Thursday, March 26, 2009

La Luna

I like poetry. There, I said it.

Why does poetry get knocked around so much? It's not fair that the ability to recite a poem is considered pretentious and precious while knowing the final score of the 1983 World Series is respected as some kind of achievement of knowledge. In all honesty, though, I get the problem with poetry. If someone standing next to me in line at the grocery store quoted Wordsworth out of thin air, I would give him the same tolerant-yet-distant smile that I reserve for people who talk to themselves on the street. Especially if he quoted Wordsworth.

Not fair, is it?

I like poetry, though, and I would listen to Wordsworth Man, even while pretending to leaf through People Magazine.

Here's a poem that struck a chord with me this morning. It was written by Jaime Sabines, a Mexican poet who once commented, "poetry happens like an accident, a mugging, a love affair, a crime; it happens every day, when, alone, a man's heart begins to think about life."

I like that sentiment.

The Moon

You can take the moon by the spoonful
or in capsules every two hours.
It's useful as a hypnotic and sedative
and besides it relieves
those who have had too much philosophy.
A piece of moon in your purse
works better than a rabbit's foot.
Helps you find a lover
or get rich without anyone knowing,
and it staves off doctors and clinics.
You can give it to children like candy
when they've not gone to sleep,
and a few drops of the moon in the eyes of the old
helps them to die in peace.

Put a new leaf of moon
under your pillow
and you'll see what you want to.
Always carry a little bottle of air of the moon
to keep you from drowning.
Give the key to the moon
to prisoners and the disappointed.
For those who are sentenced to death,
and for those who are sentenced to life
there is no better tonic than the moon
in precise and regular doses.

Jaime Sabines Otros Poemas Sueltos, 1981 Trans. W.S. Merwin

*The right thing to do here would be to provide the original Spanish version, followed by the English translation. I am running late already this morning, though, so here is the English.


Foodycat said...


I counter with a lovely poem that I saw in the train the other week - Alicante by Jacques Prevert.

Une orange sur la table
Ta robe sur le tapis
Et toi dans mon lit
Doux présent du présent
Fraîcheur de la nuit
Chaleur de ma vie.

And the English -
An orange on the table
Your dress on the rug
And you in my bed
Sweet gift of the present
Freshness of the night
Warmth of my life

Giff said...

great poem :)

muddywaters said...

We appreciate poetry here at The Greasy Skillet. Today I spent 45 minutes reading and listening to poetry at

I enjoyed the following poem by Molly Peacock titled "The Flaw":

The best thing about a hand-made pattern
is the flaw.
Sooner or later in a hand-loomed rug,
among the squares and flattened triangles,
a little red nub might soar above a blue field,
or a purple cross might sneak in between
the neat ochre teeth of the border.
The flaw we live by, the wrong color floss,
now wreathes among the uniform strands
and, because it does not match,
makes a red bird fly,
turning blue field into sky.
It is almost, after long silence, a word
spoken aloud, a hand saying through the flaw,
I’m alive, discovered by your eye.

muddywaters said...

Here's one I heard on my after-school walk as I listened to a podcast of The Splendid Table:

Apple Slices

—eaten right
off the jackknife in
moons, half moons,
quarter moons and
summon common
summer afternoons
I spent as my dad’s
jobsite grunt, framing
future neighbors’
houses out of 2x4s
and 4x6s,
and our
brief and silent pick-
up tailgate lunch-
box lunch breaks
of link sausage,
longhorn cheddar,
larder pickles, cold
leftover roast-beef-
and-butter sandwiches
wrapped in paper,
a couple of pippins
from the Fall Crick
Pick-n-Save, and—
flavored of tin from
the lip of the cup
of a dented thermos
passed between us—
a hard-earned share
of still-chill well
so many waned and
waxed moons later,
another well-paid,
well-fed, college-
bred paper-pusher, I
wonder that I’ve never
labored harder, nor
eaten better.

by Todd Boss