Today’s Must-Read: Richard Blanco

If you’re haunted sometimes by memories of “gay terror” from your childhood- especially when it involved family- this essay is for you. In reading it, I recognized so much of the familiar and long-past memories of shame and fear that molded me, that sent me- much later- into the world with clearer purpose. I also recognized the stories of clients and friends- and not just gay friends- many of us eventually disappointed or confused the people who raised us….

Excerpt:

At thirty-one, I sit at a candlelit table across from the man who will be my husband. I tell him about my grandmother and the coping mechanisms I developed; how they naturally led me to writing; mechanisms that became part of my very creative process. Becoming withdrawn and introverted, I grew to become an observer of the world, instead of a participant. In order to survive emotionally I learned to read my environment very carefully and then craft appropriate responses that would (hopefully) prevent abuse and ridicule from my grandmother. I explain to my husband-to-be that I am still that quiet, repressed boy whenever I am in a room full of people, trying to be as invisible as possible, but taking in every detail, sensory as well as emotional, that will eventually surface in a poem.

My work is often described as vivid and lush; relatives often marvel at my recollection in my poems of family events and details. Qualities I attribute directly to the skills spawned from my coping with my abuse. But beyond that, I’ve come to understand why writing and me became such a great fit. It allowed me to participate in the world, to feel alive, while remaining an invulnerable observer, safe in my room, at my desk, in my imagination where no one, especially my grandmother, could hurt me.

It’s beautiful and humble and brilliant. Please read the full essay here. And then, in case you missed it, watch Richard Blanco read his lovely poem at the president’s inauguration yesterday.

Negative Mind

The moment is borne on the break of the morn with a hope

gilt

gilt (Photo credit: jenny downing)

whispered well from the night.

That the soul can be torn-

with the tiniest scorn of a mind uncaring, asleep-

is truer than writ

and often is split with normalcy’s lure in it’s mouth.

The joy of the pain of memory’s gain

becoming a burst-

a purified trout breaking up.

Always happily glancing-

sometimes lightly dancing-

eternity treading lightly on brow.

But there followed behind

the laughing mind,

quietly mocking it all-

paining the heart

and ruining the art that

so gracefully graced the wall.
~D Gregory Smith

Christmas Eve

The snow covers the sins of the world,
some say,
and the light slowly returns to the hemisphere I live in.

But the guns are not silenced,
the hungry not satisfied,
the angry not loved-
despite the peaceful heart,
the plentiful harvest,
the need to be understood-
despite the gospel of childhood that springs to life about now.

Maybe it is spite, after all, that is the enemy of all we love-
that stands in the way of love.

Despite

 

~D Gregory Smith

Cast All Your Votes For Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Fabric architectural design of Hafez tomb

Fabric architectural design of Hafez tomb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.

Whenever you say God’s name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!

~Hafiz

Poem For Labor Day 2011

Labor.

Welcome, life’s toil! I thank the gracious Giver
Who find my heart and hands their work to do;
That labor done still multiplies forever,
And each swift hour and moment claims its due,.

I pity him who sits him down repining,
Bound in his idleness__a silken thong;
He hates the sun and wearies of its shining;
His moments creep__for empty days are long.

My days are full, ! have no far off “mission;”
My work is near; ’tis only mine to stand
Accepting tasks that spring from my condition__
Doing, as best I may, the work at hand.

It may be small: yet, drop by drop is added
to make the gentle flow, the steady stream;
The smallest needle, if ’tis often threaded
By patient hand, may sew the longest seam.

The finest strands may twist into a cable;
Small stones be piled till looms a pyramid,
Slow, patient thought may break the crust of fable,
Beneath which golden mines of truth be hid.

I cannot always see my cable growing;
Nor always see my pile of stones increase;
Yet, while I toil__ the still years swiftly going__
This fruit of labor bears; it bringeth peace.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
by Ellen P. Allerton
Collected and Published by Eva Ryan
(Hiawatha: The Harrington Printing Co. 1894)
Page 204-205

Poem for Tuesday

~Promise

I notice the green turning brown
and the windy warmth of the dry
air that says “Montana, it’s August.”

It’s nowhere else, this feeling
that asphalt and lichen are creeping,
both oozing across their rocks.

That rodents start storing and
birds empty the feeder in record
time; nameless, timeless hoarding.

It’s the movement of the heat
that keeps it interesting- it’s exactly
what movement always does.

The dance, the  sway of the
breezing brush throwing out its
eager arms for dry sun, it calls me.

The voice is raspy, smoky even,
as it pulls me in to the story of
mountains and stream beds and meadows.

I love the smell of it all-of the green
and the brown that hits my nose now,
knowing I can wait and watch with the birds

and the rabbits and the trees and the
streams and the green and the brown, for
the still promise of orange and yellow and white.

~D Gregory Smith

Cpl. Andrew Wilfahrt- Gay Servicemember Died For His Country

A very powerful video about LGBT persons being able to do whatever thay’d like.

“He wanted to go, so that someone with kids and a family
wouldn’t have to.”

-

It Will Not Be The Same
A Poem For Andrew Wilfahrt

It will not be the same for us as for other lovers.

There’ll be no babe born when you’re nine months absent,
Six of them maybe spent under cold clay.

Nor will I share your picture with the men.
They’ll say, “This is Mary.
And young Tom.”
We’ll smile and say he’s the image of his dad.
“This is my Dora. We’ll be wed, soon as I’m home.”
We’ll toast them with watery tea, trying not to show
We don’t believe he’ll ever get back.
They’ll never hear,
“This is my Freddie. Isn’t he a peach?”

And yet our blood is just as red
And it’ll flow just as freely when the bullets fly

We’ll give our lives the same
For our country
For our families
For the sake of those who condemn us and want us dead
We’ll die to keep them safe,
Not to satisfy a god they’ve made in their own image.

It will not be the same for us as for other lovers.
But you are no less a man because of me
And I am not diminished because of you.

~Charlie Cochrane

Update: More from Cpl Wilfahrt’s father here.

Meditation Poetic

Boast of Quietness
by Jorge Luis Borges

Writings of light assault the darkness, more prodigious than meteors.
The tall unknowable city takes over the countryside.
Sure of my life and death, I observe the ambitious and would
like to understand them.
Their day is greedy as a lariat in the air.
Their night is a rest from the rage within steel, quick to attack.
They speak of humanity.
My humanity is in feeling we are all voices of that same poverty.
They speak of homeland.
My homeland is the rhythm of a guitar, a few portraits, an old
sword, the willow grove’s visible prayer as evening falls.
Time is living me.
More silent than my shadow, I pass through the loftily covetous multitude.
They are indispensable, singular, worthy of tomorrow.
My name is someone and anyone.
I walk slowly, like one who comes from so far away he doesn’t
expect to arrive.

From Moon Across the Way by Jorge Luis Borge, (c)1925

Illustration: Walking Meditation III by Jenny Waelti-Walters ~used with permission

A Little Madness In The Spring

 

Was this line from Emily Dickinson the inspiration for the Montana Legislature this year? Or NCAA Ball? Or meteorologists? We may never know.

But the poem’s worth a listen:

A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

I have our house inspection report this morning, and then back to Butte to put Sars’ house on the market. Tomorrow is St Paddy’s Day in The Mining City (I’ll be safely at home, thank you) and then the O Sullivan Estate Sale Part Deux on Friday and Saturday.

How’s your week shaping up?