Thank you for joining us for today’s show, Buddha and Benches; and This Just In: The News—gossip was the original news, which became poetry, the way we “knew” the “news”—gathered to hear it as we do right now, and we’re going to talk about news –news we need and heed, and overlook, news as in, that’s news to me, as in, we didn’t know, and news that’s telling us what we knew–from the Internet—computers and phones and Blackberries—how the news of poetry reaches us in our modern days and ways:
On TV—we’ll talk about Friday Night Lights’s poetry . . . in the newspaper—the story of a guy who uses poetry to save his life . . . books—Breakfast with Buddha . . . benches . . . on your walk–
Candy wrappers—think chocolate . . . Supermarkets . . . Safeway’s tribute . . . the internet . . . news from you, what you send in, listener pilot philosopher Mr. Tripi today. And we’ll hear news music and update you on the news of trees in Central Park, a continuing story on the Poetry Slow Down.
First of all, let’s review the news that comes in over the transom, as they used to say. I look at my messages coming in to me, like the messengers rushing the King in a Shakespeare play, as he stands on the parapet, as Roseannadannadan says, if it’s not one thing it’s another, and it seems to be it’s all the things at once:
Unedited, from my Blackberry, the news just in:
USGS ENS, earthquake, Baja California, 7:33 pm
USGS ENS Earthquake, 5.1 Southern California 5:52 pm
USGS ENS Revised, Baja California
Abingdon Theater Company, Keep American Theater Alive! 3:52 pm
Drive Savers Order Confirmation
Urgent, Stop the Dirty Air Act Senate Vote Coming,
Sierra Club Currents, Protect Appalachian Communities . . . atrocious safety record. . .
Outrage, Grief, and a Time for Action (the oil disaster)
Space.com, Runaway Star Flees Birthplace at Breakneck Speed, Odd Chemical Found Common in our Galaxy, and More . . .
South Korea says North will “pay” for ship sinking
Bret Michales suffers warning stroke
Subject headings of my csumb account, the last hour
Tragedy [this is from a student]
Troubles for me [this is from another student]
It IS like a Shakespeare play, isn’t it, though? The universe is running wild, heavens in tumult, earth a toppling and imploding, as people try to save from impending catastrophe the environment and theater . . . the good everywhere is threatened. I wrote this poem in response to one such news attack: and as I consider how we get our news on the internet, it is funny that even when we write, the internet is giving us feedback, it is always telling me that what I am
saying is not really grammatical, or said right, or even a word, and so my title refers to this snarky little editor in our mental computers:
If Marvelosity Is Not A Word Then How Do You Know What It Means?
On hearing that the Earth
Has five billion years
Left before being extinguished
By its mother star our sun,
Our solar buddy, oh Earth!
This is different from what the astronomers
Predicted yesterday: that in twenty nine years
An asteroid a mile long will hit us surely
And end most of life on earth.
This is different from what James Havelock
Predicts of the billions of lives to be lost
In the next fifty to one hundred years
Due to climate changes we have caused
(When I hear this, I automatically am counting
The years for when my children will still be alive,
Will they be there for this or that cataclysm?).
I get out of the car, holding my coffee cup,
Nursing my headache, it is still early morning,
And I have driven my daughter to school.
I look up at the pine tree next to the house,
And a blue jay is on the branch. As my gaze
Travels up the trunk, up and up, like Jack’s Bean Stalk,
Higher and higher, I see the blue sky framed by branches,
And a little way off, an almost full white moon.
We, humans, may not be perfect. Certainly this morning
I do not feel a good specimen of health or wisdom.
The world all around is at war, and people
Are treated savagely. I myself cannot even prevent
Unkindness nor sorrow common as rain.
We as a species, this generation, ignore the science
And we ignore history and we ignore all the forms of wisdom
That have been built up over time, against all the odds,
All the odds that have ever existed against finding out,
Understanding the complex marvelosity
Of this happening world. It has never been easy to know.
Was it not the Tree of Knowledge from which we were not to eat?
That idea has been around a long time, and yet it took billions of years
For us to develop to the point where we were shaping stories
And inventing ways to count, to see, to express.
Philosophy, science, it was all one. And it came from looking at the sky.
It came from standing on the soil or rock and looking at a tree.
It came from getting wet in the rain. It came from hunger,
Seeing plants grow and figuring out from the moon
When they would grow again.
It is so simple, looking at a pine tree with a blue jay on a branch,
Seeing a white moon in the pale blue morning sky.
Oh earth, we love you so.
We do not want you to die.
Us, yes, it is all right, I do not like it,
And I am finding it hard to bear even one death.
Even in the sunlight golden on the marsh
With the blackbirds on the orange stalk
Their sudden startling red which you see
When they take flight, stopping your heart
Even as your mouth opens in awe,
Opens in rapture,
Sorrow sits on my tongue, it eats at my ear,
And I crumple like a bag, as if I have no bones.
And I cry.
My comfort in any of our deaths
Is that we rejoin our earth,
We become part again of soil and rock and sky,
We become bark and reed and yes, even blackbird wing,
We are the smoke arising from the campfire,
We are the scales of the fish winding its silent way
In the cold clear water that looks gold.
And earth, earth lives, earth is eternal,
Not this tree always, perhaps, but trees like it,
And so I look around this morning,
Too cranky with my headache even to talk,
I look at the leaves, in a green shape
Moving as individual leaves, and as one whole,
I look at the sunlight lighting up each leaf,
I look at the trunks, each so complicated,
And the way each limb goes its own way;
I look at the amazingly different kinds of trees
Which grow on our planet, after a time of nothing but gas,
Then water, and then the miracle of soil, and seeds,
I know nothing about this, I cannot comprehend how we got trees.
How can it be that earth is fated to die,
Like a tree, like any of us?
Like a star? For when our star takes out this earth,
Like a bee stinging, it goes out too, its explosion
Is what will eat us up.
And this makes me realize that I am as sorry
For our sun, nothing is like earth,
But the sunlight, it is our longest happiness.
And now I know, of course, that this light on green blue earth
Is indivisible from the sun, and when we lose the sun,
We lose the earth, and it all is back to one starry, starry night,
Full of more suns and probably earths everywhere.
But I wonder, I can’t help wonder, if the Universe
Has anything like regret, or wistfulness,
In a Plan in which this earth was grown, this particular earth,
This way of living beauty,
And will disappear, or become like Mars, a rock
With a memory of seas and who knows, fish and the dragonfly.
c Barbara Mossberg 2009
I wrote this poem in response to one such internet news attack: and as I consider how we get our news on the internet, our own computer is giving us feedback as we write, is it always telling us that what we are saying is not really grammatical, or said right, or even a word? You’ve gotten these messages, right? Or is is just me, who is corrected curtly. That’s your opinion, I say, you interfering little busy body, leave my diction alone –and so my title If Marvelosity Is Not A Word Then How Do You Know What It Means? refers to this snarky little editor in our computers trying to keep us on the right path, or what Emily Dickinson refers to as Prose, a way of being shut up, silenced in our true poetic voice. But poets want to have their say, their way with our words, and somehow, even though it’s not RIGHT, we hear, we get it, we understand, beyond grammar, through loop holes in language where meanings shimmer, and we hear a poem so improbably making sense of this world.
I suppose I wanted to share this poem with you today as an example of how we each try to cope with the scary news, personal, global, coming into our brains each minute, news of threats, news of need to organize to fight, with our minds and cash and time and spirit, all that afflicts earth. Poetry is odd this way. On the one hand, think of what our ancestors were dealing with every day, even more daily threats for survival than we have, beasts ready to pounce, diseases and mishaps for which there was no cure, remember there was once a time when there wasn’t even a calendar to consult, or roads, we had to make it all up, there was violence, there was pain, there was fear, few people made it past infancy, women were not expected to survive childbirth, and in the midst of all this, someone is looking around, and thinking of how to express the sound of wind, the color of leaf, the heart’s happy panic at being loved. Think of Shakespeare, a time before coffee, antibiotics, well, I don’t know, central heat, AC, gelato, what comes to mind that we have now that Shakespeare did not? But whatever life was like, and suffering and confusion and busyness, someone was counting feet of words, thinking of how words sound, trying to give us some kind of news we need, pressed and stressed
from life’s roses as well, an attar—as Emily Dickinson said, such fragrance, such knowledge of earth, such news, is the gift of screws, poet’s hard work. I have news of this hard work sent to my email, with a poem by Poetry Slow Down listener pilot poet Charles Tripi. He sent a poem entitled The Big Empty, and I thought I would include it today, so I copied it onto my computer to read you. I wrote him to ask him a question about punctuation in a line, because he’s very precise about punctuation, and in this case there wasn’t any, and I wanted to make sure I had it right or was reading it right, and he wrote back a few times, and so it was all clear, and then he wrote back with a revision, although that line was not touched, so I went through it to make the changes in this word and that phrase, for the version I was going to share with you, to make sure it was the right version in the poet’s mind, and then this morning’s news just in, I received another version, so I went back and rewrote those lines, I remember Mark Twain once wrote, I spent the morning putting in a comma, and the afternoon, taking it out, Mr. Tripi making me think of the struggle to find the right word, that way of honoring and holding fast to a conviction of the importance of how something is said, and changing it, and changing it back, and changing it again, but how do we know, I liked the original, I won’t lie to you, I liked the second and third versions, I like this one, so I’ll leave you in suspense, we’ll be back after our break from our good sponsors of KRXA 540AM Think for Yourself radio news, for the news we need, you’re with me, Professor Barbara Mossberg, on the Poetry Slow Down
Welcome back to the Poetry Slow Down, KRXA 540AM, thank you for joining me, Professor Barbara Mossberg, and we’re hearing from listener Mr. Charles Tripi, who sent me a poem, and sent it again, slightly revised, and sent it again, changing it back, mostly, and perhaps we can’t really tell the difference in total impact, this word or that, but what we garner is the process, we can just know that the poet is strict, arresting each word, each word is under suspicion, on probation, and the poet is lurking, just watching and waiting to see if there’s any funny business going on—I was reading the Carmel Pine Cone this morning, an amazing paper which every week has at least one story about the fate of a tree in the community, and dog, and wine, neighborly malfeasance, and a poetry reading, and one of its essential features which has a dedicated following is the verbatim police log. One of the items was this, I quote: “During routine patrol near Carmel High School, two juvenile students were seen smoking cigarettes. [I break in here to comment,There are murders and attacks and wallet and art thefts occasionally in these pages but mostly the reports detail calls occasioned by wind in the willows, raccoons on the roof, worries over someone not answering the phone, driveway squabbles, a lens into the serious soul of humanity in our daily lives.] They were detained, cited and released to the school principal. This case was cleared by arrest and cite, and forwarded to the juvenile courts.” Well that’s the poet, detaining and questioning the behavior of this word or phrase—I think of Emily Dickinson, for example, changing her poems, multiple versions side by side even scholars today cannot decide on, we quote and recite different versions of even her most
famous poems, I’m lecturing at Oxford University this August on one poem and it has two versions, no one agrees which is the final or right one, she replaced words, had alternate versions and visions, I’ll tell you about it later, Walt Whitman did the same, he was endlessly revising his Leaves of Grass, for decades, scholars don’t even agree that he made the best changes, stop Walt, leave it alone, he even said to himself, give it a rest, in some cases critics prefer the originals, and I have poems on which the sun never sets, every time I type them I change them, even if I wrote them originally twenty years ago, oh you might not be able to tell or think it matters, and you are probably right, but how I sweat it, this word or that, out of you for forever, beyond the shelflife of a bone, something permanent that can be changed. The revisions Mr. Tripi sends me, this is news in itself, creation’s constant revision as earth revises mountain ranges and seabeds and valley floors, a poem, a comma, a word, a phrase, language’s landscape of living cognites, a poem in the making, out of a respect for trying to get it right, and you don’t know until you see it and hear it and live with it, and it’s still always under arrest: here it is—Chuck Tripi’s The Big Empty, I won’t say it’s the final word:
The Big Empty
There’s this red faced killjoy in the gym,
braying his opinion and you can’t believe
he still exists. There are cutters in line.
Even on Sunday, engines of elbows
poking you aside, fights for a parking spot,
bad weather on the megalithic holy days,
the vales of tears the bliss to come
beyond imagining. There is enough,
It seems you are in luck; you can forget,
And this is how you know, You can go back.
truth to the contrary
notwithstanding, there’s heaven on earth,
From more than this you can’t return
remembering, or talking, anyway; first loves,
there’s an element of sunrise on the water,
calm or turbulence, a nice apartment, all beyond the happy birthdays . After
having everything, enlightenment,
contentment, even after this
there is a big emptiness, you know?
There is here, this side of the Big Empty,
love and begetting, falling down, getting up, pain
and forgetting, from zero to now.
— Chuck Tripi, spring, 2010
I was very interested that Chuck is worrying this poem like prayer beads, because I just finished the book Breakfast with Buddha, by Roland Merullo, and it’s about this guy who has “everything,” as he tells us, contentment, and he does not see it as “a big empty,” but his parents have died in a car crash in North Dakota, and his New Jersey sister whom he considers a flake convinces him that he has to drive her latest loser boyfriend, a thick muscled man in a maroon dress and shaved head, to the family homestead, because she’s going to leave her part of the estate to him to open up a retreat center—she says he is a spiritual master—and our narrator, an editor of a New York publishing house– is beyond skeptical. He has a perfect life. As they drive from New Jersey to North Dakota, the topic of Mr. Tripi’s poem buds and blooms, as Otto opens himself to “the big empty,” and begins to question his rider—even though he constantly “edits” and “corrects” the English: why is there war? The spiritual master/boyfriend/loser Rinpoche says, “you should try not to war.” “Even not to have violence in your thoughts is important.” Otto says “okay then why are there evil people in the world? “
Wisdom is told to us in a kind of anti-poetry, English by someone who speaks 11 languages, Volya Rinpoche, and is just getting across by approximating the gist of things, but the narrator—who also speaks in anti-poetry, insisting on being “Mr. Ordinary”–a “normal guy,” “my name is Otto Ringling (no circus jokes, please), who gets it, and I won’t tell you the ending, but this is a lovely book I think about and asked my husband and son to read and will include in a course I am teaching this July for a Ph.D. program on ethical and creative leadership, and what I wanted to share with you is the role of poetry in this “news” that is brought to us by a writer on the topic of how we get our “news” about our lives, what provokes or invokes his thinking, what stirs his knowing, is seen not only in his epigraphs, from Dante’s Paradiso, and Whitman, big clues, but in his list for us at the end of the book on what led to his own wisdom in writing this book: the writings of Thomas Merton, whom we quote on this Poetry Slow Down, a French playboy-turned-monk-turned poet influenced by . . .William Blake. In fact, his experience with poetry and becoming a monk are inextricably related:
At Columbia University he was transformed under the influence of teachers of literature, including Mark Van Doren, Daniel C. Walsh, and Joseph Wood Krutch; he had a dramatic conversion experience and he completed his masters thesis, “On Nature and Art in William Blake. ”—after teaching at Columbia University Extension and at St. Bonaventure’s College, Olean, New York, Merton entered the monastic community of the Abbey of Gethsemani at Trappist, Kentucky; his autobiography was published under the title The Seven Storey Mountain (1948) and became a best-seller and a classic. He was one of the first Catholics to commend the great religions of the East to Roman Catholic Christians in the West and ironically died by accidental electrocution in Bangkok, Thailand, while attending a meeting of religious leaders on 10 December 1968, just 27 years to the day after his entrance into the Abbey of Gethsemani.
We are going to talk about Thomas Merton next week. Other writers Murillo lists are “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck, a title from the Robert Frost poem, “The Real Work” by Gary Snyder, one of our favorite poets, you loved his poem on wildness, many spiritual studies, and “the poetry of Walt Whitman and Anna Akhmtova,” and so our show will consider this combination of minds, and perhaps you will read Breakfast with Buddha, send a thought, a poem, a revision, and this insight today is brought to us from the generous mind of Mr. Charles Tripi, that it is all about revision, and I was struck today, with the revision process, here is a set of words, wait, here it is, no, hold on, it should go like this, the decisions, seemingly small, we each make in our lives, how to go about things, in our thoughts, in our behaviors, we are editors like Otto, we are poets like Charles, making decisions which way to go, revising our lives, our selves. And it seems this is all just part of the whole process. Just before our show started, I check my Blackberry, here: “USGS ENS 201 Revised: MI 2.4 Southern California, Preliminary Earthquake Report, This event has been revised.” This event has been revised: what, the earthquake? OK, yes, perhaps our understanding of what has happened has been revised, and certainly, the earth itself is being revised, as I speak, by its Creator, the Universe is saying, wait, hold on, ba bam, and changing it up, a little, a lot, it’s always going on, it’s jazz, its geo-riff, it’s ecorap, this same old same old story, it’s what’s happening, we’re at the Poetry Slow Down, at KRXA 540AM, with Professor Barbara Mossberg, back after the break, with Benches and Buddha.
That was . . .Welcome back to the Poetry Slow Down, KRXA 540AM, you’re here with Professor Barbara Mossberg, my students just graduated yesterday, they call me Dr. B, I am so sad to lose them, I thought of a plan this morning, maybe I could fail them, so they would have to stay, I have worked with some of them for four years, six years, I know you’re saying, hey poet,—kiss the joy as it flies, William Blake’s advice you’re always quoting: kiss the joy as it flies and you will live in eternity’s paradise, ah yes, poetry comes to the
fore. I have to let them go. Poets teach us this, not only to get over the transience, but to kiss it, bless it, embrace it, the transitory, Mark Epstein, I can love how the glass is if I know it is ALREADY broken, I can appreciate how precious it is, what does Mary Oliver say, in Snow Geese (Why I Wake Early, p. 34), “Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!/What a task/to ask/of anything, or anyone, yet it is ours, and not by the century or the year, but by the hours. . . .”, what Li Young Lee in Some Blossoms describes, buying peaches at a roadside stand, in fact, our task to love what is lovely and will not last, is understood as our love for things must be so encompassing that we take in not only the object of desire but the whole picture, the fact that it is lovely and the fact it will not, cannot last:
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
and in fact, the poet Charles Wright takes this so much to heart that he describes the phenomenon whereby when we do love our lives this completely, exactly how things are,
|And now it’s my turn, same river, same hard-rock landscape
Shifting to past behind me.What makes us leave what we love best?
What is it inside us that keeps erasing itself
When we need it most,
That sends us into uncertainty for its own sake
And holds us flush there
until we begin to love it
And have to begin again?
What is it within our own lives we decline to live
Whenever we find it,
making our days unendurable,
And nights almost visionless?
I still don’t know yet, but I do it.
from A Journal of the Year of the Ox
The Year of the Ox is 1985, which was (as he notes in the course of the poem) Charles Wright’s fiftieth year.
When we love wholly and completely, the peach flesh, the dust, the light, the shade, our desire, our ends, take it utterly into ourselves, devour it, that is exactly when we pick up and flee—I don’t know why I do this but I do it, he says—why we must leave “what we love best,” when we love it– So poets give us this inside scoop, news we need . . . —one of the great themes of literature, our coping with the fleeting nature of life, whether it’s a star making its getaway or earth’s projected end by our star’s ashes, ashes, we all fall down, or our students graduating, what’s ending, what’s beginning, what’s the difference? Who’s on watch? Our poets, slowed down, reporting live the news of fleeing, fleeting nature of what we love, we find such poetry in all the places we go. For example, at Whole Foods, I buy a chocolate bar for my husband, dark chocolate and orange, and it says, “love poem inside,” I’m not kidding,
and on the wrapper, there’s a poem by Alexander Pushkin, that’s right, the Russian poet, in a poem called A Magic Moment I Remember, and maybe I’m being too literal here, but I read this, how could I not, it was printed on the chocolate wrapper, “freeze-dried orange peel enveloped in Belgian dark chocolate crafted from African cocoa beans” and as I’m munching, (oh I forgot to tell you, I opened it for him and before I realized it I had eaten half of it) I read it as an ode to this chocolate bar, here are the lines: A magic moment I remember: I raised my eyes and you were there.” Yes, that’s the chocolate. “A fleeting vision, the quintessence/of all that’s beautiful and rare.” Yes, it’s a
fleeting vision because it’s disappearing as I’m reading, one minute it was there, now it’s half gone: “I pray to mute despair and anguish/to vain pursuits the world esteems, Long did I near your soothing accents, long did your features haunt my dreams.
Time passed. A rebel storm-blast scattered/the reereies that once wre mine/And I forgot your soothing acents, your features gracefully divine. //In dark days of reforced retirement/I gazed upon grey skies above with no ideals to inspire me, no one to cry for, love,
There came a moment of renaissance, I looked up—you again are there, a fleeting vision, the quintessence of all that’s beautiful and rare.”
There is a certain symmetry of Pushkin and chocolate made from African beans, since he himself was descended from African Russians. He was the descendant of the African prince Abram Petrovich Gannibal, who was educated as a military engineer, and eventually became general-en-chef, responsible for the building of sea forts and canals in Russia. He was a tutor to Peter the Great. Pushkin was born in 1799, and is considered the greatest Russian Russian poet, the founder of Russian literature. Our daughter Sophia took Russian literature at Columbia her first term of college and her favorite writer was Pushkin, for his work Eugein Onegin, which he published serially from 1825 to 1832—sort
of like Dickens in England, or our family watching Friday Night Lights, waiting impatiently for each new installment . . . that is how central he made poetry in the nation’s capital. Born in Moscow, Pushkin published his first poem at the age of fifteen, and was widely recognized by the literary establishment by the time of his graduation from the Imperial Lyceum. He became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals; in the early 1820s he clashed with the government, and was exiled in southern Russia. It was when he was under surveillance of government censors and unable to travel or publish at will, that he wrote his most famous play, Boris Godunov, but
could not publish it until years later. Pushkin and Natalya Goncharova, married in 1831, became regulars of court society and ironically, while Pushkin is known and celebrated by the later bolsheveicks as championing the Russian underdog, they fell into greater and greater debt by this high life, and there were rumors that his wife was involved in a scandalous affair. The demoralized Pushkin was so crazed he challenged her alleged lover, George d’Anthes, to a duel. He died of wounds two days later. at 37, wait–the same age as—Poetry Slow Down community, raise your hands, you know! Mr. Egner from Texas! What do you say? Yes! An I Slow Down for Poetry bumper sticker for you–The same age as Bobbi Burns was when he died
(25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) —also in debt and beset by love and lady scandals and woes—and considered the greatest Scottish poet, and after his death, translated, taught, celebrated and embraced in Russia who took him and his compassion for the underdog and equality to heart —exactly when Pushkin is coming of age. Coincidences? So, African chocolate wrapped in African Russian Pushkin poetry, and scientists tell us chocolate is good for us, we know it’s a potion for love, and poetry is good for us, a potion for love, ask Hallmark, here we just eliminate the middle man, the lover, and we go straight to the chocolate bliss itself, poetry and chocolate.
Meanwhile, Safeway food store has a section selling gardening supplies and flowers, and over it is an arch with foot-high lettering, Poetry in Bloom. Big Sur Baker and Restaurant, “come to your senses +slow down/bill of fare, may-be, may-be not,” Walking on a trail, we sit on a bench, under a eucalyptus tree, with words of poetry etched on a plaque, “ashes rest beneath a tree while spirit soars higih and free,” for Gerald Thomas, 1931-2003. Benches everywhere with words, as we sit down, slow down, for news from each other about the big picture meanings, as the seat or spring of poetry reminds me, we get news from newspapers, too, and here’s an article about a man who uses poetry, sonnets in fact, for keeping himself in shape, in fact, alive, a Mr. O bench pressing to iambic pentameter. Opening a newspaper, we see the headline, Poetry in Motion, and it’s by Robert Oliphant, who describes himself as an exercise coward. At 71, his Kaiser internist tells him he’s got to exercise or die. He’s helped because, five years earlier, at 66, to try to stave off dementia, he memorized 20 Shakespeare sonnets. He says, “I could now keep track of my repetitions rhythmically by linking them to the iambic rhythm of each line. So off I went, huffing and puffing to the
likes of, let ME not To the marriage Of true MINDS and two and three and four admit impediments loeo ISs not LOVWE and two and three and four and.” “Resistance training, stretching, treadmilling, stationery biking, morning walking—what I’d stumbled on was a way o fpujtting the rhythmical barking of an Elizabethan drill instructor into my head as a companion. This was just the edge I needed to get me started on a long-range exercise program that helped me lose 80 pounds over the next two years . . .and keep nearly all of it off. Based on my experience (I’m now 85), I strongly feel that my fellow exercise cowards should give my approach an honest try, be it with Shakespeare sonnets or
other memory-friendly poems.” What about it, Poetry Slow Down community? Isn’t this the news we need? Think of Dr. Williams, “my heart rouses to bring you news . . . “–“it is difficult to get the news from despised poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” Who knew that possibly what Dr. Williams meant is not only the content of the poetry news, but its form, its rhyme, its rhythm, that perhaps our hearts as well as our minds literally need to pulse. We see this on the tv series my whole family loves—it was a book, then a film, now on Friday nights, 8 pm, as we slow down for Friday Night Lights, the role of poetry for a high school Texas football team—it’s true Tim Riggins throws The Odyssey out the window as useless in his life—but from the coach’s incantation, Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose, which the players chant to the State Championship—to player Smash Williams’ wild interpretations of poetry in English class and spontaneous poetry, as unofficial team chaplain on and off the field, rousing the hearts. Poetry’s pulse is the mind’s chant, and perhaps the body’s heart muscle, the poets saying, we’ll pump . . . you up . . . . and that’s what we’re doing, right here, right now, you and me, at our Poetry Slow Down, on KRXA 540AM RX, this is Doctor B, with Producer Hal Ginsberg and ______, thank you for listening, for lending your ear, friends, and countrymen, to poetry’s news on the air, if you see joy, give it a kiss for me, and here’s one for you.