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Thursday, November 30, 2006

On the poetry meme

I've been reading the various responses to the poetry memes, since first discovering the meme on Dorothy W.'s Of Books and Bicycles last Friday. When I mentioned it on my post, I said I was thinking about playing, but nearly a week later, all I've done is read other people's - starting with Cam -- her reasons for creating the meme and her answers.

My biggest frustration came yesterday, when after writing 3 lengthy comments on Lotus Reads (we loved some of the same poems--I always have something to say about that), some "scheduled maintenance" wiped it out. Only on the 3rd attempt did I get the explanation and give up.

So this morning I'm still not following through with my own answers. This post is already too long, and I want to share a favorite poem.

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter and say, "I’ll take two"
and expect it to handed back to you on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here’s my address,write me a poem,"
deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead: poems hide.
In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping.
They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up.What we have to do is
live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.


  1. that's a beautiful poem! i had not encountered naomi shihab nye up till now.

  2. how funny!

    ...did you know the name of my other blog, Seamless Skin, is taken from a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. She is among my favorite poets and writers after hearing her speak some years ago at a writer's conference. Also, when I thought portrait quilts would be my calling (hasn't happened yet) I wanted to do one of her.

    I'm printing this poem out for my inspiration wall. Thanks

  3. I've not heard of her either, but I'll be watching for her stuff now. This was a very lovely poem with such a sweet message. I'm going to try to see with that man's eyes. Good lesson for Christmas.

  4. I have not been aware of Shihab Nye either, but am glad to have been introduced by way of such a lovely poem.

    I had problems with Lotus Reads' blog earlier too -- maybe it was something to do with Blogger Beta. When I returned later, it displayed okay. I'm posting this comment here in case she read this -- couldn't post on it there.

    If you do decide to post on the meme, I look forward to reading your answers.

  5. how frustrating.. blogger can be such a pain.

  6. Jenclair, what a beautiful, beautiful poem! The name, Naomi Shihab Nye does ring a bell, but I cannot remember where or how I first heard of her. I'm just thankful you reminded me of her beautiful poetry and how we must remember to see beauty in everyday things!

    Thanks so much for trying to leave me a comment - blogger can be so frustrating sometimes! I've had other people beside you and Cam tell me my page wouldn't load properly yesterday, not sure what's going on!?!

    Anyway, I so look forward to reading your poetry meme, Jenclair, I'll be back!