20 June 2021 – The First Day of Summer
Below – Vahe Yeremyan: “Vibrant Summer”
“Sonnet XVIII: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
by William Shakespeare
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Below – Ludmilla Ukrow: “A summer day”
“The Woman Who Turned Down a Date with a Cherry Farmer”
by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Of course I regret it. I mean there I was under umbrellas of fruit
so red they had to be borne of Summer, and no other season.
Flip-flops and fishhooks. Ice cubes made of lemonade and sprigs
of mint to slip in blue glasses of tea. I was dusty, my ponytail
all askew and the tips of my fingers ran, of course, ‘red’
from the fruitwounds of cherries I plunked into my bucket
and still—he must have seen some small bit of loveliness
in walking his orchard with me. He pointed out which trees
were sweetest, which ones bore double seeds—puffing out
the flesh and oh the surprise on your tongue with two tiny stones
(a twin spit), making a small gun of your mouth. Did I mention
my favorite color is red? His jeans were worn and twisty
around the tops of his boot; his hands thick but careful,
nimble enough to pull fruit from his trees without tearing
the thin skin; the cherry dust and fingerprints on his eyeglasses.
I just know when he stuffed his hands in his pockets, said
‘Okay. Couldn’t hurt to try?’ and shuffled back to his roadside stand
to arrange his jelly jars and stacks of buckets, I had made
a terrible mistake. I just know my summer would’ve been
full of pies, tartlets, turnovers—so much jubilee.
Below- Marina Radius: “Cherries in a bowl”
A Poem for Summer
by Reginald Gibbons
The thick-walled room’s cave-darkness,
cool in summer, soothes
by saying, This is the truth, not the taut
Rest here, out of the flame—the thick air’s
stirred by the fan’s four
slow-moving spoons; under the house the stone
has its feet in deep water.
Outside, even the sun god, dressed in this life
as a lizard, abruptly rises
on stiff legs and descends blasé toward the shadows.
Below – Wushuang Tong: “A Little Lizards’s Life No.2”
“In the Mushroom Summer”
by David Mason
Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,
mist in the pines so thick the crows delight
(or seem to), winging in obscurity.
The ineffectual panic of a squirrel
who chattered at my passing gave me pause
to watch his Ponderosa come and go—
long needles scratching cloud. I’d summited
but knew it only by the wildflower meadow,
the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian,
scattered among the locoweed and sage.
Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.
Below – Elena Furman: “Dreaming”
Art for Summer – Christy Powers: “long summer lunches”
A Poem for Summer
“Summer of the Ladybirds”
by Vivian Smith
Can we learn wisdom watching insects now,
or just the art of quiet observation?
Creatures from the world of leaf and flower
marking weather’s variation.
The huge dry summer of the ladybirds
(we thought we’d never feel such heat again)
started with white cabbage butterflies
sipping at thin trickles in the drain.
Then one by one the ladybirds appeared
obeying some far purpose or design.
We marvelled at their numbers in the garden,
grouped together, shuffling in a line.
Each day a few strays turned up at the table,
the children laughed to see them near the jam
exploring round the edges of a spoon.
One tried to drink the moisture on my arm.
How random and how frail seemed their lives,
and yet how they persisted, refugees,
saving energy by keeping still
and hiding in the grass and in the trees.
And then one day they vanished overnight.
Clouds gathered, storm exploded, weather cleared.
And all the wishes that we might have had
in such abundance simply disappeared.
Below – Shivayogi Mogali: “A Girl With Ladybugs”
Art for Summer – Gregg Chadwick: “The Strand”
A Poem for Summer
“Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout”
by Gary Snyder
Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.
I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.
Below – A photograph of Sourdough Mountain Lookout.
Art for Summer – Hanna Ilczyszyn: “Garden”
This Date in Literary History: Born 20 June 1910 – Josephine Johnson, an American novelist, poet, essayist, author of “Now in November,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
Some quotes from the work of Josephine Johnson:
“The earth was overwhelmed with beauty and indifferent to it, and I went with a heart ready to crack for its unbearable loveliness.”
“I like to pretend that the years alter and revalue, but begin to see that time does nothing but enlarge without mutation. You have a chance here–more than a chance, it is thrust upon you–to be alone and still. To look backward and forward and see with clarity. To see the years behind, the essential loneliness, and the likeness of one year to the next. The awful order of cause and effect. Root leading to stem and inevitable growth, and the same sap moving through tissue of different years, marked like the branches with inescapable scars of growth.”
“And there was the inner walking on the edge of darkness, the peering into black doorways…the unrevealed answer which must be somewhere, and yet might not be even present or hidden in that darkness..this under-life which when traced or held to was not there, and yet kept coming back and thrust up like an iron dike through the solid layers of the sane and understood. The moment of self-searching, of standing under the oaks at night and asking-What?Who? What am I?…and the moment of feeling the self gone, lost or never existent.”
“I cannot believe this is the end. Nor can I believe that death is more than the blindness of those living. And if this is only the consolation of a heart in its necessity, or that easy faith born of despair, it does not matter, since it gives us courage somehow to face the mornings. Which is as much as the heart can ask at times.”
by Frank Ormsby
The lights come on and stay on under the trees.
Visibly a whole neighborhood inhabits the dusk,
so punctual and in place it seems to deny
dark its dominion. Nothing will go astray,
the porch lamps promise. Sudden, as though a match
failed to ignite at the foot of the garden, the first squibs
trouble the eye. Impossible not to share
that sportive, abortive, clumsy, where-are-we-now
dalliance with night, such soothing relentlessness.
What should we make of fireflies, their quick flare
of promise and disappointment, their throwaway style?
Our heads turn this way and that. We are loath to miss
such jauntiness in nature. Those fugitive selves,
winged and at random! Our flickery might-have-beens
come up form the woods to haunt us! Our yet-to-be
as tentative frolic! What do fireflies say?
That loneliness made of light becomes at last
convivial singleness? That any antic spark
cruising the void might titillate creation?
And whether they spend themselves, or go to ground,
or drift with their lights out, they have left the gloom,
for as long as our eyes take to absorb such absence,
less than it seemed, as childless and deprived
as Chaos and Old Night. But ruffled, too,
as though it unearthed some memory of light
from its long blackout, a hospitable core
fit home for fireflies, brushed by fireflies’ wings.
Below – Anthony Georgieff: “Dance of the Fireflies No. 42” (photograph)
Art for Summer – Chris Wake: “Summer Light 3”
A Poem for Summer
“The World in the Evening”
by Rachel Sherwood
As this suburban summer wanders toward dark
cats watch from their driveways — they are bored
and await miracles. The houses show, through windows
flashes of knife and fork, the blue light
of televisions, inconsequential fights
between wife and husband in the guest bathroom
voices sound like echoes in these streets
the chattering of awful boys as they plot
behind the juniper and ivy, miniature guerillas
that mimic the ancient news of the world
and shout threats, piped high across mock fences
to girls riding by in the last pieces of light
the color of the sky makes brilliant reflection
in the water and oil along the curb
deepened aqua and the sharp pure rose of the clouds
there is no sun or moon, few stars wheel
above the domestic scene — this half-lit world
still, quiet calming the dogs worried by distant alarms
there — a woman in a window washes a glass
a man across the street laughs through an open door
utterly alien, alone. There is a time, seconds between
the last light and the dark stretch ahead, when color
is lost — the girl on her swing becomes a swift
apparition, black and white flowing suddenly into night.
Below – Gerrie Severens: “Child on swing, summertime”
A Poem for Summer
“Nostalgia (The Lake at Night)”
by Lloyd Schwartz
The black water.
Lights dotting the entire perimeter.
Their shaky reflections.
The dark tree line.
The plap-plapping of water around the pier.
The creaking pier.
Voices in conversation, in discussion—two men, adults—serious inflections
(the words themselves just out of reach).
A rusty screen-door spring, then the door swinging shut.
Footsteps on a porch, the scrape of a wooden chair.
Footsteps shuffling through sand, animated youthful voices (‘how many?’)— distinct, disappearing.
A sudden guffaw; some giggles; a woman’s—no, a young girl’s—sarcastic reply; someone’s assertion; a high-pitched male cackle.
Somewhere else a child laughing.
Tires whirring along a pavement… not stopping … receding.
Shadows from passing headlights.
A cat’s eyes caught in a headlight.
Connect-the-dot constellations filling the black sky—the ladle of the Big Dipper not quite directly overhead.
The radio tower across the lake, signaling.
Muffled quacking near the shore; a frog belching; crickets, cicadas, katydids, etc.—their relentless sexual messages.
A sudden gust of wind.
Branches brushing against each other—pine, beech.
A fiberglass hull tapping against the dock.
A sudden chill.
The smell of smoke, woodstove fires.
A light going out.
A dog barking; then more barking from another part of the lake.
A burst of quiet laughter.
Someone in the distance calling someone too loud.
Steps on a creaking porch.
A screen-door spring, the door banging shut.
Another light going out (you must have just undressed for bed).
My bare feet on the splintery pier turning away from the water.
Below – Goran Petmil: “This Is Night”
Art for Summer – Hyzhyy Oleh: “summer”
A Poem for Summer
by Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth
and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,
and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.
And now the crickets plug in their appliances
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex
someone is telling in the dark, though
no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.
Below – Allen Jones: “Night Lite”
by Leonie Adams
Now the rich cherry, whose sleek wood,
And top with silver petals traced
Like a strict box its gems encased,
Has spilt from out that cunning lid,
All in an innocent green round,
Those melting rubies which it hid;
With moss ripe-strawberry-encrusted,
So birds get half, and minds lapse merry
To taste that deep-red, lark’s-bite berry,
And blackcap bloom is yellow-dusted.
The wren that thieved it in the eaves
A trailer of the rose could catch
To her poor droopy sloven thatch,
And side by side with the wren’s brood—
O lovely time of beggar’s luck—
Opens the quaint and hairy bud;
And full and golden is the yield
Of cows that never have to house,
But all night nibble under boughs,
Or cool their sides in the moist field.
Into the rooms flow meadow airs,
The warm farm baking smell’s blown round.
Inside and out, and sky and ground
Are much the same; the wishing star,
Hesperus, kind and early born,
Is risen only finger-far;
All stars stand close in summer air,
And tremble, and look mild as amber;
When wicks are lighted in the chamber,
They are like stars which settled there.
Now straightening from the flowery hay,
Down the still light the mowers look,
Or turn, because their dreaming shook,
And they waked half to other days,
When left alone in the yellow stubble
The rusty-coated mare would graze.
Yet thick the lazy dreams are born,
Another thought can come to mind,
But like the shivering of the wind,
Morning and evening in the corn.
Below – Anneke Zwager: “To see or not to see 5”
by Mark Jarman
The children are hiding among the raspberry canes.
They look big to one another, the garden small.
Already in their mouths this soft fruit
That lasts so briefly in the supermarket
Tastes like the past. The gritty wall,
Behind the veil of leaves, is hollow.
There are yellow wasps inside it. The children know.
They know the wall is hard, although it hums.
They know a lot and will not forget it soon.
When did we forget? But we were never
Children, never found where they were hiding
And hid with them, never followed
The wasp down into its nest
With a fingertip that still tingles.
We lie in bed at night, thinking about
The future, always the future, always forgetting
That it will be the past, hard and hollow,
Veiled and humming, soon enough.
Below – Diana Malivani: “At Raspberry Bush”
Art for Summer – Isabelle Joubert: “Look around you”
Below – William Oxer: “Coming Home”