Entries Tagged as 'living poetry'

living poetry

Four Riffs on “Three Musicians” (Picasso)

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Three Musicians
#87

A tune is the ultimate abstraction,
An emotion expressed as a fraction.
Some notes invariably repeated
Become a cold emotion reheated.

Not all musicians are made of music.
Some are talent, some mere facility.
The best I’ve known live a necessity,
Like physicists slave to mathematics.

Picasso’s clowns can only make us dance,
Twist our senses into a whirling trance.

I’ve wept at the silence a conductor
Held at the end of the Ninth of Mahler,
As if to say, “Behold what’s gone before —
Anguish, redemption, hope — and don’t despair.”

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Container for Stars (Klee)

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#75

We thought, when we were the heart of the universe,
The constellations accumulate the divine.
We chanted as we watched the gods slowly disperse,
Replaced by single stars and Albert Einstein.
A star can fall. There’s too much of velocity,
Distance, and duration in our current science,
Because there’s no such thing as specificity.
Even if we could fly a billion light years hence,
What we want to see would be just as far away.
We might find a planet where men would want to stay.
Life could be altered. The sky would remain the same,
New constellations we’d have to give new names.
The discovered universe is not what we sought.
The only container of the stars is a thought.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Sunset (Paul Klee)

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#61

The day has taken a billion ages to die.
No more than mathematical points, infinite
In any space defined or without compass,
We, our thoughts, motes in a god’s eye,
God’s tearful eye, are not (at least) indefinite.
We are both dark energy and dark mass.
Something beyond the sun points to us.
A light beyond any spectrum we know,
Like a thought, but even more like a reason,
An unimaginable generator of purposes,
Flies at us, at our minds, not like an arrow,
To pierce, but with a kiss’s intent, a frisson.
It takes only a day for all our suns to set.
Sadly, that light is what we’ll least regret.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Melencolia (Durer)

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#93

An artwork is passage of time temporarily arrested.
Melancholy inevitably ensues, new effort wasted.
My world is not impossible, but imaginary,
A natural and a mechanistic menagerie:
The nodding babe and the slumbering hound,
The skull dreaming in the polyhedron,
The ladder to rainbow and splintered sun.
I must unbalance scales, ignore the bell,
And drain the hourglass sand out of its shell.
The nails and the knife both shorn of evil,
The age’s golden sphere now leaden still,
My calipers measure a pointless spell.
Despondently, I await the next alchemy of duration.
I’ll concentrate forever, then begin my final creation.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Rue De Paris, Rainy Day (Gustave Caillebotte)

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#92

Walking the streets of Paris with my wife,
Feeling her heart through her hand on my arm
(It is April and we’re here for a week),
We celebrate twenty five years, a life
Of mutual shelter beneath the storm,
Sharing a blue umbrella as we seek
Out the old soul behind the city’s charms,
What we’ve found in each other countless times
When the sun has broken through and we shine.
She gasped when she saw the Eiffel Tower,
Her wonder more thrilling than its power,
While the Winged Victory’s arms were not missed,
Because she sought to entwine hers with mine,
And in front of Rodin’s The Kiss, we kissed.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Time Transfixed (Magritte)

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#54

It is seventeen minutes to one.
The candlesticks are all empty
As they’ve been for all eternity,
Because of a window and a sun.
The mirror reflects the back of things
We see first hand. There is no second.
The train appears as though beckoned,
Flies on smoke and shadow wings.
No fire has ever burned in the fireplace,
No sign of ash, no sooty smudges.
Only the mind fixing this room budges,
Urging us deeper into interior space.
Look away, it’s twelve forty-four.
The minute lost is yours no more.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

“. . . out of the air, a zebra appeared, with the face of a man . . .” (Ruth Diamond-Guerin)

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#42

That is my face on the zebra’s body.
The striped plain is habitat and prison,
But no dream, not even a vision.
Move but slightly, I become nobody.
I can’t remember how I came to be.
Perhaps I was bewitched by the gods.
I am a creature against all the odds,
A thinking, feeling singularity.
Animals are defined by their camouflage,
But not men, and I am neither one.
Come, capture me. I can dodge
Your eye — before you start, you’re done.
But, in doing so, I lose myself as well
In this dry, cold, vanishing point of Hell.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

The Rock (Peter Blume)

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#46

Is it a living or a dying rock?
The girl with ponytail and frock,
Kneeling without shoe or sock,
Beseeches the insensate block.
Men working beyond the clock,
They don’t pause to take stock
Of the closed universe they unlock,
Don’t hear the crowing of the cock.
They lift each stone, sleepwalk
Toward those with chalk and caulk,
Like able, obedient livestock.
Work isn’t something they mock.
Damnation will come as a shock.

Note: This is one of more than 100 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (Dali)

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#83

There is no time. There’s only memory,
Rows of sodden boxes beneath a sea
So pure that even the sardines have dreams
Of swimming through the sun’s occluded beams.
A bullet from the brain becomes a memory box,
Transfigured by the melting of the clocks.
Floating mountains and rootless trees in pieces
Will linger, so, until duration ceases.
These aren’t headstones of recollection.
Impervious to breath and desiccation,
They can become too numerous to count.
I, for one, would like to know the amount.
Each box retains its substance, color, and shape,
But when it’s opened nothing can escape.

Note: This poem is one of many poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Enso (Hakuin)

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Turn over the road
and shove the wheel
beneath the void.
Make a deep breath.
Nothing and its time
can be destroyed.

Note: This poem, which arrived virtually complete in a dream, is one of many poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin. “Enso” is Japanese for “circle.” A calligraphic enso is a symbol for enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and the void.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingliving poetry

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. If anyone deserves a special day,

9. It’s you, my Valentine, my dear Maureen.

8. You are so fair, in every single way.

7. With fiery eyes that flash aquamarine.

6. With temperament of self-possessed composure.

5. And touch that makes my very spirit fly.

4. With lips that taste of heavenly ambrosia.

3. Your heart so full of Love, it fills the sky.

2. You make our souls unite, and send us flying!

1. My Love for you is truly death-defying!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

living poetry

The Flammarion engraving (artist unknown)

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#90

The Milky Way is stone and silent fire,
Flying ice and dust, and expanding gas,
But what we find within the heliosphere
Suggests a whilom laboratory
Where the essential elements were cast
And the residues made preparatory
For the distillation that’s planet Earth:
Europa’s water, Io’s sulfur,
Gases from Saturn and Jupiter,
Engineered for the terrestrial birth.
The traveler sees, beyond a starry veil,
Cosmic clockwork, eternal music.
Kneeling, he lifts a hand as if to hail
His Maker, the tinkering mechanic.

Note: This sonnet is one from a sequence of poems after paintings or images called “Brushstrokes.” The entire sequence can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Reptiles (Escher)

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#103

“I do not sense that I have lived this life before.”
“Don’t you ever wonder if there’s something more
Than crawling endlessly from book to cup to floor?”
“Our lives are an endless and parabolic bore.”
“I’m happy to sacrifice to enlightenment,
Would our creator boast of being heaven lent.”
“I’d know what it all means if I knew what I meant,
Allowing myself to vanish into parchment.”
“I’m damn tired of looking at your tail, that I know,
And can’t wait to reach the polyhedron to blow!”
“Yes, we all feel it’s an extravagant show.”
“I can’t not climb the set square set there long ago.”
“Speak for yourselves!” exclaims the reptile in the cup,
“I’ll climb down now. I will never again climb up!”

Note: This sonnet is one from a sequence of poems after paintings or images called “Brushstrokes.” The entire sequence can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Harvest in the Black Hills

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#102

I’ve wondered how they kept the blades that sharp
For such cutting when they struggled with scythes.
Hay is tough, dullness only plucked it like a harp;
Why some men left the harvest to their wives.
Today, machines can cut and bale a field
Within hours, but can’t increase the yield.
The flung bales crush the serried rows
Of severed stalks, but scattered straws
Defy the yield like impudent scofflaws,
Yet to be turned under by the plow.
We keep our distance, merciful and shy,
And dare not bend a stalk with shoe or eye.

In memory of Lucien Stryk, poet, teacher, friend.

Note: This sonnet is one from a sequence of poems after paintings or images called “Brushstrokes.” The entire sequence can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin. Photo taken by the author.

living poetry

Light of the World (Peter Blume)

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#101

The light of the world is an outside light?
A being of gadgets, cornices, plinths,
And networks of hidden, grinding parts.
What’s visible is only black or white.
Its bulb lords it like a petulant prince,
Impatient with the diplomatic arts.
I have two moods, it says, I weep or laugh.
Or, in your language, I am on or off.
We yearn to praise, worry that if we pray,
We shall ignite it when we need it least.
The sunlight would dry up its meager spray.
The Light of the World turns NIGHT into DAY!
Secretly we fear and hate the beast.

Note: This sonnet is one from a sequence of poems after paintings or images called “Brushstrokes.” The entire sequence can be viewed at his blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

 

 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingliving poetry

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. I Love you, Dearest, to the stars and back,

9. And cannot wait to see from in your eyes.

8. Today the world may seem a little black.

7. Tomorrow knows a brilliant sun will rise!

6. At last, our two halves will make up a whole!

5. Not merely soulmates, but we’ll be twin flames!

4. Through many lifetimes, this has been our goal!

3. Through many lifetimes, and through many names!

2. I cannot wait to see the end arise!

1. Then see the new beginning through your eyes!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

living poetry

Tyranny of the head that stifles…

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When Will My Time Come–  Kerry sunset

Michael Higgins

Uachtarán

(President Elect of Ireland)

When will my time come for scenery
And will it be too late?
After all
Decades ago I was never able
To get excited
About filling the lungs with ozone
On Salthill Prom.

And when the strangers
To whom I gave a lift
Spoke to me of the extraordinary
Light in the Western sky;
I often missed its changes.
And, later, when words were required
To intervene at the opening of Art Exhibitions,
It was not the same.

What is this tyranny of head that stifles
The eyes, the senses,
All play on the strings of the heart.

And, if there is a healing,
It is in the depth of a silence,
Whose plumbed depths require
A journey through realms of pain
That must be faced alone.
The hero, setting out,
Will meet an ally at a crucial moment.
But the journey home
Is mostly alone.

When my time comes
I will have made my journey
And through all my senses will explode
The evidence of light
And air and water, fire and earth.

I live for that moment.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Well, it’s interesting. We face the prospect of more of the same, or the insane, or a pizza salesman. The Irish get a poet. Granted, the presidency of Ireland is less the powerful spot held by DeValera for decades, from the end of the civil war to the 60s and more an elected version of the British Monarchy. He presides, and he then makes state visits.

But, given a choice between a business man best known for being one of the assholes on Dragons Den or the former Chief of Staff of the IRA, the Irish chose a part-time politician and full-time Irish poet. While not Seamus Healy, Michael Higgins like Louis McNeice and himself brings something worthwhile to the whole mess. And for that, perhaps we should look again to the Irish and possibly the Icelanders to preserve civilization after the glance up the skirts of capitalism we’ve endured the last few years in particular and decades in general. The women have taken over Iceland and the poets are taking over Ireland. Not a lot to say…for us.

I have developed a habit as I walk into the my office in the morning of flipping on the computer and then playing the guitar for a bit. While I seem to be finding myself listening to a lot of Celtic revival stuff of late, I started this morning with Boolavouge and then The Rising of the Moon. We’ll see…Oh, and Feck is a slightly restrained version of fuck…in case you were wondering.

Commentary

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. Although this sonnet’s only ten lines long,

9. And not a sonnet’s needed full fourteen,

8. To call this poem a sonnet would be wrong.

7. So this poem’s dedicated to Maureen.

6. I Love your kindness, wittiness, and grace.

5. I Love the fire burning in your soul.

4. I Love your gorgeous body, lovely face.

3. When we’re together, I at last feel whole.

2. We’ll share Eternal Love, us One together.

1. Or, at the very least, forever endeavor.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingbooks & writing

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. Although this sonnet be one quatrain short,

9. It’s filled with every drop of Love of mine.

8. It’s filled with all my caring and support.

7. I Love you so, my gorgeous Valentine.

6. I Love the fire burning in your eyes,

5. That melts our flesh eternally together

4. And, like the phoenix, soon enough we rise

3. And soar off starward, one bird of a feather.

2. To see sights that no mortal man has seen,

1. Forever one with my true Love: Maureen.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears (except this week) every Monday.

books & writingliving poetry

Living poetry: Shannon by Campbell McGrath

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Imagine yourself wandering lost on the high plains of Nebraska and South Dakota with no companions and nothing but your wits to sustain you. Your only provisions are whatever you can kill or gather, and though you have a rifle to hunt game, you have no more than a few bullets. How long would you survive? What would you do to survive? Worse, what if the year were 1804, long before the advent of highways, gas stations, and nationwide cellular phone coverage?

My answers would probably be something along the lines of, “Not long”, “I have no idea”, and “What? No cell phone?”

[Read more →]

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