Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New to Me Wednesday: Carl Dennis

I'll begin with a huge thank you to Liz In Ink for bringing Carl Dennis to my attention. This past Poetry Friday, hosted here at The Small Nouns in case you missed it, she posted "Worms:"

Aren't you glad at least that the earthworms
Under the grass are ignorant, as they eat the earth,
Of the good they confer on us, that their silence
Isn't a silent reproof for our bad manners,
Our never casting earthward a crumb of thanks
For their keeping the soil from packing so tight
That no root, however determined, could pierce it?

Imagine if they suspected how much we owe them,
How the weight of our debt would crush us
Even if they enjoyed keeping the grass alive,
The garden flowers and vegetables, the clover,
And wanted nothing that we could give them,
Not even the merest nod of acknowledgment.
A debt to angels would be easy in comparison,
Bright, weightless creatures of cloud, who serve
An even brighter and lighter master. 

Read the rest here.

It seems like a Pulitzer Prize winning poet should be someone I've heard of. Not in this case. Mr. Dennis won in 2002. But lucky for me, I liked "Worms" so much (that sounds weird) that I did a little searching and found some others that I really like, too. Like "Drugstore," for example...

Don't be ashamed that your parents
Didn't happen to meet at an art exhibit
Or at a protest against a foreign policy
Based on fear of negotiation,
But in an aisle of a discount drugstore,
Near the antihistamine section,
Seeking relief from the common cold.
You ought to be proud that even there,
Amid coughs and sneezes,
They were able to peer beneath
The veil of pointless happenstance.
Here is someone, each thought,
Able to laugh at the indignities
That flesh is heir to. Here
Is a person one might care about.
Not love at first sight, but the will
To be ready to endorse the feeling
Should it arise. Had they waited
For settings more promising,
You wouldn't be here,
Wishing things were different.

Read the rest here. Or maybe you'll enjoy "Candles" as much as me...

If on your grandmother's birthday you burn a candle   
To honor her memory, you might think of burning an extra   
To honor the memory of someone who never met her,   
A man who may have come to the town she lived in   
Looking for work and never found it.   
Picture him taking a stroll one morning,   
After a month of grief with the want ads,   
To refresh himself in the park before moving on.   
Suppose he notices on the gravel path the shards   
Of a green glass bottle that your grandmother,   
Then still a girl, will be destined to step on   
When she wanders barefoot away from her school picnic   
If he doesn't stoop down and scoop the mess up   
With the want-ad section and carry it to a trash can. 

The rest can be found here.

As for some other poems by Carl Dennis that I think you might want to check out, try "In Paris" or "At Becky's Piano Recital" or "Thanksgiving Letter From Harry," which appears with an author's note at How a Poem Happens.

Happy Reading!

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