Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 2011 poems

By Franz Wright

To sit at a table with Jesus
and eat a piece of fish
after his death, I don't think I could
bear it. But today I am following
in the blue stained-glass footsteps of a doctor who works with doomed children,
of the old poet, the rays in my eyes
walking to Heaven
which is not far--
a little face turns to the window
and it is there.

The Testing-Tree
By Stanley Kunick

On my way home from school

up tribal Providence Hill
past the Academy ballpark
where I could never hope to play

I scuffed in the drainage ditch
among the sodden seethe of leaves
hunting for perfect stones

rolled out of glacial time
into my pitcher's hand;
then sprinted lickety-

split on my magic Keds
from a crouching start,
scarcely touching the ground

with my flying skin as I poured it on
for the prize of the mastery

over that stretch of road,
with no one no where to deny
when I flung myself down

that on the given course
I was the world's fastest human.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 2011 poems

You and I 
by Jonathan Potter

You are a warm front
that moved in from the north,
a blind spot bearing beautiful gifts,
a garden in the air, a golden filament
inscribed with the name of God's hunting dog,
a magic heirloom mistaken for a feather duster,
a fountain in a cow pasture, an anachronistic anagram
annoyed by anonymity, a dollar in the pocket
of a winter coat in summer.

And I am the discoverer of you.

The Blue
By Billy Collins

You can have Egypt and Nantucket .
The only place I want to visit is The Blue,
not the Wild Blue Yonder that seduces pilots,
but that zone where the unexpected dwells,
waiting to come out of it in the shape of bolts.

I want to walk its azure perimeter
where the unanticipated is coiled, on the mark,
ready to spring into the predictable homes of earth.

I want to stroll through the pale indigo light
examining all the accidents about to rocket into time,
all the forgotten names about to fly from tongues.

I will scrutinize all the surprises of the future
and watch the brainstorms gathering darkly,
ready to hit the heads of inventors
laboring in their crackpot shacks.

A jaded traveler with an invisible passport,
I am at home with this heaven of the unforeseen,
waiting for the next whoosh of sudden departure
when, with no advance warning, to tiny augery,
the unpredictable plummets into our lives
from somewhere that looks like sky.

Friday, February 4, 2011

February 2011 poems

The Book of Ruth and Naomi
By Marge Piercy

When you pick up the Tanakh and read
the Book of Ruth, it is a shock
how little it resembles memory.
It's concerned with inheritance,
lands, men's names, how women
must wiggle and wobble to live.

Yet women have kept it dear
for the beloved elder who
cherished Ruth, more friend than
daughter. Daughters leave. Ruth
brought even the baby she made
with Boaz home as a gift.

Where you go, I will go too,
your people shall be my people,
I will be a Jew for you,
for what is yours I will love
as I love you, oh Naomi
my mother, my sister, my heart.

Show me a woman who does not dream
a double, heart's twin, a sister
of the mind in whose ear she can whisper,
whose hair she can braid as her life
twists its pleasure and pain and shame.
Show me a woman who does not hide
in the locket of bone that deep
eye beam of fiercely gentle love
she had once from mother, daughter,
sister; once like a warm moon
that radiance aligned the tides
of her blood into potent order.

At the season of first fruits, we recall
two travellers, co-conspirators, scavengers
making do with leftovers and mill ends,
whose friendship was stronger than fear,
stronger than hunger, who walked together,
the road of shards, hands joined.

The Unknown God
by Alice Meynell
ONE of the crowd went up,
And knelt before the Paten and the Cup,
Received the Lord, returned in peace, and prayed
Close to my side; then in my heart I said:

‘O Christ, in this man’s life—
This stranger who is Thine—in all his strife,
All his felicity, his good and ill,
In the assaulted stronghold of his will,

‘I do confess Thee here,
Alive within this life; I know Thee near
Within this lonely conscience, closed away
Within this brother’s solitary day.

‘Christ in his unknown heart,
His intellect unknown—this love, this art,
This battle and this peace, this destiny
That I shall never know, look upon me!

From that secret place
And from that separate dwelling, give me grace.

The Love of Morning
By Denise Levertov

It is hard sometimes to drag ourselves
back to the love of morning
after we've lain in the dark crying out
O God, save us from the horror . . . .

God has saved the world one more day
even with its leaden burden of human evil;
we wake to birdsong.
And if sunlight's gossamer lifts in its net
the weight of all that is solid,
our hearts, too, are lifted,
swung like laughing infants;

but on gray mornings,
all incident - our own hunger,
the dear tasks of continuance,
the footsteps before us in the earth's
beloved dust, leading the way - all,
is hard to love again
for we resent a summons
that disregards our sloth, and this
calls us, calls us.

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 2011 poems

On the Back Porch
by Dorianne Laux

The cat calls for her dinner.
On the porch I bend and pour
brown soy stars into her bowl,
stroke her dark fur.
It's not quite night.
Pinpricks of light in the eastern sky.
Above my neighbor's roof, a transparent
moon, a pink rag of cloud.
Inside my house are those who love me.
My daughter dusts biscuit dough.
And there's a man who will lift my hair
in his hands, brush it
until it throws sparks.
Everything is just as I've left it.
Dinner simmers on the stove.
Glass bowls wait to be filled
with gold broth. Sprigs of parsley
on the cutting board.
I want to smell this rich soup, the air
around me going dark, as stars press
their simple shapes into the sky.
I want to stay on the back porch
while the world tilts
toward sleep, until what I love
misses me, and calls me in.

A Short Testament
by Anne Porter

Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,

And then there are all the wounded
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near
That I've destroyed in blind complicity,
And if I cannot find them
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death's bare branches.