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Tribrach: for those who love (or would like to love) poetry

“Because in times like these/ to have you listen at all, it's necessary/ to talk about trees." -Adrienne Rich, "What Kind of Times Are These"

Dailies, 2/25/17: love, death, sleep, & a problem

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The Problem – Stephen Dunn

 

First, out of the scraps of dreams,
and later out of the clashing loyalties
of belief and skepticism,
he believed he could live
a thoughtful, occasionally principled life.

Rest of poem 

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After Life – Ruth Valentine

First the coffin burns,
then everything you recognised as him,
his hair, the skin of his hands, is vaporised,

Read rest of poem 

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116 – William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,

Read rest of poem 

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To Sleep – John Keats

O soft embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower’d from the light,
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;

Read rest of poem 

late February & all the snow is melting

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Late February

Ted Kooser

The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
(poetry diary  189 -2/26/17) Took ski lessons yesterday in VT but most of the trails were slush and mud due to the unseasonably warm February weather…

American Life in Poetry: Column 622

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BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

There are those like me who can’t even tell when an avocado is ripe, and those who know exactly how to perfectly prepare a ripe one. Here’s a poem of avocado expertise by Diane Lockward from The Uneaten Carrots of Atonement, published by Wind Publications. The poet lives in New Jersey.

For the Love of Avocados

I sent him from home hardly more than a child.
Years later, he came back loving avocados.
In the distant kitchen where he’d flipped burgers
and tossed salads, he’d mastered how to prepare

the pear-shaped fruit. He took a knife and plied
his way into the thick skin with a bravado
and gentleness I’d never seen in him. He nudged
the halves apart, grabbed a teaspoon and carefully

eased out the heart, holding it as if it were fragile.
He took one half, then the other of the armadillo-
hided fruit and slid his spoon where flesh edged
against skin, working it under and around, sparing

the edible pulp. An artist working at an easel,
he filled the center holes with chopped tomatoes.
The broken pieces, made whole again, merged
into two reconstructed hearts, a delicate and rare

surgery. My boy who’d gone away angry and wild
had somehow learned how to unclose
what had once been shut tight, how to urge
out the stony heart and handle it with care.

Beneath the rind he’d grown as tender and mild
as that avocado, its rubies nestled in peridot,
our forks slipping into the buttery texture
of unfamiliar joy, two halves of what we shared.


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. Introduction copyright © 2017 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.

 

Dailies 2/25/17: funny books, beavers, a horse girl, & tender buttons

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Funny Books – Robert Morgan

Because my parents had denied
me comic books as sordid and
salacious, I would sneak a look
at those of friends, the bold and bright

Read rest of poem

 

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 –
The Beavers – Chard Deniord 
 –

“They flood the pasture,” my neighbor explained
when we met this morning at the property line
that divides his field from mine, which is also

Read rest of poem 

 

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Horse Girl – Laura Romeyn

From your stencil comes our collective.

Rapid production at split-time, freehand

Read rest of poem 

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Tender Buttons [Mildred’s Umbrella] – Gertrude Stein

A cause and no curve, a cause and loud enough, a cause and extra a

loud clash and an extra wagon, a sign of extra, a sac a small sac

Read rest of poem

 

“Not Franklin not Jefferson who speaks for America today / but strange red-necked men of industry / and the goofs of show business”

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(poetry diary  188 -2/25/17)

The American Way
Gregory Corso
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I am a great American
I am almost nationalistic about it!
I love America like a madness!
But I am afraid to return to America
I’m even afraid to go into the American Express—

Weeklies Feb/March: the burying beetle, the problem with Sappho, & what happens when they come for us on the 7 train

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THE BURYING BEETLE – Ada Limón

 

I like to imagine even the plants

want attention, so I weed for four

hours straight, assuring the tomatoes

feel July’s hot breath on the neck,

Read rest of poem 

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WHEN THEY COME FOR US ON THE 7 TRAIN – Ananda Lima

Past the underground tracks, the railroad rises
our eyes adjust to the sun over Jackson Heights
at the platform, the doors slide open and the winter
comes in with the men in their dark uniforms
silence except for the “please
stand clear of the closing doors,” the weight
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THE PROBLEM WITH SAPPHO – Charles Rafferty

Only one complete poem remains. The rest of it is berries left in the bramble after a visit from midday starlings. For years I couldn’t understand how this redaction moved anyone to tears. She was a dampness in the matchbook. But the world is patient.

Dailies 2/24/17: sweaters, war souvenirs, cypresses, & a contract between Forward and Reply

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Sweater – Jane Hirschfield

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Souvenir – Jane Satterfield 

Friendly fire, parasites &
tropical disease, depleted
uranium lodged
under the skin, exposure
to pesticide, mustard gas,

Read rest of poem 

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Contract between Forward and Reply – Mia You

would you be a lender
if it coincided with war

could you be sure your tenderness
came from more than envy

Read rest of poem 

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Among the Cypresses (23 Remedies) – Kevin Craft 

 

Cut them down
or plant them in long rows tiger-
striping a country lane, still they harbor
hangnail shades, sighs of the dead: so were said

Read rest of poem 

“Today…people of Chinese origin tend be considered ‘model minorities,’ but they passed through a crucible into which Muslims are now being thrust”

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From THE LOST POETRY OF THE ANGEL ISLAND DETENTION CENTER – Beenish Ahmed – The New Yorker – 2/22/17:

“What would-be immigrants couldn’t tell their interrogators they inscribed on the walls in the form of classical Chinese poetry—complete with parallel couplets, alternating rhymes, and tonal variations. In 1970, when the buildings of Angel Island were due to be torn down, a park ranger noticed the inscriptions. That discovery sparked the interest of researchers, who eventually tracked down two former detainees who had copied poems from the walls while they were housed on Angel Island, in the thirties. Their notebooks, additional archival materials, and a 2003 study of the walls—which were preserved—turned up more than two hundred poems. (There could be hundreds more buried beneath the putty and paint that the immigration station staff used to cover the ‘graffiti.’)”

….In “Islanders,” which was published last year, Teow Lim Goh imagines English-language versions of the poems that Chinese women detainees might have composed.

The Waves

Teow Lim Goh

His father died
suddenly, leaving a sick wife
and four young girls.
He decided to go to America, stake
a claim on Golden Mountain,
and come back for me.

Read rest of poem and three others from Islanders 

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More from The New Yorker:

“Teow Lim Goh finished writing ‘Islanders’ before the 2016 Presidential campaign, but she wrote it, she said, in response to hostile rhetoric around immigration that was already in the air. ‘A lot of anti-immigration sentiment has not changed for the last one hundred and fifty years or so,’ Goh said; it’s just that ‘the target groups are different.’ Today, she noted, people of Chinese origin tend be considered ‘model minorities,’ but they passed through a crucible into which Muslims are now being thrust. Goh wrote ‘Islanders’ in part to provoke broader questions about social acceptance in America, she said. ‘Who do we include? Who do we exclude? And why?’”

“all-American quiet”

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(poetry diary  187 -2/24/17) For the sake of sanity, I’m trying to alternate political poems w/regular-life poems.  Went looking for one about skiing, which I’m hoping to do this weekend if I can find any snow,  and found this.  Good poem. Definitely doesn’t avoid politics, though. 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Maxime Kumin

I love to be lured under the outstretched wings

of hemlocks heavily snowed upon, the promise

of haven they hold seductively out of the wind

Read rest of poem 

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