Monday, April 29, 2013

Whose Child?

By  Peter L. Flom
A child is born.
Whose child is this?
He shall not know his mother's kiss.
He shall not feel his father's arm.
He shall not be kept safe from harm.
A boy now grows.
What shall he be?
A child does not grow like a tree.
He has no roots, he has no leaves.
He feels no grief, he sheds no tears.
A youth is formed, 
Grows straight and tall.
In truth, he is no youth at all.
He suffers no harsh discipline.
He knows no guilt, he cannot sin.
A man is made.
His juices flow.
And who cares where those juices go?
A girl, a car, a well-known street.
10 bucks, 5 minutes, nice and neat.

A child is born.
Whose child is this?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Walk

By Rainer Maria Rilke

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance-

and charges us, even if we do not reach it
into something else, which, hardly sensing it
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

Translated by Robert Bly

Thursday, April 25, 2013


By Adrienne Rich

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


By D.H. Lawrence

I like people quite well
at a little distance.
I like to see them passing and passing
and going on their way,
especially if I see their aloneness alive in them.
Yet I don't want them to come near.
If they will only leave me alone
I can still have the illusion that there is room enough in the world.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston is Like No Other Place in the World, Only More So

By E. B. White

When  I am out of funds and sorts
And life is all in snarls,
I quit New York and travel east
To Boston on the Charles.

In Boston, life is smoother far,
It’s easier and freer,
Where every boy’s a Harvard man
And every man’s a skier.

There’s something in the Boston scene
So innocent, so tranquil,
It takes and holds my interest
The same as any bank will.

For Boston’s not a capital,
And Boston’s not a place;
Rather I think that Boston is
A sort of state of grace.

The people’s lives in Boston
Are flowers blown in glass;
On Commonwealth, on Beacon,
They bow and speak and pass.

No man grows old in Boston,
No lady ever dies;
No youth is ever wicked,
No infant ever cries.

No orthodox Bostonian
Is lonely or dejected,
For everyone in Boston
With everyone’s connected.

So intricate the pattern,
The barroom of the Ritz
Becomes a jigsaw puzzle
Each life a piece that fits.

Each Boston girl is swept along
Down the predestined channel
To where she meets a Boston boy
Alert in Brooksian flannel,

Magnificent in fallen socks,
His hair like stubble weeds,
His elbow patch an earnest of
The fellowship of tweeds.

When Muzak plays in Boston,
It wakes celestial stings,
And I can sit in Boston
And think of many things.

For Boston’s not a capital,
And Boston’s not a place;
Rather I feel that Boston is
The perfect state of grace.

After a week of Boston
I rise and take the train
And I am always very glad
To see New York again.

New York seems doubly beautiful,
Its air as clear as Heaven’s;
New York – where life is always
At sixes and at sevens,

Where no one ever marries right,
And girls go off their trolley,
And young men go to NYU,
To Fordham, and to Poly,

Where hackmen have peculiar names
And relatives afar,
And one can watch the Chrysler spire
Bisect the morning star.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City

By Sherman Alexie

The white woman across the aisle from me says 'Look,
look at all the history, that house
on the hill there is over two hundred years old, '
as she points out the window past me

into what she has been taught. I have learned
little more about American history during my few days
back East than what I expected and far less
of what we should all know of the tribal stories

whose architecture is 15,000 years older
than the corners of the house that sits
museumed on the hill. 'Walden Pond, '
the woman on the train asks, 'Did you see Walden Pond? '

and I don't have a cruel enough heart to break
her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds
on my little reservation out West
and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane,

the city I pretended to call my home. 'Listen, '
I could have told her. 'I don't give a shit
about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories
around that pond before Walden's grandparents were born

and before his grandparents' grandparents were born.
I'm tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too,
because that's redundant. If Don Henley's brothers and sisters
and mothers and father hadn't come here in the first place

then nothing would need to be saved.'
But I didn't say a word to the woman about Walden
Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted
that I thought to bring her an orange juice

back from the food car. I respect elders
of every color. All I really did was eat
my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi
and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out

another little piece of her country's history
while I, as all Indians have done
since this war began, made plans
for what I would do and say the next time

somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

War on Terror

By Aaron Smith

The woman at the DMV wasn't happy
when I asked if I could keep
my old driver’s license and use it
to fight terrorism. She doesn't understand
I'm trying to do my part. Ever since
the president said we can win
the war on terror by not letting fear
stop our lives, I’ve had a new
sense of purpose for the ordinary.
Now every object is an instrument
for freedom; every action is as good
as a Support Our Troops sticker
on a minivan. Yesterday, I was buying
toilet paper at Walgreens, and I upgraded
my four-roll pack to eight because:
Take that! America Haters.
Friday in SoHo, I bought sneakers
and justice for all. I keep doing what
I usually do—returning that polo
to the Gap, putting skim milk
in my coffee—and I have to admit
I feel a whole lot safer in the airport.
Because it’s vacation season
I'm thinking of T-shirts: I Battled
Terrorism on the New River Gorge;
Florida Is for Terror-Fighters! Even
my absence has hope: I can’t take
your call. I’m out of the office
fighting terror. My co-workers
have taken up the cause, too. Annie
was Xeroxing for world peace this
morning, and Jeremy’s mass mailing
is helping find weapons of mass
destruction. After lunch, we sat
by the harbor to let the terror digest
in our stomachs. Committed tourists
stood in a convoluted line to buy
tickets for the statue of liberty, which
looked small today in the distance,
under the blinding, patriotic sun.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I've Been Wandering in the Greenwoods

By Charlotte Bronte
I've been wandering in the greenwoods
And mid flowery smiling plains
I've been listening to the dark floods
To the thrushes thrilling strains

I have gathered the pale primrose
And the purple violet sweet
I've been where the Asphodel grows
And where lives the red deer fleet

I've been to the distant mountain
To the silver singing rill 
By the crystal murmering fountain, 
And the shady verdant hill

I've been where the poplar is springing
From the fair Inamelled ground
Where the nightingale is singing
With a solemn plaintive sound

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems


A gracious Sabbath stood here while they stood
Who gave our rest a haven.
Now fallen, they are given
To labor and distress.
These times we know much evil, little good
To steady us in faith
And comfort when our losses press
Hard on us, and we choose,
In panic or despair or both,
To keep what we will lose.

For we are fallen like the trees, our peace
Broken, and so we must
Love where we cannot trust,
Trust where we cannot know,
And must await the wayward-coming grace
That joins living and dead,
Taking us where we would not go--
Into the boundless dark.
When what was made has been unmade
The Maker comes to His work.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Charon the Smith

By Archilochus

Nothing to me the life of Gyges and his glut
Of gold.  I neither envy nor admire him, as
I watch his life and what he does. I want no pride
Of tyranny; it lies far off from where I look.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A New Language

By Casandra Lopez

My words are always

upon themselves, they feel too tight
in my mouth. I want a new
language.One with at least
50 words for grief

and 50 words for love, so I can offer
them to the living
who mourn the dead. I want

a language that understands
 sister-pain and heart-hurt. So
when I tell you Brother

is my hook of heart, you will see

the needle threading me to
the others, numbered
men, women and children
of our grit spit city.

I want a language to tell you
about 2010's
37th homicide. The unsolved,
all I know about a man,

my city turned to number,
always sparking memory,

back to longer days when:
Ocean is the mouth
of summer. Our shell fingers
drive into sand, searching–we find

tiny silver sand crabs we scoop and scoop
till we bore and go
in search of tangy seaweed.

We are salted sun. How we brown

 to earth. Our warm flesh flowering,
reminding us of our desert and canyon

blood. In this new language our bones say
sun and sea, reminding us of an old
language our mouths have forgotten, but our
marrow remembers.

Monday, April 8, 2013


By Hannah Senesh

One, two, three
Eight feet long,
Two strides across, the rest is dark
Life hangs over me like a question mark.

One, two, three
Maybe another week,
Or next month may still find me here,
But death, I feel, is very near.

I could have been twenty-three next July;
I gambled on what mattered most,
The dice were cast. I lost.

Hannah Senesh died after emigrating from Hungary to Palestine and participating in the resistance effort during the Holocaust.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mother Tongue

By Dawn Karima Pettigrew

I decolonize myself by laughing.
My soft tongue will break a bone,
Bite apples of gold from settings of silver.
Just 30 pieces will ransom our lives.
Where 40 acres and a mule rule,
My laughter is a salve,
That halves the steps of righteous men,
Ordered, bordered by round dance songs,
Wrongs, righted and set upright
As my giggling heals.
Hear me chuckle on the Trail of Tears
Fear my happy bliss of hope,
Reaching those imprisoned
Mentioning there is, for a little space, grace
And my joy is its balm.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thrift Shop

By Warren Woessner

I'm going through the rack
of men's trousers
in the musty basement
alongside a tall, skinny guy
I don't want to look at
twice, but he starts to talk:
"Everything in here's a 42
or XX large. Some fat guy
musta died last week."
Just then, I find a nice pair
of corduroys - 36 waist
too long, but I have a friend
who can hem.
I don't try them on, just pay
the $3 and get out.
I know I won't care who
I'm wearing on the white carpet
of snow already unrolling
under all those cold stars.