Poetry

POETRY: Tasting Heaven by Robert Bly

October 19, 2018

Some people say that every poem should have God in it somewhere. But of course Wallace Stevens Wasn’t one of those. We live, he said, “in a world Without heaven to follow.” Shall we agree That we taste heaven only once, when we see Her at fifteen walking among falling leaves? It’s possible. And yet as Stevens lay dying He invited the priest in. There, I’ve said it. The priest is not an argument, only an instance. But our gusty emotions say to me that we have Tasted heaven many times: these delicacies Are left over from some larger [...]

POETRY: Loves Of The Puppets by Richard Wilbur

October 17, 2018

Meeting when all the world was in the bud, Drawn each to each by instinct’s wooden face, These lovers, heedful of the mystic blood, Fell glassy-eyed into a hot embrace. April, unready to be so intense, Marked time while these outstripped the gentle weather, Yielded their natures to insensate sense, And flew apart the more they came together. Where did they fly? Why, each through such a storm As may be conjured in a globe of glass Drove on the colder as the flesh grew warm, In breathless haste to be at lust’s impasse, To cross the little bridge and sink to rest In visions of the snow-occluded house Where languishes, unfound by any quest, The perfect, small, asphyxiated spouse. That blizzard ended, and their eyes grew clear, And there [...]

POETRY: The Mosquito by Rodney Jones

October 14, 2018

I see the mosquito kneeling on the soft underside of my arm, kneeling Like a fruitpicker, kneeling like an old woman With the proboscis of her prayer buried in the idea of God, And I know we shall not speak with the aliens And that peace will not happen in my life, not unless It is in the burnt oil spreading across the surfaces of ponds, in the dark Egg rafts clotting and the wiggletails expiring like batteries. Bring a little alcohol and a little balm For these poppies planted by the Queen of Neptune. In her photographs she is bearded and spurred, embellished five hundred times, Her modular legs crouching, her insufferable head unlocking To lower the razor-edge of its tubes, and she is there in the afternoon When the wind gives up the [...]

POETRY: Things To Think by Robert Bly

October 12, 2018

Think in ways you’ve never thought before If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message Larger than anything you’ve ever heard. Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats. Think that someone may bring a bear to your door, Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers A child of your own whom you’ve never seen. When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven. Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s Been decided that if you lie down no one will [...]

POETRY: The Wild Rose by Wendell Berry

October 10, 2018

Sometimes hidden from me in daily custom and in trust, so that I live by you unaware as by the beating of my heart, suddenly you flare in my sight, a wild rose blooming at the edge of thicket, grace and light where yesterday was only shade, and once more I am blessed, choosing again what I chose [...]

POETRY: People Like Us by Robert Bly

October 5, 2018

for James Wright There are more like us. All over the world there are confused people, who can’t remember The name of their dog when they wake up, and people Who love God but can’t remember where He was when they went to sleep. It’s All right. The world cleanses itself this way. A wrong number occurs to you in the middle Of the night, you dial it, it rings just in time To save the house. And the second-story man Gets the wrong address, where the insomniac lives, And he’s lonely, and they talk, and the thief Goes back to college. Even in graduate school, You can wander into the wrong classroom, And hear great poems lovingly spoken By the wrong professor. And you find your soul, And greatness has a defender, and even in death [...]

POETRY: The Father by Maura Eichner

October 3, 2018

Luke 15:11-32 Never had the old man made such a journey. His robes enfolded him like driving wind. No one remembered the old man running. Even fire had never moved him. His estates were the light of the town. Yet, there he was, running to a dark figure huddling the road. Love was flood-water carrying him forward. Some tried to dike the water; nothing could hold him. Love loosed a wind of words: “My son is coming home.” Dark grief behind, the father ran, arms open as light. He had to lift the boy before his son’s fire of sorrow burned the father’s sandals. Journey? The old man could remember no other journey but this homecoming: he held his son in the fire of his arms, remembering his birth: water and fire. Servants ran along [...]

POETRY: The Snakes Of September by Stanley Kunitz

September 30, 2018

All summer I heard them rustling in the shrubbery, outracing me from tier to tier in my garden, a whisper among the viburnums, a signal flashed from the hedgerow, a shadow pulsing in the barberry thicket. Now that the nights are chill and the annuals spent, I should have thought them gone, in a torpor of blood slipped to the nether world before the sickle frost. Not so. In the deceptive balm of noon, as if defiant of the curse that spoiled another garden, these two appear on show through a narrow slit in the dense green brocade of a north-country spruce, dangling head-down, entwined in a brazen love-knot. I put out my hand and stroke the fine, dry grit of their skins. After all, we are partners in this land, co-signers of a covenant. At my [...]

POETRY: To Hear The Falling World by Jane Hirshfield

September 28, 2018

Only if I move my arm a certain way, it comes back. Or the way the light bends in the trees this time of year, so a scrap of sorrow, like a bird, lights on the heart. I carry this in my body, seed in an unswept corner, husk-encowled and seeming safe. But they guard me, these small pains, from growing sure of myself and perhaps [...]

POETRY: On The Feast Of Saint John The Evangelist by David Brendan Hopes

September 26, 2018

The solstice moon rides within a ring of ice gleaming blue silver, blood silver, silver, mist silver. The snow is blue; cobalt silver on the moon-struck mountain. In the corner of the porch roof, against the moon, a spider spins a warped web. She is dazed with cold. Hunger. She stops. She starts again, spinning badly, past her time, utterly hopeless and beyond help. I cannot decide if this is beautiful or horrible. Either way, it cannot be looked at very long. The ice halo spreads and pales, swallowing the sky. In a dream the spider came down off the moonlit porch, to my bedside. I tried to explain it to her. This is the world. Many spirits of many kinds dwell in it and do not permit it to be pure. What called you? Tell me what you [...]

POETRY: Mosquito by Jane Hirshfield

September 21, 2018

I say I & a small mosquito drinks from my tongue but many say we and hear I say you or he and hear I what can we do with this problem a bowl held in both hands cannot be filled by its holder x, says the blue whale x, say the krill solve for y, says the ocean, then multiply by existence the feet of an ant make their own sound on the earth ice is astonished by water a person misreads delirium as delphinium and falls into a blueness sleepy as beauty when sneezing the pronoun [...]

POETRY: We Will Now Hear The Word Of God From Each Of Our Beloved Chaplains by Daniel Berrigan

September 19, 2018

1. Rev Stump is believe it or not for real as a stump to a grown tree so he to the verdant gospel this corpulent burgher this fictitious rubbery stamp Stump a huckster’s a hack’s gospel Stump wormwood miles of smiles 2. the priest an irish caricature wheels up in his Cadillac each a.m. an alderman to a cobbler’s funeral we the dead faces his asperges hisses on have yet like Lazarus in hell one cold Christian curse bestowal, [...]

POETRY: White Mountains by Robert Cording

September 15, 2018

At times they nested above us, Hugely fixed in silent considerings, Shadow lakes pooled along their sides As rafts of clouds passed across The sun. At other times, weightless As breath, chameleonlike, They could take the color of rain And vanish behind a scrim of cloud. Always expected and always strange— How, staying in exactly the same place, The mountains were continually leaving, Day after day, the gray rock At the peaks gradually darkening To smoky blue, becoming unmoored In the Chinese-misted drift of evening. All that summer as we read or turned From books, as we stood on the porch Or moved through our daily tasks Toward each other, they bridged Our pleasure and our pain. In the end We came to believe the mountains Brought us to [...]

POETRY: This Morning, I Wanted Four Legs by Jane Hirshfield

September 14, 2018

Nothing on two legs weighs much, or can. An elephant, a donkey, even a cookstove—those legs, a person could stand on. Two legs pitch you forward. Two legs tire. They look for another two legs to be with, to move one set forward to music while letting the other move back. They want to carve into a tree trunk: 2gether 4ever. Nothing on two legs can bark, can whinny or chuff. Tonight, though, everything’s different. Tonight I want [...]

POETRY: The Liar’s Psalm—Repentance by Andrew Hudgins

September 12, 2018

I repent the actual. It has never got me anywhere. It is nothing against principalities, against powers. My father will die and I will carry on. I dread his death more than mine because it will come sooner—knowledge I repent. In lies he will outlive the liar. And that’s me. The lie itself will carry on, is itself a child, a separate life, a blow against the gods of objects. Who are not happy with me or with their densities. They are not worth their flawed kingdoms. And neither do I love them. They are dangerous. They are too stupid to be insignificant, too proud of their ability to blister my hands and make them raw. I repent letting them, and I repent logic, which has no god: it will do anything, it will go anywhere. Tell it your [...]

POETRY: My Life Was The Size Of My Life by Jane Hirshfield

September 7, 2018

My life was the size of my life. Its rooms were room-sized, its soul was the size of a soul. In its background, mitochondria hummed, above it sun, clouds, snow, the transit of stars and planets. It rode elevators, bullet trains, various airplanes, a donkey. It wore socks, shirts, its own ears and nose. It ate, it slept, it opened and closed its hands, its windows. Others, I know, had lives larger. Others, I know, had lives shorter. The depth of lives, too, is different. There were times my life and I made jokes together. There were times we made bread. Once, I grew moody and distant. I told my life I would like some time, I would like to try seeing others. In a week, my empty suitcase and I returned. I was hungry, then, and my life, my [...]

POETRY: What My Teachers Taught Me I Try To Teach My Students by Maura Eichner

September 5, 2018

A bird in the hand is not to be desired. In writing, nothing is too much trouble. Culture is nourished, not by fact, but by myth. Continually think of those who were truly great who in their lives fought for life, who wore at their hearts, the fire’s center. Feel the meanings the words hide. Make routine a stimulus. Remember it can cease. Forge hosannahs from doubt. Hammer on doors with the heart. All occasions invite God’s mercies and all times are his [...]

NATURE: Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes

September 2, 2018

I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed. Inaction, no falsifying dream Between my hooked head and hooked feet: Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat. The convenience of the high trees! The air’s buoyancy and the sun’s ray Are of advantage to me; And the earth’s face upward for my inspection. My feet are locked upon the rough bark. It took the whole of Creation To produce my foot, my each feather: Now I hold Creation in my foot Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly— I kill where I please because it is all mine. There is no sophistry in my body: My manners are tearing off heads— The allotment of death. For the one path of my flight is direct Through the bones of the living. No arguments assert my right: The sun [...]

POETRY: I Wanted Only A Little by Jane Hirshfield

August 31, 2018

I wanted, I thought, only a little, two teaspoons of silence— one for sugar, one for stirring the wetness. No. I wanted a Cairo of silence, a Kyoto. In every hanging garden mosses and waters. The directions of silence: north, west, south, past, future. It comes through any window one inch open, like rain driven sideways. Grief shifts, as a grazing horse does, one leg to the other. But a horse sleeping sleeps with all legs [...]

POETRY: Dash It by Annie Dillard

August 29, 2018

How wonderfully it was all arranged that each Of us had not too long to live. This is one Of the main snags—the shortness of the day. The whole wood was whispering, “Dash it, dash it….” What joy—to walk along that path! The snow Was so fragrant in the sun! What a fish! Whenever I think of death, the same stupid Question arises: “What’s to be done?” As for myself, I can only speak of what Made me marvel when I saw it for the first time. I remember my own youth when I was in love. I remember a puddle rippling, the insects aroused. I remember our own springtime when my lady told me: You have taken my best. And then I remember How many evenings I have waited, how much I have been through for this one evening on [...]

POETRY: The Glorious Mysteries—The Coronation by John O’Donohue

August 27, 2018

It was a long time ago in another land. Who can tell how it really was before belief Came towards you with a hunger that could not see you Except against white air cleansed of the shadow of earth? No inkling that you were a free spirit who loved The danger of seeing the world with an open mind, How you strove to be faithful to uncertainty And let nothing unquestioned settle in your heart. You loved to throw caution to the wind when you danced. To be outside in the dawn before people were, Letting the blue tides of your dreaming settle ashore. The village said you put the whole thing into his head. In the glow of your silence, the heart grows tranquil. No one will ever know where you had to [...]

POETRY: Juggler by Richard Wilbur

August 22, 2018

A ball will bounce, but less and less. It’s not A light-hearted thing, resents its own resilience. Falling is what it loves, and the earth falls So in our hearts from brilliance, Settles and is forgot. It takes a sky-blue juggler with five red balls To shake our gravity up. Whee, in the air The balls roll round, wheel on his wheeling hands, Learning the ways of lightness, alter to spheres Grazing his finger ends, Cling to their courses there, Swinging a small heaven about his ears. But a heaven is easier made of nothing at all Than the earth regained, and still and sole within The spin of worlds, with a gesture sure and noble He reels that heaven in, Landing it ball by ball, And trades it all for a broom, a plate, a table. Oh, on his toe [...]

POETRY: The Glorious Mysteries—The Assumption by John O’Donohue

August 20, 2018

Perhaps time is the keeper of distance and loss, Knowing that we are but able for a little at a time. And the innocence of fragments is wise with us, Keeps us from order that is not native to our dust. Yet, without warning, a life can suddenly chance On its hidden rhythm, find a flow it never knew. Where the heart was blind, subtle worlds rise into view; Where the mind was forced, crippled thought beings to dance. As if this day found for her everything she lost. Her breath infused with harvest she never expected From the unlived lives she had only touched in dream; Her mind rests; memory glows in a stairs of twilight. Her hair kisses the breeze. Her eyes know it is time. She looks as young as the evening the raven [...]

POETRY: Two Chairs On A Hillside by Elizabeth Spires

August 17, 2018

“Look up. And tell me what you see.” “I see two chairs on a hillside. What are they doing there?” “Through good days and bad, two sat there having a conversation. Flowers grew up around them, vines twined around their chairs. They didn’t seem to care, but moved the chairs higher or lower to adjust the view of rushing streams and valleys, a town that they both knew. Autumn approached, the hillside changing color, and still they stayed, feeling the change within themselves. Their talk was a thread unspooling, leading them where it would. Sometimes one lost the thread, her mind for a moment blank, and then she’d find herself, again pick up the thread. With the first chill wind, their bare hands touched, as if to reassure. They [...]

POETRY: The Chimes Of Neverwhere by Les Murray

August 15, 2018

How many times did the Church prevent war? Who knows? Those wars did not occur. How many numbers don’t count before ten? Treasures of the Devil in Neverwhere. The neither state of Neverwhere is hard to place as near or far since all things that didn’t take place are there and things that have lost the place they took: Herr Hitler’s buildings, King James’s cigar, the happiness of Armenia, the Abelard children, the Manchu’s return are there with the Pictish Grammar Book. The girl who returned your dazzled look and the mornings you might have woke to her are your waterbed in Neverwhere. There shine the dukes of Australia and all the great poems that never were quite written, and every balked invention. There too are the Third AIF [...]

POETRY: The Glorious Mysteries—The Descent Of The Holy Spirit by John O’Donohue

August 13, 2018

Somewhere in our clay remembers the speed of cold, Overtaking the surge of colors with grey breath, And the shudder of fields, as they smother beneath The white infinity of ice paralyzing the world. How swiftly fear touches this relic—cold in the bone. After his second going, they hide from the crowd. Then, like manna from a red wind, a tongue of flame swirls Into each mind huddled there in the fear-filled room. The language caul they lived in falls, leaves them wordless, Then, a kindling, words they never knew they had come Alive out of nowhere sprung with awakening That will not cease until winter sets the heart free. Out in the open now, voices of new belonging, Needing no courage beyond the fire of their [...]

POETRY: A Blessing by James Wright

August 10, 2018

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. And the eyes of those two Indian ponies Darken with kindness. They have come gladly out of the willows To welcome my friend and me. We step over the barbed wire into the pasture Where they have been grazing all day, alone. They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness That we have come. They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. There is no loneliness like theirs. At home once more, They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, For she has walked over to me And nuzzled my left hand. She is black and white, Her mane falls wild on her forehead, And the light breeze [...]

POETRY: In Praise Of Coldness by Jane Hirshfield

August 8, 2018

“If you wish to move your reader,” Chekhov wrote, “you must write more coldly.” Herakleitos recommended, “A dry soul is best.” And so at the center of many great works is found a preserving dispassion, like the vanishing point of quattrocento perspective, or the tiny packets of desiccant enclosed in a box of new shoes or seeds. But still the vanishing point is not the painting, the silica is not the blossoming plant. Chekhov, dying, read the timetables of trains. To what more earthly thing could he have been faithful?— Scent of rocking distances, smoke of blue trees out the window, hampers of bread, picked cabbage, boiled meat. Scent of the knowable journey. Neither a person entirely broken nor one [...]

POETRY: Imagist At Coney Island by Maura Eichner

August 8, 2018

One decade into the 20th century, Pound, with his back to Brooklyn, pointed his beard to the Atlantic. Simply to receive the kingdom, Ezra linked arms with John Butler Yeats. Their shoes filled with sand. Pleasure rode the water, solid as Staten Island Ferry. At dusk, lights rose like a fever chart. Coney Island “marvelous against the night.” In the amusement park Yeats rode an elephant on the merry-go-round, “smiling Elijah in the beatific vision.” Pound leaned against a railing Pouring sand from each shoe, words ripening in him in August [...]