Wise Poets – Adam Zagajewski – Boogie-Woogie

Adam Zagajewski 2014

Adam Zagajewski (June 21, 1945 – March 21, 2021) You shout from the other roomYou ask me how to spell boogie-woogieAnd instantly I think what luckno war has been declaredno fire has consumedour city’s monumentsour bodies our dwellingsThe river didn’t floodno friendshave been arrestedIt’s only boogie-woogieI sigh relievedand say it’s spelled just like it soundsboogie-woogie …

Wise Poets – Alison Townsend – Pantoum From The Window Of The Room Where I Write

Alison Townsend

Alison Townsend At sunset the russet oak turns into a lamp.Each polished leaf glows amber, lit by sun.As a child, I raked leaves with my mother each fall.We burned small pyres, their flames the color of loss. Each polished leaf glows amber, lit by sun.I could not know my mother would die young.We burned small …

Wise Poets – Maria Mazziotti Gillan – Everything We Don’t Want Them to Know

Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Maria Mazziotti Gillan At eleven, my granddaughter looks like my daughterdid, that slender body, that thin face, the gracewith which she moves. When she visits, she sitswith my daughter; they have hot chocolate togetherand talk. The way my granddaughter moves her hands,the concentration with which she does everything,knocks me back to the time when I …

Wise Poets – Scott Owens – Cleaning House

Scott Owens

Scott Owens Pulling the house down piece by piece,we see each other at our worstbefore we've even had our first date,my face itching with black insulation,yours covered with white dust of sheetrock.We scrape off paint and paper, buff outspots, old glue, unexplainedstains, remove tacky panelingrevealing forgotten charm, originalbeadboard, hard woods, solid ceilings.We're woefully unprepared, untrained,undertooled, …

Wise Poets – Elizabeth Train-Brown – Gods, Monsters, And Complex PTSD

Elizabeth Train-Brown

Elizabeth Train-Brown I feel unraveledI feel like scriptureI feel like the words of prophetstorn aparttranslatedretranslatedrewrittenspread to countries that don’t carewhat I have to say. I feel like taking out the middle mantaking out the writerthe penthe pageburrowing my face through the undergrowthslithering through the cracksof a confession boothand whispering my sinsthrough a mouthful of leaves. …

Wise Poets – Toi Derricotte – After All Those Years Of Fear And Raging In My Poems

Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte (April 12, 1941 -) How I thrived from the triflesin my aunt Lenora’s handbag—Tums,pencils, Lifesavers, fancycolored cards—how, in the early morningbefore dawn, beforemy parents rose, her welcoming sheetshid me from the house’sstorms. She’d listen tomy far-fetched taleswhile I (standing on a stool) “helped”her dry dishes; or, after, when we’dwalk through the neighborhood’sdeep night, …

Wise Poets – Perie Longo – While Watching a Video of the Dalai Lama

Perie Longo

Perie Longo For my husband Everything I see or hear is about him.This morning, the Dalai Lamasays there is so much sufferingin the world he can’t do much. With his monks he sifts colored sandinto an intricate design for peace,then sweeps it away. They collectthe remains in a small jar, sprinkle a littleon top of …

Wise Poets – Steven Espada Dawson – At the Arcade I Paint Your Footprints

Steven Espada Dawson

Steven Espada Dawson That summer we’d hop fencesand call them gates. You’d shark pool, then we’d hunt deerwith all the quarters you tricked. You smiled when they leaptout of view. Passed me that orange rifle, told me to aimthen close my eyes for ten years. My antlered brother, momwon’t sell the house so you can …

Wise Poets – Heather Allen – Night In The Mountains

Heather Allen

Heather Allen Gradually along the rangeAll things exchange their lightFor darkness. Single oaksOn hills that burned with goldMerge now in shadow, And hawks sail outOver the valley,Its air like a mirror Filling with night,That takes our imagesAnd does not return them, Just as the pinesBlot out our voices,And even the stones at our feet Fade …

Wise Poets – June Adrienne Su – The Lazy Susan

June Adrienne Su

June Adrienne Su The lazy Susan, in antiquity, would have been a fire.Drinking all night, the parents never get drunk.This is an ancient brew, with nuts, seeds, fruitto fuel the hours, to light a center.The tea dispenser’s orange light reminds us:they’re in the dining room, laughing in Chinesewhile we play Scrabble or Monopoly out here.They’re …

Wise Poets – Alicia Elsbeth Stallings – Deictic

Alicia Elsbeth Stallings

Alicia Elsbeth Stallings (July 2, 1968  -)  Dear A., Even before the virus, theseWere nearly empty galleries,But now we have these cluttered shelvesAnd halls of statues to ourselves.Stickers on the floor, in Greek,Tell us “Watch your apostasies”: “Mind your distance,” so to speak.But since the guards outnumber usThere is no nearness we need fear,No tourists …

Wise Poets – May Sarton – Moose In The Morning

May Sarton

May Sarton (May 3, 1912 – July 16, 1995) Oh wild and gentle beast,Immense antlered shape,This morning in the meadow!Like something ancient, lostAnd found now, promise kept,Emerging from the shadow,Emerging while I slept—Wilderness and escape!You set me free to shirkThe day's demanding workAnd cast my guilt away.You make a truant of meThis moose-enchanted dayWhen all …

Wise Poets – Gabrielle Calvocoressi – Hammond B3 Organ Cistern

Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Gabrielle Calvocoressi The days I don’t want to kill myselfare extraordinary. Deep bass. All the peoplein the streets waiting for their high fivesand leaping, I mean leaping,when they see me. I am the sun-filledgod of love. Or at least an optimisticunder-secretary. There should be a word for it.The days you wake up and do not wantto …

Wise Poets – Barbara Quick – Falling

Barbara Quick

Barbara Quick That hair’s breadth of a moment,knowing that the body has lurched outsidethe mind’s controland is falling. The head-first journey of nine feetpowered by a thirty-pound backpack–seeing not lights, but the hubrisof that one false, resentful stepupwards onto the fallen tree-trunkblocking the trail–that one unpracticed vaultup to a place where balance–my balance–is suddenly gone. …

Wise Poets – Lisel Mueller – Romantics

Lisel Mueller

Lisel Mueller (February 8, 1924 – February 21, 2020) For Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms The modern biographers worry“how far it went,” their tender friendship.They wonder just what it meanswhen he writes he thinks of her constantly,his guardian angel, beloved friend.The modern biographers askthe rude, irrelevant questionof our age, as if the eventof two bodies …

Wise Poets – Elinor Morton Wylie – Full Moon

Elinor Morton Wylie

Elinor Morton Wylie (September 7, 1885 – December 16, 1928) My bands of silk and miniverMomently grew heavier;The black gauze was beggarly thin;The ermine muffled mouth and chin;I could not suck the moonlight in. Harlequin in lozengesOf love and hate, I walked in theseStriped and ragged rigmaroles;Along the pavement my footsolesTrod warily on living coals. …

Wise Poets – Kim Robert Stafford – Curse Of The Charmed Life

Kim Robert Stafford

Kim Robert Stafford (October 15, 1949 -) Things pretty much worked out for you—you have what you need, and if you need more,you have people ready and able to provide. Sure, someday your luck will run out,you’ll be helpless, then gone, and your peoplewill gather in your honor. There will be music, and tears. People …

Wise Poets – Linda Pastan – The Ordinary Weather of Summer

Linda Pastan

Linda Pastan (May 27, 1932 -) In the ordinary weather of summerwith storms rumbling from west to eastlike so many freight trains haulingtheir cargo of heat and rain,the dogs sprawl on the back steps, panting,insects assemble at every window,and we quarrel again, bombardingeach other with small grievances,our tempers flashing on and offin bursts of heat …

Wise Poets – John Keats – Ode To A Grecian Urn

John Keats

John Keats (October 31, 1795 – February 23, 1821) Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness!Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,Sylvan historian, who canst thus expressA flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shapeOf deities or mortals, or of both,In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?What men or gods are …

Wise Poets – Roxane Beth Johnson – Blues for Almost Forgotten Music

Roxane Beth Johnson

Roxane Beth Johnson I am trying to remember the lyrics of old songsI’ve forgotten, mostlyI am trying to remember one-hit wonders, hymns,and musicals like West Side Story.Singing over and over what I can recall, I hum remnants onbuses and in the car. I am so often alone these days with echoes of these old songsand …

Wise Poets – Dana Gioia – Photograph Of My Mother As A Young Girl

Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia (December 24, 1950 -) She wasn't lookingwhen they took this picture:sitting on the grassin her bare feetwearing a cotton dress,she stares off to the sidewatching something on the lawnthe camera didn't catch.What was it?A ladybug? A flower?Judging from her expression,possibly nothing at all,or elsethe lawn was like a mirror,and she sat watching herself,wondering …

Wise Poets – William Shakespeare – Excerpt from The Tempest Act 4, Scene 1

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) Our revels now are ended. These our actors,As I foretold you, were all spirits andAre melted into air, into thin air:And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,The solemn temples, the great globe itself,Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolveAnd, like …

Wise Poets – Grace Paley – The Poet’s Occasional Alternative

Grace Paley

Grace Paley (December 11, 1922 – August 22, 2007) I was going to write a poemI made a pie instead      it tookabout the same amount of timeof course the pie was a finaldraft      a poem would have had somedistance to go      days and weeks andmuch crumpled paperthe pie already had a talkingtumbling audience among smalltrucks and a fire …

Wise Poets – Hazem Fahmy – Rehearsal For The New World

Hazem Fahmy

Hazem Fahmy Hours before the TV, my mouthagape, repeating after every American cartoonendlessly. Call it a meditation; was I not emptying my mindof language? Mouthing every syllable,like prayer–God, make me a true American,i.e. invisible, yetever-present. What a rush it wasto speak empireat such a young age. Later, I am asked: how did you getthis accent? …

Wise Poets – Galway Mills Kinnell – Wait

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Galway Mills Kinnell (February 1, 1927 – October 28, 2014) Wait, for now.Distrust everything if you have to.But trust the hours. Haven’t theycarried you everywhere, up to now?Personal events will become interesting again.Hair will become interesting.Pain will become interesting.Buds that open out of season will become interesting.Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;their memories are what …

Wise Poets – Jane Hirshfield – Today, When I Could Do Nothing

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield (February 24, 1953 -) Today, when I could do nothing,I saved an ant. It must have come in with the morning paper,still being deliveredto those who shelter in place. A morning paper is still an essential service. I am not an essential service. I have coffee and books,time,a garden,silence enough to fill cisterns. …

Wise Poets – Robert Herrick – To The Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick (August 24, 1591 – October 15, 1674) Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,Old Time is still a-flying;And this same flower that smiles todayTomorrow will be dying. The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,The higher he’s a-getting,The sooner will his race be run,And nearer he’s to setting. That age is best which is the …

Wise Poets – Matthew Olzmann – Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem

Matthew Olzmann

Matthew Olzmann So here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriagemight work: Because you wear pink but write poemsabout bullets and gravestones. Because you yellat your keys when you lose them, and laugh,loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercialsfrom thirty years back …

Wise Poets – Tiana Clark – First Date During Social Distance

Tiana Clark

Tiana Clark Everything wanted to be touched:My bottom lip, the freshly bustedcherry blossoms, creamy drippingslike soft fluttering pearls that edgedthe lack (I meant to write lakebut kept the mistake) as I rimmedthe risky desires. And you, youwere all new, suffused with muskand sadness, height and a milk-chocolate sweater that curledat the collar rim, filling outyour …

Wise Poets – Sara Teasdale – There Will Come Soft Rains

Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale (August 8, 1884 – January 29, 1933) (War Time)There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;And frogs in the pools singing at night,And wild plum trees in tremulous white,Robins will wear their feathery fireWhistling their whims on a low fence-wire;And not one will know …

Wise Poets – Stephen Elliot Dunn – An Evolution Of Prayer

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Stephen Elliot Dunn (June 24, 1939 – June 24, 2021) As a child, some of his prayers were answeredbecause he prayed out loud for a kite or bike,which his mother would overhear, and pass onto her husband, his father, the Lord. Later, he understood that when he prayedhe was mostly talking to himself—albeit a better,more …

Wise Poets – William Carlos Williams – Pastoral

William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) When I was youngerit was plain to meI must make something of myself.Older nowI walk back streetsadmiring the housesof the very poor:roof out of line with sidesthe yards clutteredwith old chicken wire, ashes,furniture gone wrong;the fences and outhousesbuilt of barrel stavesand parts of boxes, all,if …

Wise Poets – Jane Kenyon – Three Songs at the End of Summer

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Jane Kenyon (May 23, 1947 – April 22, 1995) A second crop of hay lies cutand turned. Five gleaming crowssearch and peck between the rows.They make a low, companionable squawk,and like midwives and undertakerspossess a weird authority. Crickets leap from the stubble,parting before me like the Red Sea.The garden sprawls and spoils. Across the lake …

Wise Poets – Paul Laurence Dunbar – In Summer Time

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Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) When summer time has come, and allThe world is in the magic thrallOf perfumed airs that lull each senseTo fits of drowsy indolence;When skies are deepest blue above,And flow'rs aflush,—then most I loveTo start, while early dews are damp,And wend my way in woodland trampWhere …

Wise Poets – Kwame Opoku-Duku – They’ll Ask You Where it Hurts the Most

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Kwame Opoku-Duku Blessed be the bitternessat your core, that quiet lightgrowing quieter still,like the dull moan that escapesyour lips while you dream.They’ll ask you, child,what you know of suffering.They’ll ask you where it hurtsthe most, when the pain changeslike wavelengths of lightin the evening sky, when the criesof the ancestors ring out to youfrom the …

Wise Poets – Robert Pinsky – At Mt. Auburn Cemetery

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Robert Pinsky (October 20, 1940 -) Walking among the graves for exerciseWhere do you get your ideas how do I stop themLooking for Mike Mazur’s marker I lookedDown at the grass and saw Stanislaw BaranczakOur Solidarity poetry reading in PoznanYears later in Newton now he said I’m a U.S.Liberal with a car like everybody elseWhen …

Wise Poets – Heather McHugh – Better Or Worse

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Heather McHugh (August 20, 1948 -) I. Daily, the kindergartenerspassed my porch. I lovedtheir likeness and variety,their selves in line like littlemonosyllables, but huggable—I wasn't meant to grab them, ever,up into actual besmooches or downinto grubbiest tumbles, my lot was notto have them, in the flesh.Was it better or worse to lettheir lovability go by …

Wise Poets – Clint Margrave – Toad Dies And Goes To Heaven

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Clint Margrave In memory of Gerald Locklin Nobody is more surprised than he is.First of all, Toad doesn’t believe in heaven,and secondly, even if he did,he never expected to visit. In fact, he’s minorly disappointed.Has he failed to achieve the properlydebauched life he so often courted? But the food tastes good.And you can drink all …

Wise Poets – Dilruba Ahmedq – Bring Now The Angels

dilruba ahmedq

Dilruba Ahmedq To test your pulse as you sleep.Bring the healer the howler the listening ear— Bring an apothecary to mix the tincture—We need the salvethe tablet the capsuleof the hour— Bring sword-eatersand those who will swallow fire—Fetch the guardian to flatten the wheelchair,to hoist it toward heaven:the public shuttle awaitsthe ceaseless trips to the …

Wise Poets – Yesenia Montilla – A Brief Meditation On Breath

yesenia montilla

Yesenia Montilla i have diver’s lungs from holding mybreath for so long. i promise youi am not trying to break a recordsometimes i just forget toexhale. my shoulders held tightlynear my neck, i am a ball of tenseliving, a tumbleweed with steel-toedboots. i can’t remember the last timei felt light as dandelion. i can’t rememberthe …

Wise Poets – Adrienne Rich – Power

Adrienne Rich 

Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012) Living    in the earth-deposits    of our historyToday a backhoe divulged    out of a crumbling flank of earthone bottle    amber    perfect    a hundred-year-oldcure for fever    or melancholy    a tonicfor living on this earth    in the winters of this climateToday I was reading about Marie Curie:she must have known she suffered    from radiation sicknessher body bombarded for years    by …

Wise Poets – Meghan Dunn – Response, Years Later, to Two Male Poets I Overheard Discussing How Sick They Were of Women’s Poems about the Body

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Meghan Dunn I too am sick of the body.I too am sick of being a body,am sick of being sick about my body,have made myself sick over how to care forand clothe it, how to make it behave,make it need less. Walking in the street,I have wished it might dissolveso that I might more clearly …

Wise Poets – Rainer Maria Rilke – Death

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (December 04, 1875 – December 29, 1926) Before us great Death standsOur fate held close within his quiet hands.When with proud joy we lift Life's red wineTo drink deep of the mystic shining cupAnd ecstasy through all our being leaps—Death bows his head and weeps.

Wise Poets – Jane Mead – I Wonder If I Will Miss The Moss

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Jane Mead (August 13, 1958 – September 8, 2019) I wonder if I will miss the mossafter I fly off as much as I miss it nowjust thinking about leaving. There were stones of many colors.There were sticks holding bothlichen and moss.There were red gates with oldhand-forged hardware.There were fields of dry grasssmelling of first …

Wise Poets – Ursula K Le Guin – Hymn To Time

ursula k le guin

Ursula K Le Guin (October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) Time says “Let there be”every moment and instantlythere is space and the radianceof each bright galaxy.And eyes beholding radiance.And the gnats’ flickering dance.And the seas’ expanse.And death, and chance.Time makes roomfor going and coming homeand in time’s wombbegins all ending.Time is being and beingtime, …

Wise Poets – Patricia Fargnoli – After the Dream of My Death

patricia fargnoli

Patricia Fargnoli (November 16, 1937 – February 18, 2021) I wake up to a world that is invisible,no golden trees, no picnic spread on the lawn.The ladies in hats have finished their teaand moved on. None of the questions I spent life askinghave been answered.Transience, evanescence, the dispersal of dust.God knows where, and is no …

Wise Poets – Ted Kooser – In the Basement of the Goodwill Store

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Theodore J. Kooser (April 25, 1939) In the musty light, in the thin brown airof damp carpet, doll heads and rust,beneath long rows of sharp footfallslike nails in a lid, an old man standstrying on glasses, lifting each pairfrom the box like a glittering fishand holding it up to the lightof a dirty bulb. Near …

Wise Poets – Angelina Weld Grimké – Little Grey Dreams

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Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880 – June 10, 1958) Little grey dreams,I sit at the ocean’s edge,At the grey ocean’s edge,With you in my lap. I launch you, one by one,And one by one,Little grey dreams,Under the grey, grey, clouds,Out on the grey, grey, sea,You go sailing away,From my empty lap,Little grey dreams. Sailing! …

Wise Poets – John Paul Martinez – To Offer Sweet Fruit To The Ghost

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John Paul Martinez For Lolo Ma says not to swat at the houseflychirring in our headspace for the past two hoursbecause it just might be you. Ma shows me the flimsy browned picturesof you & me in your workshop, a scored-leather tool belt strapped acrossyour chest like a bandolier. My whole body smaller stillthan a …

Wise Poets – Guillaume Apollinaire – The Pretty Redhead

guillaume apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire (August 26, 1880 – November 09,1918) I stand here in the sight of everyone a man full of senseKnowing life and knowing of death what a living man can knowHaving gone through the griefs and happinesses of loveHaving known sometimes how to impose his ideasKnowing several languagesHaving travelled more than a littleHaving seen …

Wise Poets – Kim Dower – Visiting Eleanor

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Kim Dower Barbara, my childhood piano teacherplayed Chopin like he was whisperinginto her hands, all us kids from the buildinghad our Saturday morning lessons, apartment 6C,our giddy fingers trotting in the key of G,lifting high for Mozart, metronome tickingas her coffee brewed, her sandy-haired husbandat the wooden breakfast table, mug, cigarettetight in his hands, he …

Wise Poets – Emily Bronte – No Coward Soul Is Mine

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Emily Jane Brontë (July 30, 1818 – December 19, 1848) No coward soul is mineNo trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphereI see Heaven's glories shineAnd Faith shines equal arming me from Fear O God within my breastAlmighty ever-present DeityLife, that in me hast rest,As I Undying Life, have power in Thee Vain are the thousand …

Wise Poets – Denise Levertov – Aware

Denise Levertov

Priscilla Denise Levertov (October 24, 1923 – December 20, 1997) When I opened the doorI found the vine leavesspeaking among themselves in abundantwhispers.                   My presence made themhush their green breath,embarrassed, the wayhumans stand up, buttoning their jackets,acting as if they were leaving anyway, as ifthe conversation had endedjust before you arrived.                                               I likedthe glimpse I had, though,of …

Wise Poets – David Whyte – Sometimes

David Whyte

David Whyte (November 02, 1955 -) Sometimesif you move carefullythrough the forest,breathinglike the onesin the old stories,who could crossa shimmering bed of leaveswithout a sound,you come to a placewhose only taskis to trouble youwith tinybut frightening requests,conceived out of nowherebut in this placebeginning to lead everywhere.Requests to stop whatyou are doing right now,andto stop what …

Wise Poets – Alfonsina Storni – I’m Going To Sleep

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Alfonsina Storni (May 29, 1892 – October 25, 1938) Teeth of flowers, bonnet of dew,hands of grass, you, lovely nursemaid,turn down the earthen sheets for meand the quilt of weeded moss. I’m going to sleep, my nurse, tuck me in,put a lamp on my headboard;a constellation; whichever you like;both are fine; lower the light a little. Leave …

Wise Poets – William Blake – To the Evening Star

William Blake

William Blake  (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827) Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, lightThy bright torch of love; thy radiant crownPut on, and smile upon our evening bed!Smile on our loves; and, while thou drawest theBlue curtains of the sky, scatter thy silver dewOn every flower …

Wise Poets – Anna Akhmatova – In Memory of M. B.

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Anna Andreyevna Gorenko (June 11, 1889 – 05, March 1966) better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova Here is my gift, not roses on your grave,not sticks of burning incense.You lived aloof, maintaining to the endyour magnificent disdain.You drank wine, and told the wittiest jokes,and suffocated inside stifling walls.Alone you let the terrible stranger …

Wise Poets – WS Merwin – One Summer

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He stands at the window baffledby pleasure and how brief it is.Pleasure followed by the memoryof pleasure. Lightthen dark with a splinterleft in. Something like that.The woman in the chair is reading,drinking tea in the ground glasshaze of evening.The sudden swell he feelswatching herilluminates the past she spentgetting to this place:a lover who left, perhaps. …

Wise Poets – David Watts – Man at the Window

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David Watts He stands at the window baffledby pleasure and how brief it is.Pleasure followed by the memoryof pleasure. Lightthen dark with a splinterleft in. Something like that.The woman in the chair is reading,drinking tea in the ground glasshaze of evening.The sudden swell he feelswatching herilluminates the past she spentgetting to this place:a lover who …

Wise Poets – Ariel Francisco – Along The East River And In The Bronx Young Men Were Singing

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Ariel Francisco I heard them and I still hear themabove the threatening shrieks of police sirensabove the honking horns of morning traffic,above the home-crowd cheers of Yankee Stadiumabove the school bells and laughterlighting up the afternoonabove the clamoring trudge of the 1 trainand the 2 and 4, 5, 6, the B and the Dabove the …

Wise Poets – Apple – To The Crazy Ones

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Steven Paul Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) Apple Here’s to the crazy ones.The misfits.The rebels.The troublemakers.The round pegs in square holes.The ones who see things differently.There’re not fond or rules.And they have no respect for the status quo.You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,disbelieve them, glorify them or vilify them.About …

Wise Poets – Kathleen A Dale – A Question of Time

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Kathleen A Dale i.  Nine thousand years seems long but for the imagination: see a Siberian girl smile as she reaches out to touch the saggital crest (shaped like an arrow, indicating strong jaw muscles) on the head of a Husky, once-removed from wolf, panting by the fire after pulling home a sled of reindeer meat.  Now, see them …

Wise Poets – Maurice Manning – Turner

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Maurice Manning One morning when the weather was strangeand haunted following a rain—I believe a fog had settled likea thought over the field and the sunthat peered through it troubled the thought—I remember saying to myself,for no one was around, it’s likewe’re living in a Turner painting,a haunted cave of melodyso indistinct, almost unseen.As if …

Wise Poets – Jim Peterson – Following You

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Jim Peterson For Harriet I followed you up the faceof that cliff-riddled mountain.I am tall, stiff, scared of heights. You are small, lithe, quick and notscared of anything in the physicalworld. At first the easy handholds and footholds gave me confidence.But narrow ledges curving underoverhangs began to take their toll. I stalled, my face pressed …

Wise Poets – James Davis May – Red in Tooth and Claw

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James Davis May Even on the night my friend died     after a long illness— I won’t use the word       battle,     but the cancer was gone, and then it came back, like some slasher film killer—  even on that night, the feral cat, the one that’s white and fluffy and sometimes affectionate, still crossed our driveway, …

Wise Poets – Eleanor Wilner – When Vision Narrows To A Single Beam of Light

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Eleanor Rand Wilner For years he had been hidden, quiet,huge head on his paws,almost a sphinx in his composure,a figure waitingfor a breeze to move the densegreen canopy of leaves overhead,enough to bring a hair-thin laser lineof light downinto the endless twilightbelow;he had been patient, waitingfor the underbrush to open, for a lowwind to enter, …

Wise Poets – Phillip Lopate – It’s Good We Only See Each Other Once a Week

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Phillip Lopate It's good we only see each other once a week.A young man about to move in with his fiancéedied of a sudden heart attack at twenty-six.One hears these stories all the time.The heart is trained to handle deprivation,not unforeseen happiness. Just as when youthrow your arms around me I start to overflow,but then …

Wise Poets – Ellen Bass – The Big Picture

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Ellen Bass (June 16, 1947 -) I try to look at the big picture. The sun, ardent tonguelicking us like a mother besottedwith her new cub, will wear itself out. Everything is transitory.Think of the meteorthat annihilated the dinosaurs.And before that, the volcanoesof the Permian period — all those burnt fernsand reptiles, sharks and bony fish —that …

Wise Poets – Elizabeth Gaskell – On Visiting the Grave of My Stillborn Little Girl

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Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (September 29, 1810 – November 12, 1865) Sunday July 4th 1836 I made a vow within my soul, O Child,When thou wert laid beside my weary heart,With marks of death on every tender partThat, if in time a living infant smiled,Winning my ear with gentle sounds of loveIn sunshine of such joy, …

Wise Poets – Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – The Price Of Nothing

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Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer What could be more valuablethan nothing? The nothing thatframes “The Thinker,” the nothingthat holds every bowl,every vase, every bust, every thought.Let others buy the clay, the steel,the papier-mâché. I will be satisfiedwith nothing more than nothing.Nothing pleases me. Nothingenchants me. Nothing,as Heisenberg says,has a weight. Just thinkof the space here beside mewhere …

Wise Poets – Tracy K Smith – I Sit Outside In Low Late Afternoon Light To Feel Earth Call To Me

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Tracy K Smith (April 16, 1972 -) I wish it would grab me by the ankles and pull.I wish its shadow would dance up close, closing in.When I close my eyes a presence forms, backs away.I float above a lake, am dragged backfrom a portion of sky. Down, down, the falling doesn’t end.Every marked body …

Wise Poets – Anya Krugovoy Silver – Red Never Lasts

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Anya Krugovoy Silver (December 22, 1968 – August 6, 2018) There’s no doubt it’s the most glamorous,the one you reach for first—its luscious gloss.Russian Roulette, First Dance, Apéritif, Cherry Pop.For three days, your nails are a Ferris wheel,a field of roses, a flashing neon Open sign.Whatever you’re wearing feels like a tight dressand your hair …

Wise Poets – Philip Schultz – Failure

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Philip Schultz (January 06, 1945 -) To pay for my father’s funeralI borrowed money from peoplehe already owed money to.One called him a nobody.No, I said, he was a failure.You can’t remembera nobody’s name, that’s whythey’re called nobodies.Failures are unforgettable.The rabbi who read a stock eulogyabout a man who didn’t belong toor believe in anythingwas …

Wise Poets – Lisel Mueller – Brendel Playing Schubert

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Lisel Mueller (February 8, 1924 – February 21, 2020) We bring our hands togetherin applause, that absurd noise,when we want to be silent. We might as wellbe banging pots and pans,it is that jarring, a violationof the music we've listened towithout moving, almost holding our breath.The pianist in his blindinglywhite summer jacket bowsand disappears and …

Wise Poets – Deborah Landau – Skeletons

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Deborah Landau So whatever’s the opposite of a Buddhist that’s what I am.Kindhearted, yes, but knee deep in existential gloom,except when the fog smokes the bridges like this—like, instead of being afraid we might juice ourselves up,eh, like, might get kissed again? Dwelling in bones I go straightthrough life, a sublime abundance—cherries, dog’s breath, the …

Wise Poets – Emily Elizabeth Dickinson – The Looking Back On Grief

Emily Dickinson

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) ‘Tis good — the looking back on Grief —To re-endure a Day —We thought the Mighty Funeral —Of All Conceived Joy —To recollect how Busy GrassDid meddle — one by one —Till all the Grief with Summer — wavedAnd none could see the stone.And though …

Wise Poets – Dorianne Laux – Against Endings

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Dorianne Laux (January 10, 1952 -) On the street outside the windowsomeone is talking to someone else,a baffling song, no words, only the musicof voices—low contralto of questions,laughter’s plucked strings—voices in darknessbelow stars where someone straddles a bikeup on the balls of his feet, and someone elsestands firm on a curb, her arms crossed, twodogs …

Wise Poets – Vanessa Jimenez Gabb – Basic Needs

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Vanessa Jimenez Gabb There will be workBy late fallRaining inHabana ViejoIt’s so hardTo not think of youPrivacy is complicatedThe famous hotelBy the seaWhere did you come fromWhere did you come fromSometimes the verbsAren't importantThank youFor this organizationThe conspicuous absenceOf logosThese mountains I believeWill absolve meWhen I rememberTo look upMoney doesn't alwaysMean what I thinkIt doesIt …

Wise Poets – Franz Xaver Kappus – Sonnet

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Franz Xaver Kappus (May 17, 1883 – October 09, 1966) Through my life there trembles, without complaintor sighs, a deep, dark pain.My dreams of pure snowblossomsconsecrate the stillest day.But oft my path encountersthe great question. I become smalland cold, like a lakewhose waters I dare not measure.Then a sorrow overcomes me, a sorrowlike the dullest …

Wise Poets – Dawn Lundy Martin – They will tell you that I was sick, that I was a drug addict.

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Dawn Lundy Martin They will tell you that I was sick, that I was a drug addict. They will tell you I died a natural death. Sometimes young people just die, they will say, we don’t know why. They will say I was lazy, that I could not work because of disease and just general …

Wise Poets – Maria Mazziotti Gillan – Bell Bottoms and Platform Shoes

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Maria Mazziotti Gillan (March 12, 1940 -) A friend sends me a picture of herselffrom the 70s—bell bottoms, platform shoesa patterned button down shirt,hair puffed up from a perm. I can see the outline of the person she is nowand she reminds me of myself in the 70s—married for eight years to a manI knew …

Wise Poets – Gregory Djanikian – Banality

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Gregory Djanikian There's something to be said for banality,the way it keeps everything on a level plane,one cliché blithely following anotherlike cows heading toward the pasture. How lovely sometimes not to thinkabout Russian Futurism, or the second lawof thermodynamics, or how thinking itselfrequires some thoughtfulness. I'd like to ask if Machiavelliever owned a dog named …

Wise Poets – Ha Jin – I Sing Of An Old Land

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Ha Jin (February 21, 1956 -) I sing of an old landwhere the gods have taken shelter underground,where the human idols eat human sacrifice,where hatred runs the business of philanthropy,where blazing dragons eclipse the wronged ghosts,where silence and smiles are the trace of wisdom,where words imitate spears and swords,where truth is always a bloody legend. I …

Wise Poets – Michael Waters – Old School

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Michael Waters (November 23, 1949 -) Seth wrestled the Camaro with one fist & poppedHandfuls of pills while the pistol rode my thigh.I shouted Is it loaded? over Grandmaster Flash.Amateur thug, he slipped the piece into his boot& swaggered like a bouncer into the funeral home. Sunglass’d still & jittery, he scanned the room,Swept past uncles …

Wise Poets – Kim Addonizio – Comfort Of The Resurrection

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Kim Addonizio (July 31, 1954 -) One day everything that’s over or deadwill come back, oil painting & God,chivalry & the kings (even the madold rotters, why not, while the headsof the plotters are removedfrom their iron spikes & carefully gluedon again)— why not believe in the miracle— plaidhas already come back so why not …

Wise Poets – Barbara Quick – Conjuring Nana

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Barbara Quick I learned how to make Nana’s chicken soupby shadowing her steps in the kitchen,taking notes on a white paper napkin.A cauldron of sorts is required, as well as aonce-animate chicken submerged abovethe stove’s blue flame.“You put in the onions,” Nana said,her Russian accent as fresh as the breezemust have felt on her face …

Wise Poets – Diane Ackerman – The Consolation Of Apricots

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Diane Ackerman (October 07, 1948 -) Especially in early spring,when the sun offers a thin treacle of warmth,I love to sit outdoorsand eat sense-ravishing apricots.Born on sun-drenched trees in Morocco,the apricots have flown the Atlanticlike small comets, and I can tastebroiling North Africa in their flesh.Somewhere between a peach and a prayer,they taste of well …

Wise Poets – Joan Glass – Attending a 12-Step Meeting After Learning That Rust Has Grown on the Moon

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Joan Glass If rust can grow on the moon’s surface,240,000 miles away from oxygen,if solar wind can traverse that vacuum,confounding scientists, turning red the crustof such a scarred and lonesome celestial body,maybe I am capable of more than I think.Maybe everything I need for alchemyis already here, in my core and cells,in this room where …

Wise Poets – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Birds of Passage

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) Black shadows fallFrom the lindens tall,That lift aloft their massive wallAgainst the southern sky; And from the realmsOf the shadowy elmsA tide-like darkness overwhelmsThe fields that round us lie. But the night is fair,And everywhereA warm, soft vapor fills the air,And distant sounds seem near, …

Wise Poets – Heidi Seaborn – What It’s Like to Fall In Love

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Heidi Seaborn I fall in love todaywith the man fixing my water faucets,how he crouches in his boots, feelshis way deftly to salve the leak.I’m in love with dandelions & ugly bobs& even morning glory as I yanktheir roots free from this dark & luscious soil.O I love, love the rhododendronblushing newborn pink, lovethe neighbor’s …

Wise Poets – Arthur Sze – Transpirations

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Arthur Sze(December 1, 1950 -) Leafing branches of a back-yard plum—branches of water on a dissolving ice sheet—chatter of magpies when you approach—lilacs lean over the road, weighted with purple blossoms—then the noon sun shimmers the grasses—you ride the surge into summer—smell of piñon crackling in the fireplace—blued notes of a saxophone in the air—not …

Wise Poets – David Kirby – A Few Old Things

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David Kirby Rilke said he wanted a room “with a few old things                        and a window opening onto great trees,” which makesme think of my favorite rooms and their furnishings,            an obvious choice being this brightly-lit bedroom,                        newspapers and coffee cups on the floor, bedclothesscattered everywhere, perfumed with the smell                        of sex, maybe, or maybe …

Wise Poets – Kamilah Aisha Moon – The Emperor’s Deer

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Kamilah Aisha Moon I. Their noises make you thinkthey are crying or suffering.They have learned to bow.Even the fawns bow, centuriesof bowingin their blood. They are not considered wild.Precious pests litter parkswith dung, take over the roads.Sweet nuisance worthsaving, thinning these herdsis a last resort — oncea capital offense to spilltheir endangered blood. They are …

Wise Poets – Devon Balwit – Faces In The Clouds

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Devon Balwit Each day, we wake again if we are lucky,reassembling with only minor variations. Too many, and we are no longer ourselves.Too few, and we despair, the symmetryuncanny. Like fractals, we fissure at regular intervals, blind to our beauty,the larger patterns we are part of. We must look outside ourselves to discover what we …

Wise Poets – Joyce Sutphen – What the Heart Cannot Forget

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Joyce Sutphen (August 10, 1949 -) Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rubof watery fingers along its edge.The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,gathering itself together for the fall.The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and underits belly, …

Wise Poets – Jiordan Castle – The Surrealist

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The Lovers II, 1928 by Rene Magritte Jiordan Castle Magritte is saidto have said thateverything we seehides another thing, thatwe always want to seewhat is hiddenby what we see,& in his second paintingof the lovers,with their mouthsseeminglypressed againsteach other’s throughthick white veils,I don’t know what ismeant to be hiddenfrom me,except perhapsMagritte’s dead mother, who diedby …

Wise Poets – Edna St. Vincent Millay – Time Does Not Bring Relief

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Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) Time does not bring relief; you all have lied   Who told me time would ease me of my pain!   I miss him in the weeping of the rain;   I want him at the shrinking of the tide;The old snows melt from every mountain-side,   And last year’s leaves are …

Wise Poets – Daniel Arias Gómez – Cathedrals: Ode To A Deported Uncle

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Daniel Arias Gómez (April 01, 1972 -) Tío, you learn there’s alwaysa border—I imagine a poor family in Jocotepec takes youin. You work as a gardener at the clubacross the lake where rich peoplevacation. The town’s children runshoeless on the dirt roads, stareat the people on the other sidesun-tanning on the decks of theirboats, riding …

Wise Poets – Marie Howe – Fifty

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Marie Howe The soul has a story that has a shape that almost no onesees.  No, no one ever does.  All those kisses, The bedroom chair that rocked with me in it, his bodyhis body and his and his and his.                                                             More, I said, moreand more and more. . . . What has it come to?Like …

Wise Poets – Hayden Saunier – 14 Degrees Below Zero in the Grocery Store Parking Lot

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Hayden Saunier A dog and I stare at each otherfrom our separate cars, waiting for our people to return.He’s a shepherd mix, big head, big ears,like me, he’s riding shotgun.Heat blares inside my car,exhaust plumes from the pickup truck he’s in,so I know he isn’t freezing but I don’t knowif he’s a he or a …

Wise Poets – William Carlos Williams – Complaint

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William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) They call me and I go.It is a frozen roadpast midnight, a dustof snow caughtin the rigid wheeltracks.The door opens.I smile, enter andshake off the cold.Here is a great womanon her side in the bed.She is sick,perhaps vomiting,perhaps laboringto give birth toa tenth child. Joy! …

Wise Poets – Hayden Carruth – An Apology for Using the Word ‘Heart’ in Too Many Poems

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Hayden Carruth (August 3, 1921 – September 29, 2008) What does it mean? Lord knows; least of all I.        Faced with it, schoolboys are shy,And grown-ups speak it at moments of excess        Which later seem more or lessUnfeasible. It is equivocal, sentimental,        Debatable, really a sort of lentil—Neither pea nor bean. Sometimes it’s a muscle,        Sometimes courage or at …

Wise Poets – Paul Lawrence Dunbar – We Wear The Mask

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Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 – February 9, 1906) We wear the mask that grins and lies,It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—This debt we pay to human guile;With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,And mouth with myriad subtleties. Why should the world be over-wise,In counting all our tears and sighs?Nay, let them …

Wise Poets – Francesca Nemko – On Being 84

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Francesca Nemko Who’d have thoughtThat reaching 84Would feel like adolescence?All pimples and unmanageable hairStammering over long wordsBeing totally irresponsibleAnd forgetting what timeI’m supposed to be home. I am NOT aging gracefully(even though I may appear to beon the outside)And, to be honest, I don’t reallyWant to grow up!I did that when I was 3040, 50, …

Wise Poets – Elinor Wylie – Wild Peaches

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Elinor Morton Wylie (September 7, 1885 – December 16, 1928) 1 When the world turns completely upside downYou say we’ll emigrate to the Eastern ShoreAboard a river-boat from Baltimore;We’ll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,You’ll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gownHomespun, dyed butternut’s dark gold color.Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,We’ll swim …

Wise Poets – Edna St. Vincent Millay – What Lips My Lips Have Kissed

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Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,I have forgotten, and what arms have lainUnder my head till morning; but the rainIs full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sighUpon the glass and listen for reply,And in my heart there stirs a …

Wise Poets – Natasha Trethewey – Incident

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Natasha Trethewey (April 26, 1966 -) We tell the story every year—how we peered from the windows, shades drawn—though nothing really happened,the charred grass now green again. We peered from the windows, shades drawn,at the cross trussed like a Christmas tree,the charred grass still green. Thenwe darkened our rooms, lit the hurricane lamps. At the …

Wise Poets – Eavan Aisling Boland – Eviction

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Eavan Aisling Boland (September 24, 1944 – April 27, 2020) Back from Dublin, my grandmotherfinds an eviction notice on her door.Now she is in court for rent arrears.The lawyers are amused.These are the Petty Sessions,this is Drogheda, this is the Bank Holiday.Their comments fill a column in the newspaper.Was the notice well served?Was it served …

Wise Poets – Kristene Kaye Brown – For the Woman on Main Street Stopping to Pull Up Her Pantyhose

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Kristene Kaye Brown I too have had my hands full of what keeps mecontained, a vastness softened by restraintand made more terriblebecause of it. I think it’s time we talkabout the safety of distance,how the tire tread of rush hour trafficsounds like something being patiently worn down,how the cars parked along the streetnever seem to …

Wise Poets – Linda France – Murmuration

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Linda France (May 21, 1958 -) 1 Because we love watching the flock’s precision glide       upstroke for height, tilt of wing spun mid-flightjust for a moment              we’re in the frenzied swirling rush              home for the winged       owls hoot their love through the dark                     chiffchaff creeps up stalks              fennel and flowdipper and wagtail              Arctic terns like dartsgeese honking              each note weigheda duck sits on …

Wise Poets – Derek Jarman – To Whom It May Concern

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Derek Jarman (January 31, 1942–February 19, 1994) to whom it may concernin the dead stones of a planetno longer remembered as earthmay he decipher this opaque hieroglyphperform an archeology of soulon these precious fragmentsall that remains of our vanished dayshere — at the sea’s edgeI have planted a stony gardendragon tooth dolmen spring upto defend …

Wise Poets – William Wordsworth – Surprised By Joy

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Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origins from emotion recollected in tranquility. The emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquility gradually disappears. William Wordsworth (April 07, 1770 - April 23, 1850) Surprised by joy—impatient as the WindI turned to share the transport—Oh! with whomBut Thee, long …

Wise Poets – Walter Everette Hawkins – Ask Me Why I Love You

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Walter Everette Hawkins Ask me why I love you, dear,And I will ask the roseWhy it loves the dews of SpringAt the Winter’s close;Why the blossoms’ nectared sweetsLoved by questing bee,—I will gladly answer you,If they answer me. Ask me why I love you, dear,And I will ask the flowerWhy it loves the Summer sun,Or …

Wise Poets – Ross Gay – Wedding Poem

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Ross Gay (August 01, 1974 -) Friends I am here to modestly reportseeing in an orchardin my towna goldfinch kissinga sunfloweragain and againdangling upside downby its tiny clawssteadying itself by snapping openlike an old-timey fanits wingsagain and again,until, swooning, it tumbled offand swooped back to the very same perch,where the sunflower curled its giantswirling of …

Wise Poets – Danusha Laméris – Fictional Characters

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Danusha Laméris Do they ever want to escape?Climb out of the white pagesand enter our world?Holden Caulfield slipping in the movie theaterto catch the two o'clockAnna Karenina sitting in a diner,reading the paper as the waitressserves up a cheeseburger.Even Hector, on break from the Iliad,takes a stroll through the park,admires the tulips.Maybe they grew tiredof …

Wise Poets – Bartholomew Griffin – Fair Is My Love

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Bartholomew Griffin Fair is my love that feeds among the lilies,The lilies growing in the pleasant garden,Where Cupid’s mount, that well-beloved hill is,And where that little god himself is warden.See where my love sits in the beds of spices,Beset all round with camphor, myrrh and roses,And interlac’d with curious devices,Which her from all the world …

Wise Poets – Jane Hirshfield – After Work

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Jane Hirshfield (February 24, 1953 -) I stop the car along the pasture edge,gather up bags of corncobs from the back,and get out.Two whistles, one for each,and familiar sounds draw close in darkness—cadence of hoof on hardened bottomland,twinned blowing of air through nostrils curious, flared.They come deepened and muscular movementsconjured out of sleep: each small …

Wise Poets – Gregory Loselle – The Whole Of Him Collected

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Gregory Loselle (1963 -) The box of papers on the closet floorcontains his discharge papers from the war,a couple letters, dog tags: amuletsagainst prospective dangers, even betson futures filed away, here; telegramsmy grandmother amended in shorthandnotes (“May God protect you,”) on their backs;her death certificate, its seal (not waxlike his diplomas also here with hers)stamped …

Wise Poets – Tess Gallagher – Ambition

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Tess Gallagher (July 21, 1943 -) We had our heads downbaiting hooks—three wild salmonalready turned back that morningfor the in-season hatchery silversnow out there somewherecounting their luck—whenunder our small boat the seagave a roll like a giant turning overin sleep, lifting us so high I thoughtan ocean liner or freighter hadslipped up on us, the …

Wise Poets – Elizabeth Bishop – At The Fishhouses

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Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911 - October 6, 1979) Although it is a cold evening,down by one of the fishhousesan old man sits netting,his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,a dark purple-brown,and his shuttle worn and polished.The air smells so strong of codfishit makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.The five fishhouses have steeply …

Wise Poets – Natalie Diaz – My Brother at 3 A.M.

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Natalie Diaz (September 04, 1978 -) He sat cross-legged, weeping on the stepswhen Mom unlocked and opened the front door.        O God, he said. O God.                He wants to kill me, Mom. When Mom unlocked and opened the front doorat 3 a.m., she was in her nightgown, Dad was asleep.        He wants to kill me, …

Wise Poets – Lisel Mueller – A Prayer For Rain

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Lisel Mueller (February 8, 1924 – February 21, 2020) Let it come down: these thicknesses of airhave long enough walled love away from love;stillness has hardened until words despairof their high leaps and kisses shut themselvesback into wishing. Crippled lovers lieagainst a weather which holds out on them,waiting, awaiting some shrill sign, some cry,some screaming …

Wise Poets – Karen Moulton – It’s Getting Late

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Karen Moulton Charlie Daniels is blaring from the jukeboxas she strolls into the bar, surveys tonight’sselection, then sidles up to the guy on the end.He admires her ass, curls his arm around her waist.“Hammer’s the name,” he says in a loud voice.She looks him over: alligator boots, green cords,plaid flannel shirt unbuttoned to show offhis …

Wise Poets – Sarah P. Strong – After 75 Years, She Finally Gets Angry

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Sarah P. Strong At first we did not know what was happening.The tea on the porch table cooled several degreeswhile she stood up, clutchedthe scrollwork back of the chair. The lineson her face arranged themselves in a waywe’d never seen, her nostrils flaredand the bird in the tree behind her stoppedsinging. Someone, not me, tooka …

Wise Poets – Tracy K Smith – We Feel Now A Largeness Coming On

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Tracy K Smith (April 16, 1972 -) Being called all manner of thingsfrom the Dictionary of Shame—not English, not words, not heard,but worn, borne, carried, never spent—we feel now a largeness coming on,something passing into us. We knownot in what source it was begun, butrapt, we watch it rise through our fallen,our slain, our millions …

Wise Poets – Harryette Mullen – We Are Not Responsible

Harryette Mullen

Harryette Mullen (July 01, 1953 -) We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives.We cannot guarantee your safety if you disobey our instructions.We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts.We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Your ticket does not guarantee that we will honor your …

Wise Poets – Joyce Carol Oates – This Is Not A Poem

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Joyce Carol Oates (June 16, 1938 -)  in which the poet discoversdelicate white-parched bonesof a small creatureon a Great Lake shoreor the desiccated remainsof cruder roadkillbeside the rushing highway.Nor is it a poem in whicha cracked mirror yieldsa startled face,or sere grasses hiss-ing like consonantsin a foreign language.Family photo albumfilled with yearningstrangers long deceased,closet of …

Wise Poets – Phillip B. Williams – Final Poem For My Father Misnamed In My Mouth

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Phillip B. Williams Sunlight still holds you and givesyour shapelessness to every room.By noon, the kitchen catches your hands,misshapen sun rays. The windowshave your eyes. Taken from me,your body. I reorder my life withabsence. You are everywhere nowwhere once I could not find youeven in your own body. Death meanseverything has becomepossible. I’ve been told …

Wise Poets -Red Hawk – The Never-Ending Serial

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Red Hawk When I was a boy, the Varsity Theaterwas a mile from our house. Saturdayswe were allowed to walk there, and for a dimewe got a cowboy double-feature and a long-running serial, which involvedan incredibly stupid, weak and helplessbut beautiful woman, upon whomunimaginable indignities and cruelties were enacted by darkly evil men with mustaches.Week …

Wise Poets – Amanda Gorman – At the Age of 18 – Ode to Girls of Color

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Amanda Gorman (March 07, 1998 -) At the age of 5I saw how we always pick the flower swelling with the most color.The color distinguishes it from the rest, and tells us:This flower should not be left behind.But this does not happen in the case of colored girls.Our color makes hands pull back, and we, …

Wise Poets – Maxine Kumin – Custodian

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Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 – February 6, 2014) Every spring when the ice goes outblack commas come scribbling across the shallows.Soon they sprout forelegs.Slowly they absorb their tailsand by mid-June, full-voiced, announce themselves.Enter our spotted dog.Every summer, tense with the scent of them,tail arced like a pointer's but waggingin anticipation, he stalks his frogstwo …

Wise Poets – Beverley Bie Brahic – Apple Thieves

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Beverley Bie Brahic In his dishevelled garden my neighborHas fourteen varieties of apples,Fourteen trees his wife put in as seedlingsBecause, being sick, she wanted somethingDifferent to do (different from being sick).In winter she ordered catalogues, poredOver subtleties of mouthfeel and touch:Tart and sweet and crisp; waxy, smooth,And rough. Spring planted an orchard,Spring projected summersOf green …

Wise Poets – Sharon Olds – The Sisters of Sexual Treasure

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Sharon Olds (November 19, 1942 -) As soon as my sister and I got out of ourmother’s house, all we wanted todo was fuck, obliterateher tiny sparrow body and narrowgrasshopper legs. The men’s bodieswere like our father’s body!                            The massivehocks, flanks, thighs, elegantknees, …

Wise Poets – Geoffrey Chaucer – The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340s – October 25, 1400) When April with his showers sweet with fruitThe drought of March has pierced unto the rootAnd bathed each vein with liquor that has powerTo generate therein and sire the flower;When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,Quickened again, in every holt and heath,The tender shoots and buds, …

Wise Poets – WH Auden – After Reading A Child’s Guide To Modern Physics

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Wystan Hugh Auden aka WH Auden (February 21, 1907 – September 29, 1973) If all a top physicist knowsAbout the Truth be true,Then, for all the so-and-so’s,Futility and grime,Our common world contains,We have a better timeThan the Greater Nebulae do,Or the atoms in our brains.Marriage is rarely blissBut, surely it would be worseAs particles to …

Wise Poets – Regina Spektor – Theories Of Everything

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Regina Spektor (February 18, 1980 -) (When the lecturer’s shirt matches the painting on the wall)He stands there speaking without loveOf theories where, in the democracyOf this universe, or that,There could be legislatorsWho ordain trajectories for falling bodies,Where all things must be dreamed with indifference,And purpose is a momentary silhouetteBacklit by a blue anthropic flash,A …

Wise Poets – Emily Dickinson – Under The Light, Yet Under

Emily Dickinson

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886)  Under the Light, yet under,Under the Grass and the Dirt,Under the Beetle’s CellarUnder the Clover’s Root, Further than Arm could stretchWere it Giant long,Further than Sunshine couldWere the Day Year long, Over the Light, yet over,Over the Arc of the Bird —Over the Comet’s chimney —Over the …