Wednesday

Jan. 28, 2009

Everything We Do

by Peter Meinke

Everything we do is for our first loves
whom we have lost irrevocably
who have married insurance salesmen
and moved to Topeka
and never think of us at all.

We fly planes & design buildings
and write poems
that all say Sally I love you
I'll never love anyone else
Why didn't you know I was going to be a poet?

The walks to school, the kisses in the snow
gather as we dream backwards, sweetness with age:
our legs are young again, our voices
strong and happy, we're not afraid.
We don't know enough to be afraid.

And now
we hold (hidden, hopeless) the hope
that some day
she may fly in our plane
enter our building        read our poem

And that night, deep in her dream,
Sally, far in darkness, in Topeka,
with the salesman lying beside her,
will cry out
our unfamiliar name.

"Everything We Do" by Peter Meinke, from Liquid Paper: New and Selected Poems. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of José Martí, (books by this author) born in Havana, Cuba (1853). He was a poet and journalist, and he helped lead Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain.

José Martí grew up in Cuba, opposed to the Spanish colonialists. When Martí was a teenager, officials uncovered a "subversive" letter that Martí had written to a friend, and they arrested him. Instead of defending himself at his trial, Martí used his chance in the spotlight to condemn Spain's colonial policy. He was sentenced to six years of hard labor, but after six months his dad intervened on his son's behalf, and Martí's sentence was commuted to exile in Spain.

In Spain, he wrote and published a pamphlet describing the horrors of prison labor camps. He got degrees in law and philosophy. He lived in France, Mexico, and Guatemala, and finally settled in New York City in 1881. For the next 14 years, he wrote poetry, taught high school Spanish, and wrote for The New York Sun. And he crusaded for Cuba's independence from Spain. From New York, he founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party, and in 1895, he decided that the time was right for an uprising. In April, he set sail for Cuba, leading a band of revolutionaries to liberate the colony from Spain. He was killed in an ambush in May and became a legendary figure.

The year before he died, he published the poem "A Morir," in which he wrote:

I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.

Pete Seeger's folk song "Guantanamera" is a translation of an autobiographical poem by José Martí.

It's the birthday of the novelist Colette, (books by this author) born in Saint-Sauver-en-Puisaye in Burgundy, France (1873). She is best known as the author of Chéri (1920) and Gigi (1945).

It's the birthday of the English novelist and critic David Lodge, (books by this author) born in London, England (1935). He is the author of comic novels, including The Picturegoers (1960), Ginger, You're Barmy (1962), and his most recent, Deaf Sentence (2008), about a retired academic who is losing his hearing.

He said, "A novel is a long answer to the question 'What is it about?' I think it should be possible to give a short answer — in other words, I believe a novel should have a thematic and narrative unity that can be described."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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