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Poem of the Week: Gate A-4 

Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,”
said the flight agent. "Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call him."

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

************************************************* 

I stumbled across this poem and first I experienced déjà vu. I must have read it before in the not to distant past. It is a contemporary poem written in a free verse style. The poem made me feel more hopeful about humanity. A message delivered not through sermon but through the lived example of just being a kind human being in the world. 

Thank You for this gift Naomi Shihab Nye. The world needs more of you. 

Naomi Shihab Nye, "Gate A-4" from the book Honeybee. Copyright © 2008

 

Photo by Connecting Flights Guide: 

Poem of the Week: "53"  

53
by E. E. Cummings

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
for even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

 

"53" by E.E. Cummings, from 100 Selected Poems. © Grove Press, 1954.  (buy now)

 

 

 

The following phrases from the poem resonated for me today in this moment and that is my criteria for a poem to land today in this moment: ring the bell.

“whatever they sing is better than to know”
“and may myself do nothing usefully”
 “there's never been quite such a fool who could fail” 
“pulling all the sky over him with one smile”



Why did these words resonate? I do not know and I do not care that much. They just did.


Thank You and have a fantastic end to your weekend. It is very cold outside today in Southern Maryland : ). Stay Warm. Make a bowl of hot soup or a cup of good strong tea or perhaps a cup of delicious hot chocolate or, if so inclined, that just so perfect craft beer…….You get the point. Have a good relaxing day. Keep creating.

I wish you well.

Dave 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by daniyal ghanavati 

Poem of the Week: Evolving 

Evolving

Pay attention to the smallest
expressions of change,
How slowly the leaf
unfolds. There is no
fast track here, only
The trudging orbit
of our newness. Learn
the perfection of pace
that gives us time
to dig out wisdom,
eons of effort per inch.
Yet, deep secrets may
reside in the lines
on your palm, better
seen when dirty from work.

-j. suskin
April 2018

 

Jacqueline Suskin is a poet and educator who has been teaching workshops, writing books, hosting retreats and creating spontaneous poetry around the world since 2009

 

Poem of the Year 

Andrea Gibson wrote this poem after a prompt from her partner in which she said, "write a poem in which you accept a fictional award."   


After learning about Andrea's cancer, her outlook on life in general and the emotional power of this poem specifically, I was rendered speechless. I love when a poem does this to me and also when a poem opens me up a bit more.

Thank You Andrea.

This is my poem of the year.

Here is her website:  https://andreagibson.org. The poem can be found in her book of poetry called:
 "You Better Be Lightening"


Acceptance Speech After Setting the World Record in Goosebumps

I wasn't by any means a natural.
Was not one of those wow-hounds
born jaw-dropped. I was tough in the husk.
Went years untouched by rain. Took shelter

seriously, even and often especially
in good weather, my tears like teenagers
hiding under the hoods of my eyes,
so committed they were to never falling

For the joke of astonishment.
When I was told there were seven
wonders of the world, I trusted the math,
believed I had seen none of them.

Of course beauty hunted me.
It hunts everyone. But I outran it, hid
in worry, regret, the promise of an afterlife
or a week's end.

Then on day, in a red velvet theater
in New Orleans, I watched Maya Angelou
walk on stage. Seventeen slow steps to the mic.
She took a breath before speaking,

and I could hear god being born in that breath.
My every pore reached out like a hand
pointing to the first unsinkable lotus in the bayou
of the universe. I'd never felt anything like it.

Searched the encyclopedia for the feeling's name
when I got home: "Goosebumps."
Afterward, I thought - I can do this.
Started training morning to night,

Crowbar swinging like a pendulum at the wall
of my chest. Tore the caution tape off
my life and let everything touch it:

Allen Iverson on the television in his first season
with the Sixers, crossover sharp as a V of sparrows
flying through the paint like Michelangelo's brush:
        333 goosebumps.

My baby sister, sober for the first time
in thirteen years, calling to tell me she just noticed
our mother's eyes are green:
        505 goosebumps.

One day, my friend scored tickets
to a Prince concert. Tiny venue. I was right
behind the sound booth. Prince's entire band
That evening--women. At the end of the show,
the sound person turned around and whispered,
He didn't play one song on his setlist the whole night.
I live on stages. I know what it is to scratch a plan
but not the whole trip and still arrive to your destination
two hundred years before your time:
        421 (artist formerly known as) goosebumps.

But that's just the fancy stuff.
Some of them came from simple facts-
it rains diamonds on Jupiter
        189 goosebumps.

Blood donors in Sweden receive
A thank-you message when their blood is used:
        301 Nordic goosebumps.

One night in Ann Arbor, my friend
still undiagnosed, could not uncurl her fingers
to strum her guitar, so she sang the chords instead.
It was the first time in my life I'd seen pain
become an instrument:
        10 dozen goosebumps

For each and every note plucked
From the string section of her refusal to silence
her dream. After that, nothing in the world was gray.
Even the movie of my past was released in color.
The oldest man in my hometown could not
get to the door to listen to our carols.
So we went inside and sang at his bedside instead.
Twenty-four boots on the front step
Catching snowflakes with their tongues:
        776 goosebumps.

At one point everything started doing it:
A sincere apology: 221 goosebumps.
An enemy's love poem: 222 goosebumps.

The moon rising over the continental divide.
My girlfriend and I thought it was a car
driving off a cliff, and suddenly nothing
in the world was dying. You ever felt that?
A split second when nothing in the world is dying?
        888 goosebumps,

and the next day I sharpened a tiny ax
So I could split the seconds myself.

Too much lives in a moment
to not feed it to the fire in the heart, slow.
A Missoula treehouse filled with candlelight:
        143 goosebumps.

The octopus documentary:
        54 goosebumps, multiplied by 8.

The biggest dog in the shelter
hiding behind a teacup chihuahua,
and the woman who came to adopt a cat
taking all three of them home:
        1,012 goosebumps.

There is no escaping the magic now.
Beauty caught me and never let me go.
And the thing about the world record 
Is-- if someone breaks it after me,
and they will break it after me,
I will love that so much
that without even trying,

        I'll break it again.
 

 

 

 

Photo by Frank Cone: 

Poem of the Week 

Poetry arrived
to look for me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or river,
I don't know how or when,
No there weren't voices, there weren't words, or silence

                                                                                                                             ….PABLO NARUDA

Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas: 

Poem of the Week 

 

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you
Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

                                                 John O’Donohue

 

Mama never forgets her birds,
Though in another tree –
She looks down just as often
And just as tenderly
As when her little mortal nest
With cunning care she wove –
If either of her sparrows fall,
She notices, above.

                                                     – Emily Dickinson

 

 

 

Photo by Mohan Nannapaneni:

Poem of the Week: The Decision 

The Decision

There is a moment before a shape
hardens, a color sets.
Before the fixative or heat of kiln.
The letter might still be taken 
from the mailbox.
The hand held back by the elbow,
the word kept between the larynx pulse
and the amplifying drum-skin of the room's air.
The green coat on old copper weighs more.
Yet something slips through it-
looks around.
set out in the new direction, for other lands.
Not into exile, not into hope. Simply changed.
As a sandy track-rut changes when called a Silk Road:
it cannot be after turned back from.

Jane Hirshfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative

Poem of the Week 

Excerpted from Prelude book 11

William Wordsworth

The days gone by,
Come back upon me from the dawn almost
Of life; the hiding-places of my power
Seem open, I approach and then they close
I see by glimpses now, when age comes on
May scarcely see at all; and I would give
While yet we may, as far as words can give,
A substance and a life to what I feel:
I would enshrine the spirit of the past
For future restoration.

 

 

photo by Pixabay

Happy Labor Day 

Poem of the Week by Louise Gluck

time moves so fast

Labor Day 

It’s a year exactly since my father died.
Last year was hot.
At the funeral, people talked about the weather.
How hot it was for September. How unseasonable.

This year, it’s cold.
There’s just us now, the immediate family.
In the flower beds, shreds of bronze, of copper.

Out front, my sister’s daughter rides her bicycle
the way she did last year,
up and down the sidewalk. What she wants is
to make time pass.

While to the rest of us
a whole lifetime is nothing.
One day, you’re a blond boy with a tooth missing;
the next, an old man gasping for air.
It comes to nothing, really, hardly
a moment on earth.
Not a sentence, but a breath, a caesura.

Our revels now are ended 

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, 
as I foretold you, were all spirits and 
are melted into air, into thin air; 
and, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
the solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve; 
and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
leave not a rack behind.  We are such stuff 
as dreams are made on, and our little life 
is rounded with sleep.

Wiliam Shakespeare

 

 

 

 

Photo by Mike at Pexels.com

 

I gained it so 

I gained it so — 
By Climbing slow — 
By Catching at the Twigs that grow 
Between the Bliss — and me — 
It hung so high 
As well the Sky 
Attempt by Strategy — 

I said I gained it — 
This — was all — 
Look, how I clutch it 
Lest it fall — 
And I a Pauper go — 
Unfitted by an instant's Grace 
For the Contented — Beggar's face 
I wore — an hour ago —

Emily Dickenson

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Dmitrii Eremin from Pexels