Poetry month (day twenty-three)

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Storm Ending
by Jean Toomer

Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears . . .
Full-lipped flowers
Bitten by the sun
Bleeding rain
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.

Poetry month (day twenty-two)

The Grauballe Man
by Seamus Heaney

As if he had been poured
in tar, he lies
on a pillow of turf
and seems to weep

the black river of himself.
The grain of his wrists
is like bog oak,
the ball of his heel

like a basalt egg.
His instep has shrunk
cold as a swan’s foot
or a wet swamp root.

His hips are the ridge
and purse of a mussel,
his spine an eel arrested
under a glisten of mud.

The head lifts,
the chin is a visor
raised above the vent
of his slashed throat

that has tanned and toughened.
The cured wound
opens inwards to a dark
elderberry place.

Who will say ‘corpse’
to his vivid cast?
Who will say ‘body’
to his opaque repose?

And his rusted hair,
a mat unlikely
as a foetus’s.
I first saw his twisted face

in a photograph,
a head and shoulder
out of the peat,
bruised like a forceps baby,

but now he lies
perfected in my memory,
down to the red horn
of his nails,

hung in the scales
with beauty and atrocity:
with the Dying Gaul
too strictly compassed

on his shield,
with the actual weight
of each hooded victim,
slashed and dumped.

poetry month (day twenty-one)

The Secret
by Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

Poetry month (day twenty)

Snowfall
by Ravi Shankar

Particulate as ash, new year’s first snow falls
upon peaked roofs, car hoods, undulant hills,
in imitation of motion that moves the way

static cascades down screens when the cable
zaps out, persistent & granular with a flicker
of legibility that dissipates before it can be

interpolated into any succession of imagery.
One hour stretches sixty minutes into a field
of white flurry: hexagonal lattices of water

molecules that accumulate in drifts too soon
strewn with sand, hewn into browning
mounds by plow blade, left to turn to slush.

Poetry month (day nineteen)

Plums_in_basket

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Personal Mythology

Virginia_map_1606

I am beginning a series about family lore and personal mythology, and this is the first piece for that. My grandfather was a Woodson, and there are two sides of that family; the potato Woodsons and the tub Woodsons. The distinction between the lines of the family come from two brothers who were hidden during an attack on their home. The boys were hidden in the potato cellar and under a wash tub.

Potato Woodson

In the cold humidity of the root cellar,
shadow touching skin,
he felt himself fold into the corner of the walls,
felt the grit of silence on his palms.

He listened to his mother, upstairs, move
through the quiet, heard her shift and wait.

Beyond the locked shutters, Powhatans whistled
a plan to one another, moving to keep their land,
moving to contain a flood.

In the dark silence of the moment,
his body curled tight into itself,
he smelled the oiled metal of the flintlock,
the metallic scent of grief.

He listened past his chest pounding, heard the sound
like pressure clearing in the ear, like the pop of a yawn.

Beyond the locked shutters, a Powhatan body fell,
blood making mud of the earth,
water moving back to join the flood.

Poetry month (day eighteen)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
XVII
by e.e. cummings

Lady, i will touch you with my mind.
Touch you and touch and touch
until you give
me suddenly a smile,shyly obscene

(lady i will
touch you with my mind.)Touch
you,that is all,

lightly and you utterly will become
with infinite care

the poem which i do not write.

Poetry month (day seventeen)

images
At 7PM
by Amber Decker

You board a plane to Las Vegas
bound for a supporting role in a wedding
you do not believe has anything to do with love
Earlier, we’d made love on an old mattress
on the floor of your best friend’s apartment,
the hard shell of your suitcase banging
into my knee, your mouth wet
with the harsh scrape of my name.
There was little romance in it,
only the frenzied unleashing
of the not-knowing,
the possibility of unhappy endings, cutthroat desire.
I do not love you.
Or, rather, I love you
as I would love a deck of cards
while waiting for a train or a bus.
Our goodbyes fly across a crowded room
like small white birds.
At the ticket counter,
you kiss me with lips smooth as Cary Grant.
In the car, the radio plays songs to name
every sort of love
that does not bloom
in my heart for you,
and the long white lines of the road,
like dark-haired college boys
with bodies pale as ghosts,
take me home to bed.

Poetry moth (day sixteen)

bottle

Tonight
by Ladan Osman

Tonight is a drunk man,
his dirty shirt.

There is no couple chatting by the recycling bins,
offering to help me unload my plastics.

There is not even the black and white cat
that balances elegantly on the lip of the dumpster.

There is only the smell of sour breath. Sweat on the collar of my shirt.
A water bottle rolling under a car.
Me in my too-small pajama pants stacking juice jugs on neighbors’ juice jugs.

I look to see if there is someone drinking on their balcony.

I tell myself I will wave.

Poetry month (day fifteen)

Sonnet 29
by William Shakespeare

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings

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