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 2/19/17: protest, grief, flirting, a wake



Protest – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.



A Wake – Malena Morling

I called Michael and he told me he just got home from a
wake. “Oh, I am sorry,” I said. “No, no,” he said, “it was
the best wake I have ever been to. The funeral home was
as warm and as cozy as anyone’s living room. We had the
greatest time. My friend looked wonderful, much better

Read rest of poem 



Small Hungers – Pete Mullineaux

Your bare foot beneath the table brushes mine;
a moment ago they were kicking sand along
the beach — but now we sit in a café,

Read rest of poem


[March] – Benjamin S. Grossberg 


Eight months on, grief burns itself out,
leaves quiet, smearing ash. A face,
a spit-damp rag. A blackened field
in rain. My smile’s willed

Read rest of poem 

when you have forgotten Sunday

when you have forgotten Sunday: the love story
Gwendolyn Brooks 
—And when you have forgotten the bright bedclothes on a Wednesday and a Saturday,
And most especially when you have forgotten Sunday—
When you have forgotten Sunday halves in bed,
Or me sitting on the front-room radiator in the limping afternoon
Looking off down the long street
To nowhere,
(poetry diary  182 -2/19/17 – Happy Sunday!)

“Poïesis is soul-making and builds worlds.”


“Poetry is connected to the origins of language and possibilities for language, the poetics beyond what the eye sees or ear hears: what makes logic and language possible. Poïesis is soul-making and builds worlds. All the voices in this room have been given room, because the source of poetry and poetics isn’t the shadow of any one language, group, or culture. Poetry, the kind of poetry we want, is language that breaks its ties to assumed performances of understanding and assumed relationships.”

THAT GOES BEYOND STYLE: FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO BEST AMERICAN EXPERIMENTAL WRITING 2016 – February 17, 2017  – Charles Bernstein & Tracie Morris – Literary Hub

March 2017’s ATLANTIC poem: “Pencil”



A.E. Stallings

Once, you loved permanence,
Indelible. You’d sink
Your thoughts in a black well,
And called the error ink.

Read rest of poem


Dailies 2/18/17: good hours, the idea of living, the poetry-body, & it’s midnight & people I love are dying



The Idea of Living – Joyce Sutphen

It has its attractions,
chiefly visual: all those

shapes and lines, hunks
of color and light (the way

Read rest of poem 



Midnight, and people I love are dying,  – Robin Chapman

and I can’t sleep so I’m up thinking
too hard scribbling these words in the dark
because the physics science news I read
before bed is making me crazy now
with incomprehension—it makes
no sense to me that gravity should exist,
what I know about is love:

Read rest of poem 


The Poetry-Body – Joseph Millar

for K. D.

The youngest won’t fall asleep
though he keeps resting his head on the table
next to his empty plate.
These are the jewels of his
half-open eyes bewitched by the pale
blossoming spines of the centerpiece flowers
no one remembers the names of—
these are the sparks flying up
from the fire and the night
pressing in on the windows.

Read rest of poem 


Good Hours – Robert Frost

I had for my winter evening walk—
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

Read rest of poem 

Weeklies late Feb: the travel ban & how repetition works for the moon



Repetition Works for the Moon – Susan Firer


Hopscotch breath, the empire of skin,
I am around me, even in threshold nights.
Small little word “glister,” it’s you
I today Scotch-taped into my medicine cabinet.

Read rest of poem 



At customs, they confiscate your daughter
like a forged passport.
Today they cuff a child in an airport,
tomorrow they throw him from the walls of Troy.

“not yours alone, America,”


Washington’s Monument, February, 1885

Walt Whitman

Ah, not this marble, dead and cold:
Far from its base and shaft expanding—the round zones circling,
Thou, Washington, art all the world’s, the continents’ entire—
not yours alone, America,
Europe’s as well, in every part, castle of lord or laborer’s cot,
Or frozen North, or sultry South—the African’s—the Arab’s in
his tent,
Old Asia’s there with venerable smile, seated amid her ruins;
(Greets the antique the hero new? ’tis but the same—the heir
legitimate, continued ever,
The indomitable heart and arm—proofs of the never-broken
Courage, alertness, patience, faith, the same—e’en in defeat de-
feated not, the same:)
Wherever sails a ship, or house is built on land, or day or night,
Through teeming cities’ streets, indoors or out, factories or farms,
Now, or to come, or past—where patriot wills existed or exist,
Wherever Freedom, pois’d by Toleration, sway’d by Law,
Stands or is rising thy true monument.

(poetry diary 182 -2/18/17)

Dailies 2/17/17: Who is your city? A death & a pregnancy & an immigrant

Who Is Your City? – Medbh McGuckian  


The canal’s middle swells with waiting
for odd hours of night in the middle of the day.
North appears everywhere, the now of the snow,
warming ice counts itself away in different
sun angles, like a block of frozen ink
insisting on the line. The water knows
the way down, to the Titanic and her two
sisters. She rouges her silver likeness,
buttons her gown herself, so high, so closed,
her days malodorous from saturated skies.

Read rest of poem 


My Father Was a Young Man Then – Maria Mazziotti Gillan

Only 16, when he came from Italy alone,
moved into the Riverside neighborhood
full of Italians from Cilento—all of whom
spoke the same dialect, so it was as though
they had transported those mountain villages

Read rest of poem 


Control Feast – Elizabeth Metzger

Either you’ve died, or you arrive
beside me at a funeral

patchily reaching out
from your zero gravity chair

Read rest of poem 

Note: no new poem up at Verse Daily today. 

American Life in Poetry: Column 621



The next time you open your closet, this poem will give you reason to pay a little more attention to what’s hanging inside. Gary Whited is from Massachusettsand his most recent book is Having Listened, (Homebound Publications, 2013).

My Blue Shirt

hangs in the closet
of this small room, collar open,
sleeves empty, tail wrinkled.
Nothing fills the shirt but air
and my faint scent. It waits,
all seven buttons undone,
button holes slack,
the soft fabric with its square white pattern,
all of it waiting for a body.
It would take any body, though it knows,
in its shirt way of knowing, only mine
has my shape in its wrinkles,
my bend in the elbows.
Outside this room birds hunt for food,
young leaves drink in morning sunlight,
people pass on their way to breakfast.
Yet here, in this closet,
the blue shirt needs nothing,
expects nothing, knows only its shirt knowledge,
that I am now learning—how to be private and patient,
how to be unbuttoned,
how to carry the scent of what has worn me,
and to know myself by the wrinkles.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright© 2013 by Gary Whited, “My Blue Shirt,” from Having Listened, (Homebound Publications, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Gary Whited 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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