Monday, April 17, 2017

Put a poet's stamp on it #NPM17 #phenology

There was a turtle (species unknown) sunning along the road's edge today. That's the earliest I ever remember seeing any, but it's consistent with the fact that, over the weekend, most of the local trees and bushes burst bud and developed auras of green tint. One of the local sandhill cranes was seen foraging in a chopped corn field this morning. Spring seems to have come in and slammed the door behind herself. Still few signs of migratory song birds though.

sandhill crane in chopped corn field
sandhill crane in chopped corn field
Photo by J. Harrington

The seventeenth suggestion for celebrating National Poetry Month is to "Ask the United States Post Office to issue more stamps celebrating poets." I have several ideas I'd like to offer that complement poetry stamps. First, check at your local post office and see if you can purchase any poet stamps. For example, there's the Maya Angelou Commorative stamp. Second, if you need to check on when the poet you want to suggest became deceased (living poets aren't elegible) try https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poets or https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets#. [The mention of "deceased 10 years" for eligibility is about to be outdated (#4) and, apparently, wasn't applied to Ms. Angelou, who became deceased in 2014.] Third, perhaps a request to reissue the 2012 commemorative stamps of twentieth-century poets would be received with favor. Finally, for now, write or copy a poem and mail it, using a poet's stamp, to someone you're thinking about. Do so regularly.

Maya Angelou commemorative stamp
Maya Angelou commemorative stamp

All of the preceding presents me, and perhaps you, with a conundrum. Many of my favorite poets are contemporary and still alive. I certainly don't wish them any harm simply so we can enjoy a commemorative stamp and, even at my age, don't look forward to watching the obituary pages. Perhaps we should consider more carefully commemorative stamps and what they may signify.

It’s obvious


It’s obvious
beauty is a postage stamp,
a composed self-portrait
of Frida Kahlo
wearing a simple necklace,
an image chosen by the USPS
not because it was like one she painted
for Trotsky. Of course
beauty could not include
imagery of hammer and sickle
or black monkey leering
over her shoulder or parrot
twisted under her chin.
And not the one with snakes.
Not the one of her
all butched-up, hair cropped short,
wearing one of Diego’s suits
after they split for the final time.
Not one with wheelchair, spinal-brace,
or scar down her long trunk.
Forget the one of her cloven wide open,
a jungle of history and myth, of poetry
burgeoning forth from her innermost.
Most definitely not
the one of her wearing the collar
of thorns in memory
of Jesus and Trotsky
and revolution
lost.


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