In Case You Didn’t Know
by Rod McKuen
Some days up ahead
will come down empty
and some years fuller
than the fullest one
we've known before.
Today has been
the best day yet.
you ought to know that,
and I thought it time
that I said thank you
for whatever might have
passed between us
that in your mind
you might have felt
missed my attention.
and it doesn’t
and it won’t.
for the everydays
that you make
I close up
more often now,
not just to you
but even to myself
I know I should
be always open.
At least I ought to make
a better try.
When the library at the college Mona works for moves a book out of rotation, they put it out on a table for anyone to have. We’ve found some treasures in their trash. The poem above is from moment to moment by Rod McKuen, ©1974.
McKuen reminds me of Ringo Starr. There isn’t a lot of nuance or metaphor in their poems or songs; you don’t have to wonder, “What is he trying to say?” because he’s come right out and said it.
I don’t think that’s a weakness, but it has kept them from getting the respect they deserve.
This poem, excerpted from Art Garfunkel’s autobiographical What Is It All But Luminous / notes from an Underground Man ©2017, reminds me of the playfulness of Shel Silverstein:
Today I'll judge my books by their covers.
I'll watch a pot, count unhatched chicks,
I'll fix the unbroken, hold secret gods divine.
A thousand fine soldiers, resplendent in
their jacket designs, are lined in shelves
in my aerie--
All the noble sentiments quilled,
Cry for all the milk that's spilled,
Let the unaware buyer be sold--
If the book cover glitters, it's gold;
I'll make a Top Forty polled for pretty veneers,
how the book appears, and how it feels
to hold and be held the whole night
Today I'll do exactly what you're not
supposed to do.
This short excerpt from the preface to E.E Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever, ©2014, was a big help to me in understanding his poems. It’s a tremendous relief to know I’m not supposed to “get it” right away:
Modernism as (E.E.) Cummings and his mid-twentieth-century colleagues embraced it had three parts. The first was the exploration of using sounds instead of meanings to connect words to the reader’s feelings. The second was the idea of stripping away all unnecessary things to bring attention to form and structure: the formerly hidden skeleton of a work would now be exuberantly visible. The third facet of modernism was an embrace of adversity. In a world seduced by easy understanding, the modernists believed that difficulty enhanced the pleasures of reading. In a Cummings poem the reader must often pick his way toward comprehension, which comes, when it does, in a burst of delight and recognition.
We went to see comedian Tim Hawkins last weekend, and he was a lot of fun.
He’s been labelled as a “Christian comedian,” but don’t let that scare you off. I’m of a different faith, and was still the most I’ve laughed in a long, long time.
My Friends Don’t Get Buried
My friends don’t get buried
in cemeteries anymore, their wives
can’t stand the sadness
of funerals, the spectacle
of wreaths and prayers, tear-soaked
speeches delivered from the altar,
all those lies and encomiums,
the suffocating smell of flowers
No more undertakers in black suits
old buddies weeping in corners,
telling off-color stories, nipping shots,
no more covered mirrors,
black dresses, skullcaps and crucifixes.
Sometimes it takes me a year or two
to get out to the back yard in Sheffield
or Fresno, those tall ashes scattered
under a tree somewhere in a park
somewhere in New Jersey.
I am a delinquent mourner
stepping on pine-cones, forgetting to pray.
But the mourning goes on anyway
because my friends keep dying
without a schedule,
without even a funeral,
while the silence
drums us from the other side,
the suffocating smell of flowers
fills everything, always,
the darkness grows warmer, then colder,
I just have to lie down on the grass
and press my mouth to the earth
to call them
so they would answer.
I had to look up the word “enconium.”
You can hear this poem read by the author at The New Yorker.
This carving was created by Gislebertus between 1125 and 1135, and shows an angel awakening the Three Wise Men, impelling them to follow the star. You can read a little more about it HERE.
I just like the way the three kings sleep with their crowns on, all spooned together.