Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

day 3 of National Poetry Month ~

One of my favourite poets died a few years ago, in 2007. Her name was Maude Meehan. She was an amazing woman, as well as a heckuva poet. She was a worker for social justice from way back: worker’s rights, women’s rights, gay rights… The rights of people everywhere, in all walks of life. Her work has had a huge impact on my own. I hope more people go find her poetry — it’s a pleasure to read.
Here’s my favourite:
Is There Life After Feminism (or how to wear boots and still be politically incorrect)

I like to wear boots.

I like the noise they make.
I walk real uppity in boots.
I walk strong.
If pressed
I can land a punch, a kick,
demolish a rapist,
and if I want to
I can go to bed in boots.

I cook without Tofu or eggplant
and I hate alfalfa sprouts. Call it heresy.
I hug my husband, my sons,
and send my daughter radical feminist literature.
I hug her too.  I hug my gay friends,
and don’t apologize for being straight.
I hug my friends of color
and won’t apologize for being white.
How can we stand up together
if we’re putting each other down?

I am a senior citizen.
There are advantages.
I get ten percent off on pancakes at Golden Wist
and a dollar off at the Nickelodeon.
Sometimes I wear lipstick, mascara
and don’t ask anyone’s pardon.
I wear a dress when I visit my mother.
She’s ninety-six, I’m sixty-five.
Spare me your arguments.  Where is it written
that any one of us has all the right answers
for anyone else?

I am a good citizen.
There are disadvantages.
I write to presidents and politicians
and they do what they want anyway.
I go to marches, to meetings, to jail,
and I have a file in Washington in my very own name
which I refuse to send for.
I know who I am.
Even when I do dishes, mind kids or wear high heels
I know who I am.
But what I like about wearing boots is,
there’s no confusion.
Everyone knows who I am.  Watch out!

Day 2, National Poetry Month ~

Today’s poem is one of my favourites. It also changes American poetry (arguably). It’s Ezra Pound, of course — that contentious, controversial poet who went loudly nuts during WWII.

But this is the quieter, Asian art-influenced Pound. The poet who read haiku in Japan, all of Ernest Fenollosa’s work on the Chinese ideogram, and eventually translated Chinese. Although he spoke none…

No where but in the arts can I imagine that story being real: a young American meets an artist, read his work, uses it to change the course of his own work, and ultimately brings an entire body of work into his own culture… Wow.

Here it is, balm for subway riders:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

National Poetry Month!

On my Facebook page, I’m publishing my own poems daily — one by one, each written or revised or at least revisited for this month I love.

But here, I’m going to link daily to a poem important to me. Or maybe just one of the many I adore. Each day I’ll give you a poem to think about. I may post something with it, but mostly I want you to have poetry. Because every beginner’s heart needs it. Like water. Like air. Like love.

Here’s Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate, to kick us off:

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

green grass, blue sky, sun like honey ~

Spring is about growth. It’s full of religious celebrations that predate paper: Passover, Easter, Holi, the Spring Equinox, Makha Bukha, Bahá’í New Year, and many more.

For me, spring is also about children. It’s about egg hunts — a leftover from BCE (Before Christian Era) — and candy in baskets and new clothes. As a child, it also was about the dyed chicks & ducklings & bunnies that cuddled at feed stores & even dime store fronts, ready to grace a child’s basket Sunday morning.

We don’t do Easter baskets any more — my sons live thousands of miles west, and my grand-nieces & grand-nephew are busy at their besotted aunt’s. But today, when I came in to my desk to write, a totally romantic Easter cup awaited me. Brimming with the neon green ‘grass’ we all remember, in which nestled dark chocolate eggs & a hand-painted Canadian coin, complete with bee. I have the BEST husband… :)

For a brief moment, I was 6 years old. My Aunt Carol had bought me a chocolate egg, and my Aunt Joyce had taken me to see coloured ducklings. I had a new dress, shiny patent shoes, and a pastel basket. Warm spring sunlight was no brighter than my bliss.

I hope today brings you similar sweet surprises, and the love of those around you. And the happy faces of children under budding trees, standing beneath bright blue sky. It’s spring.

 

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