17 April 2009

National Poetry Month

One of my favorite poets is Laurence Lerner. Here’s a belated seasonal example:


Three poems for Lent

For forty days, rain. Death of cattle, mud,
Drowned birds, torn trees, dead reptiles — the sky dark
And mankind dead. Weather or sin, the flood,
The hidden mountains, and above all, the ark.
For forty days, Christ in the wilderness,
Tempted, and hungry: stones, still stones, not bread.
Kingdoms, but not for him. Nor in distress
In need of angels in the Devil’s stead.
For forty days this year, in memory,
For Lent, without a luxury.

Like verbs

For days and days… and days it rained. All died,
Birds beasts and cattle, drowned: God’s handiwork
And mankind too. Weather or sin, the flood
Covered the mountains, but held up the ark.
For days and days he walked in the wilderness.
He did not try to change the stones to bread;
He did not ask for kingdoms, would not press
His luck, and leap. And so the Devil fled.
And yearly now we fast in memory,
Yearly give up some luxury,

Like adjectives

Days, forty days, rain, cattle, cattle died,
Birds died drowned beasts wet reptiles torn sky dark
Dead men dead women weather sin death flood
Mountains to water, water to sky, but ark.
Days, days, days, days, Jesus, days, wilderness,
Temptations, stones, still stones, not tempted bread
Not kingdoms, devil. Not, not. Nor unless
Leap angels catching not temptation fled.
So fast this year give up in memory
This year almost necessity,

Like syntax


From A.R.T.H.U.R. The Life and Opinions of a Digital Computer. Picked my copy up in a surplus book store for 99p, I see it now goes for outrageous sums on Amazon. That always saddens me.

© mathew 2017