Poetry

POETRY: Non-Disparagement Agreement, by Mary F. C. Pratt

After David Weinstock If you won’t tell how I cried, I won’t tell how you left. You won’t tell my raging, either, how I blamed you for everything: my sister’s dying, the terrorists, war, cancer and pain, blindness, stupidity. So  you won’t tell how I slammed doors, broke goblets, made a fool of myself every time I remembered. And I won’t tell how quiet you were, how you wouldn’t turn back when I called. I won’t tell of the blank, the emptiness of the faceless winter sky with its perfect stillness of stars, the hollowness of the laughter at feasts, the blandness of Rilke and Bach. You mocked me with happinesses, with sunrises and hymns, but I won’t tell. You won’t tell how I [...]

POETRY: The Search, by George Herbert

Whither, O whither art Thou fled, My Lord, my Love ? My searches are my daily bread, Yet never prove. My knees pierce the earth, mine eyes the sky; And yet the sphere And center both to me deny That Thou art there. Yet can I mark how herbs below Grow green and gay, As if to meet Thee they did know, While I decay. Yet can I mark how stars above Simper and shine, As having keys unto Thy love, While poor I pine. I sent a sigh to seek Thee out, Deep drawn in pain, Winged like an arrow; but my scout Returns in vain. I turned another (having store) Into a groan, Because the search was dumb before; But all was one. Lord, dost Thou some new fabric mold Which favor wins, And keeps Thee present; leaving the old Unto their sins? Where is my God ? [...]

POETRY: The Ten Lepers, by Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

’Neath the olives of Samaria, in far-famed Galilee, Where dark green vines are mirrored in a placid silver sea, ’Mid scenes of tranquil beauty, glowing sun-sets, rosy dawn, The Master and disciples to the city journeyed on. And, as they neared a valley where a sheltered hamlet lay, A strange, portentous wailing made them pause upon their way— Voices fraught with anguish, telling of aching heart and brow, Which kept moaning: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us now!” Softly raised the gentle Saviour His eyes like midnight star, And His mournful gaze soon rested on ten lepers, who, afar, Stood motionless and suppliant, in sackcloth rudely clothed, Poor Pariahs! by their nearest, their dearest, shunned and loathed. Not unto Him prayed [...]

POETRY: The Edges Of Time, by Kay Ryan

It is at the edges that time thins. Time which had been dense and viscous as amber suspending intentions like bees unseizes them. A humming begins, apparently coming from stacks of put-off things or just in back. A racket of claims now, as time flattens. A glittering fan of things competing to happen, brilliant and urgent as fish when seas [...]

POETRY: The Widow’s Mites—A Poem, by Brother Roy

From: New Hope International Ministries  Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44) During the last days that Jesus walked upon this earth as a man, He went up to the temple to see if anyone truly understood God’s plan. A nameless, faceless widow passed by Jesus as He rested against the temple wall, But He did [...]

POETRY: The Widow’s Lament In Springtime, by William Carlos Williams

Sorrow is my own yard where the new grass flames as it has flamed often before, but not with the cold fire that closes round me this year. Thirty-five years I lived with my husband. The plum tree is white today with masses of flowers. Masses of flowers load the cherry branches and color some bushes yellow and some red, but the grief in my heart is stronger than they, for though they were my joy formerly, today I notice them and turn away forgetting. Today my son told me that in the meadows, at the edge of the heavy woods in the distance, he saw trees of white flowers. I feel that I would like to go there and fall into those flowers and sink into the marsh near [...]

POETRY: Matins, by George Herbert

I cannot ope mine eyes, But thou art ready there to catch My morning-soul and sacrifice: Then we must needs for that day make a match. My God, what is a heart? Silver, or gold, or precious stone, Or star, or rainbow, or a part Of all these things or all of them in one? My God, what is a heart? That thou shouldst it so eye, and woo, Pouring upon it all thy art, As if that thou hadst nothing else to do? Indeed man’s whole estate Amounts (and richly) to serve thee: He did not heav’n and earth create, Yet studies them, not him by whom they be. Teach me thy love to know; That this new light, which now I see, May both the work and workman show: Then by a sunbeam I will climb to [...]

POETRY: Dawn Walks In Blue And Diamonds, by Franz Wright

Dawn walks in blue and diamonds in robes of darkest grain wind-parted ☆ Sleeping she looked like a river Like a river at dawn, silver sliver of moon, wind in poplars, flickering of a candle that grows imperceptibly taller as it burns Manacled girl naked surrounded by flames, gigantic rose of painless fire— ☆ Now I have passed through voice and fire could I be cleansed of all desire, I don’t think so Icon: cold gold telepathic eyes ☆ Sacrament of metaphor, sacrament of matter ☆ Aren’t stars almost in your vicinity It was only the barest beginning starward- bound, only the March branches, only the first gifts of the first awakening waiting forever to be born… ☆ Dawn walked in blue and diamonds. [...]

POETRY: Snowfall, by Sarah Arthur

When the snow falls it falls like death in slow layers and keeps falling till nothing we have known is known. We stand silent in the woods awaiting the wide white twilight. They say when you die of cold you fall asleep first. And so I wonder: If you die of snow like a princess do you dream for a hundred years while a blanket of white mounds over your chest and pines stand silent in the trackless deep and not even the mice know you’re there? If a tree falls in the snow does it sleep for a hundred years? And if you prick your finger and a drop of red blood falls on the silent snow do the woods shudder with strange violence; does the snow rot with dark undergrowth; do the dead leaves bleed? Does the woodsman then awake, shoulder his ax, [...]

POETRY: By The Water Of Babylon, by Eloise Blanchard

The journey took forever, it seemed, over wide valleys, smooth with wear, over high hills, the occasional mountain, carefully, across bridges over chasms with various ugly creatures in them. When I got to the river, it bubbled, swaying its way to the ocean— a rhythmic flow— and I lay down in the deep fine grass hands outspread and thought I was in the promised land. But, like Moses, I was on the other side the wrong side. I looked over and knew it instantly; knew the irrevocable nature of location, humanity, physical being had put me there after long journeys, with people following blindly and I could not get to the right side. And folks on the other side were dancing— a celebration of their river and their views. The river flows [...]

POETRY: Cemetery, by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I walk these grassless grounds Cracked, withering in weeds. My eyes move From one monument to the next: a star For the hour of their births, a cross For the hour of their deaths. Grave after Grave, row after crooked row like fields Of rotting corn. My eyes fall On words: Para mi querido hijo, a mother’s Final letter to her war-dead son. The foreigner Has found a place, died for a flag that knows only How to wave adios in English. A broken angel, Wingless, protects the grave of an infant Whose name the wind has stolen. A cloud Covers the sun. It will not rain. I stand In this noonday darkness somewhere between A cross and a star, strip off my clothes, rags That hide my bones. Bones. Bones fighting to bare Their blankness to open air. [...]

POETRY: Aaron, by George Herbert

Holiness on the head, Light and perfections on the breast, Harmonious bells below, raising the dead To lead them unto life and rest: Thus are true Aarons dressed. Profaneness in my head, Defects and darkness in my breast, A noise of passions ringing me for dead Unto a place where is no rest: Poor priest, thus am I dressed. Only another head I have, another heart and breast, Another music, making live, not dead, Without whom I could have no rest: In him I am well dressed. Christ is my only head, My alone-only heart and breast, My only music, striking me ev’n dead, That to the old man I may rest, And be in him new-dressed. So, holy in my head, Perfect and light in my dear breast, My doctrine tun’d by Christ (who is not dead, But [...]

POETRY: A Quintina Of Crosses, by Chad Walsh

Beyond, beneath, within, wherever blood, If there were blood, flows with the pulse of love, Where God’s circle and all orbits cross, Through the black space of death to baby life Came God, planting the secret genes of God. By the permission of a maiden’s love, Love came upon the seeds of words, broke blood, And howled into the Palestine of life, A baby roiled by memories of God. Sometimes he smiled, sometimes the child was cross. Often at night he dreamed a dream of God And was the dream he dreamed. Often across The lily fields he raged and lived their life, And Heaven’s poison festered in his blood, Loosing the passion of unthinkable love. But mostly, though, he lived a prentice’s life Until a singing in the surge [...]

POETRY: The Hymn Of Kassia

Traditional Greek Orthodox Sensing Thy divinity, O Lord, a woman of many sins takes it upon herself to become a myrrh-bearer, And in deep mourning brings before Thee fragrant oil in anticipation of Thy burial; crying: “Woe to me! For night is unto me, oestrus of lechery, a dark and moonless eros of sin. Receive the wellsprings of my tears, O Thou who gatherest the waters of the oceans into clouds. Bend to me, to the sorrows of my heart, O Thou who bendedst down the heavens in Thy ineffable self-emptying. I will kiss Thine immaculate feet and dry them with the locks of my hair; Those very feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise and hid herself in fear. Who shall reckon the multitude of my sins, or the abysses of Thy judgment, O [...]

POETRY: The Insomniacs, by Adrienne Rich

The mystic finishes in time, The actor finds himself in space; And each, wherever he has been, Must know his hand before his face, Must crawl back into his own skin As in the darkness after crime The thief can hear his breath again, Resume the knowledge of his limbs And how the spasm goes and comes Under the bones that cage his heart. So: we are fairly met, grave friend— The meeting of two wounds in man. I, gesturing with practiced hand, I, in my great brocaded gown, And you, the fixed and patient one, Enduring all the world can do. I, with my shifting masks, the gold, The awful scarlet, laughing blue, Maker of many worlds; and you, Worldless, the pure receptacle. And yet your floating eyes reveal What saint or mummer groans to feel: [...]

POETRY: After Three Days, by Lewis Carroll

I stood within the gate Of a great temple, ‘mid the living stream Of worshipers that thronged its regal state Fair-pictured in my dream. Jewels and gold were there; And floors of marble lent a crystal sheen To body forth, as in a lower air, The wonders of the scene. Such wild and lavish grace Had whispers in it of a coming doom; As richest flowers lie strown about the face Of her that waits the tomb. The wisest of the land Had gathered there, three solemn trysting-days, For high debate: men stood on either hand To listen and to gaze. The aged brows were bent, Bent to a frown, half thought, and half annoy, That all their stores of subtlest argument Were baffled by a boy. In each averted face I marked but scorn and loathing, till mine [...]

POETRY: A Christmas Carol, by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak mid-winter Long ago. Our God, Heaven, cannot hold him Nor Earth sustain; Heaven and Earth shall flee away When he comes to reign: In the bleak midwinter A stable-place sufficed The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. Enough for him, whom cherubim Worship night and day, A breastful of milk And a mangerful of hay; Enough for him, whom angels Fall down before, The ox and ass and camel Which adore. Angels and archangels May have gathered there, Cherubim and seraphim Thronged the air; But only his mother In her maiden bliss Worshiped the Beloved With a kiss. What can I give him, Poor as I am? If I [...]

POETRY: First Forgive The Silence, by Mark Jarman

First forgive the silence That answers prayer, Then forgive the prayer That stains the silence. Excuse the absence That feels like presence, Then excuse the feeling That insists on presence. Pardon the delay Of revelation, Then ask pardon for revealing Your impatience. Forgive God For being only a word, Then ask God to forgive The betrayal of [...]

POETRY: Solace, by Dick Allen

Newtown, CT December 2012 There are the fields we’ll walk across In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the fields we’ll walk across. There are the houses we’ll walk toward In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the houses we’ll walk toward. There are the faces we once kissed In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the faces we once kissed. Incredible how we laughed and cried In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, Incredible how we laughed and cried. Incredible how we’ll meet again In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, Incredible how we’ll meet again. No small hand will go unheld [...]

POETRY: Childhood Stories, by Gražina Bielousova

I will never forget the story I was never supposed to know— Nor was my mom, who as a child Overheard some distant relative of hers After a couple shots of vodka In a large family get-together brag About his war-time heroic deeds Of cleansing the country from the Jews; “I’d take a kid and throw him up in the air And shoot him. By the time He hit the ground, he was already dead…” I can see him grab the baby from the crib, A helpless bundle, unsuspecting of such evil, See him perform his act of murder In the eyes of the screaming mother… No, I will never forget the story I heard as a child, long ago, When my mom amidst her never-ending chores Instead of fairy tales would talk to me About life, the family and the war, [...]

POETRY: The Flight Of The Holy Family, by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff

The shadows have been ready, falling Through cool evening air. And from the cleft comes Joseph, striding Across the hush of meadow. There, Ahead, the trees. He points the donkey toward them And feels a lightly fanning breeze. It’s from angels’ wings— The child sees them in his dream. Mary, gazing down at him in love and pain, sings Silent cradle songs. The quiet has no seam. Crisscrossing glowworms light her way, Eager to show each step and stay; Sweet shudders bend the grasses— They stroke her cloak’s hem as she passes; The brooklet ceases its chatter, The forest whispers scatter That they might not betray the flight. The child raised his hand, And for their kindness on this night, He blessed the silent land, So that [...]

POETRY: The Magus, by James Dickey

It is time for the others to come. This child is no more than a god. No cars are moving this night. The lights in the houses go out. I put these out with the rest. From his crib, the child begins To shine, letting forth one ray Through the twelve simple bars of his bed Down into the trees, where two Long-lost other men shall be drawn Slowly up to the bring of the house, Slowly in through the breath on the window. But how did I get in this room? Is this my son, or another’s? Where is the woman to tell me How my face is lit up by his body? It is time for the others to come. An event more miraculous yet Is the thing I am shining to tell you. This child is no more than a child. [...]

POETRY: Into Solitude, by Anna Kamieńska

We descend into solitude step by step further and further down stanzas of verses into depths never expected determined to live without poor substitutes in a cruel and impossible purity there at the very bottom to regain all those who huddle at the gate of this wide-open emptiness grandmothers aunts and uncles already forgotten strangers who once crossed a courtyard someone out of work who knocked on the window someone passed by on a footbridge the dead the living it doesn’t matter the beautiful boy who stood below the pulpit looking like an angel almost an angel and the one who hit me on the forehead with a stone where a mark still remains and the washerwoman who reappeared at our home like Kronos and went away bent under the weight [...]

POEM: Joseph At The Nativity, by Tania Runyan

Of any birth, I thought this would be a clean one, like pulling white linen from a loom. But when I return to the cave, Mary throws her cloak over the bloody straw and cries. I know she wants me to leave. There he lies, stomach rising and falling, a shriveled pod that does nothing but stare at the edge of the feeding trough with dark, unsteady eyes. Is he God enough to know that I am poor, that we had no time for a midwife, that swine ate from his bed this morning? If the angel was right, he knows. He knows that Mary’s swell embarrassed me, that I was jealous of her secret skyward smiles, that now I want to run into these hills and never come back. Peace, peace, I’ve heard in my dreams. This child will make you right. But I [...]

POETRY: The Year, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes, That’s not been said a thousand times? The new years come, the old years go, We know we dream, we dream we know. We rise up laughing with the light, We lie down weeping with the night. We hug the world until it stings, We curse it then and sigh for wings. We live, we love, we woo, we wed, We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead. We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear, And that’s the burden of the year. [...]

POETRY: Nativity, by Li-Young Lee

In the dark, a child might ask, What is the world? just to hear his sister promise, An unfinished wing of heaven, just to hear his brother say, A house inside a house, but most of all to hear his mother answer, One more song, then you go to sleep. How could anyone in that bed guess the question finds its beginning in the answer long growing inside the one who asked, that restless boy, the night’s darling? Later, a man lying awake, he might ask it again, just to hear the silence charge him, This night arching over your sleepless wondering, this night, the near ground every reaching-out-to overreaches, just to remind himself out of what little earth and duration, out of what immense good-bye, each must make a safe place of his [...]

POETRY: The Holy Innocents, by Robert Lowell

Listen, the hay-bells tinkle as the cart Wavers on rubber tires along the tar And cindered ice below the burlap mill And ale-wife run. The oxen drool and start In wonder at the fenders of a car, And blunder hugely up St. Peter’s hill. These are the undefiled by woman—their Sorrow is not the sorrow of this world: King Herod shrieking vengeance at the curled Up knees of Jesus choking in the air, A king of speechless clods and infants. Still The world out—Herods Herod; and the year, The nineteen—hundred forty—fifth of grace, Lumbers with losses up the clinkered hill Of our purgation; and the oxen near The worn foundations of their resting—place, The holy manger where their bed is corn And holly torn for Christmas. If they die, As [...]

POETRY: The Flight In The Desert, by William Everson

The last settlement scraggled out with a barbed wire fence And fell from sight. They crossed coyote country: Mesquite, sage, the bunchgrass knotted in patches; And there the prairie dog yapped in the valley; And on the high plateau the short-armed badger Delved his clay. But beyond that the desert, Raw, unslakable, its perjured dominion wholly contained In the sun’s remorseless mandate, where the dim trail Died ahead in the watery horizon: God knows where. And there the failures: skull of the ox, Where the animal terror trembled on in the hollowed eyes; The catastrophic wheel, split, sandbedded; And the sad jawbone of a horse. These the denials Of the retributive tribes, fiercer than pestilence, Whose scrupulous realm this was. Only [...]

POETRY: Christmas, by George Herbert

All after pleasures as I rid one day, My horse and I, both tir’d, bodie and minde, With full crie of affections, quite astray, I took up in the next inne I could finde. There when I came, whom found I but my deare, My dearest Lord, expecting till the grief Of pleasures brought me to him, readie there To be all passengers most sweet relief? O Thou, whose glorious, yet contracted light, Wrapt in nights mantle, stole into a manger; Since my dark soul and brutish is thy right, To Man of all beasts be not thou a stranger: Furnish & deck my soul, that thou mayst have A better lodging then a rack or grave. The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be? My God, no hymne for thee? My soul’s a shepherd too; a flock it feeds Of thoughts, [...]

POETRY: The Nativity Of Christ, by Robert Southwell

Behold: the father is his daughter’s son: The bird that built the nest, is hatched therein: The old of years, an hour hath not outrun: Eternal life, to live doth now begin. The Word is dumb: the mirth of heaven doth weep: Might feeble is: and force doth faintly creep. O dying souls, behold your living Spring: O dazzled eyes, behold your Son of Grace: Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring: Up, heavy hearts: with joy your joy embrace. From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs: This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs. Gift better than Himself, God doth not know: Gift better than his God, no man can see: This gift doth here the giver Given bestow: Gift to this gift let each receiver be. God is my gift, Himself [...]