Poem of the Week 65

I’m Still Here

 (from ‘Follies’)

Stephen Sondheim

  

Good times and bum times,

I’ve seen them all, and, my dear,

I’m still here.

 

Plush velvet sometimes,

sometimes just pretzels and beer,

But I’m here.

 

I’ve stuffed the dailies in my shoes,

Strummed ukuleles, sung the blues.

Seen all my dreams disappear,

But I’m here.

 

I’ve slept in shanties,

Guest of the W.P.A.,

But I’m here.

 

Danced in my scanties,

Three bucks a night was the pay,

But I’m here.

 

I’ve stood on bread lines with the best,

Watched while the headlines did the rest.

In the depression was I depressed?

Nowhere near.

I met a big financier,

And I’m here.

 

I’ve been through Gandhi,

Windsor and Wally’s affair,

And I’m here.

 

Amos ‘n’ Andy,

mah-jongg and platinum hair,

And I’m here.

 

I got through Abie’s Irish Rose,

Five Dionne babies, Major Bowes,

Had heebie-jeebies for Beebe’s Bathysphere.

I got through Shirley Temple,

And I’m here

 

I’ve gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover;

Gee, that was fun and a half!

When you’ve been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover,

Anything else is a laugh.

 

I’ve been through Reno,

I’ve been through Beverly Hills,

And I’m here.

 

Reefers and vino,

rest cures, religion and pills,

And I’m here.

 

Been called a “pinko-commie tool,”

Got through it stinko by my pool.

I should’ve gone to an acting school,

that seems clear.

Still, someone said, “She’s sincere,”

So I’m here.

 

Black sable one day,

next day it goes into hock,

But I’m here.

 

Top billing Monday,

Tuesday you’re touring in stock,

But I’m here.

 

First you’re another sloe-eyed vamp,

Then someone’s mother, then you’re camp;

Then you career from career to career.

I’m almost through my memoirs,

And I’m here.

 

I’ve gotten through “Hey, lady, aren’t you whoozis?

Wow, what a looker you were.”

Or better yet, “Sorry, I thought you were whoozis;

Whatever happened to her?”

 

Good times and bum times,

I’ve seen ’em all, and, my dear,

I’m still here.

 

Plush velvet sometimes,

sometimes just pretzels and beer,

But I’m here.

 

I’ve run the gamut, A to Z;

Three cheers and, dammit, c’est la vie.

I got through all of last year,

And I’m here.

 

Lord knows, at least I’ve been there,

And I’m here.

Look who’s here.

I’m still here.

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Poem of the Week 64

The Book

Michael Rosen

 

 I opened a book

and a hand fell out.

I turned a page

and heard a shout:

‘I’m lost in a wood;

my mother’s no good.’

I couldn’t bear to look

so I closed the book.

 

But the girl called out:

‘Don’t leave me here;

I need you to help me.’

I was cold with fear

so the book stayed shut.

I put it back on the shelf;

put it out of my mind

but then –

it opened itself.

Right there in front of me

it opened up wide

and I heard a voice say,

‘Come inside.’

 

The hand that fell out

jumped back in the book,

the girl inside

gave me a long, cool look

and before I knew it

I was in that wood,

running and running

as fast as I could,

running and running

as fast as I could,

running and running

as fast as I could …

Poem of the Week 63

For the Fallen

Robert Laurence Binyon

 

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,

England mourns for her dead across the sea.

Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,

Fallen in the cause of the free.

 

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal

Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.

There is music in the midst of desolation

And a glory that shines upon our tears.

 

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

 

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;

They sit no more at familiar tables of home;

They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;

They sleep beyond England’s foam.

 

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

As the stars are known to the Night;

 

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,

As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

To the end, to the end, they remain.

 

Poem of the Week 61

Power

Adrienne Rich

 

Living in the earth-depositis of our history

 

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth

one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old

cure for fever or melancholy a tonic

for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

 

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:

she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness

her body bombarded for years by the element

she had purified

It seems she denied to the end

the source of the cataracts on her eyes

the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends

till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

 

She died a famous woman denying

her wounds

denying

her wounds came from the same source as her power

Poem of the Week 60

I Like Words

Steve Turner

 

I like words.

Do you like words?

Words aren’t hard to find:

Words on walls and words in books,

Words deep in your mind.

 

Words in jokes

That make you laugh,

Words that seem to smell.

Words that end up inside out,

Words you cannot spell.

 

Words that fly

And words that crawl,

Words that screech and bump.

Words that glide and words that swing,

Words that bounce and jump.

 

Words that paint

And words that draw,

Words that make you grin.

Words that make you shake and sweat,

Words that touch your skin.

 

Words of love

That keep you warm,

Words that make you glad.

Words that hit you, words that hurt,

Words that make you sad.

 

Words in French

And words in slang,

Words like ‘guy’ and ‘dude’.

Words you make up, words you steal,

Words they say are rude.

 

I like words.

Do you like words?

Words come out and play.

Words are free and words are friends,

Words are great to say.

 

Poem of the Week 59

Dragon

 

Jean Kenward

 

 

Look very lightly

look that way –

I saw a dragon there

yesterday;

 

His ears were open,

his eyes were shut,

his scales were as hard

as a coconut.

 

His body was thick,

his tail was strong,

it stretched round the railings

ten feet long …

 

His snores were thunderous,

dark and deep.

He breathed like an engine

in his sleep.

 

Look through your lashes

faint and small …

Can you see anyone

there at all,

 

Down by the railings,

way-away?

I saw a dragon there

yesterday.

 

Poem of the Week 58

Days

 

Philip Larkin

 

 

What are days for?

Days are where we live.

They come, they wake us

Time and time over.

They are to be happy in:

Where can we live but days?

 

Ah, solving that question

Brings the priest and the doctor

In their long coats

Running over the fields.

Poem of the Week 57

Instructions for Growing Poetry

Tony Mitton

 

Shut your eyes.

Open your mind.

Look inside.

What do you find?

Something funny?

Something sad?

Something beautiful,

mysterious, mad?

Open your ears.

Listen well.

A word or phrase

begins to swell?

Catch its rhythm,

hold its sound.

Gently, slowly

roll it round.

Does it please you?

Does it tease you?

Does it ask

to grow and spread?

Now those little

words are sprouting

poetry

inside your head.