Robert Bly

While most of Robert Bly’s work does not generally spark my interest, his collection, Morning Poems, is an exception. Below are three of my favorites

Making Smoke

There was a boy who never got enough.
It’s not unusual. Something
In him longed to find the big
Mother, and he leaped into the sea.

It took a while, but a whale
Agreed to swallow him.
He knew it was wrong, but once
Past the baleen, it was too late.

It’s OK. There’s a curved library
Inside, and those high Ladders.
People take requests.
It’s like the British Museum.

One needs a fire to get out.
Maybe it was the romance
Novels he burned. Smoke curls
Up the whale’s gorge. She coughs,

And that’s it. He swims to shore;
It’s a fishing town in Alaska.
He calls his father. “I’m here.
Let me tell you a story.”

The Old Woman Frying Perch

Have you heard about the boy who walked by
The black water? I won’t say much more.
Let’s wait a few years. It wanted to be entered.
Sometimes a man walks by a pond, and a hand
Reaches out and pulls him in. There was no
Malice, exactly. The pond was lonely, or needed
Calcium. Bones would do. What happened then?

It was a little like the night wind, which is soft,
And moves slowly, sighing like an old woman
In her kitchen late at night, moving pans
About, lighting a fire, frying some perch for the cat.

For Donald Hall

The Ocean Rising And Falling

Each fall it rains a lot in the northern woods.
Many parts of our brain hear the rain;
And one part says, “Oh good. Let’s sleep.”
Another says, “A visitor is coming. It’s
A sign!” The oldest brain says: “If that person
Doesn’t look like us, we’ll stone him.” I guess
It’s family. The cedar trees mutter,
“About time.” Some forest streams
Are amazed to be noticed. Rivers, the big ones, are sure
They deserve it. Only the ocean pays no
Attention, being past all that. The ocean just
Goes up and down saying, “I need no more.”

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