Evening Poetry, October 31

Hallowe’en

by Harry Behn

Tonight is the night

When dead leaves fly

Like witches on switches

Across the sky,

When elf and sprite

Flit through the night

On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night

When leaves make a sound

Like a gnome in his home

Under the ground,

When spooks and trolls

Creep out of holes

Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night

When pumpkins stare

Through sheaves and leaves

Everywhere,

When the ghoul and ghost

And goblin host

Dance round their queen.

It’s Hallowe’en.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, October 30

Theme in Yellow

by Carl Sandburg

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

You can find this poem in Poetry For Kids: Carl Sandburg.

Saint X (Book Review)

<a href="http://<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1250219590/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1250219590&linkCode=as2&tag=lifeofkim-20&linkId=7bf3e133a18b21e6e50a0488d9c45b87">Saint X</a>""Saint X is one of the very few books I’ve read this year that I could not put down! The bright, tropical cover disguises the depth of the subject matter. For although it is a clever, suspenseful thriller, this novel addresses the evolution of self, the parent-child relationship in its various stages, the advantages and guilt of white, wealthy people, and the disadvantages of poor people of color on Caribbean islands and the rest of the world.

It starts like a film, zooming in to the fictional Caribbean island of Saint X. It’s the mid-1990s. The reader is introduced to a well-to-do white family from New York vacationing at a luxurious resort for their New Year holiday.

Alison, the elder daughter, is eighteen, pretty, self-absorbed, bored, and typical of girls of that age. The unusual one and the heroine is the younger daughter, Claire, or Clairey, as the rest of the family affectionately calls her. She is seven years old, has an unusual appearance, is shy, socially awkward, and appears to display possible OCD tendencies. The parents remain on the periphery of the story, and what we know of them is seen through the eyes of Claire.

The other main character in the novel is Clive Richardson, a young man who was born and lives on Saint X, and who, along with his friend, Edwin, becomes a suspect in Alison’s death. In comparison to the comfortable lives led by Alison and Claire, Clive is without the advantages that wealth can provide. He grows up without many prospects for the future, so after high school, he and Edwin find employment serving the rich white people at the resort. Which is how they meet Alison and become involved with her on the night she goes missing.

As the novel unfolds, we glimpse some of what Alison gets up to and who she interacts with in the days and nights leading to her disappearance and death. After her body is discovered, Alison and Claire’s parents are frantic to find answers, to discover who is responsible for their daughter’s death. Although Clive and Edwin did spend some time with Alison on the night she disappears, not enough evidence is found to charge them with her supposed murder, so it goes unsolved.

The novel moves forward to when Claire is in her mid-twenties and living a fairly normal life in New York City complete with a good job and friends. She calls herself by her middle name–Emily–in an attempt to put the past behind her. Except she can’t. She still longs to learn more about Alison, and more about why and how she died.

We flash back in time to the months immediately following Alison’s death when Claire’s parents are wrapped up in their own grief and she feels forgotten. Then we see her as she grows up, through all the awkwardness of adolescence and into young adulthood, and how she must deal with the way people treat her when they discover who she is. And even though she wishes she could forget, Alison haunts her wherever she goes.

So Claire is in NYC, trying to live like other people do. As a way to assuage her guilt for her affluent background, she moves into an apartment in a part of Brooklyn that is mostly inhabited by economically disadvantaged people of color. She is still socially awkward, so she doesn’t interact much with the other tenants in her apartment building, but she wishes she could.

Then, out of the blue, while taking a taxi home one day, Claire looks in the rearview mirror and is shocked to find that her driver is Clive Richardson–the man that she has always believed was involved in Alison’s death! Everything she lived through as the sister of a murder victim comes flooding back in that instant. She becomes obsessed with getting Clive to confess. She relentlessly stalks him every night after work. She finds out everything she can about him. Then she pretends to befriend him.

What comes of this obsession with and connection to Clive? Will he eventually confess to his involvement in Alison’s murder? Will Claire ever be able to heal and let go of the past? Ah, but that would be telling! That is what you’ll find out when you read Saint X for yourself.

I was very fortunate to receive an Advanced Reading Copy of Saint X from Celadon Books; however, all opinions are entirely my own. Saint X, written by Alexis Schaitkin, will be published on February 18, 2020 and I absolutely recommend this novel to lovers of mysteries, crime thrillers, and really good fiction.

Evening Poetry, October 29

The Last Corn Shock

by Glenn Ward Dresbech

I remember how we stood

In the field, while far away

Blue hazes drifted on from hill to hill

And curled like smoke from many a sunset wood,

And the loaded wagon creaked while standing still…

I heard my father say,

“The last corn shock can stay.”

We had seen a pheasant there

In the sun; he went inside

As if he claimed the shock, as if he meant

To show us, with the field so nearly bare,

We had no right to take his rustic tent.

And so we circled wide

For home, and let him hide.

The first wild ducks flashed by

Where the pasture brook could hold

The sunset at the curve, and drifting floss

Escaped the wind and clung. The shocks were dry

And rustled on the wagon. Far across

The field, against the cold,

The last shock turned to gold.

You can find this poem in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, October 28

From the Book of a Monastic Life from Rilke’s Book of Hours.

I’m too alone in the world, yet not alone enough

to make each hour holy.

I’m too small in the world, yet not small enough

to be simply in your presence, like a thing–

just as it is.

I want to know my own will

and to move with it.

And I want, in the hushed moments

when the nameless draws near,

to be among the wise ones–

or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.

I want never to be too weak or too old

to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.

Let no place in me hold itself closed,

for where I am closed, I am false.

I want to stay clear in your sight.

You can find this poem in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

Evening Poetry, October 27

The Book of a Monastic Life (from Rilke’s Book of Hours)

I, 12

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.

I want to free what waits within me

so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear

without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,

but this is what I need to say.

May what I do flow from me like a river,

no forcing and no holding back,

the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,

these deepening tides moving out, returning,

I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels

into the open sea.

You can find this poem in Rilke’s Book of Hours.

Evening Poetry, October 26

The Owl Cries At Night

by Freya Manfred

The owl cries at night,

and I imagine her wide gold eyes

and feathered ears tuned

to the trembling woods and waters,

seeing and hearing what

I will never see or hear:

a red fox with one bloody paw,

a hunch-backed rabbit running,

sand grains grating on the shore,

a brown leaf crackling

under a brown mouse foot.

With so much to learn,

I could stop writing forever,

and still live well.

You can find this poem in Swimming With a Hundred Year Old Turtle.

Evening Poetry, October 25

Wind Artist

by John O Donohue

For Ellen Wingard

Among the kingdom of the winds,

Perhaps, there is one of elegant mind

Who has no need to intrude

On the solitude of single things.

A wind at ease with the depth

Of its own emptiness, who knows

How it was in the beginning,

Before the silence became unbearable

And space rippled to dream things.

A wind who feels how an object strains

To be here, holding its darkness tight

Against the sever of air, ever eager

To enter, and with a swell of light

Dissolve the form in its breathing.

A wind from before memory

Whose patience will see things become

Passionate dust whorled into sighs

Of ghost-song on its wings.

You can find this poem in Conamara Blues by John O’ Donohue.

Evening Poetry, October 24

Dreams

by Mary Oliver

All night

the dark buds of dreams

open

richly.

In the center

of every petal

is a letter,

and you imagine

if you could only remember

and string them all together

they would spell the answer.

It is a long night,

and not an easy one–

you have so many branches,

and there are diversions–

birds that come and go,

the black fox that lies down

to sleep beneath you,

the moon staring

with her bone-white eye.

Finally you have spent

all the energy you can

and you drag from the ground

the muddy skirt of your roots

and leap awake

with two or three syllables

like water in your mouth

and a sense

of loss–a memory

not yet of a word,

certainly not yet the answer–

only how it feels

when deep in the tree

all the locks click open,

and the fire surges through the wood,

and the blossoms blossom.

You can find this poem in Dream Work.

Evening Poetry, October 23

Time-Web

by Amy Lowell

The day is sharp and hurried

As wind upon a dahlia stem;

It is harsh and abrupt with me

As a North-east breeze

Striking a bed of sunflowers.

Why should I break at the root

And cast all my fragile flowers in the dust–

I who am no taller than a creeping pansy?

I should be sturdy and definite,

Yet I am tossed, and agitated, and pragmatically bending.

You can find this poem in Amy Lowell: Selected Poems.