Jeremy Felt

3 recent poems

I picked up three poetry collections recently and it didn’t take long to find a poem from each that connected in some way. Here they are.

I read Robert Bly’s Waking from Sleep literally: the process of a human body waking from sleep. I appreciate the “tiny explosions at the waterlines” inside our veins, but my favorite bit is this:

Now we wake, and rise from bed, and eat breakfast!
Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood,
Mist, and masts rising, the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.

Reading it out loud is fun. The collection is Silence in the Snowy Fields and I picked it up because I had seen a snippet of the excellent first poem, Three Kinds of Pleasures.

John Berryman’s World-Telegram, from his Short Poems collection is fascinating and prescient. It walks through all of the headlines and blurbs found in the day’s copy of a newspaper and concludes with:

News of one day, one afternoon, one time.
If it were possible to take these things
Quite seriously, I believe they might
Curry disorders in the strongest brain,
Immobilize the most resilient will,
Stop trains, break up the city’s food supply,
And perfectly demoralize the nation.

That, in 1939. If only he had seen what we see 50, 60, 80 years later!

I picked up this collection because I recently added his Dream Songs to my to-read list, but it wasn’t at the local used book store when I was in the mood to grab a variety of poetry books.

My favorite of the three collections is Richard Murphy’s High Island, and I’ve already read it through almost twice. I don’t remember what led me to him, but shortly after I ran into this article about how his island in Ireland is/was for sale.

His Corncrake, an ode—or complaint—to a corn crake, a bird unfamiliar to me, is my favorite so far and starts with:

Petty boss of a ditch,
why so much energy and such a boring song?
Surely your mate must be tired of hearing
how little you have to say,

Also fun to read out loud.

And if anyone is sitting on a pile of money and wants to watch us move to an isolated island off the west coast of Ireland, Ardoileán may still be for sale.

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