Love Song

For Hudson

When you rest your face
in my arm’s hollow,

all the echoes have stopped.
The world has become quiet since

the eagles returned to the valley.
I try to recall the last time I was so powerless

in the face of something so small
fastened to me like a frightened milk mouse, forever

vulnerable and impossible to hurt,
and I guess I never knew it

until your first feeble cry
raises an answer in me,

so much like love
it must be love.

What Remains

I thought of you this morning, dear Josephine. In early spring, the dandelions became alive again in the garden you left behind. White parachutes of fickle seedlings, gone onto the same curving road you took to get away from here. I often wonder where you are, my sweet dandelion. The light’s filling up the sky as I am writing this letter to you, thinking of all the bright summers we’ve spent in this town; thinking of your liveliness, your sadness, the knot in your heart and all that gave you scars. Remember we used to run wild in the thick of the field, somehow seeing through the boarded sky that there would be a different life, two pebbles pattering in the palm of an invisible hand, your long hair windswept and struck by moonlight. The monotonous tide didn’t matter. The hunched backs of the fishermen didn’t matter. The cold rain, the wet grass, the wind maliciously tugging at our dresses didn’t matter. We were not afraid, Josephine, of what was beyond, or what came after. When we stood on the black rock cliff to watch the sunrise, a pair of white birds circled over us like impossible love, before diving into nothingness, never to be seen. You said that is how you like to go one day. You dreamt of a world that wanted you in it, that needed your wide teary eyes and tight fists. Years later, some say that this dream was not the right kind of dream, but rather an impish shove against the breakwater that no waves could ever defy. But I want to believe you haven’t given up living a good life wherever you are. Today as I sit under this old willow tree where we used to share tiny secrets, watching leaves fall as they fall without haste, my memory of you, laughing, and holding a conch to hear the sea, is what always remains.

 

Originally published on August 25, 2016 on my old blog.

Button

This morning he knows it is coming to an end,
this life of his hanging by a frayed thread.
He is closer to it each time
as he glides into his narrow slit, meekly
like the weary-kneed cattle plodding
into their stall at the end of day.

It’s everybody’s story,
the way his kind can go on for years
without a yearning, biding their time
in a dim closet, sleeping
among the printed lilacs on an old blouse
like the one he rests on right now,
waiting for what he already knows –
that one blissful morning, the hand
would come down, brush along
his still perfectly round edge
for a contemplative second,
and yank him free.

 

Originally published on July 21st, 2016 on my old blog. 

[Book Review] Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

 

ross-gay-poetry

 

I wasn’t planning on writing a review on Ross Gay’s newest poetry collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. I finished it rather quickly and put it aside before moving on to other readings. However, for some strange reason, in the following few days, some of the poems kept coming back to me. Certain imageries – always in such vivid colors like the book cover – lingered on in my mind like the intense fragrance of summer roses.

In the poem Burial, which is also one of my favorite poems,  a young man plants a plum tree and scatters his father’s ashes into the roots.

and he dove in glad for the robust air / saddling a slight gust / into my nose and mouth / chuckling as I coughed / but mostly he disappeared / into the minor yawns in the earth / into which I places the trees / splaying wide their roots / casting the gray dust of my old man / evenly throughout the hotel /

And the final interpretive scene delivers such intense joy that transcends grief to something else – something hopeful; something truly beautiful. And I can’t help smiling while reading it.

almost dancing now in the plum / in the tree, they way he did as a person / bent over and biting his lip / and chucking the one hip out / then the other with his elbow cocked / and fists loosely made / and eyes closed and mouth made trumpet / when he knew he could make you happy / just by being a little silly / and sweet /

Such joyous celebration of life what drives this poetry collection into the pure magic that makes Ross’ poems stay with the readers for a long long time.

Another favorite of mine is Becoming a Horse. Words cannot express how much I adore this little gem. Our connection to animals, to nature, and to everything beyond our daily world is powerfully manifested in this short poem. It almost makes me envious of the amount of love and passion Ross has for LIFE.

It was dragging my hands along its belly / loosing the bit and wiping the spit / from its mouth made me / a snatch of grass in the thing’s maw / a fly tasting its ear. It was / touching my nose to his made me know / the clover’s bloom, my wet eye to his / made me know the long field’s secret / But it was putting my heart to the horse’s that made me know the sorrow of horses /

 

Reading Ross’ poems just makes me believe more in the power of poetry. I don’t think any other form of writing can grasp a certain feeling and shake it out of us as well as poetry can. Just like what Ross said in his poem Feet, there is no need for poets to explain what they are trying to do. Just show us the steady mumble and clank of machines in the little factory in your head!

I’m trying, I think, to forgive myself / for something I don’t know what / But what I do know is that I love the moment when the poet says / I am trying to do this / or I am trying to do that / Sometimes it’s a horseshit trick. But sometimes / it’s a way by which the poet says / I wish I could tell you / truly, of the little factory / in my head: the smokestacks / cuffing, the dandelions / and purslane and willows of sweet clover / prying through the blacktop / I wish I could tell you / how inside is the steady mumble and clank of machines/

rgay

The Breakup

This was after we’ve both said bitter things
and the light’s begun to fade. We stopped
at a small fishing village outside Maine.
His stubbled face looked as composed as mine
on that overcast evening, as we stood
at the edge of the hard crag listening
to the waves beat against the solemn rocks
like relentless cries from the ocean’s heart.
And he took a few steps back and said, hey
let’s get back to the car and keep going.
And I thought maybe he too was afraid
to listen – this sound we heard everywhere
we went but it left us still so broken.
At night the wind came from the sea and made
the lonely grey poplars murmur more tunes.
He did not notice, and I – although I
didn’t believe there could be more – still I
sat up in the hushed car and listened.

 

Originally published on January 22nd, 2016 on my old blog.