Category Archives: poem

Mothers Day poem

PHONE CALL TO MY MOTHER AT SIXTY

 

I have not thought of you all day.

A March wind rattles the wires,

wishing you a belated happy birthday.

You are sixty, my grandfather ninety

my younger sister thirty,

but if there is significance in that,

a syzygy, some conjunction in the heavens

I have yet to figure it out.

Your husband answers, my father,

aligned against me north-north,

between us implacable silence.

So we sidestep confidences,

suspecting he is listening in

until in the distance the line clicks

like a playing card in the spokes.

But even so, how carefully we speak,

expelling words of fragile allegiance

each of us pretending not to know

what the other is thinking.

Suddenly you confide, you feel old:

the baby is thirty, you don’t like

your new job, you miss teaching,

the exuberant children, their bright

and lazy charm. There is so much to do,

so little time. Before it is too late

you want to captain a boat to the Azores,

learn cabinet-making — you have the tools,

a lathe, a power saw, inherited from your deaf father

who never heard you speak

but built you a fabulous dollhouse

and taught you, at ten, to sink the eight ball.

Could I ever confide that I, too, feel old? At thirty-five

you had a husband, four children,

a career in the wings.  I rent

a single room and have no prospects

beyond the next day’s waking.

Instead I carefully quote Joseph Campbell’s

advice: follow your bliss.

And I remind you Aquarians always step

to a different drum’s thunder.

You like these clichés,

and laugh, repeating them, then you say

with a sudden spontaneous sincerity

that moves me how good it is to talk with me.

I think of all the times we have not spoken,

how at sixty it would be nice

to have a daughter to talk with

instead of friends wakened in the night,

reaching over husbands or wives,

to answer the phone, “Hello? Hello?”

their wary voices expecting

death or disaster.

You are tired, you say now,

you have an early appointment.

We promise each other a date for lunch.

But I will not call for a long time.

Or perhaps I will call the next day.

Before you hang up, you let slip

it’s your wedding anniversary, one

marked by some mundane substance —

stone, carbon, foil, rope.

Should I congratulate you, I wonder,

or console you? Finally, we say good-bye.

Across the wires I think I hear

your voice crack, but it could be the wind

or a bad connection.

 

 

By phoebe sparrow wagner (1990?)

Poème en Français (and translated)

I have not shared here how utterly in love with the French language I  have become. Last July, and I do not even remember exactly what happened but something did…last July I fell head over heels in love with French and all things Français. Like my other full blown long-term passions — field botany was the first, then poetry, then ——, then art, and now French — the transformation from someone who a few minutes before had no use for whatever it was — French in this case — into someone wildly passionate and devoted to the object of her desires happened in the space of moments. It was as usual truly like a religious “conversion experience”, no other expression adequately expresses this sort of Road to Damascus lightning strike experience. One minute I was just going along, doing art of course, and passionate about it, but having zilch interest in French…then with a nearly audible WHOMP! everything changes, as it changed last July and I literally transformed from someone who was at best lukewarm towards French, and France, to someone passionately in love!

 

i will write more about such experiences another time. (And never fear, my passion for art remains. ) but for now I wanted to share this poem, originally written in English for my book, LEARNING TO SEE IN THREE DIMENSIONS, but which last night I was moved to try to translate. If you perhaps are francophone and even a native speaker, I would LOVE any criticism or critique you might provide for how the French actually sounds to someone who knows it well.

 

Be that as it may, the translation in English, that is to say, the original version, is also below.

 

AU LECTEUR

qui pourrait être assis, comme moi,

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main

regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière au dehors du restaurant,

livre sur les genoux, le mien j’espérerais,

le seul livre que je dois évoquer

si j’évoque aucun livre dans un poème,

au lecteur, le méticuleux,

qui pourrait être se demandant pourquoi

sur la page 47 il y a deux « et »

l’un après l’autre, et à qui est la faute,

et au lecteur qui est peut-être fatigué

après un long trajet en bus chez lui

après un repas qui ne valait rien,

un lecteur qui ramasse mon livre, mais s’endort

avant de l’ouvrir, à tous je dis : Pardonnez-moi

je ne suis qu’une écrivaine, assise

dans un fauteuil vert, un thé à la main,

je ne peux pas expliquer ces deux « et »

ni le lampadaire mystérieux

ni réchauffer les pieds d’un lecteur fatigué

dans son lit. Je ne peux que mettre la musique

et raconter histoires

pour que des films tournent dans la tête,

pour le réveiller avec la compréhension soudaine

que c’est la poésie qui peut faire achever la vie,

eh bien, il peut faire achever ma vie au moins,

et peut être la sienne, et peut-être la vie

d’un méticuleux, et votre vie aussi,

tous ici assis, regardant à travers de la porche

jusqu’au lampadaire  sans lumière,

là où ce qui se passe si mystérieusement

est de la poésie –

et la nuit entière est enveloppée

dans les mots dits par deux étrangers

qui là se rencontrent,

ou peut-être les mots non-dits,

ce qui est de la poésie aussi,

et tous qui écoutent, nous attendons

la musique de ce qui se passera.

—————————-

 

TO THE reader

who may be sitting as I am

in a green recliner with a cup of tea

staring out through the porch

to a darkened streetlamp outside the diner,

with a book in her lap, mine, I hope

the only one I feel I should have to mention

if I mention a book in a poem I write;

to the reader, the nitpicker, the one

who may be wondering why

on p. 47 there are two ands, one

right after another, and whose fault that is;

and to the reader, who may be tired

after a long ride home on the bus

after dark and a meal not worth mentioning

who picks up my book but finds his eyes

closing before he has opened the cover,

I say: Forgive me

I am only a writer sitting in a green recliner

with a cup of tea, I can’t explain

those two ands or the mysterious

streetlamp or warm the feet of a tired

reader in his bed. I can only put music on

and tell him stories to make movies

turn in his head, to let him wake

with the sudden understanding that poetry

may be all it takes to make a life—

well, my life at any rate, and maybe his,

and maybe the nitpicker’s and yours, too,

staring through the porch to the streetlamp

where what happens so mysteriously ispoetry—

and the whole night is wrapped

in the words spoken by two strangers

meeting there, or not spoken, which is poetry too,

and all of us who listen are waiting

for the music of what is to happen.

M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walls, walls, and walls…

When people think of Robert Frost and quote his poem “Mending Wall”  they use this in support of fence making: “Good fences make good neighbors…” but rarely  have they read the poem all the way through. Here is the heart, I believe, of this poem , at least insofar as it pertains to physical walls:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.”

 

You can read the poem in its entirety, here

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall

OH DONNIE BOY…(Scary!)

(Sung to the tune of Danny Boy)

Oh Donny boy, republicans are gawking

Your racist house of cards won’t long abide

The  Dems are here and Michael Cohen’s talking.

If it’s all true, impeachment’s justified:

The loans you got, the tax bills you evaded

The conning schemes and hushed-up bribes you paid,

Your wall, your wall, which Mexico won’t subsidize

Its clear that you won’t get that Nobel prize…

But we won’t care or listen to your keening

We won’t weep moats for loss of your golf greens

We’ll celebrate by speaking truth to trumpery

We’ll speak it loud, from sea to shining sea.

So slink you back, in orange jumpsuit, cowering, 

Mike, Paul and Rog will go to jail unbowed

It’s not fake news we’ve caught you with your panties down

Oh Donny boy, oh Donny boy, who’s winning now?

 

by phoebe sparrow wagner 3/2019

TEN YEAR OLD KENYAN GIRL RECITES MY POEM

Click and it will re-orient itself properly! This is beautifully done! Brava, Mercy!

AFTERWARDS, WHAT THE MOTHER SAID

I was happy when those green birds

flew shining into my garden.

 

I thought it meant that Allah had smiled

and fate would be kind.

But the grindstone turned.

 

For my son, the struggle was all. I did not know

the meaning of his great determination

to be al shaheed al hayy, “the living martyr.”

 

The small birds clung to the line

for nearly an hour

 

before they hurled themselves to the sky

in a great shrill.

 

Now I can think only of the gore

of innocents on a shredded shirt

I’d washed the night before,

the blood on his Quran left on a bench nearby.

 

I was ashamed when asked

to claim him as my child.

 

You ask me

am I happy my son has joined the martyrs?

Do I rejoice to be the mother of a hero?

 

Who cares of heroes or martyrs

I have lost my son.

 

May those whom he murdered forgive me.

 

Inshallah, we will not meet again,

no, not even in Paradise.

 

But had I known of his plans

I would have taken a blade, sliced open my heart

and crammed him deep inside.

 

I would have seamed it tight to seal him in.

I would have never let him go.

 

Copyright Pamela Spiro Wagner 2017

Poems Recited by Pamela Spiro Wagner on YouTube

Excuse the  poor video quality here though the sound is fine. Not sure whether using the “selfie mode” on my iPhone made the video poor or what?? Anyone have suggestions? Anyhow I would love reactions to my reading below….(Just nothing obvious on how bad the vid  quality is. I ALREADY know this! By the way, I made this for David H. and his project  in the U.K. so that is why I referred to the Brits in it…

Thanks!

Pam

New Art and a Poem by Hafiz

Portrait of Mott

I left my fingers holding this uncropped so you could get an idea of just how small the portrait really is. Watercolors and caran d’ache luminance pencils. 

The following poem is by sufi muslim poet Hafiz, and it just blows me away:

“Light will someday split you open

Even if your life is now a cage,

For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,

Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain

You hold the title to…

Love will surely bust you wide open

Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy

Even if your mind is now

A spoiled mule.

A life-giving radiance will come,

The Friend’s gratuity will come

O look again within yourself,

For I know you were once the elegant host

To all the marvels in creation.

From a sacred crevice in your body

A bow rises each night

And shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One

From the lunar vantage point of love.

He is conducting the affairs

Of the whole universe

While throwing wild parties

In a tree house – on a limb

In your heart.”

-Hafiz