Maya Angelou’s Birthday

Maya Angelou's book of PoemsGoogle, today, honored Maya Angelou on what would be her 90th b-day. They did this with a Google Doodle of one of her famous poems: “Still I Rise” https://g.co/doodle/hqbawy?ds=em I like this poem well enough but wish they wouldn’t have chopped it up with guest readers. Too sappy for my taste. Safe. Accessible. Vanilla for the masses.

Reaching for a collection of her poems on my shelf and thumbing through it one is reminded of so many less safe (for children) challenging, Rocky-Road with Tabasco on top… pieces; poems that I wouldn’t consider reprinting here. She was brave, raw, and real much of the time. She’s not my favorite poet but she could really “bring it” sometimes and I am so grateful she wrote and grateful I’ve had a chance to read some of her books and much of her poetry.

Here’s a poem I came across while flipping through her book just now: (still safe for young readers)

Africa

Thus she had lain
sugar cane sweet
deserts her hair
golden her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.

Over the white seas
rime white and cold
brigands ungentled
icicle bold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she had lain.


Google. Thank you for reminding me of Maya Angelou today.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Minnesota Thanksgiving

 

For that free Grace bringing us past great risks
& thro’ great griefs surviving to this feast
sober & still, with the children unborn and born,
among brave friends, Lord, we stand again in debt
and find ourselves in the glad position: Gratitude.

We praise our ancestors who delivered us here
within warm walls all safe, aware of music,
likely toward ample & attractive meat
with whatever accompaniment
Kate in her kind ingenuity has seen fit to devise,

and we hope—across the most strange year to come—
continually to do them and You not sufficient honour
but such as we become able to devise
out of decent or joyful conscience & thanksgiving.
Yippee!
Bless then, as Thou wilt, this wilderness board.

Covalent Bonds

Covalent Bonds
by Sunbry Fieldhat

Zane Grey slipped near the drain
losing his never to be forever balance

He was often careless like this
lost in the milieu of millennial-like
reflections on self, and life, and the careless
way he stepped, reflected the careless way he
lived

Losing touch with the ground was simply
body following mind

Inevitably and quickly
his brain case,
filled with brief wonder,
closed the gap
met the ledge

A robust stream
of blood
slipped warmly down
his neck

His girl, exasperated,
having made allowances
for his flitting mind and
inattentive hands heard the
thud but didn’t move

better to let hope rub a rush to heat
than call 911 right away


 

 

Shower and Steam by Bryson Hatfield

I’m letting it all rush over me,
each molecule
how the exasperation of
the heat rubs off
oh
and the allowance of such a thing

every complex covalent bond slipping warmly
over my skin

waiting for the inevitable

fall

and I wonder what part of them stays with me
what is with
what is without
what do i keep
what falls freely
without my knowledge.

what bit of intense connection did I lose
because I was too busy
too careless
too wrapped up in millennial narcissism

something lost in a moment
slipped forever down the grey drain


 

Visit Little Spud In The Big Apple to see the poem in its original context

Lost Love Poem by Marty Steyer

                  — To Patty 

Maybe it's sheltering today under
a blizzard of paid bills and bank receipts,
or maybe it flew south. Do you wonder,
dear, why old age (a murder of crows) greets
us with cawing? We've faced its raw music
lightheartedly, scattering our last crumbs
among mourning doves, which, just in the nick
of time, pecked them before it snowed. Numb is
indeed what our paired hearts must hope to be
to keep pounding through another season
of teeth-chattering cold. Calamity
has not yet touched us, love, which is reason
enough for good cheer and celebration.
The snow flowers like a white carnation.


http://www.cortlandreview.com/issue/76/steyer.php

1960 by Billy Collins

In the old joke,
the marriage counselor
tells the couple who never talks anymore
to go to a jazz club because at a jazz club
everyone talks during the bass solo

But of course, no one starts talking
just because of a bass solo
or any other solo for that matter.

The quieter bass solo just reveals
the people in the club
who have been talking all along,
the same ones you can hear
on some well-known recordings.

Bill Evans, for example,
who is opening a new door into the piano
while some guy chats up his date
at one of the little tables in the back.

I have listened to that album
so many times I an anticipate the moment
of his drunken laugh
as if it were a strange note in the tune.

And so, anonymous man,
you have become part of my listening,
your romance a romance lost in the past

and a reminder somehow
that each member of that trio has died since then
and maybe so have you and, sadly, maybe she.


 

This poem called to mind one of my favorite recordings (below) which has embedded in it some remarks/reaction and laughter from a lady in the audience which I feel is priceless and which I anticipate and enjoy hearing every time.  It really puts you there.  No, she wasn’t chatting up her date, but fully immersed in the experience she was having.  I especially love her laugh around the 4:18 mark, and again at the end.

 

If you wish to purchase the book this poem appears in, here is the link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rain-in-portugal-billy-collins/1123721806?ean=9780679644064