I hardly ever understand the poetry in the New Yorker. I like the articles, even though some of them have way too many words. I love the fiction – I even listen to a podcast of the stories read by other authors on my Ipod when I ride my bike. Pretty dorky, huh? Some of the pictures are great, and the cartoons are cool, but the poetry always leaves me feeling like it is over my head. Most of the time, I just don’t get it. Being a glutton for punishment, I read every single verse, sometimes two or three times, before I sniff and pronounce it poorly written, and mumble something about how I don’t have time to sit around reading a bunch of meaningless, self-indulgent drivel. My motto is: “If I don’t understand it, it’s wicked retarded.”
However, after I wrote the last post, I read a poem that I like a lot, and that I think sums up those days when the underlying thrill of being makes it impossible to dwell on the negative, even if it is undeniable or inevitable, and, how just as one can get overwhelmed by minutiae, it’s also the little things that lead us to feeling free, aware, a part of the universal hum, a part of something wonderful and amazing. Want to read it? OK, go ahead! Even though I am pretty sure I am going to the Big House for copyright infringement, I have reprinted it for you here. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be just fine in the pokey, on account of I’m real gangsta. You’re welcome.
By Charles Simic
This peaceful world of ours is ready for destruction –
And still the sun shines, the sparrows come
Each morning to the bakery for crumbs
Next door, two men deliver a bed for newlyweds
And stop to admire a bicycle chained to a parking meter.
Its owner is making lunch for his ailing grandmother.
He heats the soup and serves it to her in a bowl.
The windows are open, there’s a warm breeze.
The young trees are delirious to have leaves.
Italian opera is on the radio, the volume too high
Brevi et triste giorni visse, a baritone sings.
Everyone up and down the block can hear him.
Something about the days that remain for us to enjoy
Being few and sad. Not today, Maestro Verdi!
At the hairdresser’s a girl leaps out of a chair,
Her blond hair bouncing off her bare shoulders
As she runs out the door in her high heels.
“I must be off,” says the handsome boy to his grandmother.
His bicycle is where he left it. He rides casually through the heavy traffic
His white shirttails fluttering behind him
Long after everyone else has come to a sudden stop.
You can find it in the March 1, 2010 edition ( I’m a slow reader!) of the New Yorker, that has this great cover by Brian Stauffer:
Also, as a special, additional bonus, I thought that I would include one of my mom’s poems about the juicy Rainier cherries her father grew in his garden. It is from a series she has called “The Fruit Poems”, and I reprint it here with her permission, as I respect that sort of thing. With my mom, anyway.
of my childhood
with a hint of carmine
fleshy and gay
eaten right off the tree
A caterpillar filled with glee
I took my pleasure thoroughly
made earrings with twinned fruit
day after day from morning to noon
No matter when Spring comes
late in the rainy season
the ripening of cherries
a durable rendezvous
– Liliane Richman
cherries image from furrygoat.com