Poetry

Autumn Day

This morning’s lettering practice, using my favorite translation of Rilke’s poem Herbsttag (Autumn Day); I always think of this version when the weather turns to autumn.

 

All Together Now

What a busy week it’s been! Here’s a quick round-up of all the excitement.

Page 259 of Family Man now online!

(permanent link to page 259)

And, over in the Land of the Kickstarter, we’ve cracked $23.5k (less than $1500 to go until fox patches!) and an amazing 511 backers. That is beyond spectacular.

Here are some of the inked pages for the new Bite Me! short story. This has been unspeakable amounts of fun! And it’s rare that I do a book-exclusive story (this sucker won’t go up on the regular internets) so I feel very mysterious.

I’m also finishing up design work for the Outfoxed print edition. One of the things I’m happiest about is a repeating pattern that will appear on the inside covers. It’s a whole panoply of laundry from the story!

You can download a desktop wallpaper of this pattern by visiting the Kickstarter version of this post.

And, lastly (for now), I’m putting together the spreads for the Danse Macabre 2.0 book! That means I get to write nasty little revenge ditties like this one. I live in Portland, so this one was especially satisfying.

Monday Morning Poem

It’s been awhile since I posted a Monday poem; the lag is probably related to a general Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul I’ve been stuck in, wherein it becomes easy to believe that everything I specially value is probably an unwanted annoyance to the rest of the world. Logical revisitation of this situation turned up the fact that this is actually my blog, so I get to do what I want with it, and bugger anybody else’s feelings on the matter. Hence: here’s a poem, because it turns out I wanted to post one.

I read this poem at my high school graduation. It is not subtle or intellectual; like a lot of Cummings’ poetry (even the poems about death) it is bright and clean and exuberant. Perfect for a seventeen year-old girl to read aloud on the verge of a whole new stage of life.

Nearly ten years later, I know more thoroughly than ever that too much striving for sophistication can deaden the soul; it can provide an excuse for not living. The refined and sublime – that’s a bus that comes once a year. You can waste a lot of time waiting for it to turn up.

So I still love this poem, and I still need it. It takes me where I need to go – into a palce where errors and failures have their own beauty, and aren’t to be feared.

May my heart always be open to little birds

Bird Reloading wings

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

e.e.cummings
photo by Jose Lun Aparicio

Monday Morning Poem: High Flight

B-24 Liberator Pilot Bill Whetsell, Crew 108

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Photo from David C. Foster

Monday Poem: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

My grandfather is in his final days. He’s 92. He has a frontal lobe brain tumor. He can do little more than lie in bed and drift in and out of consciousness, in and out of dementia.

In his most lucid moments, he still doesn’t want to believe he’s dying. Part of me has been deeply frustrated with him – how can he keep forcing my parents through the pain of telling him, again and again, that he won’t be leaving this place?  At his age and state of health, as a lifelong Catholic, can’t he make peace with the fact?

Then I remembered my namesake’s most famous poem, about his father’s decline (I’m certain I’ve posted it before), and my anger dropped away.

It’s his life. He’s right to want to keep it, as fiercely and for as long as possible. Nobody can tell him otherwise. Least of all those of us who care for him.  He flew alongside men who died in combat at 22.  Every moment he gets is earned.

do not go gentle

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

– Dylan Thomas

photo by John Locher