Sunday, November 30, 2014

Send Off

The dead are having a party without us.
They’ve left our worries behind.
What a bore we’ve become
with our resentment and sorrow,
like former lovers united
for once by our common complaints.
Meanwhile the dead, shedding pilled sweaters,
annoying habits, have become
glamorous Western celebrities
gone off to learn meditation.

We trudge home through snow
to a burst pipe,
broken furnace, looking
up at the sky where we imagine
they journey to wish them bon voyage,
waving till the jet on which they travel
first class is out of sight—
only the code of its vapor trail left behind.

from: After That. Copyright 2013.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Personal Poem

- Frank O'Hara

Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested

I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I'd like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty's where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside birdland by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don't give her one we
don't like terrible diseases, then

we go eat some fish and some ale it's
cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don't want to be in the poets' walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so

from: Lunch Poems. Copyright 1964.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


- Mary Sidney Herbert

Oh, what a lantern, what a lamp of light
Is thy pure word to me
To clear my paths and guide my goings right!
I swore and swear again,
I of the statutes will observer be,
Thou justly dost ordain.

The heavy weights of grief oppress me sore:
Lord, raise me by the word,
As thou to me didst promise heretofore.
And this unforced praise
I for an off’ring bring, accept, O Lord,
And show to me thy ways.

What if my life lie naked in my hand,
To every chance exposed!
Should I forget what thou dost me command?
No, no, I will not stray
From thy edicts though round about enclosed
With snares the wicked lay.

Thy testimonies as mine heritage,
I have retained still:
And unto them my heart’s delight engage,
My heart which still doth bend,
And only bend to do what thou dost will,
And do it to the end.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To My Daughter

- Hyam Plutzik

Seventy-seven betrayers will stand by the road,
And those who love you will be few but stronger.
Seventy-seven betrayers, skilful and various,
But do not fear them: they are unimportant.
You must learn soon, soon, that despite Judas
The great betrayals are impersonal
(Though many would be Judas, having the will
And the capacity, but few the courage).
You must learn soon, soon, that even love
Can be no shield against the abstract demons:
Time, cold and fire, and the law of pain,
The law of things falling, and the law of forgetting.
The messengers, of faces and names known
Or of forms familiar, are innocent.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Such Is the Sickness of Many a Good Thing

- Robert Duncan

Was he then Adam of the Burning Way?
hid away in the heat like wrath
     conceald in Love’s face,
or the seed, Eris in Eros,
     key and lock
of what I was?       I could not speak
     the releasing
word.      For into a dark
     matter he came
and askt me to say what
     I could not say. “I ..”

All the flame in me stopt
     against my tongue.
My heart was a stone, a dumb
     unmanageable thing in me,
a darkness that stood athwart
     his need
for the enlightening, the
     “I love you” that has
only this one quick in time,
     this one start
when its moment is true.

Such is the sickness of many a good thing
that now into my life from long ago this
refusing to say I love you has bound
the weeping, the yielding, the
     yearning to be taken again,
into a knot, a waiting, a string

so taut it taunts the song,
it resists the touch. It grows dark
to draw down the lover’s hand
from its lightness to what’s

from: Bending the Bow. Copyright 1968.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


- Alice Walker

My desire
is always the same; wherever Life
deposits me:
I want to stick my toe
& soon my whole body
into the water.
I want to shake out a fat broom
& sweep dried leaves
bruised blossoms
dead insects
& dust.
I want to grow
It seems impossible that desire
can sometimes transform into devotion;
but this has happened.
And that is how I've survived:
how the hole
I carefully tended
in the garden of my heart
grew a heart
to fill it. 

from: The World Will Follow Joy. Copyright 2013.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Write a Poem about the Sky

- Leslie Marmon Silko

You see the sky now
colder than the frozen river
so dense and white
little birds
walk across it.
You see the sky now
but the earth
is lost in it
and there are no horizons.
It is all
a single breath.
You see the sky;
but the earth is called
by the same name

the moment
the wind shifts

sun splits it open
and bluish membranes
push through slits of skin.
You see the sky

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Split Bone

 - dg nanouk okpik

A break in the blood vessel from split bone
like a porcupine quill pierces my ulcerated foot.

Decrepit I walk with wolverines
on the edge of the ice shelf. I neatly stitch

with two threads a cyst containing blood.
In the opposite poles of a cell a shallow alcove,

of the northern Pacific a right whale swims
in a rancid blue stew full of milk salmon

which feed brown bear. I transfuse quantum
in gradients of one minus energy, a closed universe,

foraging death in a another body, mixing with black
blood, I become a carrion beetle, bones outside.

A figure shaped like an inverted heart
stiffly mingling between body blue inuas spirits.

from: Effigies. Copyright 2009.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


- Angela Manalang Gloria

I never meant the words I said,
So trouble not your honest head
And never mean the words I write,
But come and kiss me now goodnight.

The words I said break with the thunder
Of billows surging into spray:
Unfathomed depths withhold the wonder
Of all the words I never say.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Poor Lazarus

- Laura Da'

Live long enough
and salt pork, beans,
yearling colts, honey and butter,
something will turn into a wedge
to bend your will.
Missionaries call for my sons to send off to school,
each season when the corn is green.
I tuck them into the rows
farthest to the north of my cabin.
Keep them busy with the threshing as I whisper
their true names into the ears we consume,
but I leave a path to them
like a snake
by slithering away through the sparse harvest.
Frost breaks under my mare’s hooves
when I ride to sign my name at the Neosho mission.
My sons and nephews
traded to industrial school in the north
for the release of seven barrels of winter rations.
This commerce—
makes me brother to dragons, companion to owls.

Riding away from the mission,
I call to my sister’s youngest child,
the only one
still too young for school,
come over here and ride with your old uncle.
The boy clambers up behind me,
bare toe notched into the girth for warmth and purchase.
My boots quiver along the sides of the horse’s flanks
as I endeavor to slip them into the stirrups
that frame the ground below in jerky patches
Child, I keep repeating, Nephew.
The horse dances nervously,
sensing my frenzy.
To his credit,
the boy
keeps a steady hand on the reins.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Robbery

- Santee Frazier

Red ambulance flicker, curbstone, wheels, a gurney. Down the breezeway a baby, crying out among the gawk-mouthed heads.
Knifed, sliced, the man bleeding through the gauze and onto his belly.

It reminds me of the night when my mother and I slept in our LTD while the cops surrounded our apartment complex.
I remember someone standing near the yellow tape saying 2A had robbed the market across the street, that the manager was shot twice—
once in the arm, once in the shoulder—and that the gunmen were held up in their apartment, squealing threats from their window.

When I think of it now, the danger, the eventual gunshots echoing off gray brick, I remember the panicked yells of inquiry,
a girl crying her daddy was shot.

But the knifed man, now under gauze and tubing, hadn’t robbed a store, and the baby, now on its mother’s hip, was quiet and drooling.

When the cops searched 2A, they found money stuffed in the couches, in posts and
pans, in the pages of storybooks, and as each officer, one by one, emerged from the apartment holding pistols and rifles, my mother told me to go back to sleep.

I don’t remember her carrying me to my bed, only waking the next day when the girl who cried daddy,
knocked at our door, asked if I could come out and play.

Now when I look at her, that same girl, with a busted eye and lip, I wonder: if when
she stabbed was she stabbing the boyfriend who beat her for burning supper or was
it her dad for wrenching his arm around her neck, prodding a pistol at her head on that balmy night of echo and threat.

For a second I think of asking her, “Whatever happened to your dad? Is he still in jail?”

But I realize it may not even be the same girl, though I want it to be.

For some reason I think if she kills that man, if he bleeds to death before the ambulance can make it to the hospital,
somehow the brief triumph of metal over flesh would rid my memory of the deafening crack of gunpowder, and its long shout in the night.

from: Dark Thirty. Copyright 2009.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When I Was Young I Met the Spirit & I Knew I Didn't Want it but the Choice Was Never Mine

                  This Is For All My Relations

- Esther Belin

i go back to the day i was driving
in the pit of the painted desert near lower greasewood on the navajo reservation.
driving my mom's truck
not feeling anything
except the spirit
the spirit of alcohol chased me and
rode beside me and held my hand and led me to a few days before
the day of the 6.3 earthquake in the california desert
when my mom's voice shook the house
as she told me
the spirit of alcohol caught nathan and
he isn't coming back
imprisoned by his own body destroying itself
and all i could think about is how i love him and how we loved each other
and back then years ago it was real and it was good and the memory
made me cry cuz i never wanted him dead
only healed
weaned from alcohol
and now he's dying and the parts of me i gave him are dying too and i cry
harder cuz the parts of himself he gave me
the talents he never used that i now use to stay alive won't die when he does
and i start to drive faster cuz the spirit of alcohol is still walking alongside me
and i hear it talking sweet and
singing old songs and
i almost want to sing along like i know the words and
i just have to remember and
i think about this spirit
cuz i see it in me
so back when i used to drink
i never could drink miller lite
cuz that meant the spirit got you
like nathan & daddy & uncle john & aunt rosita
& me too maybe
cuz i see them in me & i'm caged like them
but in a different way
cuz i can see them when they can't and
i can see the spirit scream out of them in rage and
i can love them and they can't love back
cuz the spirit took it outta them and
all i know how to do is keep loving them
believing i'm like the reservation deep and wide
nestling spirits greater than alcohol.

from: Neon Powwow. Copyright 1993.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Occupy Your Democracy

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. 
We are the ones we've been waiting for. 
We are the change that we seek.

Solitude Late At Night in the Woods

- Robert Bly
The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!

My last walk in the trees has come. At dawn
I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.

It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odor that partridges love.

from: Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems. Copyright 1999.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November, Remembering Voltaire

- Jan Hirshfield

In the evenings
I scrape my fingernails clean,
hunt through old catalogues for new seed,
oil work boots and shears.
This garden is no metaphor –
more a task that swallows you into itself,
earth using, as always, everything it can.
I lend myself to unpromising winter dirt
with leaf-mold and bulb,
plant into the oncoming cold.
Not that I ever thought the philosopher
meant to be taken literally,
but with no invented God overhead
I conjure a stubborn faith in rotting
that ripens into soil,
in an old corm that flowers steadily each spring –
not symbols but reassurances,
like a mother’s voice at bedtime
reading a long-familiar book, the known words
barely listened to, but bridging
for all the nights of a life
each world to the next.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kilt Monday!

'Cause let's face it,
Mondays can be so rough, hard, difficult.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

All Souls’ Night, 1917

- Hortense King Flexner

You heap the logs and try to fill
The little room with words and cheer,
But silent feet are on the hill,
Across the window veiled eyes peer.
The hosts of lovers, young in death,
Go seeking down the world to-night,
Remembering faces, warmth and breath—
And they shall seek till it is light.
Then let the white-flaked logs burn low,
Lest those who drift before the storm
See gladness on our hearth and know
There is no flame can make them warm.