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We had thunderstorms here last night, so we're not short on rain, but there have droughts of greater and lesser severity in my neck of the woods in recent years, so I now this summer silence too parched to speak.

Cummings makes beautiful use of personification of the air itself as thirst-stricken, dumb-throated, feeling woe and sagging its limp body. Just the right words to evoke physical feelings as you read, and emotional connection to the images.

I hope it rained. Sounds like they all needed it. 

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My daughter is in pain today. Heartbreak. I tell you May 2017 has been really mean to this girl and she is a light in this world who doesn't deserve it. My heart is broken along with hers, even though we can both see, with our logical sides, that this is probably for the best in that big-picture, my whole life before me kind of way.

Whenever I'm feeling something complicated and deep, I turn to Emily Dickinson. Maybe it's because she lived such a quiet life and gave herself ample space to process and contemplate in, but Emily's words are so often a salve to my heart because she captures the complex whirlwind within in a cogent and affecting fashion.

After nearly every one of her poems I've ever read, I've wanted to say ^^^THIS in giant capital letters from the joy of feeling like there is someone out there who understands what I feel and can articulate it.

I thought of this one because this is the second romantic heartbreak of her young life. Feeling it alongside her, I remember how it does feel like your life closed. Those ending two lines hit the nail on the head for sure:

"Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell."

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My youngest daughter is very into the musical Annie right now. They've been singing songs from it in her music class at school.

We watched the new version together when it came out, and it has its charms, but I'm a fan of the old one with Carole Burnett as Ms. Hannigan. We're watching it this afternoon and she's realizing that these are actually the versions of the song they've been teaching her at school.

I was telling her about the old comic strip, and in looking up pictures for her, I learned it all began with a poem by James Whitcomb Riley. Here's a cool article about it:

Weird how art inspires art inspires art. 

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Many of the poems that affect me most strongly are about grief. Grief is one of those complicated sets of emotions that is hard to express and understand through ordinary language. Luckily, we have poetry, a fiercer language that doesn't back away from the difficult or the strange.

What's a good death?

That's the essential question at the heart of this one. And it's a question with a different answer for every death and all the grieving people surrounding it. I read this one as a response to criticism, that someone suggested this death wasn't a good one. The defense is there in the "of course."

"Of course you held on and I held on to you."


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I'm a sucker for a good slice-of-life poem, just a peek into someone else's life.

The captivating part of this one is the joy and accomplishment the short-order cook feels for having managed the extra challenge. Sure, he makes burgers and fries all day . . .but thirty, all at once? Now, that's something extra. That crucial point, when it's time to add cheese. That takes dexterity.

The whole game is elevated to Olympic levels and he pulls it off! I'd love to see his victory dance. 

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Divorce is ugly even when it goes well. Emotions run high, and the logistics of separating two lives, especially when you have children or own things together, are complex. Disentangling lives is neither simple nor quick.

In this poem, the once-husband and wife are forced into continuing to share living space after the decision to end things has been made, "as in some demented romantic comedy." War terminology abounds as the speaker describes that landscape: bivouacked, bleeding, stipulation, crawl away forever, alien species, exclusion zone. The realism of that struck home. I've been through that, and it is its own special kind of hell.

The turn that comes with "civil twilight" hurt my heart, in the portrayal of tenderness offered, even amidst all the strife and anger. If not tenderness for the person he is now, perhaps a remembrance of who he once was and what he once meant to her.


The title brought to mind all the high drama of Russian novels: Anna Karenina, Dr. Zhivago, Crime and Punishment. A Russian ending, in that sense is always melancholy, a pyrrhic victory at best. Lingering, still painful, and deeply felt. 

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When you spend time with creatives, there's a certain way of talking that develops. Ideas are presented with a sureness the speaker may not even feel. Passions run high. Statements are made as much for how they sound as for what they mean.

This poem captures a moment like that so well, with the quoted lines like "the time for nuance is over" and "the french meaning to shade." I also love that the speaker is eating breakfast and the violence is enacted upon poached eggs and toast only. The fact that the eggs are poached paints a specific picture for me of someone with a lot of privilege posturing without knowing suffering in any meaningful way.

The almost incidental confession in the middle about hurting a friend with something he said really moved me.

"ill never forget what her eyes did
as i finished speaking
stones in a bucket."

And that political coffee at the end. "i finish my coffee &
it’s political whether i want it
to be or not." It's something I've found as I've read and written about poetry all this year, is that whenever something is personal, it is also political. The idea of "just politics" doesn't apply when we're talking about issues that someone is passionate about. It may be just coffee and talk, but it is also about everything we assume, love, and expect.


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Another one from the fine folks at Poem a Day who continue to save my bacon on my own poem a day reading project, by making sure at least one poem crosses my consciousness every single day.

This one feels more like an interesting conversation with a friend than a poem to me. I was trying to figure out why that is, and I think it's the sentence structure.

If I take out the line breaks, it reads like ordinary paragraphs: Sewing patterns are designed for imaginary people, based on average measurements taken in the 1930 by the WPA and adjusted over the decades by the Industry." See? Interesting, but it doesn't sing. It seems like the introductory paragraph of an essay on body image issues for women of the twenty-first century.

That said, I do like the ending lines, and sympathize with the idea. 

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Mary Oliver always seems to lift me up with her poetry. And yet, she's not saccharine or surfacey. So many of her poems are meditations on the self and the spirit. So many speak to me.

Morning can feel like a fresh start, and thinking of it as if the world were actually recreated with each dawn is an idea that appeals to me deeply. While it may not be literally true, it's true in a mindset sort of way. A "fresh start" can always be made at least within your own mind.

"Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again"

"the heaped ashes of the night" is such an evocative phrase, bringing to mind the legend of the phoenix, and plants retaking the landscape after a forest fire or a volcano. The hopeful green shoots.

I am saddened by the part about carrying a thorn heavier than lead within, and the contrast between that and the people whose nature it is to be happy. The speaker in the poem has such sympathy for that person, maybe has even been that person at one time or another.

The hope lies in that beast she says shouts within even those who are weighed down and trudging along. The beast that, in its way, is challenging us to dare to be happy, to dare to pray.


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So it appears that it's not just me and Pixar that anthropomorphize toys. That bit about "love has no pride" puts me in mind of The Velveteen Rabbit, a story I always found more depressing than charming. Confusing in its vision of love.

Sad little toy, dreaming of being strung along. 
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