Poetry at the Post: Mash Up with Emily Dickinson on Easter Sunday

Easter Day Thoughts by Alice-Catherine Jennings
April 5, 2015
A take off on “I dwell in Possibility – (466)
BY EMILY DICKINSON

April 5, 2015 Austin, Texas
April 5, 2015
Austin, Texas

It’s Day 5 of NAPOWRIMO and here is the prompt:

“Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!”

The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University
The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University

Here’s what I wrote on “possibility.”

I dwell in possibility (unless it is raining, which it is today.)
I peer out numerous windows,.
I refuse to believe in impregnable doors.
I spread wide my narrow hands to gather paradise
Which I will not find today as it is raining.

photo courtesy of John M. Jennings   Artist Tom Sachs' "Miffy Fountain," (2008) — at The Contemporary At Laguna Gloria.
photo courtesy of John M. Jennings
Artist Tom Sachs’ “Miffy Fountain,” (2008) — at The Contemporary At Laguna Gloria.

Poetry at the Post: Out of the Darkness—Albania

“Perhaps the Last Encounter With the Moon” by Visar Zhiti, as translated by Robert Elsie

I fooled the guards tonight
When they were doling out supper, that sordid soup,
Because I saw the moon….

Statue of Asclepius Museum of Epidaurus Theatre. Photo by Michael F. Mehnert.
Statue of Asclepius
Museum of Epidaurus Theatre.
Photo by Michael F. Mehnert.

If Asclepius—the god of medicine— is willing, my wrist will soon be released from its splint prison. Yes, prison.

Low and grounded—hellish for a nomad—I’ve been thinking a lot these past couple months about constraints of freedom—external as well as internal yet, of course, my seven weeks of being inconvenienced by a broken wrist is microscopic compared to the seven years of harsh imprisonment experienced by the Albanian poet, Visar Zhiti—a poet I discovered yesterday at Malvern Books in Austin.

visar zhiti

Born in 1952, Zhiti was arrested on November 9, 1979, for his poetry which was seen as anticommunist and “interpreted as having blackened socialist reality.” After five months in solitary confinement, he was tried and sentenced to up to thirteen years imprisonment and sent to concentration camps in the northern mountain region of Albania.

During his time in solitary, Zhiti managed to write in his mind and commit to memory 100 poems and then he wrote more—even in the harshest conditions, such as in the “living hell of the copper mines at Spaç.”

Zhiti chose to come out the darkness through things small
—a glimpse of a moon,
a leaf, a bird,
a rainbow..

If we look, there is light.

Today there will be one more minute of daylight than yesterday.

The deep darkness of the winter solstice has ended.

Legendary darkness and light, magic luminosity
Like a little cosmos,
ephemeral.
of hope.

Photo by John Jennings
Photo by John Jennings

Zhiti Visar. The Condemned Apple: Selected Poetry. Trans. Robert Elsie. Green Integer, 2005.