Evening Poetry, July 10

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
this grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

You can find this poem in Devotions.

Evening Poetry, July 9

Vegetables

by Eleanor Farjeon

The country vegetables scorn

To lie about in shops,

They stand upright as they were born

In neatly-patterned crops;

And when you want your dinner you

Don’t buy it from a shelf,

You find lettuce fresh with dew

And pull it for yourself;

You pick an apronful of peas

And shell them on the spot.

You cut a cabbage, if you please,

To pop into the pot.

The folk who their potatoes buy

From sacks before they sup,

Miss half of the potato’s joy,

And that’s to dig it up.

You can find this in Favorite Poems Old and New.

Evening Poetry, July 8

You can find this poem in The Essential Rumi.

In your light I learn how to love.

In your beauty, how to make poems.

You dance inside my chest,

where no one else sees you,

but sometimes I do,

and that sight becomes this art.

Evening Poetry July 7

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

I, 17

She who reconciles the ill-matched threads

of her life, and weaves them gratefully

into a single cloth–

it’s she who drives the loudmouths from the hall

and clears it for a different celebration

where the one guest is you.

In the softness of evening

it’s you she receives.

You are the partner of her loneliness,

the unspeakable center of her monologues.

With each disclosure you encompass more

and she stretches beyond what limits her,

to hold you.

Evening Poetry, July 6

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

You can find this poem in the collection The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.

Evening Poetry, July 5

Learning to Love America

by Shirley Geok-Lin Lim

because it has no pure products

because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline
because the water of the ocean is cold
and because land is better than ocean

because I say we rather than they

because I live in California
I have eaten fresh artichokes
and jacaranda bloom in April and May

because my senses have caught up with my body
my breath with the air it swallows
my hunger with my mouth

because I walk barefoot in my house

because I have nursed my son at my breast
because he is a strong American boy
because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is
because he answers I don’t know

because to have a son is to have a country
because my son will bury me here
because countries are in our blood and we bleed them

because it is late and too late to change my mind
because it is time.

You can find this poem in What the Fortune Teller Didn’t Say.

Inspiration (Links I Love)

Do you feel the pull of summer on your goals and motivation? That beckoning to abandon your chores and just come out and play, like that neighbor kid when you were little? It’s not that I have let go of my goals, but the pressure to accomplish, strive, and go, go, go just seems to have eased a bit with the warm weather. I’m guessing the extended daylight lulls us into believing we have all the time in the world, so why not relax a bit more?

Podcasts

That is why I am forever indebted to and full of admiration for the people I look to as mentors. Among them: Rachel Hollis, Jenna Kutcher, Brendon Burchard, Jen Hatmaker, and Seth Godin. These people consistently put out great content no matter the time of year. Yes, they have people helping them behind the scenes, but still, they make stuff happen. Here’s some of what they’ve been making lately:

This week, Jenna Kutcher shared tips on blogging in podcast Episode 271: Why Your Business Needs a Blog.

Rachel Hollis has a podcast episode on bravery.

Brendon Burchard has a recent podcast episode about scheduling your dreams.

Books

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you will want to read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. I’m only halfway through this book, somewhere in the mid-seventies, and it is crazy to read about how he did business and that he even stayed in business. This man had courage and boldness, that is for sure! I’m listening to it on audiobook.

And if you’re interested in firing up your motivation and habits, then you will want to read Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way. I read it at the beginning of the year and am going to re-read it this summer.

Fun Stuff

Ok, but since it’s summer, here are a few for fun recommendations. Sometimes you need to take a break so you can come back stronger.

Stranger Things 3 is now available on Netflix. Alan and I can’t wait to binge watch!

Summer seems like a good time of year for mysteries, so here are a few I’m reading this summer:

Thin Air by Ann Cleeves. Set in Shetland in midsummer, a woman goes missing during a wedding celebration. What happened to her and who on the island is a murderer?

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves is a mystery set in a remote, quiet place called Valley Farm. A young ecologist is found dead in a lonely spot.

Season 6 of Endeavor on PBS. (I’ve watched the original Morse series, the Inspector Lewis series, and Endeavor is just as addicting.)

That’s it for this week! Have a great holiday weekend.