April 9th, 2021 – National Poetry Month

Poem 133: The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean—

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at least, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild an precious life?

April 7th, 2021 – National Poetry Month

Calendar Days

by Jake Adam York

One day you wake and they’re there, flecks of mud

weed-eaters throw against the window, moths

in their dark migrations, salmon that taste like dust.

All month long, they fall from the laundry, dead

receipts for burritos, coffees, books. They’ve lotused

toilet water, drinks left out from the night before.

They rifle into floodlights, their exit wounds

so much skin, so much powdered glue. April’s cruelty

is, isn’t it, just a rumor floated by May and June

while everyone fans the rice pages of their Bibles

in sermons’ hot wind. It’s the dry air makes them rise.

In these parts now they say sirocco, entirely

out of place. They say monsoon, which is a way

of not saying fire, virga, haboob. I’d like to feel

the milt wind off Erie or Ontario, fresh strawberries

and airlift oysters to chew, but I’ve got to rise again

to pull the locust beans from the choking gutters,

which I explain as a prayer  for rain. Tomorrow’s

my birthday day in a different month, a twelfth

of a reminder  of something I can’t remember,

though they say I was there, Polaroid, Panavision

images dreamed or dreamed for me, half-holy

half-haunted, like the streets of Jackson slowly going

Kodachrome, gelatin silver, dim,

my father’s menthol still reporting in the tray.

You have to look away so the smoke’s cursive’s

written clear, my grandmother’s card, her best

farmer’s Palmer method, Our pride & joy,

flutter of money, even after all these years,

take the day off. But there are bills to pay,

even without stamps, days in advance

so they’ll post on time, someone born or someone

dying so near midnight, one day’s clocked,

the next not yet in. It takes a while to sort it out.

You may already be a winner. I check, of course,

the numbers each day, though I’ve often forgotten

to buy a ticket, as my father reads the obits to see

if he’s still alive. It would be a great excuse,

he says, call in dead for work. In the joke, God says

give me a chance. You should know, he says,

the trade-in on your car in case you want to ditch

it in a quarry, set it on fire, though the heat’s never

hot enough to melt it back to stone. The fireflies

rise from the evening grass, whispering in a language

I mistake for fire, into the boughs, a few

floating higher than hunger, toward the stars.

There, the bears move slow as days,

so slow sometimes I forget what day it is.

And sometimes, thank God, they go on forever.

April 5th, 2021 – National Poetry Month

Threshold

by Maggie Smith

You want a door you can be
            on both sides of at once.

                       You want to be
           on both sides of here

and there, now and then,
            together and—(what

                       did we call the life
            we would wish back?

The old life? The before?)
            alone. But any open

                       space may be
            a threshold, an arch

of entering and leaving.
            Crossing a field, wading

                       through nothing
            but timothy grass,

imagine yourself passing from
            and into. Passing through

                       doorway after
            doorway after doorway.

What I’ve Been Reading – 4/5/2021

Tyler Childers on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage

Have a good week!

April 4th, 2021 – National Poetry Month

Dear Dr. Frankenstein

by Jericho Brown

I, too, know the science of building men
Out of fragments in little light
Where I’ll be damned if lightning don’t

Strike as I forget one 
May have a thief’s thumb,

Another, a murderer’s arm,
And watch the men I’ve made leave
Like an idea I meant to write down, 

Like a vehicle stuck
In reverse, like the monster

God came to know the moment 
Adam named animals and claimed 
Eve, turning from heaven to her

As if she was his
To run. No word he said could be tamed.

No science. No design. Nothing taken 
Gently into his hand or your hand or mine, 
Nothing we erect is our own.

April 3rd, 2021 – National Poetry Month

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

by William Wadsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

April 2nd, 2021 – National Poetry Month

won’t you celebrate with me

by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

April 1st, 2021 – National Poetry Month

Perhaps the World Ends Here

by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.