Lent Word #35: Celebrate

  • Music Video: Celebration by Kool & The Gang
  • Poem: won’t you celebrate with me By Lucille Clifton

    won’t you celebrate with me
    what i have shaped into
    a kind of life? i had no model.
    born in babylon
    both nonwhite and woman
    what did i see to be except myself?
    i made it up
    here on this bridge between
    starshine and clay,
    my one hand holding tight
    my other hand; come celebrate
    with me that everyday
    something has tried to kill me
    and has failed.
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Lenten Word #34: Enter

  • Music Video: As We Enter by Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
  • Poem: Enter the Void By Juan Felipe Herrera
    I enter the void,
    it has the shape of a viola:
    Israel, Jenin, West Bank, Nablus—a rubble boy
    shifts his scapula as if it was his continent, underground
    Gazaground, I want to say—his only bone,
    the rubble boy is a girl, I think,
    her hair tossed, knotted and torn under
    the green shank of fibers, tubes and shells.
    She digs for her rubble father, I say rubble
    because it is indistinguishable from ice, fire, dust,
    clay, flesh, tears, concrete, bread, lungs, pubis, god,
    say rubble, say water—
    the rubble girl digs for her rubble mother,
    occupation—disinheritance—once again,
    I had written this somewhere, in a workshop, I think,
    yes, it was an afternoon of dark poets with leaves, coffee
    and music in the liquor light room.
    A rock, perhaps it’s a rock, juts out, two rocks
    embrace each other, the shapes come to me easily,
    an old poetic reflex—memoria, a nation underground,
    that is it, the nation under-ground,
    that is why the rocks cover it.
    I forget to mention the blasts, so many things flying,
    light, existence, the house in tins, a mother in rags.
    It is too cold to expose her tiny legs,
    the fish-shaped back—you must take these notes for me.
    Before you go. See this
    undulate
    extend
    beyond
    the pools of blood.
    I ride the night, past the Yukon, past
    South Laredo, past Odessa, past the Ukraine,
    old Jaffa, Haifa and Istanbul, across clouds,
    hesitant and porous, listen—
    they are porous so we can glide
    into them, this underbelly, this underground:
    wound-mothers and sobbing fathers, they
    leave, in their ribboned flesh, shores lisp
    against nothingness, open—toward you,
    they dissolve again into my shoes—
    Hear the dust gong:
    gendarme passports,
    cloned maize men in C-130’s, with tears
    bubbling on their hands, pebbles
    en route—we are all en route
    to the rubblelands.
    I want to chant a bliss mantra—
    Prajnaparamita
    can you hear me?
    I want to call for the dragon-slayer omchild.
    I am on my knees again.
    On the West Bank count
    the waves of skull debris—a Hebrew letter
    for “love” refuses me,
    an Arabic letter for “boundary”
    acknowledges me.
    Sit on an embankment,
    a dust fleece, there is a tidal wave ahead of me.
    It will never reach me. I live underground, under the Dead Sea,
    under the benevolent rocks and forearms and
    mortar shells and slender naked red green
    torsos, black,
    so much black.
    En route:
    this could be a train, listen:
    it derails into a cloud.
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Lent Word #33: Restore

  • News Blog: Pakistani Pashtun Poets Restore Their Craft Amidst Massive Migration By Harriet Staff
  • Poem: Consolation By Robert Louis Stevenson
    Though he, that ever kind and true,
    Kept stoutly step by step with you,
    Your whole long, gusty lifetime through,
    Be gone a while before,
    Be now a moment gone before,
    Yet, doubt not, soon the seasons shall restore
    Your friend to you.
    He has but turned the corner — still
    He pushes on with right good will,
    Through mire and marsh, by heugh and hill,
    That self-same arduous way —
    That self-same upland, hopeful way,
    That you and he through many a doubtful day
    Attempted still.
    He is not dead, this friend — not dead,
    But in the path we mortals tread
    Got some few, trifling steps ahead
    And nearer to the end;
    So that you too, once past the bend,
    Shall meet again, as face to face, this friend
    You fancy dead.
    Push gaily on, strong heart! The while
    You travel forward mile by mile,
    He loiters with a backward smile
    Till you can overtake,
    And strains his eyes to search his wake,
    Or whistling, as he sees you through the brake,
    Waits on a stile.
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Lent Word #32: Revive

  • Music Video: Revive’s Blink
  • We have cried often when we have given them the little victualling we
    had to give them; we had to shake them, and they have fallen to sleep
    with the victuals in their mouths many a time.
    (parent of children working at a textile mill, to an
    1832 Parliamentary inquiry into child employment)
    1.
    They cry for children too tired to cry for themselves,
    daughters twelve, eleven, eight—eyes
    shutting down as a grate’s banked coals shut down
    at midnight, in the rising damp called ‘home.’
    Too tired to eat after eighteen hours feeding
    looms whose steel teeth grind insatiably,
    the girls will be offered up again at dawn.
    Yet they are the lucky ones, to work where skylights
    hold swatches of the unaffordable blue.
    Imagine these girls’ mine-trapped cousins, hauling
    black rocks on sledges up tunnels of black air:
    half-undressed, belted, harnessed, saturated
    with the oil-blackened water they crawl through
    pumping ‘the lifeblood of British industry.’
    Flogged for talking, Margaret Comeley, aged
    nine, can sometimes close her mouth around
    a piece of muffin—if she manages
    to keep it from the rats, ‘so ravenous
    they eat the corks out of our oil-flasks.’
    Sarah Gooder fills her mouth with song
    ‘when I’ve light, but not in the dark; I dare not then.’
    2.
    Here is a working girl so filled with light
    she is pure song: her sun-bright bodice shines
    in counterpoint with her blue overskirt,
    and, from her forehead’s crescent of white linen,
    tapering light blazes a white path
    down arms and wrists to folds of spread blue cloth,
    like moonlight piloting the tide’s refrains.
    A Dutch milkmaid, Tanneke Everpoel,
    lucky enough to live in the Delft house
    where Vermeer’s eye and brush could catch the spill
    of morning light as her brief peacefulness
    brimmed over, serves here as a celebrant—
    bread heaped up on the altar-like table,
    wine transubstantiated into milk
    whose brilliance seems the source of the room’s light
    she pours forever from the earthenware’s
    black core. His pose; yet—all hers—underneath it
    (and signalled in her fixed eyes’ unconcern
    for the beholder) such complete immersion
    in what she does, that she is all she does
    and it is she, this offering-up of day.
    And he? When he was forty, the Sun King
    invaded Holland. No one wanted art.
    In debt to his baker for three years’ worth of bread,
    Vermeer, according to his widow, falling
    ‘into a frenzy,’ passed ‘from being healthy’
    in ‘a day or a day and a half … to being dead,’
    ‘the very great burden of his children … so taken to heart.’
    3.
    Knowing the earth is closer to the sun
    in winter won’t revive the street person
    sleeping towards cold death in a bus shelter.
    Bread in a painting won’t cure stomach ache.
    So Margaret dragged her great burden of coal
    while Sarah sat terrified in the dark,
    and neither knew Vermeer’s poised working girl,
    broke bread with her, shared her breaking light.
    The painting stood by, helpless to save them
    or him, and looking at it now cannot
    help anyone. Yet, it can cry for them,
    as parents take their children’s grief to heart:
    the beads of salt, shimmering on the bread
    like diamonds, can be tears the two girls shed
    down where no light sang their preciousness.
    The cradled pitcher’s brim can be their hearth,
    since it (and not the sky’s cold mine of stars)
    pours out what cannot shelter us, but feeds
    a hunger no daily bread can fill: for light—
    light that, like coal, comes from our earth; hunger
    that, unlike grief, is inexhaustible.
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Lent Word #31: Resist

  • Music Video: Skillet – The Resistance // Suicide Squad // Music Video
  • Poem: Comings and Goings By Glenna Luschei
    In Tucson
    when a university student
    goes home
    she might leave her desk
    and a chair, a bookcase outside her cave
    with a sign, “Take me.”
    And who could resist
    heat radiating over furniture
    like a mirage? You hoist
    an old Victrola into your pickup
    and ratchet up a new song.
    You start that life in the West,
    invent a past, and when that tune
    winds down, it’s okay to put out,
    “Take me.”
    What do we have in life
    but comings and goings?
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Lent #30: Witness

was it so I could
never say
across a courtroom
that man, the one
standing there
was it so you could
walk among us again
after
as if you had shed
the body that did
those things
was it because you could
not bear
my pupils so huge
they would have swallowed you
my whites like flayed kneecaps
when you pressed down
to singe them back
into my skull they were softer
than you expected
you had thought them
diamond hard
weapons turned on you
was it so you could
imagine a time
when you would be human
again among humans
that you had to leave
some of us
alive?
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Lent Word #29: Grieve

  • Video: 93-yo Man Sings to Wife
  • Poem: Grief By Barbara Crooker
    is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
    But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
    around my ankles, moving downstream
    over the flat rocks. I’m not able to lift a foot,
    move on. Instead, I’m going to stay here
    in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
    like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.
    I don’t want it to grow up, go to school, get married.
    It’s mine. Yes, the October sunlight wraps me
    in its yellow shawl, and the air is sweet
    as a golden Tokay. On the other side,
    there are apples, grapes, walnuts,
    and the rocks are warm from the sun.
    But I’m going to stand here,
    growing colder, until every inch
    of my skin is numb. I can’t cross over.
    Then you really will be gone.
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Lent Word #28: Weep

  • Video: Bereaved Man Mourns Wife of 65 Years and Finds Purpose in Faith
  • Poem: The Old Weep Gently by Yvor WintersThese old trees
    Sigh in every leaf
    Look down their trunks
    As if back down the years.
    Old knots stay
    Where limbs were torn away—
    Little fist-rubbed faces
    Of gargoyle grief;
    While shadows
    Slip down the trunks
    Like tears.
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Lent Word #27: Realize

  • Video: Remove labels this Ramadan
  • Poem: 1 January 1965 By Joseph Brodsky
    The Wise Men will unlearn your name.
    Above your head no star will flame.
    One weary sound will be the same—
    the hoarse roar of the gale.
    The shadows fall from your tired eyes
    as your lone bedside candle dies,
    for here the calendar breeds nights
    till stores of candles fail.
    What prompts this melancholy key?
    A long familiar melody.
    It sounds again. So let it be.
    Let it sound from this night.
    Let it sound in my hour of  death—
    as gratefulness of eyes and lips
    for that which sometimes makes us lift
    our gaze to the far sky.
    You glare in silence at the wall.
    Your stocking gapes: no gifts at all.
    It’s clear that you are now too old
    to trust in good Saint Nick;
    that it’s too late for miracles.
    —But suddenly, lifting your eyes
    to heaven’s light, you realize:
    your life is a sheer gift.
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Lent Word #26: Liberate

I
Ere frost-flower and snow-blossom faded and fell, and the splendour of winter had passed out of sight,
The ways of the woodlands were fairer and stranger than dreams that fulfil us in sleep with delight;
The breath of the mouths of the winds had hardened on tree-tops and branches that glittered and swayed
Such wonders and glories of blossomlike snow or of frost that outlightens all flowers till it fade
That the sea was not lovelier than here was the land, nor the night than the day, nor the day than the night,
Nor the winter sublimer with storm than the spring: such mirth had the madness and might in thee made,
March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of storms that enkindle the season they smite.
II
And now that the rage of thy rapture is satiate with revel and ravin and spoil of the snow,
And the branches it brightened are broken, and shattered the tree-tops that only thy wrath could lay low,
How should not thy lovers rejoice in thee, leader and lord of the year that exults to be born
So strong in thy strength and so glad of thy gladness whose laughter puts winter and sorrow to scorn?
Thou hast shaken the snows from thy wings, and the frost on thy forehead is molten: thy lips are aglow
As a lover’s that kindle with kissing, and earth, with her raiment and tresses yet wasted and torn,
Takes breath as she smiles in the grasp of thy passion to feel through her spirit the sense of thee flow.
III
Fain, fain would we see but again for an hour what the wind and the sun have dispelled and consumed,
Those full deep swan-soft feathers of snow with whose luminous burden the branches implumed
Hung heavily, curved as a half-bent bow, and fledged not as birds are, but petalled as flowers,
Each tree-top and branchlet a pinnacle jewelled and carved, or a fountain that shines as it showers,
But fixed as a fountain is fixed not, and wrought not to last till by time or by tempest entombed,
As a pinnacle carven and gilded of men: for the date of its doom is no more than an hour’s,
One hour of the sun’s when the warm wind wakes him to wither the snow-flowers that froze as they bloomed.
IV
As the sunshine quenches the snowshine; as April subdues thee, and yields up his kingdom to May;
So time overcomes the regret that is born of delight as it passes in passion away,
And leaves but a dream for desire to rejoice in or mourn for with tears or thanksgivings; but thou,
Bright god that art gone from us, maddest and gladdest of months, to what goal hast thou gone from us now?
For somewhere surely the storm of thy laughter that lightens, the beat of thy wings that play,
Must flame as a fire through the world, and the heavens that we know not rejoice in thee: surely thy brow
Hath lost not its radiance of empire, thy spirit the joy that impelled it on quest as for prey.
V
Are thy feet on the ways of the limitless waters, thy wings on the winds of the waste north sea?
Are the fires of the false north dawn over heavens where summer is stormful and strong like thee
Now bright in the sight of thine eyes? are the bastions of icebergs assailed by the blast of thy breath?
Is it March with the wild north world when April is waning? the word that the changed year saith,
Is it echoed to northward with rapture of passion reiterate from spirits triumphant as we
Whose hearts were uplift at the blast of thy clarions as men’s rearisen from a sleep that was death
And kindled to life that was one with the world’s and with thine? hast thou set not the whole world free?
VI
For the breath of thy lips is freedom, and freedom’s the sense of thy spirit, the sound of thy song,
Glad god of the north-east wind, whose heart is as high as the hands of thy kingdom are strong,
Thy kingdom whose empire is terror and joy, twin-featured and fruitful of births divine,
Days lit with the flame of the lamps of the flowers, and nights that are drunken with dew for wine,
And sleep not for joy of the stars that deepen and quicken, a denser and fierier throng,
And the world that thy breath bade whiten and tremble rejoices at heart as they strengthen and shine,
And earth gives thanks for the glory bequeathed her, and knows of thy reign that it wrought not wrong.
VII
Thy spirit is quenched not, albeit we behold not thy face in the crown of the steep sky’s arch,
And the bold first buds of the whin wax golden, and witness arise of the thorn and the larch:
Wild April, enkindled to laughter and storm by the kiss of the wildest of winds that blow,
Calls loud on his brother for witness; his hands that were laden with blossom are sprinkled with snow,
And his lips breathe winter, and laugh, and relent; and the live woods feel not the frost’s flame parch;
For the flame of the spring that consumes not but quickens is felt at the heart of the forest aglow,
And the sparks that enkindled and fed it were strewn from the hands of the gods of the winds of March.
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