Friday, April 29, 2011

Poetry Fridays- poetry potpourri

For my very last Poetry Friday, I thought I'd shake things up a bit. Yes, I will still post poetry. But like I did last year, I will make my last Poetry Friday of 2011 a little different. This year I will include (gasp) two poems of my very own (Eric, quit asking me to do stuff, you know I'm bad at saying no to you), something I've never done before on this blog, mostly because you guys really don't need to read my tragically emo poetry that I wrote way back when I was a super depressed, hyper-aware 20 year old; and I'm also giving a nod to Bath and posting the lyrics to one of my favorite songs of all time (and my personal anthem), "Take to the Sky", by Tori Amos. Bath frequently writes posts that start off with song lyrics to tie into what he's going to talk about, and honestly, it's so genius, I don't know why I haven't stolen the idea yet.

So enjoy poetry of all different types today, and again - happy National Poetry Month to all of you. I hope you enjoyed the posts and I will be resuming more personal posts next week.


by Naomi Shihab Nye

before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
what you held in your hand,
what you counted & carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
how you ride & ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize & chicken
will stare out the window forever.

before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
you must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
& the simple breath that kept him alive.

before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
you must wake up with sorrow.
you must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
& you see the size of the cloth.

then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
& sends you out into the day to mail letters & purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is i you have been looking for,
& then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Jan. 14th

by Tracy Clifton

What’s the point of being

A poet

If no one believes me anymore?

I have earned the lack of trust

That follows me around these days,

Clinging to my jacket like smoke,

Entering a room

Long before I do.

My consistencies are outweighed

By my insecurities,

Jumping like a dog

To please only those that kick me.

Who do I need to apologize to?

Look in the mirror, love.


I Wish in the City of Your Heart

by Robley Wilson

i wish in the city of your heart
you would let me be the street
where you walk when you are most
yourself. i imagine the houses:
it has been raining, but the rain
is done & the children kept home
have begun opening their doors.


Nov. 6th

by Tracy Clifton

Something is without

You here

Writing myself into a wall

We try to capture

The flag right back

But it’s changed loyalties

Don’t you know

I have paper cuts

On my lips

From kissing words too much,

And your silence is

A blindfold.

Let’s call a truce,

Just you and I,

With the way the world

Just doesn’t work out

I got ten dollars

That says

You can’t find another universe

Before I do.


In Blackwater Woods

by Mary Oliver

to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
&, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

So Much Happiness

by Naomi Shihab Nye

it is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
with sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion & cloth.
when the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

but happiness floats.
it doesn’t need you to hold it down.
it doesn’t need anything.
happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
& disappears when it wants to.
you are happy either way.
even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
& now live over a quarry of noise & dust
cannot make you unhappy.
everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake & ripe peaches,
& love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens & scratched records.

since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, & it flows out of you
into everything you touch. you are not responsible.
you take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, & share it,
& in that way, be known.

Take to the Sky

by Tori Amos

(You can listen to what the song sounds like here)

This house is like Russia
With eyes cold and gray
You got me moving in a circle
I dyed my hair red today

I just want a little passion
To hold me in the dark
I know I got some magic
Buried, buried deep in my heart, yeah

But my priest says,
You ain't saving no souls
My father says,
You ain't makin' any money
My doctor says,
You just took it to the limit

And here I stand with this sword in my hand.

You can say it one more time
What you don't like
Let me hear it one more time then
Have a seat while I take to the sky

My heart is like the ocean
It gets in the way
So close to touching freedom
Then I hear the guards call my name

And my priest says,
You ain't saving no souls
My father says,
You ain't makin' any money
My doctor says,
You just took it to the limit

And here I stand with this sword in my hand.

You can say it one more time
What you don't like
Let me hear it one more time then
Have a seat while I take to the sky

If you don't like me just a little, well
Why do you hang around
If you don't like me just a little, well
Why do you hang around
If you don't like me just a little, well
Why do you take it take it take it

(this house... like Russia)

You can say it one more time
You can say it one more time
You can say it one more time
What you don't like
Let me hear it one more time then
Have a seat while I take to the sky
Take to the sky
Take to the sky
Take to the sky

Friday, April 22, 2011

Poetry Fridays: Volume 3

Four “Addresses”

by Peter Davis


This poem can turn invisible and it can beat up bad guys! When people read this poem it is like a laser shooting bad guys right in the stomach! This poem knocks bad guys on their bottoms! And if you need a force field you can get one from Dr. Defense who lives in this poem and makes a number of bad-guy-fighting tools and weapons. Sometimes giant robot bad guys try to kill this poem by bopping it on the head, but this poem doesn’t allow that and sends ninjas and wizards out to reverse time and destroy the robots. Dr. Defense jumps up and kicks everyone in the face and he, like, flies through a window and then, like, this poem explodes!


These things can wait. This is a very good poem and you’d be very myopic to lose sight of this beauty simply because some of your baser needs are asserting themselves. I’ll keep this short, but you should exercise some control, okay? Stay with me here. Allow this poem to carry you beyond yourself, transcending your mortal flesh as you wed yourself with the potentially infinite.




How this found you I don’t know, but this is a good event, a good omen. Not because it’s mystical or mysterious, but because you’re actually reading this poem and I have actually written it. I know that this poem is a sort of prison too, but it’s a much, much more beautiful one.


The Darker Sooner

by Catherine Wing

Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.


Lime Light Blues

by Kevin Young

I have been known
to wear white shoes
beyond Labor Day
I can see through
doors & walls
made of glass.
I'm in an anger
encouragement class.
When I walk
over the water
of parking lots
car doors lock-
When I wander
or enter the elevator
women snap
their pocketbooks
shut, clutch
their handbags close.
cops follow me in stores
asking me to holler
if I need any help.
I can get a rise-
am able to cause
patrolmen to stop
& second look-
Any drugs in the trunk?
Civilian teens
beg me for green,
where to score
around here.
When I dance,
which is often,
the moon above me
wheels its disco lights-
until there's a fight.
Crowds gather
& wonder how
the spotlight sounds-
like a body
being born, like the blare
of car horns
as I cross
the street unlooking,
slow. I know all
a movie needs
is me
shouting at the screen
from the balcony. From such
heights I watch
the darkness gather.
What pressure
my blood is under.


The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer

by Wendell Berry

I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.
I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,
in spite of the best advice. If I have been caught
so often laughing at funerals, that was because
I knew the dead were already slipping away,
preparing a comeback, and can I help it?
And if at weddings I have gritted and gnashed
my teeth, it was because I knew where the bridegroom
had sunk his manhood, and knew it would not
be resurrected by a piece of cake. “Dance” they told me,
and I stood still, and while they stood
quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.
“Pray” they said, and I laughed, covering myself
in the earth’s brightnesses, and then stole off gray
into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan.
When they said “I know that my Redeemer liveth,”
I told them “He’s dead.” And when they told me
“God is dead,” I answered “He goes fishing every day
in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.”
When they asked me would I like to contribute
I said no, and when they had collected
more than they needed, I gave them as much as I had.
When they asked me to join them I wouldn’t,
and then went off by myself and did more
than they would have asked. “Well, then” they said
“go and organize the International Brotherhood
of Contraries,” and I said “Did you finish killing
everybody who was against peace?” So be it.
Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
I say I don’t know. It is not the only or the easiest
way to come to the truth. It is one way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poetry Fridays - Volume 2

Love After Love

by Derek Walcott

the time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
& each will smile at the other’s welcome,

& say, sit here. eat.
you will love again the stranger who was yourself.
give wine. give bread. give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
sit. feast on your life.



By Neil Gaiman

Touch the wooden gate in the wall you never saw before.
Say "please" before you open the latch,
go through,
walk down the path.
A red metal imp hangs from the
green-painted front door,
as a knocker,
do not touch it; it will bite your fingers.
Walk through the house. Take nothing. Eat nothing.
if any creature tells you that it hungers,
feed it.
If it tells you that it is dirty,
clean it.
If it cries to you that it hurts,
if you can, ease its pain.

From the back garden you will be able to see the wild wood.
The deep well you walk past leads to Winter's realm;
there is another land at the bottom of it.
If you turn around here,
you can walk back, safely;
you will lose no face. I will think no less of you.

Once through the garden you will be in the wood.
The trees are old. Eyes peer from the undergrowth.
Beneath a twisted oak sits an old woman.
She may ask for something;
give it to her. She
will point the way to the castle. Inside it
are three princesses.
Do not trust the youngest. Walk on.
In the clearing beyond the castle the
twelve months sit about a fire, warming their feet, exchanging tales.
They may do favors for you, if you are polite.
You may pick strawberries in December's frost.

Trust the wolves, but do not tell them
where you are going.
The river can be crossed by the ferry.
The ferryman will take you.
(The answer to his question is this:
If he hands the oar to his passenger, he
will be free to leave the boat.
Only tell him this from a safe distance.)

If an eagle gives you a feather, keep it safe.
Remember: that giants sleep too soundly; that
witches are often betrayed by their appetites;
dragons have one soft spot, somewhere, always;
hearts can be well-hidden,
and you betray them with your tongue.

Do not be jealous of your sister.
Know that diamonds and roses
are as uncomfortable when they tumble
from one's lips as toads and frogs:
colder, too, and sharper, and they cut.

Remember your name.
Do not lose hope — what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have
helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.

When you come back, return the way you came.
Favors will be returned, debts will be repaid.
Do not forget your manners.
Do not look back.
Ride the wise eagle (you shall not fall).
Ride the silver fish (you will not drown).
Ride the grey wolf (hold tightly to his fur).

There is a worm at the heart of the tower;
that is why it will not stand.

When you reach the little house, the
place your journey started,
you will recognize it, although it will seem
much smaller than you remember.
Walk up the path, and through the garden
gate you never saw before but once.
And then go home. Or make a home.

Descriptions of Heaven and Hell

by Mark Jarman

The wave breaks
And I'm carried into it.
This is hell, I know,
Yet my father laughs,
Chest-deep, proving I'm wrong.
We're safely rooted
Rocked on his toes.

Nothing irked him more
Than asking, "What is there
Beyond death?"
His theory once was
That love greets you,
And the loveless
Don't know what to say.


Longing and Wonder

by Myra Shapiro

“Talk to Myra you talk to the wall,”
Mama announced when I lived

so long in my head. Behind
my lids was where I fit.

O world, be small enough to hold me,
slow enough to let me swallow.

Maybe I belonged back inside her. Or
beneath the spine of a book. Maybe

among tall buildings to incubate
between their legs. The warm kitchen

was never for me though I wanted
to shine. Passion I called

the pressure wrestling underneath.
Yesterday, in an audience listening to

my first book of poems,
a full professor asked me: “Longing,

how is it different from wonder?”
Astonished, jack-lit as a robber

caught with the goods, I felt my eyes
struggle to withdraw—and then

in longing you close your eyes,
but in wonder you open them.

When those words went
ZINGing through the lovely room,
you bet your sweet ass they opened.

Friday, April 8, 2011

It's National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month, guys, so I'm gonna do what I did last year (you can check out last year's National Poetry Month posts here, here, here, and here) and post some lovely, totally inspiring, jaw-droppingly beautiful poetry for the next four Fridays in April. Feel free to just read and enjoy, leave comments if you like, and let the poems carry you through the weekend and on into the week. I know I always do. :)

Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars (Hope is Not a Course of Action)

If we were created in God’s image
then when God was a child
he smushed fire ants with his fingertips
and avoided tough questions.
There are ways around being the go-to person
even for ourselves
even when the answer is clear
like the holy water Gentiles drank
before they realized Forgiveness
is the release of all hope for a better past.
I thought those were chime shells in your pocket
so I chucked a quarter at it
hoping to hear some part of you
respond on a high note.
You acted like I was hurling crowbirds at mockingbars
and abandoned me for not making sense.
Evidently, I don’t experience things as rationally as you do.
For example, I know mercy
when I have enough money to change the jukebox at a gay bar
(somebody’s gotta change that shit).
You understand the power of God’s mercy
whenever someone shoves a stick of morphine
straight up into your heart.
It felt amazing
the days you were happy to see me
so I smashed a beehive against the ocean
to try and make our splash last longer.
Remember all the honey
had me lookin’ like a jellyfish ape
but you walked off the water in a porcupine of light
strands of gold
drizzling out to the tips of your wasps.
This is an apology letter to the both of us
for how long it took me to let things go.
It was not my intention to make such a
production of the emptiness between us
playing tuba on the tombstone of a soprano
to try and keep some dead singer’s perspective alive.
It’s just that I coulda swore you had sung me a love song back there
and that you meant it
but I guess sometimes people just chew with their mouth open
so I ate ear plugs alive with my throat
hoping they’d get lodged deep enough inside the empty spots
that I wouldn’t have to hear you leaving
so I wouldn’t have to listen to my heart keep saying
all my eggs were in a basket of red flags
all my eyes to a bucket of blindfolds
in the cupboard with the muzzles and the gauze
ya know I didn’t mean to speed so far out and off
trying to drive all your nickels to the well
when you were happy to let them wishes drop
but I still show up for gentleman practice
in the company of lead dancers
hoping their grace will get stuck in my shoes.
Is that a handsome shadow on my breath, sweet woman
or is it a cattle call
in a school of fish? Still dance with me
less like a waltz for panic
more for the way we’d hoped to swing
the night we took off everything
and we were swingin’ for the fences
don’t hold it against
my love
you know I wanna breath deeper than this
you know I didn’t mean to look so serious
didn’t mean to act like a filthy floor
didn’t mean to turn us both into a cutting board
but there were knives s-stuck
in the words where I came from
too much time in the back of my words.
I pulled knives from my back and my words.
I cut trombones from the moment you slipped away
and I know it left me lookin’ like a knife fight, lady
yeah you know it left me feelin’ like a shotgun shell
you know I know I mighta gone and lost my breath
but I wanna show ya how I found my breath
to death
it was buried under all the wind instruments
hidden in your castanets
if ya ever wanna know how it felt when ya left
yeah if you ever wanna come inside
just knock on the spot
where I finally pressed STOP
playing musical chairs with exit signs.
is for anyone who needs a safe passage through my mind.
I’m gonna cause you a miracle
when you see the way I kept God’s image alive.
If I was really created in God’s image
then when God was a boy
he wanted to grow up to be a man
a good man
and when God was a man
a good man
He started telling the truth in order to get honest responses.
He’d say,
“I know.
I really shoulda wore my cross
but I don’t wanna scare the gentiles off.”


The Sciences Sing a Lullaby

by Albert Goldbarth

Physics says: go to sleep. Of course
you're tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They'll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

Geology says: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren't alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren't alone. Go to sleep.

Astronomy says: the sun will rise tomorrow,
Zoology says: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle,
Psychology says: but first it has to be night, so
Biology says: the body-clocks are stopped all over town
History says: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.



by Lee M. Robinson

There’s no such thing
as the necessary poem;
that’s what saves poetry
from a life like ours,
from desire and striving.
That is not to say a poem
can’t yearn for something
it isn’t yet, can’t crave
a meal of only apricots
or want a one-way ticket
to another country.
It can. We know
how a poem can need so much
it turns to mush, and how
sometimes even out of mud
and mildew rise the most
fantastic flowers. No,
what I mean is different.
That the poem is redeemed
by indifference, that before
it’s written, the world
does very well without it.
Therefore it is free
to be what it wants to be
or not to be at all.
That’s its deliverance,
its saving grace, and why
when it decides to speak
we listen to a language
that is ours, but so unlike us.

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