Monday, April 12, 2021

Poetry Month, Jason Reynolds

 Match
~Jason Reynolds

on the days the dark is vanta vicious

enough to swallow whole every holy

thing like my mother and the stigmata

she bleeds from a totem of raising black


on the days the cold is cold as all get out but

there’s no place to get in when even breath is

blade and hurts to think of thinking of breathing

let alone laughing


on the days I feel frayed and ‘fraid ripped

and torn from the lot plucked from family

and ‘nem and even myself sometimes my

name is the name of a stranger


my face still the face in the hole of a

hoodie just snatched out my own world

never mine and dragged and scraped

across the rough textured parts of this

being alive thing


i’m reminded of what it feels

like to have my head alight to

have it catch fire and blaze-lick

high above me and all this


i’m reminded to return to the truth that oh

yeah me my little self a match my little

self a cardboard cutout might could burn

this whole so-called kingdom down


Copyright © 2020 by Jason Reynolds. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 28, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Poetry Month, Sandburg

 Monotone
~Carl Sandburg

    The monotone of the rain is beautiful, 
And the sudden rise and slow relapse 
Of the long multitudinous rain. 

    The sun on the hills is beautiful, 
Or a captured sunset sea-flung, 
Bannered with fire and gold. 

    A face I know is beautiful—
With fire and gold of sky and sea, 
And the peace of long warm rain.


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 12, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets. 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Poetry Thursday, Poetry Month! Louise Gluck

 The Red Poppy
~Louise Glück

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.


From The Wild Iris, published by The Ecco Press, 1992. Copyright © 1992 by Louise Glück. All Rights reserved. Used with permission. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2020.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Poetry Month, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 Song
 ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
       To stay at home is best.
 
Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
       To stay at home is best.
 
Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O’er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
       To stay at home is best
.
 

This poem is in the public domain.

Poetry Month, Trumbull Stickney

 Six O'Clock
 ~Trumbull Stickney

Now burst above the city’s cold twilight
The piercing whistles and the tower-clocks:
For day is done. Along the frozen docks
The workmen set their ragged shirts aright.
Thro’ factory doors a stream of dingy light
Follows the scrimmage as it quickly flocks
To hut and home among the snow’s gray blocks.—
I love you, human labourers. Good-night!
Good-night to all the blackened arms that ache!
Good-night to every sick and sweated brow,
To the poor girl that strength and love forsake,
To the poor boy who can no more! I vow
The victim soon shall shudder at the stake
And fall in blood: we bring him even now.


This poem is in the public domain.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Poetry Month, Robert Frost

 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.
 
And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.
 
I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.
 
Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o’clock of a winter eve.


This poem is in the public domain.

Monday, April 05, 2021

For Poetry Month

 1918, Iva Describes Her Deathbed
~LeAnne Howe
No, it wasn’t like that—you didn’t see
He was lying quietly, mouth shut, one hand on his chest,
The other frozen mid-stir

We were be side one another
When they found us
                          Be side, what a wonderful word
Be side is the scent I carry
Be side the first man I touched
And his touching me.
Be side him when I woke.
Fully awake,
                          I hear something,
                          Our baby perhaps or
A kitten crying for a saucer of milk
A kitten crying because she is lost
Because she is forsaken
Because she is left alive.
No, not the cat,
Me

Give me your hand, John Hoggatt
Remember our fishing hole at Byng?
A cold underground stream feeds it,
Gorgeous switch canes at the blue water’s edge 
Make sturdy Cherokee baskets
Remember?

Give me your hand, John
Together we’ll catch a mess of perch,
Cut the canes and load the wagon
We’ll have the folks over for supper
Just a half day’s wagon ride away,
Not far.

Give me your hand, dearest
Just last fall we helped build the Byng P.O.
Named in honor of Sir Julian Byng,
A British World War I hero.
Your father had a conniption.
You an Irishman, putting an Englishman forward!

Give me your hand, Johnny boy
I call you home now and I call you home tomorrow,
A thousand times as our bodies flake into stars,
Mad or sane, Get up John Hoggatt!
You can’t stay in this death bed
You—
Walk on Iva, says John, softly.
Walk on my girl,
My girl,
My

Copyright © 2020 by LeAnne Howe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 11, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Friday, April 02, 2021

Poetry Month! (back posting)

 Disclosure
~Camisha L. Jones

I’m sorry, could you repeat that. I’m hard of hearing.
To the cashier
To the receptionist
To the insistent man asking directions on the street

I’m sorry, I’m hard of hearing. Could you repeat that?
At the business meeting
In the writing workshop
On the phone to make a doctor’s appointment

I’m-sorry-I’m-sorry-I’m-so-sorry-I’m-hard-for-the-hearing

Repeat.

            Repeat.

Hello, my name is Sorry
To full rooms of strangers
I’m hard to hear

I vomit apologies everywhere
They fly on bat wings
towards whatever sound beckons

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry
             and repeating
                          and not hearing


Dear (again)
I regret to inform you

I       am

here

 
 
Copyright © 2020 by Camisha L. Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Poetry Month! (back posting)

 Polycystic Study of Intimacy
~Aricka Foreman

But where do the breasts go first is my question.
I understand their fantasies of fleeing south. 

The winters are loud and long and white 
and by March, well. I wonder why I’m still 

in it too. Now the round pits thumb up 
beneath the skin, tender and hot to the touch, 

crushed by my new weight. This island I’ve 
had to make of myself brought a bevy, 

angered by easy pleasures: sugar, soy sauce, 
potatoes, ice cream. My love’s language 

is to make a meal, ask what I can take in, 
ask what maladies to avoid. As for my house:

touch is far and few between. Desire wanes 
between compresses of cloves cinnamon turmeric 

and honey. But in the mornings, a gulf between us, 
my hands are kissed. The blinds drawn to keep

the sun from disturbing my sleep while we wait 
patiently for my body’s quiet prayer of thanks.


Copyright © 2020 by Aricka Foreman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 20, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday, preparing for April

 A Gate
 ~Donna Masini

I have oared and grieved,
grieved and oared,
treading a religion
of fear. A frayed nerve.
A train wreck tied to the train
of an old idea.
Now, Lord, reeling in violent
times, I drag these tidal
griefs to this gate.
I am tired. Deliver
me, whatever you are.
Help me, you who are never
near, hold what I love
and grieve, reveal this green
evening, myself, rain,
drone, evil, greed,
as temporary. Granted
then gone. Let me rail,
revolt, edge out, glove
to the grate. I am done
waiting like some invalid
begging in the nave.
Help me divine
myself, beside me no Virgil
urging me to shift gear,
change lane, sing my dirge
for the rent, torn world, and love
your silence without veering
into rage.

 

Copyright © 2018 Donna Masini. Used with permission of the author.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday

 A Louder Thing
 ~Tiana Clark
             for Kenneka Jenkins and her mother
 
What is it about my mother’s face, a bright burn
when I think back, her teeth, her immaculate teeth
 
that I seldom saw or knew, her hair like braided
black liquorice. I am thinking of my mother’s face,
 
because she is like the mother in the news whose
daughter was found dead, frozen inside a hotel freezer.
 
My mother is this mourning mother who begged
the staff to search for her daughter, but was denied.
 
Black mothers are often seen pleading for their children,
shown stern and wailing, held back somehow by police
 
or caution tape—
 
a black mother just wants to see her baby’s body.
a black mother just wants to cover her baby’s body
 
with a sheet on the street. A black mother
leaves the coffin open for all the world to see,
 
and my mother is no different. She is worried
about seeing the last minutes of me: pre-ghost,
 
stumbling alone through empty hotel hallways
failing to find balance, searching for a friend,
 
a center, anyone, to help me home. Yes.
I’ve gotten into a van with strangers.
 
I’ve taken drugs with people that did not care
how hard or fast I smoked or blew.
 
But what did I know of Hayden? What did I know
of that poem besides my mother’s hands, her fist,
 
her prayers and premonitions? What did I know
of her disembodied voice hovering over the seams
 
of my life like the vatic song the whip-poor-will
makes when it can sense a soul dispersing?
 
Still. My mother wants to know where I am,
who I am with, and when will I land.
 
I get frustrated by her insistence on my safety
and survival. What a shame I am. I’m sorry, mom.
 
Some say Black love is different. Once,
I asked my mother why she always yelled
 
at me when I was little. She said I never listened
to her when she spoke to me in hushed tones
 
like a white mother would, meaning soft volume
is a privilege. Yeah, that’s right. I am using a stereotype
 
to say a louder thing. I am saying my mother
was screaming when she lost me in the mall once.
 
I keep hearing that voice everywhere I go.
I follow my name. The music of her rage sustains me.


Copyright © 2019 by Tiana Clark. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 25, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets. An excerpt from this poem originally appeared in an essay for Oxford American.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday

 After He’s Decided to Leave
 ~Elizabeth Acevedo

When the bottle of hot sauce shattered in the kitchen
he stood in the doorframe, shook his head at the mess.

Not worried if I was injured,
mostly curious at what else it was I’d broken.

You are so clumsy with the things you hold,
he never said.

The red stain on my chest bloomed pungent,
soaked any apology.

I used his shirt, the one I slept in,
to wipe the counter and pale-colored kitchen floor.

That night and the next for a straight week
as he prepared boxes to leave

I hunched and scrubbed the tiles. Couldn’t rid myself
of the things that I’d sullied, of the look he left behind.


Copyright © 2019 Elizabeth Acevedo. Used with permission of the author.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday, powerful way to enter the weekend

 My Eyes Have Seen What My Heart Has Felt
 ~Cheleta Tuckson

Guilty Guilty Guilty for actions that took my sympathy
Shackles around my wrist shackles at my feet
Prom and high school graduation these eyes will never see
My heart said, Oh well
At least you will no longer have to endure your daily home abuse
I grew into a woman unbalanced behind those wire fences
Recall (3xs) that’s all I knew
Always committing some illegal offenses straight to the SHU
These eyes have seen the bottom of boots,
Mace in the face,
The heavy blue dress while people watch you 24hrs a day,
A lock in a sock,
Shall I go on?
My heart was always heavy
when I constantly placed myself back in the same abuse
I thought I would escape
I knew I had something in me worth showing the world, but what?
Fighting my demons was real tuff
A peaceful life didn’t feel so ruff
I opened my mouth and people was shocked
That I could read, count, think, understand, listen, play chess, learn a
     trade
They started to see my worth
My eyes have seen a life the majority would have failed surviving
Rape, abuse, homelessness, parent-less, drugs, prison, mental health,
     failure
My heart became strong enough to finally love myself
And I finally looked up to the woman in the mirror

 

Copyright © 2019 Cheleta Tuckson. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem
 I am part of an organization called The W.I.R.E (Women Involved in Reentry Efforts) and as a group we wrote poems about our experience being incarcerated and how it impacted us. My poem is based on real experiences I had to overcome during my prison sentence. I served eight years in federal prison as a first time offender at the age of 18. So I went into the system young, wild, and rebellious. I spent five years on and off in solitary confinement, but I still was able to complete all of the programs that were offered to me and ended up at the top of my classes. I believe writing is a major outlet for incarcerated women and men. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” So instead of us lashing our pain out on those around us, expressing ourselves with words can be a tool to receive closure, help, and to assist someone else who may have experienced something similar. People relate more, and really listen, when you have experienced the same thing they have and have overcome it

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Poetry Thursday

 Seattle Sun
 ~Prageeta Sharma

There is a quick sharp pull that one might feel, with it a weighted turn to finding brightness where there is none. I have Seattle to thank for this, but the home of ours must be built anew. And yet I am not in my method and have no sense of worship for the work or to erupt into a broken sense, but I am appreciating the copious sunlight with a startled turf-forming consciousness. You must take the fear of normalcy and the aerodynamics of emotions that fuel the sense of the present and jerk it to a gluttonous love. The wood pulp, the paper, the feeling of how-to ache of these conditions and do not permit the imagination to fold into its chamber. How do I turn this summer around? Is there still an I and no You in this problemed space? Can I sort through our shared moments without your orange pants, your color-blinded syllogisms, and hull of near-end turbulence? I reckon with these days and the practice of finding the sun to its glory so that whatever score I have to settle with sorrow does not affect germination thus far.

Copyright © 2017 Prageeta Sharma. Used with permission of the author.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday, Lucille Clifton!

 blessing the boats
 ~Lucille Clifton
(at St. Mary’s)
 
may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that


From Quilting: Poems 1987–1990 by Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 2001 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with permission of BOA Editions Ltd. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday

 from Little Runaway
 ~Krystal Languell

(the passports curled up) (it was so humid in our rented room)
           
            (travel to forget the criminal element) (in my bad blood)

(Nothing very significant at the cemetery)            (an unremarkable
      lunch salad)

                        (The thrift shop closed six months ago)

((We lit candles for a man who died) (rusted cellar grate)) (near to
      home)

            (I was afraid (and I made my friend afraid too))

                        (another woman altogether said they may be (murderers))

((I'm more worried about) being backed over by construction vehicles)

            (in other places)            (I do pray for my family's safety)

                                    (mother says it isn't working)

 
Copyright © 2018 Krystal Languell. Used with permission of the author.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday

 Lies I Tell
 ~Sara Borjas

A woman has a window in her face: that is the truth. I look like my mother: that is the truth. I want to tell you I am not like her: that is the truth. I am ashamed walking in a woman’s body: that is the truth. I wish to take back everything I say: that is the truth. A window can be a mirror. It can also be a door: that is the truth. As a girl, my mother slept in a shack with no windows and one door: that is the truth. My grandma would slam windows: truth. A mother’s hands are stronger than God: truth. We often use fruit to describe a bruise, like plum or blackberry: truth. My mother’s window blackberried: truth. My mother’s door peached: truth. She loves peaches: that is the truth. My father could not stand them in our house: that is the truth. We had three doors and nine windows in our house: that is the truth. A woman has a face in her window: truth. A father has a window but I don’t know where it is: truth. What burrows is the peach fuzz, he said: that is the truth. I have never been close enough to a peach to eat one: truth. The worst things last on the skin: truth. I don’t like not having things: truth. My father has one door but I can’t find it: truth. Not all windows open: that is the truth. One night I see my father crying in the yard, head in his hands: that is the truth. I make things up that I want for myself: that is the truth.

 

Copyright © 2018 Sara Borjas. Used with permission of the author.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday

 19th Birthday in Paris
 ~Gabrielle Civil

The crown of it was fire:
a stolen wish, this city
of bridges valving the heart,
ancient and scarred, tongues
of stone, this haughty sister,
matronly and jeweled, who
straightened her skirts,
looked me down in the eye.
Girl, are you sure
you’re ready to rise?
Question mark of candles,
waiting for breath.

This vision, a pistil
of wavery bloom, a man
before me, the first refused:
a bite off our plates,
an outdoor café, the
privilege to witness
him, fierce and poor,
thrust forth his heart,
douse his body with oil,
purse his lips and blow out
tongues of flame. Utterance
of desire and gasoline,
a presage of future, some of it
mine. In the distance,
iron stippled with light.


Copyright © 2018 Gabrielle Civil. Used with permission of the author.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Poetry Thursday, from the Poet Laureate!

 Remember
 ~Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.


“Remember.” Copyright ©1983 by Joy Harjo from She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Not Poetry Thursday

 The Exercise of Forgiving
 ~Felicia Zamora

Six months ago, the measuring of whiskey
left in the jug, urine on the mattress, couch
cushions, the crotch of pants in wear. You watch
how breath lifts a chest, how a person breathes—
sick hobbies of when we must. You watch
how you become illiterate at counting.
Six or seven broken breathalyzers; a joke
formulates in your throat & you
choke back your windpipe as punchline.
How many sobs in parking lots before sun
lugged above horizon? The heart hammers
all too familiar songs behind your ribs
& these notes cut away at you. You read online
how television, internet, starving children
in numbers greater than three, polar bears,
rain forests, light from an off direction
all desensitize the human brain’s ability
to empathize. You wonder how
you chew the word panic in your jaws,
let meaning burrow into molars
seep in crevasses between root & bone.
How rot tends to the insides. You wonder
now with the inpatient tags, the cafeteria visits,
the doctors, the psychiatrists, the when do you
get to come home, the hesitation of our bodies
sharing space again, the words I have not
drank today & your brain in flinch, how you
excavate organs for what’s left, for salvage.


Copyright © 2019 Felicia Zamora. Used with permission of the author.