li-young-lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward  
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into  
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

Li-Young Lee, “From Blossoms”

Persimmons

BY: LI-YOUNG LEE

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference  
between persimmon and precision.  
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.  
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.  
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.  
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.  
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.  
Naked: I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo: you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,  
fright was what I felt when I was fighting.  
Wrens are small, plain birds,  
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.  
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;  
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class  
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun  
inside, something golden, glowing,  
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,  
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,  
where each morning a cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding  
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night  
waiting for a song, a ghost.  
I gave him the persimmons,  
swelled, heavy as sadness,  
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking  
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,  
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.  
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,  
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,  
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times  
eyes closed. These I painted blind.  
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,  
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

As though touching her
might make him known to himself

as though his hand moving
over her body might find who
he is, as though he lay inside her, a country

his hand’s traveling uncovered
as though such a country arose
continually up out of her
to meet his hand’s setting forth and setting forth.

And the places on her body have no names.
And she is what’s immense about the night.
And their clothes on the floor are arranged
for forgetfulness.
—  Li-Young Lee, “Dwelling”
“From Blossoms” – Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward  
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into  
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

A bruise, blue
in the muscle, you
impinge upon me.
As bone hugs the ache home, so

I’m vexed to love you, your body
the shape of returns, your hair a torso
of light, your heat
I must have, your opening
I’d eat, each moment
of that soft-finned fruit,
inverted fountain in which I don’t see me.
—  Li-Young Lee, from “The City in Which I Love You”

popotum  asked:

also can you give me recommendations for poets to read (especially for someone who enjoys beautiful things but doesn't read a whole lot of poetry)

this was supposed to be a quick & dirty rec list for my girl but then it got out of hand so i’ve broken it off into categories 4 ya! this is by no means an extensive list but i was starting to realize that this was verging on Too Long. happy readings & i hope u find something that moves along the soil of ur soul!!

FAV ESTABLISHED POETS 

margaret atwood / they are hostile nations, marrying the hangman, we ate the birds, the poet has come back
louise gluck / all hallows, mock orange, elms, nocturne, vespers: parousia, adult grief, mutable earth 
gregory orr / love poem, trauma (storm), gathering the bones together, origin of the marble forest, when eurydice saw him
mahmoud darwish / your night is of lilac, in jerusalem, in the presence of absence, now as you awaken, psalm one 
mark strand / the dreadful has already happened, eating poetry, keeping things whole, lines for winter, tomorrow
ee cummings / somewhere i have never travelled, buffalo bill’s, if there are any heavens, luminous tendril of celestial wish, pity this monster manunkind
michael ondaatje / application for a driving license, the cinnamon peeler, the time around scars, excerpts from the collected works of billy the kid
jack gilbert / failing and flying, it is difficult to speak of the night, the sirens again, how much of that is left in me?, the forgotten dialect of the heart
pablo neruda / one hundred love sonnets: xvii, white thighs, hillocks of whiteness, absencehere i love you, clenched soul
anne carson / glass essay, book of isaiah, compostela, short talk on hedonism & sylvia plath, ghost q & a, an excerpt from autobiography of red, excerpts from nox 

FAV ONLINE POETS

creuxing / obsessed with redefinding girlhood, the summer starts in your car, another meteor crashed outside, the girl with frizzy hair and thin wire glasses
teamcaptains / a terrible crime in the tropics, reaping, zach calavera, he left, and the pink electricity, golden age 
mythaelogy / an attempt in poetry, atlas hands, wandering hearts, her, psychopomp & circumstance, i thought it had gone away
wefragilehumans / non est, luck is a funny thing, war chant, severe weather warning, a study in restoration
deergodareyoulistening / home (reforming), lighting & thunder, a diagram, ceremony, red elk, how to eat a moon 
starredsoul / a creation tale, how we learn what it meansall along, the mother weepingdreams of the moon and birds singing together
starseas
/ deep sea diver.mp3, space age surrealism, the fact of the matter is you need to get your heart back, time travel wears a black tracksuit 
katejustkate / incase it doesn’t work out, iphone notes therapy, coma dreams, it took 3 long-ass days for you to respond to my ‘are u alive’ text
ohgdlights, the way out of winesburg, ohio, to m // for j // from me, we ran like wolves, variations on a tomato
inelegancies /  in the aftermath we are left with a girl, in another universes the sky is always pink, rules for the internet, for children

FAV POETRY

tonight, in oakland by danez smith
tinder by keith s. wilson
if being a lesbian were anything like netflix movies portrayed it to be by southwestwitch
bad poem by kelsey danielle
padlocked chest pt 1 / afterthelonely
a bronze god, or a letter on demand by clifton gachagua
lilac time by joan newmann
notes from the antichrist’s guardian angel by notbecauseofvictories
with ruins & persimmons by li-young lee 
for my best friend by  crimescened
my first lover speaks to me as i sleep with her by raven jackson
phoenix by overwhelmington
how the signs die, or fall in love, or both, maybe by cursedvideogame​ 
national geographic by elisabethhewer 
your airplanes by rachel mckibbens
sierra doesn’t watch when the world ends by wildflowerveins 
before by carl adamshick 
there is a gold light in certain old paintings by donald justice 
afterimage, 2015 by bhalbers
other lives and dimensions and finally a love poem by bob hicok
folly by antonina palisano 
albuquerque, nm by 7cigars
sometimes when on fire by kathryn regina
heart by bhanu kapil

Useless Headcanons

-Prompto either replaces swear words in songs with things like “Frick” or “Glob darnedit” or he shouts them louder than the rest of the words. There’s no in between.

-Noctis pretends to hate the poetry Ignis tries to teach him, but he can’t quite resist Li-Young Lee and “I grow more fatherless each year”

-Gladio finds the sound of thunder bizarrely soothing when he’s tired, it reminds him of boyhood, sleeping on a bench while his father practices sword play.

-Ignis reads comic book, one’s about heroes who rely on graceful butlers and put together women, one’s where the endings grow brighter than the story he fears he’s helping to write.

I’ve pulled the last of the year’s young onions.
The garden is bare now. The ground is cold,
brown and old. What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
eye. I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.

Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears. I can’t recall
our words. We may have strolled in silence. But
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear. In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.

It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees. I almost
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.

White rice steaming, almost done. Sweet green peas
fried in onions. Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic. And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.

—  Eating Alone, by Li-Young Lee

To Hold

So we’re dust. In the meantime, my wife and I
make the bed. Holding opposite edges of the sheet,
we raise it, billowing, then pull it tight,
measuring by eye as it falls into alignment
between us. We tug, fold, tuck. And if I’m lucky,
she’ll remember a recent dream and tell me.

One day we’ll lie down and not get up.
One day, all we guard will be surrendered.

Until then, we’ll go on learning to recognize
what we love, and what it takes
to tend what isn’t for our having.
So often, fear has led me
to abandon what I know I must relinquish
in time. But for the moment,
I’ll listen to her dream,
and she to mine, our mutual hearing calling
more and more detail into the light
of a joint and fragile keeping.

Li-Young Lee

Braiding

1.
We two sit on our bed, you
between my legs, your back to me, your head
slightly bowed, that I may brush and braid
your hair. My father
did this for my mother,
just as I do for you. One hand
holds the hem of you hair, the other
works the brush. Both hands climb
as the strokes grow
longer, until I use not only my wrists,
but my arms, then my shoulders, my whole body
rocking in a rower’s rhythm, a lover’s
even time, as the tangles are undone,
and brush and bare hand run the thick,
fluent length of your hair, whose wintry scent
comes, a faint, human musk.

2.
Last night the room was so cold
I dreamed we were in Pittsburgh again, where winter
persisted and we fell asleep in the last seat
of the 71 Negley, dark mornings going to work.
How I wish we didn’t hate those years
while we lived them.
Those were days of books,
days of silences stacked high
as the ceiling of that great, dim hall
where we studied. I remember
the thick, oak tabletops, how cool
they felt against my face
when I lay my head down and slept.

3.
How long your hair has grown. 

Gradually, December. 

4.
There will come a day
one of us will have to imagine this: you,
after your bath, crosslegged on the bed, sleepy, patient,
while I braid your hair.

5.
Here, what’s made, these braids, unmakes
itself in time, and must be made
again, within and against
time. So I braid
your hair each day.
My fingers gather, measure hair,
hook, pull and twist hair and hair.
Deft, quick, they plait,
weave, articulate lock and lock, to make
and make these braids, which point
the direction of my going, of all our continuous going.
And though what’s made does not abide,
my making is steadfast, and, besides, there is a making
of which this making-in-time is just a part,
a making which abides
beyond the hands which rise in the combing,
the hands which fall in the braiding,
trailing hair in each stage of its unbraiding.

6.
Love, how the hours accumulate. Uncountable.
The trees grow tall, some people walk away
and diminish forever.
The damp pewter days slip around without warning
and we cross over one year and one year. 

Li-Young Lee
from Rose:  Poems, 1986