Poetry

POETRY: Black Rook In Rainy Weather by Sylvia Plath

November 25, 2018

On the stiff twig up there Hunches a wet black rook Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain. I do not expect a miracle Or an accident To set the sight on fire In my eye, nor seek Any more in the desultory weather some design, But let spotted leaves fall as they fall, Without ceremony or portent. Although, I admit, I desire, Occasionally, some backtalk From the mute sky, I can’t honestly complain: A certain minor light may still Lean incandescent Out of kitchen table or chair As if a celestial burning took Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then— Thus hallowing an interval Otherwise inconsequent By bestowing largesse, honor, One might say love. At any rate, I now walk Wary (for it could happen Even in this dull, [...]

POETRY: Message From Inland by Maura Eichner

November 21, 2018

I am clothed in the seamless garment of fog. No gulls cry. No nervous horn sounds another ship. No fragrance of kelp stirs, no wind of sea-change. Red mud slips like a secret beneath my feet. I know what happens to seamless garments. I have lashed a riding light to my [...]

POETRY: Seeing The Eclipse In Maine by Robert Bly

November 17, 2018

It started about noon. On top of Mount Batte, We were all exclaiming. Someone had a cardboard And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover. It was hard to believe. The high school teacher We’d met called it a pinhole camera, People in the Renaissance loved to do that. And when the moon had passed partly through We saw on a rock underneath a fir tree, Dozens of crescents—made the same way— Thousands! Even our straw hats produced A few as we moved them over the bare granite. We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine Told a joke. Suns were everywhere—at our [...]

POETRY: A Dubious Night by Richard Wilbur

November 14, 2018

A bell diphthonging in an atmosphere Of shying night air summons some to prayer Down in the town, two deep lone miles from here, Yet wallows faint or sudden everywhere, In every ear, as if the twist wind wrung Some ten years’ tangled echoes from the air. What kyries it says are mauled among The queer elisions of the mist and murk, Of lights and shapes; the senses were unstrung, Except that one star’s synecdochic smirk Burns steadily to me, that nothing’s odd And firm as ever is the masterwork. I weary of the confidence of [...]

POETRY: A Month Of Happiness by Robert Bly

November 9, 2018

A blind horse stands among cherry trees. And bones shine from cool earth. The heart leaps Almost up to the sky! But laments And filaments pull us back into the dark. Night takes us. But A paw Comes out of the dark To light the road. I’ll be all right. I follow my own fiery traces through the [...]

POETRY: The Man Who Couldn’t Believe by David Citino

November 7, 2018

He was the sort who entertained doubts. Even in early childhood when his mother would call out “Your daddy’s home,” he’d look up from toys that were nothing more than toys and, with a smile both knowing and superior, shake his head from side to side. When Sister Mary Appassionata asked “Why did God make you?” he looked her straight in the eye. “Damned if I know,” he answered. Even love was out of the question, a series of motions out and in, crescendo, diminuendo. “You’re no worse than the last one, and I need it,” he’d calmly plead. “I do. I do.” It rained or shined on his parades for meteorological reasons only. Stars were there because they were. Forget charmed quarks and neutrinos, though he admitted that [...]

POETRY: Covers the Ground by Gary Snyder

November 3, 2018

When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden…. (John Muir) Down the Great Central valley’s blossoming almond orchard acres lines of tree-trunks shoot a glance through as the rows flash by— And the ground is covered with cement culverts standing on end, house-high & six feet wide culvert after culvert far as you can see covered with mobile homes, pint size portable housing, johnny-on-the-spots, concrete freeway, overpass, underpass, exit floreals, entrance curtsies, railroad bridge, long straight miles of divider oleanders; scrappy ratty grass and thistle, tumbled barn, another age, yards of tractors, combines lined up— new bright-painted units down at one end, old stuff broke and smashed down at the other, [...]

POETRY: The Resemblance Between Your Life And A Dog by Robert Bly

November 2, 2018

I never intended to have this life, believe me— It just happened. You know how dogs turn up At a farm, and they wag but can’t explain. It’s good if you can accept your life—you’ll notice Your face has become deranged trying to adjust To it. Your face thought your life would look Like your bedroom mirror when you were ten. That was a clear river touched by mountain wind. Even your parents can’t believe how much you’ve changed. Sparrows in winter, if you’ve ever held one, all feathers, Burst out of your hand with a fiery glee. You see them later in hedges. Teachers praise you, But you can’t quite get back to the winter sparrow. Your life is a dog. He’s been hungry for miles, Doesn’t [...]

POETRY: New Year’s Eve In Bismarck, North Dakota by Kathleen Norris

October 31, 2018

Flying in Before snow closed the airport, Waiting For a way out, Drinking at the Patterson, Peppermint schnapps For the season, The town, The storm. The bartender joins in. He’s old, and wears a black String tie. A cowboy, drunk, says “You’re lookin’ good. Got a figure like a bombshell. Like an angel. An angel from outer space. Some guys’d up n’ say, ‘C’mon, you’re gonna have some.’ I believe in God. I’d never say that to a girl.” It’s ten below in Bismarck. They say it’s colder In outer space. The Ecclesiastes In my hotel room Is uncharacteristically hopeful. “Better is the end of a thing,” He says, loosening his loincloth, “Than the beginning [...]

POETRY: After The Last Words by Scott Cairns

October 24, 2018

By now I’m dead. Make what you will of that. But granted you are alive, you will need to be making something more as well. Prayers have been made, for instance, but (trust me) the dead are oblivious to such sessions. Settle instead for food, nice meals (thick soup); invite your friends. Make lively conversation among steaming bowls, lifting heavy spoons. If there is bread (there really should be bread), tear it coarsely and hand each guest his share for intinction in the soup. Something to say? Say it now. Let the napkins fall and stay. Kiss each guest when time comes for leaving. They may be embarrassed, caught without wit or custom. (See them shifting from foot to foot at the open door?) Could be you will repeat your farewells a time [...]

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 [...]