Thursday, January 29, 2015

You Came, Too

I came to the crowd seeking friends
I came to the crowd seeking love

I found you


You dried my tears
You shared my happiness
I came to the crowd to weep
I came to the crowd to laugh

I went from the crowd seeking you
I went from the crowd seeking me
I went from the crowd forever
You came, too

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blizzard

By William Carlos Williams

Snow:
years of anger following
hours that float idly down —
the blizzard
drifts its weight
deeper and deeper for three days
or sixty years, eh? Then
the sun! a clutter of
yellow and blue flakes —
Hairy looking trees stand out
in long alleys
over a wild solitude.
The man turns and there —
his solitary track stretched out
upon the world.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow

By Frederick Seidel
 
Snow is what it does.
It falls and it stays and it goes.
It melts and it is here somewhere.
We all will get there.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Love After Love

By Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Truant

By Margaret Hasse

Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names—
my boyfriend and me—
called to his office for skipping school.


The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down rolling asphalt roads
through the Missouri River bottoms
beyond town, our heads emptied
of review tests and future plans.


We stopped on a dirt lane to hear
a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.


Now forty years after that geography lesson
in spring, I remember the principal’s words.
How right he was in saying:
This will be part of
your permanent record. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Trash

By Wendy Barker

“Trash,” he said, as we walked the line
between our almost-country properties.
Again I pointed, trees and shrubs
whose names I didn’t know, but “trash,”
he said again. Anything not oak.
That neighbor knew three kinds of trees:
live, pin, and Spanish oak. The rest should go.
And now I’ve lived here twenty years
I know how chainsaws take out everything
that isn’t oak, not just the junipers
that choke the other plants nearby, but also
Texas buckeyes, magenta blooming in
the spring, redbuds, huisachillo, sweet acacia.
Mexican persimmon’s bark blends velvet
grays and silky browns, its rounded leaves
bright yellow-green before the purple fruit
draws birds that nest on into June—
buntings and the wrens above the grasses,
gramas and the bluestems. November,
the seed heads in waves of burgundy, of red.
Our city council said they’d leave the trees
when clearing for the city hall. But like
that neighbor years ago, they meant
the oaks. Now they’ve called a meeting.
Oak wilt has hit the neighborhood, and
oaks are what we’re left with. Too much
construction, trimming of the trees, their
wounds not treated. The virus travels
through the maze of connecting roots.
And once a tree’s infected, it’s trash.

.

Friday, January 9, 2015

One River, One Boat

By Marjory Wentworth

I know there’s something better down the road.
– Elizabeth Alexander

Because our history is a knot
we try to unravel, while others
try to tighten it, we tire easily
and fray the cords that bind us.

The cord is a slow moving river,
spiraling across the land
in a succession of S’s,
splintering near the sea.

Picture us all, crowded onto a boat
at the last bend in the river:
watch children stepping off the school bus,
parents late for work, grandparents

fishing for favorite memories,
teachers tapping their desks
with red pens, firemen suiting up
to save us, nurses making rounds,

baristas grinding coffee beans,
dockworkers unloading apartment size
containers of computers and toys
from factories across the sea.

Every morning a different veteran
stands at the base of the bridge
holding a cardboard sign
with misspelled words and an empty cup.

In fields at daybreak, rows of migrant
farm workers standing on ladders, break open
iced peach blossoms; their breath rising
and resting above the frozen fields like clouds.

A jonboat drifts down the river.
Inside, a small boy lies on his back;
hand laced behind his head, he watches
stars fade from the sky and dreams.

Consider the prophet John, calling us
from the edge of the wilderness to name
the harm that has been done, to make it
plain, and enter the river and rise.

It is not about asking for forgiveness.
It is not about bowing our heads in shame;
because it all begins and ends here:
while workers unearth trenches

at Gadsden’s Wharf, where 100,000
Africans were imprisoned within brick walls
awaiting auction, death, or worse.
Where the dead were thrown into the water,

and the river clogged with corpses
has kept centuries of silence.
It is time to gather at the water’s edge,
and toss wreaths into this watery grave.

And it is time to praise the judge
who cleared George Stinney’s name,
seventy years after the fact,
we honor him; we pray.

Here, where the Confederate flag still flies
beside the Statehouse, haunted by our past,
conflicted about the future; at the heart
of it, we are at war with ourselves

huddled together on this boat
handed down to us – stuck
at the last bend of a wide river
splintering near the sea.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Regarding that First Sex in Brank's Field

By John Grey

The field was all weeds and ditches
where dark water sat, so mosquitoes could breed,
shaded by oaks that kept their own counsel
and the one standing wall of an abandoned farmhouse.

Her skin, sunburnt, flaked like paint,
as my ringers fumbled with bra strap
and pigeons chortled from a rickety fence,
dandelions sprouted between toes.

I do believe that places choose us;
like something overgrown and unclean
for overgrown and unclean moments in our lives.
We were unwitting designers. This was our design.

It was over fast like it almost never happened,
later shaken off like a childhood disease,
lying dormant, to reawaken later in life,
still a sickness but masquerading as a cure..

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Oyez Review, Rockhurst Review and Spindrift with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.   

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It would be neat if with the New Year

By Jimmy Santiago Baca
for Miguel

It would be neat if with the New Year
I could leave my loneliness behind with the old year.
My leathery loneliness an old pair of work boots
my dog vigorously head-shakes back and forth in its jaws,
chews on for hours every day in my front yard—
rain, sun, snow, or wind
in bare feet, pondering my poem,
I’d look out my window and see that dirty pair of boots in the yard.

But my happiness depends so much on wearing those boots.

At the end of my day
while I’m in a chair listening to a Mexican corrido
I stare at my boots appreciating:
all the wrong roads we’ve taken, all the drug and whiskey houses
we’ve visited, and as the Mexican singer wails his pain,
I smile at my boots, understanding every note in his voice,
and strangers, when they see my boots rocking back and forth on my
feet
keeping beat to the song, see how
my boots are scuffed, tooth-marked, worn-soled.

I keep wearing them because they fit so good
and I need them, especially when I love so hard,
where I go up those boulder strewn trails,
where flowers crack rocks in their defiant love for the light.

Friday, January 2, 2015

On a New Year's Eve

By June Jordan

Infinity doesn't interest me

not altogether
anymore

I crawl and kneel and grub about
I beg and listen for

what can go away
(as easily as love)

or perish
like the children
running
hard on oneway streets/infinity
doesn't interest me

not anymore

not even
repetition your/my/eye-
lid or the colorings of sunrise
or all the sky excitement
added up

is not enough

to satisfy this lusting admiration that I feel
for
your brown arm before it
moves

MOVES
CHANGES UP

the temporary sacred
tales ago
first bikeride round the house
when you first saw a squat
opossum
carry babies on her back

opossum up
in the persimmon tree
you reeling toward
that natural
first
absurdity
with so much wonder still
it shakes your voice

the temporary is the sacred
takes me out

and even the stars and even the snow and even
the rain
do not amount to much unless these things submit to some disturbance
some derangement such
as when I yield myself/belonging
to your unmistaken
body

and let the powerful lock up the canyon/mountain
peaks the
hidden rivers/waterfalls the
deepdown minerals/the coalfields/goldfields
diamond mines close by the whoring ore
hot
at the center of the earth

spinning fast as numbers
I cannot imagine

let the world blot
obliterate remove so-
called
magnificence
so-called
almighty/fathomless and everlasting
treasures/
wealth
(whatever that may be)

it is this time
that matters

it is this history
I care about

the one we make together
awkward
inconsistent
as a lame cat on the loose
or quick as kids freed by the bell
or else as strictly
once
as only life must mean
a once upon a time

I have rejected propaganda teaching me
about the beautiful
the truly rare

(supposedly
the soft push of the ocean at the hushpoint of the shore
supposedly
the soft push of the ocean at the hushpoint of the shore
is beautiful
for instance)
but
the truly rare can stay out there

I have rejected that
abstraction that enormity
unless I see a dog walk on the beach/
a bird seize sandflies
or yourself
approach me
laughing out a sound to spoil
the pretty picture
make an uncontrolled
heartbeating memory
instead

I read the papers preaching on
that oil and oxygen
that redwoods and the evergreens
that trees the waters and the atmosphere
compile a final listing of the world in
short supply

but all alive and all the lives
persist perpetual
in jeopardy
persist
as scarce as every one of us
as difficult to find
or keep
as irreplaceable
as frail
as every one of us

and
as I watch your arm/your
brown arm
just before it moves

I know

all things are dear
that disappear

all things are dear
that disappear

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