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Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 30: "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley

The 2020 National Poetry Month poster from Poets.org

Invictus 

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

***

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day! That means you should carry around a poem in your pocket today. Pick one you really enjoy. Then, read it to someone or otherwise share it. If you're lucky, they'll have a poem in their pocket, too, to share with you. (If you want to read more about my background celebrating this fab holiday, I wrote a guest post for my friend's book blog back in 2014. You can read it here.) Today, I'll be carrying with me the powerful poem above. (Carrying it around the house since, you know, lockdown. But still. It'll be in my pocket per the rules!)

I had big ideas for this year's Poem in Your Pocket Day festivities, but obviously the pandemic had other plans. So my plans have to wait until we can, you know, leave our houses and come within 6 feet of one another. But we'll get there. Here's hoping we'll have a vaccine by next April (that's probably too soon to have one ready yet, but we're gonna hope for it just the same!) 

Today is also the last day of April, which means the last day of daily poems. Thank you for joining me this month. I hope you read a poem or two (or ten!) that spoke to you and made you smile or laugh or sigh or feel understood. 

Here's to all the beautiful words we shared this month. Here's to the poetry. Be well, friends.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April 29: "My Guitar Lies Bleeding in My Arms" by Bon Jovi

My Guitar Lies Bleeding in My Arms
by John Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora
My Guitar Lies Bleeding in My Arms lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Misery likes company I like the way that sounds
I've been trying to find the meaning
So I can write it down
Staring out the window it's such a long way down
I'd like to jump but I'm afraid to hit the ground

I can't write a love song the way I fell today
I can't sing no song of hope
I've got nothing to say
Life is feeling kind of strange
Since you went away
I sing this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

I'm tired of watching TV it makes me want to scream
Outside the world is burning
Man it's so hard to believe
Each day you know you're dying
From the cradle to the grave
I get so numb sometimes that I just feel the pain

I can't write a love song the way I feel today
I can't sing no song of hope
I got nothing to say
Life is feeling kind of strange
Strange enough these days
I send this song to you whoever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

Staring at the paper I don't know what to write
I'll have my last cigarette-well, turn out the lights
Maybe tomorrow I'll feel a different way
But here in my delusion I don't know what to say

I can't write a love song the way I feel today
I can't sing no song of hope
I've got nothing to say
And I can't fight the feelings
That are burning in my veins
I send this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding

I can't write a love song the way I feel today
I can't sing no song of hope
There's no one left to save
And I can't fight the feelings buried in my brains
I send this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms 

Source: LyricFind


Personal Note:

Last weekend, for a change in scenery and because I felt incredibly sad, I went for a walk in my old neighborhood. I thought a stroll down memory lane might cure what ailed me: namely, a sense of loss over my previous, less fraught way of life. 

I thought visiting my old neighborhood and walking the streets from my (mostly happy) childhood would calm me down. Or cheer me up. Or both. 

Sadly, it made it a little worse. The neighborhood looked so different. The changed landscaping made the street I’d lived on almost unrecognizable. (There used to be hedges and trees separating property lines, setting each house apart as its own little section. Now most of those were gone. Each house blurred into the next.) My elementary school has been leveled and replaced with a new housing development. The whole experience was incredibly sad. 

I shouldn’t have been surprised, of course, since I haven’t lived there in over 17 years, but it was still jarring. 

What hadn’t changed, though, were the streets. Those I walked the same way I did in the evenings with my best friend all those years ago. I even texted her while passing some of our favorite old spots. Also keeping me company on this walk was Bon Jovi’s album These Days

One of them—today’s “poem”-- stood out to me as I walked along. The lyrics resonated as I thought of this current situation and how I haven’t been able to do much writing (or even significant reading since I can’t concentrate for long spells) since sheltering-in-place started. 

Listen to the song here

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

April 28: "A Woman's Answer to a Man's Question" by Mary T. Lathrap

A Woman's Answer to a Man's Question
by Mary T. Lathrap (1838-1895)
(Written in reply to a man's poetic unfolding of what he conceived to be a woman's duty.)

    Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing 
        Ever made by the hand above— 
    A woman's heart, and a woman's life 
        And a woman's wonderful love?

    Do you know you have asked for this priceless thing 
        As a child might ask for a toy, 
    Demanding what others have died to win, 
        With the reckless dash of a boy?

    You have written my lesson of duty out, 
        Man-like you have questioned me; 
    Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul 
        Until I shall question thee.

    You require your mutton shall always be hot, 
        Your socks and your shirt be whole; 
    I require your heart to be true as God's stars, 
        And as pure as heaven your soul.

    You require a cook for your mutton and beef; 
        I require a far better thing. 
    A seamstress you're wanting for socks and shirts; 
        I look for a man and a king.

    A king for the beautiful realm called home, 
        And a man that the maker, God, 
    Shall look upon as he did the first 
        And say, "It is very good."

    I am fair and young, but the rose will fade 
        From my soft, young cheek one day, 
    Will you love me then 'mid the falling leaves, 
        As you did 'mid the bloom of May?

    Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep, 
        I may launch my all on its tide? 
    A loving woman finds heaven or hell 
        On the day she is made a bride.

    I require all things that are grand and true, 
        All things that a man should be; 
    If you give all this, I would stake my life 
        To be all you demand of me.

    If you cannot do this — a laundress and cook 
        You can hire, with little to pay, 
    But a woman's heart and a woman's life 
        Are not to be won that way.

Monday, April 27, 2020

April 27: "The Moment" by Marie Howe

The Moment
by Marie Howe (2011)

Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
when,    nothing
happens
no what-have-I-to-do today list

maybe  half a moment
the rush of traffic stops.
The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be
slows to silence,
the white cotton curtains hanging still. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

April 26: "I May, I Might, I Must" by Marianne Moore

I May, I Might, I Must
by Marianne Moore

If you will tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

April 25: "Anger" by Charles and Mary Lamb

Anger 
by Charles and Mary Lamb

Anger in its time and place 
May assume a kind of grace. 
It must have some reason in it, 
And not last beyond a minute.
If to further lengths it go, 
It does into malice grow. 
'Tis the difference that we see 
Twixt the serpent and the bee. 
If the latter you provoke,
It inflicts a hasty stroke. 
Puts you to some little pain,
But it never stings again. 
Close in tufted bush or brake
Lurks the poison-swelled snake 
Nursing up his cherish'd wrath; 
In the purlieux of his path,
In the cold, or in the warm,
Mean him good, or mean him harm, 
Whensoever fete may bring you,
The vile snake will always sting you.


Friday, April 24, 2020

April 24: "April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes

April Rain Song
by Langston Hughes from Collected Poems (Estate of Langston Hughes, 1994)

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night--
And I love the rain. 
***
In case you want to hear the poem with some graphics, here's 2 options for you. 
This one is from Disney Junior and features Disney characters. (The poem itself starts around the 35 second mark after an introduction of kids talking about how they love poetry.)
This one is by the New York Botanical Gardens, and features lovely nature shots.