my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Poems

~Mary Oliver
The grass never sleeps.
Or the roses.
Nor does the lily have a secret eye that shuts until morning.

Jesus said, wait with me. But the disciples slept.

The cricket has such splendid fringe on its feet,
and it sings, have you noticed, with its whole body,
and heaven knows if it ever sleeps.

Jesus said, wait with me. And maybe the stars did, maybe
the wind wound itself into a silver tree, and didn't move,
the lake far away, where once he walked as on a
blue pavement,
lay still and waited, wild awake.

Oh the dear bodies, slumped and eye-shut, that could not
keep that vigil, how they must have wept,
so utterly human, knowing this too
must be a part of the story.
“Gethsemene” by Mary Oliver from Thirst Beacon Press, 2006.

The Grand Miracle
          ~Mary Karr

for John Holohan

Jesus wound up with his body nailed to a tree—
a torment he practically begged for,   
or at least did nothing to stop. Pilate

watched the crowd go thumbs down   
and weary, signed the order.   
So centurions laid Jesus flat

on a long beam, arms run along the crosspiece.   
In each palm a long spike was centered,   
a stone chosen to drive it. (Skin

tears; the bones start to split.)   
Once the cross got propped up,   
the body hung heavy, a carcass—

in carne, the Latin poets say, in meat.   
(—The breastbone a ship’s prow . . .)   
At the end the man cried out

as men cry. (Tears that fill the eyes   
grow dark drop and by drop: One   
cries out.) On the third day,

the stone rolled back, to reveal   
no corpse. History is rife
with such hoaxes. (Look at Herodotus.)

As to whether he multiplied
loaves and fishes, that’s common enough.   
Poke seed-corn in a hole and see if more corn

doesn’t grow. Two fish in a pond   
make more fishes. The altar of reason
supports such extravagance. (I don’t even know

how electricity works, but put trust   
in light switches.) And the prospect   
of love cheers me up, as gospel.

That some creator might strap on
an animal mask to travel our path between birth   
and ignominious death—now that

makes me less lonely. And the rising up
at the end into glory—the white circle of bread   
on the meat of each tongue that God

might enter us. For 2000-near years   
my tribe has lined up at various altars,
so dumbly I open this mouth for bread and song.

Mary Karr, “The Grand Miracle” from Viper Rum. Copyright © 1998 by Mary Karr. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Mary Karr has  a reputation for being both "courageous and combative." Her childhood and early adulthood were filled with mental illness (her mother), violence, neglect, and substance abuse(alcoholic father ). She has an interesting essay called Facing Altars, Poetry and Prayer at the Poetry Foundation if you’d like to read more about her.  Here she explains she went from being an agnostic alcoholic to converting to Catholicism. She has what I would describe as a fierce, sometimes disturbing, style of writing that appeals to many.


marie-josé said...

Frankly, I don't know what to make of this poem. I bet it is some kind of search as well, not Wiesel-esque, though. Mary Karr seems to be saying: "God, sometimes you're okay, but sometimes you game sucks." And even at times: "God, where the hell are you?" She is (at least here) certainly disturbing, not at peace with God, not at peace with the concept of faith, not even at peace with herself.

Poetically speaking, the turmoil is well translated.

I may be completely off, but this is how I envision Mary Karr: On the outside, colorful, full of it. Inside, furious ocean waves clashing against each other.

pkcyphert said...

I think your assessment of Mary Karr is quite accurate. I have yet to read anything by Mary Karr that is peaceful . I have accumulated about 6 of her poems and will send them by email to anyone who requests them. I think these are too graphic and/or baffling to post here. Karr is not for the feint hearted. I just ordered her audio book Lit. Here you will find Mary Karr describing Mary Karr and Lit.

Jayne said...

I read Mary Karr's book called "Lit" and it is brutally frank. This is her first poem that I have read. I would say that it is also brutally frank. The death and resurrection of Christ makes no logical sense. Communion for Catholics means that the wine and wafer actually become the literal body and blood of Christ--Transubstantiation. If that isn't brutal, what is? As a former alcoholic, she cuts to the chase and makes her own life and beliefs totally transparent. That takes guts.