Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When You Are Old

Last year, I wrote a post about Yeats and losing in love. And that enduring, hopeless love of his produced "When You Are Old. It's been stuck in my head for weeks. A poem can't be a requitation for love, for that kind of love, but it's something.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Apocryphal Dream Poetry

On my last night in Lisbon, I dreamt that I was reading my friend's blog and that she had updated it — after a long silence — with this poem. It could be straight out of the Greek Anthology.

The shepherd Meanderos climbed the mountain crags
following the tracks of errant sheep.
Sudden storms caught him near the peaks
and now he is lost, wandering alone in the trackless snow.

Friday, June 10, 2016

In Memoriam

Gertrude Petra Landrum
(June 10, 2011 - June 10, 2011)

“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.

I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity,
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.

Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,\
and dust shall be the serpent's food.

(Isaiah 65:17-25)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Machine Translation

From my German friend on Facebook. Either "neeeeeeiiiiiiiiinnnnnnn" means "noooooooooooo" or "Nah Eeee nnnn innn to readers."

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Fashion is a field rife with newly coined words. At CVS today, I came across plumpify in an ad promising to add volume to eyelashes. I can't help but thinking it's sending the wrong message. And it makes my skin crawl on a purely sonic level.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tupelo Press - 30/30

Honore de Balzac wrote "I am a galley slave to pen and ink." I wish I could say this was true for me all the time. But I write in fits and starts. I've learned to accept this over the last years and I've also found ways occasionally to chain myself to the galley bench of my desk and do some writing. Last January, I wrote a poem a day for Tupelo Press' 30/30, a writing experiment in which a writer is subjected to the pressure of writing a poem a day for public reading. It was difficult and grand and scary and exhilarating. I pushed past my limits, living poetry for a month. And the results were amazing, work I'm most willing to hang my hat on.

I'm undertaking the challenge again this month (February, 2016). Here on the brink of it, I feel that uncertainty, the knowledge that I will be tested, that the next month will at times hold panic and despair and at times (I hope) triumph and beauty. I invite you to pace alongside me for the next 29 days -- February is short, even in this leap year, so I'm spared one day -- and see where poetry takes us. 

There are three ways you can support me during this coming marathon of writing.
  1. Read. The best way to support my journey to read along. Last year, so many people were kind enough to follow my daily progress and to get in touch with messages of encouragement and appreciation. Just knowing you're out there means a lot. And get in touch with my fellow 30/30 sprinters if you like what they're writing.
  2. Collaborate. My friend Laurel got off to a head start on this one dropping me a postcard with a great poetry prompt on it. Many of my poems last January came from reader suggestions. Others doodled out lines from my poems in art/word drawings. One friend sent a postcard from her honeymoon in Grandada with my poem Granada written on the back. 
  3. Donate. 30/30 helps raise awareness and funds for Tupelo Press. For the last fifteen years, Tupelo Press has been publishing and supporting work from a diverse array of poets from around the world. They're innovative and creative and maintain a wonderful community of poets through projects like 30/30. My goal is $350 dollars. That's just a few donations of ten and fifteen dollars. If you choose to donate, I have some perks I'll throw in. 
  • $1+ -- A postcard
  • $15 -- A handwritten poem from the month's work
  • $35 - A copy of my chapbook, The Lonesome Savior - translations from the Faroese
  • $50 -- A limited letter-press print of my poem Cicada by the artist Marie Kinscher 
  • $100 -- A private reading at your home or any venue of your choice

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Inhuman Henry (or Cruelty to Fabulous Animals) - A.E. Housman

This week I've been obsessed with this bit of doggerel from my favorite poet. I hadn't bothered to read through his uneven poems filed under light verse and juvenalia in my Oxford Housman and so had missed this one. But I broke it out to read to for my friends' children last weekend. It was a hit and the line "eat the dog and drink the cat has been running through my head" since.

Oh would you know why Henry sleeps,
And why his mourning mother weeps,
And why his weeping mother mourns?
He was unkind to unicorns.

No unicorn, with Henry’s leave,
Could dance upon the lawn at eve,
Or gore the gardener’s boy in spring,
Or do the very slightest thing.

No unicorn could safely roar
And dash its nose against the door,
Nor sit in peace upon the mat
To eat the dog or drink the cat.

Henry would never in the least
Encourage the heraldic beast:
If there were unicorns about
He went and let the lion out.

The lion, leaping from its chain,
And glaring through its tangled mane,
Would stand on end and bark and bound
And bite what unicorns it found.

And when the lion bit a lot
Was Henry sorry? He was not.
What did his jumps betoken? Joy.
He was a bloody-minded boy.

The Unicorn is not a Goose,
And when they saw the lion loose
They grew increasingly aware
That they had better not be there.

And oh, the unicorn is fleet
And spurns the earth with all its feet:
The lion had to snap and snatch
At tips of tails it could not catch.

Returning home, in temper bad,
It met the sanguinary lad,
And clasping Henry with its claws
It took his legs between its jaws.

“Down, lion, down!” said Henry, “Cease!
My legs immediately release.”
His formidable feline pet
Made no reply, but only ate.

The last words that were ever said
By Henry’s disappearing head,
In accents of indignant scorn,
Were “I am not a unicorn.”

And now you know why Henry sleeps,
And why his mother mourns and weeps,
And why she also weeps and mourns;
So now be kind to unicorns.