(poem[s] of the day) Stravinsky in LA by Elizabeth Alexander, plus her Inauguration poem and Rush Limbaugh’s rant

Stravinsky in LA

Elizabeth Alexander

In white pleated trousers, peering through green
sunshades, looking for the way the sun is red
noise, how locusts hiss to replicate the sun.
What is the visual equivalent
of syncopation?  Rows of seared palms wrinkle
in the heat waves through green glass.  Sprinklers
tick, tick, tick.  The Watts Towers aim to split
the sky into chroma, spires tiled with rubble
nothing less than aspiration.  I’ve left
minarets for sun and syncopation,
sixty-seven shades of green which I have
counted, beginning:  palm leaves, front and back,
luncheon pickle, bottle glass, etcetera.
One day I will comprehend the different
grades of red. On that day I will comprehend
these people, rhythms, jazz, Simon Rodia,
Watts, Los Angeles, aspiration.
Rush Limbaugh demonstrates his tendency to miss the point:
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(poem of the day) ‘Kaddish’ by Allen Ginsberg

Kaddish

Signature of Allen Ginsberg

For Naomi Ginsberg, 1894-1956

Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
 the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I've been up all night, talking,
 talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
 shout blind on the phonograph
the rhythm the rhythm--and your memory in my head three years after--
 And read Adonais' last triumphant stanzas aloud--wept, realizing
 how we suffer--
And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember,
 prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of Answers
 --and my own imagination of a withered leaf--at dawn--
Dreaming back thru life, Your time--and mine accelerating toward Apoca-
 lypse,
the final moment--the flower burning in the Day--and what comes after, 
looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city
a flash away, and the great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom
 Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed--
like a poem in the dark--escaped back to Oblivion--
No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream,
 trapped in its disappearance,
sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom, worship-
 ping each other,
worshipping the God included in it all--longing or inevitability?--while it
 lasts, a Vision--anything more?
It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder,
 Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings shoul-
 dering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant--and
 the sky above--an old blue place.
or down the Avenue to the south, to--as I walk toward the Lower East Side
 --where you walked 50 years ago, little girl--from Russia, eating the
 first poisonous tomatoes of America frightened on the dock 
then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what?--toward
 Newark--
toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned ice 
 cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards--
Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school,
 and learning to be mad, in a dream--what is this life?
Toward the Key in the window--and the great Key lays its head of light
 on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the
 sidewalk--in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward
 the Yiddish Theater--and the place of poverty
you knew, and I know, but without caring now--Strange to have moved
 thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,
with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstops doors and dark boys on
 the street, fire escapes old as you
--Tho you're not old now, that's left here with me--
Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe--and I guess that dies with
 us--enough to cancel all that comes--What came is gone forever
 every time--
That's good! That leaves it open for no regret--no fear radiators, lacklove,
 torture even toothache in the end--
Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul--and the lamb, the soul,
 in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change's fierce hunger--hair 
 and teeth--and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin,
 braintricked Implacability.
Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you're out, Death let you out,
 Death had the Mercy, you're done with your century, done with 
 God, done with the path thru it--Done with yourself at last--Pure
 --Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all--before the
 world--
There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you've gone, it's good.
No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more 
 fear of Louis,
and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts,
 loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands--
No more of sister Elanor,--she gone before you--we kept it secret you
 killed her--or she killed herself to bear with you--an arthritic heart
 --But Death's killed you both--No matter--
Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and
 weeks--forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address human-
 ity, Chaplin dance in youth,
or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin's at the Met, halling his voice of a weeping Czar
 --by standing room with Elanor & Max--watching also the Capital 
 ists take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,
with the YPSL's hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts
 pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and
 laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920
all girls grown old, or dead now, and that long hair in the grave--lucky to
 have husbands later--
You made it--I came too--Eugene my brother before (still grieving now and
 will gream on to his last stiff hand, as he goes thru his cancer--or kill
 --later perhaps--soon he will think--)
And it's the last moment I remember, which I see them all, thru myself, now
 --tho not you
I didn't foresee what you felt--what more hideous gape of bad mouth came 
 first--to you--and were you prepared?
To go where? In that Dark--that--in that God? a radiance? A Lord in the 
 Void? Like an eye in the black cloud in a dream? Adonoi at last, with
 you?
Beyond my remembrance! Incapable to guess! Not merely the yellow skull
 in the grave, or a box of worm dust, and a stained ribbon--Deaths-
 head with Halo? can you believe it?
Is it only the sun that shines once for the mind, only the flash of existence,
 than none ever was?
Nothing beyond what we have--what you had--that so pitiful--yet Tri-
 umph,
to have been here, and changed, like a tree, broken, or flower--fed to the 
 ground--but made, with its petals, colored, thinking Great Universe, 
 shaken, cut in the head, leaf stript, hid in an egg crate hospital, cloth
 wrapped, sore--freaked in the moon brain, Naughtless.
No flower like that flower, which knew itself in the garden, and fought the
 knife--lost
Cut down by an idiot Snowman's icy--even in the Spring--strange ghost 
 thought some--Death--Sharp icicle in his hand--crowned with old
 roses--a dog for his eyes--cock of a sweatshop--heart of electric
 irons.
All the accumulations of life, that wear us out--clocks, bodies, consciousness,
 shoes, breasts--begotten sons--your Communism--'Paranoia' into
 hospitals.
You once kicked Elanor in the leg, she died of heart failure later. You of 
 stroke. Asleep? within a year, the two of you, sisters in death. Is
 Elanor happy?
Max grieves alive in an office on Lower Broadway, lone large mustache over
 midnight Accountings, not sure. His life passes--as he sees--and
 what does he doubt now? Still dream of making money, or that might 
 have made money, hired nurse, had children, found even your Im-
 mortality, Naomi?
I'll see him soon. Now I've got to cut through to talk to you as I didn't
 when you had a mouth.
Forever. And we're bound for that, Forever like Emily Dickinson's horses
 --headed to the End.
They know the way--These Steeds--run faster than we think--it's our own
 life they cross--and take with them.
Magnificent, mourned no more, marred of heart, mind behind, mar-
ried dreamed, mortal changed--Ass and face done with murder.
 In the world, given, flower maddened, made no Utopia, shut under
pine, almed in Earth, blamed in Lone, Jehovah, accept.
 Nameless, One Faced, Forever beyond me, beginningless, endless,
Father in death. Tho I am not there for this Prophecy, I am unmarried, I'm
hymnless, I'm Heavenless, headless in blisshood I would still adore
 Thee, Heaven, after Death, only One blessed in Nothingness, not
light or darkness, Dayless Eternity--
 Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day, some
of my Time, now given to Nothing--to praise Thee--But Death
 This is the end, the redemption from Wilderness, way for the Won-
derer, House sought for All, black handkerchief washed clean by weeping
--page beyond Psalm--Last change of mine and Naomi--to God's perfect
Darkness--Death, stay thy phantoms!
II
 Over and over--refrain--of the Hospitals--still haven't written your
history--leave it abstract--a few images
 run thru the mind--like the saxophone chorus of houses and years--
remembrance of electrical shocks.
 By long nites as a child in Paterson apartment, watching over your
nervousness--you were fat--your next move--
 By that afternoon I stayed home from school to take care of you--
once and for all--when I vowed forever that once man disagreed with my
opinion of the cosmos, I was lost--
 By my later burden--vow to illuminate mankind--this is release of
particulars--(mad as you)--(sanity a trick of agreement)--
 But you stared out the window on the Broadway Church corner, and
spied a mystical assassin from Newark,
 So phoned the Doctor--'OK go way for a rest'--so I put on my coat
and walked you downstreet--On the way a grammarschool boy screamed,
unaccountably--'Where you goin Lady to Death'? I shuddered--
 and you covered your nose with motheaten fur collar, gas mask
against poison sneaked into downtown atmosphere, sprayed by Grandma--
 And was the driver of the cheesebox Public Service bus a member of 
the gang? You shuddered at his face, I could hardly get you on--to New
York, very Times Square, to grab another Greyhound--

source: Kaddish

(poem of the day) ‘Turtle’ by Kay Ryan

Turtle

Kay Ryan

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
she can ill afford the chances she must take
in rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
a packing-case places, and almost any slope
defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
she’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
to something edible. With everything optimal,
she skirts the ditch which would convert
her shell into a serving dish. She lives
below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
the sport of truly chastened things.

“Turtle” from Flamingo Watching © 1994 by Kay Ryan. Used by permission of Copper Beech Press.

"Chelonia" (Testudines) from Ernst H...

“Chelonia” (Testudines) from Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(poem of the day) ‘Testimonial’ by Rita Dove

Testimonial
by Rita Dove

Back when the earth was new
and heaven just a whisper,
back when the names of things
hadn’t had time to stick;

back when the smallest breezes
melted summer into autumn,
when all the poplars quivered
sweetly in rank and file . . .

the world called, and I answered.
Each glance ignited to a gaze.
I caught my breath and called that life,
swooned between spoonfuls of lemon sorbet.

I was pirouette and flourish,
I was filigree and flame.
How could I count my blessings
when I didn’t know their names?

Back when everything was still to come,
luck leaked out everywhere.
I gave my promise to the world,
and the world followed me here.

Rita Dove, “Testimonial” from On the Bus With Rosa Parks. Copyright © 1999 by Rita Dove. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc..

Source: Poetry (January 1998).