The warm wind is turning the pages
of the book from poem to poem,
Whitman, then Frost, Snyder, Dickinson, Bly, Crane.
Then, when things get calm, I end
my reading where all the ladders start

hoping to find a way to climb
from the dank darkness of the foul
rag and bone shop of the heart
on rungs of words on yellowed pages,
or whispered from some light high above.

I was sitting outside reading poems and looking for inspiration from The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: A Poetry Anthology. The wind did turn the pages when I set the book down and I glanced at where it had selected poems. Interestingly, the anthology does not include the Yeats poem that gives the collection its title. That poem is “The Circus Animals’ Desertion” which begins with a line much like my reading session – “I sought a theme and sought for it in vain” and ends about the same place that I ended:

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

Lying in the Sun

I almost fall asleep in the backyard
lying on the rattan couch looking up
at layers – leaves, clouds, Sun, blue heaven.
His poem enters and takes me away,
then drops me hard onto my life.

The poem I reference is “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” by James Wright, from his Collected Poems. Most of it has pleasant images – bronze butterfly, green shadow. cowbells in the distance, a field of sunlight – but after all that, his final line is “I have wasted my life.” The poem did enter my mind as I almost napped in the sunlight, feeling somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t accomplishing anything significant that afternoon. Was it just that afternoon?

In Vincent’s Bedroom

at his Yellow House in Arles, France.

Enter through the door to the right.

Door to the left, the guest room,
is prepared for Gauguin – if he visits.

The walls seem skewed – because they are.

vincents room300

The photo here is actually me sitting in a reproduction of Vincent’s room as shown in his painting that was part of an exhibit at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.