Friday, April 29, 2011

Poetry Friday: Poetry Month--The Penultimate Poem

My daughter came to work with me today. Thought this one was a good one to share. I just discovered it in Garrison Keilor's anthology Good Poems for Hard Times:

"For My Daughter"
by David Ignatow
When I die choose a star
and name it after me
that you may know
I have not abandoned
or forgotten you.
You were such a star to me,
following you through birth
and childhood, my hand
in your hand.

Read the rest of the poem here. And be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted at The Opposite of Indifference, Tabatha's awesome blog.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--the 28th Poem

Some poets are just able to capture a moment in magical ways. I think Raymond Carver captures this moment perfectly:

by Raymond Carver
So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together

Read the entire poem here.

As April wanes away, be sure to check back to see our final two poems tomorrow and Saturday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Slacker Update

I was doing so well bringing you new (to me) poems in celebration of National Poetry Month...then life intervened. Nothing major, but lots of minor. All apologies. Can I make it up to you, dear readers, by posting the 6 poems I'd intended to post during my absence? I'll try anyway...

I am pretty sure I can get back on track for the last 3 days of Poetry Month. Cross your fingers!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem 21

For the first time, I almost didn't make the deadline...almost didn't get this posted. Time crunch today, so once again, I'm forced to post and run...

by Tracy K. Smith

There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.

History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,

Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.

Women will still be women, but
The distinction will be empty. Sex,

Having outlived every threat, will gratify
Only the mind, which is where it will exist.

For kicks, we'll dance for ourselves
Before mirrors studded with golden bulbs.

The oldest among us will recognize that glow—
But the word sun will have been re-assigned

To a Standard Uranium-Neutralizing device
Found in households and nursing homes.

Read the entire poem here. And keep enjoying National Poetry Month. It's almost over!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--20 of 30

Some times, it's just good to share a poem and just let it hang there.

by Rae Armantrout

Quick, before you die,

the exact shade
of this hotel carpet.

What is the meaning
of the irregular, yellow

spheres, some

gathered in patches
on this bedspread?

If you love me,

the objects
I have caused

to represent me
in my absence.

Read the rest here. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--19th poem

More prose poetry for you to enjoy. A new (to me) poem by Ray Gonzalez:

"And There Were Swallows"
by Ray Gonzalez
  Tadpoles seeing the future for the first time, monuments against the tide when the bats flew in and out of Carlsbad Caverns, cycles of burned ghosts who fell into the secret caves in the late nineteenth century.

   And there were swallows in the memory of lust, hundreds of them guarding the opening in the desert, shadows plunging below the waist to guess where the body begins, where the soul stops searching, darting wings captivated by the flame in the will where the wind becomes the sound inherited after stepping too far into the mind.

Read the final two stanzas here. Have I mentioned how much I love the new Poetry Foundation website? I'm going to need to blog about that in detail in May. That and so many other things! Until then, enjoy the rest of National Poetry Month and the ten remaining poems in this series.

Monday, April 18, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem 18

Long poems can be intimidating on many levels--they take a lot of time, require a lot of thinking, etc. etc. At least that's what some people think. Personally, I don't adore them, but if I find a good one, I'll give it a good read and file it away for sharing or re-reading.

Here's one by Mark Jarman that's broken into parts and that has some vivid imagery. I'm sharing the first and last sections today:

Dispatches from Devereux Slough
by Mark Jarman

Black Phoebe

Highwayman of the air, coal-headed, darting
Plunderer of gnat hordes, lasso with beak –

"Surely, that fellow creature on the wing,"
The phoebe thinks, "should fly like this."

                     And loops
His flight path in a wiry noose, takes wing
Like a cast line and hits the living fly,

Ripping it from the fluid of its life.


When we are reunited after death,
The owls will call among the eucalyptus,
The white tailed kite will arc across the mesa,
And sunset cast orange light from the Pacific
Against the golden bush and eucalyptus
Where flowers and fruit and seeds appear all seasons
And our paired silhouettes are waiting for us.

Read the entire poem at I love how the sections go together, but each one is unique and can stand on its own. I also have a thing for poems and songs with geographic references. Apparently Devereux Slough is an estuary that's a part of the Coal Oil Point Reserve near Santa Barbara, California. (Thank you, Google!)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--17 of 30

A good poem, to me, says things that you're feeling in ways you never could have said them yourself. It seems you can always count on poetry to do that. You can always find a poem to connect with. And then you're kind of bound to that poem--it is yours for life.

Loss is a common poetry theme. And for good reason. The experience of loss creates such a complicated set of emotions. And it's an experience that is different for every individual person, and different for every individual loss. But somehow you can always count on some poem out there to capture it for you. To speak the loss back to you and, hopefully, give you comfort.

Here's a poem I discovered at Ted Kooser's site, An American Life in Poetry:

"The Thrift Shop Dresses"
by Franny Lindsay

I slid the white louvers shut so I could stand in your closet
a little while among the throng of flowered dresses
you hadn’t worn in years, and touch the creases
on each of their sleeves that smelled of forgiveness
and even though you would still be alive a few more days
I knew they were ready to let themselves be
packed into liquor store boxes simply
because you had asked that of them

Read the rest of the poem at An American Life in Poetry. And please continue to enjoy this series of new (to me) poems for the remainder of April.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--the 16th poem

I think it was Poem #10 where I featured a poem I had never heard before by Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my favorite poets ever. Today I'd like to share a poem by another of my poetry idols, W.S. Merwin. I am in utter awe of anyone, like Merwin or Nye, who every thing they touch turns to poetry gold. Like this one, for example:

"Rain at Night"
by W.S Merwin

This is what I have heard
at last the wind in December
lashing the old trees with rain
unseen rain racing along the tiles
under the moon
wind rising and falling
wind with many clouds
trees in the night wind
after an age of leaves and feathers
someone dead
thought of this mountain as money
and cut the trees
that were here in the wind
in the rain at night
it is hard to say it
but they cut the sacred ‘ohias then
the sacred koas then
the sandalwood and the halas

Read the rest here.

Enjoy your Saturday. Only 14 more poems left!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poetry Friday: Poetry Month Poem #15

We've reached the middle of National Poetry Month. And yet another Poetry Friday. If you've been following along, you know that my theme for NPM has been "New Poems" and I've been sharing a poem each day that's new to me (and hopefully to you, too).

Today, however, since it is Poetry Friday and the last day of work before my Spring Break, I think I'll break my own rules slightly. I'd like to share one of my favorite poems of all it isn't new to me. Maybe, though, it's new to you.

Gary Soto is an incredibly talented (and quite prolific) writer. Not only does he write terrific fiction for children and young adults, but he also can write some really amazing poems. Here's my favorite of his:

by Gary Soto
The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December.  Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge.  I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore.

Read the rest of the poem here. It's worth it, trust me. You can also find links to lots of other Soto poems there.

I just love the way he captures such a tender moment in vivid detail. Not only can you picture it in your mind, but also, more than likely, you can connect to it with a memory of your own from your youth. Perhaps you were the boy with the oranges. Maybe you were the girl walking with the boy. I wasn't exactly either one, but I remember being 12 and in love. Mr. Soto describes it way more perfectly than I ever could. I hope you like this one as much as I do.

Please continue to follow along via subscription or by following me on Blogger. And also be sure to check out the Poetry Friday round up at Random Noodling.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem Fourteen

Haven't had any prose poems in this National Poetry Month series yet. How did that happen? Not sure. Let's fix that, shall we?

from genesis
by Laura Walker

in the beginning the sound of holes, and the weight of treason and light paper streamers. and a hundredfold, and below; and the girls with thickening braids, wet paper maps, brought round at last to see the slick animal caught in the rain. and the deluge; and the dark; and the story past the window

and the window
and the stutter

Read the final half here. I like the first half, but the second half and the ending are even better. Hope this new (to me) poem is one you enjoy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Lucky 13

I find myself without much time for commentary today, sadly. Instead, I'll let today's new (to me) poem do the talking. It has plenty to say.

"The Best Year of Her Life"
by Gerald Locklin
When my two-year-old daughter
sees someone come through the door
whom she loves, and hasn't seen for a while,
and has been anticipating
she literally shrieks with joy.

I have to go into the other room
so that no one will notice the tears in my eyes.

Later, after my daughter has gone to bed,
I say to my wife,

"She will never be this happy again,"
and my wife gets angry and snaps,
"Don't you dare communicate your negativism to her!"
And, of course, I won't, if I can possibly help it,
and of course I fully expect her
to have much joy in her life,
and, of course, I hope to be able
to contribute to that joy —
I hope, in other words, that she'll always
be happy to see me come through the door

Read the rest at the Writer's Almanac. See you tomorrow.

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Number 12

Just because you have a favorite poet, that doesn't mean you can't stumble upon poems of theirs that you've never read before. Such was the case last week with Naomi Shihab Nye and again today with William Stafford. I don't think I've ever read this one before. And it is definitely a gem--a work of poetic genius you might say. Can anyone capture an image like Mr. Stafford could?

"The Well Rising"
by William Stafford
The well rising without sound,
the spring on a hillside,
the plowshare brimming through deep ground
everywhere in the field—

The sharp swallows in their swerve
flaring and hesitating
hunting for the final curve
coming closer and closer—

Read the final stanza at the Poetry Foundation (really liking their new site design by the way). It was William Stafford who produced one of my most repeated poetry-related quotes. When asked by an interviewer when he started being a poet, Stafford replied "When did you stop?"

Monday, April 11, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--XI

I love poems that aren't about what they say they're about. Like the Updike poem I shared the other day. When you find a poem with an intricate, extended metaphor, you can't help but be awestruck. Maybe this is because when it comes to writing, I'm pretty much awful at metaphors. I can spot them a mile away--but ask me to create one and you're probably going to be disappointed.

And so today for my 11th new (to me) poem in honor of National Poetry Month, I bring you "Hermit." A poem about crabs that's totally not about crabs:

by Gail Mazur
In ancient Greece, a man could withdraw into the desert
to praise his God in solitude—

he'd live out his days by himself in a cave of sand.
Eremos—Greek for desert, you could look it up.

Hermit crabs live mostly alone
in their self-chosen hermitages, they learn young

to muscle their soft asymmetrical bodies
into abandoned mollusk shells.

Without shells, those inadequate bodies
wouldn't have survived the centuries,

so they tuck their abdomens and weak back legs
inside the burden they'll carry on their backs.

It was Aristotle who first observed
they could move from one shell to another.

But sometimes a hermit crab is social—
sometimes a sandworm, a ragworm,

will live with it inside a snail shell.
And sometimes when the crab outgrows its shell

it will remove its odd companion
and bring it along to a new larger shell.

(The Greeks who taught the Western world
what could be achieved by living together

were also the first in that world to work out
a philosophical justification for living alone.)

Read the rest at Ms. Mazur's website.

So are you enjoying all these new poems this month? I hope so. Please spread the word if you are!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

National Poetry Month Fun

My students love the word cloud generator at Wordle. I wanted to make some more signs to blanket the school with, so I asked them to use Wordle to do so.

They had three choices: make a word cloud using poets' names, make a word cloud of poem titles, or make a word cloud out of an entire poem. They turned out great and will be soon be decorating the halls of our school.

Here's a sampling:

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem 10

We made it to double digits! I don't know about you, but the task of blogging every day for a month, even if it's just posting a little poem and a smidge of commentary, is a pretty big deal. I think the most I have ever posted in a month so far is 18 times. I thought that was pretty impressive. 30 days out of 30? I hope I can pull it off!

Today I bring a poem that's new to me from a poet who I've admired for a long-time. In fact, depending upon the day and which poem of hers I've read most recently, I might consider her my all-time favorite poet. I'm speaking of Naomi Shihab Nye. Here's one I came across while trolling around

"The Man Whose Voice Has Been Taken From His Throat"
by Naomi Shihab Nye

remains all supple hands and gesture

skin of language
fusing its finest seam

in fluent light
with a raised finger

dance of lips
each sentence complete

he speaks to the shadow
of leaves

strung tissue paper
snipped into delicate flags

Read the conclusion here. Don't you just wish you could make language do the things that Naomi Shihab Nye does? I mean, I speak the same language...why can't I do what she does? Instead of wasting time contemplating that question, I'll spend this Sunday being thankful for Ms. Nye and all the poets out there who continually amaze me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--#9

I am constantly on the look-out for "teachable" poems--poems that I can use to build reading and writing skills. There is never a shortage of them. Just as important as poems students can learn from, however, are poems that can "hook" students--poems that can open their eyes to the wonders of poetry and get them wanting more.

Today's new (to me) poem, I think, just might be both. But it first stood out to me as a poem that, if shared with a high school male, would really appeal to them. Maybe I'm too old to make this sort of prognostication, to far removed from my own youth and my own infuriatingly mundane high school experience...or maybe it just connects with me and takes me back to my youth. And THAT is a pretty powerful thing, too.

The Poet at Seventeen 
by Larry Levis

My youth? I hear it mostly in the long, volleying   
Echoes of billiards in the pool halls where   
I spent it all, extravagantly, believing
My delicate touch on a cue would last for years.

Outside the vineyards vanished under rain,
And the trees held still or seemed to hold their breath   
When the men I worked with, pruning orchards, sang   
Their lost songs: Amapola; La Paloma;

Jalisco, No Te Rajes—the corny tunes
Their sons would just as soon forget, at recess,
Where they lounged apart in small groups of their own.   
Still, even when they laughed, they laughed in Spanish.

I hated high school then, & on weekends drove
A tractor through the widowed fields. It was so boring   
I memorized poems above the engine’s monotone.   
Sometimes whole days slipped past without my noticing,

And birds of all kinds flew in front of me then.
I learned to tell them apart by their empty squabblings,   
The slightest change in plumage, or the inflection   
Of a call. And why not admit it? I was happy

Then. I believed in no one. I had the kind   
Of solitude the world usually allows   
Only to kings & criminals who are extinct,
Who disdain this world, & who rot, corrupt & shallow

Read the rest of this terrific poem here. And continue to follow us during your celebration of National Poetry Month. I'll be sharing a newly discovered poem (new to me, at least) each day during April.

Friday, April 8, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--the 8th Poem

I hope that all my faithful readers have been enjoying my National Poetry Month series. I wasn't really sure how to celebrate. I wanted to be fresh and original. But I also wanted it to be high quality--there are just so many great blogs doing so many great things this month. I wanted to be deemed a worthy resource. I wanted to fit in!

I hope my idea to share a poem that's new to me each day does just that. It's been great fun searching for new poems and learning about new poets. And it's only day 8! I get to do this 22 more times.

But enough of my long-winded prattle...on to today's new (to me) poem...

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
by Adrienne Rich

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

You can read the rest here. I'm morally (and legally) obligated not to post the entire poem, but I really had trouble figuring out where to cut this poem off. The brilliance of it has yet to be fully revealed in the few lines above. Promise me you'll read the rest! It's just perfectly unique. And that title. Gosh, I do love a good title. What more can I say? And it's obviously a love poem, too, which you know I'm not that crazy about as a group. But one like this could get me to change my mind.

Let me know what you think of it. Then after that, check out the rest of today's awesome Poetry Friday round-up at Madigan Reads.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--No. 7

I picked up Robert Hass's most recent book of new and selected poems, The Apple Trees at Olema, from the Poetry Month display at my local library. I'm not that familiar with Hass. To be honest, I liked the cover and the title:

I'm a sucker for a bird on a cover. Anyway, the way I usually read books of poetry is to start with some skimming and scanning. I page through, stopping at poems whose titles I like, maybe reading a few lines here and there, kind of finding poems by happenstance. Nothing very deliberate or planned out. I just usually don't have time to sit down and read 60 pages in one sitting or something like that. So I just end up leafing through.

I definitely want to spend more time with this book, but I wanted to share a new-to-me poem "Faint Music." It was actually published in 1996. And I'm actually pretty obsessed with it. I'm sure I've read it at least 10 different times now. Here's the beginning...

Faint Music
by Robert Hass

Maybe you need to write a poem about grace.

When everything broken is broken,   
and everything dead is dead,
and the hero has looked into the mirror with complete contempt,
and the heroine has studied her face and its defects
remorselessly, and the pain they thought might,
as a token of their earnestness, release them from themselves
has lost its novelty and not released them,
and they have begun to think, kindly and distantly,
watching the others go about their days—
likes and dislikes, reasons, habits, fears—
that self-love is the one weedy stalk
of every human blossoming, and understood,
therefore, why they had been, all their lives,   
in such a fury to defend it, and that no one—
except some almost inconceivable saint in his pool
of poverty and silence—can escape this violent, automatic
life’s companion ever, maybe then, ordinary light,
faint music under things, a hovering like grace appears.

Read the rest here. I really think the poem could have ended there. But it keeps going into this sprawling, almost miserable tale of a guy getting his heart ripped out, only to circle around at the end with an ending that makes you think that, will all be okay. It's a pretty long poem, too, and that's not something I generally enjoy. But I just can't help getting wrapped up in this one. When you get time, give it a good reading (or two, or four...). Let me know what you think.

I'll be back tomorrow for the start of week two of our National Poetry Month series!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Six of Thirty

John Updike certainly isn't a new name. But I don't think I knew that he wrote poetry. And I certainly hadn't read this gem before:

by John Updike

Show me a piece of land that God forgot—
a strip between an unused sidewalk, say,
and a bulldozed lot, rich in broken glass—
and there, July on, will be chicory,

its leggy hollow stems staggering skyward,
its leaves rough-hairy and lanceolate,
like pointed shoes too cheap for elves to wear,
its button-blooms the tenderest mauve-blue.

How good of it to risk the roadside fumes,
the oil-soaked heat reflected from asphalt,
and wretched earth dun-colored like cement,
too packed for any other seed to probe.

Read the rest here.

I think this would be a great model for young poets to use as inspiration, especially when it comes to descriptive language. And a good vocabulary builder, too. Not only did I have to look up "chicory" (turns out I'd seen it, but didn't know what it was called. And you can eat its roots. Who knew?) but also "lanceolate."

The first week of National Poetry Month is nearly over! Don't worry, you can get caught up on the parts of this series you might have missed. And also you can make sure you never miss another post. More tomorrow!

Photo source:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Poetry Month Posters

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Poetry Month series to share with you some signs my students made to spread the word around school about National Poetry Month.

We were inspired by the Academy of American Poets' official NPM poster:

Is that not the best line of poetry ever? The poster rocks. Dowload a PDF of it here.

So using it as a model, students searched for great lines of poetry and made these signs that are now decorating the hallways of our school:

More to come from my students. Stay tuned and keep enjoying the series!

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem 5

Combing through my saved and bookmarked poems that I never got around to reading has been lots of fun. This National Poetry Month series is a hit in my mind. I hope you're enjoying it, too.

Today's new (to me) poem comes via a great blog, How a Poem Happens. I don't know how he does it, but blogger Brian Brodeur gets poets to share poems with him and answer some really interesting questions about them. It's like getting to pick a poet's brain for a few moments. It's one of my favorite blogs to read. You simply must check it out.

Today's poem was posted back in February. I saved it, but never gave it much attention until now. It certainly deserves attention, in my opinion:

By Keetje Kuipers

If I have any romantic notions left,
please let me abandon them here
on the dashboard of your Subaru
beside this container of gas station
potato salad and bottle of sunscreen.
Otherwise, my heart is a sugar packet
waiting to be shaken open by some
other man’s hand

Read the rest of the poem at Brian's blog. The originality of the "my heart is a sugar packet" metaphor is enough to call this poem "awesome," but the vivid imagery conjured up here and the rambling, run-on way of describing it are great, too. This poem strikes a chord with me and I just love how much it does in so few lines.

See you tomorrow for poem #6!

Monday, April 4, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem Four

Sometimes when I read a poem, I know I like it right away--but I'm not exactly sure why I like it. That's how I felt when I read today's poem. Its rambling, stream-of-consciousness tone appeals to me, I know that.  Maybe you should just read it and see what you think:

in the ruins
by Mark Conway

we drank in the remains
of ruined buildings
and we sat in a cave or
wrecked houses on farms given back to the bank
listening to men who'd been raised
in ways that were lost
and we strained to make out
the use of their news
they were crazy or passed out
speed notched with a cross
they drank from the flask and the mouth
they came in and shook off the rain
inflamed and dismayed
calm and arcane
the least one seethed chanting whitman for hours
then wept at the dregs of the fire
foam formed at the edge of their lips
we drank and waited for something to drop
you and I looking and sifting
for signs written in wax
we were young we knew how to die
but not how to last 

Read the rest here. And let me know what you think. I find it enchanting and a little bit mesmerizing.

See you tomorrow for poem five! And remember, be sure to subscribe so you get all posts delivered straight to you. AND if you haven't told your friends about our National Poetry Month series...there's still time!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem III

Continuing to share with you 30 poems that are new to me (and maybe you) during National Poetry Month, today we bring you...

Poem for Wisconsin
by Matthew Zapruder

In Milwaukee it is snowing

on the golden statue 

of the 1970s television star

whose television house

was in Milwaukee 

and also on the Comet Cafe

and on the white museum 

the famous Spanish architect 

built with a glass 

elevator through it

and a room with a button

that when you press it

makes two wings

on the sides of the building 

more quickly than you might 

imagine mechanically 

rise like a clumsy

thoughtful bird 

thinking now

I am at last ready 

Read the rest of this poem here.

I really like the one-line stanzas--the way they slow you down, encouraging you to contemplate each and every word so closely. And its rambling nature appeals to me. And I just have a thing for poems with geography references. I'll delve into that another day, I suppose.

Stay tuned for more new poems throughout National Poetry Month!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem #2

My National Poetry Month series was inspired by a lack of time. I just haven't had time to keep up with my poetry reading (read about where I find poems here). I've read very few poems lately because of busy-ness in other areas of life (not complaining, I promise!) and I'm using NPM to inspire me to get caught up. And you, dear reader, get to benefit because as I comb through my RSS reader and email inbox this month, I'll be sharing the best with you. (Make sure you subscribe or'll be easier to follow along. And definitely worth it.)

So as I continue sharing poems that are new to me (and hopefully to you, too), I bring you the second installment:

Paestum Thunderstorm, Twenty Years On
By Jacqueline Osherow

It was otherworldly. You'd have been rapturous:
lightning over the temples \ wine-dark sky—
no one in that drenched expanse but us

unless you call the thunder a god's voice.
We were soaked completely through, the girls and I.
Even without the storm, you'd have been rapturous,

showing your girls your most beloved place
(that's how I billed it; it's why they came with me)
from our honeymoon travels. No one but us.

But you'd hate the new confinement to the grass.
Back then, we wandered each antiquity;
there's a whole roll of photographs: me, rapturous,

posed at column after column, my face
a likeness of its likeness in your eye. 

Please read the rest of this poem here. The story told here is haunting and emotional. I think it would strike a very deep chord with anyone who happens to be married. I know it does with me. I also love how the word "rapturous" works here. It's a great example of how words pull double and triple duty sometimes in poems. It's a word that captures intense pleasure, but it's also repeated as a way of linking husband, wife, and children--binding them together with the same adjective.

I hope you liked it. See you tomorrow.

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Poetry Month: 30 New Poems--Poem the First

Welcome to National Poetry Month! After giving this much thought, I've decided that sharing a poem that's new to me each day during the month would be a good way to spread the joy of poetry. If it's new to me, there's a good chance that it's new to the 8 people per day who read this blog. (While we're on the topic, what better time than now to subscribe or follow us! Let's boost that number to double digits!!!)

So our first new poem comes via the poem-a-day email...

by Marilyn Krysl

Looking back now, I see 
I was dispassionate too often, 
dismissing the robin as common, 
and now can't remember what 
robin song sounds like. I hoarded
my days, as though to keep them 
safe from depletion, and meantime 
I kept busy being lonely. This 
took up the bulk of my time, 
and I did not speak to strangers 
because they might be boring, 
and there were those I feared 

would ask me for money. I was
clumsy around the confident, 
and the well bred, standing on 
their parapets, enthralled me,
but when one approached, I
fled. I also feared the street's 
down and outs, anxious lest 
they look at me closely, and 
afraid I would see their misery. 

I feared my father who feared 
me and did not touch me, 
which made me more afraid. 
My mother feared him too, 
and as I grew to be like him, 
she became afraid of me also. 
I kept busy avoiding dangers 
of many colors, fleeing from 
those with whom I had much 

in common.

Read the rest of the poem here.

I hope you find the images and descriptive language of this poem as enchanting as I do. And, of course, the perfection of the ending just makes this poem.

The theory behind this Poetry Month series is that there are so many wonderful poems out there that we aren't aware of. I want to at least spend the next 30 days sharing poems that might have gone undiscovered and that might strike a chord with you in a way that might make you want to pass it along, either to friends, students, or loved ones.

So sit back, relax, (subscribe!), and enjoy the wonders of National Poetry Month.

And how apropos that the first day of National Poetry Month falls on a Poetry Friday! Check out the roundup hosted by The Poem Farm. It's destined to be the most exciting roundup of the year, for sure.