HERE FOR THE PRESENT

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”―Thornton Wilder

“Wonderful to be here”—Walt Whitman

That’s Thornton Wilder and Walt Whitman, and this is Professor Barbara Mossberg, with Producer Zappa Johns, and you’re at

HERE FOR THE PRESENT, for the Poetry Slow Down, the news you need, the news you heed, the news without which men die miserably every day—a good shoe—if the show fits, hear it! :

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THE DAY’S ON FIRE: It’s for the Birds

In a dark time, the eye begins to see, I meet my shadow

in the deepening shade; I hear my echo in the echoing wood—A lord of nature weeping to a tree. I live between the heron and the wren, beasts of the hill and serpents of the den. What’s madness but nobility of the soul at odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire! I know the purity of despair, my shadow pinned against a sweating wall. That place among the rocks—is it a cave, or winding path? The edge is what I have. A steam storm of correspondences! A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon, and in broad day the midnight come again! A man goes far to find out what he is—death of the self in a long, tearless night, all natural shapes blazing unnatural light. Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire. My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly, keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I? A fallen man, I climb out of my fear. The mind enters itself, and God the mind, and one is One, free in the tearing wind.

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A JUICY SHOW: INK IS DRIPPING FROM MY LIPS/THERE IS NO HAPPINESS LIKE MINE (Mark Strand); TODAY I WAS HAPPY SO I MADE THIS POEM (James Wright); NOW MAY CRIES OUT AGAIN, I’M HERE I’M HERE (Alicia Ostriker)

On this May day, as our on-air show live today from Helsinki celebrates the happiness in the hear and now, with ecopoetry, an anniversary show of poems of juice shared on this show over five years, no, six, no, seven, eight. A JUICY SHOW We’re going to hear how poets define the juice from Robert Herrick, and Gerald Manley Hopkins (“all this juice and all this joy”) to Shakespeare to Pablo Neruda to Gerald Stern to Winston Churchill, with mojo moxie displayed in poems from Emily Dickinson, Grace Paley, Walt Whitman, defiance energy from William Ernest Henley, Albert Goldfarth, C.K. Williams, Timothy Seibles, the sense of fighting exuberant spirit of Rumi, Hafitz, Kabir, our most senior poets weighing in and showing us juice by the quart, Ruth Stone, Stanley Kunitz, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, W. B. Yeats; we’ll hear Mark Strand’s juice unnerving a librarian; we’ll see besieged and beleaguered leaders showing ways of juice including M. L. King, Jr., and we’ll hear Maya Angelou rising, and Nikki Giovanni—the ultimate juice machine—and Thoreau, and even your own Professor B, showing some juice chops as gravity weighs her down (“this is my time now/my baskets/my mysterious flesh”). We have May notes of Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, Jane Hirshfield, Denise Levertov, W.B. Yeats, Naomi Shahib Nye, Antonio Machado, Rilke, David Whyte, William Wordsworth, and more . . . podcast at BarbaraMossberg.com, slowing down and heating it up, with poetry “without which men die miserably every day” (Wm. Carlos Williams). Thank you for joining me and our Producer Zappa Johns, himself live in our Central Coast studios, 10 time zone hours away, but in the miracle and reality of time/space, here we are all together for this one moment, slowing down for poetry, which has always stopped and held time precious. . . podcast anytime it’s morning in your life, and you’re slowing down to make it last. For the news you need, the news you heed, the news “without which men die miserably every day.” No, that is not you: you’ve got poetry, and poetry has your back and deepest interests at heart.

May I have the pleasure of your company, this May morning?

© Barbara Mossberg 2018

CAUCUS FOR THE HEARTS: WHY ART MATTERS TO CONSTANTLY KEEPING THE COUNTRY GREAT

A radio-waving welcome to Congresswoman Pingree, new co-chair of Congress’ Caucus for the Arts; how arts have played key roles in critical legislation for civil and human rights, war and peace, and the environment, including making Presidential reputations for greatness (e.g., Abraham Lincoln). And on the topic of what literary hearts can do for the nation, we explore what they can do for you, specifically, your immortality. O, I don’t mean how artists achieve immortality, but you, actually: your cellular reality. Really, Dr. B? Reading or writing a poem can keep me alive forever? Perhaps! We began to talk in recent shows about the possibility of downloading your consciousness, and you continuing on in digital form, which is, after all, what literature is, a downloading consciousness available forever, as long as time. But I’m also thinking of the news of the immortal jellyfish and its portent for us, and in fact, how the jellyfish’s strategy of infinite existence may describe the process of metaphor, and the existential realities of the metaphoric process. Finally, on the same topic, our show takes up the possible extinction of frogs and toads, long a favorite of literature, and how perhaps now literature can help to save them, not only on the page, in that forever sense, but in their cells, even before lessons of the immortal jellyfish are applied to species. We’ll hear lively earthy poems on frogs and toads by D.H. Lawrence, Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, and Emily Dickinson, and paeans in lyric stories The Wind in the Willows(is it your favorite, too?), Frog and Toad Are Friends, and folk and fairy tales: the princess and the frog, and we tie it all up with happy endings and never endings: happily ever after!

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WHAT IS YOUR RED LETTER DAY? Or, GOODNESS ON THE LOOSE, GOODNESS AT LARGE, and HOW DO WE EVEN KNOW WE ARE ALIVE?

(Would a tree ask this question?) Meanwhile, or is it rather kindwhile, but meanwhile in terms of ways and means, how do we spend our time when things are loosey goosey and goose droppings of news are drooping like rain—here (hear hear!) is the news you need, the news you heed, the news without which men die miserably every day, so says William Carlos Williams, the physician, who would know: poetry’s role in our day, poetry’s say: today, a red letter day, and we’ll talk about what that even means, we have good news, which is how earnest science perseveres to give us facts to live by, to prevent bad news, immediate and longterm; we have news about the diagnosis of the rare Codex (sp?)  disease, in which someone feels slightly dead, not alive, but rather in an afterlife, as if one is not real . . .Poetry can do something about this!–and it occurred to me that this is what Dickinson describes in so many poems, that experience of having died but being there—did she have this? And yet, the wonder about one’s being alive is so human, so lively: it is wonderful, and poetry captures it.

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YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO PRISON—A POEM HAS YOUR BACK

I’M A LONELY STRANGER HERE (Clapton) here there is no place that does not see you (Rilke): YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO PRISON—A POEM HAS YOUR BACK. Yes, there is an epidemic that on the surface seems bewildering, counterintuitive—elderly people committing crimes to get arrested, petty shoplifting—especially women, with children and grandchildren and often spouses, ladies who want to get away—from where they are known but invisible, as they see it—to be actually known—and the only place they can come up with is prison—which turns out to be not only not so bad but a place where they are seen at last. Our shoe today examines how poetic feet can take you away to yourself, how poems can see you, and with poetry, you’ll never walk alone.

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HOW WOULD YOU SAVE YOUR TREE?–THE HOPE IN YOU: ALL IN OUR FUTURE’S HANDS

A shoe for you, kicking up those poetic feet that will lift your spirits, the news you need, the news you heed, the news without which men die miserably every day—so says Dr. William Carlos Williams, and we’ll hear ideas for poems that will save trees by students in the Clark Honors College of the University of Oregon, my ecoliteratis—pre-meds, pre-laws, majors in chemistry, math, music, philosophy, business, physics, journalism, and “undeclared,” who cite chapter and verse for how and why to save a tree, and in the process, and perhaps bees, and heal your wheeze and knees, profess hope in what can happen for our earth, if we but take up the pen and use our words . . . . Thank you for listening to our PoetrySlowDown, broadcasting weekly since 2008, on words that matter, words that reveal what matters, matters requiring words.

© Barbara Mossberg 2018