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May’s selection of poems for the theme of Poetry and Clouds

Abigail discovered “Morley Hall” by Branwell Brontë which begins: “When life’s youth, overcast by gathering clouds/Of cares, that come like funeral-following crowds/Weary of that which is, and cannot see/A sunbeam burst upon futurity,/It tries to cast away the woes that are/And borrow brighter joys from times afar.” “This unfinished poem contrasts the narrator’s present, which is under a cloud, with the happier days of his youth, and suggests that what is true for the individual may also be true for a generation that can look further back to another generation’s joy.”

Roger thought of the most famous cloud poem of all, William Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”: “I wandered lonely as a cloud/That floats on high o’er vales and hills,/When all at once I saw a crowd,/A host, of golden daffodils.” “Loneliness changes to gaiety which comes back to the poet whenever he thinks of the dancing scene.”

Carol chose “A Night Piece,” also by William Wordsworth: “The sky is overcast/With a continuous cloud of texture close,/Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon.” Carol writes, “This piece resonated with me as I recalled staging a theatre production in college called ‘Dark of the Moon’—the night shadows, cast by clouds, hide the brilliant light of the moon, a metaphor for casting doubts on true love.”

Richard chose “The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy from the Poetry Foundation’s website. “I have read this poem many times, but coming across it this morning, the air of hope that wafted from these words moved me to tears. It blew ‘In Memoriam’ (‘Ring out, wild bells’), which had been one of my original choices, out of first place.” Hardy’s poem begins:

I leant upon a coppice gate
    When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.

Hazel found many poems with references to clouds that seemed “pretty, fluffy, and upbeat. I somehow always thought of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as cheerful, but ‘Snow-Flakes’ surprised me”: “This is the poem of the air,/Slowly in silent syllables recorded;/This is the secret of despair,/Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,/Now whispered and revealed/To wood and field.”

Gail sent “Mutability” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, written in 1816 and cited in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Gail wrote, “Our lives are as evanescent as clouds streaking across the midnight sky and the only constant is change. Shelley refers to the turbulence and strain of his emotional and financial life in these two lines”: “We rest—a dream has power to poison sleep;/We rise—one wandering thought pollutes the day.”

Scott randomly picked “Student of Clouds” by Billy Collins from the Poetry Foundation’s cloud selections: “The emotion is to be found in the clouds,/not in the green solids of the sloping hills/or even in the gray signatures of rivers,/according to Constable, who was a student of clouds.” Scott wrote, “It is both accessible and insightful, which I like in poetry. I enjoyed the reference to Constable. In A Clutch on Constables by Ngaio Marsh a group of people are on a boat going down a river in rural England. Coming upon a cloud-strew landscape one of them says, ‘Look—there’s a clutch of Constables!’ At which point the villain on the boat becomes alarmed, thinking the police have been alerted to his presence.”

Christiana sent “Winter Syntax,” also a Billy Collins poem, this one from his collection Sailing Alone Around the Room. “Clouds transform the boldface fact of a full moon into pure poetry,” writes Christiana. “Their appearance in the bleak landscape of composition helps inspire the writer to slog on through the blizzard of blank paper before him until he has traced his thoughts and left a trail of words, freezing the unspoken into a complete sentence.”

The full moon makes sense. When a cloud crosses it
it becomes as eloquent as a bicycle leaning
outside a drugstore or a dog who sleeps all afternoon
in a corner of the couch.

Cate selected “Landing” by Elinor Wilner from Before Our Eyes, which shows us a cloud of another nature, one with a man attached. “It is remarkable how Wilner keeps us looking skyward, continuing to be wishful until she makes us deal with the reality of the landing. She brackets the experience with the moon and the cloud and cloud-like”: “It was a pure white cloud that hung there/in the blue, or a jellyfish on a waveless/sea, suspended high above us./It seemed so effortless in its suspense,/perfectly out of time and out of place/like the ghost of moon in the sky/of a brilliant afternoon.”

Victoria chose “Sea Surface Full of Clouds” by Wallace Stevens: “The sea-clouds whitened far below the calm/And moved, as blooms move, in the swimming green/And in its watery radiance, while the hue/Of heaven in an antique reflection rolled/Round those flotillas.” “In this poem the poet uses repetition combined with subtle differences in word choice, mood, and tone within five stanzas to create an atmosphere of perpetually shifting words and images, while at the same time remaining similar and familiar. This mirrors the continuous movement and play of light on water at sea, clouds reflected on the surface of waves in perpetual motion: always different, yet always the same.”

AnnaLee completes the circle, and the spring 2022 OPPC program, by first noting this spring’s proliferation of fiery clouds at sunset. “I chose Theodore Roethke’s ‘Child on Top of a Greenhouse’ inspired by the huge greenhouse his family owned in Saginaw Valley, Michigan. Each time I read the poem I feel the rush of youthful freedom as the young daredevil on top of the glass roof stares down into the contained and protected world of the greenhouse, and then up to clouds dashing across the sky.”

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!

Have a wonderful summer and we hope to see you in the fall! In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

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Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Theme: Poetry and Clouds

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the fourteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1374 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send one of us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Clouds (addresses below), with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through this blog and by email.

Our theme for May is Clouds. Clouds vary from fierce and menacing to fluffy and white, and are often seen as harbingers of our moods. Joni Mitchell’s popular song, “Both Sides Now,” presents clouds as “Rows and floes of angel hair” that can also “block the sun”:

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.

Clouds can also show us the ethereal. The Scottish Neo-Romantic poet W. S. Graham explores the nature of “real” in his three-part poem “Enter a Cloud.” The poem begins:

Gently disintegrate me
Said nothing at all.

Is there still time to say
Said I myself lying
In a bower of bramble
Into which I have fallen.

Look through my eyes up
At blue with not anything
We could have ever arranged
Slowly taking place.

Can’t locate a poem about clouds you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.
In the meantime, please blog with us here about Poetry and Clouds (or any other poetry theme) onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

2022 Schedule
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

slanting clouds

Our theme for April was Poetry and Slant Rhymes. Poets don’t use slant rhymes because they can’t find an exact rhyme. Slant rhymes are an important tool that gives a poet freedom. The device can add surprise, humor, strike a discordant note, or offer extra meaning when a word can be read two ways. As Victoria wrote, “Just as a filmmaker would employ an unusual camera angle to signify or heighten a difficult or unusual scene in a movie, a poet’s use of slant rhyme heightens the element of the unexpected for the reader, underscoring the difficult or the imperfect in the chosen subject.”

Abigail discovered Emily Brontë’s “Stanzas,” which describes walking on wintry moors, hearing a song in the distance, and being transported through memory to a spring landscape which brings with it melancholy. The last stanza reads: “Well, well, the sad minutes are moving/Though loaded with trouble and pain;/And sometimes the loved and the loving/Shall meet on the mountains again.” The first and third rhymes are a slant rhyme and an eye rhyme, while I am not sure about the second and fourth lines. Are they a slant rhyme or pronounced as a rhyme by Brontë?

Roger chose Emily Dickinson’s “Not any higher stands the Grave”:

Not any higher stands the Grave
For Heroes than for Men—
Not any nearer for the Child
Than numb Three Score and Ten—

This latest Leisure equal lulls
The Beggar and his Queen
Propitiate this Democrat
A Summer’s Afternoon–

Among Dickinson’s manuscripts this poem exists both with the slant rhyme of “Queen” and “Afternoon” and with an alternate last line which gives the second verse an exact rhyme: “By summer’s gracious mien.”

Scott made an interesting discovery in ee cummings’s “my father moved through dooms of love.” “A stanza like this has a traditional AABB rhyme scheme”:

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

“But the next stanza has slant rhymes, perhaps signaling more disquieting thoughts”:

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine, passion willed,
freedom a drug that’s bought and sold

Gail sent “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop “which is replete with slant rhymes for the word ‘disaster’! Here they are in order: ‘to master,’ ‘the fluster,’ ‘(los)ing faster,’ ‘my last, or,’ ‘And, vaster,’’ ‘a gesture.’”

Carol found “Daddy” by Silvia Plath, writing, “Perhaps the ugly images coming from the Ukraine made this appeal to me. It is a sad, macabre poem, and the rhymes become more irregular as the poem intensifies.” The poem ends: “There’s a stake in your fat black heart/And the villagers never liked you./They are dancing and stamping on you./They always knew it was you./Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”

Cate wrote “I was going to choose ‘The Warming’ a light and funny poem by Robert Pinsky. But then the Poetry Foundation shared a Seamus Heaney poem commemorating Bloody Sunday that blew me away. It’s called ‘Casualty.’ Heaney captures such a range of human experience and pain in the context of Bloody Sunday. It is difficult to distinguish or imagine what the personal and political environment of that era must have been like. But we understand the wish for some return to the normal: ‘Puzzle me the right answer to that one,’ indeed”:

He had gone miles away   
For he drank like a fish   
Nightly, naturally   
Swimming towards the lure   
Of warm lit-up places,   
The blurred mesh and murmur   
Drifting among glasses   
In the gregarious smoke.   
How culpable was he   
That last night when he broke   
Our tribe’s complicity?   
‘Now, you’re supposed to be   
An educated man,’   
I hear him say. ‘Puzzle me   
The right answer to that one.’

Victoria sent “Todesfugue” or “Death Fugue” by Holocaust survivor Paul Celan. John Felstiner’s translation is an ingenious linguistic mirroring of the slant rhyme concept. Celan’s feeling that his native language, German, the language of his entire life as well as of his creative expression—had been forever stained and corrupted by the atrocities committed in his homeland comes across vividly through the translator’s ingenious use of slant rhyme and its linguistic equivalent”:

a man lives in the house your goldenes Haar Margarete
he looses his hounds on us grants us a grave in the air
he plays with his vipers and daydreams
der Tod is ein Meister aus Deutschland
dein goldenes Haar Margarete
aschenes Haar Shulamith

Susan chose “September 1, 1939” by W. H. Auden. “It describes the feeling of a New York City resident on the outbreak of WW II; it closely mimics the current time”:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,

Christiana wrote, “Well, you really got me reading and looking and thinking!” She offers this four-line poem-excerpt by author Harryette Mullen, from The Poem is you: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them by Stephen Burt.Kat

honey jars of hair
skin and nail conjuration
a racy make-up artist collects herself
in time for a major retrospection

Jane sent Katherine Mansfield’s “Voices of the Air” which she received in her email from Poem-a-Day: “But then there comes that moment rare/When, for no cause that I can find,/The little voices of the air/Sound above all the sea and wind.

Renee remembered the poem “Melancholia” written by her friend, the poet Hugh Seidman, in remembrance of her late husband Columbia University Professor and renowned neuroscience scholar, Ed Smith: “Irony of Ed: Columbia imager of brains./Claremont home hospice—a ‘life,’ as is claimed./Ambition that enacts the acts of its plan./To love, to work—for as long as one stands.”

AnnaLee brings the circle around with another hip hop example. This one is from the rapper Nas from N.Y. State of Mind with special emphasis on the internal slant rhymes, “prosperous,” “dangerous,” “blaming us,” and “hostages”:

Or the legal luxury life, rings flooded with stones, homes,
I got so many rhymes, I don’t think I’m too sane,
Life is parallel to Hell but I must maintain,
And be prosperous, though we live dangerous, cops could just
Arrest me, blaming us, we’re held like hostages

Can’t locate a poem you want to send with clouds? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org. In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2022 Schedule
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

slanting clouds
Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Theme: Poetry and Slant Rhymes

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the fourteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1367 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Slant Rhymes, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email (see below). 

Our theme for April is Slant Rhymes, which are also called near rhymes, imperfect rhymes, or sprung rhymes. With slant rhymes, the rhyming words are similar to each other, but do not rhyme exactly. The rhyming words may share the same vowels or syllables or just look alike as in an eye rhyme.

Lord Byron set himself the monumental task in his Don Juan of rhyming thousands of lines in the ottava rima pattern of AB,AB,AB,CC. The rhymes move the poem along quickly and often humorously as in the final couplet of this verse:

And that’s the moral of this composition,
If people would be see its real drift;–
But that they will not do without suspicion,
Because all gentle readers have the gift
Of closing ’gainst the light their orbs of vision;
While gentle writers also love to lift
Their voices ’gainst each other which is natural,
The numbers are too great for them to flatter all.

As in Byron’s poem, modern hip-hop poetry is composed of a variety of rhyme types with the slant rhyme as one of its most important tools. Slant rhymes are the key element in creating flow (the interaction between rhyme, rhyme schemes, and rhythm). Master hip-hop artist Rakim uses slant rhymes to rap about his creative process on his album “I know You Got Soul”:

I start to think and then I sink
Into the paper like I was ink,
When I’m writing I’m trapped in between the line,
I escape when I finish the rhyme.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rap lyrics for “Washington on Your Side” from his hit show Hamilton flow with true rhymes, interior rhymes, and slant rhymes:

 I’m in the cabinet, I am complicit in
Watching him grabbin’ at power and kissin’ it
If Washington isn’t gon’ listen
To disciplined dissidents, this is the difference
This kid is out!

Can’t locate a poem with slant rhymes that you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here on all things poetry, at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2022 Schedule
April 12: Slant Rhymes
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

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Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Our theme for March was Poetry and Shoes. We didn’t receive many shoe poems. Perhaps the theme or the poems you found didn’t inspire you, or the war in Ukraine is too depressing to think about poetry. Whatever the reason, we enjoyed the poetry we received and hope you will too. We are always grateful to be introduced to new poems and reread others.

Abigail thought of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s focus on men’s expectations of women in her novel-poem Aurora Leigh: “The works of women are symbolical./We sew, sew, prick our fingers, dull our sight,/Producing what? A pair of slippers, sir,/To put on when you’re weary.” The handicrafts made by women, like bedroom slippers, are much like the women themselves, ornamental and unnecessary.

Roger found “Cloony the Clown” by Shel Silverstein, the humorous tale of a clown, “His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,/But he just wasn’t, just wasn’t funny at all.” When he tries to be serious, everyone laughs, which makes him cry, and shows the difficulty of trying to be intentionally funny.

Gail chose “The Shoes” by Brent Pallas because she “likes the simple structure of the short four-line stanzas as well as the power and dignity of the images, including the wry and subtle humor of the final stanza”: “their soles flung aside only/for love, all the tattered/maps of their seams, every/unforgiving rub.”

Victoria sent “To the Foot from Its Child” by Pablo Neruda: “Then, the child’s foot/is defeated, falls/in the battle,/is a prisoner/condemned to live in a shoe.” She commented, “The great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s, lifelong political activity was to transform the quotidian and mundane into literary subjects worthy of odes and paeans. His work is much like socialist realism, yet filtered through the lens of the magical realism that is the hallmark of 20th Century Latin American literature.”

Hazel discovered “Velvet Shoes” by Elinor Wylie—“I found a gentle sweetness and loveliness about this poem that I would not have expected with a subject as mundane as shoes”: “We shall walk in velvet shoes;/Wherever we go/Silence will fall like dews/On white silence below./We shall walk in the snow.”

Jane sent Arna Bontemps’s “Length of Moon,” which she received from Poem-a-Day, a program from the Academy of American Poets: “Then the golden hour/Will tick its last/And the flame will go down in the flower.” Though it’s not about shoes, “the rhyming here interests me,” Jane wrote. Bontemps was associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

Cate sent “Jimmy Eagle’s Hot Cowboy Boots Blues” by Natalie Diaz from When My Brother Was an Aztec. The poem relates to an incident in 1975 when two FBI agents drove onto the Sioux Reservation to pursue a teen accused of stealing cowboy boots. Cate writes “A bunch of things to like about this poem beyond the crime’s humor and irony: colorful imagery and language, strong rhythm, repetition, and how the punishment far outdistances the crime when people of color are involved”: “Jimmy, baby, the gov’ments on your tail with a green light to shoot/worked-up ’n’ tizzied for some hot goddamn red-handed cowboy boots.”

AnnaLee completes the circle with Honor Moore’s sensual poem “New Shoes” about a woman who wears a beautiful handmade pair of shoes crafted for her by a cobbler in Florence, and a man who desires her: “Fashioned for men, but cut for a woman./He wanted her, he said, wearing those shoes.” Most of the verses focus on the sensuality of the shoes and the desires of the man, but in the end the woman meets his desires: “Cloth snapping. Take off your shoes,/She says. I want you naked as a woman./I like hair on shoulders, I like mirrors/When they tangle light. Outside sirens shear.”

We hope you will follow the links and enjoy the poems people found on the theme of Poetry and Shoes. In the meantime, please blog with us here, about poetry and shoes or any other poetry subject at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2022 Schedule
April 12: Slant Rhymes
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Theme: Poetry and Shoes

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the fourteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1353 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Shoes, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Our theme for March is Shoes. Shoes make vivid images in our memories, from Cinderella’s glass slipper to Dorothy’s ruby slippers to the mound of shoes at Auschwitz. Often shoes are used as a synecdoche, a literary personification that signals a whole human, as in this poem by Charles Bukowski:

when you’re young
a pair of
female
high-heeled shoes
just sitting
alone
in the closet
can fire your bones;
when you’re old
it’s just
a pair of shoes
without
anybody
in them
and
just as
well.

For a more provocative look at high-heels, Mary Karr’s “Beauty and the Shoe Sluts” bares the role of women’s shoes in femininity, beauty, style, and suffering. The poem ends:

After they’ve chased down
the fleeing god, fucked him dead, sucked
all flesh from his bones, dawn spills light

on their blood-sticky mouths,
and it’s like every party you ever stayed
too late at. In chorus they sing and grieve:

“Will they come to me ever again,
the long, long dances?”
And Mother holding a black-patent ankle strap

like a shackle on a spike heel
it must’ve been teetering hell to wear glances
sidewise from her cloudy hazel eyes and says, “No,

praise God and menopause, they won’t.”

Whether a poem makes you feel like slipping off your shoes or taking one off and throwing it, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by March 8th, with a brief comment of why you chose it.

Can’t locate a poem you want to send on the subject of shoes? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Spring 2022 Schedule
March 8: Shoes
April 12: Slant Rhymes
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!
Our theme for February was Poetry and Isolation.

Abigail thought of Emily Brontë’s “The Caged Bird” in which she compares herself to the bird, “like myself lone, wholly lone.” Both seek freedom, “But let me think that if to-day/It pines in cold captivity,/To-morrow both shall soar away/Eternally, entirely Free.” Emily chose to live her life alone, taking comfort in her family and pets, and sought freedom from earthly bounds.

Roger found a short poem by Samuel Hoffenstein, the favorite poet of Ogden Nash, that made him laugh:

When you’re away, I’m restless, lonely,
Wretched, bored, dejected; only
Here’s the rub, my darling dear,
I feel the same when you are here.

Victoria sent six translations of “Cold Mountain” a poem by Han-Shan a 6th or 7th century Chinese hermit/poet/monk. She wrote, “This is a poem about accomplishing a life of isolation in nature as a manifesto about strength of character as well as physical strength. The spirit of the original poem resonates with power and beauty in each translation. Each translator uses different words and different phrasing, yet the essence of the original is equally present and equally vivid in all translations.”

Scott enjoyed “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, a heavily anthologized poem, that “describes a universal experience” of a son’s response to his father, “Speaking indifferently to him,/who had driven out the cold/and polished my good shoes as well./What did I know, what did I know/of love’s austere and lonely offices?”

Gail chose Sonnet VII by John Keats, which begins, “O Solitude! If I just with thee dwell,/Let it not be among the jumbled heap/Of murky buildings.” Gail wrote, “Unfortunately, ‘among the jumbled heap of murky buildings’ is exactly where I have spent almost all my time since March 2020! Yet, in the same poem, he also captures the moments of joy I have experienced communing in nature with a friend or family member”: “it sure must be/Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,/When to thy [Solitude’s] haunts two kindred spirits flee.”

Hazel sent “The Last Rose of Summer” by Thomas Moore, “This poem was introduced to me by my father when I was very young. I knew then that it was beautiful but I don’t think that I got the full meaning at that time. Now I do”: “‘Tis the last rose of summer,/Left blooming alone;/All her lovely companions/Are faded and gone.”

Christiana found “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade,” which “kindled the sense of a long ago childhood time when a rare day home from school brought welcome isolation. I like the way poet Brad Aaron Modlin spotlights the power of claiming the enormity of one’s own thoughts that inklings tug out of ordinariness.” The poem begins:

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

Carol responded to “Isolation,” a brief, intense poem by Shari Marie Robinson, “as we enter the third year of Covid isolation. I am impacted deeply by the loss of time with friends, some of whom have passed on, and find my sense of worth and purpose faltering.” Robinson describes feeling “Dismembered, like being held captive in a prison/I created for myself.”

Jane sent Eve L. Ewing’s “Testify,” saying she “loves reading the poem aloud.” The words speed along in all lower case reminding us of the little things to be grateful for during our isolation: “i stand before you to say/that today i walked home/& caught the light through/the fence & it was so golden/i wanted to cry & i lifted/my right hand to say thank/you god for the sun thank/you god for a chain link fence.”

Vincent sent “Music Ambles Drunk with Sorrow,” from a scene he witnessed at Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Queens: “A lone man stands, dressed in a Scotch kilt,/playing bagpipes, pouring whiskey over a grave./A moon casts shadows of dancing clouds,/music ambles drunk with sorrow.”

Ellen loves “The Best Moment of the Night.” “Tony Hoagland always finds a unique and unexpected way to express an emotion. Here he compares his own sense of isolation and loneliness to that of the dog sitting under the table at the party. His everyday details are part of what makes the poem so alive”: “He lives down there, among the high heels/and the cowboy boots, below the human roar/rising to its boil up above. Like his, your evening/is just beginning—but you/are lonelier than him. You think/that if you disappeared tonight,/you would not be missed for years.”

Cate sent “Mountain Lion” by Linda Hogan from The Book of Medicines, writing that “being afraid of the ‘other,’ even when clearly perceived, can generate an immense feeling of aloneness. In its opening lines, the poem’s imagery represents the primordial aspect of this feeling”: “She lives on the dangerous side/of the clearing/in the yellow-eyed shadow of a darker fear./We have seen each other/inside mortal dusk,/and what passed between us/was the road/ghosts travel/when they cannot rest/in the land of the terrible other.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with a “renga,” a Japanese form of syllabic poetry between two poets. One poet begins, the second picks up a word in the last line of the preceding stanza and starts with a line that includes that word. For 367 days during the Covid lockdown in Paris, poets Marilyn Hacker and Karthika Nair took turns chronicling their daily lives: illness, friends lost to pandemic, activism, even what they ate. They lived five miles apart, yet only met three times. The result was A Different Distance, a book of daily poems:

Her sixth-floor dormer,
a cigarette, the much-loved
view of our skyline:
Claire—critical-care intern—
sighs for one, after twenty
hours on breathless feet.
evening applause is sweet, but
she’d choose PPE
over the President’s praise—
and eggs on grocery shelves.
—(KN, 1 May 2020)

Shelves in the G20
are still filled with coffee, cheese,
brown eggs, garriguettes, Greek yogurt, milk, wine—but I
hurry, forget tomatoes,
get out of harm’s way
(masked, gloved) as fast as I can.
Food shopping once was
community, communion.
Poison is the chalice now.
—(MH, 2 May 2020)

Our next theme is Poetry and Shoes. Send us a published poem you find on the subject of Shoes by March 8, 2022, and include a comment about why you chose it.

Can’t locate a poem you want to send on the subject of shoes? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Spring 2022 Schedule
March 8: Shoes
April 12: Slant Rhymes
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

IMG_man with stick

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Theme: Poetry and Isolation

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We’re back for the fourteenth spring season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1340 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This spring we will gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Isolation, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Our theme for February is Isolation. As we enter the third year of the pandemic, most of us are feeling more isolated, lonely, and sequestered than we may like. Poetry can bring us comfort and a perspective on our situation. Sharing that poetry connects us all.

In “Aboriginal Landscape” the poet Louise Glück writes—with wry humor—of the isolation of a graveyard when visiting her deceased family members. The poem begins:

You’re stepping on your father, my mother said,
and indeed I was standing exactly in the center
of a bed of grass, mown so neatly it could have been
my father’s grave, although there was no stone saying so.

You’re stepping on your father, she repeated,
louder this time, which began to be strange to me,
since she was dead herself; even the doctor had admitted it.

I moved slightly to the side, to where
my father ended and my mother began.

The cemetery was silent. Wind blew through the trees;
I could hear, very faintly, sounds of  weeping several rows away,
and beyond that, a dog wailing.

At length these sounds abated. It crossed my mind
I had no memory of   being driven here,
to what now seemed a cemetery, though it could have been
a cemetery in my mind only; perhaps it was a park, or if not a park,
a garden or bower, perfumed, I now realized, with the scent of roses—
douceur de vivre filling the air, the sweetness of  living,
as the saying goes. At some point,

it occurred to me I was alone.
Where had the others gone,
my cousins and sister, Caitlin and Abigail?

Charles Baudelaire posited an unusual solution to the “horrible burden of time” in his prose poem, “Be Drunk”:

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it—it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking…ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

Whether a poem describes isolation, reflects on isolation, or makes you feel less isolated, choose a poem that has meaning to you. Then email it to one of us by February 8th, with a brief comment of why you chose it.

Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org. And take a look at the poet Sadie Dupuis’s “On Reading and Writing Poetry During a Pandemic.”

In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Spring 2022 Schedule
February 8: Isolation
March 8: Shoes
April 12: Slant Rhymes
May 10: Clouds

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

We conclude our fall 2021 season with an exploration of Poetry and Mementos.

Abigail remembered the beautiful passage in Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey that sees poems themselves as mementos: “When we are harassed by sorrows or anxieties, or long oppressed by any powerful feelings which we must keep to ourselves, for which we can obtain and seek no sympathy from any living creature, and which yet we cannot, or will not wholly crush, we often naturally seek relief in poetry—and often find it too—whether in the effusions of others, which seem to harmonize with our existing case, or in our own attempts to give utterance to those thoughts and feelings in strains less musical, perchance, but more appropriate, and therefore more penetrating and sympathetic, and, for the time, more soothing, or more powerful to rouse and to unburden the oppressed and swollen heart.”

Roger found “A Memento” by Ernestine Northover who describes finding a rose pressed in the pages of a Bible, “I left it in that Bible, it wasn’t damaged in any way,/Knowing someone else would find it, when they felt the need to pray.” The poem reminds us of how other people’s mementos can have meaning for us and make us feel connected to someone we don’t know.

Christiana sent “Objects Used to Prop Open a Window” by Michelle Menting, which “may stretch the meaning of the word memento as a chosen object kept to recall an event or experience. But to me these prop-objects qualify as sensational reticules of memory”: “Dog bone, stapler,/cribbage board, garlic press/because this window is loose—lacks/suction, lacks grip.”

Victoria was moved by Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”: “It’s such a simple poem about very complex things—the natural progression from birth to death, how nature’s seasonal beauty is fleeting, how flowers turn to leaves, which are briefly a green as precious as gold before they ultimately fall. I love the contrast between Frost’s economy of words and the sweeping statements he makes about the ephemeral quality of life’s beauty.”

            Nature’s first green is gold,

            Her hardest hue to hold.

            Her early leaf’s a flower;

            But only so an hour.

            Then leaf subsides to leaf.

            So Eden sank to grief,

            So dawn goes down to day.

            Nothing gold can stay.

Carol enjoyed Susan Lacovara’s “Morsels of Mementos”: “A hair stored within a locket/Put a pinch, me, in your pocket/Antique heart’s key, to unlock it/…Should you care.” Carol wrote, “This made me nostalgic, as so many things/events/activities do this end of the year. Learning of the deaths of people from long ago relationships, watching my sister fade into Alzheimer’s disease—I wonder what items really do hold our essence. What talisman harbors our secrets? What fragrance or taste stirs those memories…”

Hazel sent “Music, when soft voices die” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, writing that “the lines speak to mementos of love. How glorious was his gift with words”:

            Music, when soft voices die,

            Vibrates in the memory,-

            Odors, when sweet violets sicken,

            Live within the sense they quicken.

            Rose-leaves, when the rose is dead,

            Are heaped for the beloved’s bed;

            And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,

            Love itself shall slumber on.

Scott recalled reading William Carlos Williams’s “The Red Wheelbarrow” a long time ago and not liking it. “I still don’t like it. The wheelbarrow is a kind of memento for him. It reminds him of something or evokes a feeling but he does not share with us why it is significant, so it might as well be anything.”

Gail chose “Nuggets” by Alan Gillis, “a bleak and depressing poem about a thirteen-year-old boy at the bedside of his dying, demented grandmother. The teenage narrator compares his grandmother to ‘chipped figurines,’ the ‘mementos on the windowsill.’ The despondency of the narrator infects the reader, who realizes nothing here will be well in the end”: “What gets passed on, through generations?/Your grandmother tries to speak. Her bony/fingers clutch your hand—and you bend/your head down. But you’d get more sense from the sea in a seashell as your father/enters the room beaming, Well! Well?”

Cate chose “In Passing” by poet Matthew Shenoda. Born in the U.S. to Coptic Christians, Shenoda merges the old country with the new in his poetry to form a hybrid. Cate writes: “This poem speaks across cultures (and generations) to appreciate how we look at the past through very physical sensations. Memories are in our bodies as well as in our minds, and emerge from the depths of our round belly buttons to be shared in the ‘circles & spheres’ of historical narrative.” The poem begins:

            There is something inside

            each of us

            that scurries toward the past

            in our bodies a rooted history

            perhaps in the balls of our feet

            a microscopic yearning

            that floats inside that sphere

            yearning in a language we’ve forgotten.

Jane sent Robert Pinsky’s “At Mt. Auburn Cemetery.” The poem finds mementos among the headstones: “Walking among the graves for exercise/Where do you get your ideas how do I stop them/Looking for Mike Mazur’s marker I looked/Down at the grass and saw Stanislaw Baranczak.”

Mindy sent Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “Winter with the Gulf Stream” “because it’s so sensory and lyrical and I thought you’d enjoy it too.” The poem, comprised mostly of tercets, begins:

            The boughs, the boughs are bare enough,

            But earth has not yet felt the snow.

            Frost-fringed our ivies are, and rough

            With spiked rime the brambles show,

            The hoarse leaves crawl on hissing ground,

            What time the sighing wind is low.

AnnaLee brings our circle to a close with E. Ethelbert Miller’s “Postcards,” in which the narrator reflects on what was unsaid as she reads the “small notes” she once wrote to her mother:

When was the last time you mailed a postcard?

My mother kept the ones I sent her. My sister mailed them back

to me after my mother died. I had forgotten I had written

so many small notes to my mother. The price of stamps

kept changing. I was always mentioning on the back of cards

I was having a good time. I can remember the first time

I lied to my mother. It was something small maybe the size

of a postcard. I went somewhere I was not supposed to go.

I told my mother I was at the library but I was with Judy

that afternoon. Her small hand inside my hand.

I was beginning to feel something I knew I would never write

home about.

We hope you enjoyed this selection and that you follow all the links to the poems. Take pleasure in the holidays ahead and we will see you in spring!  In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com

IMG_2681Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!
Find a poem on the subject of Mementos ! Send a poem by email!
Deadline: by Tuesday, December 14, 2021

We’re back for the fourteenth fall season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1328 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This fall we will continue to gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Mementos by December 14th, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

We chose the theme of Mementos in honor of the holiday season, when we take memorable trips, see old friends and relations, and bring out the old recipes and keepsakes from our past.

Abigail thought of “Memorabilia” by Robert Browning, a poem she has always loved and never understood—which is true of many poems. The poem begins with Browning having met someone who met Percy Bysshe Shelley, Browning’s hero, “How strange it seems, and new!”; the poem ends with his talking of walking on a moor, “For there I picked up on the heather/And there I put inside my breast/A moulted feather, an eagle-feather—/Well, I forget the rest.” “I have, so many times, brought home mementos from my travels and then a few years later thrown them out because they no longer held the significance they once had.”

AnnaLee considered “Mementos, 1” by W. D. Snodgrass because “The poem reminds me of encounters with my own old postcards, photos, seashells, yearbooks, and such—physical reminders of my past that spark laughter and tears, a sense of connection and renewal. The poem begins with a startling image:

Sorting out letters and piles of my old
Canceled checks, old clippings, and yellow note cards
That meant something once, I happened to find
Your picture. That picture. I stopped there cold,
Like a man raking piles of dead leaves in his yard
Who has turned up a severed hand.

We look forward to reading the poems you select for Poetry and Mementos. However your poem mentions mementos or reminds you of mementos, email it to one of us (see below) by December 14th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. If you can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

Meantime, please blog with us here on poetry and mementos at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com