Archives For: Poetry

A Poem For Wednesday

Nov 26 2014 @ 8:09pm

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“Poem of Thanks” by Sharon Olds:

Years later, long single,
I want to turn to his departed back,
and say, What gifts we had of each other!
What pleasure—confiding, open-eyed,
fainting with what we were allowed to stay up
late doing. And you couldn’t say,
could you, that the touch you had from me
was other than the touch of one
who could love for life—whether we were suited
or not—for life, like a sentence. And now that I
consider, the touch that I had from you
became not the touch of the long view, but like the
tolerant willingness of one
who is passing through. Colleague of sand
by moonlight—and by beach noonlight, once,
and of straw, salt bale in a barn, and mulch
inside a garden, between the rows—once—
partner of up against the wall in that tiny
bathroom with the lock that fluttered like a chrome
butterfly beside us, hip-height, the familiar
of our innocence, which was the ignorance
of what would be asked, what was required,
thank you for every hour. And I
accept your thanks, as if it were
a gift of yours, to give them—let’s part
equals, as we were in every bed, pure
equals of the earth.

(From Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds © 2012 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. Photo by Ahmed Mahin Fayaz)

A Poem For Saturday

Nov 22 2014 @ 9:34am

Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Last week I introduced Sharon Olds at a benefit for Red Hen Press in Pasadena. At Knopf in 1983, I was her editor for The Dead and the Living, her second book of poems, winner of both the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets and the National Book Critics’ Circle award. On the plane to LA two days before the event, I reread a number of her splendid books, all devotedly published by Knopf. Stag’s Leap, from 2012, her compelling collection centered around the end of her marriage—part elegy, part dirge, part paean to all it was—was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and Britain’s T.S.Eliot Prize. We’ll post several poems from that book this weekend and in the days ahead, including a poem especially apt for Thanksgiving.

“The Last Hour” by Sharon Olds:

Suddenly, the last hour
before he took me to the airport, he stood up,
bumping the table, and took a step
toward me, and like a figure in an early
science fiction movie he leaned
forward and down, and opened an arm,
knocking my breast, and he tried to take some
hold of me, I stood and we stumbled,
and then we stood, around our core, his
hoarse cry of awe, at the center,
at the end, of our life. Quickly, then,
the worst was over, I could comfort him,
holding his heart in place from the back
and smoothing it from the front, his own
life continuing, and what had
bound him, around his heart—and bound him
to me—now lying on and around us,
sea-water, rust, light, shards,
the little eternal curls of eros
beaten straight out.

(From Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds © 2012 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.)

A Poem For Friday

Nov 21 2014 @ 6:26pm

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“for deLawd” by Lucille Clifton:

people say they have a hard time
understanding how i
go on about my business
playing my ray charles
hollering at the kids—
seem like my afro
cut off in some old image
would show I got a long memory
and I come from a line
of black and going on women
who got used to making it through murdered sons
and who grief kept on pushing
who fried chicken
ironed
swept off the back steps
who grief kept
for their still alive sons
for their sons coming
for their sons gone
just pushing

(From The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glasner with a foreward by Toni Morrison © 2012 by The Estate of Lucille Clifton. Used by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. Photo by Flickr user Greg)

A Poem For Sunday

Nov 16 2014 @ 8:42pm

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“to the unborn and waiting children” by Lucille Clifton:

i went into my mother as
some souls go into a church,
for the rest only. but there,
even there, from the belly of a
poor woman who could not save herself
i was pushed without my permission
into a tangle of birthdays.
listen, eavesdroppers, there is no such thing
as a bed without affliction;
the bodies all may open wide but
you enter at your own risk.

(From The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glasner with a foreward by Toni Morrison © 2012 by The Estate of Lucille Clifton. Used by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. Photo by Nick Mealey)

A Poem For Saturday

Nov 15 2014 @ 10:31am

From Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn:

I’ve been reading The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 for weeks and am mesmerized by the beauty and power, the humor, complexity, and charge of her poems, often bringing to mind the work of another great, canny contemporary poet, the Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska.

Toni Morrison wrote the forward to the book, and I’ll quote some lines I treasure. “The love readers feel for Lucille Clifton – both the woman and her poetry – is constant and deeply felt….Her devoted fans speak often of how inspiring her poetry is – life-changing in some instances….I read her skill as that emanating from an astute, profound intellect.”

Just months before her death, Lucille Clifton learned that she had been awarded the Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Art by the Poetry Society of America. At the awards ceremony that spring, the poet Cornelius Eady, standing beside Lucille’s beautiful daughters, accepted the award on her behalf, reading remarks she had composed for the occasion.

Two of my favorite short poems of hers can be described as self-portraits – one of spirit, the other of fidelity to poetry. The first is “We Do Not Know Very Much About Lucille’s Inner Life”:

from the light of her inner life
a company of citizens
watches lucille as she trembles
through the world.
she is a tired woman though
well meaning, they say.
when will she learn to listen to us?
lucille things are not what they seem.
all all is wonder and
astonishment.

The other is “the making of poems”:

the reason why I do it
though I fail and fail
in the giving of true names
is I am Adam and his mother
and these failures are my job.

We’ll feature her poems today and over the weekend.

“in the evenings” by Lucille Clifton:

Read On

A Poem For Friday

Nov 14 2014 @ 11:50am

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“Tinsel” by Robin Robertson:

Tune to the frequency of the wood and you’ll hear
the deer, breathing; a muscle, tensing; the sigh
of a fieldmouse under an owl. Now

listen to yourself—that friction—the push-and-drag,
the double pulse, the drum. You can hear it, clearly.
You can hear the sound of your body, breaking down.

If you’re very quiet, you might pick up loss: or rather
the thin noise that losing makes—perdition.
If you’re absolutely silent

and still, you can hear nothing
but the sound of nothing: this voice
and its wasting, the soul’s tinsel. Listen . . . Listen . . .

(From Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems by Robin Robertson © 2014 Robin Robertson. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Photo by Andrey Solovev)

A Poem For Sunday

Nov 9 2014 @ 1:34pm

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“Swimming in the Woods” by Robin Robertson:

Her long body in the spangled shade of the wood
was a swimmer moving through a pool:
fractal, finned by leaf and light;
the loose plates of lozenge and rhombus
wobbling coins of sunlight.
When she stopped, the water stopped,
and the sun re-made her as a tree,
banded and freckled and foxed.

Besieged by symmetries, condemned
to these patterns of love and loss,
I stare at the wet shape on the tiles
till it fades; when she came and sat next to me
after her swim and walked away
back to the trees, she left a dark butterfly.

(From Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems by Robin Robertson © 2014 by Robin Robertson. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Photo by Justin Henry)

A Poem For Saturday

Nov 8 2014 @ 10:34am

Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

I introduced the Scottish poet Robin Robertson at the 92nd Street Y this past Monday, where he read with another wonderful poet, Carolyn Forché. Reading his poems beforehand for days and days (and I’ve been reading his work for years) reinforced my sense that he is writing some of the best poems we have in English today—musical, stirring, and beautifully conceived. We’ll feature several this weekend from his newest book, Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems.

“Artichoke” by Robin Robertson:

The nubbed leaves
come away
in a tease of green, thinning
down to the membrane:
the quick, purpled,
beginnings of the male.

Then the slow hairs of the heart:
the choke that guards its trophy,
its vegetable goblet.
The meat of it lies, displayed,
up-ended, al dente,
the stub-root aching in its oil.

(From Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems by Robin Robertson © 2014 by Robin Robertson. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

A Poem For Friday

Nov 7 2014 @ 7:29pm

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Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell died last week. He loved the poems of his predecessors, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, whose line from “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” we post in his honor.

“I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter.”

“Blackberry Eating” by Galway Kinnell (1927-2014):

I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched or broughamed,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry eating in late September.

(From A New Selected Poems © 2000 by Galway Kinnell. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Photo by Jared Smith)

A Poem For Sunday

Nov 2 2014 @ 8:03pm

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“Saint Francis and the Sow” by Galway Kinnell (1927-2014):

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing
beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

(From A New Selected Poems © 2000 by Galway Kinnell. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Photo by Sonny Abesamis)