“So what’s the deal with you and poetry?” you may ask. Well it’s simple. I love it, always have, always will and I know that there are many out there who long for an opportunity to be affected by a word, an image, or a theme in a way that leads to a deeper reflection of the human experience. In ABC of Reading, Pound, writes, ” Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.”
I share simply to offer an opportunity for others to feel the electrical charge…ENJOY!
June 10, 2019
by Mary Oliver
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
June 3, 2019
By John Ashbery
Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.
Or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things
In the same way, repeating the same things over and over
For love to continue and be gradually different.
Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.
Only then can the chronic inattention
Of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory
And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows
That speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge
Of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.
May 27, 2019
From Songs of Innocence
By William Blake
When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;
When the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene;
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing ‘Ha ha he!’
When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of ‘Ha ha he!’
May 20, 2019
By Billy Collins
Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon,
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes,
his many-pointed stars?
This is the best –
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso –
maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins –
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,
dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio,
and, if necessary, the windows –
trees fifty, a hundred years old
heavy clouds on the way
and the lawn steaming like a horse
in the early morning.
May 13, 2019
You Reading This, Be Ready
by William Stafford
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
May 6, 2019
Folding My Clothes
By Julia Alvarez
Tenderly she would take them down and fold
The arms in and fold them again where my back
Should go until she made a small
Tight square of my chest, a knot of socks
Where my feet blossomed into toes,
A stack of denim from the waist down,
My panties strictly packed into the size
Of handerchiefs on which no trace
Of tears showed. All of me under control.
But there was tenderness, the careful matching
Of arm to arm, the smoothing of wrinkles,
Every button buttoned on the checkered blouse
I disobeyed in. There was sweet order
In those scented drawers, party dresses
Perfect as pictures in the back of the closet–
Until I put them on, breathing life back
Into those abstract shapes of who I was
Which she found so much easier to love.
April 29, 2019
After a While
By Jorge Luis Borges
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads
On today because tomorrow’s ground
Is too uncertain. And futures have
A way of falling down in mid-flight,
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn
With every goodbye you learn.
April 22, 2019
By Galway Kinnell
Thus we walk on the ruins of a full sky
The distant landscape will come into fullness
Like a destiny in a vivid light
The long-sought most beautiful country
Will lie out before us–land of the salamanders
Look, you will say, at that stone:
Death is in it.
Secret lamp it is this that burns under our gestures
Thus we walk lighted.
April 8, 2019
from On the Pulse of Morning
By Maya Angelou
April 1, 2019
All Things Bright and Beautiful
By Cecil Frances Alexander
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings:
The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning
That brighten up the sky:
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one:
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God almighty,
Who has made all things well.
March 25, 2019
By Richard Jones
In the tower the bell
is alone, like a man
in his room,
thinking and thinking.
The bell is made of iron.
It takes the weight
of a man
to make the bell move.
Far below, the bell feels
hands on a rope.
It considers this.
It turns its head.
a man in his room
hears the clear sound,
and lifts his head to listen.
March 18, 2019
I’m Going to Start Living Like a Mystic
By Edward Hirsch
Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
and walking across the park in a dusky snowfall.
The trees stand like twenty-seven prophets in a field,
each a station in a pilgrimage—silent, pondering.
Blue flakes of light falling across their bodies
are the ciphers of a secret, an occultation.
I will examine their leaves as pages in a text
and consider the bookish pigeons, students of winter.
I will kneel on the track of a vanquished squirrel
and stare into a blank pond for the figure of Sophia.
I shall begin scouring the sky for signs
as if my whole future were constellated upon it.
I will walk home alone with the deep alone,
a disciple of shadows, in praise of the mysteries.
March 11, 2019
One Careless Moment
By Schofield 5th Grader Maisie J Fitzpatrick
Where she has been
And what she has seen
As the stars
As a summer day?
Through the wet sand,
Grainy as salt.
Can you hear
As they roll in,
Loud as thunder?
Can you feel
In the air,
March 4, 2019
Blues on a Box
By Langston Hughes
Play your guitar, boy,
Runs out tomorrow’s
And evil old
Ain’t no more!
February 25, 2019
By Countee Cullen
Dead men are wisest, for they know
How far the roots of flowers go,
How long a seed must rot to grow.
Dead men alone bear frost and rain
On throbless heart and heatless brain,
And feel no stir of joy or pain.
Dead men alone are satiate;
They sleep and dream and have no weight,
To curb their rest, of love or hate.
Strange, men should flee their company,
Or think me strange who long to be
Wrapped in their cool immunity.
February 11, 2019
Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
February 4, 2019
By Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
January 28, 2019
By Amy Lowell
The snow whispers about me,
And my wooden clogs
Leave holes behind me in the snow.
But no one will pass this way
Seeking my footsteps,
And when the temple bell rings again
They will be covered and gone.
January 21, 2019
By Joyce Sutphen
Long ago, I settled on this piece of mind,
clearing a spot for memory, making a
road so that the future could come and go,
building a house of possibility.
I came across the prairie with only
my wagonload of words, fragile stories
packed in sawdust. I had to learn how
to press a thought like seed into the ground;
I had to learn to speak with a hammer,
how to hit the nail straight on. When
I took up the reins behind the plow,
I felt the land, threading through me,
stitching me into place.
January 14, 2019
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
January 7, 2019
To Be Somebody
By Langston Hughes
Dreaming of a baby grand piano
(Not knowing there’s a Steinway bigger, bigger)
Dreaming of a baby grand piano to play
That stretches paddle-tailed across the floor,
Not standing upright
Like a bad boy in the corner,
But sending music
Up the stairs and down the stairs
And out the door
To confound even Hazel Scott
Who might be passing!
Dreaming of the boxing gloves
Joe Louis wore,
The gloves that sent
Two dozen men to the floor.
Bam! Bop! Mop!
There’s always room,
At the top.
January 2, 2019
An Old Man
Translated from Greek, by
Here in the noisy café, in the inner part of its
unrest, an old man, bending over a table, sits,
with the day’s print before him, and companionless.
And in the misery of old age, — with its deep void
around him, he reflects how little he enjoyed
the years when he had strength, and speech, and comeliness.
He is aware of his great age: the days are gray
and cheerless. Still it seems as though it were yesterday
that he was young. So fast have gone the years, so fast.
And he considers how he used to be deceived
by Prudence: how, alack! she lied and he believed
her lie: “Tomorrow. Ample time ere time be past.”
He thinks of lusts curbed, and of joys that he denied
himself. All the lost opportunities now deride
his witless wisdom …. But the old man cannot keep
his thoughts together; they disquiet and bedim
his brain; these memories ever vex and weary him:
and at the table where he sits he falls asleep.
December 17, 2018
By Denise Levertov
Deep night, deep woods,
valley far below the steep
thigh of the hill, the sky too
a hazy darkness – yet the moon,
small and high, discovers
a wide stretch of river
to be its mirror, steel
brighter than its own
fog muffled radiance.
December 10, 2018
By David Wagoner
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
December 3, 2018
By Robert Bly
After writing poems all day,
I go off to see the moon in the pines.
Far in the woods I sit down against a pine.
The moon has her porches turned to face the light
But the deep part of her house is in the darkness.
November 26, 2018
By Marvin Bell
We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane’s wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks–a zipper or a snap
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.
November 19, 2018
Let Me Remember
By Winston O. Abbott
let me remember always
for my spirit is often shrouded in the
let me remember beyond forgetting
that my life is not a solitary thing–
it is a bit of the rushing tide
a leaf of the bending tree
a kernel of grain the golden wheat fields
a whisper of wind about the mountaintop
a reflection of sunlight upon the shining waters
it is fleeting
it is of the moment
it is timeless
it is of eternity.
November 12, 2018
By Kevin Hart
There’s nothing that I really want:
The stars tonight are rich and cold
Above my house that vaguely broods
Upon a path soon lost in dark.
My dinner plate is chipped all round
(It tells me that I’ve changed a lot);
My glass is cracked all down one side
(It shows there is a path for me).
My hands–I rest my head on them.
My eyes–I rest my mind on them.
There’s nothing that I really need
Before I set out on that path.
November 5, 2018
By Clyde Watson
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.
October 29, 2018
By Robert Frost
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
October 22, 2018
Mirrors at 4 a.m.
By Charles Simic
You must come to them sideways
In rooms webbed in shadows,
Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in return.
The secret is,
Even the empty bed is a burden to them,
They are more themselves keeping
The company of a blank wall.
The company of time and eternity
Which, begging your pardon,
Cast no image
As they admire themselves in the mirror,
While you stand to the side
Pulling a hanky out
To wipe your brow surreptitiously.
October 15, 2018
By Wendell Berry
The sounds of engines leave the air
The Sunday morning silence comes
at last. At last I know the presence
of the world made without hands,
the creatures that come to be
out of their absence. Calls
of flicker and jay fill the clear
air. Titmice and chickadees feed
among the green and the dying leaves.
Gratitude for the gifts of all the living
and the unliving, gratitude which is
the greatest gift, quietest of all,
passes to me through the trees.
End of Summer
October 8, 2018
End of Summer
By Stanley Kunitz
An agitation of the air,
A perturbation of the light
Admonished me the unloved year
Would turn on its hinge that night.
I stood in the disenchanted field
Amid the stubble and the stones
Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me
The song of my marrow-bones.
Blue poured into summer blue,
A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,
The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew
That part of my life was forever over.
Already the iron door of the North
Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows
Order their populations forth,
And a cruel wind blows.
October 1, 2018
from “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty”
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past–there is a harmony
in autumn, and luster in its sky.
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been
September 24, 2018
by Matthew Arnold
What is it to grow old?
Is it to lose the glory of the form,
The lustre of the eye?
Is it for beauty to forego her wreath?
Yes, but not for this alone.
Is it to feel our strength—
Not our bloom only, but our strength—decay?
Is it to feel each limb
Grow stiffer, every function less exact,
Each nerve more weakly strung?
Yes, this, and more! but not,
Ah, ’tis not what in youth we dreamed ‘twould be!
‘Tis not to have our life
Mellowed and softened as with sunset-glow,
A golden day’s decline!
‘Tis not to see the world
As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
And heart profoundly stirred;
And weep, and feel the fulness of the past,
The years that are no more!
It is to spend long days
And not once feel that we were ever young.
It is to add, immured
In the hot prison of the present, month
To month with weary pain.
It is to suffer this,
And feel but half, and feebly, what we feel:
Deep in our hidden heart
Festers the dull remembrance of a change,
But no emotion—none.
It is—last stage of all—
When we are frozen up within, and quite
The phantom of ourselves,
To hear the world applaud the hollow ghost
Which blamed the living man.
September 17, 2018
In Blackwater Woods
By Mary Oliver
Look, the trees
Their own bodies
Are giving off the rich
Fragrance of cinnamon
The long tapers
Are bursting and floating away over
The blue shoulders
Of the ponds
And every pond,
No matter what its
Name is, is
I have ever learned
In my lifetime
Leads back to this: the fires
And the black river of loss
Whose other side
None of us will ever know.
You must be able
To do three things:
To love what is mortal;
To hold it
Against your bones knowing
Your own life depends on it;
And, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
September 10, 2018
The Night House
By Billy Collins
Everyday the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass-
The grass of civics, the grass of money-
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.
But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.
And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.
And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,
Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body-the house of voices-
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,
To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.
September 3, 2018
Have You Earned Your Tomorrow
By Edgar Guest
Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
This day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word of you?
Did you give a cheerful greeting to the friend who came along?
Or a churlish sort of “Howdy” and then vanish in the throng?
Were you selfish pure and simple as you rushed along the way,
Or is someone mighty grateful for a deed you did today?
Can you say tonight, in parting with the day that’s slipping fast,
That you helped a single brother of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said;
Does a man whose hopes were fading now with courage look ahead?
Did you waste the day, or lose it, was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber do you think that God would say,
You have earned one more tomorrow by the work you did today?