Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Tuesday Poem: "On the Civil War on the East Coast of the United States of North America 1860-64" by Alan Dugan

Because of the unaccountable spirit of the troops
oh we were marched as we were never marched before

and flanked them off from home. Stupid Meade

was after them, head on to tail, but we convinced

him, finally, to flank, flank, cut off their head.

He finally understood, the idiot, and got a fort

named after him, for wisdom. He probably thought

Lee would conquer Washington from Appomattox

if he, Meade, should march his infantry behind

him, Lee. Ah well, the unaccountable spirit of the troops

triumphed, Meade got his fort, Grant got his presidency,

Sherman got his motto, what was it? War is heck?, Lee got a military school

for the education of young Southern gentlemen, and the Union

Army was taken over by Southern noncommissioned officers

in the wars against the Indians to the west. I know all

about this, I know who won, I served under them

for three hundred and fifty years in World War II,

just long enough not to be called a rookie but a veteran,

and realized the rank and order of my enemies:

first, the West Point officers; second, the red-neck sergeants;

third, the Nazis and perhaps the Japanese. I won

all of these wars as a private soldier, for a while,

and am happy to have done so: without me

Hitler and Hirohito would be ruling the world

instead of America and Russia, but I still will not
drive through Georgia with New York license plates.

by Alan Dugan 

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Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Tuesday Poem: "Anger" by César Vallejo


Anger which breaks a man into children,
Which breaks the child into two equal birds,

And after that the bird into a pair of little eggs:

The poor man's anger

Has one oil against two vinegars.

Anger which breaks a tree into leaves

And the leaf into unequal buds

And the bud into telescopic grooves;

The poor man's anger

Has two rivers against many seas.

Anger which breaks good into doubts

And doubt into three similar arcs

And then the arc into unexpected tombs;

The poor man's anger

Has one steel against two daggers.

Anger which breaks the soul into bodies

And the body into dissimilar organs

And the organ into octave thoughts;

The poor man's anger

Has one central fire against two craters.

by César Vallejo  (translated from the Spanish by Thomas Merton)

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Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Tuesday Poem: "Ode to Teachers" by Pat Mora

I remember
the first day,

how I looked down,

hoping you wouldn't see


and when I glanced up,

I saw your smile

shining like a soft light

from deep inside you.

“I'm listening,” you encourage us.

“Come on!

Join our conversation,

let us hear your neon certainties,

thorny doubts, tangled angers,”

but for weeks I hid inside.

I read and reread your notes


my writing,

and you whispered,

“We need you

and your stories

and questions

that like a fresh path

will take us to new vistas.”

Slowly, your faith grew

into my courage

and for you—

instead of handing you

a note or apple or flowers—

I raised my hand.

I carry your smile

and faith inside like I carry

my dog's face,

my sister's laugh,

creamy melodies,

the softness of sunrise,

steady blessings of stars,

autumn smell of gingerbread,

the security of a sweater on a chilly day.

by Pat Mora

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Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Tuesday Poem: "Who Makes These Changes?" by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.

It lands left.

I ride after a deer and find myself

Chased by a hog.

I plot to get what I want

And end up in prison.

I dig pits to trap others

And fall in.

I should be suspicious

Of what I want. 

by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi (translated from the Persian by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)

For more information on the ancient Persian poet, Rumi, see:

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Tuesday Poem: "The Untrustworthy Speaker" by Louise Glück

Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.

I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.

When I speak passionately,

that’s when I’m least to be trusted.

It’s very sad, really: all my life, I’ve been praised

for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.

In the end, they’re wasted—

I never see myself,

standing on the front steps, holding my sister’s hand.

That’s why I can’t account

for the bruises on her arm, where the sleeve ends.

In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.

People like me, who seem selfless,

we’re the cripples, the liars;

we’re the ones who should be factored out

in the interest of truth.

When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.

A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.

Underneath, a little gray house, the azaleas

red and bright pink.

If you want the truth, you have to close yourself

to the older daughter, block her out:

when a living thing is hurt like that,

in its deepest workings,

all function is altered.

That’s why I’m not to be trusted.

Because a wound to the heart

is also a wound to the mind. 

by Louise Glück

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