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Mark Bohrer is the current Poet Laureate of North Andover, Mass.
Find our local North Andover poetry connection here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/northandoverpoets/
No poem today. Just a story, remembering
a good friend.
What is Life?
I was thinking about my late friend, the
philosopher Jean-Paul-Fozzy-Bear Sartre. Of course you’ve heard of him. The
name just trips off the tongue – Jean-Paul-Fozzy-Bear Sartre. I remember how he
pondered the deep questions of life, meaning…and leftovers.
I remember when he asked me that
existential question “What are we to do if life serves us nothing but cold
leftovers? How are we to respond? How are we to live?”
Well, I remember, he looked at me and
said something that stuck with me - “The cold leftovers given to us by life can
leave us cold and empty, or we can look at them and say, ‘Hey, how nice,
someone cooked! I’ll warm it up. Those vegan meatballs look delicious. I think
they’re in curry sauce.’”
Those words changed my life. So if life
serves you nothing but cold leftovers, remember to keep his words in mind: “How
nice, someone cooked! I’ll warm it up.” May it bring you solace.
PS It's hard to find a good picture that
captures the man (or bear as some have called him) so I'm sharing two that capture
the two aspects of his essence.
Or a dip into the stream, the stream, the stream, this
dream, this dream…
Why are we doing?
Why do we need?
Hah! Already! An old trusty trope,
Words inverted, the phrase transposed,
Improper English, to speak clearly?
This rusty old trope, how can I make you shine like new?
Oh anastrophe! Oh anaphora! Oh epistrophe!
Inversion, repetition to start, to start, and end, and end!
These are but three! So many poetic tropes, so little time!
A trope, a trope, my kingdom for a trope…
A trope, a rope, why here’s a length for you master, ‘tis enough,
You may hang yourself now, sir.
I’ll make it here to order, re-order, invert, transpose,
Transmute, translate, morphose, meta-morphose,
Transform, transfigure, transmogrify!
Generate, regenerate, make everything new,
Step into the transmogrifier, and flip the meta-switch!
Welcome to the open mic!
The poems are yours, the poems are mine,
the poems are theirs, the poems become all of ours,
All of ours to share, share, share.
What’s going on inside of you?
Crack the husk, crack the husk, reveal the tender green shoot inside.
Crack the husk? Crack the husk? What if it’s nothing but husk, all the
way down? What then?
Has life burned you, left you roasted and charred, burned out and
beaten, beaten, beaten?
Until you forget, forget, forget
That something is living inside
That something is growing inside
That something, that something needs
Something needs water, words of life for this tender shoot?
Why have I let it wither? Why did I forget?
Is it too late? So much drama! Inside of me? Inside of you?
Even that person who looks like nothing but husk?
Husk all the way through? You’re telling me it’s not true?
When you leave, I still want you
When I leave, can I stay with you?
Will I understand? Will I understand you?
Will you know? Will you know me? Will we know one another
A little better?
I want. I want us.
I want us all. I want us all to say
Something. Say something. I want us all to say
Something just happened. Something just happened at the open mic.
I’m sure of it. I’m sure of it. (PAUSE)
This is why. (PAUSE)
It happens at the open mic.
P.S. “How nice, someone cooked. I’ll warm it up.”
anastrophe. Inversion of the natural or
usual word order; Paradise Lost 3.142: "Love without end, and
without measure Grace"
anaphora. Repetition of the same word
or group of words at the beginnings of successive clauses; Paradise Lost 1.242-3: "Is this the Region,
this the Soil, The Clime,/ Said then the lost Arch-Angel, this the
epistrophe. Repetition of the same word
or group of words at the ends of successive clauses; Paradise Lost 1.105-6: "What
though the field be lost?/ All is not lost"
The Word from the Corner (shared on the Facebook group North Andover Poets Corner)
I'm turning into a radical. Except I haven't changed. How can both be true? I stand in the same place, and my country has moved underneath me, to a place I don't recognize. Not even halfway through January and so much to worry about!
I am enjoying the poetry collection "Extreme: an anthology of social and environmental justice", edited by Mark Lipman. Wow! It has some good stuff! Here's one (in English and Spanish) by Adrián Arias, originally from Peru, who lives and writes today in California. As another poem in this anthology says "Keep your eye on what keeps you whole". Peace. Resolve. Friendship. _____________________________________________
Make the revolution
by Adrián Arias
Make the revolution
it is an act of faith in our form
to see to touch to smell to feel.
Today my body moves
to the rhythm of my grief
and my grief grows to become a wall
and the wall explodes in the abyss
and I fall I fall until I feel
that my body can rise and resist
and fight to remain
cloud bird song kiss idea
because this is how this world was built
with clouds birds songs kisses ideas
and so we will continue standing.
Hacer La Revolución
Hacer la revolución
es un acto de fe en nuestra forma
de ver tocar oler masticar sentir.
Hoy mi cuerpo se mueve
al ritmo de mi pena
y mi pena crece hasta convertirse en muralla
y la muralla explota en elabismo
de las contradicciones
y caigo caigocaigo hast sentir
que mi cuerpo se puede levantar y resistir
y luchar para seguir siendo
nube pájaro canción beso idea
porque así se construyó este mundo
con nubes pájaros conciones besos ideas
y así seguiremos de pie
My introduction to poetry has really been through songs and lyrics. Something about the well-crafted music and lyrics from when I grew up in the 60's and 70's has stayed with me. What I get from these songs carries over into the poetry I write and the poetry I appreciate. I always wonder - what is really going on when lyrics and music talk to each other, work as one, and become something more? And are there ways for a poem to capture that music?
A song popped up on my playlist yesterday, and just like that it inspired a poem for me. The song is "Why Worry" by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Listen again to the first note of that song (see YouTube link below). You can't even hear him strum or pluck the guitar. It's as if the note just appears in the air on its own accord, as if from the breath of the wind on the strings. So I had to stop, standing in front of Rocky's Ace Hardware, and write the poem that came in response. Go figure! Hope you like it. PS "Why Worry" is something we all need after a rough year.
Why Worry by Mark Knopfler Baby I see this world has made you sad Some people can be bad The things they do, the things they say But baby I'll wipe away those bitter tears I'll chase away those restless fears That turn your blue skies into grey Why worry, there should be laughter after the pain There should be sunshine after rain These things have always been the same So why worry now, why worry now Baby when I get down I turn to you And you make sense of what I do I know it isn't hard to say But baby just when this world seems mean and cold Our love comes shining red and gold And all the rest is by the way Why worry, there should be laughter after pain There should be sunshine after rain These things have always been the same So why worry now, why worry now ______________________________________________ Breathe in the Wind of the World Oh…breathe in… A note sounds on the wind, far off, now here, again I breathe in when the wind of the world moves through me I breathe in when the wind of the world moves across me A note sounds on the wind, far off, now here, again I am brought to life I breathe, I speak, I sing, I live again As if I’ve done this before Which I have, I have Some time ago Time must have passed I remember my last breath I take another, another, greedy this time Oh...the wind of the world moves again I remember that old delicious ache It speaks, it sings The wind moves on It is not done with me yet Oh...oh...omm Now it’s up to me ______________________________________________