Birthday poems

 / page 14 of 16 /
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A Mother’s Birthday

© Henry Van Dyke

Lord Jesus, Thou hast known

  A mother's love and tender care:

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On your birthday, today,

© Ivan Donn Carswell

On your birthday, today, there is time to reflect
On the essence of our intimacy,
From a beginning in the spring-tide of youth
To an afterward secured in the distant mist,

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Mountains of Delight

© Ivan Donn Carswell

The problem was the manner of choice
(or whether there was a choice for that matter)
as you had taken those options to yourself,
choosing as you had to do, and as it was right for you,
there is no shame in that – and no reproving,
but my alternatives were emptied by your doing.

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Before the arthritis set in

© Ivan Donn Carswell

It’s Wednesday, September 6th and a birthday,
again, these things arrive tediously on time
with wry regularity – and sadly, no sense
of providence or charity.

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Past and Present

© Thomas Hood

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;

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Ninon De Lenclos, On Her Last Birthday

© Dorothy Parker

So let me have the rouge again,
 And comb my hair the curly way.
The poor young men, the dear young men
 They'll all be here by noon today.

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To Ireland In The Coming Times

© William Butler Yeats

I know, that I would accounted be

True brother of a company

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March 30

© David Lehman

Eighty-one degrees a record high for the day
which is not my birthday but will do until
the eleventh of June comes around and I know
what I want: a wide-brimmed Panama hat

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A Birthday

© Alfred Austin

I love to think, when first I woke
Into this wondrous world,
The leaves were fresh on elm and oak,
And hawthorns laced and pearled.

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The Mother Poem (two)

© Jackie Kay

Now when people say ah but
It's not like having your own child though is it
I say of course it is what else is it
She's my child I have brought her up
Told her stories wept at losses
Laughed at her pleasures she is mine.

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Birthday Verses

© James Russell Lowell

'Twas sung of old in hut and hall
How once a king in evil hour
Hung musing o'er his castle wall,
And, lost in idle dreams, let fall
Into the sea his ring of power.

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© Louise Gluck

There was an apple tree in the yard --
this would have been
forty years ago -- behind,
only meadows. Drifts

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Part 10 of Trout Fishing in America

© Richard Brautigan

WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING IN AMERICA PEACEIn San Francisco around Easter time last year, they had atrout fishing in America peace parade. They had thousandsof red stickers printed and they pasted them on their smallforeign cars, and on means of national communication liketelephone poles. The stickers had WITNESS FOR TROUT FISHING IN AM-ERICA PEACE printed on them. Then this group of college- and high-school-trained Com-munists, along with some Communist clergymen and theirMarxist-taught children, marched to San Francisco fromSunnyvale, a Communist nerve center about forty miles away. It took them four days to walk to San Francisco. Theystopped overnight at various towns along the way, and slepton the lawns of fellow travelers. They carried with them Communist trout fishing in Ameri-ca peace propaganda posters:"DON'T DROP AN H-BOMB ON THE OLD FISHING HOLE I" "ISAAC WALTON WOULD'VE HATED THE BOMB!" "ROYAL COACHMAN, SI! ICBM, NO!" They carried with them many other trout fishing in Amer-ica peace inducements, all following the Communist worldconquest line: the Gandhian nonviolence Trojan horse. When these young, hard-core brainwashed members ofthe Communist conspiracy reached the "Panhandle, " theemigre Oklahoma Communist sector of San Francisco, thou-sands of other Communists were waiting for them. Thesewere Communists who couldn't walk very far. They barelyhad enough strength to make it downtown. Thousands of Communists, protected by the police, marcheddown to Union Square, located in the very heart of San Fran-cisco. The Communist City Hall riots in 1960 had presentedevidence of it, the police let hundreds of Communists escape,but the trout fishing in America peace parade was the finalindictment: police protection. Thousands of Communists marched right into the heart ofSan Francisco, and Communist speakers incited them forhours and the young people wanted to blow up Colt Tower, butthe Communist clergy told them to put away their plasticbombs. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men shoulddo to you, do ye even so to them . . . There will be no needfor explosives, " they said. America needs no other proof. The Red shadow of theGandhian nonviolence Trojan horse has fallen across Ameri-ca, and San Francisco is its stable. Obsolete is the mad rapist's legendary piece of candy. Atthis very moment, Communist agents are handing out Witnessfor trout fishing in America peace tracts to innocent childrenriding the cable cars.
FOOTNOTE CHAPTER TO "RED LIP"Living in the California bush we had no garbage service. Ourgarbage was never greeted in the early morning by a manwith a big smile on his face and a kind word or two. Wecouldn't burn any of the garbage because it was the dry seas-on and everything was ready to catch on fire anyway, includ-ing ourselves. The garbage was a problem for a little whileand then we discovered a way to get rid of it. We took the garbage down to where there were three aban-doned houses in a row. We carried sacks full of tin cans,papers, peelings, bottles and Popeyes. We stopped at the last abandoned house where there werethousands of old receipts to the San Francisco Chroniclethrown all over the bed and the children's toothbrushes werestill in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Behind the place was an old outhouse and to get down to it,you had to follow the path down past some apple trees and apatch of strange plants that we thought were either a goodspice that would certainly enhance our cooking or the plantswere deadly nightshade that would cause our cooking to beless. We carried the garbage down to the outhouse and alwaysopened the door slowly because that was the only way youcould open it, and on the wall there was a roll of toilet paper,so old it looked like a relative, perhaps a cousin, to the Mag-na Carta. We lifted up the lid of the toilet and dropped the garbagedown into the darkness. This went on for weeks and weeksuntil it became very funny to lift the lid of the toilet and in-stead of seeing darkness below or maybe the murky abstractoutline of garbage, we saw bright, definite and lusty garbageheaped up almost to the top. If you were a stranger and went down there to take an in-nocent crap, you would've had quite a surprise when you lift-ed up the lid. We left the California bush just before it became necessaryto stand on the toilet seat and step into that hole, crushingthe garbage down like an accordion into the abyss.
THE CLEVELAND WRECKING YARDUntil recently my knowledge about the Cleveland WreckingYard had come from a couple of friends who'd bought thingsthere. One of them bought a huge window: the frame, glassand everything for just a few dollars. It was a fine-lookingwindow. Then he chopped a hole in the side of his house up onPotrero Hill and put the window in. Now he has a panoramicview of the San Francisco County Hospital. He can practically look right down into the wards and seeold magazines eroded like the Grand Canyon from endlessreadings. He can practically hear the patients thinking aboutbreakfast: I hate milk and thinking about dinner: I hate peas,and then he can watch the hospital slowly drown at night,hopelessly entangled in huge bunches of brick seaweed. He bought that window at the Cleveland Wrecking Yard. My other friend bought an iron roof at the Cleveland Wreck-ing Yard and took the roof down to Big Sur in an old stationwagon and then he carried the iron roof on his back up theside of a mountain. He carried up half the roof on his back.It was no picnic. Then he bought a mule, George, from Pleas-anton. George carried up the other half of the roof. The mule didn't like what was happening at all. He lost alot of weight because of the ticks, and the smell of the wild-cats up on the plateau made him too nervous to graze there.My friend said jokingly that George had lost around two hun-dred pounds. The good wine country around Pleasanton in theLivermore Valley probably had looked a lot better to Georgethan the wild side of the Santa Lucia Mountains. My friend's place was a shack right beside a huge fire-place where there had once been a great mansion during the1920s, built by a famous movie actor. The mansion was builtbefore there was even a road down at Big Sur. The mansionhad been brought over the mountains on the backs of mules,strung out like ants, bringing visions of the good life to thepoison oak, the ticks, and the salmon. The mansion was on a promontory, high over the Pacific.Money could see farther in the 1920s and one could look outand see whales and the Hawaiian Islands and the Kuomintangin China. The mansion burned down years ago. The actor died. His mules were made into soap. His mistresses became bird nests of wrinkles. Now only the fireplace remains as a sort of Carthaginianhomage to Hollywood. I was down there a few weeks ago to see my friend's roof.I wouldn't have passed up the chance for a million dollars,as they say. The roof looked like a colander to me. If thatroof and the rain were running against each other at BayMeadows, I'd bet on the rain and plan to spend my winningsat the World's Fair in Seattle. My own experience with the Cleveland Wrecking Yard be-gan two days ago when I heard about a used trout streamthey had on sale out at the Yard. So I caught the Number 15bus on Columbus Avenue and went out there for the first time. There were two Negro boys sitting behind me on the bus.They were talking about Chubby Checker and the Twist. Theythought that Chubby Checker was only fifteen years old be-cause he didn't have a mustache. Then they talked about someother guy who did the twist forty-four hours in a row untilhe saw George Washington crossing the Delaware. "Man, that's what I call twisting, " one of the kids said. "I don't think I could twist no forty-four hours in a row, "the other kid said. "That's a lot of twisting. " I got off the bus right next to an abandoned Time Gasolinefilling station and an abandoned fifty-cent self-service carwash. There was a long field on one side of the filling station.The field had once been covered with a housing project dur-ing the war, put there for the shipyard workers. On the other side of the Time filling station was the Cleve-land Wrecking Yard. I walked down there to have a look atthe used trout stream. The Cleveland Wrecking Yard has avery long front window filled with signs and merchandise. There was a sign in the window advertising a laundry marking machine for $65. 00. The original cost of the mach- ine was $175. 00. Quite a saving. There was another sign advertising new and used two and three ton hoists. I wondered how many hoists it would take to move a trout stream. There was another sign that said: THE FAMILY GIFT CENTER, GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY The window was filled with hundreds of items for the en- tire family. Daddy, do you know what I want for Christmas? son? A bathroom. Mommy do you know what I want for Christmas? What, Patricia? Some roofing material There were jungle hammocks in the window for distant relatives and dollar-ten-cent gallons of earth-brown enamel paint for other loved ones. There was also a big sign that said: USED TROUT STREAM FOR SALE. MUST BE SEEN TO BE APPRECIATED, I went inside and looked at some ship's lanterns that were for sale next to the door. Then a salesman came up to me and said in a pleasant voice, "Can I help you?" "Yes, " I said. "I'm curious about the trout stream you have for sale. Can you tell me something about it? How are you selling it?" "We're selling it by the foot length. You can buy as little as you want or you can buy all we've got left. A man came in here this morning and bought 563 feet. He's going to give it to his niece for a birthday present, " the salesman said. "We're selling the waterfalls separately of course, and the trees and birds, flowers grass and ferns we're also sell- ing extra. The insects we're giving away free with a mini- mum purchase of ten feet of stream. " "How much are you selling the stream for?" I asked. "Six dollars and fifty-cents a foot, " he said. "That's for the first hundred feet. After that it's five dollars a foot." "How much are the birds?" I asked. "Thirty-five cents apiece, " he said. "But of course they're used. We can't guarantee anything." "How wide is the stream?" I asked. "You said you wereselling it by the length, didn't you?" "Yes, " he said. "We're selling it by the length. Its widthruns between five and eleven feet. You don't have to pay any-thing extra for width. It's not a big stream, but it's verypleasant. " "What kinds of animals do you have 7" I asked. "We only have three deer left, " he said. "Oh What about flowers 7" "By the dozen, " he said. "Is the stream clear?" I asked. "Sir, " the salesman said. "I wouldn't want you to thinkthat we would ever sell a murky trout stream here. We al-ways make sure they're running crystal clear before we eventhink about moving them. " "Where did the stream come from?" I asked. "Colorado, " he said. "We moved it with loving care. We'venever damaged a trout stream yet. We treat them all as ifthey were china. " "You're probably asked this all the time, but how's fish-ing in the stream?" I asked. "Very good, " he said. "Mostly German browns, but thereare a few rainbows. " "What do the trout cost?" I asked. "They come with the stream, " he said. "Of course it's allluck. You never know how many you're going to get or howbig they are. But the fishing's very good, you might say it'sexcellent. Both bait and dry fly, " he said smiling. "Where's the stream at?" I asked. "I'd like to take a lookat it. " "It's around in back, " he said. "You go straight throughthat door and then turn right until you're outside. It's stackedin lengths. You can't miss it. The waterfalls are upstairs inthe used plumbing department. " "What about the animals?" "Well, what's left of the animals are straight back fromthe stream. You'll see a bunch of our trucks parked on aroad by the railroad tracks. Turn right on the road and fol-low it down past the piles of lumber. The animal shed's rightat the end of the lot. " "Thanks, " I said. "I think I'11 look at the waterfalls first.You don't have to come with me. Just tell me how to get thereand I'11 find my own way. "All right, " he said. "Go up those stairs. You'll see abunch of doors and windows, turn left and you'll find theused plumbing department. Here's my card if you need anyhelp. " "Okay, " I said. "You've been a great help already. Thanksa lot. I'11 take a look around." "Good luck, " he said. I went upstairs and there were thousands of doors there.I'd never seen so many doors before in my life. You couldhave built an entire city out of those doors. Doorstown. Andthere were enough windows up there to build a little suburbentirely out of windows. Windowville. I turned left and went back and saw the faint glow of pearl-colored light. The light got stronger and stronger as I wentfarther back, and then I was in the used plumbing department,surrounded by hundreds of toilets. The toilets were stacked on shelves. They were stackedfive toilets high. There was a skylight above the toilets thatmade them glow like the Great Taboo Pearl of the South Seamovies. Stacked over against the wall were the waterfalls. Therewere about a dozen of them, ranging from a drop of a fewfeet to a drop of ten or fifteen feet. There was one waterfall that was over sixty feet long.There were tags on the pieces of the big falls describing thecorrect order for putting the falls back together again. The waterfalls all had price tags on them. They weremore expensive than the stream. The waterfalls were sellingfor $19.00 a foot. I went into another room where there were piles of sweet-smelling lumber, glowing a soft yellow from a different colorskylight above the lumber. In the shadows at the edge of theroom under the sloping roof of the building were many sinksand urinals covered with dust, and there was also anotherwaterfall about seventeen feet long, lying there in two lengthsand already beginning to gather dust. I had seen all I wanted of the waterfalls, and now I wasvery curious about the trout stream, so I followed the sales-man's directions and ended up outside the building. O I had never in my life seen anything like that troutstream. It was stacked in piles of various lengths: ten, fif-teen, twenty feet, etc. There was one pile of hundred-footlengths. There was also a box of scraps. The scraps werein odd sizes ranging from six inches to a couple of feet. There was a loudspeaker on the side of the building andsoft music was coming out. It was a cloudy day and seagullswere circling high overhead. Behind the stream were big bundles of trees and bushes.They were covered with sheets of patched canvas. You couldsee the tops and roots sticking out the ends of the bundles. I went up close and looked at the lengths of stream. Icould see some trout in them. I saw one good fish. I sawsome crawdads crawling around the rocks at the bottom. It looked like a fine stream. I put my hand in the water.It was cold and felt good. I decided to go around to the side and look at the animals.I saw where the trucks were parked beside the railroadtracks. I followed the road down past the piles of lumber,back to the shed where the animals were. The salesman had been right. They were practically outof animals. About the only thing they had left in any abun-dance were mice. There were hundreds of mice. Beside the shed was a huge wire birdcage, maybe fiftyfeet high, filled with many kinds of birds. The top of the cagehad a piece of canvas over it, so the birds wouldn't get wetwhen it rained. There were woodpeckers and wild canariesand sparrows. On my way back to where the trout stream was piled, Ifound the insects. They were inside a prefabricated steelbuilding that was selling for eighty-cents a square foot. Therewas a sign over the door. It said INSECTS
A HALF-SUNDAY HOMAGE TO A WHOLE LEONARDO DA VINCIOn this funky winter day in rainy San Francisco I've had avision of Leonardo da Vinci. My woman's out slaving away,no day off, working on Sunday. She left here at eight o'clockthis morning for Powell and California. I've been sitting hereever since like a toad on a log dreaming about Leonardo daVinci. I dreamt he was on the South Bend Tackle Company pay-roll, but of course, he was wearing different clothes andspeaking with a different accent and possessor of a differentchildhood, perhaps an American childhood spent in a townlike Lordsburg, New Mexico, or Winchester, Virginia. I saw him inventing a new spinning lure for trout fishingin America. I saw him first of all working with his imagina-tion, then with metal and color and hooks, trying a little ofthis and a little of that, and then adding motion and then tak-ing it away and then coming back again with a different motion,and in the end the lure was invented. He called his bosses in. They looked at the lure and allfainted. Alone, standing over their bodies, he held the lurein his hand and gave it a name. He called it "The Last Supper."Then he went about waking up his bosses. In a matter of months that trout fishing lure was the sen-sation of the twentieth century, far outstripping such shallowaccomplishments as Hiroshima or Mahatma Gandhi. Millionsof "The Last Supper" were sold in America. The Vatican or-dered ten thousand and they didn't even have any trout there. Testimonials poured in. Thirty-four ex-presidents of theUnited States all said, ''I caught my limit on 'The Last Supper.'''

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Ninetieth Birthday

© Ronald Stuart Thomas

You go up the long track
That will take a car, but is best walked
On slow foot, noting the lichen
That writes history on the page

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A Birthday Candle

© Donald Justice

Thirty today, I saw
The trees flare briefly like
The candles on a cake,
As the sun went down the sky,
A momentary flash,
Yet there was time to wish

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I Remember, I Remember

© Thomas Hood

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;

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© Philip Levine

The first time I drank gin
I thought it must be hair tonic.
My brother swiped the bottle
from a guy whose father owned

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The Manuscript of Saint Alexius

© Augusta Davies Webster

But, when my father thought my words took shape
of other than boy's prattle, he grew grave,
and answered me "Alexius, thou art young,
and canst not judge of duties; but know this
thine is to serve God, living in the world."