Thursday, April 30, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 30: W. S. Merwin

And this, the loveliest poems, on the last day of National Poetry Month. Adieu to the serial poem posting... ah, but this:

by W. S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions.

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
looking up from tables we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 29: Tim Earley

by Tim Earley

Given the preponderance
of grass and sun

how could I be
anything more

than what
I am

which is a people
and I agree to agree that this

is lovely that day
is blue

and curving and better than
yesterday and walking through

the widowed light of a strange
hallway your shoulders

say things lots of things the most
things I’ve heard

so far yet to this point but there’s
always the next moment and

we’ll be people then too
and possibly walking but not forever

therefore the entire arrangement
is actually quite nice your shoulders

going on and on that way

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 28: "She"

A different kind of poetry, of the "found" variety. I couldn't resist.

"They don't want to do nothing. They want me to keep the box of rocks. I'm not buying a box of rocks for $138."
--Jodi Wykle, mother of boy who opened a new Nintendo DS to find...well, rocks (and a Chinese newspaper).

Monday, April 27, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 27: Matthew Rohrer

This comes from a blog called Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days, that has been posting poems written especially for and during the first 100 days of Obama's administration. You can visit the site and read like 99 other poems. I liked this one a lot:

by Matthew Rohrer

On Tuesday at noon the
sun suddenly came out I
swear I said to my
daughter something was happening but
what and the stars don't
care about us who we
elect or when we listen to
the radio and hear it
say President Obama is going
to shut down the prison
the stars don't care they
are forever exploding hydrogen atoms
slowly depleting dying like us
to them if they thought
at all they'd think everything
we do is in prison
the president said we could
write poems again saying "president"
that people would have to
think about not just understand
like he said "science is
coming, people" to which my
son said "did he say
science?" I said "I know
it's hard to believe but
the new president said science"

Matthew Rohrer (Brooklyn, NY) is the author of five books, most recently Rise Up, by Wave Books. A chapbook They All Seemed Asleep was just published by Octopus Books. Forthcoming is A Plate of Chicken by Ugly Duckling.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 25: Emily Dickinson

[my life closed twice before its close]
by Emily Dickinson

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see

If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.

Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Friday, April 24, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 24: Jane Kenyon

by Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 23: Robert Frost

I memorized this poem for a class in grad school and had the experience with memorization that I'd heard other poets talk about. I came to understand the poem in a way I never would have otherwise. I think when I first read it, I had no idea what was going on, but I loved the title and the way it turns the poem at the end.

For Once, Then, Something
by Robert Frost

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 22: Robert Pinsky

I was just looking at National Poetry Month from my blog last year and man, I was ambitious! I posted bios and links and a lot of fun commentary. This year, with the NPM posts, I am more reliable but less fun. Shall we call it age? I think in life I have become less reliable and more fun, so maybe that makes up for it. . . .

I was going to first post "Nude Swim," by Anne Sexton, but saw that I posted it last year, and then I was going to post "Ask Me," by William Stafford, but saw that I posted that last year, too. I used up all my favorites! They are timeless, the good ones, but still...a gal ought to stretch herself a with that in mind, I present this poem, not new to many, but I discovered it only last fall and it flattened me. It has one of the best compound-adjective endings I've ever read. It looks long and dense, but it's worth it. Just read it slow and enjoy:

The Figured Wheel
by Robert Pinsky

The figured wheel rolls through shopping malls and prisons
Over farms, small and immense, and the rotten little downtowns.
Covered with symbols, it mills everything alive and grinds
The remains of the dead in the cemeteries, in unmarked graves and oceans.

Sluiced by salt water and fresh, by pure and contaminated rivers,
By snow and sand, it separates and recombines all droplets and grains,
Even the infinite sub-atomic particles crushed under the illustrated,
Varying treads of its wide circumferential track.

Spraying flecks of tar and molten rock it rumbles
Through the Antarctic station of American sailors and technicians,
And shakes the floors and windows of whorehouses for diggers and smelters
From Bethany, Pennsylvania to a practically nameless, semi-penal New Town

In the mineral-rich tundra of the Soviet northernmost settlements.
Artists illuminate it with pictures and incised mottoes
Taken from the Ten Thousand Stories and the Register of True Dramas.
They hang it with colored ribbons and with bells of many pitches.

With paints and chisels and moving lights they record
On its rotating surface the elegant and terrifying doings
Of the inhabitants of the Hundred Pantheons of major Gods
Disposed in iconographic stations at hub, spoke and concentric bands,

And also the grotesque demi-Gods, Hopi gargoyles and Ibo dryads.
They cover it with wind-chimes and electronic instruments
That vibrate as it rolls to make an all-but-unthinkable music,
So that the wheel hums and rings as it turns through the births of stars

And through the dead-world of bomb, fireblast and fallout
Where only a few doomed races of insects fumble in the smoking grasses.
It is Jesus oblivious to hurt turning to give words to the unrighteous,
And is also Gogol's feeding pig that without knowing it eats a baby chick

And goes on feeding. It is the empty armor of My Cid, clattering
Into the arrows of the credulous unbelievers, a metal suit
Like the lost astronaut revolving with his useless umbilicus
Through the cold streams, neither energy nor matter, that agitate

The cold, cyclical dark, turning and returning.
Even in the scorched and frozen world of the dead after the holocaust
The wheel as it turns goes on accreting ornaments.
Scientists and artists festoon it from the grave with brilliant

Toys and messages, jokes and zodiacs, tragedies conceived
From among the dreams of the unemployed and the pampered,
The listless and the tortured. It is hung with devices
By dead masters who have survived by reducing themselves magically

To tiny organisms, to wisps of matter, crumbs of soil,
Bits of dry skin, microscopic flakes, which is why they are called "great,"
In their humility that goes on celebrating the turning
Of the wheel as it rolls unrelentingly over

A cow plodding through car-traffic on a street in Iasi,
And over the haunts of Robert Pinsky's mother and father
And wife and children and his sweet self
Which he hereby unwillingly and inexpertly gives up, because it is

There, figured and pre-figured in the nothing-transfiguring wheel.

(From The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996, pp. 105--106. First published in Plougshares, 1983)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 21: Mark Strand

Hopefully these will be the last...(for winter, I mean).

Lines For Winter
by Mark Strand

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself --
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

Monday, April 20, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 20: Naomi Shihab Nye

Two Countries
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Skin remembers how long the years grow
when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel
of singleness, feather lost from the tail
of a bird, swirling onto a step,
swept away by someone who never saw
it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,
slept by itself, knew how to raise a
see-you-later hand. But skin felt
it was never seen, never known as
a land on the map, nose like a city,
hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque
and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.

Skin had hope, that's what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.
Love means you breathe in two countries.
And skin remembers--silk, spiny grass,
deep in the pocket that is skin's secret own.
Even now, when skin is not alone,
it remembers being alone and thanks something larger
that there are travelers, that people go places
larger than themselves.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 19: Joe Brainard

Here's an excerpt from Joe Brainard's moving collaged memoir, I Remember, from 1975.

I remember the first time i got a letter that said "After Five Days Return To" on the envelope, and I thought that after I had kept the letter for five days I was supposed to return it to the sender.

I remember the kick I used to get going through my parents' drawers looking for rubbers. (Peacock.)

I remember when polio was the worst thing in the world.

I remember pink dress shirts. And bola ties.

I remember when a kid told me that those sour clover-like leaves we used to eat (with little yellow flowers) tasted so sour because dogs peed on them. I remember that didn't stop me from eating them.

I remember the first drawing I remember doing. It was of a bride with a very long train.

I remember my first cigarette. It was a Kent. Up on a hill. In Tulsa, Oklahoma. With Ron Padgett.


I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

I remember when I got a five-year pin for not missing a single morning of Sunday School for five years (Methodist.)

I remember when I went to a "come as your favorite person" party as Marilyn Monroe.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 18: Robin Behn

Gray Bird
by Robin Behn

Fathoms down, the whale
makes its song for the Other,
fathoms down and fathoms

upon fathoms far away.
The sound ranges out
like underwater mountains,

summits smoothed
by rain falling through
rain through deeper rain.

In the nearness small fish
flash and turn turn
and flash flash and turn.

But the mountains
in the background are still
in the background,

and something moves
along the dip and dome of ridge.
It is like the moon,

no, Neptune lapping
earth one and a half
times in this our life.

It takes the deep keen ear
and the gray heart
of the Other to hear it,

the way you have to turn
into earth
to feel earth turn.
Faith has a slow pulse.
Monks may know,
or those in steady pain.

We met every two years.
But now the undulation of our joy
lengthens to ten.

Around us,
our own lives
flash. Flash, and turn

away from this Other thing
whose crest and depth
undoes us.

Barnacled, sea-strewn pulse
confirming an

Thursday, April 16, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 16: Edna St. Vincent Millay

I'm skipping right over the fact that I've skipped a day here and a day there this month....and present you with a favorite.

There are no words for Ms. Millay. Except hers.

Only until this cigarette is ended
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Only until this cigarette is ended,
A little moment at the end of all,
While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
And in the firelight to a lance extended,
Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
The broken shadow dances on the wall,
I will permit my memory to recall
The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
And then adieu,--farewell!--the dream is done.
Yours is a face of which I can forget
The colour and the features, every one,
The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
But in your day this moment is the sun
Upon a hill, after the sun has set.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 14: C.D. Wright

by C.D. Wright

Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not one
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won awards
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.

Monday, April 13, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 13: Paul Celan

O Little Root of a Dream
by Paul Celan
Translated by Heather McHugh and Nikolai Popov

O little root of a dream
you hold me here
undermined by blood,
no longer visible to anyone,
property of death.

Curve a face
that there may be speech, of earth,
of ardor, of
things with eyes, even
here, where you read me blind,

where you
refute me,
to the letter.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 12: Michael Dickman

If you have been following my blog this month, you might remember Day 1's poem, "Slow Dance," by Matthew Dickman. The poem below is written by his identical twin brother Michael. There was an article about these two in a recent NYer. And I remembered that the poem below is one I'd saved last year, to return to. I even sent it to a few folks, but I didn't make the Matthew to Michael connection until I read the article. In any case, here it is. A poem I covet.

We Did Not Make Ourselves
by Michael Dickman

We did not make ourselves is one thing
I keep singing into my hands
while falling

for just a second

before I have to get up and turn on all the lights in the house, one after the other, like opening an Advent calendar

My brain opening
the chemical miracles in my brain
switching on

I can hear

dogs barking
some trees
last stars

You think you’ll be missed
it won’t last long
I promise


I’m not dead but I am
standing very still
in the back yard
staring up at the maple
thirty years ago
a tiny kid waiting on the ground
alone in heaven
in the world
in white sneakers

I’m having a good time humming along to everything I can still remember
back there

How we’re born

Made to look up at everything we didn’t make

We didn’t
make grass, mosquitoes
or breast cancer

We didn’t make yellow jackets

or sunlight



I didn’t make my brain
but I’m helping
to finish it

Carefully stacking up everything I made next to everything I ruined in broad

daylight in bright

This morning I killed a fly
and didn’t lie down
next to the body
like we’re supposed to

We’re supposed to

Soon I’m going to wake up


There is only this world and this world

What a relief

over and over

Saturday, April 11, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 11: William Carlos Williams

Not one of his famous. But one I love nonetheless.

by William Carlos Williams

I will teach you my townspeople
how to perform a funeral
for you have it over a troop
of artists—
unless one should scour the world—
you have the ground sense necessary.

See! the hearse leads.
I begin with a design for a hearse.
For Christ's sake not black—
nor white either — and not polished!
Let it be whethered—like a farm wagon—
with gilt wheels (this could be
applied fresh at small expense)
or no wheels at all:
a rough dray to drag over the ground.

Knock the glass out!
My God—glass, my townspeople!
For what purpose? Is it for the dead
to look out or for us to see
the flowers or the lack of them—
or what?
To keep the rain and snow from him?
He will have a heavier rain soon:
pebbles and dirt and what not.
Let there be no glass—
and no upholstery, phew!
and no little brass rollers
and small easy wheels on the bottom—
my townspeople, what are you thinking of?
A rough plain hearse then
with gilt wheels and no top at all.
On this the coffin lies
by its own weight.

No wreathes please—
especially no hot house flowers.
Some common memento is better,
something he prized and is known by:
his old clothes—a few books perhaps—
God knows what! You realize
how we are about these things
my townspeople—
something will be found—anything
even flowers if he had come to that.
So much for the hearse.

For heaven's sake though see to the driver!
Take off the silk hat! In fact
that's no place at all for him—
up there unceremoniously
dragging our friend out to his own dignity!
Bring him down—bring him down!
Low and inconspicuous! I'd not have him ride
on the wagon at all—damn him!—
the undertaker's understrapper!
Let him hold the reins
and walk at the side
and inconspicuously too!

Then briefly as to yourselves:
Walk behind—as they do in France,
seventh class, or if you ride
Hell take curtains! Go with some show
of inconvenience; sit openly—
to the weather as to grief.
Or do you think you can shut grief in?
What—from us? We who have perhaps
nothing to lose? Share with us
share with us—it will be money
in your pockets.
Go now
I think you are ready.

Friday, April 10, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 9: Eugene Hutz

I've been revisiting Gogol Bordello the way I used to...and decided to stretch the definition of poetry for yesterday's post. This short video makes me feel the same way that a perfect poem does...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 8: Marie Howe

One of my all-time favorite living poets. So I'm offering two short ones by Ms. Howe.

Part of Eve's Discussion

It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.

From The Good Thief, Persea Books 1988

The Gate

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world

would be the space my brother's body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man

but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,

rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.

This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I'd say, What?

And he'd say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I'd say, What?

And he'd say, This, sort of looking around.

From What the Living Do by Marie Howe. © 1997

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 7: Walt Whitman

Can't go too long into April without dishing out some Whitman...these classic stanzas at that:

Song of Myself I
by Walt Whitman

I Celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,
this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and
their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

Creeds and schools in abeyance,
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check with original energy.

Monday, April 06, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 6: Mary Oliver

So, here's the thing. Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, David Whyte...these were the poets who pulled me into language very young, who said things, specifically about the natural world, that I didn't know you could. They wrote things that at the time made sense to me, and make sense to me still. I don't go to them anymore to inspire me toward the brilliant stanza or the line or even toward poetry in general. BUT they still inspire me toward thoughtfulness and attention and a general kind of spiritual looking-around, a kindness, if you will, toward the world.

I recently participated in a reading in upstate NY. One of the other readers read a poem he'd written that essentially made fun--and fun is an understated adjective in this case--of this kind of poetry, and at Mary Oliver's expense. By "this kind of poetry" I suppose I mean accessible poetry, poetry about the natural world (?), inspirational poetry, poetry that has made its poets successful and well-known, put them on NPR and allowed them to make a living at what they do, poetry that isn't tinged with the kind of snarky cynicism that makes me want to crawl under a rock. As my favorite rocker Eugene Hutz said in an interview last year, "It's too easy to be a cynic. It's too easy to be ironic. It's too easy to be negative...I think that being here on Earth is a gift to make a full use of before whatever the next stage is."

So, with that, I honor Mary Oliver, and all the other poets that don't have to be clever, cryptic, cynical, and ICKY in order to be brilliant:

Cold Poem
by Mary Oliver

Cold now.
Close to the edge. Almost
unbearable. Clouds
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.

I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handfuls of grain.

Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly,
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe

that is what it means the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.

In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
ourselves alive,
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 5: Jane Mead

This woman runs a ranch in Northern California, and I love her poetry. It's often dense, but I like the puzzle of it...the way I have to work to get in there.

The Origin
by Jane Mead

of what happened is not in language—
of this much I am certain.
Six degrees south, six east—

and you have it: the bird
with the blue feathers, the brown bird—
same white breasts, same scaly

ankles. The waves between us—
house light and transform motion
into the harboring of sounds in language.—

Where there is newsprint
the fact of desire is turned from again—
and again. Just the sense

that what remains might well be held up—
later, as an ending.
Twice I have walked through this life—

once for nothing, once
for facts: fairy-shrimp in the vernal pool—
glassy-winged sharp-shooter

on the failing vines. Count me—
among the animals, their small
committed calls.—

Count me among
the living. My greatest desire—
to exist in a physical world.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 4: Catie Rosemurgy

I read this poem often, and repetitively, because I understand it more each time. It's gorgeous, and written by a woman who I overlapped with at the University of Alabama.

Love, with Trees and Lightning

by Catie Rosemurgy

I've been thinking about what love is for.
Not the dramatic part where he gathers
until he is as purposeful inside her
as an electric storm. Not when he breaks
into a thanks so bright it leaves her split
like a tree. (How we all jolt back, our picnic
ten shades lighter, our hands clapped over awe
that is too big for our mouths, our raw hearts
more tender now that they're a little burned.)

No, not the connecting and charring part.
(After all, nothing we like to call lightning
stays very long among the branches.)
But the two of them, afterwards, tasting
the electricity. Nibbling the charge
on the ions. When her soul has already
risked coming to meet him at the wide open
window of her skin. When what is left
of his body still feels huge, and he sits draped
in his fine, long coat of animal muscles
but uses all this strength to be human
and almost imperceptible. They curl up,
make their bodies the same size, draw promises
in one another's juices. "You," they say.
I love it when they say that.

Would that they could give a solid reason.
Sometimes they even refuse to try. They make jokes
while cinching their laces—"I'll call soon,"
"You are so sweet." The rank sugar of his breath
doesn't summarize the world for her. "Not you," they say.

And nothing bad has happened. They just turn
the doorknob that has been shining in their hands
the whole time, walk out, and continue to die.
Same as the rest of us. So maybe love
is a form of crying. Of finishing
what autumn leaves always start and turning
a brilliant color before we drift down.

Name one living thing that doesn't
somehow bloom. None of them get to choose
the right conditions. Think of fire, of orchids.
She's already up the street when he feels
his body pale, close, and become insufficient.
"If you go," he says out the door, "I go too."

There is no one like him, but she has no hope
of ever proving it. Instead she stays up
pressing old secrets into his skin and asking
if it hurts. He sets her on top of himself
so he can't leave without her and confesses
to feeling as if he almost matters,
as if he no longer disappears
as soon as he connects with something
receptive on the ground. She says she will
split in half for him a million times.
They bring flowers and carpet and children
into the act, stand by one another's side
for years. They refuse to move, ever. They act
as if they've found the only hospitable
spot on earth. I love it when they do that.

Copyright © 2003 Catie Rosemurgy All rights reserved
from River Styx

National Poetry Month, Day 3: Galway Kinnell

It's only the first week and I already missed a day! Oh, the keeping up...

This beautiful poem for Day 3 (yesterday) is a suggestion from my new friend Valerie R:

St. Francis and the Sow
by Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 2: Bruce Smith

This poem was written by a professor who helped guide me through my MFA and is from his book The Other Lover, which was a finalist years back for the National Book Award.

After St. Vincent Millay

by Bruce Smith

When I saw you again, distant, sparrow-boned
under the elegant clothes you wear in your life without me,
I thought, No, No, let her be the one
this time to look up at an oblivious me.
Let her find the edge of the cliff with her foot,
blindfolded. Let her be the one struck by the lightning
of the other so that the heart is jolted
from the ribs and the rest of the body is nothing
but ash. It’s a sad, familiar story
I wish you were telling me with this shabby excuse:
I never loved you anymore
than I hated myself for loving you.

And about that other guy by your side
you left me for. I hope he dies.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

National Poetry Month, Day 1: Matthew Dickman

Happy National Poetry Month! I'm going to attempt this again this year, trying, more or less, to post a poem a day. I am in the midst of moving apartments so it maybe be inconsistent at best. But to start the very first day off, I give you this lovely poem, a new favorite (and you can read a great profile about him and identical twin brother in the most recent NYer):

Slow Dance

by Matthew Dickman

More than putting another man on the moon,
more than a New Year's resolution of yogurt and yoga,
we need the opportunity to dance
with really exquisite strangers. A slow dance
between the couch and dining room table, at the end
of the party, while the person we love has gone
to bring the car around
because it's begun to rain and would break their heart
if any part of us got wet. A slow dance
to bring the evening home. Two people
rocking back and forth like a buoy. Nothing extravagant.
A little music. An empty bottle of whiskey.
It's a little like cheating. Your head resting
on his shoulder, your breath moving up his neck.
Your hands along her spine. Her hips
unfolding like a cotton napkin
and you begin to think about
how all the stars in the sky are dead. The my body
is talking to your body slow dance. The Unchained Melody,
Stairway to Heaven, power-chord slow dance. All my life
I've made mistakes. Small
and cruel. I made my plans.
I never arrived. I ate my food. I drank my wine.
The slow dance doesn't care. It's all kindness like children
before they turn three. Like being held in the arms
of my brother. The slow dance of siblings.
Two men in the middle of the room. When I dance with him,
one of my great loves, he is absolutely human,
and when he turns to dip me
or I step on his foot because we are both leading,
I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer.
The slow dance of what's to come
and the slow dance of insomnia
pouring across the floor like bath water.
When the woman I'm sleeping with
stands naked in the bathroom,
brushing her teeth, the slow dance of ritual is being spit
into the sink. There is no one to save us
because there is no need to be saved.
I've hurt you. I've loved you. I've mowed
the front yard. When the stranger wearing a sheer white dress
covered in a million beads
slinks toward me like an over-sexed chandelier suddenly come to life,
I take her hand in mine. I spin her out
and bring her in. This is the almond grove
in the dark slow dance.
It is what we should be doing right now. Scraping
for joy. The haiku and honey. The orange and orangutan slow dance.

from the book All American Poem published by APR press