Starting in 2018, Lynne Handy asked me to change her Facebook cover image once a month. She wanted to put a different poem, or portion of a poem, on the cover each month. I got the impression she spent a fair amount of time putting this together each year. On November 8, 2022 I received her poems for 2023 (She included one by our poet laureate of the Fox Valley, Frank Rutledge!). Unfortunately, she passed away on November 20, 2022.
I don't feel right logging on to her Facebook page and changing the covers anymore. It just seems wrong, but at the same time, I want to acknowledge her work, the effort she put into choosing which poems to display. Accordingly, I'm going to post the remaining poems here, all at once.
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi”
That winter I had nothing to do
but tend the kettle in my shuttered room
on the top floor of a pensione near a cemetery…
“January in Paris,” Aimless Love, Billy Collins (1941- )
And the moral of my code
beauty is twice
and what is good is doubly
when it’s a matter of two
“Ode to My Socks,” Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon, Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
Touch our bodies, wind.
Our bodies are separate, individual things.
Touch our bodies, wind,
But blow quickly through the red, white, yellow skins
Of our bodies
To the terrible snarl,
Not mine, not yours, not hers,
But all one snarl of souls.
“Wind,” Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
I remember this woman who sat for years
In a wheelchair, looking straight ahead
Out the window at sycamore trees unleafing
And leafing at the far end of the lane.
“Field of Vision,” New Selected Poems 1988-2013, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)
Now has come the joyous month of May,
So gay, with such sweet delights,
As these orchards, hedges, and these woods,
All decked with leaves and blossoms,
And all things rejoice.
“The Joyous Month of May,” The Writings of Christine de Pizan, Christine de Pizan (1364-c 1430)
The sun should be a couple of million miles
Closer today. It wouldn’t hurt anything
And anyway, this cold rainy June is hard
On me and the nesting birds…
“Solstice Litany,” Dead Man’s Float, Jim Harrison (1937-2016)
But when the thistle blooms and on the tree
The loud cicada sits and pours his song
Shrill and continuous, beneath his wings,
Exhausting summertime has come…
“Works and Days,” Hesiod and Theognis, Hesiod (ca 750 BCE – Unknown)
I am a honey locust tree
with summer green intentions,
to be a Mourning Dove
“Two Places at Once,” Clothed in August Skin, Frank Rutledge (1962-2019)
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run…
“To Autumn,” The Odes of John Keats, John Keats (1795-1821)
…Autumn and winter are in the dreams…the farmer goes
with his thrift,
The droves and crops increase...the barns are well-filled.
When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail…
The stars, the heavens, and the elements
contested, using all their arts and care,
to make that living light where Nature and
the sun are mirrored, nothing matches it.
“Sonnet 154,” The Poetry of Petrarch, Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)
This is the perfect way to honor Lynn. The Neruda made me laugh. ‘The snarl of souls’ caused me to pause with pure appreciation, to read it again and yet again. That this lively, complex, talented woman is gone is impossible to grasp. That will take some time.
Thanks Kevin. This is a wonderful tribute to Lynne and your friendship.
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