Oh Jack Gilbert, you wreck me. It's been months since I've picked up this collection and in one line you throw me into the fire of the moment and show me the power of poetry. This poem is so incredibly human and right and powerful and perfect. Notice how the opening line, "Dusk and the sea is thus and so," anchors the voice of the poem in the here and now which sets us up for the gut punch of the realization that "they have not lit the lamp at the other farm yet / and all at once I feel lonely." This absent light takes the speaker, takes us, away from the "now" and into the past/future ether of loneliness. And that period after "surprise," so acute, it shows a sigh, it shows us this loneliness. But then we are back to the here and now, back to being "all right again." Thanks for the reminder, Jack.
"Landscape with Yellow Birds" - Shuntaro Tanikawa
This is a poem from the Here - Poems for the Planet anthology. I love the repetition of "there" throughout the poem, reminding us to see and to notice. I've been reading The Art of Voice by Tony Hoagland (Awesome!!) and he talks about how "inessential language creates an atmosphere of disconnectedness, or relationality" and how "it is exhilarating to listen to a voice that is practicing disclosure without seeking advantage. That is intimate." I think this poem exemplifies what Hoagland is writing about. The repetition of "there" and "so" invites us into the moment with the poet as they guide us through the slow, organic realization that everything we see and notice becomes our world. It reminds me of that Mary Oliver line that attention is the beginning of devotion...
"Word Drunk" - Jim Harrison
Ah, Jim Harrison. Whenever I need something or someone to slap some sense into me, to remind me what is important, I just pick up and read some Jim Harrison poems. These two lines, especially, kill me - "but I would feed on an essence / until it yields to me my own dumb form -". Yes! That is the entire purpose behind poetry. A writer needs to let himself be succumbed by the world outside their head. There, the river is through the woods. Go find it, and on the way, listen to every twig that cracks under foot. Feed on those sounds and the flicker of water through the leaves.
"Staying in the Woodman's Cabin" - Marina Boroditskaya
This is another poem from the Here - Poems for the Planet anthology. I particularly love the the last four lines, reminding us that if we let ourselves be in and of a place, we can become something else, something larger than ourselves. Oftentimes we see landscapes as impressions of ourselves, when in reality, maybe, we are impressions and gestures of the moon and the sun, and the hedgehog grunting in the corner. We just need to stay in a place long enough.