Monday, December 7, 2009


Yes, it's December 7th. Go ahead, make a joke about "a date that will live in infamy" and get it out of your systems. I'm used to it.

Although, since I was born in Tokyo, that means that YESTERDAY would have been my birthday if you factor in the time change (my parents lived in Chicago before they moved to Japan, so that's a 15-hour difference right there), so in some ways I'm actually a December 6th birthday. My parents got to call their family in the states and tell them I'd be born "at 4:55am tomorrow". So today is both my birthday and the day after my birthday. I know, that's some Island of the Day Before freakiness right there.

We're getting off track.

Today I am hosting a POETRY PARTY, and I hope you all brought me a present! Please, post a favorite poem in the comments. Here's one of mine (depressing? perhaps, but monumentally powerful):

Twenty-first. Night. Monday.
by Anna Akhmatova

Twenty-first. Night. Monday.
Silhouette of the capitol in darkness.
Some good-for-nothing -- who knows why --
made up the tale that love exists on earth.

People believe it, maybe from laziness
or boredom, and live accordingly:
they wait eagerly for meetings, fear parting,
and when they sing, they sing about love.

But the secret reveals itself to some,
and on them silence settles down...
I found this out by accident
and now it seems I'm sick all the time.

My other favorites include Poe's The Raven (which I actually memorized for class in elementary school, and my husband and I try to keep it recital-ready at all times, because we're perverse that way), W.H. Auden's Funeral Blues and Three Short Poems (When he looked the cave in the eye, / Hercules / Had a moment of doubt.), Kahil Gibran's On Children, Stephen Crane's Should The Wide World Roll Away, Pablo Neruda's XVI (I do not love you...), William Carlos Williams' This Is Just To Say, and Billy Collins' Litany.

And if anyone is looking for a nice anthology of poetry, I cannot recommend The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart highly enough. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a book on Amazon that had 100% 5-star reviews?

Thanks for dropping by, everyone!

Oh, and I'm 36.


  1. Happy Birthday! (Or day after!)

    May you receive lots of poetry, and other stuff, too. :)

  2. Happy Birthday!

    I tried, this weekend, to think of my favourite cummings poem to send you (because I love him so) but then this morning I woke up and all that I could think about was Jabberwocky.

    And so, today it seems, Jabberwocky is my favourite poem and I am ever to pleased to gift it to you.

    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!"

    He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought --
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    "And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
    He chortled in his joy.

    `Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

  3. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! My dad used to read me poetry when I was little. I loved THE HIGHWAYMAN, but it's way too long to quote here so I'll give you my favorite silly limerick.

    A bottle of perfume that Willy sent
    Was highly displeasing to Millicent.
    Her thanks were so cold
    That they quarreled, I'm told,
    Through that silly scent Willy sent Millicent.

    Hope you have a wonderful day!

  4. I found a link to The Highwayman and will peruse it later! And, the last line of that limerick is golden.

    Jabberwocky has always been one of my favorites! Thank you so much for reminding me of it.

  5. Happy birthday Carrie! I pray your day is filled with every good thing your heart desires!

  6. Happy Birthday, Carrie!!! I hope you have a great day!

  7. Happy Birthday to you Carrie,

    I thought of my two favorite poems: "Ozymandias" by Shelley or "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed, but I decided to go with a beautiful poetic song.
    These are lyrics to a song by Donovan Leitch, but they're very poetic. One of my favorite Donovan songs:

    Retired Writer in the Sun

    The days of wine and roses
    are distant days for me.
    I dream of the last and the next affair
    and of girls I'll never see.

    And here I sit,
    the retired writer in the sun,
    The retired writer in the sun and I'm blue,
    The retired writer in the sun.

    Tonight I trod in the starlight,
    I excused myself with a grin.
    I ponder the moon in a silver spoon
    and the little one 'live within.

    The magazine girl poses
    on my glossy paper aeroplane
    Too many years I spent in the City
    playing with Mr. Loss and Gain.

    I bathe in the sun of the morning,
    lemon circles swim in the tea
    Fishing for time with a wishing line
    and throwing it back in the sea.

    And here I sit, the retired writer in the sun,
    The retired writer in the sun and I'm blue,
    The retired writer in the sun.

  8. Happy birthday, good lady! Let me think... a poem that's not staggeringly depressing (those are always the ones I remember). Hmm...

    The pitiless attraction of the page,
    The harsh and mercilessly grabbing words;
    This painful, prideful feeling to assuage...
    This writing thing is really for the birds!

    By, um, me. Sorry. Couldn't come up with a better one on such short notice... :)

  9. Simon, extra points are ALWAYS given for original works. Thank you so much!

    Lee, I'm going to have to go find this song now, I want to hear the melody! Ozymandias is also excellent.

  10. Hi! Happy Birthday! This all feels very personal--me stopping by and leaving a poem for your birthday. Because I really hardly know you at all. I've seen you around the writing blogosphere, leaving great comments everywhere I go. So, I started following your blog. But not long enough that I feel as though I know you. So, I'll call this a 'Hello-and-happy-to-meet-you-birthday wish.'

    Anyway, this is a poem featured in a Madeleine L'Engle book A Ring of Endless Light. It is etched into the wall of the kids' room in a summer home at the seashore. I think it's kind of cool. L'Engle attributes it to Sir Thomas Browne. Happy Birthday!

    If thoust could'st empty all thyself of self,
    Like to a shell dishabited,
    Then might He find thee on the ocean shelf,
    And say "This is not dead."
    And fill thee with Himself instead.

    But thou art all replete with very thou,
    And hast such shrewd activity,
    That when He comes he says "This is enow,
    Unto itself--'twere better let it be,
    It is so small and full, there is no room for Me

  11. Proxy post for Sarah M.December 7, 2009 at 12:25 PM

    wishes for sons
    by Lucille Clifton

    i wish them cramps.
    i wish them a strange town
    and the last tampon.
    I wish them no 7-11.

    i wish them one week early
    and wearing a white skirt.
    i wish them one week late.

    later i wish them hot flashes
    and clots like you
    wouldn't believe. let the
    flashes come when they
    meet someone special.
    let the clots come
    when they want to.

    let them think they have accepted
    arrogance in the universe,
    then bring them to gynecologists
    not unlike themselves.

  12. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Carrie! Happy happy birthday! I hope you have a fantastic day and year.

    One of my favorite poems has to be "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver.

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

  13. Happy Birthday!!! I'm not much for poetry but this one by Dylan Thomas always stirs strong emotion within me:

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

  14. Happy Birthday, Carrie. Here is VIII from Sonnet Sequence by Robert Hillyer:

    Today as I passed through the market-place,
    I saw so many things that you might want;
    Don't scold me, I was not extravagant--
    A few necessities, that's all, in case
    You should be lonely: a papyrus plant
    From Egypt; an old saint with a green face;
    A unicorn--quite tame; a bit of lace
    Woven from cobwebs; and an elephant.
    Please don't be cross; I sold a poem today,
    And really you must have these useful things;
    Look! here's the best of all; I can not say
    Just what it is, but it has lovely wings,
    Shines like a rainbow, too. Good God! It's gone.
    Kiss me. Don't cry. I'll find another one.

  15. And because it's your birthday you should have flowers so here is one from Maura O'Halloran:

    Creaking to the post office
    on my rusty bike
    I saw one purple iris
    wild in the wet green
    of the rice field.
    I wanted to send it to you.
    I can only tell you
    it was there.

  16. Wow. These are all so beautiful. I thought this would be a fun birthday idea, but now I'm just totally floored.

  17. (Beautiful or HILARIOUS, I should say!)

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Happy birthday! I'll be joining you at 36 in just a few days...

    The spacing isn't quite right, but I was able to find one of my favorites (thanks, Internet). Hope you enjoy.

    If I were a poem, I would grab you by the ankles and rustle you up to your every leaf. I would gather your branches in the power of my winds and pull you skyward, if I were a poem

    If I were a poem, I would walk you down beside the rushing stream, swollen with spring, put thunder in your heart, then lay you down, a new lamb, to siing you to softly sleep, if I were a poem

    If I were a poem, I wouldn’t just talk to you of politics, society and change, I would raging bonfire to strip you of your outer wrap, and then I would reach within and with one touch ignite the song in your own soul

    If I were a poem, I would hold my lips one breath away from yours and inflate you with such desire as can exist only just out of reach, and then I would move the breadth of one bee closer, not to sting, but to brush you with my wings as I retreat to leave you holding nothing but a hungry, solitary sigh, if I were a poem

    If I were a poem, my thoughts would finally be put to words through your own poetry, I would push you that far, if I were a poem

    – Sara Holbrook

  20. Hi, Carrie :D. I'm also new to your blog, but see you all the time on blogs like The Rejectionist. Happy Birthday, and nice to meet you!

    Here is one of my favorite poems by the poet, Mirabai:

    The Dark One

    Thick overhead
    clouds of the monsoon,
    a delight to this feverish heart.
    Season of rain,
    season of uncontrolled whispers---the Dark One's returning!
    O swollen heart,
    O sky brimming with moisture---
    tongued lightning first
    and then thunder,
    convulsive spatters of rain
    and then wind, chasing the summertime heat.

    Mira says: Dark One,
    I've waited---
    it's time to take my songs
    into the street.

  21. I once had the opportunity to see Gwendolyn Brooks read "We Real Cool." I have adored this poem ever since.

    We Real Cool


    We real cool. We
    Left school. We

    Lurk late. We
    Strike straight. We

    Sing sin. We
    Thin gin. We

    Jazz June. We
    Die soon.

    So... um... happy birthday. Here's a poem about death?

    Somehow, that doesn't seem right. Although it's an awesome poem.

  22. Happy Birthday! It was my little sister's B-day yesterday too!
    I have a lot of fav poems (i was debating which one to post), but i'm kind of sad today since my favorite guinea pig died unexpectedly yesterday. So here's my favorite sad poem i always read when i lose a pet

    Old Dogs Do Not Die

    We have a secret, you and I,
    That no one else shall know,
    For who, but I can see you lie,
    Each night, in fireglow?
    And who but I can reach my hand
    Before we go to bed,
    And feel the living warmth of you
    And touch your silken head?
    And only I walk woodland paths,
    And see, ahead of me,
    Your small form racing with the wind,
    So young again, and free.
    And only I can see you swim
    In every brook I pass.
    And, when I call, no one but I
    Can see the bending grass.

  23. Happy Birthday!

    Here is one of my all-time favorites:

    Carnation Milk, the best in the land.
    Here I stand with a can in my hand.
    To tits to pull, no hay to pitch.
    You just punch a hole in the son-of-a-bitch!

    I don't remember the author.

    I also love Sylvia Plath's poems about motherhood. They are so poignant and starkly real.

  24. That's NO tits to pull...that's what I get for typing an nursing at the same time, lol.

  25. Happy Birthday, Carrie!! Hope you have a wonderful day!! (Sorry I can't participate in the poetry party! I'm too poetry illiterate--except for children's poetry!).

  26. Happy birthday. I don't have a poetry right now but I wanted to tell you I took your exhortation and showed my gratitude instead of telling for thanksgiving; and that the Chinese character you chose as your profile picture means celebrate! (But you probably already know that.)

  27. Oh em gee, happy birth-dee! (That was the best poem I've got. But it's the thought that counts? Hurray you!)

  28. First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Second, here is your birthday poem.

    A Spoon For a Lake

    I wonder when the faeries come,
    To prove the young ones sane.
    I hope they see the unicorn,
    So the stories weren’t in vain.

    Did every one that passed you by,
    Did every one hold sway.
    Where once you believed in manticores,
    The blood-elves and the fey?

    “Once upon a time” still calls,
    Beckoning from old times past.
    Where tales of ships and noble lords,
    Filled pages, full and vast.

    Long since you left that world behind,
    And walked away in spite.
    Where once you walked and laughed and played,
    New children hold that right

  29. Happy Birthday! I couldn't decide between two, so here are both of them.

    First, this is a brief verse from the love poems of Rumi (1207-1273). These poems of love and ecstasy and spirituality never fail to strike a nerve:

    When I am with you, we stay up all night.
    When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

    Praise God for these two insomnias!
    And the difference between them.

    --from the translation "The Essential Rumi."

    Then, just because:

    One Inch Tall

    If you were only one inch tall, you'd ride a worm to school.
    The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool.
    A crumb of cake would be a feast
    And last you seven days at least
    A flea would be a frightening beast
    If you were one inch tall.

    If you were only one inch tall, you'd walk beneath the door,
    And it would take about a month to get down to the store.
    A bit of fluff would be your bed,
    You'd swing upon a spider's thread,
    And wear a thimble on your head
    If you were one inch tall.

    You'd surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum.
    You couldn't hug your mama, you'd just have to hug her thumb.
    You'd run from people's feet in fright,
    To move a pen would take all night,
    (This poem took fourteen years to write --
    'Cause I'm just one inch tall).

    --Shel Silverstein, of course.

  30. Look at all this poetry! Happy, happy birthday! Hope it was extra, extra special and you got to eat some cake and ice cream!

  31. Happy birthday! You should have two glasses of something bubbly since you get to celebrate twice!

  32. Another Shel. His poetry rocks. Happy Birthday.

    Where the Sidewalk Ends
    from the book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1974)

    There is a place where the sidewalk ends
    and before the street begins,
    and there the grass grows soft and white,
    and there the sun burns crimson bright,
    and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
    to cool in the peppermint wind.

    Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
    and the dark street winds and bends.
    Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
    we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
    and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
    to the place where the sidewalk ends.

    Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
    and we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
    for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
    the place where the sidewalk ends.

  33. I popped over here from Intern's blog to say happy birthday, although I am a day late by my local time. And probably by every time, at this point.

    Hope you had a good one anyway :D

  34. Happy Birthday! :

    Forgetfulness - Billy Collins

    The name of the author is the first to go
    followed obediently by the title, the plot,
    the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
    which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
    never even heard of,

    as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
    decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
    to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

    Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
    and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
    and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

    something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
    the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

    Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
    it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
    not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

    It has floated away down a dark mythological river
    whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
    well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
    who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

    No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
    to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
    No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
    out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  35. Happy Birthday!

    Hope you had a great day

    Kate xx

  36. Ooh! Happy Birthday! Sorry I'm (one or two days) late. I'm not hugely into poetry, but I am a huge nerd, so here is my offering from the early 1990's.

    If a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port,
    and the bus is interrupted at a very last resort,
    and the access of the memory makes your floppy disk abort,
    then the socket packet pocket has an error to report.

    If your cursor finds a menu item followed by a dash
    and the double-clicking icon puts your window in the trash;
    and your data is corrupted 'cause the index doesn't hash,
    then your situation's hopeless and your system's gonna crash!

    If the label on the cable on the table at your house
    says the network is connected to the button on your mouse,
    but your packets want to tunnel to another protocol,
    that's repeatedly rejected by the printer down the hall,
    and your screen is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
    til your icons in the window are as wavy as a souse;
    then you may as well reboot and go out with a big bang,
    'cuz sure as I'm a poet, the thing is gonna hang!

    When the copy of your floppy's getting sloppy in the disk
    and the macrocode instructions cause unnecessary risk,
    then you'll have to flash the memory and you'll want to RAM your ROM,
    quickly turn off the computer and be sure to tell your Mom!


  37. I missed your birthday!! *cries* Sorry! I just saw your other post, and sounds like you had a good one. :)