A Poem for a Thursday #74

Photo by Raphael Schaller on Unsplash
Anne Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. She was known for her very personal poems that addressed her suicidal tendencies, depression, and relationships with family members. She was encouraged to take up poetry by her therapist after a breakdown. She quickly became well-known for her writing. Sadly, she took her own life in 1974.

Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be as good as fingers.
They can be as trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.
Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.
Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren't good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.
But I try to take care 
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible 
things to repair. 

Anne Sexton

Brona has shared a poem this week.

Things That Happened This Week

I have spent way too long refreshing the news.

 I have been pulled into a nostalgic vortex composed of baby clothes, photographs, and stuffed animals. Cleaning an attic is not for the faint of heart or the overly emotional.

We have been for a few walks by the river. Unfortunately, too many of those walks have been ended with a stop for ice cream at the convenience store down the street.

I have decided quarantine calories do not count.

I have decided to start an exercise program. Yes, that does contradict the previous statement.

I have started using Zoom. This is slightly anxiety-inducing for the socially awkward among us. When do I talk? What do I look like? Why? Why do we all have to communicate? But what if no one wants to communicate with me? It is an endless circle.

I baked an apple pie and oatmeal raisin cookies. See above about quarantine calories not counting. Also, see above about that exercise program.

My daughter and I have started growing our hair long. She wanted to. I didn't but have no choice. She has a mullet now. I put a headband in to keep it out of my face and looked like a 1950s housewife. Not the look I was going for and it really doesn't go with my pajama pants and ratty sweater.

I have started five million books and have only managed to finish the comfort reads I have read many times before. One day I will read something new, different, and worthy of a review. This is not that day.

The volunteer work I do several days a week has been suspended. The meetings I go to twice a week are on Zoom now. My little part-time job has been expanded but still doesn't take up much of my time. I have a lot of free time. I want to be productive with it but sometimes the day ends and I have refreshed the news and reread books and baked a pie.

As with so many of us, it is not the life I want but it is the life that is necessary. I hope you all have books to read and the strength of mind not to refresh the news too often.

A Poem for a Thursday #73

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William Stafford was an American poet who lived from 1914-1993. His poetry career got off to a late start with his first volume of poetry being published when he was 46. His style has been compared to that of Robert Frost. His poems are described as "accessible, sometimes deceptively so, with a conversational manner that is close to everyday speech."

Just lying on the couch and being happy,
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can't 
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can 
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won't even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

Any Morning
William Stafford

I Bought Too Many Books

I didn't really because any of you reading this blog post know that there is no such thing as too many books. However, some people in my life think I bought too many books. I view that as a challenge. Can I top my number of books purchased next time I am in the U.K.? Something to aim for.

I came across this quote in In Search of London by H. V. Morton. I liked the quote even though he went on to talk about how only men can be true book lovers. I think that is pure nonsense. This quote isn't nonsense though. It is just lovely.

The man who has never in his life become lost to all thoughts of time and food in the Charing Cross Road, and at the end of the day has not found himself hugging beneath his arm some book, or books, which he is proud and happy to possess, does not know one of the purest joys which London can afford. The road is a busy one. The traffic rushes one way to Oxford Street and the other to Trafalgar Square. The pavements are always filled with hurrying crowds, and with their backs to the world stand the bookmen, the book readers, the book hunters, the book tasters, the book maniacs-for books, lik drink can affect the brain-completely oblivious that they are not standing in an empty street. 

I bought a few Penguins. Who could resist? This display was in Skoob Books but the ones I bought came from several different shops including an Oxfam Bookshop where they were under a pound each and I bought them despite knowing absolutely nothing about the authors. Resistance was futile. I bought:

The World My Wilderness by Rose Macaulay
Summer Half by Angela Thirkell
The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
Cards of Identity by Nigel Dennis
The English Miss by R. H. Mottram
The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot by Angus Wilson

The first three were deliberate choices and the last three were the impulse buys. But tell me, who could leave those last two titles on the shelf?

I bought three British Library Crime Classics. They were 3 for 2 so obviously I had to. I bought them at the British Library shop after wandering through their treasures room and gazing upon Jane Austen's writing desk. A good day. I bought:

Murder at the Manor:  Country House Mysteries 
Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert
Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert

I went to the Persephone Bookshop which is always a joy and a pleasure. I spent ages trying to decide what to buy. The lovely lady working then was so friendly and gave me a few recommendations for other bookshops in the area. I bought The Second Persephone Book of Short Stories. 

I went in and out of so many lovely secondhand bookshops that I can't always remember what I bought in which shop. I love browsing through cluttered shops and looking for treasures. I found quite a few.

The Matchmaker by Stella Gibbons
Frequent Hearses by Edmund Crispin
Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon
Company Parade by Storm Jameson
The Loved and Envied by Enid Bagnold
The Slaves of Solitude by Patrick Hamilton
A Country Parson: James Woodforde's Diary 1759-1802

Most of my book purchases were from secondhand shops. As I mentioned, I love rummaging around in them and besides, I just could not afford to buy so many books brand new. However, I do love Waterstones and Foyles and I did buy a book in each. I bought:

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane
Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes:  The Story of Women in the 1950s by Virginia Nicholson

I did buy one other book. I found a secondhand copy of a Persephone book for next to nothing. It is A House in the Country by Jocelyn Playfair. It even has the matching bookmark. If anyone would like to have it comment or send me an email and I will be happy to mail it to you. The Persephone joy should be shared.

I sit at home surrounded by my books and wishing I was back in the U.K. I would be happy to spend another day or three or four wandering through book shops and having tea and cake. One day I will return.

A Poem for a Thursday #72

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Ada Limón is an American poet. She also writes fiction and nonfiction. In one interview, she talked about people who come to her readings and tell her that they don't like poetry but they do like her poems. She said she supposes that makes her the gateway drug for poetry and that is not a bad thing to be.

Say tomorrow doesn't come.
Say the moon becomes an icy pit.
Say the sweet-gum tree is petrified.
Say the sun's a foul black tire fire.
Say the owl's eyes are pinpricks.
Say the raccoon's a hot tar stain.
Say the shirt's plastic ditch-litter.
Say the kitchen's a cow's corpse.
Say we never get to see it:  bright
future, stuck like a burn star, never
coming close, never dazzling.
Say we never meet her. Never him.
Say we spend our last moments staring
at each other, hands knotted together,
clutching the dog, watching the sky burn.
say, It doesn't matter. Say, That would be
enough. Say you'd still want this:  us alive
right here, feeling lucky.

The Conditional
Ada Limón

How to Handle a World That is Falling Apart

Buy books. Obviously. Because if you must be quarantined in your house for weeks at a time then heaven forbid you run out of reading material. No, the five-million unread books you already own are not enough. Silly you. You must organize the perfect reading list for the occasion and of course, this will require a few book purchases. Never say that every cloud does not have a silver lining.

Buy tea because the only thing almost as bad as running out of books is running out of tea. You must have endless cups to handle each new piece of information about the doom all around you.

Buy chocolate. No one has ever said it cures the Coronavirus but, at the same time, no one has ever said it doesn't.

Bury your head in the sand occasionally. No one needs all the information all the time.

Give in to your introvert tendencies. If you are anything like me you fight a constant battle between the desire to stay home and the feeling that you should socialize. Stop fighting. Stay home. What did I say about a silver lining?

Worry, because we all are going to anyway. But then, plan something fun because this too shall pass and everyone needs something to look forward to.

Clean your attic, paint your bathroom, organize your garage, decorate your bedroom. Maybe it takes a world pandemic to make you get around to these projects but hey, at least they are getting done. And yes, those are all things actually on my list.

Roll your eyes and tut-tut at the people who buy all the toilet paper and go to work sick. They are annoying and not too smart but you, you are all set. When it all ends, we can emerge and rebuild the world with the skills we are learning doing our projects around the house.

And we will have books, tea, and chocolate for all.

A Poem for a Thursday #71

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Kim Addonizio is an American poet and novelist. I didn't find a lot of information about her but I do like this poem that I stumbled across. I read it through three times which is my completely unscientific way to determine if I should feature a poem. If I read it multiple times in a row then there is something special about it.

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm 
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what 
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment 
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned 
dress they bury me in.

"What do Women Want?"
Kim Addonizio

Here is the poem Reese is featuring this week.

One More Time

I have been on a Georgette Heyer binge. Currently, I am reading the fifth in a row. If that doesn't count as a binge I don't know what does. It has been glorious. There is nothing like sinking into a world of beautiful women, handsome rakes, witty repartee, and nonsensical situations. It was just what I needed to escape from the reality of returning from vacation with the cold/flu from hell. At some point, I will at least look at all the new books I bought in London but for now, old favorites are the way to go.

I started out with Cotillion because I love Freddy and I especially love his interactions with his father. Then I moved on to several of Heyer's mysteries. In general, they are not as strong as her other novels but I still enjoy them; more for the characters and witty asides that make me laugh than for the plots themselves. I also read Sprig Muslin which manages to combine so many elements I love. We have the young and flighty heroine who runs away and tumbles into one scrape after another, plots to pose as a highwayman, bickering young people, a potential marriage of convenience that turns into something else, and a hero who is beloved by all-even the girl who is running away from him. Yes, it sounds ridiculous but it is ridiculous in a wonderful way and Heyer almost always pulls it off. Next, I plan to read A Civil Contract which seems to be either completely unappreciated or beloved by Heyer fans. I fall squarely into the camp of those who love it.

I know many people are not rereaders because they don't want to read a book again when there are so many new books to read. I can intellectually understand that viewpoint but my heart doesn't get it at all. Sometimes, I simply want to visit with old friends. They are undemanding and comforting. This week that is just what the doctor ordered.

Are you a Heyer fan? If so, what are your top three picks of her novels? Mine are probably Cotillion, The Unknown Ajax, and A Civil Contract. But ask me that the next time I am binging on her books and I might give you a completely different answer.