I read poetry every day… often by random authors as I page through a poetry anthology. But lately, I have been focused on one spectacular poet, Naomi Shihab Nye. I am fortunate that my library has LOTS of her books!
Today, with no explanation… one amazing poem by Ms. Nye.
I Feel Sorry for Jesus
by Naomi Shihab Nye
People won’t leave Him alone.
I know He said, wherever two or more
are gathered in my name…
but I’ll bet some days He regrets it.
Cozily they tell you what He wants
and doesn’t want
as if they just got an email.
Remember “Telephone,” that pass-it-on game
where the message changed dramatically
by the time it rounded the circle?
People blame terrible pieties on Jesus.
They want to be his special pet.
Jesus deserves better.
I think He’s been exhausted
for a very long time.
He went into the desert, friends.
He didn’t go into the pomp.
He didn’t go into
the golden chandeliers.
and say, the truth tastes better here.
See? I’m talking like I know.
It’s dangerous talking for Jesus.
You get carried away almost immediately.
I stood in the spot where He was born.
I closed my eyes where He died and didn’t die.
Every twist of the Via Dolorosa
was written on my skin.
And that makes me feel like being silent
for Him, you know? A secret pouch
of listening. You won’t hear me
mention this again.
I Feel Sorry for Jesus from You & Yours, Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye © 2005 BOA Editions, Ltd.
Thanks to Bonny for linking us all together! Stop and see what poetry is being shared today!
See you all here on Monday!
The poem I selected this month seems apropos since I am not home right now. I heard this poem read by Pádraig Ó Tuama some time ago and I think of it often (and I highly recommend listening to Pádraig read it… you won’t regret it!) I did not need to worry about anyone answering the door, we have the code to our Airbnb. But this poem evokes such imagery of being welcome, welcoming the stranger, and so much more.
I give you The Listeners by Walter de la Mare.
by Walter de la Mare
‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:—
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
This poem is in the public domain.
Bonny is gathering the poems today, so be sure you stop by and read some poetry… and better yet, share some! We’d love for you to join us!
See you all back here next week!
I recently finished reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Pérez and I have not stopped thinking about it since.
So why am I thinking about this today you might wonder. Well, with all this thinking about being “an invisible woman,” a poem by my beloved Ada Limón has been on my mind as well… I like how she reimagines what might be a familiar story for many of us. And yet, even in this reframing, (which I think is brilliant, by the way) there is a degree of invisibility that leaves an unsettled feeling I in me as I read it… but a good unsettled feeling… one that makes me think about reimagining all the things!
by Ada Limón
When Eve walked among
the animals and named them—
nightingale, red-shouldered hawk,
fiddler crab, fallow deer—
I wonder if she ever wanted
them to speak back, looked into
their wide wonderful eyes and
whispered, Name me, name me.
A Name by Ada Limón © The Carrying: Poems. Published 2018 by Milkweed Editions.
Bonny is gathering us all together today… stop by and see what poems are shared!
Have a great remainder of the week and I will see you all back here on Monday with an update on my word!
I have been thinking about what poem I would share with you all this month for a couple of weeks… going back and forth between several poems that seemed just so perfect for August. This morning I decided that Late Summer by Jennifer Grotz was the winner (but really there were no losers!)
by Jennifer Grotz
Before the moths have even appeared
to orbit around them, the streetlamps come on,
a long row of them glowing uselessly
along the ring of garden that circles the city center,
where your steps count down the dulling of daylight.
At your feet, a bee crawls in small circles like a toy unwinding.
Summer specializes in time, slows it down almost to dream.
And the noisy day goes so quiet you can hear
the bedraggled man who visits each trash receptacle
mutter in disbelief: Everything in the world is being thrown away!
Summer lingers, but it’s about ending. It’s about how things
redden and ripen and burst and come down. It’s when
city workers cut down trees, demolishing
one limb at a time, spilling the crumbs
of twigs and leaves all over the tablecloth of street.
Sunglasses! the man softly exclaims
while beside him blooms a large gray rose of pigeons
huddled around a dropped piece of bread.
Jennifer Grotz, “Late Summer” from The Needle. Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Grotz.
And a tiny poetry bonus for you all: One of my favorite podcasts is Poetry for All which is taught by Joanne Diaz and Abram Van Engen. I say taught because the hosts are both English professors. Every episode I learn something and my love for poetry grows! This month’s episode was all about the Haiku… specifically Haiku from Kobayashi Issa. I have not stopped thinking about this Haiku they shared… I simply love it. (and you will have to listen to the short, but incredibly informative episode to learn about translating Japanese into English and that our 5-7-5 structure for a Haiku might not be quite right.) They read two additional Issa Haiku that are equally brilliant. If you need a little something for your ears today, I think you will love this episode… give it a try!
Now please go visit Bonny and see what poems she will gather today…poems to share… poems to read… poems to savor!
Have a great week and I will see you all back here next week!
One of the things I love best about poetry is how it can take me out of myself… and this week’s poem does just that!
Recently, Ada Limón shared this on Instagram and I knew nothing about NASA’s Europa Clipper but I did know that getting a signed copy of the poem was an impulse purchase that I would not regret. A few clicks later and the impulse was successful and it arrived last week! It is now framed and on my desk… it is the perfect reminder when I am too stuck in myself to look beyond.
I imagine that someday someone in that outer space will read this poem as well and think the same things… to look beyond themselves… and perhaps be in awe of a society that valued poetry… the best unifier I know!
In Praise of Mystery
A POEM FOR EUROPA
by Ada Limón
Arching under the night sky inky
with black expansiveness, we point
to the planets we know, we
pin quick wishes on stars. From earth,
we read the sky as if it is an unerring book
of the universe, expert and evident.
Still, there are mysteries below our sky:
the whale song, the songbird singing
its call in the bough of a wind-shaken tree.
We are creatures of constant awe,
curious at beauty, at leaf and blossom,
at grief and pleasure, sun and shadow.
and it is not darkness that unites us,
not the cold distance of space, but
the offering of water, each drop of rain,
each rivulet, each pulse, each vein.
O second moon, we, too, are made
of water, of vast and beckoning seas.
We, too, are made of wonders, of great
and ordinary loves, of small invisible worlds,
of a need to call out through the dark.
“In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” was released at the Library of Congress by the 24th U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón on June 1, 2023 in celebration of the poem’s engraving on NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft, scheduled to launch in October of 2024.
I would love it if you all had a poem to share! It is easy… just share one! And be sure you stop and see what Bonny has gathered with the link on her blog!
See you all next week!
I am gathering with Bonny and all the poetry lovers to share some poetry with you all today. (Make sure you stop by and see what we all have shared…and we’d love it even more if you joined us and shared a poem!)
Is it just me… or is June racing along? In my mind, it is still last week… and I have plenty of time to contemplate poetry for today.
Thankfully, Pádraig Ó Tuama came to my rescue with this introduction to the pantoum this week. That sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole on the internet and led me to the poem I am sharing today.
Pantoum’s are delightful and you can learn a bit more about them here and here. (And I highly recommend you listen to Pádraig read you the pantoum from this Monday’s Poetry Unbound podcast!)
The pantoum I am sharing this week is by A.E. Stallings for all us insomniacs out there!
Another Lullaby for Insomniacs
by A.E. Stallings
Sleep, she will not linger:
She turns her moon-cold shoulder.
With no rings on her finger,
You cannot hope to hold her.
She turns her moon-cold shoulder
And tosses off the cover.
You cannot hope to hold her:
She has another lover.
She tosses off the cover
And lays the darkness bare.
She has another lover.
Her heart is otherwhere.
She lays the darkness bare.
You slowly realize
Her heart is otherwhere.
There’s a distance in her eyes.
You slowly realize
That she will never linger,
With distance in her eyes
And no ring on her finger.
Another Lullaby for Insomniacs by A.E. Stallings appeared in the April 2004 issue of Poetry Magazine.
And that is all I have for this week… see you all back here on Monday!