On the Fifth Day

“The facts were told not to speak. . .

Jane Hirshfield wrote this insightful and cautionary poem and will read it on April 22nd during the program for the March for Science.  It was published in Sunday’s Washington Post.   Read more about this wonderful poet’s work here.

 

On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.
The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.
The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,
while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.
Bound to gravity, earless and tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.
They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

– Jane Hirshfield

P.S.  There are new prompts on the Prompts page.

Recuerdo

“… the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.”

When I started writing poems in high school, I discovered and fell in love with the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.  I still have the book of her collected poems I received from my folks one Christmas.  Here is an early poem of hers, and one my favorites,  Ah, young love…

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable—
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

– Edna St, Vincent Millay
From  A Few Figs From Thistles 

National Poetry Month

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I’ll share my favorite poems — the ones I return to and always find something new.  I hope you enjoy them too.

The first is by my friend Steve Deutsch who writes a satirical political blog that’s worth a look.  This poem originally appeared in Weatherings, an anthology produced by Future Cycle Press on homelessness, aging, and our planet.

Flotilla

You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.

You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.

Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.

Steve Deutsch

The Weight

One drunken night he lay on the coach road and she lay beside him.

“The Weight” is by my friend Ryan Stone who lives in Melbourne, Australia.  More of his fine poetry can be found at Days of Stone.

Faerie Lights on the Dark Road by Faustus-Faunus

One drunken night, he lay on the coach road
and she lay beside him. He pictured a truck
descending – wobbling around corners,
gaining momentum. They spoke about crushes,

first kisses. He told her of an older woman
who’d stolen a thing he couldn’t replace.
He tried to describe the weight of lost things.
She listened until he stopped,
until I stopped

hiding behind he. I felt small,
watching the cosmos churn
while I lay on the coach road
one summer night, speaking
of big things
and nothing.

Ryan Stone
First published in Algebra of Owls
Photo:  “Fairie Lights on the Dark Road”
by Faustus Faunus

PS  New prompts are up on the Prompts page.

Winter Hawk

 

IMG_1955

He holds vigil in a ravaged tree,
his fields, once tall with corn,
now snow-tipped stubble.

He accepts the unforgiving wind,
the cold, thin light – not wishing
for tomorrow or warmth or spring –
alive only in what is.

I close my eyes, clear my mind
of stubble in my own fields,
gather Now around me like feathers,
like breath.

When I look again, he rises
on fierce, decisive wings –
his crimson tail as brilliant in the January sky
as truth.

 Sarah Russell
First published in Prey Tell

If I Had Three Lives

After “Melbourne” by the Whitlams

If I had three lives, I’d marry you in two.
The other? Perhaps that life over there
at Starbucks, sitting alone, writing – a memoir,
maybe a novel or this poem. No kids, probably,
a small apartment with a view of the river,
and books – lots of books, and time to read.
Friends to laugh with, and a man sometimes,
for a weekend, to remember what skin feels like
when it’s alive. I’d be thinner in that life, vegan,
practice yoga. I’d go to art films, farmers markets,
drink martinis in swingy skirts and big jewelry.
I’d vacation on the Maine coast and wear a flannel shirt
weekend guy left behind, loving the smell of sweat
and aftershave more than I did him. I’d walk the beach
at sunrise, find perfect shell spirals and study pockmarks
water makes in sand. And I’d wonder sometimes
if I’d ever find you.

Sarah Russell
First published in Silver Birch
Winner of the Poetry Nook contest

Republished in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily