, my older son was born here, and a lot of my self was formed here, including some parts I think I've shut away since then. Over the last years I've paid many visits to the Bay Area, mostly in SF or Oakland, which aren't too different, but there's a kind of smaller town feeling here. I like walking most places, even though a certain amount of it is almost vertical, and I like being to see the bay from the front deck. I love the Farmer's Market with the incredible wealth of organic plums and heirloom tomatoes, piled up under white tents. And I love going places that I went long ago, and remembering those times.

I also haven't been to California in early fall since then--at first I came back in summer, but for the last 20 years I've been coming in late fall-winter-early spring. I'd forgotten the wonderful clear beautiful days, when the whole world is 3-D and Technicolor, every flower glowing as if to light up the whole universe on its own, the golden grass soft on the hills. How lucky you are, people who live here all the time!

How much I wish I could split my self and live in two places at once.

I think I've posted this poem before, but here it is again:

California Hills in August

by Dana Gioia

I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.

An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.

One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.

And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion,
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.

And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain –
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.

mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 19th, 2005 07:54 pm)
Briefly: I'm doing lots of great things, including going to The Lion King (with wonderful Julie Taymor masks and puppets) and to Howl's Moving Castle, both of which I loved. And an incredible meal at Russian Tea Time with many delicious kinds of finely chopped vegetable salads and spicy lamb, and coriander flavored vodka. And an all-weekend yoga workshop that pushed me way beyond where I ever thought I could go, in mind and body. Here's a poem I heard there:

Last Night, As I Was Sleeping

by Antonio Machado

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt--marvellous error!--
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt--marvellous error!--
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt--marvellous error!--
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, as I slept,
I dreamt--marvellous error!--
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

--translated by Robert Bly

In Spanish, also )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jun. 3rd, 2005 10:07 pm)
Happy Birthday, Allen!

Sunflower Sutra
by Allen Ginsberg

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look for the sunset over the box house hills and cry.

Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery.

The only water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves rheumy-eyed and hung-over like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily.

Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--

--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem

and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past--

and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb,

leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,

Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then!

The grime was no man's grime but death and human locomotives,

all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial-- modern--all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown--

and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos--all these

entangled in your mummied roots--and you standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form!

A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze!

How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of your railroad and your flower soul?

Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!

And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not!

So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter,

and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul too, and anyone who'll listen,

--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all golden sunflowers inside, blessed by our own seed & hairy naked accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sitdown vision.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Feb. 14th, 2005 08:36 pm)
thanks to [ profile] arielblue

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the joy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Li-Young Lee
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 1st, 2005 11:12 am)
To all the friends on my LJ
Here’s a toast on New Year’s Day!
Happy greetings to [ profile] cactuswatcher
[ profile] midnightsjane, [ profile] an_old_one, gotcha!
You make my day—er, make that night.
Good fortune smile on [ profile] ann1962, be bright
For [ profile] oyeceter, [ profile] oursin, and [ profile] randomways;
Bring special joy to [ profile] habibti’s days.
To [ profile] bradrasvapanaand [ profile] deevalish, no blues,
And a great sunrise to [ profile] redredshoes,
Also [ profile] honorh, [ profile] joxn,and [ profile] selenak.
May [ profile] hfx_ben nothing lack,
For [ profile] rachelmanija, [ profile] green_lizzard, and [ profile] cjlasky
Hope the year brings nothing pesky!
[ profile] maeve_rigan and [ profile] altaego
Let the sun bring you its glow!
And [ profile] buffyannotater and [ profile] lucesluna,
Be joyful, and [ profile] wombatina
May you shine in hanumanasana
Just as long as [ profile] rebekahroxanna
Brings us wisdom. And to [ profile] dherblay
And [ profile] londonkds the very best day.
The sun be kind to [ profile] jupitah
To [ profile] anomster, and to Rah!
(That’s [ profile] rahael). For [ profile] ladystarlightlj,
[ profile] ponygirl2000, [ profile] fresne, and [ profile] jackiejj,
For [ profile] deadsoul820 and [ profile] dedalus7
And [ profile] nobody_, a piece of heaven.
Love and joy to [ profile] atpolittlebit
To [ profile] shadowkat67 and [ profile] hankat.
Thanks to LJ for [ profile] barrygraham and [ profile] ursulav;
[ profile] kijjohnson, wish you plenty of
Those great words, and to [ profile] anneth,
Warmer days, and peace to [ profile] atpotch.
To [ profile] __angela__, [ profile] __skye__ and [ profile] ladyhelix
May 2005 bring lots of kicks!
[ profile] mademarian and [ profile] lakrids404,
Hope you’ll need for nothing more.
[ profile] jampalhakyi and [ profile] arethusa2
And [ profile] diony, the best to you.
[ profile] knullabulla and [ profile] theli_93
May you every day be free,
And happiness every single week
To [ profile] haytanbello and [ profile] gleefulfreak.
And most of all, joy to [ profile] scrollgirl
Thanks for opening up LJ world,
ETA: my worse omission,
Cut and pasted with imprecision:
But best of all, [ profile] masqthephlsphr
ATPO's own queen, the best for her!
Happy 2005, all on my flist!
[ profile] mamculuna sends a kiss!
Here's a Mary Oliver poem as a Solstice/Hannukah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/whatever present for all of you who've given so much to me.

by Mary Oliver

There is, all around us,
this country
of original fire.
You know what I mean.
The sky, after all, stops at nothing, so something
has to be holding
our bodies
in its rich and timeless stables or else
we would fly away.

Read more... )
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
its spirit
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
where everything,
even the great whale,
throbs with song.

Centered with the help of [ profile] deadsoul820
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 28th, 2004 12:00 pm)
Read this if you haven't already:

I really want to praise Annie for her last point, that she will not stop saying what she thinks just because she's been visited by the Secret Service. I also want to say that having an FBI file since the sixties hasn't hurt my life much.

A friend of mine who lived through the Chinese Cultural Revolution said once that Mao and the Red Guards didn't need Gestapo and KBG to intimidate the people: they just got the people so paranoid they did their work for them. Freedom of thought and speech are killed by betrayal.

The worst result of this kind of thing, of course, is that we all become afraid to say what we think. We distrust each other and sit in the silence of our own fear.

So let me too say what I think, knowing that my list is open and anyone can report me if they like. That is the only way we can break fear.

George Bush is probably the worst president that has ever held office. He has lied, cheated, stolen, and cost the world many lives. He should be removed from office by impeachment if not by election, since he will probably rig the election no matter how the people vote. He--or should I say the people who tell him what to do or say--has no legitimacy and is guilty of treason, in my sight, for leading the country into war for the personal gains of a few.

As a Buddhist I am non-violent. But as an American I will say what I think wherever I feel it's appropriate and will never be quiet out of fear.

Speech for the Repeal of the McCarran Act

by Richard Wilbur

As Wulfstan said on another occasion,
The strong net bellies in the wind and the spider rides it out;
But history, that sure blunderer,
Ruins the unkempt web, however silver.

I am not speaking of rose windows
Shattered by bomb-shock; the leads touselled; the glass-grains broadcast;
If the rose be living at all
A gay gravel shall be pollen of churches.

Nor do I mean railway networks.
Torn-up tracks are no great trouble. As Wolfstan said,
It is oathbreach, faithbreach, lovebreach
Bring the invaders into the estuaries.

Shall one man drive before him ten
Unstrung from sea to sea? Let thought be free. I speak
Of the spirit's weaving, the neural
Web, the self-true mind, the trusty reflex.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 17th, 2004 11:47 am)
I couldn't remember Li-Young Lee's name,
but finally found him in [ profile] gleefulfreak 's interest meme. So here he is (and also at

The Gift

Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he'd removed
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from.

I can't remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy's palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife's right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he's given something to keep.
I kissed my father.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 16th, 2004 04:06 pm)
Rah's most recent poem reminded me of this one which I've always loved, even though it doesn't strike me in a personal way these days:

They Flee from Me
Thomas Wyatt

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle tame and meek
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, Dear heart, how like you this?

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindely am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 15th, 2004 04:53 pm)
ganked from [ profile] ann1962 and [ profile] oursin

I knew when I planted
how little sun filtered
these close-needled pines
how meager's the sand
how voracious the blight
how melons rot
beans spindle
slug and centipede

It was
my instep though
the shovel scored
my fingers
the damp much shriveled
shedding seeds
in hoe-drawn lines
my neck the sun burned
as I thinned withered losers
staked the strong shoot
my heart
glory of okra bloom surprised
cream trumpet, purple throated
pistil’s staff gold-dusted
my eyes gauged
fat tomato
ripe in thunder
my tongue was anointed
my throat drenched
juice crunch
sparkle pungence
sliced sizzled canned
a steam a jar of summer

and in autumn’s garden
I uprooted
mildewed failures
leaves cores stalks
I hoed to rot
next year’s compost
against sand & shade
beetle & mold

When you see this, post some poetry in your journal. Leave me a note to tell me you did. There can never be too much poetry.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 12th, 2004 03:07 pm)
Here are my answers to [ profile] ann1962 's questions:

Answers! )
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 11th, 2004 01:21 pm)
So here are questions from [ profile] ladystarlightsj and my answers:

Click me! )

So let me know if you--anyone--want questions from me.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Sep. 23rd, 2004 02:58 pm)
I went back, for the first time since I retired, to my former college today, to take the woman who was my assistant to lunch. It was too familiar being there. I didn't feel relief at not having to stay, but I didn't feel longing to stay either. It was just a place I'd been a lot before. Well, maybe I was a bit glad not to have to stay.

Still waiting to hear when we travel to China. At this point it gets a bit irritating, since I have to put all other plans on hold. And if we had some advance time, we could get upgrades to first-class for the trip back, but those will all be sold by the time we get tickets, so we'll be in steerage, for 19 hours, with a baby who doesn't know us. Ugh.

Below are items unrelated to the above!

Poem xposted to [ profile] greatpoets

Last-Minute )

Back to the I Ching: The Army )
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 10th, 2004 11:08 pm)
So many of us were moved to memory of lost parents and children on Mother's Day--I found this poem late last night:


Shu Tin (trans. Tony Barnstone)

Pale fingers brush my temple
I am a child again,
tightly clutching a corner of your dress.
I hold on to your vanishing figure
afraid to open my eyes
though dawn has
scissored my dream to shreds.

I've carefully stored that bright red muffler,
washing it might take away
the slight scent of you.
time is a cruel flow.
Memory could also be faded,
how could I dare open that painted box?

When a needle pricked me, I could cry to you.
Now, I don't even sigh,
wearing a crown of thistles.
I grieve before your picture.
Even if my cry could pierce the yellow earth,
I wouldn't disturb your sleep.

I'm afraid to display these tokens of love,
though I've written many odes
to flowers, to the sea, to daybreak.
A gentle, deep yearning for you,
not cascading, not a waterfall,
but an ancient well, drowned with bushes and flowers,
singing in silence.
mamculuna: (Default)
( May. 8th, 2004 10:38 am)

Joyce Sutphen

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
Whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always.
We just reallly don't get to hear much from contemporary Chinese women, so I was excited to find a link to Tang Yaping's "Black Desert," posted by [ profile] walking_igloo in [ profile] asianstudies

It's really worth reading, if you like poetry at all:
mamculuna: (Default)
( Apr. 2nd, 2004 09:30 pm)

The town’s a wedding in April:
Every street a row of brides in their wide white branches,
the bridesmaids in plum and pink all dancing,
the guests each a different green waving and bowing.
Around all the feet the little flower girls run smiling.
And where is the groom, and who is the groom?

Nobody cares. Or else the brides are all grooms.
This is a wedding, not a marriage,
A wedding of peach and coral and pearl, saffron and purple,
rose and rose, lilac and blue.

Bright notes fall down like diamonds as the choirs fly upward.
My lord sun comes riding early on his tall horses
blessing it all with a shower of gold.


mamculuna: (Default)


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