Friday, August 6, 2010

Poetry Friday: Poetry in Georgia

I am in suburban Atlanta this weekend, traveling with my family to a cousin-in-law's college graduation. The South is pretty foreign to me, and I have to admit, it doesn't have much appeal. (Hopefully none of my 3 subscribers are from the South--I'm just being honest here, sorry. Now that I mention it, why don't I have more subscribers? C'mon people, help an up-and-coming poetry blogger out!) Maybe it's the heat, I don't know, but I don't think my "Places I'd Like to Visit" list has many entries south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Perhaps I'm rambling, but I do have to say poetry has been on my mind. Perhaps it was the family roadtrip or driving through the mountains or the daily monsoon-like rains we've had to endure. Lots of inspiration in all those places. Whatever the case, I did a little Google-ing tonight, searching for poets from Georgia and their poems, hoping to find something to share for Poetry Friday.

I had no idea the poem I posted about earlier this week was written by a Georgian. (Coincidence?) But I also found this gem by 1999 Georgia Poet of the Year Barbara Ras to share, too...

You Can't Have It All
by Barbara Ras
But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood.
You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you
all roads narrow at the border.
You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead,
but you can have the words 
forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. 

The entire poem can be found here. I hope you check it out and let me know what you think.

I really enjoy the long lines and the stream-of-consciousness effect that they create. The title speaks to me, too. Ras takes a common, overly-used phrase and makes it the title of her poem (A title which also serves as the first line--a technique I really like). She then goes on to make you forget all about what you can't have because that's not what the poem is about. It's about what you CAN have. And that, my friends, is a lot. Finally, when you read it all, you'll hopefully find that Ras concludes the poem perfectly: "You can't have it all, but there is this."

Nicely done, Georgia. I can't get behind your residents' driving skills and the urban sprawl and the Confederate flag bumper stickers and the 110 percent humidity, but I've got to tip my cap to your poets and their poems. Maybe I can learn a lesson from Barbara Ras's poem, too.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Author Amok this week. Be sure to check out what's happening in the rest of the poetry blogosphere.

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