Archive for March, 2013

Tuesday poem on Monday: Coming home

Monday, March 18th, 2013

Coming home, by Rosalind Brackenbury

The plane tips, the town
lies beneath me, all the streets
and yards I know, the small rows
and intimate glow of houses,
blot of trees; after the dark rush
of so much ocean, this patch of land
and everything I want
gathered there: my husband
in our car driving through
lakes to meet me, my daughter
standing at the stove tasting dinner
from a wooden spoon,
her head under the light.
Friends in these fragile boxes
that I rush down to; love, meals,
arguments beneath tin roofs
sluiced by rain. Rain slides
on the plane’s glass its long
diagonals; we shudder,
land in a puddle; on the steps
of the plane breathe first
the salt damp island air.

Used by permission of the author.

Rosalind Brackenbury was born in London, grew up in the south of England, has lived in Scotland and France, and now lives in Key West with her American husband. She is the author of 12 novels (the latest is ‘Becoming George Sand’) and six books of poetry (‘The Joy of the Nearly Old’ is the latest collection).

Although I spend time in Key West every year I’ve not met Rosalind, but her writing has great resonance for me, especially in poems such as this one, which is not only redolent with familiarity of the plane journey from Miami to Key West, but also reminds me of New Zealand. (Mention a small town, or tin roofs on an island, or rain and “blots of trees”, and I’m taken straight back to my childhood. Which may account for my late-onset love affair with Key West.)

If you’d like to read more Tuesday poems go to the hub site, where a main poem is posted each week. Further poems can be found on the blogs of the Tuesday poet members in the sidebar.

Tuesday poem: The lesson of the moth

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Posting a piece last week about the palmetto bugs here in Key West sparked a memory of Don Marquis’s poems about Archy the cockroach and Mehitabel the cat. If you haven’t yet encountered these I recommend tracking them down: they were first published in the 1930s.  Archy is a cockroach with the soul of a poet, and  his friend Mehitabel is an alley cat with a celebrated past who claims she was Cleopatra in a previous life.

“expression is the need of my soul,” declares Archy, who labored as a free-verse poet in an earlier incarnation. At night, alone, he dives furiously on the keys of Don Marquis’ typewriter to describe a cockroach’s view of the world, rich with cynicism and humor. It’s difficult enough to operate the typewriter’s return bar to get a fresh line of paper; all of Archy’s dispatches are written lowercase, and without punctuation, because he is unable simultaneously to hit both shift and a letter key to produce a capital letter. These days of course he’d have a lot less trouble with a computer keyboard, always supposing he could turn on the computer in the first place …

Anyway, here’s one of Archy’s poems: enjoy.

the lesson of the moth

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter
it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for
it is better to be a part of beauty
for one instant and then cease to
exist than to exist forever
and never be a part of beauty
our attitude toward life
is come easy go easy
we are like human beings
used to be before they became
too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself


For more Tuesday poems you can go to the main hub site, where there is a poem posted each week. Further poems can be found on the blogs of the Tuesday poet members in the sidebar.