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.
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.
Horse Girl – Laura Romeyn
From your stencil comes our collective.
Rapid production at split-time, freehand
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
(poetry diary 188 -2/25/17)
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,
WHEN THEY COME FOR US ON THE 7 TRAIN – Ananda Lima
Souvenir – Jane Satterfield
Friendly fire, parasites &
tropical disease, depleted
under the skin, exposure
to pesticide, mustard gas,
would you be a lender
if it coincided with war
could you be sure your tenderness
came from more than envy
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
“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.
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.
“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?’”
(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.
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
Turn any corner in this village,
the owner of the eccentric bookstore assured me,
and you are likely to run into
the history of Greek poetry,
and sure enough there was a woman
picking out lemons from a pile of lemons
and a barber leaning in his doorway with folded arms.
You tried to take
my red metals with your wolf jaw tongs
to forge a body never to be flame-licked again
but I reached out and held you
All this time,
the life you were
supposed to live
has been rising around you
Trans Memoir 8 – Sara June Woods
Everything was lava for a while, really. This was before Sea-Witch, & everything was on fire & lava & I was on fire & lava myself, being one small part, one aspect of that everything. A lot of sensations have been compared to burning, like the feeling you get in your lungs when