Springtime poem (mine).

It’s springtime,

fling yourself
into the green
time, in the
meantime,
while there’s still
time, it’s clean
time, out with
what we don’t need
time, you know
what I mean:
let’s deem ourselves
better than fine,
let’s drink the last
sip of winter’s
wine.

gossamer dandelion

photo by Misha M. Johnson

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Ugly Ole Sweater poem (mine).

I bought this scruffy poet cardigan
with a big ole stain on the cuff
because it has a professorial pattern
and because it already had a big ole stain
which means it’s safe from spoiling by me,
having already been spoiled by someone else.
Does this sound defeatist? To me it’s relaxing,
the stress of ruination removed by the simple
presence of a big brown smudge. I love you,
big brown smudge! Were you car grease or paint
or pigsweat? Who cares! I’ll eat my stew
with you, I’ll sit at work & cast no sweat
upon this perfect, ugly, poet sweater.

Frozenpoem (mine).

It’s so cold today I’m wearing a sweater vest

over a sweater. And it was so cold yesterday an egg froze

underneath my chicken’s butt! Plus one hen won’t go home

and now lives beneath the porch; it’s so cold she might

be dead, and if she’s not: props, sister. Tonight

the temperature will dive so low it’ll limbo underground

and after that, who knows: maybe the freeze will set

so deep into the ground the earth will send a message

to the moon that reads: that’s it, I quit, I’m comin’

over for a visit. Inside the house, one of our windowpanes

is covered in ice cuz it’s our first winter here & not everything

is sealed all nice & tight. Oh, well. Oh, hell. Maybe

we’ll shave that window ice with a razor blade and use it

for our cocktails! Maybe I’ll scoop the moonlight off

the frozen snow and add it to my hair! I’m wearing too many

sweaters to care what anyone thinks of me & my windows.

Suffice to say: winter’s landed like a bigass prehistoric bird

and I will stay as far from her beak as I’m able.

vest

Mourning for Galway Kinnell, poet & Vermont person.

Maybe it’s just because I’m stretched as thin as cheap stockings right now and prone to emotions, but I cried this morning hearing (again) about the passing of Galway Kinnell.

I learned to love his poems in college, by my professor who loves his poems. When I worked for the Dartmouth bookstore years ago, I sold books at a reading he gave at Dartmouth, sitting next to him as he signed new and wellworn copies. The reading he gave was equal parts wonderful and sad; he often lost his place while reading a poem, or seemed to drift away mid-thought. I witnessed the deteriorating mind of a poet whose poems have meant a lot to me.

His epic poem (note: I do not generally use the word epic so you know I mean it) “The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ Into the New World” has so much more of New York in it than Taylor Swift’s new song (that’s not saying a lot), and even more of New York in it than Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ song. He was compared to Walt Whitman after that poem, and I see why: it contains multitudes, big time.

As Daniel Lewis of the New York Times writes, “The poem is a 14-part work about Avenue C in Manhattan, a mother lode of inspiration for someone with Mr. Kinnell’s photographic eye and intuitive sense of other people’s lives. In these verses and on this street, Jews, blacks and Puerto Ricans walked in the spring sunlight, past the avenue’s mainstays at the time — the Downtown Talmud Torah, Blosztein’s Cutrate Bakery, Areceba Panataria Hispano, Nathan Kugler Chicken Store Fresh Killed Daily and others.”

I’ve experienced a renewed love of Kinnell since moving to Vermont, as I read his poems again, many of which are set in this state, such as “Blackberry Eating”:

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths and squinched,
many-lettered, on-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.

And then there’s this poem, which has always blown my mind. If someone had told me in college that you could write a poem with the word “is” used three times in a row and it would be a stunner, I would not have believe him/her.

Prayer

Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

kinnell

Harriet Richardson, a Student Organizer at Pennsylvania’s Juniata College, Presses a Cloth to the Wounds of Galway Kinnell, Who Was Then Poet-In-Residence at Juiata, Selma, Alabama, 1965.

The view from here (photos).

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The oh-so-autumn pumpkin display at Killdeer Farmstead, where we sampled teas yesterday.

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Misha, setting up those colorful tea tins, boiling water, being bearded.

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The sissy visit earlier this month, during which we wore each other’s scarves, ate zealously, drank at the local bar, picked out tiny pumpkins at Cedar Circle, and talked a lot about INTEGRITY.

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The photo taken the day we closed on our house, which actually wasn’t quite the real closing, but still we were happy, and afterwards we went to a barn to buy a guy’s old futon frame, and then he showed us his highland cattle, and the view on the top of the hill was stunning, and we like, almost kissed on the lips.

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New home hoop dreams. Suburban accents of our new home also include: 2 car garage, porch, vinyl, wood paneling, wood paneling, wood paneling.

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Sexy glass jars plus rosemary plus then I added the olive oil. Aaaaaand we’ll sell them with a cute little tag tied around their elegant necks around Christmastime.

***

These photos are a random smattering of what’s been going on. Not as photographic highlights (lowlights) from the past month include

packing things into cardboard boxes

doing yoga in the living room

threshing beans in the chilly barn

the return of celeriac

a lot of rain

listening to the Godspell soundtrack on high while Misha’s away

Cabot cheddar.

“Summer Simmer” (summertime flowertime poem) (mine).

Summer Simmer

 

Soil air sky breeze

available now

no lease no

contract all

yours & always

open free &

more where

that came from

Jeez you’d think

we’d be cherishing

all this so hard

by now (picture

it: generations

of women

& men in love

with earth)

but no

we are shitting

on it more

than ever &

convinced of

the truth

of machines

You know

what I think

technology is

mostly harmful

also ugly &

expensive unlike

these patches of

black-eyed Susans

dancing from the base

of their stalks up

to the petals

in the fields

all around me