Friday, January 31, 2014

Untitled

By Sappho

If you are squeamish

Don't prod the
beach rubble.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

On Children

By Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Turn, Turn, Turn

By Pete Seeger

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Elders

By Elizabeth Alexander 

watched him glitter, 
watched him gleam,
shook his un-rough hands
with their cotton-scarred hands,
cut their eyes at him,
observed the ease with which he smiled, 

asked, finally, what is love,
and who are The People
and how must we love them and what do we need,
what is now, look at the lines
in the corner of youngblood's eyes,
lined not unlike our hands,
and perhaps this is not gleam but illumination,
not merely his but ours.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Think Like a Tree

By Karen Shragg

Soak up the sun
Affirm life's magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm
Feel refreshed after it rains
Grow strong without notice
Be prepared for each season
Provide shelter to strangers
Hang tough through a cold spell
Emerge renewed at the first signs of spring
Stay deeply rooted while reaching for the sky
Be still long enough to
hear your own leaves rustling.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eating My Ex-Husband's Potato Chips

By April Salzano

At first, I think nothing of eating the chips that came home
from my kids’ weekend with their father. I shove my hand in
the bag as I would any bag of chips and come out with a few
that I cup in palm, transfer to mouth. Midway through crunch,
I realize, these are chips that he bought, not with what he likes
to call “his” child support money, but with his money. Maybe
his new wife bought them with her money. Maybe his new
family shared some of these chips as they watched a reality
tv show, their hands touching some of the chips I am now
eating. This image is initially disturbing, but that feeling turns
into a kind of anger that I wouldn’t call jealousy, more like
a violation of a space that is no longer mine, a place I should be
glad I escaped, still holding all my chips when I left.



April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons. She recently finished her first collection of poetry, for which she is seeking a publisher and is working on a memoir on raising a child with autism. Her work has appeared in journals such as Poetry Salzburg, Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Montucky Review, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle. The author also serves as co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Riot

By Gwendolyn Brooks

A riot is the language of the unheard.
—Martin Luther King


John Cabot, out of Wilma, once a Wycliffe,
all whitebluerose below his golden hair,
wrapped richly in right linen and right wool,
almost forgot his Jaguar and Lake Bluff;
almost forgot Grandtully (which is The
Best Thing That Ever Happened To Scotch); almost
forgot the sculpture at the Richard Gray
and Distelheim; the kidney pie at Maxim’s,
the Grenadine de Boeuf at Maison Henri.

Because the Negroes were coming down the street.

Because the Poor were sweaty and unpretty
(not like Two Dainty Negroes in Winnetka)
and they were coming toward him in rough ranks.
In seas. In windsweep. They were black and loud.
And not detainable. And not discreet.

Gross. Gross. “Que tu es grossier!” John Cabot
itched instantly beneath the nourished white
that told his story of glory to the World.
“Don’t let It touch me! the blackness! Lord!” he whispered
to any handy angel in the sky.
But, in a thrilling announcement, on It drove
and breathed on him: and touched him. In that breath
the fume of pig foot, chitterling and cheap chili,
malign, mocked John. And, in terrific touch, old
averted doubt jerked forward decently,
cried, “Cabot! John! You are a desperate man,
and the desperate die expensively today.”

John Cabot went down in the smoke and fire
and broken glass and blood, and he cried “Lord!
Forgive these nigguhs that know not what they do.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

Seeds/Spring Gentian

By Andrea Witzke-Slot

Seeds 

Yesterday I wanted to plant flowers.
No. I wanted to plant seeds.

The ground was cold and hard.
A jackhammer was needed.

I threw my kernels over the ground,
Watched them scatter, roll stiffly in the wind.

From my window today, I see birds gather
in the ice-capped air, pecking in frenzy.

Spring Gentian

Yesterday I wanted to plant flowers.
It rained all morning.

I slid my spade into soft soil, dug neat holes.
The sun appeared at my back.

I mauled life into sturdy position,
Plugged the right resources, prayed for May showers.

From my window today, I watch explosions of blue sway in my garden.  

These poems previously appeared in Alba.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thermopylae

By C. P. Cavafy

Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.
Never betraying what is right,
consistent and just in all they do
but showing pity also, and compassion;
generous when they are rich, and when they are poor,
still generous in small ways,
still helping as much as they can;
always speaking the truth,
yet without hating those who lie.

And even more honor is due to them
when they foresee (as many do foresee)
that in the end Ephialtis will make his appearance,
that the Medes will break through after all.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Shrinking Woman

By Lily Myers

Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she
drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn't deprive herself,
but I've learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I've realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I'm not there to do so.

Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it's proportional.

As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late 

nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but 
my dad reports that now she's "crazy about fruit."

It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round
cheeks, round stomach,
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking,
making space for the entrance of men into their lives,
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.

I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
"How can anyone have a relationship to food?" he asks, laughing,
as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.

I want to say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out,
I have been taught to grow in.
You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off
your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from
shouting so much.
I learned to absorb.
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself.
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters,
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits-

that's why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit,
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled 

paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again.
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to 

which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many.
How much space she deserves to occupy.

Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her
,
And I don't want to do either anymore,
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country.
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word "sorry."
 I don't know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza,
a circular obsession I never wanted, but

inheritance is accidental,
still staring at me with wine-soaked lips from across the kitchen table.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Political Poem

By Amiri Baraka
(for Basil)


Luxury, then, is a way of
being ignorant, comfortably
An approach to the open market
of least information. Where theories   
can thrive, under heavy tarpaulins   
without being cracked by ideas.
(I have not seen the earth for years   
and think now possibly “dirt” is   
negative, positive, but clearly
social. I cannot plant a seed, cannot   
recognize the root with clearer dent   
than indifference. Though I eat
and shit as a natural man ( Getting up   
from the desk to secure a turkey sandwich   
and answer the phone: the poem undone   
undone by my station, by my station,   
and the bad words of Newark.) Raised up   
to the breech, we seek to fill for this   
crumbling century. The darkness of love,
in whose sweating memory all error is forced.
Undone by the logic of any specific death. (Old gentlemen   
who still follow fires, tho are quieter   
and less punctual. It is a polite truth   
we are left with. Who are you? What are you   
saying? Something to be dealt with, as easily.
The noxious game of reason, saying, “No, No,   
you cannot feel,” like my dead lecturer   
lamenting thru gipsies his fast suicide.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What the Living Do

By Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spellbound

By Emily Brontë

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cold poem

By Mary Oliver

Cold now.
Close to the edge. Almost
unbearable. Clouds
bunch up and boil down
from the north of the white bear.
This tree-splitting morning
I dream of his fat tracks,
the lifesaving suet.
I think of summer with its luminous fruit,
blossoms rounding to berries, leaves,
handsful of grain.
Maybe what cold is, is the time
we measure the love we have always had, secretly
for our own bones, the hard knife-edged love
for the warm river of the I, beyond all else; maybe
that is what it means, the beauty
of the blue shark cruising toward the tumbling seals.
In the season of snow,
in the immeasurable cold,
we grow cruel but honest; we keep
ourselves alive,
if we can, taking one after another
the necessary bodies of others, the many
crushed red flowers.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tree-Incarnation: Christmas Trees Return To Nature

By Adam Cole

It's the week after Christmas, and in every town
You'll see Christmas trees dying — their needles turned brown.
30 million dead trees — that's what you'll find!
"Just some more numbers to boggle your mind."
That's good old Rick Dungey — head of public relations
For the National Christmas Tree Association.
He fields lots of calls — and often they're dumb,
Or perhaps fueled by eggnog with way too much rum.
"My tree's doing great! It's still taking up water!"
The calls start okay, but then they get odder:
"Will it regrow roots and continue to live?"
"Well, no," is the answer that Rick has to give.

But there is still hope — for all cross the nation
There's a sort of arborial tree-incarnation!
When everyone's done with their O'Tannenbaum-in'
Rick Dungey explains, "Mulching programs are common."
"But there have been some creative ones out there," he adds.
Some trees get a new life that isn't half bad.

Down in Louisiana, where the land meets the ocean.
"We place them out in the marsh to combat coastal erosion."
At the Department of Environmental Affairs
Jason Smith uses trees to make coastal repairs.
The trees trap the soil, and make the waves slow,
"And aquatic vegetation can begin to grow."

At Oakland's fine zoo, the word "trunk" is a term
That applies to both Christmas trees and pachyderms.
The beasts lumber past, pining for treats
Rooting around for a new thing to eat.
Gina Kinzley, their keeper, says they prefer
The sweet evergreens. "The noble firs."
The trees are both playthings and part of their diet
And they're not alone, other animals try it.
Giraffe and zebra also give it a try
"Lions, tigers, the bears!" Oh my!
"The elephants really enjoy the bark."
It looks just like Christmas aboard Noah's Ark.

The fishermen up north in Portland were stumped
The fish population has recently slumped.
And part of the reason, says Mr. Mike Gentry
Is that some of the streams are deplorably empty.
Of woody debris for the coho and trout
There's no habitat! So it's time to branch out.
"They need cover from predators." (to hide out below)
"They need a calm place to rest and grow.
They also need a food source." So Gentry and his team
in their swift local streams.

In the East, Mitchell Mann and Dominic Esposito
Are two Jersey boys who live by one credo:
"To save the environment, pretty much, being green."
So they drummed up a posse of like-minded teens.
They'll grab all the trees — every one within reach
And they'll bring them all down to nearby Bradley Beach.
"Once the trees are on the beach they're laid down against a fence."
Where they form the foundation of the town's defense.
"And as the wind blows the trees capture the sand."
And soon dunes will form — at least that's the plan.
And in future years, "When a storm comes through
It protects all the houses," and habitat too.

Though their life has been sapped and their trunks have been hewn
These trees might form forests in marshes and dunes.
And dead groves will grow in the rivers and zoos.
I'm Adam Cole, NPR News.


Previously this poem appeared on NPR's website

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day Nap

By Coleman Barks

Fiesta Bowl on low.
My son lying here on the couch
on the "Dad" pillow he made for me
in the Seventh Grade. Now a sophomore
at Georgia Southern, driving back later today,
he sleeps with his white top hat over his face.

I'm a dancin' fool.

Twenty years ago, half the form
he sleeps within came out of nowhere
with a million micro-lemmings who all died but one
piercer of membrane, specially picked to start a brainmaking,
egg-drop soup, that stirred two sun and moon centers
for a new-painted sky in the tiniest
ballroom imaginable.

Now he's rousing, six feet long,
turning on his side. Now he's gone.

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