Friday, November 29, 2013

The Game Between the Jews and the Indians is Tied Going Into the Bottom of the Ninth Inning

By Sherman Alexie

So, now, when you touch me
my skin, will you think
of Sand Creek, Wounded Knee?
And what will you remember

when your skin is next to mine
Auschwitz, Buchenwald?
No, we will only think of the past
as one second before

where we are now, the future
just one second ahead
but every once in a while
we can remind each other

that we are both survivors and children
and grandchildren of survivors.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
  in the pinewoods
    in the moments between
      the darkness

and first light
  two deer
    came walking down the hill
      and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
  this one is okay,
    let's see who she is
       and why she is sitting

on the ground like that,
   so quiet, as if
    asleep, or in a dream,
       but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
   on their slender legs
    and gazed upon me
      not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
   and look and look
     into the faces of the flowers;
      and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
   bring to me that could exceed
    that brief moment?
      For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
  not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
    Such gifts, bestowed,
      can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
   come to visit. I live in the house
    near the corner, which I have named
       Gratitude.

By Mary Oliver

Monday, November 25, 2013

About God & Things

By Wanda Coleman

1
i want to have your child
cuz upon losing you
i’ll have more than memory
more than ache
more than greatness
i’ll have laughter

i do not mean to be fatalistic
know the limits put on you black man
me, black woman

when you are killed or imprisoned
desert or separate from me
i’ll continue
fill the void of your absence with
love between me and ours

gods

2
you love me
in your eyes. don’t say it loud
pain
america will never let you

3
you’re home. it’s a surprise
you’ve made it thru another day
one more night in your arms
to fuck

merge our bodies merge
give
wealth/freedom
congress cannot legislate away

4
eyes wide as suns inquire
where’s daddy?

he’s gone away

i love my daddy

i smile
he’s a good man

eyes wide as suns
burn my hand with a kiss
go outside to play in the streets

god
what god is about

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Land

By Carol Ann Duffy

If we were shades
who walked here once
over the heather, over the shining stones,
fresh in our skin and bones
with all of the time to come
left to be us,

if we were dust,
once flesh, where a cloud
swoons on the breast of a hill,
breathing here still
in our countable days,
the words we said,

snagged on the air
like the murmuring bees,
as we lay by the loch,
parting our clothes with our hands
to feel who we were,
we would rather be there

than where we are here,
all that was due to us
still up ahead,
if we were shades or dust
who lived love
before we were long dead.

If we were shades
who walked here once
over the heather, over the shining stones,
fresh in our skin and bones
with all of the time to come
left to be us,

if we were dust,
once flesh, where a cloud
swoons on the breast of a hill,
breathing here still
in our countable days,
the words we said,

snagged on the air
like the murmuring bees,
as we lay by the loch,
parting our clothes with our hands
to feel who we were,
we would rather be there

than where we are here,
all that was due to us
still up ahead,
if we were shades or dust
who lived love
before we were long dead.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Britpop Boy Turns 40

By Phil Lucas

He’s the sort of bloke who has a pop-art print of Paul Weller in his living room,
and he’s the sort of bloke who would gaze at it
as he tries seducing to The Verve’s ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’.
He’ll look into Weller’s eyes and smile as he fails to hear Ashcroft sing,
“But I know I’m on a losing streak”.

And in the hum of a pub on Saturday night
he’ll go to the jukebox
spin in his pound
and think,
“These songs are my cool.
These songs are everybody’s cool.
These songs will thrill them all.”

But those songs, my friend, are the ones
that place another brick
in the wall between you and youth.

“All this talk of getting old,
it’s getting me down my love.”

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Second City

By Michael Davidson

Even though there are motorized conveyances
I am on foot; even though there is a map
I negotiate the streets by landmark

there are no landmarks
but a series of edges
common to several cities

the hill is in San Francisco,
the great shopping district
with its glittering windows

and esplanade before the fountain
is in New York
and the river with its bridges is in Paris

I'm working on the park
with its glass botanical gardens
marble pillars in the distance

leftover from the exposition
there is probably a hill
from which I descend

and arrive at the "market district" below
clearly indicated by the word "brick"
like those on the west side of Buffalo

to make this descent
is to parse the terrifying grid
of hill cities, roads

dead-ending against canyons, barriers
where a street careens into space
and continues below

bearing the same name
so that a second city rises
out of the forgotten one

more pointed because not yet filled in
by monument or palisade
the place where water touches land

and forms a line
the leaflike veins of streets
it is too late

for the bus
and I must walk from North Beach
to the Bronx or something with a B

through the middle city
the place a middle occupies
when you are no longer familiar

and the buildings have only been seen
by night from a car
and by lights

I am afraid
someone will address me in French
and I will forget the word for myself

having so recently arrived
and yet to be a stranger
is to be swallowed up

without words
without glasses
bearing an envelope with a numbered series

in the second city
I live out the dream of the first
living neither for its access and glamour
nor dying from its disregard
simply talking toward the twin spires
of an ancient cathedral
like a person becoming like a person

Monday, November 18, 2013

Radio

By David Lehman

I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Evangelize Your Love

By Jillian Weise

At home, a sixteen-year-old son
and window treatments and walls
to paint and “How was your day?”
On the web there are no days
and no seasons and no oil changes
for the Subaru. “No one important.”
At the motel, flat pillows, a lamp
tall as his son in the corner and
a print of a sailboat. “In year three,
the sex fizzled and we broke up.
Then we got married.” Have you gotten
yourself into something? “Tonight
I am making your favorite dish.”
News comes on, news goes off, taxes.
“At some point, he stopped kissing me
on the neck.” She needs to write
her Goals Statement. “He promised.”
More or less. “How can I live like this?”
the three of them in unison.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Facing It

By Yusef Komunyakaa

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Love the Hour Just Before

a party. Everybody
at home getting
ready. Pulling
on boots, fixing
their hair, planning
what to say if
she's there, picking
a pluckier lipstick,
rehearsing a joke
with a stickpin
in it, doing
the last minute
fumbling one does
before leaving for
the night like
tying up the dog or
turning on the yard
light. I like to think
of them driving,
finding their way
in the dark, taking
this left, that right,
while I light candles,
start the music softly
seething. Everything
waiting. Even
the wine barely
breathing.

by Todd Boss

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Letter sent in reply to requests for blurbs

(I blurb only for the dead, these days)

 By Margaret Atwood

 “You are well-known, Ms. Atwood,” the Editor said,
And we long for your quote on this book;
 A few well-placed words wouldn’t bother your head,
 And would help us to get in the hook!”

"In my youth,” said Ms. Atwood, “I blurbed with the best;
 I practically worked with a stencil!
I strewed quotes about with the greatest largesse, 
And the phrases flowed swift from my pencil.

 Intelligent, lucid, accomplished, supreme,
 Magnificent, touching but rough,
 And lucent and lyrical, plangent, a dream,
 Vital, muscular, elegant, tough!

 But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,
 And my adjective store is depleted;
 My hair’s getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;
 As a quotester I’m nigh-on defeated.

I  would like to be useful;
God knows, as a girl I was well-taught to help and to share;
 But the books and the pleas for quotes pour through the door 
Till the heaps of them drive to despair!

 So at last I’ve decided to say No to all.
 What you need is a writer whoʼs youthful;
 Who has energy, wit, and a lot on the ball,
 And would find your new book a sweet toothful,

 Or else sees no need to be truthful.
 Such a one would be happy, dear Editor, to
 Write you quotes until blue in the brain.
 Itʼs a person like this who can satisfy you,

 Not poor me, who am half down the drain. 
So I wish you Good Luck, and your author, and book,
 Which I hope to read later, with glee.
 Long may you publish, and search out the blurbs,
 Though you will not get any from me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Effective Immediately

By Joan McNerney

I want to become an
Ambassador for Rain!
Why the bad image?
Birds love rain.
Tweeting through
dry spells for water,
they flutter from leaf
to bud for a sip.
Feeding tree roots, wild flowers.
Without rain, no blessed
blue lakes, rivers, streams.
Open your eyes.  Rain clings
to window panes, miniature globes
of splendor.  Listen as pitter-pattering
skips over rooftops.
Consider your thirst for
liquid pleasures. Gather up
in green reverie. Dance
barefoot on this emerald earth
joining me in jubilant chorus.

Joan McNerney's poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, 63 channels, Spectrum, and three Bright Spring Press Anthologies. Four of her books have been published by fine literary presses. She has performed at the National Arts Club, Borders Bookstore, McNay Art Institute and other distinguished venues. A recent reading was sponsored by the American Academy of Poetry. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky, A.P.D., Albany, New York.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

When Autumn Came

By Faiz Ahmed Faiz

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:
it stripped them down to the skin,
left their ebony bodies naked.
It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,
scattered them over the ground.
Anyone could trample them out of shape
undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

The birds that herald dreams
were exiled from their song,
each voice torn out of its throat.
They dropped into the dust
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Oh, God of May have mercy.
Bless these withered bodies
with the passion of your resurrection;
make their dead veins flow with blood again.

Give some tree the gift of green again.
Let one bird sing.

Translated by Naomi Lazard                            

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Night

By Adelaide Crapsey

Listen. . .
With faint dry sound,
 Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

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