Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Changing Light

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The changing light
            at San Francisco
     is none of your East Coast light
            none of your
                  pearly light of Paris
The light of San Francisco
                is a sea light
                          an island light
And the light of fog
              blanketing the hills
     drifting in at night
               through the Golden Gate
                          to lie on the city at dawn
And then the halcyon late mornings
     after the fog burns off
            and the sun paints white houses
                              with the sea light of Greece
               with sharp clean shadows
                    making the town look like
                         it had just been painted

But the wind comes up at four o'clock
                                    sweeping the hills

And then the veil of light of early evening

And then another scrim
                    when the new night fog
                                          floats in
And in that vale of light
                       the city drifts
                            anchorless upon the ocean.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


By Carl Dennis

Don't be ashamed that your parents
Didn't happen to meet at an art exhibit
Or at a protest against a foreign policy
Based on fear of negotiation,
But in an aisle of a discount drugstore,
Near the antihistamine section,
Seeking relief from the common cold.
You ought to be proud that even there,
Amid coughs and sneezes,
They were able to peer beneath
The veil of pointless happenstance.
Here is someone, each thought,
Able to laugh at the indignities
That flesh is heir to. Here
Is a person one might care about.
Not love at first sight, but the will
To be ready to endorse the feeling
Should it arise. Had they waited
For settings more promising,
You wouldn't be here,
Wishing things were different.
Why not delight at how young they were
When they made the most of their chances,
How young still, a little later,
When they bought a double plot
At the cemetery. Look at you,
Twice as old now as they were
When they made arrangements,
And still you're thinking of moving on,
Of finding a town with a climate
Friendlier to your many talents.
Don't be ashamed of the homely thought
That whatever you might do elsewhere,
In the time remaining, you might do here
If you can resolve, at last, to pay attention.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


By Cherrie Moraga

the difference between you and me
is as I bent
over strangers’ toilet bowls,
the face that glared back at me
in those sedentary waters
was not my own, but my mother’s
brown head floating in a pool
of crystalline whiteness

she taught me how to clean
to get down on my hands and knees
and scrub, not beg
she taught me how to clean,
not live in this body

my reflection has always been
once removed.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 3, 2012

By Rosie O'Donnell

took mish 2 malibu
drove to napa
stopped in big sur
heaven on earth

it was a honeymoon
before the wedding
pure bliss
we laughed loved listened

then blink – it begins
on mothers day
morning pain
that won’t let up

we wander thru the maze of medical mystery
confused – scared
mish gets even smaller
i get even bigger – sugar my solace

i wake many mornings
in a darkened room
on a roll away cot
with good n plenty stuck in my matted hair

undiagnosed – again and again
her pain grew worse
it seemed impossible
no one knew what was wrong

life changes in an instant

desmoid tumors
odd and curious beasts
strong and sneaky
a non cancer that acts cancerous

only 900 cases a year in the US
an orphan disease – beyond rare
only 3 people per million get this
michelle is one of them

she is recovering from surgery in june
getting stronger every day
we have joined the fight against this disease
raising money and awareness

we had to postpone our wedding
re scheduled for next summer
in lieu of gifts -
we ask for donations

Previously published on the author's blog, which also includes a link to make donations. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

If I Were Paul

By Mark Jarman

Consider how you were made.

Consider the loving geometry that sketched your bones, the passionate symmetry that sewed flesh to your skeleton, and the cloudy zenith whence your soul descended in shimmering rivulets across pure granite to pour as a single braided stream into the skull’s cup.

Consider the first time you conceived of justice, engendered mercy, brought parity into being, coaxed liberty like a marten from its den to uncoil its limber spine in a sunny clearing, how you understood the inheritance of first principles, the legacy of noble thought, and built a city like a forest in the forest, and erected temples like thunderheads.

Consider, as if it were penicillin or the speed of light, the discovery of another’s hands, his oval field of vision, her muscular back and hips, his nerve-jarred neck and shoulders, her bleeding gums and dry elbows and knees, his baldness and cauterized skin cancers, her lucid and forgiving gaze, his healing touch, her mind like a prairie. Consider the first knowledge of otherness. How it felt.

Consider what you were meant to be in the egg, in your parents' arms, under a sky full of stars.

Now imagine what I have to say when I learn of your enterprising viciousness, the discipline with which one of you turns another into a robot or a parasite or a maniac or a body strapped to a chair. Imagine what I have to say.

Do the impossible. Restore life to those you have killed, wholeness to those you have maimed, goodness to what you have poisoned, trust to those you have betrayed.

Bless each other with the heart and soul, the hand and eye, the head and foot, the lips, tongue, and teeth, the inner ear and the outer ear, the flesh and spirit, the brain and bowels, the blood and lymph, the heel and toe, the muscle and bone, the waist and hips, the chest and shoulders, the whole body, clothed and naked, young and old, aging and growing up.

I send you this not knowing if you will receive it, or if having received it, you will read it, or if having read it, you will know that it contains my blessing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Falling: The Code

By Li-Young Lee

Through the night   
the apples
outside my window   
one by one let go   
their branches and   
drop to the lawn.
I can’t see, but hear
the stem-snap, the plummet
through leaves, then
the final thump against the ground.

Sometimes two   
at once, or one   
right after another.
During long moments of silence
I wait
and wonder about the bruised bodies,   
the terror of diving through air, and   
think I’ll go tomorrow
to find the newly fallen, but they
all look alike lying there
dewsoaked, disappearing before me.

I lie beneath my window listening   
to the sound of apples dropping in

the yard, a syncopated code I long to know,
which continues even as I sleep, and dream I know

the meaning of what I hear, each dull   
thud of unseen apple-

body, the earth   
falling to earth

once and forever, over   
and over.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You are there

By Nikki Giovanni

i shall save my poems
for the winter of my dreams
i look forward to huddling
in my rocker with my life
i wonder what i'll contemplate
lovers-certainly those
i can remember
and knowing my life
you'll be there

you'll be there in the cold
like a Siamese on my knee
proud purring when you let me stroke you

you'll be there in the rain
like an umbrella over my head
sheltering me from the damp mist

you'll be there in the dark
like a lighthouse in the fog
seeing me through troubled waters

you'll be there in the sun
like coconut oil on my back
to keep me from getting burned

i shall save a special poem
for you to say
you always made me smile
and even though i cried sometimes
you said i will not let you

my rocker and i  on winter's porch
will never be sad if you're gone
the winter's cold has been stored
you will always be

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


By Matthew Rohrer

I believe there is something else

entirely going on but no single
person can ever know it,
so we fall in love.

It could also be true that what we use
everyday to open cans was something
much nobler, that we'll never recognize.

I believe the woman sleeping beside me
doesn't care about what's going on
outside, and her body is warm
with trust
which is a great beginning.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Where we've been

By Holly Day

we rolled the windows
up against the rain
and my father said
"I wonder what that
rat-bastard husband
of yours is doing
right now" and I just
looked out through the glass
and said nothing, watched
countryside slide past
in varying shades
of green. behind me
the tired baby cried
in his car seat, tired
of being strapped in
for six hours straight and
I wanted to cry
but I don't do that.
outside the car, corn
unfolded under
the onslaught of rain
sparse trees danced in waves
of rippling light
and everything I
was going to be
faded into black
far, far behind us.

Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota who teaches needlepoint classes in the Minneapolis school district. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai'i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream. Her book publications include The Book Of, A Bright Patch of Sunlight, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Journey

By Anna Ziegler

Instead of observing Passover this year,
I have a fight with my boyfriend
outside of Krispy Kreme by the F train.
We can't decide whether or not
to move forward.  The night's cool and
     I imagine everyone around me
has a beautiful family
and books on long shelves, candles.

Fast forward twenty years
and I sit at the head of the table
reading from the Haggadah,
There is nothing in my that
remembers wanting this; it feels
as thought it's what I've always had.
And yet there was a journey -
desert and forty years
and starvation, the feeling of
being very far away
and not believing in home.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

God of Mercy

By Kadya Molodovsky

Merciful God,
Choose another people
Elect another.
We are tired of death and dying,
We have no more prayers,
Choose another people
Elect another.
We have no more blood
To be a sacrifice.
Our house has become a desert.
The earth is insufficient for our graves.
No more laments for us,
No more dirges
In the old, holy books.

Merciful God,
Sanctify another country,
Another mountain.
We have strewn all the fields and every stone
With ash, with holy ash.
With the aged,
With the youthful,
And with babies, we have paid
for every letter of your Ten Commandments.

Merciful God,
Raise your fiery brow,
And see the peoples of the world -
Give them the prophecies and the Day of Awe.
Your word is babbled in every language -
Teach them the deeds,
The ways of temptation.

Merciful God,
Give us simple garments
Of shepherds with their sheep,
Blacksmiths at their hammers,
Laundry washers, skin-flayers,
And even the more base.
And do us one more favor:
Merciful God,
Deprive us of the Divine Presence of genius.

Friday, August 17, 2012

August Evening

By Sandor Csoori

See, a hand sweeps stars
       from the August sky,
as if my mother swept off the supper crumbs from the table at home.
Her apron, slipping now and then, smells of parsley
       and chives--
The sweet scent of her long-gone garden
sending me to sleep beside you tonight again.

Translated by Len Roberts

Thursday, August 16, 2012


By Tony Hoagland

Prolonged exposure to death
Has made my friend quieter.

Now his nose is less like a hatchet
And more like a snuffler.

Flames don't erupt from his mouth anymore
And life doesn't crack his thermometer.

Instead of overthrowing the government
He reads fly-fishing catalogues

And takes photographs of water.
An aphorist would say

The horns of the steer have grown straighter.
He has an older heart

that beats younger.
His Attila the Hun imitation

Is not as good as it used to be.
Everything else is better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


By Sylvia Plath

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate ---
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Thousand Somethings of Someone

By Forrest Gander

Could have been
otherwise and
birdsong make us
nauseous. And
gigantic roiling sunsets
give us vertigo. The
world of flowers is
for insects, not
us. But tonic
is durance among.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


By Sappho

Although they are

Only breath, words
which I command
are immortal.

Translated by Mary Barnard

Friday, August 10, 2012

An Almost Made Up Poem

By Charles Bukowski

I see you drinking at a fountain with tiny
blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny
they are small, and the fountain is in France
where you wrote me that last letter and
I answered and never heard from you again.
you used to write insane poems about
ANGELS AND GOD, all in upper case, and you
knew famous artists and most of them
were your lovers, and I wrote back, it’s all right,
go ahead, enter their lives, I’m not jealous
because we've never met. we got close once in
New Orleans, one half block, but never met, never
touched. so you went with the famous and wrote
about the famous, and, of course, what you found out
is that the famous are worried about
their fame –– not the beautiful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that, and then awakens
in the morning to write upper case poems about
ANGELS AND GOD. we know God is dead, they’ve told
us, but listening to you I wasn't sure. maybe
it was the upper case. you were one of the
best female poets and I told the publishers,
editors, “her, print her, she’s mad but she’s
magic. there’s no lie in her fire.” I loved you
like a man loves a woman he never touches, only
writes to, keeps little photographs of. I would have
loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a
cigarette and listened to you piss in the bathroom,
but that didn’t happen. your letters got sadder.
your lovers betrayed you. kid, I wrote back, all
lovers betray. it didn’t help. you said
you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a river and you sat on the crying
bench every night and wept for the lovers who had
hurt and forgotten you. I wrote back but never
heard again. a friend wrote me of your suicide
3 or 4 months after it happened. if I had met you
I would probably have been unfair to you or you
to me. it was best like this.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adjectives of Order

By Alexandra Teague

That summer, she had a student who was obsessed
with the order of adjectives. A soldier in the South
Vietnamese army, he had been taken prisoner when

Saigon fell. He wanted to know why the order
could not be altered. The sweltering city streets shook
with rockets and helicopters. The city sweltering

streets. On the dusty brown field of the chalkboard,
she wrote: The mother took warm homemade bread
from the oven
. City is essential to streets as homemade

is essential to bread . He copied this down, but
he wanted to know if his brothers were lost before
older, if he worked security at a twenty-story modern

downtown bank or downtown twenty-story modern.
When he first arrived, he did not know enough English
to order a sandwich. He asked her to explain each part

of Lovely big rectangular old red English Catholic
leather Bible
. Evaluation before size. Age before color.
Nationality before religion. Time before length. Adding

and, one could determine if two adjectives were equal.
After Saigon fell, he had survived nine long years
of torture. Nine and long. He knew no other way to say this.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Do Not Accept

By Yehuda Amichai

Do not accept these rains that come too late.
Better to linger. Make your pain
An image of the desert. Say it's said
And do not look to the west. Refuse

To surrender. Try this year too
To live alone in the long summer,
Eat your drying bread, refrain
From tears. And do not learn from

Experience. Take as an example my youth,
My return late at night, what has been written
In the rain of yesteryear. It makes no difference

Now. See your events as my events.
Everything will be as before: Abraham will again
Be Abram. Sarah will be Sarai.

Translated by Benjamin & Barbara Harshav

Monday, August 6, 2012

In the Library

By Charles Simic

for Octavio

There's a book called
"A Dictionary of Angels."
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She's very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


By Alan Shapiro

We didn't fall out of love,
old love, we rose — we rose
as in a plane, as in the moment
when the wheels lift
and the whole craft
shudders against the gravity
it then forgets as all at once the runway's
fretful rushing by the window
slows and resolves to field
and tree line, the beaten
metal of a pond
the sun anneals;

we rose the way it all
grows clearer
as it diminishes till
a car drives in place
along a road that winds
and straightens, straightens to wind
again across a widening
landscape in which
nothing at all is moving
except the ever- smaller sharper
shadow of our
getting clear of it.

Friday, August 3, 2012


By C. A. Morrow

Twisting roads through green speckled hills
Red barns that dot a summer long gone
Skiers seeking perennial winter thrills
In woodlands deep and silently strong

From here to Newhart and Frost they go
To a spirit of Yankee grace and solitude
Where people in tone pleasantly speak
And show God their eternal gratitude

It is a long road that I've often taken
When my mind must gain peace from want
And leave my troubles behind forsaken
As I cross that brook into green Vermont.