April 6 Birthday: Raphael


I shall not soon forget that sight:
The glow of autumn’s westering day,
A hazy warmth, a dreamy light,
On Raphael’s picture lay.

It was a simple print I saw,
The fair face of a musing boy;
Yet, while I gazed, a sense of awe
Seemed blending with my joy.

A simple print:–the graceful flow
Of boyhood’s soft and wavy hair,
And fresh young lip and cheek, and brow
Unmarked and clear, were there.

Yet through its sweet and calm repose
I saw the inward spirit shine;
It was as if before me rose
The white veil of a shrine.

As if, as Gothland’s sage has told,
The hidden life, the man within,
Dissevered from its frame and mould,
By mortal eye were seen.

Was it the lifting of that eye,
The waving of that pictured hand?
Loose as a cloud-wreath on the sky,
I saw the walls expand.

The narrow room had vanished,–space,
Broad, luminous, remained alone,
Through which all hues and shapes of grace
And beauty looked or shone.

Around the mighty master came
The marvels which his pencil wrought,
Those miracles of power whose fame
Is wide as human thought.

There drooped thy more than mortal face,
O Mother, beautiful and mild!
Enfolding in one dear embrace
Thy Saviour and thy Child!

The rapt brow of the Desert John;
The awful glory of that day
When all the Father’s brightness shone
Through manhood’s veil of clay.

And, midst gray prophet forms, and wild
Dark visions of the days of old,
How sweetly woman’s beauty smiled
Through locks of brown and gold!

There Fornarina’s fair young face
Once more upon her lover shone,
Whose model of an angel’s grace
He borrowed from her own.

Slow passed that vision from my view,
But not the lesson which it taught;
The soft, calm shadows which it threw
Still rested on my thought

The truth, that painter, bard, and sage,
Even in Earth’s cold and changeful clime,
Plant for their deathless heritage
The fruits and flowers of time.

We shape ourselves the joy or fear
Of which the coming life is made,
And fill our Future’s atmosphere
With sunshine or with shade.

The tissue of the Life to be
We weave with colors all our own,
And in the field of Destiny
We reap as we have sown.

Still shall the soul around it call
The shadows which it gathered here,
And, painted on the eternal wall,
The Past shall reappear.

Think ye the notes of holy song
On Milton’s tuneful ear have died?
Think ye that Raphael’s angel throng
Has vanished from his side?

O no!–We live our life again
Or warmly touched, or coldly dim,
The pictures of the Past remain,–
Man’s works shall follow him!

–John Greenleaf Whittier


NOTE: In honor of National Poetry Month, each day a person’s birthday will be celebrated with a poem about or by him/her. The poems come from all over the place.



April 2 Birthday: Jack Webb

jackPsalm in the Spirit of Dragnet

Tonight all the stars are just celestial swag

in the moon’s handbag, flashy & overpriced.
All the angels are pinheads, & not even pinheads of light.

Here’s what I know: I am good
at déjà vu but bad at karaoke.  I am good
at Magic 8-Ball but bad at bicycle-built-for-two.

Axiom, from the Greek meaning “No rebuttals,” meaning “Whatever I say is true.”
For instance, the heart is shaped like a Hungryman dinner,
indestructible as Styrofoam & always divided.

Somewhere in the cosmos this moment
the ghost of Jack Webb is asking the ghost of Harry Morgan
for “Just the facts,” & Morgan is laughing his ethereal ass off.

Axiom, from the Greek meaning, “No facts, ma’am, only interpretations.”
When the smooth, voluptuous moon falls into the ocean,
like bait on fishing line, I see her for the yo-yo she is,
& God, who is learning to walk the dog.

–Julie Marie Wade

NOTE: In honor of National Poetry Month, each day a person’s birthday will be celebrated with a poem about or by him/her. The poems come from all over the place.


April 1 Birthday: Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune
Toshiro Mifune

Before Bruce Lee There Was Toshiro Mifune

          — with Thanks to Akira Kurosawa and the Toho La Brea Theater

Toshiro, you were so much more to me
than your movie star beauty,
though no one but you could look so appealing
in a ragged kimono, days without a bath,
scratching your head as you’d scrutinize the world.

Undeniably the best swordsman in Japan,
you took on single opponents or a gang of forty
with equal aplomb. And with that almost humane
efficiency, your sword moved faster than the eye,
each cut so quick and clean your victims fell
before they could utter a cry.

You were the perfect imperfect hero —
willing to defend a village of poor farmers
who’d repay you with a bowl of hot rice,
or selling yourself to the highest bidder,
you’d play crooked merchants against
conniving officials and noblemen.

It was your unfortunate karma
to be born into the rank of bushido warrior.
Each time you killed I knew you felt no satisfaction.
You were never the first to draw your sword.

All the women who watched you wanted you,
though you were awkward at romance. Not once
did I see you kiss a leading lady. Or lie
naked with her the night before battle.
You’d keep a girl waiting for months,
even years, like the lover who followed you
through the long 3-part saga, “The Legend of Musashi.”

Toshiro, you were my first true film idol,
the Asian hero I could never find on the American screen.
I’ll even admit you blessed those early years of marriage,
when my young husband and I spent Saturday nights
at the Toho La Brea. As the lights flashed back on,
my husband and every other Japanese man in the audience
would go home at least a few inches taller.

No one can forget you, Toshiro, in that brilliant duel
when you shifted your sword to reflect the sun,
the steel blade dazzling your enemy’s eye.
And at the end of the story, as you slowly turned
your back and walked into the horizon,
that slightly bowlegged swagger
in your every step — no one came close.

–Amy Uyematsu

NOTE: In honor of National Poetry Month, each day a person’s birthday will be celebrated with a poem about or by him/her. The poems come from all over the place.

Musings, Poems

Object Transformation

SuperKnobWhen I was teaching high school English, I spent the month of April on poetry. Yes, the state was going berserk doing tests, TESTS, T E S T S but in between all that nonsense, it was the perfect time for poetry. (And it’s National Poetry Month, after all). If you have made a space for poetry in your classroom, meaning that your students know it is okay to experiment with words, to break rules, to have fun with the language, then give them a break with something like this: Continue reading “Object Transformation”

Events, Poems

A Garish Setting Forth

bestballoonparadeOne of the definitions for “parade” comes from the Italian “parate,” meaning a” garish setting forth.” When I decided we would have a poetry parade at our first ROMP Poetry Festival, I had no idea what that would look like. I just knew that a parade would be a great way to honor April being National Poetry Month. With the help of all the willing and able poetic participants, we made a great and garish setting forth across the meadow that was the highlight of the Festival. Continue reading “A Garish Setting Forth”

Events, Poems

It’s Not a Bed Sheet

???????????????????????????????ROMP is at Oklahoma City University today for the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English conference. The spring conference focuses on poetry, and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Tracy Smith and Oklahoma’s Poet Laureate Nathan Brown are both here today. At my booth, people are finding out about Peggy the Personification Pig, the Altar of Alliteration, and all things ROMP in honor of National Poetry Month. Continue reading “It’s Not a Bed Sheet”