Friday, August 30, 2013

A Drink of Water

By Seamus Heaney

She came every morning to draw water
Like an old bat staggering up the field:
The pump's whooping cough, the bucket's clatter
And slow dimineundo as it filled,
Announced her. I recall
Her grey apron, the pocked white enamel
Of the brimming bucket, and the treble
Creak of her voice like the pump's handle.
Nights when a full moon lifted past her gable
It fell back through her window and would lie
Into the water set out on the table.
Where I have dipped to drink again, to be
Faithful to the admonishment on her cup,
"Remember the Giver," fading off the lip.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Autumn Light

By Anne Whitehouse

A faint breeze ruffles
the last leaves on the trees,
and a parade of dead leaves
skids over the dry dock,
light enough to float
over the surface of the quarry
with its deep, dark waters.
The sky has opened up,
beautiful and terrible.
It is time to go.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of three collections of poetry: The Surveyor's Hand, Blessings and Curses, and Bear in Mind, and a novel, Fall Love. Her poetry, short stories, essays, reviews, and articles have been widely published. She is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia. Please visit her website, www.annewhitehouse.com.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Siblings

By Patricia Smith

Hurricanes, 2005

Arlene learned to dance backwards in heels that were too high.
Bret prayed for a shaggy mustache made of mud and hair.
Cindy just couldn’t keep her windy legs together.
Dennis never learned to swim.
Emily whispered her gusts into a thousand skins.
Franklin, farsighted and anxious, bumbled villages.
Gert spat her matronly name against a city’s flat face.
Harvey hurled a wailing child high.
Irene, the baby girl, threw pounding tantrums.
José liked the whip sound of slapping.
Lee just craved the whip.
Maria’s thunder skirts flew high when she danced.
Nate was mannered and practical. He stormed precisely.
Ophelia nibbled weirdly on the tips of depressions.
Philippe slept too late, flailing on a wronged ocean.
Rita was a vicious flirt. She woke Philippe with rumors.
Stan was born business, a gobbler of steel.
Tammy crooned country, getting the words all wrong.
Vince died before anyone could remember his name.
Wilma opened her maw wide, flashing rot.
None of them talked about Katrina.
She was their odd sister,
the blood dazzler.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Healers


By Sharon Olds

When they say, If there are any doctors aboard,
would they make themselves known, I remember when my then
husband would rise, and I would get to be
the one he rose from beside. They say now
that it does not work, unless you are equal.
And after those first thirty years,
I was not the one he wanted to rise from
or return to - not I but she who would also
rise, when such were needed. Now I see them,
lifting, side by side, on wide,
medical, wading-bird wings - like storks with the
doctor bags of like-loves-like
dangling from their beaks. Oh well. It was the way
it was, he did not feel happy when words
were called for, and I stood.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stubborn Ounces

By Bonaro Overstreet

(To One Who Doubts the Worth of Doing Anything If You Can't Do Everything)

You say the little efforts that I make
will do no good; they will never prevail
to tip the hovering scale
where Justice hangs in balance.
                                         I don't think
I ever thought they would.
But I am prejudiced beyond debate
In favor of my right to choose which side
shall feel the stubborn ounces of my weight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In View of the Fact

By A. R. Ammons

The people of my time are passing away: my
wife is baking for a funeral, a 60-year-old who

died suddenly, when the phone rings, and it's
Ruth we care so much about in intensive care:

it was once weddings that came so thick and
fast, and then, first babies, such a hullabaloo:

now, it's this that and the other and somebody
else gone or on the brink: well, we never

thought we would live forever (although we did)
and now it looks like we won't: some of us

are losing a leg to diabetes, some don't know
what they went downstairs for, some know that

a hired watchful person is around, some like
to touch the cane tip into something steady,

so nice: we have already lost so many,
brushed the loss of ourselves ourselves: our

address books for so long a slow scramble now
are palimpsests, scribbles and scratches: our

index cards for Christmases, birthdays,
Halloweens drop clean away into sympathies:

at the same time we are getting used to so
many leaving, we are hanging on with a grip

to the ones left: we are not giving up on the
congestive heart failure or brain tumors, on

the nice old men left in empty houses or on
the widows who decide to travel a lot: we

think the sun may shine someday when we'll
drink wine together and think of what used to

be: until we die we will remember every
single thing, recall every word, love every

loss: then we will, as we must, leave it to
others to love, love that can grow brighter

and deeper till the very end, gaining strength
and getting more precious all the way. . . .

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wedding Album 1977

By Tess Taylor

My parents kissing in a kitchen.
In her loop-eyed dress my mother—

enormous in her belly, I loom.
In a commune in Fort Greene

she typed and typed her dissertation.
Upstairs a woman practiced primal screams,

a wild-haired painter mourned his dying wife.
My parents had already made my life

near the mass grave
of hundreds of Revolutionary soldiers,

a cockeyed brownstone full of junkies,
somebody who stripped my parents’ jalopy

down to wires and bones.
Soon they sold all they had

and drove to Madison to have me.
Had five people over for pie.

It was done then: They were married.
Weeks later in their bedroom I was born.

In piles my mother’s writing
watched us from unquiet bricks and boards. - See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/23666#sthash.gUHsNKn3.dpuf

Friday, August 16, 2013

The End

By Hal Sirowitz

In the beginning, father said,
God created the universe.

 Notice how He hadn’t ended it,
yet. That’s in Bible Two. Hopefully,

 that version will come out after
we are dead. So don’t worry about

 the end of the world. God spent
a lot of time creating it – a week

 of hard labor. God will end it
when He’s ready. Whether He

 does it by the old way – flooding –
or tnhrough some kind of big bang,

 doesn’t matter as long as we don’t
have to watch Him do it

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August, 1953

By David Wojahn

 A nurse gathers up the afterbirth. My mother
 *
had been howling but now could sleep.
 *
By this time I am gone—also gathered up
 *
& wheeled out. Above my jaundiced face the nurses hover.
 *
Outside, a scab commands a city bus. The picketers battle cops
 *
& ten thousand Soviet conscripts in goggles
 *
kneel & cover their eyes. Mushroom cloud above the Gobi,
 *
& slithering toward Stalin's brain, the blood clot
 *
takes its time. Ethel Rosenberg has rocketed
 *
to the afterlife, her hair shooting flame. The afterbirth
 *
is sloshing in a pail, steadied by an orderly who curses
 *
when the elevator doors stay shut: I am soul & body & medical waste
*
foaming to the sewers of St. Paul. I am not yet aware
*
of gratitude or shame.
I do know the light is everywhere.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lock Me Away

By Clive James

In the NHS psychiatric test
For classifying the mentally ill
You have to spell 'world' backwards.
Since I heard this, I can't stop doing it.
The first time I tried pronouncing the results
I got a sudden flaring picture
Of Danny La Rue in short pants
With his mouth full of marshmallows.
He was giving his initial and surname
To a new schoolteacher.
Now every time I read the Guardian
I find its columns populated
By a thousand mumbling drag queens.
Why, though, do I never think
Of a French film composer
(Georges Delerue, pupil of
Darius Milhaud, composed the waltz
In Hiroshima, Mon Amour)
Identifying himself to a policeman
After being beaten up?
But can I truly say I never think of it
After I've just thought of it?
Maybe I'm going stun:
Dam, dab and dangerous to wonk.
You realise this ward you've led me into
Spelled backwards is the cloudy draw
Of the ghost-riders in the sky?
Listen to this palindrome
And tell me that it's not my ticket out.
Able was I ere I saw Elba.
Do you know who I am, Dr La Rue?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Freedom of Expression

By William Stafford

My feet wait there listening, and when
they dislike what happens they begin
to press on the floor. They know when
it is time to walk out on a program. Pretty soon
they are moving, and as the program fades
you can hear the sound of my feet on gravel.

If you have feet with standards, you too
may be reminded - you need not
accept what's given. You gamblers,
pimps, braggarts, oppressive people: -
"Not here," my feet are saying, "no thanks;
let me out of this." And I'm gone.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

If you have eagerness in your heart

By Javed Akhtar

If you have eagerness in your heart, it means you are alive,
If your eyes are filled with dreams, it means you are alive
Learn to be free like the wind,
Learn to flow freely like the river,
Embrace every moment with open arms,
See a new horizon every time with your eyes,
If you carry surprise in your eyes, it means you are alive,
If you have eagerness in your heart, it means you are alive… 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

To The Poet Whose Lover Has Died Of AIDS


By Kenny Fries

...then the wasting begins and the disappearance a day at a time. -- Mark Doty

The night of your reading I notice he has carved
a place for his wheelchair. But after the first
poem, through the applause, the noise of moving
out of his way. Then, only the space remains
and nobody, not even those standing, eyeing
what was his position, will take his place.
The next day, when you tell me he wet himself
and could not stay, I think how leaving causes so much
commotion, how in school during rollcall the teacher
never knew how long to wait for the voice, present,
before moving on to the next name in the order.
The tittering, the shifting in chairs, when it went on
too long. When you first told me he was sick,
I could not ask if you, too, were infected --
I searched your poems for clues. Now he has died
and I have gone back to read your poems, needing
your words to prove love does not disappear
a day at a time. All those years together,
over a decade of loss, and I don't know
what's left to say. If we are given love
only to have it taken away, what solace
can anyone offer but your voice be present
among the shifting chairs, the embarrassed noises
of absence. The wait is always too long.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Scars

By William Stafford

They tell how it was, and how time
came along, and how it happened
again and again. They tell
the slant life takes when it turns
and slashes your face as a friend.

Any wound is real. In church
a woman lets the sun find
her cheek, and we see the lesson:
there are years in that book; there are sorrows
a choir can’t reach when they sing.

Rows of children lift their faces of promise,
places where the scars will be.

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