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

In November the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle shared poems that have to do with hypocrisy.

Abigail enjoyed reading about Christopher Smart’s cat Jeoffry in his poem “Jubilate Agno.” The narrator praises Jeoffrey for many traits, among them, “For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser./For the former is afraid of detection./For the latter refuses the charge.” Written while Smart was confined for insanity, this poem has made Jeoffry one of the most famous of cats.

Roger read, and was moved by, Archibald MacLeish’s “Hypocrite Auteur” where the poet calls on poets to find a substitute for classical Greek and Christian imagery that can help us understand our era, “Poets, deserted by the world before,/Turn round into the actual air:/Invent the age! Invent the metaphor!” MacLeish himself recognizes the difficulty of doing this, calling the other hypocritical authors who are just like himself, “mon semblable, mon frère” [my likeness, my brother].

Scott remembered reading Robert Browning’s “Soliloquy of a Spanish Cloister” in high school and enjoying the humor of a poem beginning and ending with “Grr!”—as one monk badmouths another, “Gr-r-r—there go, my heart’s abhorrence!/Water your damned flower-pots, do!/If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,/God’s blood, would not mine kill you!” Scott commented, “I was ultimately disappointed. Perhaps we have become so accustomed to scandal that the idea of a religious figure indulging in sinful thoughts no longer has the power to surprise.”

Gail chose “Honeymoon” by Louis Simpson because she loves “the sly humor of the garbled wedding ceremony and the conventional honeymoon tropes, the drama of romantic disillusionment over fish cakes, the colloquial use of language (‘and then everything was OK’) and the breaking of the fourth wall when the narrator (evoking Charles Baudelaire’s ‘Au Lecteur’ from ‘Les fleurs du mal,’) challenges the readers’ smug pretensions: ‘And you, hypocrite lecteur,/What makes you so superior?’”

Hazel thought of “To Lucasta” by the English Cavalier poet Richard Lovelace (1618-1658). The narrator explains to his mistress that he is off to a new mistress, war, and concludes, “I could not love thee, deare, so much,/Loved I not honor more.” Hazel commented that she never liked the poem, but “if ever there was hypocrisy, this is it.”

Carol found an hypocrisy quote by Inferno, “Heights of hypocrisy,” that she believes “suits the current times – the difficulty of listening to the other side: “We say, ‘I give a damn to what the world talks about me’/But …/If someone opposes our thoughts we block them!/Someone dares to put forth a thought that defies us, we threaten them/Someone opposes our point of view in our post, we delete their comment.”

Ellen searched through her file of poetry that she admires and selected William Blake’s “The Garden of Love” because “it sure reads to me like an indictment of religion and its hypocrisy”:

I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

Barbara chose John Betjeman’s WWII poem, “In Westminster Abbey,” about a woman praying. “The hypocrisy lies in her apparent devotion to Christian principles coupled with her overriding self-serving concerns (e.g., spare my house, please, and excuse me while I go to lunch) and her racism.” The poem includes the lines: “Keep our Empire undismembered/Guide our Forces by Thy Hand,/Gallant blacks from far Jamaica,/Honduras and Togoland;/Protect them Lord in all their fights,/And, even more, protect the whites.”

Stan, an Ogden Nash lover, sent the delightful “Tale of Custard the Dragon” in which a cowardly dragon, whose friends bravely chase imaginary dangers, deride him for wanting to stay in a nice safe cage. Then a real menace shows up. Those who were brave when there was no real danger, run for cover while the reluctant dragon saves the day, but nothing changes after the danger is gone: “Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,/And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,/Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,/But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.”

Ken sent us “Hypocrisy,” a simple poem written in 2013 by the Bangladesh poet Sayeed Abubakar. The poem begins, “You say that you love rain./But when it starts raining, you raise/ your umbrella over your head.”

Cate chose Charles Bukowski’s “The Genius of the Crowd” though she’s not usually a Bukowski fan because of his cynicism. “In this poem, I appreciate that he doesn’t stop at indicting average human beings, but moves on to analyzing the source of their hypocrisies. His ‘finest art,’ the death penalty, is an undercurrent of this poem as well as of human history – Socrates to now.” The poem begins, “There is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average/Human being to supply any given army on any given day/And the best at murder are those who preach against it.”

AnnaLee remembered “Hypocrite Women” by Denise Levertov who uses everything in her toolbox, including vulgarity, to illuminate the double standards that women buy into in order to assume subordinate roles in society. This poem from the 1960s still resonates, as again a woman’s freedom over her body is under attack: “Hypocrite women, how seldom we speak/of our own doubts, while dubiously/we mother man in his doubt!”

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 by December 14th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

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

Fall 2021 Schedule
December 14: Mementos

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

IMG_2365
Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!
Date: Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Theme: Hypocrisy

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

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 1316 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 Hypocrisy, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

Hypocrisy is described as the claim to have virtues or beliefs that one does not actually possess or show in one’s actions. The word is derived from the Greek word hypokrites, which means an actor or a person who plays on a stage from behind a mask.

Abigail was surprised to read Ambrose Bierce’s “The New Decalogue” as she knew Bierce for his short stories, and didn’t know he published poetry. The poem is based on “The Latest Decalogue” by the English poet, Arthur Hugh Clough. Here is Bierce’s poem in its entirety:

Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.
Adore no images save those
The coinage of thy country shows.
Take not the Name in vain. Direct
Thy swearing unto some effect.
Thy hand from Sunday work be held—
Work not at all unless compelled.
Kill not—death liberates thy foe
From persecution’s constant woe.
Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife. Of course
There’s no objection to divorce.
To steal were folly, for ‘tis plain
In cheating there is greater gain.
Bear not false witness. Shake your head
And say that you have “heard it said.”
Who stays to covet ne’er will catch
An opportunity to snatch.

AnnaLee was touched by William Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Experience (1794), which illuminates the hypocrisy of parents selling an innocent child into slavery and leaving him to his fate. Meanwhile, they proclaim their righteousness by attending church—the very church along with the state that allows children to be sold into slavery to sweep soot out of chimneys: “And because I am happy and dance and sing,/They think they have done me no injury,/And are gone to praise God and his priest and king,/Who make up a heaven of our misery.”

My father put his hands in the white light
of the lantern, and his palms became a horse
that flicked its ears and bucked; an alligator
feigning sleep along the canvas wall leapt up
and snapped its jaws in silhouette, or else
a swan would turn its perfect neck and drop
a fingered beak toward that shadowed head
to lightly preen my father’s feathered hair.
Outside our tent, skunks shuffled in the woods
beneath a star that died a little every day,
and from a nebula of light diffused
inside Orion’s sword, new stars were born.
My father’s hands became two birds, linked
by a thumb, they flew one following the other.

In whatever way your poem mentions hypocrisy, shows hypocrisy, or reminds you of hypocrisy, email it to one of us by November 9th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Looking for a poem to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us here about poetry and hypocrisy, or all things poetry at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Fall 2021 Schedule
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

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

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 1316 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This month we shared poems having to do with shadows.

Abigail read the first of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese” wherein the narrator thinks of her own life, “I saw, in gradual vision through my tears,//the sweet, sad years, the melancholy years,/Those of my own life, who by turns had flung/A shadow across me.” But she finds that her life has changed and she is gripped now not by Death, but by Love. A wonderful change!

Roger found J. R. R. Tolkien’s “All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter,” a reworking of a famous line from Shakespeare, and used as a riddle in Tolkien’s epic, Lord of the Rings. You don’t have to be a Tolkien scholar to be taken with the poet’s use of inversion:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wonder are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Scott looked at Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” and was drawn by the imagery in the next to last stanza: “Under the shadow by the piers I waited/Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.” Scott wrote, “How can there be shadows in the darkness? Not all shadows are made by the sun. It is evening, and the Brooklyn Bridge itself has lights as well as being surrounded by a city of lights. What is he waiting for in the shadow by the piers? Perhaps a forbidden tryst. But not all is literal. The use of ‘thy’ suggests the spiritual power of the bridge, perhaps casting a shadow of disapproval on these dark doings.”

Gail chose one of the poems she memorized during the pandemic, “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, first published in 1920. She wrote, “Its menacing and memorable imagery still speaks to our apocalyptic times”: “somewhere in sands of the desert/A shape with lion body and the head of a man,/A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,/Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it/Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.”

Hazel found a reference in Part of IV of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “where the use of the word ‘shadow’ added such depth to the richness of the scene when the albatross fell into the sea”: “Beyond the shadow of the ship/I watched the water-snakes;/They moved in tracks of shining white;/And when they reared, the elfish light/Fell off in hoary flakes.”

Rachel thought “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens was perfect for this assignment: “Icicles filled the long window/With barbaric glass./The shadow of the blackbird/Crossed it, to and fro./The mood/Traced in the shadow/An indecipherable cause.”

Ellen sent “The Average” the XIth sonnet in W. H. Auden’s “The Quest, A Sonnet Sequence.”
“I’ve always loved this poem,” Ellen writes. “The pressure that parents put on their children to be extraordinary is something that resonates deeply with me, and the last lines of the poem hit home powerfully”: “The silence roared displeasure: looking down,/He saw the shadow of an Average Man/Attempting the exceptional, and ran.”

Carol read “Shadows” by Nima Dhendup Namchu which begins, “You were our light/You were our tree/And we were just shadows/Dancing around thee/Now what can shadows do/When you’ve upped and gone?” Namchu’s poem, based on the loss of his childhood friend, “is a farewell from afar, coming to terms with this loss. It spoke to me as I stand witness to the loss of my sister to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Cate selected Randall Jarrell’s “The Bird of Night,” which begins: “A shadow is floating through the moon light./Its wings don’t make a sound./Its claws are long, its beak is bright./Its eyes try all the corners of the night.” Cate writes, “I like the somewhat archaic use of simple rhyme and repetition, consistent imagery—air, water, night—reinforcing the eeriness of how death’s shadow consistently washes over life.

Victoria thought of “The Hollow Men” by T. S. Eliot: “Shape without form, shade without colour,/Paralysed force, gesture without motion.” Victoria comments, “The images of a hollow purgatorial existence between life and death reflect the horrors of the First World War. The survivors are reeling from the horrors they witnessed and participated in and returned half alive to a world busily going about its business. It is a poem about the shadow of death that falls on life.”

AnnaLee chose “Hand Shadows” by Mary Cornish. “I was delighted by this poem the moment that I read it. It reminded me of my own dear father who entertained my sister and me by creating a shadow chicken with one hand that proceeded to pluck off the shadow fingers of wiggling worms on the other hand”:

My father put his hands in the white light
of the lantern, and his palms became a horse
that flicked its ears and bucked; an alligator
feigning sleep along the canvas wall leapt up
and snapped its jaws in silhouette, or else
a swan would turn its perfect neck and drop
a fingered beak toward that shadowed head
to lightly preen my father’s feathered hair.
Outside our tent, skunks shuffled in the woods
beneath a star that died a little every day,
and from a nebula of light diffused
inside Orion’s sword, new stars were born.
My father’s hands became two birds, linked
by a thumb, they flew one following the other.

Look for our next blog post on Poetry and Hypocrisy

Fall 2021 Schedule
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

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

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

A volunteer Star of Bethlehem casts its shadow.

Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Theme: Shadows

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

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 1304 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 Shadows by October 12th, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

When AnnaLee thinks of shadows the term chiaroscuro, a technique first employed by Italian painters to create depth and volume, comes to mind. In Karen Kenyon’s poem “Chiaroscuro,” each verse reminds the reader how light and shadow are partners that define each other.

The poem begins:

If you want light 
crack the mirror.
Each blade, each sliver
Will become a boat of light.

And ends:

If you want light
go into the blackest night
where little by little 
even the deepest ink
will have its shadow of light.

Abigail remembers from childhood Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “My Shadow” that begins: “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,/And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.”

The last verse of this poem combines our theme for October with our theme of wild flowers from last month:

One morning, very early, before the sun was up, 
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup; 
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head, 
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed

In whatever way your poem mentions shadows or reminds you of shadows, email it to one of us by October 12th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

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

Fall 2021 Schedule
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

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

We had a good response to our call for poetry about wildflowers, and are delighted to offer you this bouquet of poems.

Seaside Goldenrod in Long Island

Abigail, whose favorite flower is the violet, found Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson’s “Sonnet,” a reflection on the wild violets, “the wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet/In wistful April days, when lovers mate,” as opposed to the violets found in florists’ shops. From the thoughts of violets the narrator is led to remember her “soul’s forgotten gleam.”

Roger discovered Amy Lowell’s “The Garden by Moonlight” and delighted in the looks, smells, and images of flowers that have been tamed as a means of connecting generations: “Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?/They knew my mother,/But who belonging to me will they know/When I am gone.”

Gail chose “Wild Flowers” by Matthew Vetter which starts: “At fifty-six, having left my mother,/my father buys a motorcycle./I imagine him because it is the son’s sorrowful assignment/to imagine his father.” Gail explains the images of the poem: “The father, a violent man ‘with bad teeth’ whom the narrator conflates with a trampling bull, has abandoned the mother. The mother is first exchanged for a motorcycle, then passed over as ‘an impertinent mare,’ and finally crushed like ‘small wild flowers’ beneath the feet of the ‘snorting and blowing’ bull.”

Hazel sent “The Rhodora” by Ralph Waldo Emerson which “contains one of the all time great lines – I think – in all of poetry”: “Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why/This charm is wasted on the marsh and sky,/Dear, tell them, that if eyes were made for seeing,/Then beauty is its own excuse for being.”

Carol enjoyed Eloisa’s “Just Call Her Wildflower” which ends, “And she took some more steps/to love herself./She doesn’t have a name./she’s a wildflower dancing free.” Carol wrote, “I responded to this one, identifying with this woman. My own life seems to have been tiny steps, learning to love myself. My responses to flowers, to growing vegetables, and ultimately my ideas about native plants—indeed, wildflowers—leads me to gentler, more loving attitudes toward myself and others.”

Steve sent Emily Pauline Johnson’s “Fire-Flowers” written in 1903. “With all the forest fires burning right now this poem seems current.” Steve remarks that fire is used as a metaphor for grief, noting that the wild flowers that bloom afterwards mark the end of such grief.

And only where the forest fires have sped,
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
It hides the scars with almost human hands.

And only to the heart that knows of grief,
Of desolating fire, of human pain,
There comes some purifying sweet belief,
Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
And life revives, and blossoms once again.

Ken selected Robert Frost’s “Flower Gathering” written in 1912 and published in Frost’s first commercially published book of poetry: “They are yours, and be the measure/Of their worth for you to treasure,/The measure of the little while/That I’ve been long away.” Ken liked this poem because “even a short time away from someone can feel like forever,” adding, “this is especially true in these troubled times when we should cherish every moment we get to spend with those we love.” He notes that the author often wrote about his wife, Elinor, as in this poem.

Scott remembered William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence”: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/And Eternity in an hour.” He writes, “I was looking for a grammatical conclusion to the opening ‘To see.’ Its absence keeps you in a state of anticipation as the list goes on and yet it seems complete, for that world is without end.”

Cate picked “after an illness, walking the dog” by Jane Kenyon, which contains these lines: “When I whistle he halts abruptly/and steps in a circle,/swings his extravagant tail./Then he rolls and rubs his muzzle/in a particular place, while the drizzle/falls without cease, and Queen Anne’s lace/and Goldenrod bend low.” Cate writes, “The poem presents a consummate awareness and relishing of nature… Being in the company of an energetic optimist we experience a heightened sense of being alive while also conscious of mortality.”

Victoria sent “Stanzas for a Sierra Morning” by Robert Hass which begins: “Looking for wildflowers, the white yarrow/With its deep roots for this dry place/And fireweed which likes disturbed ground.” She explains that “the essence of this poem to me is how we live our lives surrounded by the amazing and remarkable gifts of nature’s beauty, but we notice these astonishing gifts only casually, as we go about the business of stumbling through our lives. Yet the beauty is there always, steadily, dazzling in its presence around us, should we chance upon it in a bright and brilliant wildflower.”

AnnaLee chose the Scottish poet Andrew Young’s “The Lady’s Slipper,” which tells of looking for an elusive wild beauty when the author is past his prime. He knows he will never find it again, yet he will keep seeking it as long as he lives. “The poem reminds me of the early June day when I first spotted a pink Lady’s Slipper in the forest around our summer cottage. For years I delighted in discovering these rare orchids that popped up from rotting oak. After pine barren fires drove the deer into our woods, the Lady’s Slippers disappeared, but I keep looking.”

Though I know well enough
To hunt the Lady’s-Slipper now
Is playing blindman’s-buff,
For it was June She put it on
And grey with mist the spider’s laceSwings in the autumn wind,
Yet through this hill-wood, high and low,
I peer in every place;
Seeking for what I cannot find
I do as I have often done
And shall do while I stay beneath the sun.

Look for our next post and call for poems about shadows. In the meantime, please blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.                                

Fall 2021 Schedule
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

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

Date: Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Theme: Wild Flowers

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

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 1304 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 Wild Flowers, with a comment on why you chose them. We’ll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

We have been reading about the recent movement to conserve and appreciate native plants. Poets have long honored wild flowers in their writing. With such a rich subject, it is difficult to make a selection. Abigail discovered “Wildflowers” by Reginald Gibbons which doesn’t name the flowers but rather the narrator’s associations with them:

Coleridge carefully wrote down a whole page
of them, all beginning with the letter b.
Guidebooks preserve our knowledge
of their hues and shapes, their breeding.
Many poems have made delicate word-chimes—
like wind-chimes not for wind but for the breath of man—
out of their lovely names.
At the edge of the prairie in a cabin
when thunder comes closer to thump the roof hard
a few of them—in a corner, brittle in a dry jar
where a woman’s thoughtful hand left them to fade—
seem to blow the announcing winds outside
as the rain begins to fall on all their supple kin
of all colors, under a sky of one color, or none.

AnnaLee chose Vachel Lindsay’s “The Dandelion,” which refers to this invader from Europe as royalty:  

O dandelion, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate’s triumphant shears.
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o’er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.

Whether a poem speaks of wild flowers, flowers, or the wild in any way, email it to one of us by September 14th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Can’t locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

We enjoyed this article in the New York Times on reading the same poem every day for a month: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/17/magazine/poetry-repetition.html

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

Fall 2021 Schedule
September 14: Wild Flowers
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

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

The topic for the One Page Poetry Circle on May 11th was Poetry and Freedom.

When Abigail thinks of freedom, she hears Janis Joplin singing, “Me and Bobby McGee” with its lines, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose/Nothing, and that’s all that Bobby left me/Feeling good was easy Lord, when he sang the blues/You know feeling good was good enough for me.” Kris Kristofferson wrote “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” after viewing the film La Strada with Anthony Quinn and Giulietta Masina, and considered “the two-edged sword that freedom is. He was free when he left the girl, but it destroyed him.”

Roger offered Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” because he loved the descriptions of the contrast between the caged bird and the free bird: “The caged bird sings/with a fearful trill/of things unknown/but longed for still/and his tune is heard/on the distant hill/for the caged bird/sings of freedom.”

Gail sent “Freedom” by Oliver Runner, a short poem that ends: “I care not whither/My feet may lead, for my spirit shall be/Free as the brook that flows to the river,/Free as the river that flows to the sea.” She commented that “this simple eight-line poem evokes the joyful freedom of taking a walk in a natural setting on a perfect day. The poet’s lovely, apt name seems to become a part of the poem itself.”

Susan liked “Wild Swans” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. “This short poem describes Millay’s desperate yearning for freedom, which the wild swans beautifully represent. She feels trapped in herself and her introspection, and stuck in her house. I identify with her feelings. During this last year many of us have been literally trapped in our homes due to Covid or fear of it. Our longing for freedom and beauty is stronger than ever.”

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
And what did I see I had not seen before?
Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

Hazel shared Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn,” which “was sung at the completion of the Battle Monument on July 4, 1837. Reference to the willingness of heroes to die to leave their children free is the Freedom that we are honoring today.” The poem begins, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood,/Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Christiana sent “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” by Yi Lei (1952-2018), who wrote in Chinese and became more widely known in the 1980s. Christiana writes “The entire poem deals with the freedom thrust upon her by a no-show lover. Tracy K. Smith, poet and translator, met Lei in New York’s Chinatown, and in Beijing. She gave Smith notes on her first attempt at translating this stanza to emphasize the aspect of freedom being referenced, explaining that Li was talking about an essential concept, not just romantic love. Although I know no Chinese, as a reader, I believe that Smith’s translation is successful at communicating both the poem’s meanings and the poems poetry. I like to think that ‘thought’ is a freedom, or can be, and selected stanza #13 ‘Thinking’ from her poem to reflect this.”

I spend all my spare time doing it.
I give it a name: walking indoors.
I imagine a life in which I possess
All that I lack. I fix what has failed.
What never was, I build and seize.
It’s impossible to think of everything,
Yet more and more I do. Thinking
What I am afraid to say keeps fear
And fear’s twin, rage, at bay. Law
Squints out from its burrow, jams
Its quiver with arrows. It shoots
Like it thinks: never straight. My thoughts
Escape. One day, they’ll emigrate
To a kingdom far-off and heady.
My visa’s in-process, though like anyone,
I worry it’s overpopulated already
You didn’t come to live with me.

Steve wrote “At this time of year seeing the buds on the trees out our windows, I always think of Chaucer’s Prologue to The Canterbury Tales—the only thing I remember from English class at Indiana University. The first four lines are the ones that come to mind and make me feel spring” and a sense of freedom: “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,/The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,/And bathed every veyne in swich licóur/Of which vertú engendred is the flour.”

Scott “will never forget sitting around the poker table in the back room of the Oxford Café in Missoula, Montana and hearing my unlettered comrades rattling off line after line of Robert Service. In “Freedom’s Fool” Service celebrates not the freedom that a government guarantees, but the freedom of a natural man without government: “The laws of Nature and of God/Are good enough for guys like me,/Who scorn to kiss the scarlet rod/Of office and authority.” Scott adds, that “To hell with government has unhappy connotations today.”

Cate sent “The Window, at the Moment of Flame” by the poet Alicia Ostriker who writes poetry and criticism on themes of family, social justice, Jewish identity, and personal growth. “This poem, for me,” writes Cate, “is a very direct question about ‘let us say’ America’s freedom and its value. How simply, and not so subtly, the author questions our culpability or, at best, insensitivity.”

And all this while I have been playing with toys
A toy power station a toy automobile a house of blocks
And all this while far off in other lands
Thousands and thousands, millions and millions–
You know–you see the pictures
Women carrying their bony infants
Men sobbing over graves
Buildings sculpted by explosion
Earth wasted bare and rotten–
And all this while I have been shopping, I have
Been let us say free
And do they hate me for it
Do they hate me

Carol sent “Freedom of Choice” by Scarlet…. “I choose a pen/so I may write it all/and it will be there for all who choose to read,” and wrote, “This poem struck me personally: I had been guided into fine arts as a child, told one of my sisters was an actor/dancer, the other was the writer. It took me many years to ‘choose’ to move beyond painting and drawing—arts that made me feel silenced—to attempt writing, following years of public speaking roles.”

Victoria wrote that “The Dry Salvages,” the third of T. S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” “is one of the ultimate poems about freedom, even though it’s not about ‘freedom’ per se”: “The river is within us, the sea is all about us;/The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite/Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses/Its hints of earlier and other creation … The sea has many voices,/Many gods and many voices.”

AnnaLee chose Emily Dickinson’s “No Rack can torture me–.” “I mulled over this poem, especially the enigmatic ending: ‘Except Thyself may be/Thine Enemy—/Captivity is Consciousness/So’s Liberty.’ In reading about liberty and captivity, I came across an anecdote that, for me, shed light on Dickinson’s thinking. In Adrienne Rich’s essay on Dickinson, “Vesuvius at Home,” the poet’s niece Martha tells a story of visiting her in her corner room, and how her aunt made the motion of locking the door with an imaginary key, then said, ‘Matty: here’s freedom.’”

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you (one way or another) in the fall. In the meantime, blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.