Dailies 7/20/18


 Dong Li – Mother Moss

you carried her as she carried him over the threshold. your uneven bangs trembled when your pants brushed past the threshold. a sound jumped in still air. not a drop of water from the well leaking again. the blackened kettle in the furnace became indistinguishable from pots pans scissors knives. a black lump

Read rest of poem plus one more by Dong Li 


 LM Rivera – You Look Like a Ghost 

The Romantic poets would be absorbed
by their progeny and what determined
their temperate offering of rabbit—
plastic hares in heaps. The relational

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Jill McDonough – Our Father

A year or two, mornings before school,
our father came into our rooms with pliers. 
My sisters and I crammed into Jordache
casings, Gloria Vanderbilts. We’d jump
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American Life in Poetry: Column 695



In one of my recent columns I wrote about the importance to the overall effect of a poem of having a strong ending, and here’s a fine example of that. It’s by Terri Kirby Erickson, a North Carolinian, from her book, Becoming the Blue Heron, published by Press 53. Others of Erickson’s poems are available in the column’s archives at www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

My Cousin, Milton

My cousin, Milton, worked for a cable company.
The boy I knew when we were children

had fists that were often clenched, his face set like
an old man whose life had been so hard,

it hardened him. But the man’s hands opened to let
more of the world in. He sent the funniest

cards to family and friends at Christmas, laid down
cable so others could connect. Yet, he lived

alone, kept to himself much of the time, so when
his sister found his body, he’d been gone

a good while. He died young at fifty-seven, without
fuss or bother. No sitting by the bedside

or feeding him soup. He just laid himself down like
a trunk line and let the signal pass through.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2017 by Terri Kirby Erickson from Becoming the Blue Heron, (Press 53, 2017). Poem reprinted by permission of Terri Kirby Erickson and the publisher.   Introduction copyright © 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Students paint a poem by Angelou over one by Kipling. Awful behavior ensues.

Staff of the University of Manchester put up a mural of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” w/out consulting students.

Some students were upset by this, due to Kipling’s racist attitudes and support of colonialism.

They painted Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise” over it.

Anger and death threats and rape threats  flooded in from around the world.

British Students Paint Over Kipling Mural, Protesting ‘Racist Attitudes’– Alex Marshall – New York Times – July 19, 2018

Ancient Chinese poets in the middle of a flood

“A flood peak, the largest in six years, hit Yibin, Sichuan Province, on July 17, causing two statues of famous poets of Song Dynasty (960-1279), Su Shi and Huang Tingjian, to become surrounded by water.

“Photos of the poets braving the storm to ‘recite poems’ unexpectedly went viral.”

Photos of flooded poets’ statues go viral–  Chen Xiaoli – Shine – 7/19/18

Su Shi – Visiting the Temple of the God of Mercy on a Rainy Day

The silkworms grow old,
The wheat half yellow,
The rain falls unrestrained about the mountain.

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Huang Tingjian – The white crane left….

The white crane left in search of Wang Zijin;
The true dragon yearned for Shen Zhuliang.
Events in the remote past are gone like birds flying away;
Now I pour out my sorrow, facing the setting sun.

Read rest of poem 

Dailies 7/19/18


 Cara Dees – To the Next Supreme Justice,

 There were also a few hundred looking into abortion through bleaching one’s uterus…
The New York Times


************Madam or most likelier***Sir, surely by now
**************you have noticed the salt-****dark smell of sulfur
flour, flower, sweat****that lifts from women’s

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Leah Umansky  – Cersei 

She walks for all of us. A lead-and-follow dance. Arrow
backed, and hell-fired. A drawn gun, a broken suffering
and a horned-spur.

Read rest of poem 


Erika Meitner – A Brief Ontological Investigation

What can I say to cheer you up? This afternoon the sky is like five portholes between the clouds. The unidentifiable weeds are tall and still unidentifiable and I miss the cows in the field, where have they gone? Sometimes one would wander then stand in the middle of the road and I’d have to stop my car and wait for it to decide to finish crossing. I am drinking seltzer

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“Ongoing” @ The NY Times

“Fragmentary details from a life — the poet’s? ours? — emerge in bits and spurts, until the last two lines coalesce into the first full sentence. This poem is both inventory and warning: You can take stock, but there is always more to come.” – Rita Dove

Never mind the distances traveled, the companion
she made of herself. The threadbare twenties not
to be underestimated. A wild depression that ripped
from January into April. And still she sprouts an appetite.

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Dailies 7/18/18


 Vincent Zompa – The Reservation

A sinkhole chewed a canal through
the Florida bush.

In a can the mood-war was setting,
digging in irony packs.

Read rest of poem 


Ted Kooser  – Waxer 

I once watched a man wax a hallway
with an overweight rotary buffer
that he waltzed from one side to the other
by tipping it ever so slightly, letting

Read rest of poem 


William Archila – Spirits

At daylight, he surrendered to the gutters’ 
thick cirrhosis, his trajectory 

half awake, half anvil from the glass to the killing floor
I was raised in, each thin thread tethered 
Read rest of poem 

10 of our best elegies

From Catullus to Dylan Thomas: the top 10 elegies: They date back to ancient times and remain a strong current in modern poetry. Here are some of the best – Ruth Padel – Guardian – 7/18/18

“Elegy, an individual response to the death of a person or a group, began in Greece and Rome as a particular metrical form. But elegies are among the greatest poems in every language, whatever their form. Traditionally, they mirror three elements of mourning: grief; memories of the dead; and some kind of consolation – because people in grief often find relief in poems expressing a loss they thought was unique to them.”

W.H. Auden – In Memory of W. B. Yeats


He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Read rest of poem 

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