Wednesday, October 29, 2014

After Making Love We Hear Footsteps

By Galway Kinnell
For I can snore like a bullhorn
or play loud music
or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman
and Fergus will only sink deeper
into his dreamless sleep, which goes by all in one flash,   
but let there be that heavy breathing
or a stifled come-cry anywhere in the house
and he will wrench himself awake
and make for it on the run—as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our bodies,   
familiar touch of the long-married,
and he appears—in his baseball pajamas, it happens,
the neck opening so small he has to screw them on—
and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.

In the half darkness we look at each other
and smile
and touch arms across this little, startlingly muscled body—
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making,
sleeper only the mortal sounds can sing awake,
this blessing love gives again into our arms.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Family Phone Circle

By Adam Stone

My mother calls my father
to let him know she will be visiting his mother

My father hangs up
as soon as she identifies herself

My mother calls me to tell me
my father hung up on her

My father calls me to tell me
he hung up on my mother

My grandmother calls me
complaining because no one visits her anymore.

I turn off my phone.

This poem was previously published in Drunk in a Midnight Choir.

Monday, October 27, 2014


By Sherman Alexie

Buffalo Bill opens a pawn shop on the reservation
right across the border from the liquor store
and he stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

and the Indians come running in with jewelry
television sets, a VCR, a full-length beaded buckskin outfit
it took Inez Muse 12 years to finish. Buffalo Bill

takes everything the Indians have to offer, keeps it
all catalogued and filed in a storage room. The Indians
pawn their hands, saving the thumbs for last, they pawn

their skeletons, falling endlessly from the skin
and when the last Indian has pawned everything
but his heart, Buffalo Bill takes that for twenty bucks

closes up the pawn shop, paints a new sign over the old
charges the Indians five bucks a head to enter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nothing’s A Gift

By Wisława Szymborska

Nothing’s a gift, it’s all on loan.
I’m drowning in debts up to my ears.
I’ll have to pay for myself
with my self,
give up my life for my life.
Here’s how it’s arranged:
The heart can be repossessed,
the liver, too,
and each single finger and toe.
Too late to tear up the terms,
my debts will be repaid,
and I’ll be fleeced,
or, more precisely, flayed.
I move about the planet
in a crush of other debtors.
some are saddled with the burden
of paying off their wings.
Others must, willy-nilly,
account for every leaf.
Every tissue in us lies
on the debit side.
Not a tentacle or tendril
is for keeps.
The inventory, infinitely detailed,
implies we’ll be left
not just empty-handed
but handless too.
I can’t remember
where, when, and why
I let someone open
this account in my name.
We call the protest against this
the soul.
And it’s the only item
not included on the list.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Common Cold

By Laurie Kasischke

To me she arrives this morning
dressed in some
man’s homely, soft, cast-off
lover’s shawl, and some
woman’s memory of a third-
grade teacher
who loved her students a little too much.
(Those warm hugs that went
on and on and on.)
She puts her hand to my head and says,
“Laura, you should go back to bed.”
But I have lunches to pack, socks
on the floor, while
the dust settles on
the I’ve got to clean this pigsty up.
(Rain at a bus stop.
Laundry in a closet.)
And tonight, I’m
the Athletic Booster mother
whether I feel like it or not, weakly
taking your dollar
from inside my concession stand:
I offer you your caramel corn. ( Birdsong
in a terrarium. Some wavering distant
planet reflected in a puddle.)
And, as your dollar
passes between us, perhaps
you will recall
how, years ago, we
flirted over some impossible
Cub Scout project.
and saws, and seven
small boys tossing
humid marshmallows
at one another. And now
those sons, taller
and faster than we are, see
how they are poised on a line, ready
to run at the firing of a gun?
But here we are again, you and I, the
two of us tangled up
and biological: I’ve
forgotten your name, and
you never knew mine, but
in the morning
you’ll find
my damp kisses all over your pillows,
my clammy flowers
blooming in you cellar,
my spring grass
dewed with mucus-
and you’ll remember me
and how, tonight, wearing my
Go Dawgs T-shirt, I
stood at the center
of this sweet clinging heat
of a concession stand
with my flushed cheeks, and
how, before we touched, I
coughed into my hand.
here we are together
in bed all day again.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Don't Worry Son, You're in the Care of Mental Health Professionals

By Martin Espada 

I am the man
who spends all day
with a flashlight 
under the bed
for the shoes
he's already 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ode to Kath

By Bob Lowe

I am alone, now I know it’s true
There was a time when we were two
Those were the days when we would chat
Doing little jobs of this and that
We’d go to the shops and select our meals
But now I’m one I know how it feels
To try and cook or have meals on wheels
The rooms are empty there’s not a sound
Sometimes I’m lost and wander round
To look for jobs that I can do
To bring back the days when we were two
When darkness falls and curtains drawn
That’s when I feel most forlorn
But I must be honest and tell the truth
I’m not quite alone and here’s the proof
Because beside me in her chair
She quietly waits our time to share
Kath said to me some time ago
Darling when the time comes for us to go
Let’s mix our ashes and be together
So we can snuggle up for ever and ever.

Friday, October 10, 2014


By Miller Williams

Have compassion for everyone you meet
even if they don't want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down where the spirit meets the bone.

Monday, October 6, 2014


By Rachel Barenblat

Today I'll finish our sukkah
stacking old wildflowers
to hint at roof, twining tinsel
around the slats

all year we imagine
our houses are our houses
stable and comfortable
waterproof and familiar

but these seven days
remind us that permanence
is overrated, that our true home
is under the stars

change is always underway
nine short weeks remain
until you'll leave the home
you probably think is forever

and enter our world
airy and unpredictable
where we won't know what you need
even sometimes when you tell us

your first big leap of faith, kid:
into nothing you've ever known
into the fragile sukkah
we've decorated just for you,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur

By Linda Pastan

A tree beside the synagogue atones
of all its leaves. Within the ram’s horn blows
and sins come tumbling down to rest among
old cigarettes and handkerchiefs. My sins
are dried and brittle now as any leaves
and barely keep me warm. I have atoned
for them before, burned clean by October,
lulled by the song of a fasting belly.
But sins come creeping back like wayward girls,
and leaves return to willing trees for spring.

<em>Image via</em>
Image via
A tree beside the synagogue atones
of all its leaves. Within the ram’s horn blows
and sins come tumbling down to rest among
old cigarettes and handkerchiefs. My sins
are dried and brittle now as any leaves
and barely keep me warm. I have atoned
for them before, burned clean by October,
lulled by the song of a fasting belly.
But sins come creeping back like wayward girls,
and leaves return to willing trees for spring.
- See more at:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

By Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;   
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.