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National Poetry Month: Juan Felipe Herrera

National Poetry Month: Juan Felipe Herrera

April 21 / 18

National Poetry Month! Time to read and get inspired by great poetry with Juan Felipe Herrera.


Credit source: Poetry Foundation

Blood on the Wheel

     Ezekiel saw the wheel,
way up in the middle of the air.
TRADITIONAL GOSPEL SONG

Blood on the night soil man en route to the country prison
Blood on the sullen chair, the one that holds you with its pleasure
Blood inside the quartz, the beauty watch, the eye of the guard
Blood on the slope of names & the tattoos hidden
Blood on the Virgin, behind the veils,
Behind—in the moon angel’s gold oracle hair
                    What blood is this, is it the blood of the worker rat?
                    Is it the blood of the clone governor, the city maid?
                    Why does it course in s’s & z’s?
Blood on the couch, made for viewing automobiles & face cream
Blood on the pin, this one going through you without any pain
Blood on the screen, the green torso queen of slavering hearts
Blood on the grandmother’s wish, her tawdry stick of Texas
Blood on the daughter’s breast who sews roses
Blood on the father, does anyone remember him, bluish?
                    Blood from a kitchen fresco, in thick amber strokes
                    Blood from the baby’s right ear, from his ochre nose
                    What blood is this?
Blood on the fender, in the sender’s shoe, in his liquor sack
Blood on the street, call it Milagro Boulevard, Mercy Lanes #9
Blood on the alien, in the alligator jacket teen boy Juan
                    There is blood, there, he says
                    Blood here too, down here, she says
                    Only blood, the Blood Mother sings
Blood driving miniature American queens stamped into rage
Blood driving rappers in Mercedes blackened & whitened in news
Blood driving the snare-eyed professor searching for her panties
Blood driving the championship husband bent in Extreme Unction
                   Blood of the orphan weasel in heat, the Calvinist farmer in wheat
                   Blood of the lettuce rebellion on the rise, the cannery worker’s prize
Blood of the painted donkey forced into prostitute zebra,
Blood of the Tijuana tourist finally awake & forced into pimp sleep again
It is blood time, Sir Terminator says,
It is blood time, Sir Simpson winks,
It is blood time, Sir McVeigh weighs.
                   Her nuclear blood watch soaked, will it dry?
                   His whitish blood ring smoked, will it foam?
                   My groin blood leather roped, will it marry?
                   My wife’s peasant blood spoked, will it ride again?
Blood in the tin, in the coffee bean, in the maquila oración
Blood in the language, in the wise text of the market sausage
Blood in the border web, the penal colony shed, in the bilingual yard
                    Crow blood blues perched on nothingness again
                    fly over my field, yellow-green & opal
                    Dog blood crawl & swish through my sheets
Who will eat this speckled corn?
Who shall be born on this Wednesday war bed?
Blood in the acid theater, again, in the box office smash hit
Blood in the Corvette tank, in the crack talk crank below
Blood boat Navy blood glove Army ventricle Marines
in the cookie sex jar, camouflaged rape whalers
Roam & rumble, investigate my Mexican hoodlum blood
                    Tiny blood behind my Cuban ear, wine colored & hushed
                    Tiny blood in the death row tool, in the middle-aged corset
                    Tiny blood sampler, tiny blood, you hush up again, so tiny
Blood in the Groove Shopping Center,
In blue Appalachia river, in Detroit harness spleen
Blood in the Groove Virus machine,
In low ocean tide, in Iowa soy bean
Blood in the Groove Lynch mob orchestra,
South of Herzegovina, south, I said
Blood marching for the Immigration Patrol, prized & arrogant
Blood spawning in the dawn break of African Blood Tribes, grimacing
& multiple—multiple, I said
Blood on the Macho Hat, the one used for proper genuflections
Blood on the faithful knee, the one readied for erotic negation
Blood on the willing nerve terminal, the one open for suicide
Blood at the age of seventeen
Blood at the age of one, dumped in a Greyhound bus
Blood mute & autistic & cauterized & smuggled Mayan
& burned in border smelter tar
                    Could this be yours? Could this item belong to you?
                    Could this ticket be what you ordered, could it?
          Blood on the wheel, blood on the reel
          Bronze dead gold & diamond deep. Blood be fast.
Juan Felipe Herrera, “Blood on the Wheel” from Border-crosser with a Lamborghini Dream. Copyright © 1999 by Juan Felipe Herrera.  Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: Border-crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (University of Arizona Press, 1999)

In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul

In the cannery the porpoise soul
& the shadow fins of spirit boats lie awake
the hundred hooks & flying reels
one harpoon
& the silver fleshing in the nets
the mayor is waiting/counting scales
dreaming new quotas & tuna coasts
(under the table blood & payrolls
swim to the shores on a crucifix of oil)
in the cannery the porpoise soul
steals a dagger forthe engines throat
tuna fins etch an X
on the green stone of the ships floor
there are documents with worker sweat
files & rolled sleeve salt
a spear of sails & anchor years
(lost)
inside the shoulders & against the ropes
(somehow)
a policy gunned the waves back
before the porpoise sea was born
“In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul” from Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. Copyright © 2008 Juan Felipe Herrera. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. This material is protected from unauthorized downloading and distribution.
Source: Half of the World in Light (The University of Arizona Press, 2008)

War Voyeurs

for Clara Fraser

I do not understand why men make war.
Is it because artillery is the most stoic example
of what flesh can become?
Is it because the military plan is the final map
drawn by the wisest hunter?
Is it because the neutron ray is the invincible finger
no one will disobey?
or
Is it because the flood of blood is the proper penance
workers must pay for failing tribute at the prescribed
hour?
I do not understand why men make war.
Is it because when death is multiple and expanding, there
among the odd assemblages, arbitrary and unnamed, there
among the shrivelled mountains, distorted and hollow, there
among the liquid farms and cities, cold and sallow, there
among the splintered bones of children, women, men and cattle
there and only there, the eerie head of power is being born?
Is it because submission is the only gesture to be rehearsed,
to be dressed, to be modeled, to be cast, to be chosen
in the one and only one drama to be staged in the theater of
this world, where everyone must act with the backbone humbled
with the mascara of bondage, with the lipstick of slaves under
the light of gentle assassination with applause piercing the ground
forever?
or
Is it because war is the secret room of all things to be kept
sealed and contained, to be conquered and renamed woman
enclosed by an empire of walls, vaults, hinges and locks with
the hot key that men and only men must possess for an eternal
evening to visit and contemplate, to snap open a favorite window
and gaze at the calibrated murder as lovers of beauty?

“War Voyeurs” from Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. Copyright © 2008 Juan Felipe Herrera. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. This material is protected from unauthorized downloading and distribution.

Source: Half of the World in Light (The University of Arizona Press, 2008)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, be blessed!

 

Image source: Los Angeles Times
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National Poetry Month: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

National Poetry Month: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

April 14 / 18

Hello everyone! National Poetry Month and I found some great poetry for those who are poet fanatics. We have two by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


Credit source: poetry.org

 

How Do I Love Thee?

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

 

 

Grief

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
Beat upward to God’s throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death–
Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep, it could arise and go.

 

There will be more to come. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, be very blessed.

 

 

Image source: Poetry Foundation

National Poetry Month / Phenomenal Woman & Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

National Poetry Month / Phenomenal Woman & Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

April 6 / 18

Hey…it’s Friday and I did almost forget that this month is National Poetry Month. This month, I will post poetry from such poetry legends like Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickenson, E.E. Cummings, and Maya Angelou. Speaking of Ms. Angelou, we just celebrated her birthday recently. She would’ve been 90 years old. Here are a few of her poems that are my favorites…


Credit Source: Poetry Foundation

 

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint, and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
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.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
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.
Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint, and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, be blessed always!

 

Image source: League of Canadian Poets