I curtsy before you…

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photo by Jeanne (painted by Annika)

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Instead of composing my own poem about “manners” today, I want to share these hilarious bits from other poets. These are today’s prompt from Jan Hutchinson.

Manners Prompt
Write a poem made up of suggestions (real or absurd) for
appropriate manners or behavior in specific situations. You might
talk about being taught manners. Or you might simply entitle your
poem “Manners” and go somewhere unexpected.

Carrie says it’s more rude to stare at a blind man on the street
than to make a fat person joke about someone on TV.
Tony Hoagland

If someone you know
who died long ago
appears to you in dream,
it is rude to point out to them
that they are actually already dead.
jch

…silence is always good manners
and often a clever thing to say
when you are at a party.
Tony Hoagland
in “Social Life”

Style
Mary June’s brother Willard always had
just a certain corner of his handkerchief
hanging out of his hip pocket. That was
my first intimation of a personal style.
My hair wouldn’t comb down; so
every night for years I wore
one of Aunt Klara’s silk stockings
pulled firmly on top of my head.
When we had company my mother was always
afraid I would swing my soup spoon
toward me rather than away. And I was to
leave a little, not scraps like a dog at the last.
These glimpses of decorum in my early life
have fitted me for success. My manners,
my neat handkerchief, and my tame haircut
have seen me through everyday encounters with society.
William Stafford
in The Way It Is

Manners
Sit, she said. The wolf sat. Shake, she said.
He held his face and tail still
and shook everything in between. His fur
stood out in all directions. Sparks flew.
Dear sister, she wrote. His yellow eyes
followed the words discreetly. I have imagined
a wolf. He smells bad. He pants and his long tongue
drips onto the rug, my favorite rug. It has arrows
and urns and diamonds in it. The wolf sits
where I’ve stared all morning hoping
for a heron: statuesque, aloof,
enigmatic. Be that way, the wolf said.
There are other poets.
Pamela Alexander
in Inland

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Afraid

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2010

OwenOliverand the blue glasses

2016

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For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid

by William Stafford

There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot—air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That’s the world, and we all live there.

“For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid” by William Stafford from The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 1998

Earth Song

Between the waters abides the earth...

Between the waters abides the earth…


Earth Song

They call me sod
loam, dirt
clay, turf, dust.

In cahoots with rain, rocks and roots
worms and grubs
perforated by ants and moles
aquifers and oil

veined with lead, copper, gold
and hiding diamonds and coal
cables, wires and pipes

I hold your huts and your tents
your houses and barns
anchor your bridges, apartments and high-rises.

In beds below rivers
lakes and oceans
I slumber.
In the open I bask in sun’s warmth
sprout and nourish your food.

Sometimes I seizure
shudder and quake
vomit magma
belch steam and ash

or slump and ooze
tongues of brown porridge
smothering your villages and roads
in mud.

But mostly I am solid and safe
keeping you upright
with my mysterious magnetic powers.

Feed me wisely
for I ingest
without discrimination

and someday soon
you will join me.
I will reclaim you.
You will again
become mine.
© 2014 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

Inhabiting a Song

Somewhere back of my throat a tune
hovers. My voice or the ghost of my voice
follows, repeating words and weaving
a record of my life into waves and hesitations.

Suppose our chorus, people and animals,
rises and falls in intervals of breath:
in sleep a dog’s paw twitches; a rabbit’s
dream follows its heartbeat all the way
through some ballad that its life is.

Parts of my song disappear, fade out
except for a beat that spans a known
part to another known part, and on.
Even in silence when shadows pass
my throat is full of the sound of the world.

(William Stafford in Crossing Unmarked Snow:

Further Views on the Writer’s Vocation)

Heaven

Pieces of Heaven

Pieces of Heaven

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won’t even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

(William Stafford in The Way It Is)

Riddle#28 The Moon

Now that the moon is out of a job
it slides over the forest-all those
million still violins before they are
carved-and follows those paths only air
ever uses.

William Stafford

Moon over deck 4-13

Yellow moon:
amber air alert;
cats’ eye
in the sky
misty message from on high.
I bow, submissive.
(shadorma)
(3-5-3-3-7-5-)

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