” . . . if there are distances that shine | they shine like the eyes of pain.” ~ Peter Everwine, from “At the Playground, Singing for Psychiatric Outpatients”

Felice Casorati Notturno 1912-13 oil on canvas

“Notturno” (1912-13, oil on canva)
by Felice Casorati


Two for Tuesday: Peter Everwine

Felice Casorati, Il sogno del melograno The Dream of the Pomegranate 1912 oil on canvas

“Il Sogno del Melograno” (1912, oil on canvas)
by Felice Casorati

Back from the Fields

Until nightfall my son ran in the fields,
looking for God knows what.
Flowers, perhaps. Odd birds on the wing.
Something to fill an empty spot.
Maybe a luminous angel
or a country girl with a secret dark.
He came back empty-handed,
or so I thought.

Now I find them:
thistles, goatheads,
the barbed weeds
all those with hooks or horns
the snaggle-toothed, the grinning ones
those wearing lantern jaws,
old ones in beards, leapers
in silk leggings, the multiple
pocked moons and spiny satellites, all those
with juices and saps
like the fingers of thieves
nation after nation of grasses
that dig in, that burrow, that hug winds
and grab handholds
in whatever lean place.

                   

Felice Casorati Dante, Purgatorio XXVII, 113 1917

“Per sé e suo ciel concepe e figlia (Dal Purgatorio XXVIII, 113 di Dante)” (1917, tempera on canvas)
by Felice Casorati

Another Spring

Another spring.
In a corner under the eaves
of the porch, a nesting dove—
the same returning dove—tosses
a few dry weeds, willy-nilly,
into the prevailing wind, then waits
for them to fall in place. Some do.

*

Because I mean her no harm
she allows me to draw close
to her precarious balcony.
I bid her good morning,
she cocks her head at me and blinks—
two old familiars who share
a moment of dappled light falling
on the peaceable kingdom
of the front porch.

*

This morning, a light drift
of feathers on the lawn
and the day’s expectations sour.
Each spring this dumb show of events
repeats itself: a nest abandoned, another
plundered by crow or jay, eggs
spilled from their thatch, an inch
of blue flesh, like a maimed thumb,
drying in the sun.

*

Does the dove, in its season,
despite its plaintive moan, learn nothing?
And I, in mine? I fetch the paper
from the lawn, people drive by
to another day of work.
Nothing is brought to completion.
Later I’ll sweep away the nest—empty,
again, of everything but a blind
belief in the possible.

                   

Music by Kill it Kid, “Caroline”

“Moments: beware the poetry of moments. Many of those moments are literary, remember. They have a past, a dreary past.” ~ Theodore Roethke, from “The Poet’s Business”

In the Japanese
tongue of the
mind’s eye one
two syllable word
tells of
the fringe of rain
clinging to the eaves
and of the grey-green
fronds of wild parsley. ~ Denise Levertov, “Grey Sparrow Addresses the Mind’s Ear”

Here are a few of Ohara Hale’s illustrations of Denise Levertov’s poems as part of a Brain Pickings collaboration with 92Y:

Listen to Denise Levertov read her poems:

Love Song

Your beauty, which I lost sight of once
for a long time, is long,
not symmetrical, and wears
the earth colors that make me see it.

A long beauty, what is that?
A song
that can be sung over and over,
long notes or long bones.

Love is a landscape the long mountains
define but don’t
shut off from the
unseeable distance.

In fall, in fall,
your trees stretch
their long arms in sleeves
of earth-red and

sky-yellow, a little
lop-sided. I take
long walks among them. The grapes
that need frost to ripen them

are amber and grow deep in the
hedge, half-concealed,
the way your beauty grows in long tendrils
half in darkness.

The ache of marriage:

The ache of marriage:

thigh and tongue, beloved,
are heavy with it,
it throbs in the teeth

We look for communion
and are turned away, beloved,
each and each

It is leviathan and we
in its belly
looking for joy, some joy
not to be known outside it

two by two in the ark of
the ache of it.

City Psalm

The killings continue, each second
pain and misfortune extend themselves
in the genetic chain, injustice is done knowingly, and the air
bears the dust of decayed hopes,
yet breathing those fumes, walking the thronged
pavements among crippled lives, jackhammers
raging, a parking lot painfully agleam
in the May sun, I have seen
not behind but within, within the
dull grief, blown grit, hideous
concrete facades, another grief, a gleam
as of dew, an abode of mercy,
have heard not behind but within noise
a humming that drifted into a quiet smile.
Nothing was changed, all was revealed otherwise;
not that horror was not, not that killings did not continue,
but that as if transparent all disclosed
an otherness that was blessed, that was bliss.
I saw Paradise in the dust of the street.

Open Secret

Perhaps one day I shall let myself
approach the mountain—
hear the streams which must flow down it,
lie in a flowering meadow, even
touch my hand to the snow.
Perhaps not. I have no longing to do so.
I have visited other mountain heights.
This one is not, I think, to be known
by close scrutiny, by touch of foot or hand
or entire outstretched body; not by any
familiarity of behavior, any acquaintance
with its geology or the scarring roads
humans have carved in its flanks.
This mountain’s power
lies in the open secret of its remote
apparition, silvery low-relief
coming and going moonlike at the horizon,
always loftier, lonelier, than I ever remember.

The Certainty

They have refined the means of destruction,
abstract science almost
visibly shining,
it is so highly polished. Immaterial weapons
no one could ever hold in their hands
streak across darkness, across great distances,
threading through mazes to arrive
at targets that are concepts—

But one ancient certainty
remains: war
means blood spilling from living bodies,
means severed limbs, blindness, terror,
means grief, agony, orphans, starvation,
prolonged misery, prolonged resentment and hatred and guilt,
means all of these multiplied, multiplied
means, death, death, death and death.

                   

Music by Hozier, “Take Me to Church”

Music by