Posts with tag: poetry-lyrics

Book cover. How to Live on Planet Earth, Nanao Sakaki, 2013
How to Live on Planet Earth, Nanao Sakaki, 2013

Today’s arrival.

I’ve mentioned Nanao Sakaki before and I continue to enjoy reading his work.

This collection of poems is one I’ve been looking for for a while. I finally found a reasonably priced new copy on AbeBooks.com.

First Paragraph:

“I love you” feels the darkening window dummy’s rough powder-snow mixed with a white wink, passing under seven-waterfalled-breast with—in the night—the spreading sound of all-or-nothing rapids, following charred rockskin scarring fingertips, Mary’s lover leads a suffering ass and opening tobacco-reeking fly YAHOO!

—from Bellyfulls, Part 1, How to Live on the Planet Earth, Nanao Sakaki

Here again is Sakaki’s most famous short verse:

If you have time to chatter

Read books

If you have time to read

Walk into mountains, desert and ocean

If you have time to walk

Sing songs and dance

If you have time to dance

Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot

—Nanao Sakaki

I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio
Still, I can’t escape the ghost of you
What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some would say
Where is the life that I recognize?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And, as I try to make my way to the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Every World
Is my World

∽ Duran Duran, Ordinary World, 1992

Housekeeping

Photo of man sweeping.
Photo by Rinaldi Akbar.

We mourn the broken things, chair legs
wrenched from their seats, chipped plates,
the threadbare clothes. We work the magic
of glue, drive the nails, mend the holes.
We save what we can, melt small pieces
of soap, gather fallen

the rest “Housekeeping”

Autobiography

Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Photo by Marek Okon.

As a way to live a life and leave it, one could do worse.

Autobiography

Born of a humble & poor family,
Received minimum education,
Learnt how to live by himself at fourteen,
Survived storms, one after another:
Bullets, starvation … the rest “Autobiography”


Forgot to check the mail yesterday, and this morning a nice surprise.

Break the Mirror: The Poems of Nanao Sakaki, 1986. I ordered another volume, Let’s Eat Stars, which will hopefully arrive on Monday. How to Live on the Planet Earth: Collected Poems is probably next.

The poems date from 1966 and they are translated into English by the author.

Some people like their books to be in pristine condition but I have become less picky over the years. There is an inscription in this book that puts a smile on my face.

“To Another World Citizen…”

—Chris Iverson, Clara Dugan, Shannon & Meghan

I posted the untitled first poem from this collection the other day. I repeat it again here.

If you have time to chatter
Read books
If you have time to read
Walk into mountain, desert and ocean
If you have time to walk
sing songs and dance
If you have time to dance
Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot

And a random selection:

Sharpening a Knife

Nanao, keep your knife clean
Nanao, keep your mind clean

Sea breeze is bad for a knife they say
Sea breeze is good for a m mind they say

Sea Breeze not bad for a knife
Sharpen your knife, that’s all

Sea breeze neither bad nor good
The ocean a whetstone for mind

A clean knife mind
A clean mind ocean
Nanao, sleep well tonight
Blossoming crinum lily as a shelter
The coral sand beach as a bed
The Southern Cross as a pillow.

—Iriomote, Japan, Under the Tropic of Cancer, February 1976

Line three of Sharpening a Knife is typed here as it appears in the print version but I suspect a possible editing mistake. Perhaps it should read “Sea breeze is good for the mind they say.”

By the way, I ordered this book from AbeBooks which I recommend if you are looking for something out of print.


Manhatta (1921) |  

Still capture from Manhatta (1921)
Still capture from Manhatta (1921)

Walt Whitman’s poetry frames scenes from 1920s New York in this film classic.

Billed as ‘a study of the modern Babylon-on-the-Hudson’, the short film Manhatta (1921) captures the rapidly developing cityscape of New York in the early 1920s. Made in … the rest “Manhatta (1921)”


Portrait in Summer

Person walking the street in Singapore.
Photo by Zhu Liang.

Portrait in Summer

You wander in and out of rain.
The city encloses you. You feel
the darkening of its metals, above ground
and below. Every night
you touch a boundary you don’t understand.
Even asleep you crave sleep,
you

the rest “Portrait in Summer”

The New Colossus

Statue of Liberty
Photo by Pixabay.

Emma Lazarus was born on this date in 1849. Her verse was once a celebration and a welcome. Now it has become nostalgic lament. Please re-awaken Mother of Exiles.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

the rest “The New Colossus”

If you have time to chatter,
Read books.

If you have time to read,
Walk into mountain, desert and ocean.

If you have time to walk,
Sing songs and dance.

If you have time to dance,
Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot.

—excerpted from How To Live on the Planet Earth: Collected Poems
∽ Nanao Sakaki

This poem by Lynna Odel is used as an epigraph for Eric Holthaus’s new book on climate change. Beautiful.

If I can’t save us
then let me feel you
happy and safe
under my chin.

If this will drown
or burn

then let us drink starlight
nap under trees
sing on beaches—

the morning rush to sit indoors is for
what, again?

If we are dying

then let me rip open
and bleed Love,
spill it, spend it
see how much
there is

the reward for misers is
what, again?

If this life is ending

then let me begin
a new one

—Lynna Odel (2019)

Lynna’s personal take on fighting climate change has wisdom.


There’s something I should tell you
Before I take your blindfold off
I’ve been twisted and turned
By what I have learned
I’m superdeformed
But my blood is warm

∽ Matthew Sweet

Reciting The Hollow Men

Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now
Marlon Brando, Apocalypse Now, 1979

A dear friend of mine and I were recently discussing some of the surprising educational blessings we received in high school in Hutchinson, Kansas. The music program was exceptional, with some truly dedicated teachers. (Thank you Jim Swiggart and Mike … the rest “Reciting The Hollow Men”


Reach

arm reachin in darkness
Photo by Cherry Laithang.

I feel the moment of my arms
Hanging from bone levers off my spine.
They sway like untethered booms,
Cables slack.

Why are they made so long?
I use the ends of them for
Cracking eggs, gripping handles,
Pressing keys. … the rest “Reach”


Clarity

Oljato-Monument Valley, United States
Oljato-Monument Valley, United States.
Photo by Ganapathy Kumar.

I take a solo excursion into the canyonlands with some water, some nuts, some berries.
The water runs out.
The nuts and berries run out.
My legs give out.
I sit down and lean against a rock.
I go through … the rest “Clarity”


Seamus Heaney

Yesterday, April 13th, was the birthday of poet Seamus Heaney. My father’s birthday is also this month and when I pulled this volume of Heaney’s poems off my bookshelf, I remembered that this was yet another gift of verse my dad had given to me a number of years ago.

Here’s a poem about fathers and sons. (My father is alive and well, despite what the sentiment of the verse implies.)

Follower

My father worked with a horse-plough,
His shoulders globed like a full sail strung
Between the shafts and the furrow.
The horses strained at his clicking tongue.

As expert. He would set the wing
And fit the bright steel-pointed sock.
The sod rolled over without breaking.
At the header, with a single pluck

Of reins, the sweating team turned round
And back into the land.
His eye Narrowed and angled at the ground,
Mapping the furrow exactly.

I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake,
Fell sometimes on the polished sod;
Sometimes he rode me on his back
Dipping and rising to his plod.

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.

I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

—Seamus Heaney, Poems 1965-1975

Yes.
Well.
Twenty years old.
The man had game.

White Bee

White bee, you buzz in my soul, drunk with honey, and your flight winds in slow spirals of smoke.

I am the one without hope, the word without echoes, he who lost everything and he who had everything.

Last hawser, in you creaks my last longing. In my barren land you are the final rose.

Ah you who are silent!

Let your deep eyes close. There the night flutters. Ah your body, a frightened statue, naked.

You have deep eyes in which the night flails. Cool arms of flowers and a lap of rose.

Your breasts seem like white snails. A butterfly of shadow has come to sleep on your belly.

Ah you who are silent!

Here is the solitude from which you are absent. It is raining. The sea wind is hunting stray gulls.

The water walks barefoot in the wet streets. From that tree the leaves complain as though they were sick.

White bee, even when you are gone you buzz in my soul. You live again in time, slender and silent.

Ah you who are silent!

—Pablo Neruda, From Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, Translated by W.S. Merwin