It has been a year since 45 took office. I thought it might be helpful to include here what generated this weekly post. We’ll add it at after this week’s poem.
William Stafford said that at a certain point in our lives we live primarily in what he called “language events.”
He of course was reminding that words even more often than non-verbal events can cause lasting harm, or be a way into the good.
Every day each of us creates the language events that others live in.
for Heather McHugh
How to say this in the words that now
are tired even of themselves
Sure foot along the river
Long note of the full moon
We listen, one hand resting on another
Yesterday, as the blanket of anger
covered us, the earth did its single task
Our sleep keeps coming back
Into the day
Into the day
Once after a full night of rain, after
the lightning and thunder, we walked out
looking at the glisten of the sky’s sure language
But today, how to find the last noun
and its only verb
Driftwood keeping to itself
Last night, my wife placed a handful of rose petals
in a cup on the wood stove
Now sleep takes her where she can be herself
Soft pulse of the sprinkler on the garden
Soon the children down the street
will be in their yard,
their voices saying why
The words travel along with their unhappy endings
The honeysuckle is a weaving of bees
First published in Passages North
Subsequently published in Broken Symmetry
W. H. Auden announced that poetry makes “nothing happen.” And he has been misunderstood ever since his words were taken out of context. He meant that all art, all those who make art, be it successful or not, are engaging in a political act. They are not combating. They are revealing an alternative and creating a world to live in as real as any imposed upon us, creating a world we deserve to live in and actually can live in. Here are some of his words: “A mob is active, it smashes, kills. The public is passive or, at most, curious. . . . In our age, the mere making of a work. . . . is itself a political act. [All] making what they please and think they ought to make, even if it is not terribly good, even if it appeals to only a handful of people, they remind the ‘Management’ of something managers need to be reminded of, namely, that the managed are people with faces. . . .”
So each Thursday I post a poem and say a little something (that’s where self-consciousness enters) as a quiet stand against the anti-soul perched in our White House. Please don’t worry about responding. If the poem can be a friend for a bit, that’s plenty. And if you know of someone who would benefit, do “pay it forward.”
Namaste, Shalom, Amen, Whatever you say,
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