OLD DOGS: LEARNING LIFE TRICKS, GOOD NEWS, FROM THE POETS

Chuck Tripi’s poem
Janet’s poem Rumi she sent!

TODAY, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.

Hello everybody~ this is Rumi, speaking of being awake and slowing down, letting the beauty we love, poetry, be what we do, and we’ll hear how this poem ends—what’s at stake if we don’t go back to sleep, on our Poetry Slow Down, KRXA 540AM, Produced here in our Sand City Studios with Sara Hughes, who produces our podcast you can listen to any time and share, at BarbaraMossberg.com, you can hear Commando Hope! And Making Lemonade Out of Life’s Hot Messes, and all the ways poetry can invoke many happy returns in our day! I am your host, Professor Barbara Mossberg, and so happy to be here and that you are here, hear hear!  There is a lot to begin with! If you are on the Monterey Peninsula, we just celebrated the launching of the Millennium Charter High School for Monterey Country, and there are still a few spaces for 9th and 10 grade—gorgeous space for the integration of performing arts and technology, including a tv station, radio, production studios, performance space, I got to hear Red Beans and Rice last night, I performed Emily Dickinson and Keith Decker performed Robert Louis Stevenson. We were both in costume—many layers—I think I shocked if not also worried the crew—I was going from being Professor Mossberg to Emily Dickinson in her kitchen and then dropping the spoon and picking up the pen and the heat, “dare you see a soul at the white heat,” “a woman white to be,” late at night in her room commando headquarters of the immortality project (play Beach Boys)—(I had on academic robe with purple sash, which I then removed to reveal an apron over a bathrobe, which I then removed to reveal a wool black high-necked dress, which I then removed to reveal a lace canopy which I then removed to reveal a sleek tight rocking it white dress with pearls and silk and a bow, and underneath that, well, I am going to leave it to your imagination, there were two more layers to go. My point being that performance is going to be going on there—

There are centers sprouting up everywhere to nourish creativity and the imagination, at Duke University, Johns Hopkins, USC, and Institutes and collaborations with brain science and museums and performing arts, fusing poetry arts, visual and performing arts, neuroscience, and technology—

Do we not all want to matter utterly to our world? Our civic catastrophe is social invisibility, the conviction that we are not known or seen and hence have nothing to contribute, are not needed—which we are, so urgently—so that is what this school is all about, and students can still enroll, it’s in the complex of Monterey Department of Education, the Media Center, and the shenanigans will be on You Tube, we’ll post it on our Facebook page and website.

And next weekend –mark your calendars– is free day at our National Parks, and we’ll talk about the role of poetry in their creation, how this came to be, and on that note, we’ll chat up Gary Snyder whom we are going to have a program about September 7, in Pacific Grove, at the little house in Jewell Park, and we chose him as an heir to Rumi, and for his poem For All set in September . . . he’s a happy camper in his mid eighties, and we’ll hear about the Emily Dickinson International Conference, what’s up, what’s new, from the zesty zany scholarly world, and what I have been going through choosing a translation for teaching Homer’s The Odyssey . . . on the belief that engaging such epic transforms our own chaotic, spattered, cluttered, clattering hot messes of lives into the heroic, revealing beleaguered lives of noble epic struggle,  . . . . why poetry matters to us . . . a magic mirror in which to see ourselves, and be seen for what we really are . . .that’s what Rumi is talking about! Let’s hear his whole poem, which listener Janet Meier sent me on iPhone this week, thank you listeners for the poems and letters you write me, at bmossberg@csumb.edu . . .

TODAY, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don’t go back to sleep. I would love to kiss you. The price of kissing is your life. Now my loving is running toward my life shouting, what a bargain, let’s buy it. Daylight, full of small dancing particles and the one great turning, our souls are dancing with you, without feet, they dance. Can you see them when I whisper in your ear? All day and night, music, a quiet, bright reedsong. If it fades, we fade.

This is Rumi, writing in the 1200s in Turkey, escaping from the war ravages of Genghis Khan 2000 miles from Afphanistan where he was born, and out of the dust and tumult he whirls and speaks to us right here and now, whispering in our ear, loving us. And he’s right, we’re here, don’t you love that the words for here as in presence, and hear as when we listen, sound the same? Is hearing a way of being here, in the moment, full of consciousness of being alive, awake? As in e.e. Cummings, now the ears of my ears are awake and . . . now the eyes of my eyes are opened. And how presence, the state of being awake, is the exact same sound as presents, gifts, making me think always of the gift of consciousness . . . words, how we dress and address our thoughts, our feelings, how poets slow down to take the time, to make the time, for themselves, and for us, so that the music does not fade (Bye Bye Miss American Pie . . . “when the music died”)

With this shouting Rumi commando commandments encouragement from across space and time, we are continuing our theme of encouragement and hope . . .  last week on my birthday turning 65 with Commando Hope—making lemonade out of lemons so to speak, when your life is so complicated and gang a’ weary that you can’t find your underpants, going commando, when the good news for me and for all of us of the poetry that is being written by people in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and 100+–old dogs, they have our bark, the zest of it . . . Yes! We have a slough of writers who BEGIN writing in their 80s; some begin at 6 or 12 and just keep going. Our title is taken from a poem by Shel Silverstein, famous for his poetry on the experience of being a child, but he’s written poignant poems just as sassy and smart on being an old dog as a kid . . . you may remember his Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, or the Giving Tree, and I’ll read us one of his poems that sees the relationship between being young and old, but did you know he was a musician, and he wrote for a group called Old Dogs? That included Waylon Jennings, Jerry Reed, Bobby Bare, Mel Tillis. . . . most of their songs were written by Silverstein after Bare told him there are “no good songs about growing old.”  And Grace Paley, whom we left each other last week with Here: (hear hear!) which we’ll hear again, and Albert Goldbarth, Gerald Stern, you know I LOVE his poem Grapefruit, we need this vitamin C of the spirit: since we’re waking up together, let’s have breakfast:

And we’ll hear Charles Wright, Ruth Stone, Robert Bly, Sandra Gilbert, Roger Gilbert, W.S. Merwin, William Stafford, Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon, Walt Whitman, and more! Including me, your Fat Lady Flying, stumbling into (or out of) Zuma. . . . .

CONCLUSION

And so as I think about being halfway between fifty and eighty, I like to hear that 80 is the new sixty, poetry will keep us young, a mental kind of aerobics, resistance training against all the forces that weigh down our spirits, and on that note, here is a poem I wrote about literally trying to rouse myself in exercise, a class called Zumba which I went to, a huge mistake, or was it, what can be learned, when we are so humbled? I will read it for us, and you can see it performed live at a fundraiser for the San Francisco LitCrawl this coming October, it was at the Swedish American Consulate in San Francisco, and you can find it on You Tube, 

 

Pacific Grove (CA) Poet in Resident and The Poetry Slow Down Radio Host (BarbaraMossberg.com) Dr I know, speaking of new tricks, woof woof! Here’s my tale of humiliation and the good news that comes as we endure loss after loss of our various faculties and I don’t mean just underwear but the whole infrastructure!

So our Poetry Slow Down, the magic mirror of poetry, in which we can see our true selves, be seen, and see—even when we’re limping and aching—there’s moves a plenty in us, we’re awake, we haven’t gone back to sleep, so thank you for joining me, on KRXA 540AM, with Producer Sara Hughes, General Manager Hal Ginsberg, and me, yours truly, Professor Barbara Mossberg, woof woof! Bark! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . . .

© Barbara Mossberg 2013

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