Most days on our Think in the Morning Facebook page and on our @ThinkInTheMorn Twitter page we post a poem. Usually I also post information on the poet on my David Herstle Jones Facebook page. If you want to read these daily poems, please visit our Facebook or Twitter page. Periodically we will collect these poems and post them in a blog for easy reference. This is the fourth such compilation. With each poem we choose an appropriate example from our collection of Sea Gull Cellar Napkin Art to pair with the poem. We hope you enjoy the poetry as much as we do.
The world has many seas, Mediterranean, Atlantic, but
here is the shore of the one ocean.
And here the heavy future hangs like a cloud; the
enormous scene; the enormous games preparing
Weigh on the water and strain the rock; the stage is
here, the play is conceived; the players are
I saw on the Sierras, up the Kaweah valley above the
Moro rock, the mountain redwoods
Like red towers on the slopes of snow; about their
bases grew a bushery of Christmas green,
Firs and pines to be monuments for pilgrimage
In Europe; I remembered the Swiss forests, the dark
robes of Pilatus, no trunk like these there;
But these are underwood; they are only a shrubbery
about the boles of the trees.
Our people are clever and masterful;
They have powers in the mass, they accomplish marvels.
It is possible Time will make them before it
annuls them, but at present
There is not one memorable person, there is not one
mind to stand with the trees, one life with
Katherine Anne Porter
For Christopher Smart
When winter was half over
God sent three angels to the
Who said to her
“Be glad, you little rack
Of empty sticks,
Because you have been chosen.
In May you will become
A wave of living sweetness
A nation of white petals
A dynasty of apples.”
J. D. Salinger
Not a wasteland, but a great inverted forest
with all the foliage underground.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Now it is Loneliness who comes at night
Instead of Sleep, to sit beside my bed.
Like a tired child I lie and wait her tread,
I watch her softly blowing out the light.
Motionless sitting, neither left or right
She turns, and weary, weary droops her head.
She, too, is old; she, too, has fought the fight.
So, with the laurel she is garlanded.
Through the sad dark the slowly ebbing tide
Breaks on a barren shore, unsatisfied.
A strange wind flows… then silence. I am fain
To turn to Loneliness, to take her hand,
Cling to her, waiting, till the barren land
Fills with the dreadful monotone of rain.
In the profoundest ocean
There is a rainbow shell,
It is always there, shining most stilly
Under the greatest storm waves
That the old Greek called “ripples of laughter.”
As you listen, the rainbow shell
Sings–in the profoundest ocean.
It is always there, singing most silently!
Bays Poem From Berkeley
Mornings I still
reach for you before
opening my eyes.
An antique habit from
last summer when we pulled
each other into the heat of groin
and belly, slept with an arm
around the other.
The Texas sun was like that.
Like a body asleep beside you.
But when I open my eyes
to the flannel and down,
mist at the window and blue
light from the bay, I remember
where I am.
on the other side of the bed
is only books, not you. What
I said I loved more than you.
Though these mornings
I wish books loved back.
Morning (Love Sonnet XXVII)
Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
You’ve moon-lines, apple pathways
Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.
Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba;
You’ve vines and stars in your hair.
Naked you are spacious and yellow
As summer in a golden church.
Naked you are tiny as one of your nails;
Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born
And you withdraw to the underground world.
As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores;
Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves,
And becomes a naked hand again.
When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
I want a god
as my accomplice
who spends nights
of ill repute
and gets up late
through the streets
before the lips
of his lover
who waits in line
at the entrance
of movie houses
and likes to drink
café au lait
doesn’t even have
enough for bus fare
by the billy club
of a policeman
at a demonstration
out of fear
before the flaring
to the last
bites the air
a jobless god
a striking god
a hungry god
a fugitive god
an exiled god
an enraged god
for a change
in the order
I want a
I starred that night, I shone:
I was footwork and firework in one,
a rocket that wriggled up and shot
darkness with a parasol of brilliants
and a peewee descant on a flung bit;
I was busters of glitter-bombs expanding
to mantle and aurora from a crown,
I was fouettés, falls of blazing paint,
para-flares spot-welding cloudy heaven,
loose gold off fierce toeholds of white,
a finale red-tongued as a haka leap:
that too was a butt of all right!
As usual after any triumph, I was
of course, inconsolable.
Subhuman Redneck Poems, 1996
After Publication of Under the Volcano
Success is like some terrible disaster
Worse than your house burning, the sounds of ruination
As the roof tree falls following each other faster
While you stand, the witness of your damnation.
Fame like a drunkard consumes the house of the soul
Exposing that you have worked for only this
Ah, that I had never suffered this treacherous kiss
And had been left in darkness forever to flounder and fail.
“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
― William Blake
Edgar Allen Poe
‘Twas noontide of summer,
And mid-time of night;
And stars, in their orbits,
Shone pale, thro’ the light
Of the brighter, cold moon,
‘Mid planets her slaves,
Herself in the Heavens,
Her beam on the waves.
I gazed awhile
On her cold smile;
Too cold- too cold for me-
There pass’d, as a shroud,
A fleecy cloud,
And I turned away to thee,
Proud Evening Star,
In thy glory afar,
And dearer thy beam shall be;
For joy to my heart
Is the proud part
Thou bearest in Heaven at night,
And more I admire
Thy distant fire,
Than that colder, lowly light.
Far back when I went zig-zagging
through tamarack pastures
you were my genius, you
my cast-iron Viking, my helmed
lion-heart king in prison.
Years later now you’re young
my fierce half-brother, staring
down from that simplified west
your breast open, your belt dragged down
by an oldfashioned thing, a sword
the last bravado you won’t give over
though it weighs you down as you stride
and the stars in it are dim
and maybe have stopped burning.
But you burn, and I know it;
as I throw back my head to take you in
and old transfusion happens again:
divine astronomy is nothing to it.
Indoors I bruise and blunder
break faith, leave ill enough
alone, a dead child born in the dark.
Night cracks up over the chimney,
pieces of time, frozen geodes
come showering down in the grate.
A man reaches behind my eyes
and finds them empty
a woman’s head turns away
from my head in the mirror
children are dying my death
and eating crumbs of my life.
Pity is not your forte.
Calmly you ache up there
pinned aloft in your crow’s nest,
my speechless pirate!
You take it all for granted
and when I look you back
it’s with a starlike eye
shooting its cold and egotistical spear
where it can do least damage.
Breath deep! No hurt, no pardon
out here in the cold with you
you with your back to the wall.
Across the dark fields the family is spread
While overhead the sky is haunted,
In the dull light they scour the crop
Never looking up as the day seems to stop.
Wild radishes missed will destroy the yield—
Bills to be paid, deals to be sealed.
But the plover’s refusal to lift and drop,
And the absence of crow and parrot talk,
And the immense racket as stalk rubs on stalk,
Registers somewhere deep in the soul.
And as the sun begins to uncoil—
The deep green of the wheat uneasy with light—
The golden flowers of wild radishes bite
Just before they are ripped from the soil.
Henry Wordsworth Longfellow
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.