Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gathering the Fragments, Beautifully

Blue Ruins, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 24"
private collection, Arvada, Colorado


...Let’s buy some toy soldiers
and melt them with glass.

Let’s burn up the armies
that have never loved us. Let’s

give the sun all our money
and pay it never to return.

Let’s sing to the moon
All day and the stars all night

so that they never go dark. Let’s
laugh at the clouds until they rain

gray with anger and thunder
from gray embarrassment.

Let’s paint the hospitals with milk

and the funeral homes with tears

and the sky some color

other than blood.

Let’s place candles
in the bullet holes of the Earth

and snuff the flames out

only when we have finished
writing our poetry....

--from "Lorca in Fragments" by Oakley C. Merideth

A lyrical to-do list, Oakley, one in which the priorities make so much sense. First things first. Poetry before the political, always. Then again, the two do not have to contradict each other, when performed with grace. And this is such a graceful homage to Lorca. I always take pleasure in the way your poems move from one image into the next, a blossom of meaning opening, subtly, almost imperceptibly, the way a flower opens to the sun.

As I'm sure many of you know, last month was National Poetry Month in the United States. And, at the end of that month my son learned that his poem "Vulgar Latin" received Honorable Mention in the undergraduate Academy of American Poets Prize competition at The University of New Mexico. Two undergraduates were recognized--Oakley, and Katlyn McKinney, who took first prize honors (and a cash prize) for her poem "Water Passing." Both poets will receive an official acknowledgment from the Academy of American Poets this summer.

This news of Oakley's latest literary honor satisfies me. Even the fact that such a competition exists, one which encourages young people to develop their gifts, satisfies me. Our lives are often bereft of poetry. We hunger for it. And it is my pleasure to offer up this tasty morsel, Oakley's honored poem:

Vulgar Latin

Some days your mouth
is a birth canal,
stories spilling out
of a child you hardly remember, how
she came out of you
like a full moon
emerging from a broken window,
her face imbuing the drafty room
with a pale light.

She was a January Capricorn
born just an hour or two before
the first papers were whispering
their headlines onto the dark porches
where they had just fallen.

That was the morning
you began to speak a dead language,
your eyes sliding backwards
to peer curiously into your skull
and your tongue free

To form a word you had never encountered:
“Daughter.”

“Daughter.”
Two syllables that fell
onto the hospital floor
and spread outward across the linoleum
like ashes touching a checkerboard
of white and black water.

Some days you clutch
the nearest pieces of furniture
and whisper to yourself
while the rest of the house
is stifled by your voice.

“Daughter…”
some days you say the word vaguely
as if you were recalling the name of a ghost,
and then you stop speaking,
the utterance yielding to silence
like a piano drifting out of tune.

77 comments:

George said...

Two wonderful poems, San, and such a wonderful tribute by you to your son. Personally, I would rather be part of a nation of poets and artists, than a nation of warriors.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

Beautiful. I love poetry for the thoughtfulness of it, the sounds when read aloud which serve to connect us all, and the the way a poet makes me see. Really see.
Your satisfaction is well deserved San. Your son is apparently as beautiful as one of your paintings. Thank you for giving such a gift to the world.

paula said...

very cool for your son thanks for sharing his poem...he's got talent fo sho.

Jeanne said...

Fantastic post! I love the poetry and painting, a beautiful combination. What a talented son you have and what a loving mother you are to showcase his talent. My guess is that it is only the beginning of a rewarding life filled with beautiful words.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, I am so glad you did. Now I found you!!

Jeanne:)

Maggie May said...

Wow...... those poems are very good. Really deep.
Maggie

Nuts in May

Bennie said...

Oakley has a such a clear and imaginative vision of our world, just like his mom. May you both continue to be practical dreamers--exploring and writing your adventures everyday. I'll be sure to meet you wherever you'd like.

Thanks Tiny. Love you everyday!

sukipoet said...

wonderful. amazing poem and congrats to Oakley. Lucky him to grow up in such a talented family! Lucky you to have such a creative son. Long live poets.

SandyCarlson said...

Congratulations to Oakley. I enjoyed both poems so very much. The images in the first filled me with hope. I like the image of putting candles in the bullet holes on the earth.

My hat's off to all of you!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Your poetry sings with lyrical images, Roland

Lori Skoog said...

San...Thanks for posting this poetry. Both are outstanding...what a pleasure to read them.

San said...

George, thanks for visiting. And I completely agree with you.

San said...

Leslie, yes those are the things that make poetry so important.

Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

San said...

Fo sho, Paula. Fo sho.

San said...

Jeanne, thank you for wandering over, with such kind words. Glad to have found you too!

San said...

Maggie, thank you. Very much.

San said...

King, I love you everyday too. And I love that you read this blog, and meet me, always.

San said...

Suki, yes, long live poets. Cheers!

San said...

Roland, it's very nice to have you here. I hope you'll continue to visit.

San said...

Sandy, I found those images very hopeful too, especially the way they were linked. Yes, putting candles in the bullet holes of Earth--beautiful. You would recognize that, wouldn't you?

San said...

Lori, thank you for reading the poems, and acknowledging them here.

~Babs said...

The art, (as always) is gorgeous, and in my mind easily could depict the first poem.

About Oakley's poem:
Doesn't it just feel so good to look at your child who's become even more than you'd ever hoped?
I'm applauding the poet, the poem, and his Mom. All wonderful creations.
(and I see those buttons popping!)

Shrinky said...

I feel we are going to hear a great deal more from Oakley, he has a brilliant future ahead for him. Like his mother, he is a gifted artist, a skillful weaver, blending intricate, colourful images to lift the heart, and haunt the soul. I can't even imaging how proud he must make you - bravo San, what a work in progress to set into the world!

Cathy said...

Like his mother who paints on canvas, Oakley paints his vision with the written word across the page... just beautiful, San. He is his mother's son. Congrats to Oakley.

San said...

Babs, the buttons popped a little more after reading your generous comment.

Thank you!

San said...

Shrinky, that's quite a compliment coming from a skillful word-weaver such as yourself.

Thank you for your well-wishing.

San said...

Cathy, all of us mothers love to see our children's unique gifts unfold. You are certainly in that company. Thank you.

Kim said...

San, you have every reason to be proud of this young man of yours. The poetry is outstanding and the thoughtfulness is so much what this world needs. I, for one, feel so good knowing Oakley and others like him care so much, seek so much and share so much...and that they are the future of this world! Gentle creatives hold the power!

Thank you so much for sharing this part of your private world.

Oaks said...

Hey mom, great post.
Hope things are working out up there.
Love,
Oakley

Raven said...

Wow! The apple hasn't fallen far from the creativity tree. What a gift your son has! You must be radiating pride - and well you should. Congratulations to him of the honor he is receiving. It is clearly much deserved.

Love your painting, as always, too...

Daryl said...

Talented offspring .. no surprises .. genes rich in talent started this and it will grow and blossom on its own with the knowledge of how nurturing yields such talent, such beauty

Stephanie said...

Wonderful Works! Thank you for sharing.

jsd said...

Beautiful poetry, a beautiful description of poetry. There's a power and rawness to poetry, when done without fear; an exposure of both the world and the poet.

San said...

Kim, I agree: It's great to know that such young people, including your own daughter, hold the future.

San said...

Hi Oaks. I'm glad you liked the post. Up here we're having high winds and a light jacket is required. Go figure. The weather's always a little nicer where you are.

San said...

Raven, yes, I admit I have a measure of price. :)

Thank you for noticing the painting too.

San said...

JS: Beautifully put. The power and the rawness, when done without fear. YES.

San said...

Stephanie, thank you for visiting. So much.

Paul Merrill said...

Love your paintings and your site! Glad you found me via "Crumbs from the Corner". And I'm glad I found you.

San said...

Hey Paul, I'm glad you took the scenic route here. Please visit again.

San said...

Daryl, your comment disappeared for a while. What's up with the blogger software? Oh well, it came into my email some time ago and didn't appear on the blog until now. It was well worth the wait. Thank you!

jbkrost said...

Outstanding....
the work and the words
jb

Sparkling Red said...

Thank you. I was craving poetry today. How did you know?

Maggie Neale said...

Oh San, terrific poems by your son, sensitive and worldly, nice flow and capture. Like your take on them also. Great for you all!

Terresa said...

Your son is an incredible poet. The first two lines grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

I fully agree with you, that "Our lives are often bereft of poetry. We hunger for it."

May we do our part to encourage poetry everywhere, in life.

Dave King said...

The acrylic is gorgeous and the Lorca stunning. What a feast for the visitor you have here!

lime said...

congratulations to oakley. how marvelous to have such creativity in your family. you who paints such vivid images splashed with such color and oakley who uses words like you use acrylics. well done!

Akelamalu said...

Lovely poems San, thankyou for sharing them. :)

bfarr said...

Thanks for stopping by PCADP. You have a very creative and colorful blog here.

I have been told that photo looks like I was in the middle of a card accident. Nope. Only a lot with parking problems.

San said...

JB, I'm so glad you've begun visiting. Thank you.

San said...

Spark, after all you've been through lately, who wouldn't be salivating for the stuff?

San said...

Maggie, I love the way you've described the poems as "sensitive and worldly." Yes, that fits.

San said...

Terresa, he does have a way with opening lines. :)

I'm so glad you're in deep in the poetry cause.

San said...

Dave, yours is a feast of a comment. Thank you!

San said...

Michele, you know all about talented families. And colorful families.

San said...

Thanks, Akelamalu.

San said...

Well, Bfarr, it's quite an arresting photo. Thank you for visiting.

Carol said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful poetry of your aware and talented son, San. Reading these raw and graceful words, I feel hope. Ahhhhh...

La Dolce Vita said...

what an amazing poet your son Oakley is! his words create such vivid image in my mind, this is a wonderful tribute and congratulations to him on such recognition. imaginative word master that he is!

San said...

Carol, "raw and graceful." Yes, we need that, don't we?

San said...

La Dolce Vita, it's so nice to see you here again. Thank you for your wonderfully kind words.

Jingle said...

thank you for sharing a talented poet...your son is cool.
so are you.
Happy Wednesday!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

San, so nice to see you!!! And what an extraordinary poet your son is! Very much worthy of the honor bestowed upon him. You must be extremely proud! I know I would be. I adore both poems, and look forward to hearing more of Oakley in the future...and I suspect that HE will shine like a star in the universe of poetic...and put to shame planetary prose :-) The painting is simply exquisite, San! I love it! ~Janine XO

Tammie Lee said...

your painting is wonderful San.and your sons poem is a wonderful thing. Congratulations!

San said...

Jingle, you wrote the book on cool.

San said...

Janine, I like that turn of phrase--"planetary prose." And of course your lush compliments. YUM.

San said...

Tammie, thank you. Much.

murat11 said...

Gorgeous poems in tandem with the wonderfully ironic "Blue" Ruins. Thassa lush crimson tide there, cousin. Lovely to think of the ruin of blue yielding such plenty.

Anna said...

Hey San thanks for sharing these wonderful poems. I am not every poetic person, but I actually enjoyed reading the Vulgar Latin. Hope all is well San, Anna :)

San said...

Paschal, you would get the irony of the ruins, wouldn't you? And Oakley and I appreciate your compliment.

San said...

Anna, you are far more poetic than you realize. Yes, things are well here.

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Congratchewlayshuns to yor boy for gettin recognishun for his poetry. Talent an artyness must run in the famly!

San said...

Oh, Bob, that's quite a compliment, coming from a cosmopolitan bear of such an artful lineage as yours. Thank you!

Meg Wolff said...

Wow, what an amazing poem to you San! What a talent and sensitivity Oakley has. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I've missed reading your blog, San. I've been busy with my upcoming cookbook, but I'm officially back to blogging. xo

Preity Angel... said...

San, I hope you still remember me.. just wanted to let you know that I am blessed with baby girl and we named her Olivia..

San said...

Meg, I'm excited about your new cookbook, but I AM glad you're back in blogland.

San said...

Oh, Angel, that is some of the sweetest news I've heard. Congratulations to you and your husband.

SabiSunshine said...

Hi San

where are you nowaday..? Missing you Dear!

Love
Sunshine