Tag Archives: poetry

Poem of the Week: Bach and My Father by Paul Zimmer via Poetry Mistress Alison

Bach and My Father, by Paul Zimmer

Six days a week my father sold shoes
to support our family through depression and war,
nursed his wife through years of Parkinson’s,
loved nominal cigars, manhattans, long jokes,a
never kissed me, but always shook my hand.

Once he came to visit me when a Brandenburg
was on the stereo. He listened with care—
brisk melodies, symmetry, civility, and passion.
When it finished, he asked to hear it again,
moving his right hand in time. He would have
risen to dance if he had known how.

“Beautiful,” he said when it was done,
my father, who’d never heard a Brandenburg.
Eighty years old, bent, and scuffed all over,
just in time he said, “That’s beautiful.”

Click here for more information about Paul Zimmer.

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Poem of the Week: Voyage by Tony Hoagland via Poetry Mistress Alison

Voyage, by Tony Hoagland

I feel as if we opened a book about great ocean voyages
and found ourselves on a great ocean voyage:
sailing through December, around the horn of Christmas
and into the January Sea, and sailing on and on

in a novel without a moral but one in which
all the characters who died in the middle chapters
make the sunsets near the book’s end more beautiful.

And someone is spreading a map upon a table,
and someone is hanging a lantern from the stern,
and someone else says, “I’m only sorry
that I forgot my blue parka; It’s turning cold.”

Sunset like a burning wagon train
Sunrise like a dish of cantaloupe
Clouds like two armies clashing in the sky;
Icebergs and tropical storms,
That’s the kind of thing that happens on our ocean voyage —

And in one of the chapters I was blinded by love
And in another, anger made us sick like swallowed glass
& I lay in my bunk and slept for so long,
I forgot about the ocean,
Which all the time was going by, right there, outside my cabin window.

And the sides of the ship were green as money,
and the water made a sound like memory when we sailed.

Then it was summer. Under the constellation of the swan,
under the constellation of the horse.

At night we consoled ourselves
By discussing the meaning of homesickness.
But there was no home to go home to.
There was no getting around the ocean.
We had to go on finding out the story
by pushing into it —
The sea was no longer a metaphor.
The book was no longer a book.
That was the plot.
That was our marvelous punishment.

For more information about Tony Hoagland, please read his obituary.

Thanks to Alison McGhee for sharing these beautiful poems. WebsiteBlogFacebook page@alisonmcghee

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