Tag Archives: delicate manias


April’s a real kick in the face, isn’t she? [To quote my mother on the subject of Navy Seals last week: “They ain’t no shrinkin’ violets.”] Two weekends ago I was heart-deep in green grass at the park; this Saturday found me crying out, “Down, you hellhound!” at the rain-filled wind, slapping at my face like a frigate’s sail. Spring! Thy name is “feckless”, or even “slatternly ne’er do well”, when I am feeling especially salty. [Um. Hey, remember that one time when I ate a copy of “Treasure Island”?]

Below: two very different poems on Spring. It is up to you, my reader, to determine which one YOU’RE heart-deep in, and where you’re at.

Over and Over Stitch

Late in the season the world digs in, the fat blossoms
hold still for just a moment longer.
Nothing looks satisfied,
but there is no real reason to move on much further: this isn’t a bad place;
why not pretend

we wished for it?
The bushes have learned to live with their haunches.
The hydrangea is resigned
to its pale and inconclusive utterances.
Towards the end of the season
it is not bad

to have the body. To have experienced joy
as the mere lifting of hunger
is not to have known it
less. The tobacco leaves
don’t mind being removed
to the long racks—all uses are astounding

to the used.
There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven—
noon, for instance, or all the single victories
of gravity, or the kudzu vine,
most delicate of manias,
which has pressed its luck

this far this season.
It shines a gloating green.
Its edges darken with impatience, a kind of wind.
Nothing again will ever be this easy, lives
being snatched up like dropped stitches, the dry stalks of daylilies
marking a stillness we can’t keep.

Jorie Graham


(January 7, 1915)

In the dregs of the year, all steam and rain,
In the timid time of the heart again,
When indecision is bold and thorough,
And action dreams of a dawn in vain,

I saw high up over Bloxham vale
The ploughshare tilt to the next long trail,
And, spying a larder in every furrow,
The wagtails crowd like a dancing hail!

A second wonder there on the hill:
Beneath the hedge, I saw with a thrill
The budding primroses laugh good-morrow
From a deep cradle rocked by a rill!

Wagtail smart in his belted blue,
Primrose paying her gold ere due,—
(Out upon Winter! Down with Sorrow!)
These are the things that I know are true.

Louise Imogen Guiney

PROS: “Over and Over Stitch”

1. Great title

2. Really good poem

PROS: “Firstlings”

1. Great title

2. Chock full to bursting with words like “wagtail” and “ploughshare”

3. And “Bloxham”, too!


In truth: you’re either readying yourself for more of the same, more pale and inconclusive utterances…or you’re out upon winter, and down with sorrow. Which? Wherefore?

Or maybe both.


Finally, something for my father. When I told him this story, he said, “Put that in your blog”, and I am a dutiful child. I was in a Starbucks, and two businessmen were standing behind me, waiting to order.

BUSINESSMAN ONE: [to Businessman Two] So, what can I get for you?

BUSINESSMAN TWO: I’ll have a venti non-fat three Splenda latte.


BUSINESSMAN ONE: Uh, you can order it.


Filed under Jorie Graham, Louise Imogen Guiney, My Parents, Poetry