Wednesday, April 4, 2012

National Poetry Month, part one

Guess what month it is, everyone? And if you guessed April, NO, that's boring. It's NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! (I don't know why that deserved all caps except to express to you that I'm really, really excited about this.) If you're a newbie to my blog, what I do for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH (okay, that time I seriously didn't need to capitalize it) is post a bunch of the most gorgeous, heart-wrenchingly beautiful, inspiring poems I can find. Right here. For you.

You're welcome. 

The rules for enjoying my poetry posts to the fullest are this: Slow down. Read the poems. Think about them.Carry them with you throughout your day like a secret love letter. Let them illuminate your life.

That's it. You guys can totally do that. Let's get started! YAY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! (just pretend I'm yelling this in Gerard Butler's voice from "300").

PS I've been in a Mary Oliver & Charles Bukowski mood lately. So if the posts favor those two poets more than others... take it up with management.

The Word  by Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,
between “green thread”
and “broccoli,” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”
Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend
and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,
and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing
that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds
of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder
or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,
but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom
still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,
—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.


On Living by Nazim Hikmet

i mean you must take living so seriously
      that even at seventy, for example, you will plant olives—
      & not so they’ll be left for your children either,
      but because even though you fear death you don’t believe it,
      because living, i mean, weighs heavier.


Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver

if you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. give in to it. there are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. we are not wise, and not very often
kind. and much can never be redeemed.
still, life has some possibility left. perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. it could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. anyway, that’s often the
case. anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. joy is not made to be a crumb.


God Says Yes to Me by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes


The Thing Is by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief.
You think,
How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
 I will love you, again.


Marion said...

Superfabulicious poems, Phoenix. I love them all. (I'm such a hardcore poetry-slut I have that National Poetry Month poster on my kitchen door.)

I'm eagerly anticipating your poetry posts. xoxo

"If you got to talking to most cowboys, they'd admit they write 'em. I think some of the meanest, toughest sons of bitches around write poetry." ~Ross Knox

Anthony Duce said...

I am enjoying them all... Thank you

rosaria williams said...

Oh My!!!!!!!!
Thank you, Tracy, for these jewels. You taste is flawless.
Somehow, they all spoke to me, intimately, convincingly, as thous a good friend had put her arms around me and showed me how to live again.

What a renewed view of life!
Happy Poetry Month.

rosaria williams said...

I see spell-check was sleeping here.

Lydia Kang said...

I didn't know it was national poetry month! These poems were a nice, tall glass of water for a thirsty girl. Thank you!

JJ said...

I will definitely read them all. Writing poetry is not my thing, but I love reading it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

These poems are like sunlight.
I want to make a list everyday
and write: Sunlight

Along These Lines ..... said...

If a poem don't rhyme,
It's a waste of time.
Well, what can I say,
They rhymed in my day.

kj said...

tracy, it's a gift to be able to choose a series of poems that build on one another to SCREAM, gently of course, the same message.

you're telling me to LIVE. to push through the mud and mess and feel and see and taste and hear and touch and savor. to be jubilant.

that is what i now take away from this post of yours. sometimes i know this already, but sometimes i plumb forget.

these are great great poems. i only wish i could (would?) write poems like this.

ps i've heard mary oliver is very sick. :^(

with love,
happy today

Bathwater said...

I know I am supposed to embrace the last one, it just seems kinda hard today.

Two Tigers said...

These were really wonderful selections, Tracy, but what I want to know is how did you manage to sneak into my study last week and go through my most dog-eared poetry books without my noticing?? Thanks, girl.

Eric W. Trant said...

The God one sounds like the God-version in the book The Shack. She (God) was portrayed as a tall, black woman, with a southern accent.

I like Nazim's poem best. It's short enough that my walnut can fully understand it.

- Eric

drollgirl said...

i struggle with poetry! big time! but i am going to try reading TWO of these poems (i already read the shortest one, but i am going to back to read another!)

Snowbrush said...

Oh, my gosh, I was going to refer you to Marion's blog, and I see she was the first person to leave a comment on this post!

Gwen said...

I love The Word and God Says Yes To Me! I'm so excited for National Poetry Month and I love that you spread these beautiful poems for everyone to read!!!

Jo Schaffer said...

Love the poems. (= Esp the first and last. NICE. (=

I used to write a lot of poetry before I started writing novels--it's still in my blood. (=

Jay Noel said...


Found your blog when looking up steampunk wedding, as I'm doing the A-Z Challenge and posting about steampunk every single day!

Weird, as "Phoenix" was my alias here in the blogosphere going back to 2005.

Jo said...

i love your rules for enjoying your poetry posts to the fullest! i have to remember to do this with poetry from now on!

Okie said...

These are fabulous! I absolutely love The Word. Way cool.

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