Hope is the thing with feathers
Poetry Breakfast ~ at home
Here is our choice of poems for this week, I do hope you enjoy them: comments and additional poems very much welcomed via the comments function at the bottom of the page.
And thank you to Andrew Fusek Peters for permission to use his beautiful ‘tree sparrow on take off’ photograph. Andrew will be our featured guest on June 11th, when the theme will be ‘The Poetry of Birds’ and will include Andrew’s poetry, photography, and some thoughts on how CV-19 has affected his working practice.
Huge thanks again to our three guest poets who contiune to delight with their thoughtfully splendid contributions to our theme, which has, as ever, resulted in a wide-ranging choice of poems. The theme is always a ‘jumping off point’ – have fun with it! Next week’s theme is ‘Belonging’ …
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
by Emily Dickinson
from The Emergency Poet ~ An Anti-Stress Poetry Anthology, edited by Deborah Alma, published by Michael O’Mara Books
Returning Emily Dickinson’s Call
My bird dares not rely on hope
To feed the gaping holes
So, cajoles me into action
For food and water bowls.
And loudest from the greenhouse roof
Immune to Corvid germs
Sings for super suet pellets
His beak turns up at worms.
I’ve been summoned from the kitchen
At breakfast making tea-
He dashes off a tune – that sounds like
“A slice of toast for me!”
by Steve Harrison, our Poet~at~Home
The office cleaner sings beautifully and in Hindi.
I ask her what her song means.
‘The Lord says, I will give you what you want,
when the time is right.’
She leaves a world bright with belief,
the mopped floor under my feet,
the emptied bin of me.
First published in New Walk.
Both of these poems are chosen by Steve Harrison
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one—
not knowing even
that was what he did—
in the blowing
sounds in the dark,
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
On the Aerial
Starling is numerous, holds in his throat
the many colours of his oily coat.
Each year he – like his fathers – finds new noise,
wolf-whistles tall as boys,
the phone’s trill, then the shriek
of Kirsty, loudest child in all our street.
Tonight he softly mews. Then through his voice are poured
jay, blackbird’s honey, thrush-lilts. He, half-heard,
tilts at faint stars, is Spring, is every bird.
Another box of nipples arrived today
The hospital computer’s gone mad
– that’s the third box this week.
You stick them on the fridge door,
the phone, the handle of the kettle.
And we laugh. Then you are sick again.
This evening you sit in your usual chair
in the bloat of chemo, your breath really
bothering you. And me, if truth be told.
You are darning pullovers neither of us
ever wear – and even Oxfam won’t take.
What if I could give you a new pair?
That will always pass the pencil test, even
at 90; with velvet-dark areolae
and pert tips that jut cheekily, but
don’t show through your tennis dress.
You are muttering about camels
and licking the thread for the nth time;
specs half-way down – in your usual chair.
I don’t see hacked-at womanhood,
that you’ve sobbed salt-herring barrels for.
I see you. Darning your way to normality.
is my life
on this edge.
– a narrow ridge.
Often I am scared,
have to squeeze my eyes shut,
hug myself to the rock,
crawl along on all fours
I dance the thin line,
whirling in the sun,
shouting in an arms-up,
is my life out here.
A slim chance
with steep drops on either side,
but the views
are bloody marvellous.
After Sight Loss
your breasts like water-lilies,
golden-centred, cupped in white
hold you, enter you. We will
make a wheel of love like dragonflies,
blue and bright in June.
chart my body to me.
brighten the darkness
that I live in now.
You will not come, I know,
but still I practise remembering
This paring of moon
that’s scraping the sky
lights up the mice
who nibble at books
in the night-school room.
They’ve toiled all day
to scratch out a living;
they don’t want to be here
but think that it’s giving them
much better chances.
The evening advances,
the mice are all weary
and in between yawns
they worry their heads
with their tin-lid thin claws.
Give this mouse the moon
and the schooling of night –
I’ll sweep back the sky,
mouse-foot it through books
leaving pawprints of light.
Love Without Hope, was chosen by Philip:
Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher
Swept off his tall hat to the Squire’s own daughter,
So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly
Singing about her head, as she rode by.
Robert Graves (1895-1985)
and Meg chose The Archaeopteryx’s Song by Edwin Morgan, and picked out these as the lines that always make her cry.
And my choice for this week is Bad News, Good News by Marjorie Saiser. I love the last stanza:
I sent the most necessary syllables
we have, after all this time the ones we want to hear:
I said Home, I said Love, I said Tomorrow.
So that’s it for another week! Please send us poems on this (or earlier!) or next week’s themes by email
Or just use the message function at the bottom of the page. You can also follow us using the socal media buttons just below.
We would love to hear your suggestions!
(yes this is still the right email!)
Keep in touch!
For all the latest news about forthcoming events and to see the lastest blog posts, sign up below.