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Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–


This debt we pay to human guile;


With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,


In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.


We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;


But let the world dream otherwise,


We wear the mask!

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I am not yours, not lost in you,

Not lost, although I long to be


Lost as a candle lit at noon,


Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still

A spirit beautiful and bright,

Yet I am I, who long to be

Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love — put out


My senses, leave me deaf and blind,


Swept by the tempest of your love,

A taper in a rushing wind.

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She

I’m waiting for the man I hope to wed.

I’ve never seen him – that’s the funny part.


I promised I would wear a rose of red,


Pinned on my coat above my fluttered heart,


So that he’d know me – a precaution wise,


Because I wrote him I was twenty-three,

And Oh such heaps and heaps of silly lies. . .


So when we meet what will he think of me?

It’s funny, but it has its sorry side;


I put an advert. in the evening Press:


“A lonely maiden fain would be a bride.”

Oh it was shameless of me, I confess.


But I am thirty-nine and in despair,

Wanting a home and children ere too late,


And I forget I’m no more young and fair -

I’ll hide my rose and run…No, no, I’ll wait.

An hour has passed and I am waiting still.


I ought to feel relieved, but I’m so sad.

I would have liked to see him, just to thrill,


And sigh and say: “There goes my lovely lad!

My one romance!” Ah, Life’s malign mishap!


Garcon, a cafè creme.” I’ll stay till nine. . .

The cafè’s empty, just an oldish chap


Who’s sitting at the table next to mine. . .

He

I’m waiting for the girl I mean to wed.

She was to come at eight and now it’s nine.


She’d pin upon her coat a rose of red,

And I would wear a marguerite in mine.


No sign of her I see…It’s true my eyes

Need stronger glasses than the ones I wear,


But Oh I feel my heart would recognize

Her face without the rose – she is so fair.

Ah! what deceivers are we aging men!


What vanity keeps youthful hope aglow!


Poor girl! I sent a photo taken when 
I was a student, twenty years ago.


(Hers is so Springlike, Oh so blossom sweet!)


How she will shudder when she sees me now!


I think I’d better hide that marguerite -


How can I age and ugliness avow?

She does not come. It’s after nine o’clock.

What fools we fogeys are! I’ll try to laugh;


(Garcon, you might bring me another bock)


Falling in love, just from a photograph.

Well, that’s the end. I’ll go home and forget,


Then realizing I am over ripe


I’ll throw away this silly cigarette

And philosophically light my pipe.

* * * * *

The waiter brought the coffee and the beer,

And there they sat, so woe-begone a pair,


And seemed to think: “Why do we linger here?”

When suddenly they turned, to start and stare.


She spied a marguerite, he glimpsed a rose;

Their eyes were joined and in a flash they knew. . .


The sleepy waiter saw, when time to close,


The sweet romance of those deceiving two,


Whose lips were joined, their hearts, their future too.

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Between my finger and my thumb


The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound


When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:


My father, digging.

I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds


Bends low, comes up twenty years away


Stooping in rhythm through potato drills


Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft


Against the inside knee was levered firmly.


He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep


To scatter new potatoes that we picked,


Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.


Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day


Than any other man on Toner’s bog.


Once I carried him milk in a bottle


Corked sloppily with paper.

He straightened up


To drink it, then fell to right away


Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods


Over his shoulder, going down and down


For the good turf.

Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap


Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge


Through living roots awaken in my head.


But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb


The squat pen rests.


I’ll dig with it.

benny

(Note: Today is the first anniversary of his death. May he rest in peace.) 

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Exquisite..”

In reading Benny Thomas’ quatrains I was struck by the presence of the nectar of grace in his poetry,whose scent through a process of spiritual alchemy permeates the mystical presence in the Rubāiyyāt. As Thomas puts it “the soul of the Persian astronomer-poet still speaks to us. So does Edward Fitzgerald…” Mehdi Aminrazavi the author of The Wine of Wisdom: the Life, Poetry & Philosophy of Omar Khayyam

Professor of Philosophy and Religion

University of Mary Washington

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The Poet and the Muse

O Muse bless this verse half express’d

By soul and rounded off by life:

You who know soul’s language

Spoken where senses are of no use

And no loom can decipher dreams,

Unless you touch words with pen cut

From the reeds grown in sunless clime

The poet trots the words and none the wiser.

benny

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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.

Shel Silverstein

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