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April 29, 2010 at 4:39 pm #594658
“The idea is simple: select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends on April 29, 2010.
Poems from pockets will be unfolded throughout the day with events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores.”
I’ve got a poem in my pocket. How about you?April 29, 2010 at 4:43 pm #693514
Speaking a Foreign Language
How clumsy on the tongue, these acquired idioms,
after the innuendos of our own. How far
we are from foreigners, what faith
we rest in one sentence, hoping a smile will follow
on the appropriate face, always wallowing
between what we long to say and what we can,
trusting the phrase is suitable to the occasion,
the accent passable, the smile real,
always asking the traveller’s fearful question—
what is being lost in translation?
Something, to be sure. And yet, to hear
the stumbling of foreign friends, how little we care
for the wreckage of word or tense. How endearing they are,
and how our speech reaches out, like a helping hand,
or limps in sympathy. Easy to understand,
through the tangle of language, the heart behind
groping toward us, to make the translation of
syntax into love.
–Alastair ReidApril 29, 2010 at 7:01 pm #693515
Hangover, by Billy Collins
If I were crowned emperor this morning,
every child who is playing Marco Polo
in the swimming pool of this motel,
shouting the name Marco Polo back and forth
Marco Polo Marco Polo
would be required to read a biography
of Marco Polo-a long one with fine print-
as well as a history of China and of Venice,
the birthplace of the venerated explorer
Marco Polo Marco Polo
after which each child would be quizzed
by me then executed by drowning
regardless how much they managed
to retain about the glorious life and times of
Marco Polo Marco PoloApril 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm #693516
Jan that poem is wonderful! Thank you for sharing it – it really speaks to me right now.April 30, 2010 at 9:33 pm #693517
“My House is the Red Earth” by Joy Harjo
(combined poems in a song from: Letters to “Letter_from_the_End_of_the_Twentieth_Century”)
My house is the red earth;
It could be the center of the world.
I’ve heard New York, Paris, or Tokyo called the center of the world, but I say it is magnificently humble.
You could drive by and miss it.
Radio waves can obscure it.
Words cannot construct it, for there are some sounds left to sacred wordless form.
For instance, that fool crow, picking through trash near the corral, understands the center of the world as greasy scraps of fat.
Just ask him. He doesn’t have to say that the earth has turned scarlet through fierce belief, after centuries of heartbreak and laughter —
He perches on the blue bowl of the sky, and laughs.
If you look with the mind of the swirling earth near Shiprock you become the land, beautiful.
And understand how three crows at the edge of the highway, laughing, become three crows at the edge of the world, laughing.
Don’t bother the earth spirit who lives here.
She is working on a story.
It is the oldest story in the world and it is delicate, changing.
If she sees you watching she will invite you in for coffee, give you warm bread, and you will be obligated to stay and listen.
But this is no ordinary story.
You will have to endure earthquakes, lightning, the deaths of all those you love, the most blinding beauty.
It’s a story so compelling you may never want to leave;
This is how she traps you.
See that stone finger over there?
That is the only one who ever escaped.
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