I hear in my mind all of these words

People's Park, Berkeley, CA
Poetry in People’s Park, Berkeley, originally uploaded by yaznotjaz.

My new buddy
recently introduced me to the poetry slam at MACLA and upcoming open mic nights at Blue Monkey in downtown San Jose [Blue Monkey! The name just makes me laugh and think of Baji, my favorite robot monkey pirate], then I also attended the Poetry for the People reading one evening last week in Berkeley, and will be at the Mohja Kahf reading in San Francisco this Monday, so April has been all about poetry appreciation. I hope you knew that April is National Poetry Month, otherwise, that’s it, we just can’t be friends anymore. I’ve been subscribed to receive a Poem-A-Day from Poets.org in my email inbox since last year, and what’s even more rocking is coming across pieces of poetry on my usual online haunts like weblogs and flickr.

[Click each of the direct links below, to access the poems in their entirety.]

Brimful, who writes so beautifully about San Francisco like no one else can, posted Reverie by Bhikshuni Weisbrot:

Then breathless,
I may take a moment or two
to settle and see the multicolored
glory of fall,
gold-fanned leaves
pressed flat and sodden
after a day of rain,
a season at its peak of beauty
full but fragile
so you know from experience,
bound to disappear.

The next day, she shared Atlantis—A Lost Sonnet by Eavan Boland:

what really happened is

this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word
to convey what is gone is gone forever and
never found it. And so, in the best traditions of

where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name
and drowned it.

Ganesh posted Louise Glück’s Averno: Part I, Poem 4:

How privileged you are, to be still passionately
clinging to what you love;
the forfeit of hope has not destroyed you.

Maestoso, doloroso:

This is the light of autumn; it has turned on us.
Surely it is a privilege to approach the end
still believing in something.

The New York Times review of “Averno” also quotes some lovely lines from Glück’s various poems; I think I shall have to buy this book.

Baraka’s Poetry Monday focused on Su’ad Abdul-Khabeer:

Young men in fitted caps
deep in sly glances,
Others offer courtesies in appreciation.
Women honor us openly or
with their arrogance,
And the press
can’t get enough of us.
See, clothes do not hide the woman
They announce her.

To cover or not to cover
Is not my battleground.

I don’t know how I never found Madlyne on flickr until two weeks ago, but her jarring photograph was captioned with Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, Kindness, and I knew we’d have to be friends:

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Finally, a comment on Anna’s weblog led me to The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver:

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

20 thoughts on “I hear in my mind all of these words

  1. i heard about the crazy highway falling/burning out in oakland today. i assume you weren’t driving around at 4 in the morning so inshallah you’re okay — but probably stuck in a lot of traffic. How is it out there?

  2. Kashmala,
    You’re very welcome, beautiful lady, I’m so glad you enjoyed. Also, it’s been nice seeing you around more often (emails/fb/comments here). The internet, it’s such a rocking thing.

    Baji me love!
    You will be so excited to hear I had gelato the other evening, and thought of you and 2Scoops, of course. I’ll check out Blue Monkey for you, don’t you vorry. Oh, I still owe you (and 2Scoops!) pics from when he and I hung out. I’m so ridiculously behind in everything in my life.

    Dude! That’s news all the way over on the other side of the country, too? Whoa. Yeah, it’s been pretty crazy. Luckily, as you mentioned, I don’t make a habit of driving around at 4am. And alhamdulillah, no one else was injured (such a miracle), and inshaAllah the driver will be alright. Apparently, it’s going to take them MONTHS to repair the freeway damages, though, thanks to steel shortages.

    I commute south to Silicon Valley, so traffic was no worse than usual for me. The real test comes this evening – I’m going to be in San Francisco for the Mohja Kahf reading I mentioned in my post, and it’s going to be kinda funky getting home to the East Bay. I’ll figure it out, though! Much love, and thanks so much for checking in, buddy.

  3. Whoa… thank you for pointing us to Kindness- that poem is jarring and amazing.

    Also, yikes about that freeway meltdown… I wanted to be back in SF as soon as I read about it, because the news reports were initially so spotty.

  4. no it was on the morning news. which is weird cuz i never watch the morning news. but yeah, you know what they did? they just brought up a screen with someone’s flickr set. CRAZY!

  5. Poems are so beautiful sometimes they make me sad. I can’t explain it. It’s a lovely kind of sad, though. Thanks for sharing these.

    Was lucky enough to be in the Bay Area two weekends ago… it’s gorgeous, and I envy you getting to live there!

  6. Brimful,
    After you posted two rocking poems in a row, I knew I had to share the others I had come across, too. So thank you for the idea for this post. Glad you liked ‘Kindness.’ Also, I’m sad you’re leaving the city soon. I always associate San Francisco (and the Mission!) with you.

    Highfive to flickr! I am so proud of our photojournalists. haha

    I’m going to STAB you for being in the Bay and not telling me, dammit. Don’t let it happen again, please. =) Also, yes, I find a lot of poetry bittersweet, too. Nice to find someone else who feels the same way. Finally, I heard of Regina Spektor through Ganesh, I believe. Have been enjoying her album the last couple of days, although some of her stuff is a bit too slow for my tastes.

    Dude, I still can’t get over this being front-page news nationally and internationally. Re. poetry, you’re not the only one. =)

    even though i’m not a poetry buff, this post wants me to read more poetry!

    My job is done, then! =) Thanks so much, buddy. Glad you stopped by.

  7. Salaam dear Yasmine,

    Lovely seeing you at Mohja’s reading the other day – hope you’re enjoying her collection!


  8. MI,
    You’re very welcome! Thanks for stopping by, buddy. =)

    It was lovely seeing you as well, too, beautiful lady. I’m so glad I could make it. Have indeed been enjoying her collection, ‘though making slow progress because not enough time, sadly.

    You are too kind, as always. =) But I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I didn’t even expect that so many people would appreciate all this poetry! Perhaps I should share stuff like this more often, then – it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who’d like it.

  9. you truly honor me with your link but I feel
    Naomi is a gift to the better consciousness of our
    world – thankyou so much for sharing her with
    others – the other link you left on my site took my
    breath away and made me cry – as often her
    work does – it strikes a profound chord in my heart –
    I know how to make mamool cookies and if you ever
    visit we will share lemonade and cookies
    and know we will never be lost as long as we
    stay rooted to one another.

    You are a bright warm soul and I am blessed to
    have found you.


  10. thanks for linking, but for multiple reasons, the blog is now closed to the outside.

    email me at brooklynDOTmasalaATgmailDOTcom for an invite, yasmine. peace.

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