Two Poets Left!! Our celebration of National Poetry Month at 5writers.com slowly winds down with our penultimate poet, Jake Arnold of Denton, Texas. As a reminder, 5Writers is celebrating National Poetry Month by offering one poem for each day of the month from ten different poets. Each poet has graciously shared with us three poems each: one that inspired them to write poetry, one written by a friend of theirs, and one of their own. A list of our contributing poets and links to their entries follow this entry.
April 25, 2015-Jake Arnold
Jake Arnold lives in Denton, Texas with his righteous artist wife and their insanely awesome little monster, AKA Finley. He dove into literature and philosophy at the University of North Texas and got schooled in creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte. His work has appeared in a few places and has been turned down by the most reputable magazines in America. He keeps his rejection letters in a shoebox on his bookshelf by his bed. He teaches writing and literature courses to moldable minds at North Central Texas College.
A Prayer for my Daughter
W. B. Yeats
Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.
In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.
Sebastian H. Paramo’s poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Huizache, Toe Good Poetry, Storyscape, upstreet, North American Review, and elsewhere. He received his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has previously received a grant from the Vermont Studio Center. Currently, he edits The Boiler and teaches creative writing at Booker T. High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. He will continue is graduate work at the University of North Texas this fall.
I work hard heat into a home.
Then when everything is done & dark,
I lay flat & can’t help, but think of those
western pioneers because there was once a city I fled
& it’s over there in the past in the brow
of a man crossing the Rio staring at the big dipper.
It’s as if now the stars read like an inscription, a possibility.
Instructions to be found. Always there guiding.
It’s like this unbearable tar couldn’t justify this living.
Not until the cooler of beers, the hours waged,
the meal brought to a table with calloused hands
could trade work for my first love: a blue-green
Chevrolet truck. This I will trade to my son
for nothing because he earned it when he gave me life,
let me watch him grow—lead him by his hand
to the flatbed & look toward a swath of stars,
calling it ours—drawing constellations of our future
in which we lay the floor plans,
building a home over & over again until it feels
tangible enough to dust off our boots & walk inside.
Contributor’s note: “The Roofers” originally appeared in upstreet.
A METACOGNATIVE GLANCE
There are no levels
of myself that are not muddy with mica filled silt.
Run-off is a delta’s prize.
I will grow in my mire a crooked fruit for you.
There are no mouths
that won’t be crammed tight, brimming with my beans or tan butternut squash.
Black spit mud is a dead man’s reward.
I will bury your mouth with my dirt and plant in it my name.
There are no eyes
inside my skull that cannot see what our roots might become.
Sight is the mind’s allusive best friend.
I will stamp a lazy foot until my name is choked down.
National Poetry Month and…