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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 …

Cathy Song – Ikebana

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Cathy Song (August 20, 1955 -) To prepare the body,aim for the translucent perfectionyou find in the sliced shavingsof a pickled turnip.In order for this to happen,you must avoid the sun,protect the faceunder a paper parasoluntil it is bruised whitelike the skin of lilies.Use white soapfrom a blue porcelaindish for this. Restrict yourself.Eat the whites …

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 …

Jorie Graham – Why

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Jorie Graham (May 09, 1950 -) you ask meagain—whyputting your tiny hand onthe not yetunsheathedbud on therhododendronand I seeI need to be skyI need to be soilthere are no wordsfor why that Ican find fastenough, whyyou say atthe foot of the cherry’s wideblossomfallis it dead now whydid it let go, why,tossed outinto what appearsto be …

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, …

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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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

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Joan Kwon 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 …

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, …

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 …

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 …

John Clare – I Am

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John Clare (July 13, 1793 – May 20, 1864) I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;My friends forsake me like a memory lost:I am the self-consumer of my woes—They rise and vanish in oblivion’s host,Like shadows in love-frenzied stifled throes—And yet I am and live—like vapours tossed Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,Into …

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, …

Jiordan Castle – The Surrealist

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Jiordan Castle The Lovers II, 1928 by Rene Magritte 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Sean Hill – Hello

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Sean Hill She, being the midwifeand your mother’slongtime friend, saidI see a heart; can yousee it?And on the greydisplay of the ultrasoundthere you were as you were,our nugget, in that momentbecoming a shrimpor a comma punctuatingthe whole of my life, separatingits parts—before and after—,a shrimp in the seaof your mother, and I couldn’thelp but see …

Diane Di Prima – Song for Baby-O, Unborn

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Diane di Prima (August 6, 1934 – October 25, 2020) Sweetheartwhen you break thruyou’ll finda poet herenot quite what one would choose. I won’t promiseyou’ll never go hungryor that you won’t be sadon this guttedbreakingglobe but I can show youbabyenough to loveto break your heartforever

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 …

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 …

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 …

Katherine Anne Porter – Wild Geese Alighting on a Lake

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Katherine Anne Porter (May 15, 1890 – September 18, 1980) I watched themAs they neared the lakeThey wheeledIn a wide arcWith beating wingsAnd thenThey put their wings to sleepAnd glided downward in a driftOf pure abandonmentUntil they touchedThe surface of the lakeComposed their wingsAnd settledOn the rippling waterAs though it were a nest.

Ross Gay – Wedding Poem

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 …

Danusha Laméris – Fictional Characters

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 …

Gregory Loselle – The Whole Of Him Collected

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 …

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

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 …

Tracy K. Smith – We Feel Now A Largeness Coming On

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 …

Joyce Carol Oates – This Is Not A Poem

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 …

Alison Luterman – Fog

Alison Luterman We don’t have snow herebut some mornings the whole worldis white and hushed and soft with fogand whatever troubles we went to sleepclutched to our thudding heartshave loosened overnight and are dissolvingin mist. The regal hillsto the East have been erasedbehind a cottony scrim, and peopleappear to appearout of nowhere in the dawn …

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

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 …

Julie Kane – Used Book

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Julie Kane (July 20, 1952 -) What luck—an open bookstore up aheadas rain lashed awnings over Royal Street,and then to find the books were secondhand,with one whole wall assigned to poetry;and then, as if that wasn’t luck enough,to find, between Jarrell and Weldon Kees,the blue-on-cream, familiar backbone ofmy chapbook, out of print since ’83—its cover …

Charles Simic- The Saint

Charles Simic (May 9, 1938 -) The woman I love is a saintWho deserves to havePeople falling on their kneesBefore her in the streetAsking for her blessing.Instead, here she is on the floor,Hitting a mouse with a shoeAs tears run down her face.

Maxine Kumin – Custodian

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 …

Beverley Bie Brahic – Apple Thieves

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 …

Geoffrey Chaucer – The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

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, …

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

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 …

Regina Spektor – Theories Of Everything

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 …

Tracy K. Smith – The Everlasting Self

Tracy K. Smith (April 16, 1972 -) Comes in from a downpourShaking water in every direction —A collaborative condition:Gathered, shed, spread, thenForgotten, reabsorbed. Like loveFrom a lifetime ago, and mudA dog has tracked across the floor.

Emily Dickinson – Under The Light, Yet Under

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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 …

Amanda Gorman – Chorus of the Captains

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Amanda Gorman Today we honor our three captainsFor their actions and impact inA time of uncertainty and need.They’ve taken the lead,Exceeding all expectations and limitationsUplifting their communities and neighborsAs leaders, healers, and educators.James has felt the wounds of warfare,But this warrior still sharesHis home with at-risk kids.During Covid, he’s event lent a hand,Live-streaming football for …

Christian Wiman – I Don’t Want To Be A Spice Store

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Christian Wiman I don’t want to be a spice store.I don’t want to carry handcrafted Marseille soap,or tsampa and yak butter,or nine thousand varieties of wine.Half the shops here don’t open till noonand even the bookstore’s brined in charm.I want to be the one store that’s open all nightand has nothing but necessities.Something to get …

Emily Dickinson – As Imperceptibly As Grief

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) As imperceptibly as GriefThe Summer lapsed away—Too imperceptible at last,To seem like Perfidy—A Quietness distilledAs Twilight long begunOr Nature spending with herselfSequestered Afternoon—The Dusk drew earlier in—The Morning foreign shone—A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,As Guest, that would be gone—And thus, without a WingOr service of a …

Rita Dove – Pedestrian Crossing, Charlottesville

Rita Frances Dove (August 28, 1952 -) A gaggle of girls giggle over the bricksleading off Court Square. We brakedutifully, and wait; but there’s at leasttwenty of these knob-kneed creatures,blond and curly, still at an age that thinksimpudence is cute. Look how they dartand dither, changing flanks as they lurchalong—golden gobbets of infuriating foolishnessor pure …

Jane Hirshfield – Mountainal

Jane Hirshfield (February 24, 1953 -) This first-light mountain, its east peak and west peak.Its first-light creeks:Lagunitas, Redwood, Fern. Their fishes and mosses.Its night and day hawk-life, slope-life, fogs, coyote, tan oaks,white-speckled amanita. Its spiderwebs’ sequins.To be personal is easy:Wake. Slip arms and legs from sleep into name, into story.I wanted to be mountainal, wateral, …

Virgil Suárez – Bad Sons Anonymous

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Virgil Suárez At this year’s conventionwe gather to pay homageto our fathers, responsiblemen who worked hard: laborers, stone cutters, welders,carpenters — blue collar all,men who raged, stormedtheir anger through the house, our mothers couldn’t manage,swept with brooms the debrisof broken things, in silencethey took it out on us, belts in hand, we stood there, cried,long …

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – The Afternoon the World Health Organization Declared the Pandemic

rosemerry wahtola trommer

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer That was the afternoonwe watched the avalanches—dozens and dozens of themflowing over the cliff bands.How beautiful they werefrom a distance—bright falls of billowing snow.They began as dark rumble,then burst into plume, into rush.Unstoppable they were.Powerful. Inevitable.Such a gift to feel humbled,to exult in forcesgreater than our own. Later that night, readingthe tumbling …

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) The tide rises, the tide falls,The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;Along the sea-sands damp and brownThe traveller hastens toward the town,    And the tide rises, the tide falls.Darkness settles on roofs and walls,But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;The little waves, with …

Marilyn Nelson – The Children’s Moon

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Marilyn Nelson (April 26, 1946 -) In my navy shirtwaist dress and three-inch heels,my pearl clip-ons and newly red-rinsed curls,I smoothed on lipstick, lipstick-marked my girls,saluted and held thumbs-up to my darling Mel,and drove myself to school for the first day.Over the schoolyard a silver lozengedissolved into the morning’s blue cauldron.Enter twenty seven-year-old white children.Look, …

David Graham – Listening for Your Name

David Graham As a father steals into his child's half-lit bedroomslowly, quietly, standing long and longcounting the breaths before finally slippingback out, taking care not to wake her,and as that night-lit child is fully awake the wholetime, with closed eyes, measured breathing,savoring a delicious blessing she couldn'tname but will remember her whole life,how often we …

William Ernest Henley – Invictus

William Ernest Henley (August 23, 1849 – July 11, 1903) Out of the night that covers me,       Black as the pit from pole to pole,I thank whatever gods may be       For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance       I have not winced nor cried aloud.Under the bludgeonings of chance       My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this …

JR Solonche – The Clouds

JR Solonche Nothing disturbs them,the clouds, stoics,philosophers, sages,graybeards of the sky.Not even this jet,that streaks throughthem, that shredsthe silence likea silver shark,disturbs their slow,slow, mindful walk on air.

Margaret Atwood – Flatline

Margaret Atwood (November 18, 1939 -) Things wear out. Also fingers.Gnarling sets in.Your hands crouch in their mittens.Forget chopsticks, and buttons.Feet have their own agendas.They scorn your taste in shoesand ignore your trails, your maps.Ears are superfluous:What are they for,those alien pink flaps?Skull fungus.The body, once your accomplice,is now your trap.The sunrise makes you wince:too …

Jessica Cohn – Spring

Jessica Cohn It was the spring when dry goodsheld our fascination. We bottled goldhand-pumped mucous. Toilet paperbecame currency. The cut of ethylalcohol sharpened elbows. We tookour contact in fluid ounces, returnedto fire escapes, back steps, the oppositeside of the street. The public squareemptied, and the crosswalk followed.Masters of airports called the airplaneshome. The cars stopped …

Nikki Giovanni – Resignation

Yolande Cornelia Nikki Giovanni Jr (June 7, 1943) I love you            because the Earth turns round the sun            because the North wind blows north                 sometimes            because the Pope is Catholic                 and most Rabbis Jewish            because the winters flow into springs                 and the air clears after a storm            because only my love for …

Alison Luterman – Some Girls

Alison Luterman Some girls can’t help it; they are lit sparklers,hot-blooded, half naked in the depths of winter,tagging moving trains with the bright insignia of theirfury.I’ve seen their inked torsos: falcons, swans, meteorshowers.And shadowed their secret rendezvous,walking and flying all night over paths traced like veinsthrough the deep body of the forestwhere they are trying …

David Whyte – Sometimes

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 …

Jane Hirshfield – Today, Another Universe

Jane Hirshfield (February 24, 1953 -) The arborist has determined:senescence      beetles      cankerquickened by drought                           but in any casenot prunable   not treatable   not to be propped.And so.The branch from which the sharp-shinned hawks and their mate-cries.The trunk where the ant.The red squirrels’ eighty-foot playground.The bark   cambium   pine-sap   cluster of needles.The Japanese patterns      the ink-net.The dapple on certain fish.Today, for some, a universe will vanish.First noisily,then …

Lisel Mueller – In Passing

Lisel Mueller (February 8, 1924 – February 21, 2020) How swiftly the strained honeyof afternoon lightflows into darknessand the closed bud shrugs offits special mysteryin order to break into blossom:as if what exists, existsso that it can be lostand become precious.

Philip Bryant – Miles: Prince Of Darkness

Philip Bryant I remember my father's storiesabout him being cold, fitful,reproachful, surly, rude, cruel,unbearable, spiteful, arrogant, hateful.But then he'd playSome Day My Prince Will Comein a swirl of bright spring colorsthat come after a heavy rainmaking the world anew againand like the sometimes-tyrannical kingwho is truly repentant of his transgressionssteps out onto the balconyto greet …

Barbara Lydecker Crane – Mother And Child

Barbara Lydecker Crane Portrait painting, so long out of fashion,was all I did. Not by commission—I’d aska friend whose face was lined by life and passionto sit. Then I’d distort a bit: a maskwould simplify and heighten their emotion.This Harlem neighbor’s eyes are spelling fearas she holds her baby tightly with devotionand protection from who …

Emily Dickinson — The Only News I Know

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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) The Only News I knowIs Bulletins all DayFrom Immortality.The Only Shows I see—Tomorrow and Today—Perchance Eternity—The Only One I meetIs God-The Only Street—Existence—This traversedIf Other News there be—Or Admirabler Show—I'll tell it You—

Natalie Diaz – The Facts of Art

Natalie Diaz (September 04, 1978 -)    woven plaque basket with sunflower design, Hopi,                                             Arizona, before 1935 from an American Indian basketry exhibit in                                             Portsmouth, Virginia The Arizona highway sailed across the desert—     a gray battleship drawing a black wake,            halting at the foot of the orange mesa,                  unwilling to go around. Hopi men …

Dorianne Laux – Lord Of The Flies

Dorianne Laux (January 10, 1952 -) “Coronavirus Conference Gets Canceled Because of Coronavirus.”—Bloomberg News, March 10, 2020 I can already see the streetsfilling with corpses piledtenderly along the curbs.First the homeless, thenthe poor, then those whowere lost, depressed, lonely,alone. The rich will be last,top of the pile as they werein life. Dressed in their finery.Oh …

Marissa Davis – Singularity

Marissa Davis after Marie Howe in the wordless beginningiguana & myrrhmagma & reef              ghost moth& the cordyceps tickling its nerves& cedar & archipelago & anemonedodo bird & cardinal waiting for its redocean salt & crude oil              now blackmuck now most naïve fumbling planktonevery egg clutched in the copycat softof me unwomaned unracedunsexed              as the ecstatic prokaryotethat would rage …

Claudia Serea – Parallel Heavens

Claudia Serea Doors closed,lawns freshly mowed,the heavens line up,a row of suburban houseson a quiet street.I imagine mine painted white,silent and sleepy,a provincial art museumwhere all the angels have been assignedto perpetual paperwork.One can't even thinkto jump from one heaveninto anotherwithout wings,or breaking a bone.And each heavenhas its own way to get to iton parallel …

Yesika Salgado – Diaspora Writes To Her New Home

Yesika Salgado I am what comes after the civil warafter the dismembered corpsesthe burnt sugar cane fieldsthe mango tree strung with a single hanging bodythe man with his tongue in his pocketthe soldiers and the guerrillathe exodus of my grandmother’s children I arrived after the fleeing. after the bruise was named a desert.after the new …

Lucille Clifton – Poem to My Yellow Coat

Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936 – February 13, 2010) today i mourn my coat.my old potato.my yellow mother.my horse with buttons.my rind.today she split her skinlike a snake,refusing to excuse my backfor being bigfor being oldfor reaching toward othercuffs and sleeves.she cracked like a whip andfell apart,my terrible teacher to the end;to hell with the …

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

e7198 henry wadsworth longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) The tide rises, the tide falls,The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;Along the sea-sands damp and brownThe traveller hastens toward the town,And the tide rises, the tide falls.Darkness settles on roofs and walls,But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;The little waves, with their soft, …

ee cummings – humanity i love you

EE Cummings (October 14, 1894–September 3, 1962) because you would rather black the boots ofsuccess than enquire whose soul dangles from hiswatch-chain which would be embarrassing for bothparties and because youunflinchingly applaud allsongs containing the words country home andmother when sung at the old howardHumanity i love you becausewhen you’re hard up you pawn yourintelligence …

Laura Foley – One Day

Laura Foley I didn't read the news.I raked a rainbowof pungent autumn leaves,played abroad with happy dogs,held my granddaughter in my arms,and sat beneath an amiable maple,attentive to current events.