To occasions, when we’re knocked down, low, heavy heart, how we have it in us to do so, how we’re called on to do so, called for, and what poetry has to do with it. A rousing show, to lift, hoist, heave us aloft–down to earth wisdom from THE PoetrySlowDown with Professor Mossberg, “the news we need, the news we heed, the news without which men die miserably every day” (and we won’t let that happen, ever). And on this note we sing of Leonard Cohen, a supermoon pulling our heart’s tides.
When/where/how: Sunday Noon-1 pm PST, radiomonterey.com, podcast 24/7 at
barbaramossberg.com. Produced by Zappa Johns, our own Mr. Z,
And we begin with this question of Elvis, are you lonesome, tonite? Steve Martin ends his great play, Picasso at Lapin Agile, based on a real place in Montmartre, Picasso and Einstein dueling over who is more important to the 20th century, and he ends the argument with Elvis loping in, laconic, laid back, stating his desire to address people’s loneliness, and it’s his name in the skies that carry the day, in Martin’s vision as a philosopher . . . music, language that brings us together, that’s our show~
Here’s a trailer of how a handful of words transform my day.
Walk with your heart lifted, my acupuncturist tells me, as I limp on my cane out of his office, back to the waiting room, in the middle of my life, when I’ve lost my way. This image of my heart held in its skeleton basket inhabits me. I not so much straighten as rear back, unfurl my curled self like a fern, recoiling cobra-like, lift my chin towards sky that lifts planets and clouds, meteors and comets, stars and rain, kite, heron, dragonfly, escaped balloon, leaping salmon and fox, and now the flag of my head, my ears and cheeks, and nostrils, now my whole heart, rising, flying, floating, suspended and orbiting. I realize I’m no longer leaning on my cane. I hold it out, Fred Astaire, putting on the Ritz, Ritz rocking. In the waiting room I swoop, bow low, and rise, a queen, a crow, lift my foot, now to the side, a little kick, a kick back, a kick back, slide. Do you need help, some one asks. I have been helped, I say, and you can credit poetry, my heart roused. I let slip the cane and stride from the room, walking with my full heart lifted, erect as royalty, as Amelia Bedelia. Evolution, and I’m onto the next stage that takes place in the skies, wings. (© Barbara Mossberg 2015 from “Flying Under Oath”)
Tennyson’s “Ulysses:” “come, my friends, tis not too late to seek a newer world,” and he wants to get back in the fray, because it’s the fray that’s the life, not–by definition–the peaceful ending. Ulysses’ nightmare is “not to shine in use.” He rallies his former crew to go once more into the spray, and the operative words, it seems to me, are “come, my friends.” We can’t do this without each other. In crisis, we find that we are not alone. We seek and reach for each other, with poetry. With poetry, we find each other. And for that it’s never ending and never too late. Thoreau said we can’t find ourselves unless we are first lost. Dante “finds” himself lost, in dark woods, snarling and fanged beasts blocking his way. And at that moment, who shows up, like Rumi’s “Zero Circle,” running “with stretchers of grace,” but a poet, an epic poet, Virgil. The poet leads him through literal hell to the light. But it’s a companionship that gets them through it. It’s at the point of finding each other we discover we inhabit a newer world. Come, then, friends, we are all in this together (“aint Nobody in the world but you and I”—John Legend):
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.—John Donne
Are You Lonesome Tonite, Elvis
Sister of Mercy, Leonard Cohen,
The Impossible Dream, Man of La Mancha
Halleluiah, Leonard Cohen
The Music Box, Mariah Carey
Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Simon and Garfunkle
You’ll Never Walk Alone, Carousel
All of Me, John Legend
You and I, John Legend
© Barbara Mossberg 2016