Dailies 9/25/17: Metamorphosis, peonies, Jesus walking (or not) on water, hummingbirds, the Italic Gods, a pear tree



Linda Bierds – Metamorphosis: 1680

                     I paint flowers decorated with caterpillars.
                     I want to inquire into everything that exists and find
out how it began.
                                           —Maria Sibylla Merian
                                From basil, the scorpion.
                                           —Athanasius Kircher
From pine tree resin, amber.
**** From fury, hail.
From acacia’s sap, the bond.
**** From raindrops, frogs.


Jim Harrison – Peonies

The peonies, too heavy with their beauty,
slump to the ground. I had hoped

Read rest of poem 



Ciara Shuttleworth  – Police Statement

The morning we watched Jesus,
there was no fog. For weeks,
oil was tracked up and down Great Highway’s
sidewalk—a tanker spill had closed the beach

Read rest of poem


Cintia Santana – Hum

Slip of
with fan
of furious
wings in
throat I hear

Read rest of poem 



Sherod Santos – The Italic Gods


In the back room of a secondhand bookshop on Printer’s Row, I leafed through a stack of nineteenth-century topographic maps spread out on a table and weighted with a stone. I was the only customer in the store, and though he’d checked my bag when I entered, the desk clerk hardly glanced my way.

Read rest of poem 


Poetry Diary: a nice September poem.

Freya Manfred – Green Pear Tree in September

On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears


Frieda Hughes has 11 pet owls


Frieda Hughes: ‘I genuinely believed I was adopted until I was 14’ – Veronica Blake – The Telegraph – 9/25/17

This article on Frieda Hughes has several fascinating revelations, including on how having chronic fatigue helped her poetry and on how she suffered a “blank period” at around age 4 and didn’t start recovering memories of her mother, Sylvia Plath, until she was about 30.  This is my favorite bit from the article, though:

“Besides work, she has a veritable menagerie to look after: 11 owls, two dogs, six chinchillas, nine ferrets and a snake called Shirley.” 

Frieda Hughes – Medusa

She is the gypsy
Whose young have rooted
In the very flesh of her scalp.
Read rest of poem @ Poets.org 

“I’ve left Earth in search of darker planets….”

Read the PBS story on “Dear White People” 

Danez Smith’s Ecstatic Body Language:In “Don’t Call Us Dead,” the poet brings the unruly power of performance to the written word. – Dan Chiasson – The New Yorker – October 2, 2017

“Smith’s performance of their poem ‘dear white america’ was a viral hit, viewed by more than three hundred thousand people after it was featured on the ‘PBS NewsHour.’ It’s a prose poem; I might not have guessed. How to convert that performance to the page, when so much of its power rests in Smith’s delivery? In this moving, unsettling work, the question is not simply one of craft. It’s about how the body and its authority can be manifested in writing, with only the spindly trace of letters to stand in for it. What does written poetry do that spoken word cannot? For one thing, it forces you, the reader, to say aloud, to embody, the words, while leaving a gap for the inevitable differences of race or gender identity, of illness and health, that might sometimes seem unbridgeable. They might be unbridgeable; but they are not unimaginable.”

Dailies 9/24/17: Rockabye baby! a trip to Ireland, fishing, the language of my captor, Alzheimer’s, a love poem



Lisa Bickmore  – After You Left,

we crossed the river another dozen times,
twice in taxis, walked to a new museum, bought books,
found the Mermaid Cafe and took the train to Howth
where the stairs up to Church Street smelled

Read rest of poem 


Paul Zimmer – Love Poem


Last days before first frost
we stroll out hand in hand
to see yellow sulfurs lift

Read rest of poem 



Rory Waterman – June Morning, Erewash Canal

The colliery’s a country park:
***his old man shunted coal.
This young dad teaches his lad to fish

Read rest of poem 




Shane McCrae – In the Language

cannot talk about the place I came from
I do not want it to exist
The way I knew it
In the language of my captor

Read rest of poem 


William Carlos Williams – Portent

Red cradle of the night, 
     In you 
          The dusky child 
Sleeps fast till his might
Read rest of poem 


Poetry Diary: Participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s today, in honor of my father-in-law.

Cathleen Calbert – Listening to My Mother in the Alzheimer’s Wing

These people are a little crazy

**********************************Who’s that singing?

I loved all my babies.

**********************************It’s like a movie.

Read rest of poem @ The Poetry Foundation


Rattle poets: an elegy for a spacecraft & the women underground who are making sure we’re ready to start nuclear war



On images from 9/11 and the women working underground to make sure that our nuclear weapons are ready to launch on command.

Devon Balwit – THAT FEELING

The falling man falls through the feed while, beneath him,
female soldiers serve in a bunker. Then, someone reposts,
and the order reverses, the women behind the blast door
now above the man who plummets. Both make the heart


Cassini ******you cosmic firefly
you vacuum-empty******space bowl

Chrome & John Whirlwind’s Doublebeat Songs in The New Yorker


Paul Tran – Chrome

Years he lives alone on Montezuma Road. Delivers newspapers

during dawn’s darkest hours. Marine layer hangs like gunfire

over the Gulf of Tonkin. Optical illusion: how cleverly the war begins

Read rest of poem 


Ray Young Bear – John Whirlwind’s Doublebeat Songs, 1956


Menwi – yakwatoni – beskonewiani.
Kyebakewina – maneniaki

Read rest of poem 

Dailies 7/23/17: dusk, a gunny wolf, a fine meal, a string-bean blue-eyed man, fall leaves, & finding a lego



Eavan Boland – This Moment

A neighborhood.
At dusk.

Things are getting ready
to happen
out of sight.

Read rest of poem 



Megan Snyder-Camp – The Gunny Wolf

You’ve got failure all wrong,
the Gunnywolf tells me. We’ve just been through
the salad bar together. Failure.
It’s wanting one thing, he says,

Read rest of poem 



Nancy Chen Long – A Fine Meal

A fine Chinese meal,
my mother told me,
is made of five flavors,
a blending of elemental portions.

Read rest of poem 



Layli Long Soldier – from WHEREAS

WHEREAS a string-bean blue-eyed man leans back into a swig of beer work-weary lips at the dark bottle keeping cool in short sleeves and khakis he enters the discussion;

Whereas his wrist loose at the bottleneck to come across as candid “Well at least there was an Apology that’s all I can say” he offers to the circle each of them scholarly;

Read rest of poem 



Emily Brontë – Fall Leaves Fall

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;


Poetry Diary: went to the new Lego Ninjago movie w/my son.

Maryann Corbett – Finding the Lego

You find it when you’re tearing up your life,
trying to make some sense of the old messes,
moving dressers, peering under beds.
Almost lost in cat hair and in cobwebs,

American Life in Poetry: Column 652



Last week we published a poem from Jill Bialosky’s new book from Knopf, The Players, and if you didn’t see it you can find it on our website, www.americanlifeinpoetry.org. The poet is a New Yorker, an editor at W. W. Norton, and a daughter grieving the loss of loved ones. It’s unusual for us to print two poems by one poet, in sequence, but this one and the one from last week go very well together.

Red Rover

We take our last walk.
Walls stripped of portraits,

warped mirrors, dressing tables,
and the grandfather clock

with its stoic face
and elaborate gentle fingers.

For years we struggled to break
free of the closeness of rooms,

the obligation of birth order,
the metaphysics that bind

one element to the other,
as if we were still wild girls

playing wild rover in the garden,
breaking through a chain of linked hands.

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 ©2015 by Jill Bialosky, “Red Rover,” from The Players, (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Jill Bialosky and the publisher. 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.

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