The Creation: “And God stepped out on space…” by James Weldon Johnson! Pretty fantastic.

RE-imagined poem by James Weldon Johnson. Still the same G-d, people. Beautiful images Weldon calls forth, as if he was there there- one of these poems that you can feel the amazing of our world, our trees, our rivers, our deer, our elephants, our woods and jungles… Unbelievably beautiful what we have to take care of. Care. Of. Read and weep.

And then give freely to the World Wild Life Fund and Green-Peace.

Quick thoughts on image:
“Toiling over a lump of clay
Till She shaped it in Her own image;”

God had to toil to make us into her image. Everyone who has worked with clay and has attempted to shape a human or any animal, knows how hard it is. You start out roughly, you add on, you take off, you squeeze, you pull a bit this way. That way. Making stars seems to have come to God easily. She threw the light against the darkness. With us, she had to think. What was important. She didn’t create us like the trees, or the rivers. Why would it be so hard to create an image of God? You have to understand yourself if you want to describe yourself. God had to think about what made her who she was. She could create, so she gave us that. We can make dark and light in our life. She gave us that choice. She gave us a smile. She gave us words. She knew she was lonely still and she made us look for others. She made us want community and love and closeness. She taught us how to kneel down and toil over what is important.

 

And God stepped out on space,
And She looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in Her hands,
And God rolled the light around in Her hands
Until She made the sun;
And She set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
She hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God herself stepped down —
And the sun was on Her right hand,
And the moon was on Her left;
The stars were clustered about Her head,
And the earth was under Her feet.
And God walked, and where She trod
Her footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then She stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And She spat out the seven seas;
She batted Her eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
She clapped Her hands, and the thunders rolled;
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed her finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out her arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around Her shoulder.

Then God raised Her arm and She waved Her hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And She said, “Bring forth! Bring forth!”
And quicker than God could drop Her hand.
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that She had made.
She looked at Her sun,
And She looked at Her moon,
And She looked at Her little stars;
She looked on Her world
With all its living things,
And God said, “I’m lonely still.”

Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where She could think;
By a deep, wide river She sat down;
With Her head in Her hands,
God thought and thought,
Till She thought, “I’ll make me a body!”

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
She kneeled Her down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of Her hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till She shaped it in Her own image;

Then into it She blew the breath of life,
And body became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

Whoohoo!!

Creation poem II (by Dutch ship’s doctor Jan Jacob Slauerhoff)

God’s child kept blocks in his apron’s pocket,
which it had been playing with in the clouds.
But when she, tired, bored, then wished to clear the decks
She saw into the box and could not fathom

how ever to fit them, neatly ordered stacked.
Because God was stern, but slept, so was no danger.
She let them drop, without a further glance
and made straight for a pretty sculpted angel.

The blocks fellthrough stark empty skies,
And reached an empty world, where
They remained as thrown.

Most shattered into hills and dales;
And those, whole, in one piece, formed here and there
the far wide cities and the smallest towns.

 

SUPPORT planet Earth and all of our creatures:
For symbolic polar bear, penguin and Lion ADOPTIONS: http://shop.wwf.ca/collections/adoptions?gclid=CIv5rPS03MICFak-MgodfDoAlg

Monster Boats are gobbling up all the fish: it is NOT fair. Support local fishing-folk. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/

BUY the book:

USED: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=oxford+anthology+of+african-american+poetry
NEW from a local bookstore: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634

Camomile Tea: Katherine Mansfield!

katherine_mansfield NPG P1009; Katherine Mansfield by John Herbert Folker

(l) Katherine Mansfield, Menton, France. 1921. Ref: PAColl-6826-1-15-1. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand Website: http://beta.natlib.govt.nz/records/23146336

(r) Katherine Mansfield, by John Herbert Folker, 1917 – NPG P1009 – © National Portrait Gallery

Outside the sky is light with stars; 
There's a hollow roaring from the sea.
 
And, alas! for the little almond flowers, 
The wind is shaking the almond tree.
 

How little I thought, a year ago, 
In the horrible cottage upon the Lee 
That he and I should be sitting so 
And sipping a cup of camomile tea.
 

Light as feathers the witches fly, 
The horn of the moon is plain to see; 
By a firefly under a jonquil flower 
A goblin toasts a bumble-bee.
 

We might be fifty, we might be five, 
So snug, so compact, so wise are we! 
Under the kitchen-table leg 
My knee is pressing against his knee.
 

Our shutters are shut, the fire is low, 
The tap is dripping peacefully; 
The saucepan shadows on the wall 
Are black and round and plain to see.

Obi Nwakanma- four seasons!! And now it is so so very cold here. Nigeria!

image_column-one

Favourite lines:

Icicles fall from trees,...they limber
like the gods terrified into silence,
like tall brooding deities looming out of the fog:

The cypress -whitening-
...;wearing her best habit,
a pale green in the forest of ghosts-

And so I walk through this windless night
through the narrow imponderable road
through the silence - the silence of trees- 

I hear not even the gust of wind
I hear only the quiet earth, thawing underneath;
I hear the slow silent death of winter-

when the sun is yellowest

...to every good, to every
flicker of stars along the pine
shadows;
to every tussle with lucid dusk,
to every moonlit pledge, to
every turn made to outleap
silvery pollen, 

I have desired to listen,...


USED and NEW: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=2685567879
NEW through independent bookstores, book on Nigerian lyrical poet: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781847010131

“Obi Nwakanma is one of the Nigerian literary awards winning troika invited by Harvard University to represent New Voices From Nigeria at a recent Africa Events Reading (the other two being Maik Nwosu and Akin Adesokan also featured on this site).

Poet and journalist, he featured at the Poetry International Festival in 1995.

Holder of a BA degree from the University of Jos in Nigeria, Nwakanma was a visiting scholar at one of the pre-eminent universities in Nigeria, UN at Nsukka. Formerly an Assistant Editor at the Sunday Vanguard, he is currently a visiting scholar at The Meeting School, Rindge, NH, where he teaches Literature, Creative Writing and Journalism.”

http://www.poetrysoup.com/biography/obi_nwakanma

“Thirsting for Sunlight, his biography of the tragic modernist poet, Christopher Okigbo, was published by James Currey (UK) in 2010.
His collection of poems, The Horsemen & Other Poems, was published by Africa World Press (New Jersey) in 2007. Nwakanma’s first collection of poems, The Roped Urn, was awarded the Cadbury Prize in 1996 by the Association of Nigerian Authors, and he received the Walter J. Ong Award for Distinguished Achievement in 2008 from Saint Louis University.
His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in various anthologies and publications including Okike, Vanguard Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Dutch, German, and Turkish.
Obi Nwakanma has also worked as a professional journalist, reporting internationally for Newsweek, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, and as Group Literary editor for the Vanguard,one of the major national newspapers in Nigeria, for which he continues to write a weekly column, “The Orbit” in the Sunday Vanguard.
5474688568_2a1f5c5b3b_b He is currently working on a novel, a new collection of poems, and a book on The Mbari Movement, Transnationalism and Modern African Literature.”
In FULL:
ICICLES fall from trees, molten with age, 
without memory - they stand aloof in their 
nakedness - they limber; 
like the gods terrified into silence, 
like tall brooding deities looming out of the 
fog: 

The forest hugs them 
carves them into stones, 
Etches them into the slow 
eastern landscape: rivers, hills 
the slow running water, 
times broken inscapes…

The willows are burdened with ice 
the white shrouds of burial spread 
upon the earth's ravaged face; the eyes 
unseeing, the mouth unspeaking, 
a gust of wind proclaims the anger of 
immemorial ages; the cycle, the 
eternal ritual of mystical returns - 

The cypress - whitening -
boneless; wearing her best habit, 
a pale green in the forest of ghosts -

And so I walk through this windless night 
through the narrow imponderable road 
through the silence - the silence of trees -

I hear not even the gust of wind
I hear only the quiet earth, thawing underneath; 
I hear the slow silent death of winter -

where the sun is yellowest.
 
But above, Monadnock looms 
like some angry Moloch, her 
white nipple seizing the space

drained of all milk.
.
.
 

A she-devil beckoning to worshippers 
seductive - her arm stretching outwards -
to this lonely pilgrim
lost in the mist: 

Behold the school of wild bucks 
Behold the meeting of incarnate 
spirits -
Behold the lost souls bearing tapers 
in rags of rich damask, 
Down Thomas - the saint of 
unbelievers - down the road to bliss 
Down to the red house, uncertain 
like a beggar's bowl hanging unto the cliff 
of withdrawn pledges, where the well is 
deepest.
.
.
 

I have dared to live 
beneath the great untamed.
 

To every good, to every 
flicker of stars along the pine 
shadows; 
To every tussle with lucid dusk, 
To every moonlit pledge, to 
every turn made to outleap 
silvery pollen, 

I have desired to listen - to listen -
to the ripening of seasons.
.
.
.
 

Winter 2001
This is ONE of a continuing sequence.

Breasts, beautiful breasts. Quiet. Heaving. Black, brown, yellow, pink. Strong breasts! 1/2

Image

Image

Adapted for Aviva!

Spring is short
what is there that has eternal life
I said and
made her hands seek out
my powerful breasts
[trans. Janine Beichman] Akiko

>Image

Willa Cather. The Hawthorn Tree

ACROSS the shimmering meadows–
Ah, when she came to me!
In the spring-time,
In the night-time,
In the starlight,
Beneath the hawthorn tree.

Up from the misty marsh-land–
Ah, when she climbed to me!
To my white bower,
To my sweet rest,
To my warm breasts,
Beneath the hawthorn tree.

Ask of me what the birds sang,
High in the hawthorn tree;
What the breeze tells,
What the rose smells,
What the stars shine–
Not what she said to me!

 

.

Song 2 by Anne Bronte

But I would rather press the mountain heath,
With naught to shield me from the starry sky,
And dream of yet untasted victory —
A distant hope — and feel that I am free!

O happy life! To range the mountains wild,
The waving woods — or Ocean’s heaving breast,
With limbs unfettered, conscience undefiled,
And choosing where to wander, where to rest!

.

.

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“Our best strategy for survival is adding new revenues streams like food and drink – which means a larger space.
We’ve picked out a great spot on Church Street that would allow us to be a bookstore & coffee shop during the day and a bar at night.
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June Jordan, “Poem About My Rights” Black History.

Black History Month– Poems about the body. Your body. Your body.

[…]
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
alone
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
[…]

I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
[…]

but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers
[…]

I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life

June Jordan. “Poem about my rights”

June Jordan, “Poem About My Rights” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust.

Federico García Lorca– Romance Sonambulo.

Those beautiful. Tuna cloud, trembling, tambourines… I think part of the poem is about drowning and loneliness, but he writes about it so that you feel there is much going on around that place, in the water, at the water, the trees and mountains are the same area.

Temblaban en los tejados
farolillos de hojalata.
Mil panderos de cristal
herían la madrugada.

Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck at the dawn light.

Federico García Lorca— Romance Sonambulo

Different translation by Nimms:

Over the roofs, a shimmer
like little tin lamps, and glassy
tambourines by the thousand
slitting the glitter of dawn.

Dejadme subir al menos
hasta las altas barandas;
¡dejadme subir!, dejadme,
hasta las verdes barandas.
Barandales de la luna
por donde retumba el agua.

–At least let me climb up,
up to the high balconies;
Let me climb up! Let me,
up to the green balconies.
Railings of the moon
through which the water crashes.

Verde que te quiero verde.
Grandes estrellas de escarcha
vienen con el pez de sombra
que abre el camino del alba.
La higuera frota su viento
con la lija de sus ramas,
y el monte, gato garduño,
eriza sus pitas agrias.
¿Pero quién vendra? ¿Y por dónde…?
Ella sigue en su baranda,
Verde came, pelo verde,
soñando en la mar amarga.

Green, how I desire you, green.
Big stars of frosted vapors
come with the fish of the shadows
that opens the path of daybreak.
The fig tree fondles its wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the forest, cunning cat,
bristles its acrid thorns.
But who will come? And from where?
She remains on her veranda
green flesh, a green coat,
dreaming in the bitter sea.

Scott Horton translated that part.

Completely different translation by John Frederick Nims:

Green it’s your green I love.
The stars are frost, enormous;
a tuna cloud floats over
nosing off to the dawn.
The fig tree catches a wind
to grate in its emery branches;
the mountain’s a wildcat, sly,
bristling its acrid cactus.
But – who’s on the road? Which way?
She’s dreaming there on her terrace,
green of her cheek, green hair,
she dreams of the bitter sea.