Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Feel Sorry for Jesus

By Naomi Shihab Nye

People won’t leave Him alone.
I know He said, wherever two or more
are gathered in my name…
But I bet some days He regrets it.

Cozily they tell you what he wants
and doesn’t want
as if they just got an e-mail.
Remember “Telephone,” that pass-it-on game

where the message changed dramatically
by the time it rounded the circle?
Well.
People blame terrible pieties on Jesus.

They want to be his special pet.
Jesus deserves better.
I think He’s been exhausted
for a very long time.

He went into the desert, friends.
He didn’t go into the pomp.
He didn’t go into
the golden chandeliers

and say, the truth tastes better here.
See? I’m talking like I know.
It’s dangerous talking for Jesus.
You get carried away almost immediately.

I stood in the spot where He was born.
I closed my eyes where He died and didn’t die.
Every twist of the Via Dolorosa
was written on my skin.

And that makes me feel like being silent
for Him, you know? A secret pouch
of listening. You won’t hear me
mention this again.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Newborn Girl at Passover

By Nan Cohen

Consider one apricot in a basket of them.
It is very much like all the other apricots--
an individual already, skin and seed.

Now think of this day. One you will probably forget.
The next breath you take, a long drink of air.
Holiday or not, it doesn't matter.

A child is born and doesn't know what day it is.
The particular joy in my heart she cannot imagine.
The taste of apricots is in store for her.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The sublety of a word

By Claudio Roberto Veale

the sublety of a word
can befriend an ear

the well-timed praise
can open doors long-bolted

but nothing clasps friends
like sweat dirt and hours.

Claudio Roberto Veale lives with his family in South Texas.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Chuppah

By Marge Piercy

The chuppah stands on four poles.
The home has its four corners.
The chuppah stands on four poles.
The marriage stands on four legs.
Four points loose the winds
that blow on the walls of the house,
the south wind that brings the warm rain,
the east wind that brings the cold rain,
the north wind that brings the cold sun
and the snow, the long west wind
bringing the weather off the far plains.

Here we live open to the seasons.
Here the winds caress and cuff us
contrary and fierce as bears.
Here the winds are caught and snarling
in the pines, a cat in a net clawing
breaking twigs to fight loose.
Here the winds brush your face
soft in the morning as feathers
that float down from a dove’s breast.

Here the moon sails up out of the ocean
dripping like a just washed apple.
Here the sun wakes us like a baby.
Therefore the chuppah has no sides.

It is not a box.
It is not a coffin.
It is not a dead end.
Therefore the chuppah has no walls.
We have made a home together
open to the weather of our time.
We are mills that turn in the winds of struggle
converting fierce energy into bread.

The canopy is the cloth of our table
where we share fruit and vegetables
of our labor, where our care for the earth
comes back and we take its body in ours.
The canopy is the cover of our bed
where our bodies open their portals wide,
where we eat and drink the blood
of our love, where the skin shines red
as a swallowed sunrise and we burn
in one furnace of joy molten as steel
and the dream is flesh and flower.

O my love O my love we dance
under the chuppah standing over us
like an animal on its four legs,
like a table on which we set our love
as a feast, like a tent
under which we work
not safe but no longer solitary
in the searing heat of our time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Merger

By Judy Chicago

And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance
And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young
And then will cherish life's creatures
And then all will live in harmony with one another and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Everything is waiting for you

By David Whyte

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.




Friday, March 22, 2013

Preparation

By Rachel Barenblat

Breathe deep, from the belly, 
as if for singing. 
Notice your vertebrae, the curve
where spine tilts to pelvis, 
and inhale everything into place.

Blanket the mind
as trees blanket grass with leaves. 
Drape woven wool over
every sharp worry and task. 
They'll survive a night without you.

Drizzle cornmeal on cookie sheets
like a sand painting
of the chaos in which creation begins. 
Let challah dough rise and fall
like slow breathing.


Tonight the sky arches
like bent boughs roofed with cloud, 
spangled with constellations. 
The Breath of Life spreads peace
over creation.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

If I Were Pope

By Jan Phillips

If I were pope
I'd proclaim the end of my infallibility
and banish the word sin from the doctrines of faith

I'd ask half the bishops and cardinals
to replace themselves with a thoughtful woman
and complete their ministries in a prison or homeless shelter

If I were pope
I'd pay the mystics to write poetry all day
and have their words read at the Sunday Masses

I'd pay the prophets to upload their message
in five minute videos
for youtube viewers around the world

I'd hire a thousand displaced workers
to construct a new Sistine Chapel and cover it with mirrors
instead of male images

If I were pope
I'd announce a contest
for 10 new sacraments that celebrate
peace-making, justice, and interfaith creations.

I'd send envoys to the villages
to talk about birth control
and distribute condoms wherever they are needed.

I'd establish a tuition-free college in every country
to train young students how to think
non-violently and act ethically.

If I were pope I'd convert closed churches
to housing for the needy
and meeting places for the marginal and walking wounded

I'd buy farms in rural places
and dedicate each one to organic farming
and cooperative, sustainable, community-based agriculture.

I'd convert every old Motherhouse and seminary
into a training center for spiritual activists, cultural creators
and community collaborators.

I'd auction off my skullcap, my mozetta cape and my darling red shoes
to the highest bidder and send the money to Haiti
for the construction of schools and health care centers.

I'd sell my Fisherman's Ring on ebay
and donate the proceeds to the Gulf shrimpers.

I'd trade my red and gold embroidered fascia
(the stole with the fringes) for a villa in Tuscany
and give free spa retreats to women who've served the church
for five years or more.

If I were pope, I'd throw a party at the Vatican
and invite everyone who's left the church
because they didn't feel welcomed.
(The overflow crowd would be treated to weekends
at Italian vineyards.)

If I were pope, I'd announce my retirement,
and as my last act in office, at the final party,
I'd ordain to the priesthood any woman who was ready,
marry any gay couple who wanted my blessing,
and marry any priest, male or female.

Then I'd get in my jammies,
say a prayer of gratitude,
and crawl into bed for a much needed nap.

Previously published in the Huffington Post, 2/12/13

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Witness

By Martha Collins

If she says something now he’ll say
it’s not true if he says it’s not true
they’ll think it’s not true if they think
it’s not true it will be nothing new
but for her it will be a weightier
thing it will fill up the space where
he isn’t allowed it will open the door
of the room where she’s put him
away he will fill up her mind he will fill
up her plate and her glass he will fill up
her shoes and her clothes she will never
forget him he says if she says
something now if she says something ever
he never will let her forget and it’s true
for a week for a month but the more
she says true and the more he says not
the smaller he seems he may fill up
his shoes he may fill up his clothes
the usual spaces he fills but something
is missing whatever they say whatever
they think he is not what he was
and the room in her mind is open she
walks in and out as she pleases she says
what she pleases she says what she means.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Change

By Anna Higgins

There was a time I had another name
And with it lived another life
And everything and nothing was the same.

The days were full of vigor, joy, and blame,
An admixture of of sweetness and strife
There was a time when I had another name.

There were some thing I wished I could disclaim
And surgically remove with a sharpened knife
And everything and nothing was the same.

So Anna was the name I would proclaim
And Jo was left behind with the old life
There was a time I had another name.

At first it seemed a strange and silly game,
The thought that I could lead another life,
And everything and nothing was the same.

But slowly it was Anna I became,
With Jo a dancing shadow of that life,
There was a time I had another name,
And everything and nothing was the same.


This poem first appeared in Seasoned Voices, a chapbook put out by the Brookline Senior Center.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Life

By Dennis O'Driscoll

Life gives
     us something
to live for:
     we will do
whatever it takes
     to make it last.
Kill in just wars
     for its survival.
Wolf fast-food
     during half-time breaks.
Wash down
     chemical cocktails,
as prescribed.
     Soak up
hospital radiation.
     Prey on kidneys
at roadside pile-ups.
     Take heart
from anything
     that might
conceivably grant it
     a new lease.
We would give
     a right hand
to prolong it.
     Cannot imagine
living without it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Noah’s Wife Talks Back

By Eve Lyons

I don’t know what he was thinking.
He comes home one evening,
announces we have to pack up all our belongings,
all our animals, all our family
build an ark.

He said God spoke to him
I said, Why now?
The world has gotten dark
The world has fallen into violence
The world has succumbed to hatred and fear.
I said, It has been that way for years
So why now?

Why give up now?
Why walk out on the world,
Why destroy everything
rather than start the hard work
trying to repair it?

He didn’t listen.
They build, they argue, they fight
They destroy and argue some more.
Then they take their toys and go home.
I don’t know whether I’m talking about God
or my husband.
Some days
they’re indistinguishable.

In the end, God came around
to seeing it my way:
As soon as the flood waters receded
as soon as the earth dried
as soon as the rainbow appeared
God pledged never to do it again.
But it was too late
for my neighbors, my friends, my city.
Wayward and disturbed perhaps
it was my home.


Previously published in the anthology Covenant of the Generations (February, 2013)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Don't Know What Love Is (An evening with Charles Bukowski)

By Raymond Carver

You don't know what love is Bukowski said
I'm 51 years old look at me
I'm in love with this young broad
I got it bad but she's hung up too
so it's all right man that's the way it should be
I get in their blood and they can't get me out
They try everything to get away from me
but they all come back in the end
They all came back to me except
the one I planted
I cried over that one
but I cried easy in those days
Don't let me get onto the hard stuff man
I get mean then
I could sit here and drink beer
with you hippies all night
I could drink ten quarts of this beer
and nothing it's like water
But let me get onto the hard stuff
and I'll start throwing people out windows
I'll throw anybody out the window
I've done it
But you don't know what love is
You don't know because you've never
been in love it's that simple
I got this young broad see she's beautiful
She calls me Bukowski
Bukowski she says in this little voice
and I say What
But you don't know what love is
I'm telling you what it is
but you aren't listening
There isn't one of you in this room
would recognize love if it stepped up
and buggered you in the ass
I used to think poetry readings were a copout
Look I'm 51 years old and I've been around
I know they're a copout
but I said to myself Bukowski
starving is even more of a copout
So there you are and nothing is like it should be
That fellow what's his name Galway Kinnell
I saw his picture in a magazine
He has a handsome mug on him
but he's a teacher
Christ can you imagine
But then you're teachers too
here I am insulting you already
No I haven't heard of him
or him either
They're all termites
Maybe it's ego I don't read much anymore
but these people who build
reputations on five or six books
termites
Bukowski she says
Why do you listen to classical music all day
Can't you hear her saying that
Bukowski why do you listen to classical music all day
That surprises you doesn't it
You wouldn't think a crude bastard like me
could listen to classical music all day
Brahms Rachmaninoff Bartok Telemann
Shit I couldn't write up here
Too quiet up here too many trees
I like the city that's the place for me
I put on my classical music each morning
and sit down in front of my typewriter
I light a cigar and I smoke it like this see
and I say Bukowski you're a lucky man
Bukowski you've gone through it all
and you're a lucky man
and the blue smoke drifts across the table
and I look out the window onto Delongpre Avenue
and I see people walking up and down the sidewalk
and I puff on the cigar like this
and then I lay the cigar in the ashtray like this and take a deep breath
and I begin to write
Bukowski this is the life I say
it's good to be poor it's good to have hemorrhoids
it's good to be in love
But you don't know what it's like
You don't know what it's like to be in love
If you could see her you'd know what I mean
She thought I'd come up here and get laid
She just knew it
She told me she knew it
Shit I'm 51 years old and she's 25
and we're in love and she's jealous
Jesus it's beautiful
she said she'd claw my eyes out if I came up here
and got laid
Now that's love for you
What do any of you know about it
Let me tell you something
I've met men in jail who had more style
than the people who hang around colleges
and go to poetry readings
They're bloodsuckers who come to see
if the poet's socks are dirty
or if he smells under the arms
Believe me I won't disappoint em
But I want you to remember this
there's only one poet in this room tonight
only one poet in this town tonight
maybe only one real poet in this country tonight
and that's me
What do any of you know about life
What do any of you know about anything
Which of you here has been fired from a job
or else has beaten up your broad
or else has been beaten up by your broad
I was fired from Sears and Roebuck five times
They'd fire me then hire me back again
I was a stockboy for them when I was 35
and then got canned for stealing cookies
I know what's it like I've been there
I'm 51 years old now and I'm in love
This little broad she says
Bukowski
and I say What and she says
I think you're full of shit
and I say baby you understand me
She's the only broad in the world
man or woman
I'd take that from
But you don't know what love is
They all came back to me in the end too
every one of em came back
except that one I told you about
the one I planted
We were together seven years
We used to drink a lot
I see a couple of typers in this room but
I don't see any poets
I'm not surprised
You have to have been in love to write poetry
and you don't know what it is to be in love
that's your trouble
Give me some of that stuff
That's right no ice good
That's good that's just fine
So let's get this show on the road
I know what I said but I'll have just one
That tastes good
Okay then let's go let's get this over with
only afterwards don't anyone stand close
to an open window

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Dove

By Yehuda Amichai

The dove brought news
of the end of the flood, an olive leaf
in her mouth, like a man holding a letter
in his mouth as he searches for something
with both hands
or like a girl holding pins
in her mouth as she repairs her dress.


Translated from Hebrew by Bernard Horn

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Father Comes to the City

By Joyce Sutphen

Tonight his airplane comes in from the West,
and he rises from his seat, a suitcoat slung
over his arm. The flight attendant smiles
and says, "Have a nice visit," and he nods
as if he has done this all before,
as if his entire life hasn't been 170 acres
of corn and oats, as if a plow isn't dragging
behind him through the sand and clay,
as if his head isn't nestling in the warm
flank of a Holstein cow.


Only his hands tell the truth:
fingers thick as ropes, nails flat
and broken in the trough of endless chores.
He steps into the city warily, breathing
metal and exhaust, bewildered by the
stampede of humanity circling around him.
I want to ask him something familiar,
something about tractors and wagons,
but he is taken by the neon night,
crossing carefully against the light.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jabberwocky

By Lewis Carroll

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Us Two

By A.A. Milne

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

"What's twice eleven?" I said to Pooh.
("Twice what?" said Pooh to Me.)
"I think it ought to be twenty-two."
"Just what I think myself," said Pooh.
"It wasn't an easy sum to do,
But that's what it is," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what it is," said Pooh.

"Let's look for dragons," I said to Pooh.
"Yes, let's," said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
"Yes, those are dragons all right," said Pooh.
"As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That's what they are," said Pooh, said he.
"That's what they are," said Pooh.

"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh.
"That's right," said Pooh to Me.
"I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
Silly old dragons!"- and off they flew.

"I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you."

So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh,
"If it wasn't for you," and Pooh said: "True,
It isn't much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he.
"That's how it is," says Pooh.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Half Empty

By Samantha Seto

Emptied his mind so the heart feels
light, lifted into the bright sky
to praise the day high for our town.

The cherry wood near rosebuds.
Untimely flowers leave
blood-drops on the snow.

Left the house shattered,
broken windows in divided living room,
black streaks mark the beaten floor,
fierce explosions of vacancy remain.

He walked slowly through the dreamscape
with young willows and patch of waste
grounded as blue jays scream.


Samantha Seto has been published in various anthologies including Ceremony, The Screech Owl, Nostrovia Poetry, Soul Fountain, and Black Magnolias Journal. Samantha studies creative writing. She is a third prize poet of Whispering Prairie Press.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Aphasia

By Dorianne Laux

After the stroke all she could say
was Venezuela, pointing to the pitcher
with its bright blue rim, her one word
command. And when she drank the clear
water in and gave the glass back,
it was Venezuela again, gratitude,
maybe, or the word now simply
a sigh, like the sky in the window,
the pillows a cloudy definition
propped beneath her head. Pink roses
dying on the bedside table, each fallen
petal a scrap in the shape of a country
she'd never been to, had never once
expressed interest in, and now
it was everywhere, in the peach
she lifted, dripping, to her lips,
the white tissue in the box, her brooding
children when they came to visit,
baptized with their new name
after each kiss. And at night
she whispered it, dark narcotic
in her husbands ear as he bent
to listen, her hands fumbling
at her buttons, her breasts,
holding them up to the light
like a gift. Venezuela, she said.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Legacy of an Adopted Child

(Author unknown)

Once there were two women
Who never knew each other.
One you do not remember,
The other you call mother.
Two different lives
Shaped to make yours one.
One became your guiding star,
The other became your sun.
The first gave you life
And the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love
And the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality,
The other gave you a name.
One gave you a seed of talent,
The other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions,
The other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile,
The other dried your tears.
One gave you up —
It was all that she could do.
The other prayed for a child
And God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me
Through your tears,
The age-old question
Through the years:
Heredity or environment
Which are you the product of?
Neither, my darling — neither,
Just two different kinds of love.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Soul

By David Ferry

What am I doing inside this old man's body?
I feel like I'm the insides of a lobster,
All thought, and all digestion, and pornographic
Inquiry, and getting about, and bewilderment,
And fear, avoidance of trouble, belief in what,
God knows, vague memories of friends, and what
They said last night, and seeing, outside of myself,
From here inside myself, my waving claws
Inconsequential, wavering, and my feelers
Preternatural, trembling, with their amazing
Troubling sensitivity to threat;
And I'm aware of and embarrassed by my ways
Of getting around, and my protective shell.
Where is it that she I loved has gone to, as
This cold sea water's washing over my back?

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Poem of the Sequester

By Mark Russell

This surgical thing, sequestration
Cuts the heart right out of the nation.
Doctors Simpson and Bowles
Have counter proposed:
A no anesthesia castration.

Come March 1st, get under your bed
The lights in our homes will go dead.
Our streets, unprotected
Our meat, uninspected
Congress hiding with bags on their heads.

The police will be home and unpaid
Teachers, the same, I'm afraid.
Air controllers not there
Pilots turning to prayer
All sanity further delayed.

In theory these cuts were invented
Never to be implemented.
What's coming this session?
Oh goody, Depression
To allow it, they must be demented.

To add to this, all I can say
Happy tax cut and have a nice day!


This poem previously appeared on the author's website.

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