Mindful Poetry | February Notes

Pablo Neruda, Chilean Poet – 1904 -1973

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.


Poetry and Politics

During our last group practice, we explored poetry and politics with particular focus on Pablo Neruda. His early achievements as a poet were honored with a diplomatic assignment when he was only twenty-three. He enjoyed a long diplomatic career except for the nearly decade-long period during which was expelled from Chile and forced into hiding as a result of his Communist beliefs. We read some of his political poems, love poems, as well as lighter fare like Ode to My Socks. We also listened to recordings in both English and Spanish (linked below,) focusing on his use of rhythm, diction, tone, and topic.

Inspired by Pablo Neruda and the Ode form, we mindfully attempted our own odes. Here’s a sampling:

Ode to Tea Kettle
By Margo Huth

Your whistle loud,
in foggy mist.
Need to be careful,
not to burn hand on hot stove.
The water bravely boils,
asks to be poured over dry herbs,
in cup or pitcher.
Fresh smell fills air,
spring odors, any time of year.
Peppermint, dandelion or ginger.
Kitchen grateful
when the outrageous noise stops.
Bananas smile,
garlic teases dried fruit.
Scents flutter in room.
When filtered herbs right temperature, 
gently sip tea,
and watch hummingbirds
drink from feeder.
Thank you Lord,
for another glorious day.

Ode to the Icon of a Grecian Maiden 
by Brian Lennstrom

You grace our simple PowerPoint
Your face will never disappoint
A friend of apples, windows, lyre,
Attending saddest funeral pyre.
You weep beside us as a mourner–
Resized by pulling on your corner.

Your presence flows throughout the house:
But men control you with a mouse!
Oh beauteous JPEG–or is it bitmap?
Cease playing and come to share a KitKat!
Come share our modern kicks.  O,
Lift us with your ancient pixels!

Is it to a handsome lover that you sing?
Or sleep to Googling infant that you bring?
Come to life!  To us make haste,
Ere we your image cut and paste.

I shout it from Olympian heights:
“Truth may be beauty, but loving bytes.”

An Ode to Floss
by Jill Lipton

Ribbons, rivulets, toothsome travelers; 
Each length a committed picker of my canine corn kernels;
Each strand a loving lassoer of my poppy seeds;
waxing, waning, wandering into each incisive and wise crevice;
A dentist’s dream is written in seemingly endless white streamers;
Then, in a flash only an inch remains.

Ode to a Semi-Solid Emulsion 
by Sylvia Sepulveda

The pale-yellow pad 
gently into the wide crevices
of toasted muffin –
surfing the browned ridges,
speckles of salt flavor
the otherwise dull doughy-ness;
my tongue now a small, delighted ocean.

Dolly, Bessie, Hildegard?
You anonymous, lovely woman –
you gift my morning
such joy.
You four-stomached wonder
of a mother, 
your warm offering
(kindly handled, I hope,)
churned into liquidy gold.

I remember
your big, watchful gaze
as the creamy swirl 
the pan with promise;
elevating both greens
and gravy.
As Ina Gartner says,
“Everything’s better with butter.”

Continuing Contemplation

  • Place yourself in the setting of the poem.  What can you see, hear, taste, touch and smell?  What sensation stands out for you in the poem?
  • What is the pace of the poem?  Does it move quickly or slowly? Boldly or timidly?  
  • What is the voice of the poem?  For example, is it relaxed, passionate? Humorous or sober?  
  • What do you notice or appreciate about the poem?
  • What connections do you have to the poem?  What chord does the poem strike in you?  Memories or experiences that you’ve had? 
  • How do you feel as you read the poem?  What is the mood of the poem – the “emotional weather” of the poem?
  • What dazzles you in the poem?  What line or image “lights up” for you?
  • How has the poem continued its effect on you since our mindful reading?

Listen to Ode to My Socks/Oda a Los Calcetines:

In English, Read by Michael Connolly

In Spanish, Read by Alejandro Martínez Jarabo

Local Sources for Poetry:

Visit our Mindful Poetry Reading page to learn more about this program.

Mindful Poetry | February Notes