Bob Schwartz

Tag: poetry

Dreams night and day

Night dreams fall away
In first light
This day dream
Gone too

© Bob Schwartz

Easter Poem: This Bread I Break by Dylan Thomas

This Bread I Break

This bread I break was once the oat,
This wine upon a foreign tree
Plunged in its fruit;
Man in the day or wine at night
Laid the crops low, broke the grape’s joy.

Once in this time wine the summer blood
Knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
Once in this bread
The oat was merry in the wind;
Man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.

This flesh you break, this blood you let
Make desolation in the vein,
Were oat and grape
Born of the sensual root and sap;
My wine you drink, my bread you snap.

Dylan Thomas

 

Making breakfast for one: one’s not half two

It is one of those days unusually when I am making breakfast just for myself. e.e. cummings came to mind.


one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one:

by e.e. cummings

one’s not half two. It’s two are halves of one:
which halves reintegrating,shall occur
no death and any quantity;but than
all numerable mosts the actual more

minds ignorant of stern miraculous
this every truth-beware of heartless them
(given the scalpel,they dissect a kiss;
or,sold the reason,they undream a dream)

one is the song which fiends and angels sing:
all murdering lies by mortals told make two.
Let liars wilt,repaying life they’re loaned;
we(by a gift called dying born)must grow

deep in dark least ourselves remembering
love only rides his year.
All lose,whole find

Walt Whitman Visits the White House

The White House would benefit from many visitors. The founders of the republic, particularly the authors of the Federalist Papers. Abraham Lincoln would be a welcome presence. Above all, the current White House needs poetry, most especially the poet who most embodied, ahead of his time, the spirit of the ages taking form in the present American ideal.

As it happens, Walt Whitman recently visited the White House. This is how it went.

DJT: Who the hell are you? How did you get in here?

WW: I am large, I contain multitudes. I am Walt Whitman. I live here in Washington and work for the Attorney General. I am also a poet.

DJT: You work for Barr? (picks up phone) Get me Barr. Bill, there’s some homeless guy here who says he works for you.

WW: Let me read you a poem about an election.

DJT (hangs up phone): About my election?

WW: It is called Election Day: November 1884

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name—the still small voice vibrating—America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s:)
the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the
heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

DJT: Yeah, Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, they’re going to swell my sails! My heart pants, I get it. Napoleon, I like the sound of that. I’m going to tweet about you right now. How do you like Wild Walt?

WW: Another poem:

To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist
much, obey little,
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved,
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever
afterward resumes its liberty.

DJT: Resist much, obey little!? (picks up phone again) Get this bum out of here!

WW: I’ll be back. Be best.

I. Can’t. Say.

I. Can’t. Say.

ask me today
where I am from
I
can’t
say
ask me tomorrow
I
will
tell
you
I am not from where

© Bob Schwartz

Note: There is a cold morning rain in the desert. Waiting long enough there will be cloudless sun and scorching heat.

The Second Coming at 100: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”

It has been 100 years since William Butler Yeats wrote his poem The Second Coming, in the wake of World War I and in the early days of the Irish War of Independence. It is an unsurpassed observation of a descent into societal darkness, as order passes and chaos reigns.

It is no wonder that its phrases are some of the most borrowed by writers over the past century: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”; “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity”; “what rough beast, its hour come round at last,/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”. Once we have read the poem, the lines force themselves on us when our lesser attempts to describe the most dire circumstances fail.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

William Butler Yeats (1919)

Thunder and Lightning, Fire and Ice

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will
Jerry Garcia, The Wheel

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost, Fire and Ice

Raindrops

Raindrops

Is there pattern
to raindrops
splashing in the puddle or
do they fall at random?
The birds sing:
there is they do.

© Bob Schwartz

 

Mike the Squirrel

This is a picture of a metal squirrel in front of a cactus. The squirrel was a gift from a beloved friend to mark our departure as a neighbor. I named him Mike. That was one of our many departings from friends and neighbors and Mike goes with us. He is never banished to a closet or storage room. He currently lives openly in a desert backyard. This friend and I do not stay in touch much. Mike the squirrel does not mean to nag but he is a reminder of missed opportunities for more moments with cherished friends. After posing for this picture, Mike returned to his usual spot on the back porch. I return to my chair where I can see the cacti and palm trees backed by mountains here before me and here after me. Maybe I will reach out to that friend and tell her how Mike is doing.

Cargo

For RJ and EB

They loaded all they owned, all life had collected, on a cargo ship. The ship crossed the Atlantic. Before it reached Liverpool, they stood on deck and one by one threw the items overboard. Big heavy things that sank immediately. Small light things that floated and stayed afloat as long as they could see. After they threw the last thing over, they embraced.

The captain was watching, concerned that they might be polluting the ocean, concerned that they might throw a crew member or themselves overboard. He asked why.

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer.*

I do not speak French, the captain said.

And now you will never have to. What does that matter anyway? We wish to be married again. Will you perform the ceremony?

I would be pleased to, the captain said.

And so he did, with the Atlantic sky and the Atlantic sea as witnesses.

*Free man, you will always cherish the sea.
Charles Baudelaire, L’Homme et la Mer