Results matching “Poetry”

#18 decembrance 2019

Before sunset Warren and I went out on the pond in the rowboat. We were both bundled up with gloves and hats. The pond has been very high and the overflow clogged with pond weed and other debris.  It was so starkly beautiful. The sun was low, the winter landscape bare, and it felt brutally cold in the wet wind. All seemed unstable as the boat was blown by the breeze, my oars got clogged in pond weed and ice all while Warren pushed, pulled, and scraped the muck with a copper pole. These are the times when I need to have a panoramic view that acknowledges both the beauty and the struggle. How grateful I am for this pond and the hard stuff of maintenance. This is when I turn to poetry for the vocabulary of thanks that can include the  obvious light and a memory of the futility of waving in the dark.

18 winter 2019.jpg

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

"Thanks" by W.S. Merwin, from MIGRATION by W.S. Merwin, copyright © 2005 Copper Canyon Press. 

#9 summer series 2019

Maxine Kumin wrote a poem about using the newspaper as compost in her garden, taking the paper and reading the news as she covered it with mulch between the rows of broccoli and corn. It was an act of digesting and knowing and letting go of the weight of AIDS, suicide bombings, and tsunamis. The newspaper held heartbreak and stained her fingers black, but she fed her emotions and knowledge to the earthworms. It was as if her daily tending of her garden was also the daily tending of her poetry. I learned from that model. Writing my bits, collaging words with my drawings and letting the embryo of my understanding of poetry germinate in the unclaimed eggshell of the compost. These practices taught my unquiet spirit. The mix of garden, parenting, making pots, drawing and writing became my life. They became my practice, my path forward. Kumin's poems were her life. I loved the idea that she was stealing from her own life to make her poems. I also appreciated their autobiographical character because she was the same age as my mother who was also writing poems but I could read Kumin with a dispassionate distance. I could have empathy for her parents' death or her children finding their own lives without the tangled emotions of my own family's patterns.

09 summer 2019.jpg
"After the next revolution
it rained melancholy, it is still raining
in the poets garden. But they are planting
and busy white moths flutter
at random along orderly rows,
a trillion eggs in their ovipositors
waiting to hatch into green loopers
with fearsome jaws"

--from The Poets' Garden by Maxine Kumin

#6 summer series 2019

When I describe to non woodfirers that we have a week of cooling between the firing and the unloading I am often asked, how do I cope. The assumption is that we can't wait to open the kiln, but in truth I am pooped and the week of cooling and time away from pots and kiln is healthy for me. I sleep in, perhaps watch some movies or TV shows. This year I have been weeding. I have made sure I go to yoga. Today we went into DC for a hit of urban life. We saw Ursula von Rydingsvard's exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Her work filled my imagination with form, material, texture, poetry and a sense of intuition. The title of the show "The Contour of Feeling" reminded me of the impossibility of trying to describe the inside of a vase. We arrived home to our green world of Warrenton as the last of the light drained from the sky, full of Burmese dinner flavors, memories of conversation with a good friend, and all the sights and sounds of changing neighborhoods in our nation's capital.

06 summer 2019.jpg
"We don't know the contour of feeling we only know what molds it."

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

#4 decembrance 2018

As we wait for the anagama to cool I look at old tests of found materials trying to imagine what information the new tests might impart. I often tell people that I feel because potters have to imagine how things shrink and transform in the heat of the kiln we tend to be optimists who can see into the future. However at this moment in time I am ready for the night to be too dark to see into the future so I can accept the kiln load of pots as they are and let what will be, be.

"Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be."

Robert Frost, from "Acceptance," The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged (Holt, 1979)

#14 decembrance 2017

After my father died I ended up with the boxes that hold my mother's archives of poems. When I am working on an new series of plates I often have a look in one of the boxes. I sift through the folders of handwritten and typed and xeroxed pages and am always touched by how vibrant her poems are. When she was alive the poems seems too obvious, but now in retrospect I see how she captured the atmosphere and her thoughts--the nuances of her Greenwich Village walks, her Maine boat rides, her fears for her children, or her love of tulips and mint. I am glad to mine these collections of words to find that she captured so much as I embed them in my plates. Printed backwards they further emphasize my inherited illegible handwriting.

14 decembrance 2017.jpg"The poetry of the earth is never dead."
-  John Keats

#13 decembrance 2017

13 decembrance 2017.jpgWhy Are Your Poems So Dark?

Isn't the moon dark too,

most of the time?

And doesn't the white page

seem unfinished

without the dark stain

of alphabets?

When God demanded light,

he didn't banish darkness.

Instead he invented

ebony and crows

and that small mole

on your left cheekbone.

Or did you mean to ask

"Why are you sad so often?"

Ask the moon.

Ask what it has witnessed.

--Linda Pastan, from Poetry (August 2001)

#11 decembrance 2017

Over the weekend we had various students stop by, mainly women all in the early stages of ceramic experiments and clay education. They asked about how we physically make things as well as the conceptual pursuits. While working towards my decembrance series I have been imagining a series of panels that looked as if I found them on the street. But to create them I had to layer pages of paintings, add more paint and sand back down through the surfaces chasing an image glimpsed on the periphery of my imagination. I could not make my panels without the pots or the intent of making photographs.  All of this attention and inattention is part of finding my way through this dark point in the year.

11 decembrance 2017.jpgThe painter Willem de Kooning famously called himself a slipping glimpser, slipping into the glimpse--slipping toward the image--that he would then arrest in paint. I spend much of my time trying to write poems about what I can single out from my own slipping, which is difficult because when you're slipping you tend to keep your eyes trained on your feet to keep from crashing; it's hard to lift your eyes so that the world can be attended to. Easy to forget, the world is still occurring outside the drama of the self, and the poem of the self is going to be limited unless the world can enter in.

--Lucia Perillo, from "The Glimpse," in I've Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature (Trinity University Press, 2007)

#2 decembrance 2017

When I start this project each season I have to go back to the roots of my ideas. I struggle with the short days of winter.  Looking for poems, making images and focusing on the bits of light I can find are how I move through it. My happiness depends so much on wearing the boots that make the pot, the image, the background. It is my defiant love of light and making that finds cracks where the seeds of ideas can germinate.

It would be neat if with the New Year

for Miguel

It would be neat if with the New Year
I could leave my loneliness behind with the old year.
My leathery loneliness an old pair of work boots
my dog vigorously head-shakes back and forth in its jaws,
chews on for hours every day in my front yard--
rain, sun, snow, or wind
in bare feet, pondering my poem,
I'd look out my window and see that dirty pair of boots in the yard.

But my happiness depends so much on wearing those boots.

At the end of my day
while I'm in a chair listening to a Mexican corrido
I stare at my boots appreciating:
all the wrong roads we've taken, all the drug and whiskey houses
we've visited, and as the Mexican singer wails his pain,
I smile at my boots, understanding every note in his voice,
and strangers, when they see my boots rocking back and forth on my
keeping beat to the song, see how
my boots are scuffed, tooth-marked, worn-soled.

I keep wearing them because they fit so good
and I need them, especially when I love so hard,
where I go up those boulder strewn trails,
where flowers crack rocks in their defiant love for the light.

"It would be neat if with the New Year" by Jimmy Santiago Baca, from Winter Poems Along the Río Grande. Copyright © 2004 by Jimmy Santiago Baca.

#20 summer solstice 2017

When I make my poem plates I root through the boxes of my mother's archives. She had a poetry group that met periodically and I find xeroxed versions of poems paper-clipped together. There are also hand scribbled versions and revisions. I transcribe her words through sifted ash or clay and print them so they end up reversed in the clay. I take the insubstantial words that came from my mother's mind and press them into the shape of a plate. Her life feeds mine. Her words create shadows of lines, direction, and song in clay.

20 summer 2017.jpgA writer's work
is with the insubstantial word,
the image that can only find
its being in another's mind.
We work with water, with the wind,
we make and hold no thing at all.
All we can ever shape or sing
the tremor of an untouched string,
a shift of shadows on the wall.
--  Ursula K. Le Guin, from "Writers," Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 20012)

#7 summer solstice 2017

The first lilies of June accompany the first blueberries of the month. A friend told me that one of her favorite spring moments was to go out in the morning with her cat and pick the first blueberries. I treasure my short morning walk with the dog and my small handful of first blueberries.

07 summer  2017.jpgMore Than Enough

The first lily of June opens its red mouth.

All over the sand road where we walk

multiflora rose climbs trees cascading

white or pink blossoms, simple, intense

the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy

clumps of flower and the blackberries

are blooming in the thickets. Season of

joy for the bee. The green will never

again be so green, so purely and lushly

new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads

into the wind. Rich fresh wine

of June, we stagger into you smeared

with pollen, overcome as the turtle

laying her eggs in roadside sand.
Marge Piercy's latest book of poetry is Colors Passing Through Us (Knopf, 2003)  Poem copyright © 2003 by Marge Piercy
2 3 4  


Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.