Sunday, September 18, 2011

From Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved

From Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved
by Gregory Orr

Resurrection of the body of the beloved,
Which is the world
Which is the poem
Of the world, the poem of the body.

Mortal ourselves and filled with awe,
we gather the scattered limbs
Of Osiris.
That he should live again.
That death not be oblivion.

When I open the book
I hear the poets whisper and weep,
Laugh and lament.

In a thousand languages
They say the same thing:
“We lived. The secret of life
is love, that casts its wing
over all suffering, that takes
in its arms the hurt child,
that rises green from the fallen seed.”

Sadness is there, too.
All the sadness in the world.
Because the tide ebbs,
Because wild waves
Punish the shore
And the small lives lived there.
Because the body is scattered.
Because death is real
And sometimes death is not
Even the worst of it.

If sadness did not run
Like a river through the Book,
Why would we go there?
What would we drink?

Oh, there’s blood enough, and sap
From the stalks. Tears, too.
A raindrop and the dark water
Of bogs. It’s a rich ink.
Indelible, invisible
(hold up the page to the light,
hold the page near a flame).

The world comes into the poem.
The poem comes into the world.
Reciprocity – it all comes down
To that.
As with lovers:
When it’s right you can’t say
Who is kissing whom.

Lighten up, lighten up.
Let go of the heaviness.
Was it a poem from the Book
That so weighed you down?

Impossible. Less than a feather.
Less than the seed a milkweed
Pod releases in the breeze.

Lifted, it drifts out to settle
In a field, with all that’s inside it
Waiting to become
Root and tendril, to come alive.

Now the snow is falling
Even more than an hour ago.
The pine in the backyard
Bows with the weight of it.

Two years ago, my father
Died. What love we had
Hidden under misery,
Weighed down with years
Of silence.

And now,
Maybe the poem can free
Us, maybe the poem can express
The love and let the rest
Slide to the earth as the snow
Does now, freeing the tree
Of its burden.

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That’s crudely put, but …

If we’re not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

Time to shut up.
Voltaire said the secret
Of being boring
Is to say everything.

And yet I held
Back about love
All those years:
Talking about death
Insistently, even
As I was alive;
Talking about loss
As if all was loss,
As if the world
Did not return
Each morning.
As if the beloved
Didn’t long for us.

No wonder I go on
So. I go on so
Because of the wonder.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Read aloud: Sweeping the Cemetery by David Lee Garrison

Top of My Lungs

Top of My Lungs

By Natalie Goldberg

Even though I am unhappy
I come home singing at the top of my lungs
Shovel off the new snow and shove it on the old
Open the useless screened porch door
and take off my big boots
There are fried eggs
yellow as pearls
The old bed I dive into like a warm whale
The phone ringing
that duck on the wall
And even though I am unhappy
I sleep with the peace of flying angels
And even though I am sad
my wallet's empty
I buy the best soap
And even though my heart is hurting
out of sure will
I come home singing with the last night wind
and the first morning star
and the canary
and the summer that was killed below our house

I walk down to the Rainbow Café
call my Catholic friend Mary to come
have a drink and eat a turkey sandwich
The down coat I wear all winter still has the goose feathers
from a hundred flying birds
They let us smoke at our small table
Mary will always meet me here
They fill your glasses with the most sparking water
for free
and the cold moon rises over the marquee
of the Suburban World theater

So even though I am unhappy
I throw back my old goat throat
and sing slowly
"Oh my darlin' Clementine"
by the beautiful lake in Minnesota
as the pressure of the black night cold
moves in on us from all ten directions
I sing to the moon above the lake
"You are lost and gone forever"
calling the pure beast of loneliness down from the sky
with the old American song haunting city lights
"Dreadful sorry Clementine"
and though the very earth has swelled up
like an elephant with pain
I stand on its back singing
in this sad universe
where one lover leaves another for all time
and nothing to say with your feet on the ground.