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Poem of the Day: Fawn
Out of a high meadow where flowers
bloom above cloud, come down;
pursue me with reasons for smiling without malice.

Bring mimic pride like that of the seedling fir,
surprise in the perfect leg-stems
and queries unstirred by recognition or fear
pooled in the deep eyes.

Come down by regions where rocks
lift through the hot haze of pain;
down landscapes darkened, crossed
by the rift of death-shock; place print
of a neat hoof on trampled ground
where not one leaf or root
remains unbitten; but come down
always, accompany me to the morass
of the decaying mind. There
we’ll share one rotted stump between us.


Mary Barnard, “Fawn” from Collected Poems (Portland: Breitenbush, 1979). Used by permission of the Estate of Mary Barnard.

Source: The Collected Poems of Mary Barnard(Breitenbush, 1979)

Mary Barnard

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Poem of the Day: The Wall
One night from the other side
of a motel wall made of nothing but
sawdust and pink stuff, I

listened as a man cried
to someone on the telephone
that all he wanted
to do before he died
was to come home.

“I want to come home!”

That night a man cried
until I was ankle-deep in sleep,
and then up to my neck, wading
like a swimmer
or like a suicide
through the waves
of him crying
and into the deep

as icebergs cracked into halves,
as jellyfish, like thoughts, were
passed secretly between people.

And the seaweed, like
the sinuous soft green hair
of certain beauty queens,
washed up by the sea.
Except that we

were in Utah, and one of us
was weeping
while the other one
was sleeping, with

nothing but a thin, dry
wall between us.



Source: Poetry March 2015

Laura Kasischke

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Poem of the Day: Atlantis
1. FAITH

“I’ve been having these
awful dreams, each a little different,
though the core’s the same—

we’re walking in a field,
Wally and Arden and I, a stretch of grass
with a highway running beside it,

or a path in the woods that opens
onto a road. Everything’s fine,
then the dog sprints ahead of us,

excited; we’re calling but
he’s racing down a scent and doesn’t hear us,
and that’s when he goes

onto the highway. I don’t want to describe it.
Sometimes it’s brutal and over,
and others he’s struck and takes off

so we don’t know where he is
or how bad. This wakes me
every night now, and I stay awake;

I’m afraid if I sleep I’ll go back
into the dream. It’s been six months,
almost exactly, since the doctor wrote

not even a real word
but an acronym, a vacant
four-letter cipher

that draws meanings into itself,
reconstitutes the world.
We tried to say it was just

a word; we tried to admit
it had power and thus to nullify it
by means of our acknowledgement.

I know the current wisdom:
bright hope, the power of wishing you’re well.
He’s just so tired, though nothing

shows in any tests, Nothing,
the doctor says, detectable;
the doctor doesn’t hear what I do,

that trickling, steadily rising nothing
that makes him sleep all day,
vanish into fever’s tranced afternoons,

and I swear sometimes
when I put my head to his chest
I can hear the virus humming

like a refrigerator.
Which is what makes me think
you can take your positive attitude

and go straight to hell.
We don’t have a future,
we have a dog.
      Who is he?

Soul without speech,
sheer, tireless faith,
he is that-which-goes-forward,

black muzzle, black paws
scouting what’s ahead;
he is where we’ll be hit first,

he’s the part of us
that’s going to get it.
I’m hardly awake on our morning walk

—always just me and Arden now—
and sometimes I am still
in the thrall of the dream,

which is why, when he took a step onto Commercial
before I’d looked both ways,
I screamed his name and grabbed his collar.

And there I was on my knees,
both arms around his neck
and nothing coming,

and when I looked into that bewildered face
I realized I didn’t know what it was
I was shouting at,

I didn’t know who I was trying to protect.”


       2. REPRIEVE

I woke in the night
and thought, It was a dream,

nothing has torn the future apart,
we have not lived years

in dread, it never happened,
I dreamed it all. And then

there was this sensation of terrific pressure
lifting, as if I were rising

in one of those old diving bells,
lightening, unburdening. I didn’t know

how heavy my life had become—so much fear,
so little knowledge. It was like

being young again, but I understood
how light I was, how without encumbrance,—

and so I felt both young and awake,
which I never felt

when I was young. The curtains moved
—it was still summer, all the windows open—

and I thought, I can move that easily.
I thought my dream had lasted for years,

a decade, a dream can seem like that,
I thought, There’s so much more time ...

And then of course the truth
came floating back to me.

You know how children
love to end stories they tell

by saying, It was all a dream? Years ago,
when I taught kids to write,

I used to tell them this ending spoiled things,
explaining and dismissing

what had come before. Now I know
how wise they were, to prefer

that gesture of closure,
their stories rounded not with a sleep

but a waking. What other gift
comes close to a reprieve?

This was the dream that Wally told me:
I was in the tunnel, he said,

and there really was a light at the end,
and a great being standing in the light.   

His arms were full of people, men and women,
but his proportions were all just right—I mean

he was the size of you or me.
And the people said, Come with us,

we’re going dancing. And they seemed so glad
to be going, and so glad to have me   

join them, but I said,
I’m not ready yet. I didn’t know what to do,

when he finished,
except hold the relentless

weight of him, I didn’t know
what to say except, It was a dream,

nothing’s wrong now,
it was only a dream.


       3. MICHAEL’S DREAM

Michael writes to tell me his dream:
I was helping Randy out of bed,
supporting him on one side
with another friend on the other,

and as we stood him up, he stepped out
of the body I was holding and became
a shining body, brilliant light   
held in the form I first knew him in.

This is what I imagine will happen,
the spirit’s release. Michael,
when we support our friends,
one of us on either side, our arms

under the man or woman’s arms,
what is it we’re holding? Vessel,
shadow, hurrying light? All those years
I made love to a man without thinking

how little his body had to do with me;
now, diminished, he’s never been so plainly
himself—remote and unguarded,
an otherness I can’t know

the first thing about. I said,
You need to drink more water   
or you’re going to turn into   
an old dry leaf. And he said,

Maybe I want to be an old leaf.
In the dream Randy’s leaping into
the future, and still here; Michael’s holding him
and releasing at once. Just as Steve’s

holding Jerry, though he’s already gone,
Marie holding John, gone, Maggie holding
her John, gone, Carlos and Darren
holding another Michael, gone,

and I’m holding Wally, who’s going.
Where isn’t the question,
though we think it is;
we don’t even know where the living are,

in this raddled and unraveling “here.”
What is the body? Rain on a window,
a clear movement over whose gaze?
Husk, leaf, little boat of paper

and wood to mark the speed of the stream?
Randy and Jerry, Michael and Wally
and John: lucky we don’t have to know
what something is in order to hold it.


       4. ATLANTIS

I thought your illness a kind of solvent
dissolving the future a little at a time;

I didn’t understand what’s to come
was always just a glimmer

up ahead, veiled like the marsh
gone under its tidal sheet

of mildly rippling aluminum.
What these salt distances were

is also where they’re going:
from blankly silvered span

toward specificity: the curve
of certain brave islands of grass,

temporary shoulder-wide rivers
where herons ply their twin trades

of study and desire. I’ve seen
two white emissaries unfold

like heaven’s linen, untouched,
enormous, a fluid exhalation. Early spring,

too cold yet for green, too early
for the tumble and wrack of last season

to be anything but promise,
but there in the air was white tulip,

marvel, triumph of all flowering, the soul
lifted up, if we could still believe

in the soul, after so much diminishment ...
Breath, from the unpromising waters,

up, across the pond and the two-lane highway,
pure purpose, over the dune,

gone. Tomorrow’s unreadable
as this shining acreage;

the future’s nothing
but this moment’s gleaming rim.

Now the tide’s begun
its clockwork turn, pouring,

in the day’s hourglass,
toward the other side of the world,

and our dependable marsh reappears
—emptied of that starched and angular grace

that spirited the ether, lessened,
but here. And our ongoingness,

what there’ll be of us? Look,
love, the lost world

rising from the waters again:
our continent, where it always was,

emerging from the half-light, unforgettable,
drenched, unchanged.


       5. COASTAL

Cold April and the neighbor girl
   —our plumber’s daughter—
         comes up the wet street

from the harbor carrying,
    in a nest she’s made
         of her pink parka,

a loon. It’s so sick,
    she says when I ask.
         Foolish kid,

does she think she can keep
    this emissary of air?
         Is it trust or illness

that allows the head
   —sleek tulip—to bow
         on its bent stem

across her arm?
    Look at the steady,
         quiet eye. She is carrying

the bird back from indifference,
    from the coast
         of whatever rearrangement

the elements intend,
    and the loon allows her.
         She is going to call

the Center for Coastal Studies,
    and will swaddle the bird
         in her petal-bright coat

until they come.
    She cradles the wild form.
         Stubborn girl.


       6. NEW DOG

Jimi and Tony
can’t keep Dino,
their cocker spaniel;
Tony’s too sick,
the daily walks
more pressure
than pleasure,
one more obligation
that can’t be met.

And though we already
have a dog, Wally
wants to adopt,
wants something small
and golden to sleep
next to him and
lick his face.
He’s paralyzed now
from the waist down,

whatever’s ruining him
moving upward, and
we don’t know
how much longer
he’ll be able to pet
a dog. How many men
want another attachment,
just as they’re
leaving the world?

Wally sits up nights
and says, I’d like   
some lizards, a talking bird,
some fish. A little rat.

So after I drive
to Jimi and Tony’s
in the Village and they
meet me at the door and say,
We can’t go through with it,   

we can’t give up our dog,
I drive to the shelter
—just to look—and there
is Beau: bounding and
practically boundless,
one brass concatenation
of tongue and tail,
unmediated energy,
too big, wild,

perfect. He not only
licks Wally’s face
but bathes every
irreplaceable inch
of his head, and though
Wally can no longer
feed himself he can lift
his hand, and bring it
to rest on the rough gilt

flanks when they are,
for a moment, still.
I have never seen a touch
so deliberate.
It isn’t about grasping;
the hand itself seems
almost blurred now,
softened, though
tentative only

because so much will
must be summoned,
such attention brought
to the work—which is all
he is now, this gesture
toward the restless splendor,
the unruly, the golden,
the animal, the new.

Mark Doty, “Atlantis” from Atlantis: Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Mark Doty. Reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: Atlantis(HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1995)

Mark Doty

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Poem of the Day: Love Song
I lie here thinking of you:—
 
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Yellow, yellow, yellow
it eats into the leaves,
smears with saffron
the horned branches that lean
heavily
against a smooth purple sky!
There is no light
only a honey-thick stain
that drips from leaf to leaf
and limb to limb
spoiling the colors
of the whole world—
 
you far off there under
the wine-red selvage of the west!




Source: William Carlos Williams: Selected Poems(The Library of America, 2004)

William Carlos Williams

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Poem of the Day: Old Man
Old Man, or Lad's-love,—in the name there's nothing
To one that knows not Lad's-love, or Old Man,
The hoar-green feathery herb, almost a tree,
Growing with rosemary and lavender.
Even to one that knows it well, the names
Half decorate, half perplex, the thing it is:
At least, what that is clings not to the names
In spite of time. And yet I like the names.
 
The herb itself I like not, but for certain
I love it, as some day the child will love it
Who plucks a feather from the door-side bush
Whenever she goes in or out of the house.
Often she waits there, snipping the tips and shrivelling
The shreds at last on to the path, perhaps
Thinking, perhaps of nothing, till she sniffs
Her fingers and runs off. The bush is still
But half as tall as she, though it is as old;
So well she clips it. Not a word she says;
And I can only wonder how much hereafter
She will remember, with that bitter scent,
Of garden rows, and ancient damson-trees
Topping a hedge, a bent path to a door,
A low thick bush beside the door, and me
Forbidding her to pick.
 
                                            As for myself,
Where first I met the bitter scent is lost.
I, too, often shrivel the grey shreds,
Sniff them and think and sniff again and try
Once more to think what it is I am remembering,
Always in vain. I cannot like the scent,
Yet I would rather give up others more sweet,
With no meaning, than this bitter one.
 
I have mislaid the key. I sniff the spray
And think of nothing; I see and I hear nothing;
Yet seem, too, to be listening, lying in wait
For what I should, yet never can, remember:
No garden appears, no path, no hoar-green bush
Of Lad's-love, or Old Man, no child beside,
Neither father nor mother, nor any playmate;
Only an avenue, dark, nameless, without end.



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Poem of the Day: Freud’s Beautiful Things
I have some sad news for you
I am but a symbol, a shadow cast on paper
If only you knew how things look within me at the moment
Trees covered in white blossom
The remains of my physical self
Do you really find my appearance so attractive?
Darling, I have been telling an awful lot of lies lately
If only I knew what you are doing now?
Standing in the garden and gazing out into the deserted street?
Not a mermaid, but a lovely human being
The whole thing reminds me of the man trying to rescue a birdcage from the burning house
(I feel compelled to express myself poetically)
I am not normally a hunter of relics, but ...
It was this childhood scene ...
(My mother ... )
All the while I kept thinking: her face has such a wild look
... as though she had never existed
The fact is I have not yet seen her in daylight
Distance must remain distance
A few proud buildings; your lovely photograph
I find this loss very hard to bear
The bells are ringing, I don’t quite know why
What makes all autobiographies worthless is, after all, their mendacity
Yesterday and today have been bad days
This oceanic feeling, continuous inner monologues
I said, “All the beautiful things I still have to say will have to remain unsaid,” and the writing table flooded



Source: Poetry June 2015

Emily Berry

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Poem of the Day: The Body
has its little hobbies. The lung
likes its air best after supper,
goes deeper there to trade up
for oxygen, give everything else
away. (And before supper, yes,
during too, but there’s
something about evening, that
slow breath of the day noticed: oh good,
still coming, still going ... ) As for
bones—femur, spine,
the tribe of them in there—they harden
with use. The body would like
a small mile or two. Thank you.
It would like it on a bike
or a run. Or in the water. Blue.
And food. A habit that involves
a larger circumference where a garden’s
involved, beer is brewed, cows
wake the farmer with their fullness,
a field surrenders its wheat, and wheat
understands I will be crushed
into flour and starry-dust
the whole room, the baker
sweating, opening a window
to acknowledge such remarkable
confetti. And the brain,
locked in its strange
dual citizenship, idles there in the body,
neatly terraced and landscaped.
Or left to ruin, such a brain,
wild roses growing
next to the sea. The body is
gracious about that. Oh, their
scent sometimes. Their
tangle. In truth, in secret,
the first thing
in morning the eye longs to see.



Source: Poetry June 2006

Marianne Boruch

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Poem of the Day: 40 Days
sleepwalker can never die
he is the chemical soldier
composite of latex
and atropine,
hellfire, warthogs,
desolation, pride,
apaches, lasers,
dust

devils swirling,
screaming fire
deaths, machine
worship, young blond
pilots flashing thumbs
up, excited smiles
of interviewed
military wives, shrapnel-

paced rockeye
anti-personnel
bombs spraying
death like fireflies
over a texas barbecue
of human flesh
stretching sixty miles
across open desert,

armageddon
over eden, algebraic
mosaic
of witchcraft, dot
pattern magic of omens
and signs,
victims never
knowing what

hit them, vivid
delivery of hell
to nineveh,
incendiary
reduction of tissue
to shadows on the sand,
incineration of boots
with human feet still

in them, pain,
mania,
technology,
history, delirious
victims bleeding,
eagle with the brains
of a weak and

frightened victim in
its beak, unhappy
fate, grief,
shame, helpless
rage

Tom Clark, “40 Days” from Light and Shade: New and Selected Poems. Copyright � 2006 by Tom Clark. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press, www.coffeehousepress.org.

Source: Sleepwalker(1992)

Tom Clark

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Poem of the Day: Moon Missing
I was so worried the hickory I recognized
had died from salt burn in the last hurricane
I may have passed by vervain and apple haw
like they didn’t matter, but this spring
it put out seven shoots from its base.
Still, the oldest trick is the moon missing,
then the “new” moon appears,
though we know it’s the old one, and we pretend
to be taken in like the mother or baby
behind the bath towel.
Really it’s the moon winking,
being the stone that holds stones and now footprints.
And when I tell Frances, I see she is a moon
motionless in the doorway, skin reflecting
a lamp, a face that awakens on paper.

Allan Peterson, "Moon Missing" from Fragile Acts. Copyright © 2012 by Allan Peterson.  Reprinted by permission of McSweeney’s Publishing.

Source: Fragile Acts(McSweeney's Publishing, 2012)

Allan Peterson

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Poem of the Day: spring song
the green of Jesus
is breaking the ground
and the sweet
smell of delicious Jesus
is opening the house and
the dance of Jesus music
has hold of the air and
the world is turning
in the body of Jesus and
the future is possible

Lucille Clifton, "spring song" from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton. Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton.  Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Source: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir(BOA Editions Ltd., 1980)

Lucille Clifton

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Poem of the Day: Introduction to Poetry
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry” from The Apple that Astonished Paris. Copyright � 1988, 1996 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press.

Source: The Apple that Astonished Paris(1996)

Billy Collins

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Poem of the Day: Good Friday, 1613. Riding...
Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other Spheares, by being growne
Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
Hence is't, that I am carryed towards the West
This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I'almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc'd with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag'd, and torne?
If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was Gods partner here, and furnish'd thus
Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom'd us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They'are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look'st towards mee,
O Saviour, as thou hang'st upon the tree;
I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may'st know mee, and I'll turne my face.




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Poem of the Day: The Crowds Cheered as Gloom...

Everyone was happier. But where did the sadness go? People wanted to know. They didn’t want it collecting in their elbows or knees then popping up later. The girl who thought of the ponies made a lot of money. Now a month’s supply of pills came in a hard blue case with a handle. You opened it & found the usual vial plus six tiny ponies of assorted shapes & sizes, softly breathing in the Styrofoam. Often they had to be pried out & would wobble a little when first put on the ground. In the beginning the children tried to play with them, but the sharp hooves nicked their fingers & the ponies refused to jump over pencil hurdles. The children stopped feeding them sugarwater & the ponies were left to break their legs on the gardens’ gravel paths or drown in the gutters. On the first day of the month, rats gathered on doorsteps & spat out only the bitter manes. Many a pony’s last sight was a bounding squirrel with its tail hovering over its head like a halo. Behind the movie theatre the hardier ponies gathered in packs amongst the cigarette butts, getting their hooves stuck in wads of gum. They lined the hills at funerals, huddled under folding chairs at weddings. It became a matter of pride if one of your ponies proved unusually sturdy. People would smile & say, “This would have been an awful month for me,” pointing to the glossy palomino trotting energetically around their ankles. Eventually, the ponies were no longer needed. People had learned to imagine their sadness trotting away. & when they wanted something more tangible, they could always go to the racetrack & study the larger horses’ faces. Gloom, #341, with those big black eyes, was almost sure to win.

“The Crowds Cheered as Gloom Galloped Away” © 2004 Matthea Harvey. Reprinted from Sad Little Breathing Machine with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Source: Sad Little Breathing Machine(Graywolf Press, 2004)

Matthea Harvey

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Poem of the Day: The Powwow at the End of the...
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam   
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   
and so I shall after the floodwaters burst each successive dam   
downriver from the Grand Coulee. I am told by many of you   
that I must forgive and so I shall after the floodwaters find   
their way to the mouth of the Columbia River as it enters the Pacific   
and causes all of it to rise. I am told by many of you that I must forgive   
and so I shall after the first drop of floodwater is swallowed by that salmon   
waiting in the Pacific. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   
after that salmon swims upstream, through the mouth of the Columbia   
and then past the flooded cities, broken dams and abandoned reactors   
of Hanford. I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   
after that salmon swims through the mouth of the Spokane River   
as it meets the Columbia, then upstream, until it arrives   
in the shallows of a secret bay on the reservation where I wait alone.   
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall after   
that salmon leaps into the night air above the water, throws   
a lightning bolt at the brush near my feet, and starts the fire   
which will lead all of the lost Indians home. I am told   
by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall   
after we Indians have gathered around the fire with that salmon   
who has three stories it must tell before sunrise: one story will teach us   
how to pray; another story will make us laugh for hours;   
the third story will give us reason to dance. I am told by many   
of you that I must forgive and so I shall when I am dancing   
with my tribe during the powwow at the end of the world.

Sherman Alexie, “The Powwow at the End of the World” from The Summer of Black Widows. Copyright © 1996 by Sherman Alexie. Used by permission of Hanging Loose Press.

Source: The Summer of Black Widows(Story Line Press, 1996)

Sherman Alexie

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Poem of the Day: A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky
A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?



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Poem of the Day: April
The optimists among us
taking heart because it is spring
skip along
attending their meetings
signing their e-mail petitions
marching with their satiric signs
singing their we shall overcome songs
posting their pungent twitters and blogs
believing in a better world
for no good reason
I envy them
said the old woman

The seasons go round they
go round and around
said the tulip
dancing among her friends
in their brown bed in the sun
in the April breeze
under a maple canopy
that was also dancing
only with greater motions
casting greater shadows
and the grass
hardly stirring

What a concerto
of good stinks said the dog
trotting along Riverside Drive
in the early spring afternoon
sniffing this way and that
how gratifying the cellos of the river
the tubas of the traffic
the trombones
of the leafing elms with the legato
of my rivals’ piss at their feet
and the leftover meat and grease
singing along in all the wastebaskets



Source: Poetry February 2011

Alicia Ostriker

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Poem of the Day: The Fat Old Couple Whirling...
The drum says that the night we die will be a long night.
It says the children have time to play. Tell the grownups
They can pull the curtains around the bed tonight.

The old man wants to know how the war ended.
The young girl wants her breasts to cause the sun to rise.
The thinker wants to keep misunderstanding alive.

It’s all right if the earthly monk is buried near the altar.
It’s all right if the singer fails to turn up for her concert.
It’s good if the fat old couple keeps whirling around.

Let the parents sing over the cradle every night.
Let the pelicans go on living in their stickly nests.
Let the duck go on loving the mud around her feet.

It’s all right if the ant always remembers his way home.
It’s all right if Bach keeps reaching for the same note.
It’s all right if we knock the ladder away from the house.

Even if you are a puritan it would be all right
If you join the lovers in their ruined house tonight.
It’s good if you become a soul and then disappear.

Robert Bly, "The Fat Old Couple Whirling Around" from My Sentence was a Thousand Years of Joy. Copyright © 2005 by Robert Bly.  Reprinted by permission of Robert Bly.

Source: My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy(HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 2005)

Robert Bly

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Poem of the Day: Ramadan
You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches,
and have to choose between the starving month’s

nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings.
The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?

If the ground-water is too scarce one can stretch nets
into the air and harvest the fog.

Hunger opens you to illiteracy,
thirst makes clear the starving pattern,

the thick night is so quiet, the spinning spider pauses,
the angel stops whispering for a moment—

The secret night could already be over,
you will have to listen very carefully—

You are never going to know which night’s mouth is sacredly reciting
and which night’s recitation is secretly mere wind—


Kazim Ali, “Ramadan” from The Fortieth Day. Copyright © 2008 by Kazim Ali. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.

Source: The Fortieth Day(BOA Editions Ltd., 2008)

Kazim Ali

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Poem of the Day: The Widow’s Lament in...
Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before, but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirty-five years
I lived with my husband.
The plum tree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red,
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they,
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

William Carlos Williams, “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime” from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939, edited by Christopher MacGowan. Copyright 1938, 1944, 1945 by William Carlos Williams. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Poetry January 1922

William Carlos Williams

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Poem of the Day: Calmly We Walk through This...
Calmly we walk through this April’s day,   
Metropolitan poetry here and there,   
In the park sit pauper and rentier,   
The screaming children, the motor-car   
Fugitive about us, running away,   
Between the worker and the millionaire   
Number provides all distances,   
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,   
Many great dears are taken away,   
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn ...)   
Besides the photo and the memory?
(... that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn ...)   
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days   
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run   
(This is the school in which they learn ...)   
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(... that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,   
But what they were then?
                                     No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,   
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)   
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,   
The great globe reels in the solar fire,   
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)   
What am I now that I was then?   
May memory restore again and again   
The smallest color of the smallest day:   
Time is the school in which we learn,   
Time is the fire in which we burn.

Delmore Schwartz, “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day” from Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge. Copyright © 1967 by Delmore Schwartz. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation, www.wwnorton.com/nd/welcome.htm

Source: Selected Poems (1938-1958): Summer Knowledge(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1967)

Delmore Schwartz

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Poem of the Day: Such Simple Love
All night long I hear the sleepers toss
Between the darkened window and the wall.
The madman’s whimper and the lover’s voice,
The worker’s whisper and the sick child’s call—
Knowing them all

I’d walk a mile, maybe, hearing some cat
Crying its guts out, to throttle it by hand,
Such simple love I had. I wished I might—
Or God might—answer each call in person and
Each poor demand.

Well, I’d have been better off sleeping myself.
These fancies had some sentimental charm,
But love without direction is a cheap blanket
And even if it did no one any harm,
No one is warm.

Thomas McGrath, “Such Simple Love” from The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems, published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems(Swallow Press, 1972)

Thomas McGrath

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Poem of the Day: Faith
It was midday before we noticed it was morning.
The boy cousins brought us a tray—soup and cheese,
warm soda, and a soft cloth and candy for her fever.
They wouldn’t come in, the tray weighing between them.
They stood like woodwork inside the door frame.

By afternoon the old procession—silence at the lip
of a dozen night travelers tired and grieving, one
by one, or pairs floating to the bed and back
with a touching of hands like humming,
and the one we gathered for slipping farther

for all the good we could do. She lay in her shadow.
She looked to no one. Her daylilies bobbed wide
open out in the wild, blue sun and the same bee
kept nosing her window to reach them.
Dusk: even the boys were back watching it try.

David Baker, “Faith” from After the Reunion. Copyright © 1994 by David Baker. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Arkansas Press, www.uapress.com.

Source: After the Reunion(University of Arkansas Press, 1994)

David Baker

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Poem of the Day: Constructive
You take a rock, your hand is hard.
You raise your eyes, and there's a pair
of small beloveds, caught in pails.
The monocle and eyepatch correspond.

You take a glove, your hand is soft.
The ocean floor was done
in lizardskin. Around a log or snag
the surface currents run

like lumber about a knot. A boat
is bent to sea—we favor the medium
we're in, our shape's
around us. It takes time.

At night, the bed alive, what
teller of truth could tell
the two apart? Lover, beloved,
hope is command. Your hand

is given, when you take a hand.


Heather McHugh, “Constructive” from Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993. Copyright © 1994 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993(Wesleyan University Press, 1994)

Heather McHugh

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Poem of the Day: Spring
To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.




Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Poem of the Day: April Fool
The maple syrup's full of ants.
                                    A mouse is creeping on the shelf.
                                   
                                   Is that a spider on your back?
             I ate a whole pie by myself.

The kitchen sink just overflowed.
                                   A flash flood washed away the school.
             I threw your blanket in the trash.

                                   I never lie————I————
                                                                                APRIL FOOL!

Myra Cohn Livingston, "April Fool" from Celebrations. Copyright © 1985 by Myra Cohn Livingston.  Reprinted by permission of Marian Reiner.

Source: Celebrations(Holiday House, 1985)

Myra Cohn Livingston

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