Dailies 8/18/17: grilling, death, an epithalamium, cartography, evil, the end of August

Daily Quote: 

“Evil is unspectacular and always human,

And shares our bed and eats at our own table,

And we are introduced to Goodness every day.”

-W. H. Auden, from “Herman Melville” 





Tomás Q. Morín – The Shore Party

The grill sits with its mouth open
like a child begging for more.
I’ve lost count of the franks we’ve eaten

Read rest of poem 



 Jeffrey Skinner  – American Cartography

Someone’s hidden all the fun
behind years bunched up
like ill folded maps
stuffed in the glove box.

Read rest of poem 


David Budbill – Toward the End of August

Toward the end of August I begin to dream about fall, how
this place will empty of people, the air will get cold and
leaves begin to turn. Everything will quiet down, everything
will become a skeleton of its summer self. Toward

Read rest of poem 


Carl Adamshick – Epithalamium

Here you go
light low and long
in the fields
at sunset and sunrise

Read rest of poem 



Poetry Diary: feeling sad for a good friend whose father passed away last night.

Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud

John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


“A refreshing tonic to the periodic, exaggerated and self-indulgent reports of poetry’s death, difficulty or irrelevance”

51B34GCp2lL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgReview: ‘Poetry Will Save Your Life’ by Jill Bialosky – Kathleen Rooney – Chicago Tribune – August 14, 2017

“The author of three novels, four poetry collections and the memoir ‘History of Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life,’ Bialosky is the executive editor at the publishing company W.W. Norton.”  

“…Throughout, Bialosky provides a refreshing tonic to the periodic, exaggerated and self-indulgent reports of poetry’s death, difficulty or irrelevance, which one finds all too often in the poetry reviews of such critics as David Orr and William Logan, and other similar books, such as 2016’s ‘The Hatred of Poetry,’ in which Ben Lerner argues that a disdain for poetry is inextricable from the genre itself.”

The Mothers

Jill Bialosky 

We loved them.
We got up early
to toast their bagels.
Wrapped them in foil.
We filled their water bottles
and canteens. We washed
and bleached their uniforms,


Yu Xiuhua: the Chinese Emily Dickinson


A Chinese Poet’s Unusual Path From Isolated Farm Life to Celebrity – Kiki Zhao – New York Times – August 18, 2017

“Her poems, among contemporary Chinese poems, are like putting a murderer among a group of respectable ladies,” wrote Mr. Liu, the Poetry editor. “Everybody else wears fancy clothes, puts on makeup and perfume and readers can’t see a single bead of sweat. But hers are full of smoke and fire — and mud and landslides. Her words are stained with blood.”

Dailies 8/17/17: ordinary sex, late summer, trying to sleep, the difficulty of water, a Dictionary of Angels


Daily Quote

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” – T.S. Eliot


Susanna Lang – Welcome

Now that you are here, I want you to know

The difficulty of water.

Read rest of poem 


Ellen Bass – Ordinary Sex

If no swan descends

in a blinding glare of plumage,

Read rest of poem 


James Brasfield – Late Summer

Now cosmos in bloom and snow-in-summer
opening along the garden’s stone borders,

Read rest of poem 



Joyce Schmid – Trying to Sleep

Brooklyn, 1944

As I was watching strips of light that moved
across the ceiling in the night,

Read rest of poem 


Poetry Diary: have you called your local library yet to ask whether they have solar eclipse glasses? Seems like everyone else in the world has….That was the number one question we got at the circulation desks of the university library I work at today, and according to librarian & library assistant friends on Facebook other libraries were inundated as well.  One public librarian friend said they have about 150 that they will give out on Saturday…and that people are already planning on camping out to get them. (Camping out?!?!?!?!) While camping out for your solar eclipse glasses, read 

In the Library

Charle Simic

for Octavio

There’s a book called
“A Dictionary of Angels.”
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered
Read rest of poem 



“In Defense of ‘Candelabra with Heads'” & other poems shared after Charlottesville


(Camille Rankine quote included in the article below as a suggestion of how to move forward after last weekend’s hate rally) 

PBS Newshour has a round-up of some of the poems that many are sharing this week in wake of the White Nationalist’s “Unite the Right” rally this past weekend.

After Charlottesville, people share poems to grieve, resist and understand – Elizabeth Flock – PBS Newshour – August 14, 2017

They include the Camille Rankine excerpt above (read the poem it’s taken from here) and a poem by Nicole Sealey called “In Defense of ‘Candelabra with Heads'” that was put up at Poets.org as the poem-of-the-day on Monday. It’s better to read Sealey’s poem on the Poets.org site than at PBS, though, as otherwise one might miss the fascinating trick Sealey is doing with right-hand indentation.

The poem comes across as strange and intriguing (kind of like the word “candelabra”) when one reads it for the first time. When one actually sees a picture of the sculpture it’s based on the indentation makes total sense. (I’m not going to into why, as it’s better to experience it on one one’s own.)

A picture of the sculpture can be found here.  I included it in the “Dailies” on Monday but I think that might have been a mistake, as the experience of reading the poem before seeing the sculpture and then after seeing it brings an understanding that one might not get otherwise. The horror and wistfulness expressed in the poem re: the word “lynch” starts coming through, becoming stronger and stronger as one thinks about the two works of visual and literary art.

The beauty of the poem and its form helps capture readers, making them more likely to pay attention to the difficult subject matter.  The poem it references (“Candelabra with Heads”) has a similarly fascinating use of craft–I haven’t yet seen a copy online but am hoping that one goes up soon.  If it does I’ll link to it on Tribrach.

Nicole Sealey – In Defense of “Candelabra with Heads”

If you’ve read the “Candelabra with Heads”
that appears in this collection and the one
in The Animal, thank you. The original,
the one included here, is an example, I’m told,

Read rest of poem 

Dailies 8/16/17: Shame on you for dating a museum! Dreams assembling like protesters. & NY fire escapes & fragments of a marriage & the beautiful American word, Sure.


Daily quote:

“When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”

-John F. Kennedy


Charles Bukowski – all that

the only things I remember about
New York City
in the summer
are the fire escapes

Read rest of poem 



Simone Muench & Dean Rader  – The beautiful American word, Sure

The beautiful American word, Sure,
as ubiquitous as barbeques and aneurisms.
Ensure; assure; cocksure; “fo’ sho.”
It drifts through diners, coffee shops, a spawned

Read rest of poem 


Amy King – Ancient Sunlight

Shame on you for dating a museum:
Everything is dead there and nothing is alive.
Not everyone who lives to be old embraces
the publicity of it all. I mean, you get up and folks

Read rest of poem 


Grace Schulman – Fragments of a Marriage

Fifty-seven years. Your low-rise sports car.
Your plaid necktie slung over a tweed shoulder.
Your visor cap, your pipe, a meerschaum,

Read rest of poem 


Poetry Diary: The images of protesters in the poem below caught me–there’s an intriguing, jarring contrast here between the violent images and the subject….

David Solway – The Dreams

They assemble in throngs demanding to be heard
like demonstrators waving placards,
sometimes peaceful, usually violent,
shouting slogans into the wind
or hurling rocks through the windows of embassies.

Read more @ The New Criterion



“The greatest poems written about political issues often contain within them a central ambiguity that competes with genuine certainty and rage.”

Matthew Zapruder on why “Political poems have a tendency to turn into lyricized essays, or editorials, or sermons, or rants.”

“This is partially because the language of politics is so often designed to do the opposite of what poems do: the poet has to remain vigilant not to slip into euphemism, generalization, obscuring abstraction. And it is also because the subject matter is so important to the poet, which can cause the poet to begin to prioritize tasks better left to prose: informing, convincing, lecturing, describing, reporting. When that happens, the poems, however laudable in their intentions, can stop feeling like poems, and become more like, at best, poetic prose, and at worst, decorative, unnecessary lyricizing.”

WHAT POETRY CAN TEACH US ABOUT POWER – Matthew Zapruder – Literary Hub – August 16, 2017

Zapruder talks about Amiri Baraka’s  “Somebody Blew Up America” and Audre Lorde’s “Power.”

Audre Lorde – Power

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
instead of your children.

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