5 poems (Vol. 3)

 

Another round of 5 poems landed in the magic-making hands of 5 local artists:
Ana Bănică, Adelina Butnaru, George Roșu, Ruxandra Șerbănoiu and Yanna Zosmer received the poems via e-mail only a week ago and sent them back to me as heart-warming illustrations.

I love Brâncuși’s words about childhood:
‘When we stop being children, we start being dead.’
So let’s keep our inner child happy and lively for as long as we can. The child who loves playing and laughing and learning and discovering the world. The one who’s curious about anything from tiny navel fluff to huge faraway stars. The one with the never-ending pile of questions. The one who won’t surrender before those rituals of adulthood that strip all life of wonders and magic.

The 5 chosen poems travel back to the much bigger
homes and classrooms and roads in our memories,
to smells and sights and sounds of
casual fears and small-scale lies and jumbo love treats.

Enjoy:

 



THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF CHILDHOOD
by Michael Blumenthal

Perhaps a bird was singing and for it I felt
a tiny affection, the same size as a bird.
Borges

Imagine now, an affection the same size
as the thing it’s felt for: for the seed,
seed-like emoluments of liking and,
for the rain, droplets of tenderness
clustered in puddles at your feet.

And now remember how, as a child,
someone is telling you they love you.
How much does daddy love you? they
ask and you, childlike, spread
your arms as wide as a child can.

Little do you know it then, but the rest
of your life will be spent measuring
the distance between “that much”
and what love, in fact, is capable of –
the narrow width of a man or a woman,
their terrible thinness,
their small bones
growing constantly inward
from your spreading arms.

***
Published in Poetry Magazine (April 1984)
Copyright © Michael Blumenthal.

Illustration by Ana Bănică
instagram.com/ana_ban_ana_illustration
www.facebook.com/anabananabanica
www.caiverzipepereti.com

 



SNOW
by David Berman

Walking through a field with my little brother Seth

I pointed to a place where kids had made angels in the snow.
For some reason, I told him that a troop of angels
had been shot and dissolved when they hit the ground.

He asked who had shot them and I said a farmer.

Then we were on the roof of the lake.
The ice looked like a photograph of water.

Why he asked. Why did he shoot them.

I didn’t know where I was going with this.

They were on his property, I said.

When it’s snowing, the outdoors seem like a room.

Today I traded hellos with my neighbor.
Our voices hung close in the new acoustics.
A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling.

We returned to our shoveling, working side by side in silence.

But why were they on his property, he asked.

***
From “Actual Air”, 1999
Grove Press, Open City Books
Copyright © David Berman

 


Illustration by Adelina Butnaru
instagram.com/adelina.butnaru
facebook.com/adelina.butnaru

 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY

by Louis MacNeice

In my childhood trees were green
And there was plenty to be seen.

Come back early or never come.

My father made the walls resound,
He wore his collar the wrong way round.

Come back early or never come.

My mother wore a yellow dress;
Gently, gently, gentleness.

Come back early or never come.

When I was five the black dreams came;
Nothing after was quite the same.

Come back early or never come.

The dark was talking to the dead;
The lamp was dark beside my bed.

Come back early or never come.

When I woke they did not care;
Nobody, nobody was there.

Come back early or never come.

When my silent terror cried,
Nobody, nobody replied.

Come back early or never come.

I got up; the chilly sun
Saw me walk away alone.

Come back early or never come.

***
© Louis MacNeice, Collected Poems (2013)

Illustration by George Roșu
cargocollective.com/georgerosu
instagram.com/theunavailablegeorgerosu
facebook.com/george.rosu

 



FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL

by Roger McGough

A millionbillionwillion miles from home
Waiting for the bell to go. (To go where?)
Why are they all so big, other children?
So noisy? So much at home they
Must have been born in uniform
Lived all their lives in playgrounds
Spent the years inventing games
That don’t let me in. Games
That are rough, that swallow you up.

And the railings.
All around, the railings.
Are they to keep out wolves and monsters?
Things that carry off and eat children?
Things you don’t take sweets from?
Perhaps they’re to stop us getting out
Running away from the lessins. Lessin.
What does a lessin look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine.

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there’s puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.

***
© McGough, Roger. “First Day at School.”
All the Best: The Selected Poems of Roger McGough.
Illus. Lydia Monks. London: Puffin, 2004.


Illustration by Ruxandra Șerbănoiu
ruxandra-serbanoiu.tumblr.com

 



FIRST LESSON
by Phyllis McGinley

The first thing to remember about fathers is, they’re men.
A girl has to keep it in mind.
They are dragon-seekers, bent on impossible rescues.
Scratch any father, you find
Someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors,
Believing change is a threat –
Like your first shoes with heel on, like your first bicycle
It took months to get.
Walk in strange woods, they warn you about the snakes there.
Climb and they fear you’ll fall.
Books, angular looks, swimming in deep water –
Fathers mistrust them all.
Men are the worriers. It is difficult for them
To learn what they must learn:
How you have a journey to take and very likely,
For a while, will not return.

***
Copyright © Phyllis McGinley (1905 – 1978)

Illustration by Yanna Zosmer
instagram.com/yannazosmer
facebook.com/yannazosmer
yannazosmer.com

 


I am most grateful to these wonderful creatures for jumping in so fast (they only had 1 week to squeeze the task in their schedules and send me the illustrations) and I’d be really happy around my belly button if you showed off your love by following their work and sharing this piece with a friend.

 

About 5poems:

I decided to choose 5 poems every month (there is a list, and it’s growing bigger and bigger) and share them with the world. A world that might just come to love them as much as I do. And with a little help from my friends, there will also be yummy custom-made illustrations.
Around each month’s end, the poems and their fresh illustrations will be revealed on a dedicated Instagram account – @5poems (yes, please, do follow us). All goodies will also be printed and exhibited in our pocket bookshop+gallery (Receptor / Cărturești & Friends). And when it’s time for another round, the previous small prints will settle into the family album – a permanent collection gathering all illustrations and poems featured monthly.
Check out: Volume 1 here. Volume 2 here.

 

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