April is National Poetry Month in this particular spot on the planet. This year, to celebrate, I’m embarking on a journey of my own writing and poeming and wondering. My goal this year is to write a month long cycle of poems, one leading into the next.
No destination in mind.
My goal is simply to keep setting out each day for a month of witnessing life on this planet as I know it. A poem a day for the sheer joy of writing a poem a day. You’re welcome to read and comment, and perhaps you’ll join in with your own poem about your spot on this big blue complex marble.
So here it is, the first offering, a love poem to get us rolling:
It’s spring again,
our time to comb the entirety
of earth’s green memory
for our first touch, the unfolding bud
of infatuation splitting the smooth bark
of our selves
look closer at the shape of my eye
the blue pathway surrounding
the dark well where you used to draw
the water of me
up and out
how weightless you were
that first time you pitched forward
tumbling through the red cave of my ear
the echo of your voice
marking the depths as you fell,
so many times you called my name
until it grew wings
and wings and wings
and flared and flew
up to the rafters and no coaxing
would bring it back down
Maybe that’s why I leave the window open
at night, or why you always close it
when you come to bed, and why I rise in the dark
to open it again after you’ve fallen asleep
Today is the last day of National Poetry Month here in the United States. Today also marks the last of my daily posts for my One Poem. One Planet. project. I’m going to miss it.
When I set out on April 1, 2016 to show that poetry has no national affiliations or borders, I had no idea what expect. Would anyone read these posts? Would I be able to find poets in all corners of the world, translated into English, because I am mono-lingual, sad to say?
The answer is a resounding YES!
I set out to explore the world by hopping from poem to poem around the globe, discovering poets I’d never heard of before, bumping into familiar poets and old favorites I as was so glad to revisit.
Below is a list of all the poems I found this year, listed by date, poet’s name and the country they come from–(In some cases, the country they were exiled from because poets are still dangerous in this day and age.)
I want to thank everyone who read and retweeted and liked and clicked. My first goal was to read more poetry from around the world. I realize now my secondary goal was to make some kind of connection–tenuous and electronic though it be–it is still a connection with people beyond my small local view.
I checked my stats, you know the part where it lists the countries that readers come from, and WOW!!! In addition to readers in the the United States this month, I had readers from 22 countries: Philippines, Serbia, Ghana, Italy, India, United Kingdom, Russia, European Union, Canada, Ukraine, Ireland, Egypt, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, France, Netherlands, Turkey, Vietnam, Kenya, Australia and Taiwan.
I started #onepoemoneplanet to capture these postings. I encourage anyone who wants to use the hashtag and share the poems that speak to your life with the world. I will continue to do so as well, throughout the rest of the year. And I will be back next year for sure, with a whole new batch of poets from everywhere I can think of!
Happy Poetry Month!
One poem. One Planet.
This year’s poets:
April 1, 2016: Wislawa Szymborska (Poland)
April is National Poetry Month here in the US–strange to celebrate an endeavor that knows no boundary, nor does it pledge its allegiances to any flag or political doctrine. Poetry exists because of and for the people of this planet, the entire planet.
To celebrate, I’m going to spend the next 30 days looking for poems from around the world. Russia, New Zealand, China, Iraq, Sweden, is there a poet from Antarctica? I don’t know, but I’ll look for one.
No literary discussion or lengthy biographies. Simply, the abundance that is one poem.
One poem. One planet.
Happy New Year, friends.
Are you ready to take it slow?
We had a blizzard last night and this morning I’m looking out on a bright, mounded, blank world and I don’t have the least intention of getting out there and making something of it. I tried that last year and it almost broke me.
Let the beautiful world be the beautiful world in its own form, in its own right. Let the snow have this day untracked. Let the oyster keep its pearl.
Over the past year, I have been learning to paint and draw. Rather, I should say relearning to paint and draw because I did these things all the time when I was a child. They were second nature. I’m not sure at what point they became third nature behind the writing, and then 10th nature, and 34th nature, and finally falling off the scale entirely until I had to rediscover as an adult how much I have missed and love creating visually.
I am not a polymath. But maybe I am the thing that comes before the polymath. The poly-curious. The Dabbler in all things.
It’s so scary to put this work out there, but one of my goals this year is to share more of what I can create with the world. Friends, I’m hoping this is one of your goals, too. I love seeing what you do.
It’s also one of my goals to reacquaint myself with this blog which, I admit, I forgot I started. I’ll spare you the emoji face with the big eyes, but that’s the face I’m making right now.
Last year, somebody called me a polymath… oh, if only!
It is a great compliment, and it is not true. I do not have great learning in numerous varied subjects. I can’t read music. I don’t know the names of Jupiter’s moons. I can’t point to Kuala Lumpur on a map. For the love of all that is holy, don’t ask me to multiply and divide fractions. If you can do this, the throne is truly your inheritance.
I am not a polymath. But maybe I am the thing that comes before the polymath. The poly-curious. The Dabbler in all things. For no good reason, I read two books last year about dinosaurs. I like saying the names: Amygdalodon! Harpymimus! Muttaburrasaurus!
I researched the benefits of doing headstands and have gotten so-so good at executing them. I’m learning how to pickle Japanese eggs. I have an app on my phone that showed me what the star constellation for Psyche is. I actually watched the World Series this year. But I couldn’t tell you who won.
This morning, I came across moonsails. It’s from Walt Whitman’s “The Ship Starting:”
Lo, the unbounded sea,
On it’s breast a ship starting, spreading all sails, carrying even her moonsails,
The pennant is flying aloft as she speeds she speeds so stately––below emulous waves press forward,
They surround the ship with shining curving motions and foam.
Since I have no idea what a moonsail is, and also since I’m a poly-curious Dabbler, I looked it up.
The moonsail, according to google, is “the moonraker, also known as a moonsail, hope-in-heaven, or hopesail, is a square sail flown immediately above a skysail on the royal masts of a square rigged sailing ship.”
Moonsail. Hope-in-heaven. Hopesail. Oh, yes please! Let us journey forth! Let us raise anything and everything named Hope before the wind this year.
Ok, 2020. Let’s see what you got.
Everything hopeful is happening
right now in the sky above the mountains still merled with snow and rock
the clouds erecting white Potemkin spires into the blue expanse
brief fabulation gone in a moment, blown down by incoming wind
that rides the tide’s gray back,
Such beauty is not meant to last
and yet it has a purpose to make us lift our eyes to the moment
we imagine ourselves
as residents who soar through blue kingdoms at such high altitudes
we are barely seen,
so high, we must throw our voices down to earth so people know we pass.
Let go and fly as the sandhill cranes
for now we are those sandhill cranes (see them?) migrating past
the billowing towers of white
to far away paradise of delta and shore across the wide open blue,
and down below
the fledgling lovers who suddenly hear look up,
again and again, you call my name, I yours
–Arlitia Jones, April 30, 2017
Snowshoe Hare who lives
in the tangle of downed trees
next to the culvert where Porcupine
used to hole up in late winter
Snowshoe Hare who darts
across the mound under white birch bowed
to each other over bare ground where
White Dog sprawled in the dirt
is quiet as a ghost
Snowshoe Hare who streaks
up the driveway toward tall grass
behind the house where Bear
huffed his breath into the spongy ground
is running for her life
–Arlitia Jones, April 29, 2017
Perhaps it started when Siegfried killed the lindworm—
the Horrible Serpent dead—so the town of Worms
could cobble to life with congratulatory stone
Cathedrals and Churches and Monasteries, Cloisters
then smithys, jails and burghers’ mansions in view
of high-held domes and steeples—the Pope’s monster-less realm.
The Modern World born of Empire and Martin Luther’s
insurrection—95 Theses nailed to the revered door—
now Lutherans must kill Catholics.
The Serpent claims an eye for Siegfried’s eye
and tooth for tooth for fang—the heretic—
—the hammer—the nail—the new reality
where the worm is now Authority.
–Arlitia Jones, April 28, 2017
Bald eagles have on average 7000 feathers
compare that to the giant pacific octopus—
with her eight tentacles she wields 2,240 suction cups
We are the counters of everything
we 7.3 billion inhabitants on Earth give or take
a century of democide: mass murder of the people
by their government, that’s 268 million of us in the last 100 years
We quantify to comprehend to find our way
in the forest in our mind, the tangle
of 1 billion times 1 million dendrite branches
where memories flit tree to tree
The bigger the number the better we feel
Inside the red canyons of the human heart 724 trillion blood cells
fly by carrying their bead of oxygen
making our bodies a riot of constant miracles
Compare that to the unexaggerated ratio of
For every 17 children in the world, there is one land mine, or
every 20 minutes someone takes one step and the ground clicks
The problem is we are always talking about numbers.
–Arlitia Jones, April 27, 2017
The king boletus is perfect
for days like this when you could really use
a forest mushroom to retaliate on cruelty—
a round proud audacious head
pushing out of the loamy ground
is a ruddy forehead to stomp, a bloated face
–Arlitia Jones, April 26, 2017
By now the children know my name
those that still talk even pronounce it correctly
and this pleases me
they shout it in the streets
where men lift them high
to bolster courage
or test for enemy snipers
Others, the children driven from their beds
still carrying the moon’s silence in their mouths,
their breath soft as ferns,
never speak again
hoping this will keep me from coming
I am the red havoc who brings
fire to reflect in their eyes,
smoke to darken their skin
Where there was a door
through which they once returned home
I provide concrete cratered
with a hole the correct size
for their small bodies to fit
and this too, pleases me
–Arlitia Jones, April 25, 2017