Poems for a Day

Yesterday was International Poetry Day. I was reminded by a dear friend’s text this morning. I typically write my blogs on Sundays but, as anyone who is reading this series knows, I am not “on schedule” these days thanks to the extended visit of my fabulous son. So, let’s pretend it’s yesterday and dedicate this space to poetry today. Because any day is a good day for a poem!

One thing I inadvertently did do in homage to Poetry Day yesterday was have dinner with my daughter, one of the most gifted poets you’ll read. Here’s one of her many:

8th Grade Layer Cake

by Kayla Ephros

the horny 8th graders in my art class
are all taller than me and it is
horrible
their performance of coupledom
under the table
all the shaved knees knocking
gobstopper manicures and remember
ink poisoning?

the other day Iʼm looking for
money from the old me
and feeling guilty for it too,
feeling like a flimsy
piece of trash
digging in the pockets of
my misfits jacket with
the visitor sticker

visiting the 5th graders
who are still kind
I am meant to teach them science
but itʼs easy, we talk about
mind/body or landscape
but imaginary…

cross-section layers
shapes
biodegradable dolls
clothing
mind/body wigs
chair
body extensions
cake
exquisite corpse
pillows
doll burial
digestion
safety costumes
shapes

when I was in 8th grade,
I was told that wearing a sweatshirt
all winter
would create the effect of
bigger boobs come spring

I think of the Jubilee
the renewal of the land
my haftarah and its
transliteration
always cheating all the time freeze-ing
that sweatshirt with the cat pee

the other night I was working
at a brothel and this guy
in a Spiderman thong asked me
If I actually had boobs
I was about to show him but then
just said yes
and walked down the long
hallway identical to the one
in my apartment
Iʼm certain itʼs only a veil
certain I woke up with
those wages

sleeping beside the spell book
and the almanac, ever a keepsake
waking up to my naked neighbor
amidst the bamboo, having
come straight down the mountain
speaking with Joanna of inky
art projects, shooing Spiderman
because he found me there too

turning over into a new kind
of sleep, a version
that’s brighter
like if sleep were a job
I’d be paid better

all of the brothel rooms have
windows on the doors
big cracks, leaks
for looking on

deja-vu and movies, party girl
and the other party girl

up and down and open
and shut and up and down
and in and out until the
mirror shatters

I reverse this omen
into a time capsule
while the early chapters at the brothel
lie beneath the scalloped
edge of each day,
an ant farm

we used to treat our science teacher
like an ant, of course because
we all felt like ants ourselves
punished, low

I imagine sometimes getting high
before class, but now
Iʼm the teacher
haha

body extensions
cake
exquisite corpse
pillows
LOL

at work I never know
what anyone is talking about
when he says how quiet it is
I say
I guess we are now used to
the drum of rain?

I cry a tear with all this
information but itʼs just
from the sunscreen
the watercolor
the early morning

what have I learned today?
the origins of chrome yellow,
Marigold, what have I forgotten
the teacher survey
the plaid skirts
what time of year is it here
I never know if we’ve just summited
winter or summer, which
dent of vacation on the soft egg

I learned that if youʼre eating
you should just eat, and if youʼre walking
you should just walk but if youʼre eating
and walking you should just eat and walk

And here’s one of my favorite poets – way ahead of HER time:

We never know how high we are (1176)

Emily Dickinson – 1830-1886

We never know how high we are
  Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
  Our statures touch the skies—

The Heroism we recite
  Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
  For fear to be a King—

Now, this man’s work I was only somewhat knowledgeable about. When he died, the West Coast papers schooled me!

“The world is a beautiful place”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti – 1919-2021

                The world is a beautiful place

                                                           to be born into

if you don’t mind happiness

                                             not always being

                                                                        so very much fun

       if you don’t mind a touch of hell

                                                       now and then

                just when everything is fine

                                                             because even in heaven

                                they don’t sing

                                                        all the time

             The world is a beautiful place

                                                           to be born into

       if you don’t mind some people dying

                                                                  all the time

                        or maybe only starving

                                                           some of the time

                 which isn’t half so bad

                                                      if it isn’t you

      Oh the world is a beautiful place

                                                          to be born into

               if you don’t much mind

                                                   a few dead minds

                    in the higher places

                                                    or a bomb or two

                            now and then

                                                  in your upturned faces

         or such other improprieties

                                                    as our Name Brand society

                                  is prey to

                                              with its men of distinction

             and its men of extinction

                                                   and its priests

                         and other patrolmen

                                                         and its various segregations

         and congressional investigations

                                                             and other constipations

                        that our fool flesh

                                                     is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all

                                                           for a lot of such things as

         making the fun scene

                                                and making the love scene

and making the sad scene

                                         and singing low songs of having

                                                                                      inspirations

and walking around

                                looking at everything

                                                                  and smelling flowers

and goosing statues

                              and even thinking

                                                         and kissing people and

     making babies and wearing pants

                                                         and waving hats and

                                     dancing

                                                and going swimming in rivers

                              on picnics

                                       in the middle of the summer

and just generally

                            ‘living it up’

Yes

   but then right in the middle of it

                                                    comes the smiling

                                                                                 mortician

And this one here pulled at my already frayed heart-strings

For the Sake of Strangers

BY DORIANNE LAUX

No matter what the grief, its weight,
we are obliged to carry it.
We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength
that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions
so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open,
waiting patiently for my empty body to pass through.
All day it continues, each kindness
reaching toward another—a stranger
singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees
offering their blossoms, a child
who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even
to be waiting, determined to keep me
from myself, from the thing that calls to me
as it must have once called to them—
this temptation to step off the edge
and fall weightless, away from the world.

And finally, here’s one I wrote in my journal in January. (This is straight from the journal, not a crafted piece).

It’s cloudy-

notable in LA

in LA where the sun shines hard and bright

Mountains, my mountain, shows shadows today

and I marvel at the ins and outs of darkness

Cars whiz down North Verdugo

often I don’t hear of them –

until there are none

and it is silent

And then I wonder if, perhaps,

I like noise these days more than peace.

Why not share your favorite poem — in the comments on my blog or on this platform.

May you give and receive love, health, and poetry in your life.

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