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Poem of the Day: Wildpeace
Not the peace of a cease-fire,
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill,
that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds—
who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.)

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.

Yehuda Amichai, “Wildpeace” from Selected Poetry. Copyright © 1996 by Yehuda Amichai. Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: Selected Poetry(University of California Press, 1986)

Yehuda Amichai

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Poem of the Day: Church Monuments
While that my soul repairs to her devotion,
Here I intomb my flesh, that it betimes
May take acquaintance of this heap of dust;
To which the blast of death's incessant motion,
Fed with the exhalation of our crimes,
Drives all at last. Therefore I gladly trust

My body to this school, that it may learn
To spell his elements, and find his birth
Written in dusty heraldry and lines ;
Which dissolution sure doth best discern,
Comparing dust with dust, and earth with earth.
These laugh at jet, and marble put for signs,

To sever the good fellowship of dust,
And spoil the meeting. What shall point out them,
When they shall bow, and kneel, and fall down flat
To kiss those heaps, which now they have in trust?
Dear flesh, while I do pray, learn here thy stem
And true descent: that when thou shalt grow fat,

And wanton in thy cravings, thou mayst know,
That flesh is but the glass, which holds the dust
That measures all our time; which also shall
Be crumbled into dust. Mark, here below,
How tame these ashes are, how free from lust,
That thou mayst fit thyself against thy fall.



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Poem of the Day: Deer Dance Exhibition
Question: Can you tell us about what he is wearing?
Well, the hooves represent the deer’s hooves,
the red scarf represents the flowers from which he ate,
the shawl is for skin.
The cocoons make the sound of the deer walking on leaves and grass.
Listen.
Question: What is that he is beating on?
It’s a gourd drum. The drum represents the heartbeat of the deer.
Listen.
When the drum beats, it brings the deer to life.
We believe the water the drum sits in is holy. It is life.
Go ahead, touch it.
Bless yourself with it.
It is holy. You are safe now.
Question: How does the boy become a dancer?
He just knows. His mother said he had dreams when he was just a little boy.
You know how that happens. He just had it in him.
Then he started working with older men who taught him how to dance.
He has made many sacrifices for his dancing even for just a young boy.
The people concur, “Yes, you can see it in his face.”
Question: What do they do with the money we throw them?
Oh, they just split it among the singers and dancer.
They will probably take the boy to McDonald’s for a burger and fries.
The men will probably have a cold one.
It’s hot today, you know.

Ofelia Zepeda, “Deer Dance Exhibiton” from Ocean Power. Copyright © 1995 by Ofelia Zepeda. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Ocean Power(University of Arizona Press, 1995)

Ofelia Zepeda

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Poem of the Day: His Stillness
The doctor said to my father, “You asked me
to tell you when nothing more could be done.   
That’s what I’m telling you now.” My father   
sat quite still, as he always did,
especially not moving his eyes. I had thought   
he would rave if he understood he would die,   
wave his arms and cry out. He sat up,   
thin, and clean, in his clean gown,
like a holy man. The doctor said,
“There are things we can do which might give you time,
but we cannot cure you.” My father said,   
“Thank you.” And he sat, motionless, alone,   
with the dignity of a foreign leader.
I sat beside him. This was my father.
He had known he was mortal. I had feared they would have to   
tie him down. I had not remembered
he had always held still and kept quiet to bear things,   
the liquor a way to keep still. I had not   
known him. My father had dignity. At the   
end of his life his life began
to wake in me.

Sharon Olds, “His Stillness” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems 1980-2002. Copyright © 2004 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.

Source: Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002(Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)

Sharon Olds

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Poem of the Day: American Sonnet for My Past...
Inside me is a black-eyed animal
Bracing in a small stall. As if a bird
Could grow without breaking its shell.
As if the clatter of a thousand black
Birds whipping in a storm could be held
In a shell. Inside me is a huge black
Bull balled small enough to fit inside
The bead of a nipple ring. I mean to leave
A record of my raptures. I was raised
By a beautiful man. I loved his grasp of time.
My mother shaped my grasp of space.
Would you rather spend the rest of eternity
With your wild wings bewildering a cage or
With your four good feet stuck in a plot of dirt?

Source: Poetry September 2017

Terrance Hayes

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Poem of the Day: The Second Trying
If I could only get hold of the whole of you,   
How could I ever get hold of the whole of you,   
Even more than the most beloved idols,   
More than mountains quarried whole,   
          More than mines   
          Of burning coal,   
Let’s say mines of extinguished coal   
And the breath of day like a fiery furnace.   

If one could get hold of you for all the years,   
How could one get hold of you from all the years,   
How could one lengthen a single arm,   
Like a single branch of an African river,   
As one sees in a dream the Bay of Storms,   
As one sees in a dream a ship that went down,   
The way one imagines a cushion of clouds,   
Lily-clouds as the body’s cushion,   
But though you will it, they will not convey you,   
Do not believe that they will convey you.   

If one could get hold of all-of-the-whole-of-you,   
If one could get hold of you like metal,   
Say like pillars of copper,   
Say like a pillar of purple copper   
(That pillar I remembered last summer)—
And the bottom of the ocean I have never seen,   
And the bottom of the ocean that I can see   
With its thousand heavy thickets of air,   
A thousand and one laden breaths.   

If one could only get hold of the-whole-of-you-now,   
How could you ever be for me what I myself am?   


Source: Poetry April 2009

Dahlia Ravikovitch

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Poem of the Day: The Author to Her Book
Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,
Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.
In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.


Source: The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet(1981)

Anne Bradstreet

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Poem of the Day: Colors of the Comanche Nation...
                              Red

Mupits’ breath, in moonlight, outside a child’s bedroom window

Hunter’s bones scattered on the prairie

Fragrance of Comanche gangstas who entered The Zoo Club
and assassinated the bosses of Underworld Seven,
a Navajo crime syndicate

Little Stoney Burgess’s footprints after catching ghost sickness
by running through Post Oak Cemetery chased
by snot-nosed bully, Blender Plenty Bear


                              Blue

Lips of the poisoned tribal chairman collapsed on the buffet table
at the 1974 Comanche Nation Inaugural Dinner

Silk handkerchief drawn over the stuffed owl used to converse
with the dead

In the woods, it’s the laughter of Deer Woman as she stomps
her male victim to death

Electric guitar distortion of the Messiah playing Jimi Hendrix’s
Machine Gun as she strolls into the Indian bar


                               Yellow

Coyote’s eyes in the darkness of the backseat at midnight
as you speed down Mt. Scott, on a dare, with the headlights off

Crushed buffalo kidney stones used in graffiti to magically
imprison the river-witch underneath the I-44 bridge

Intricate beadwork on Lucifer’s cane
left at the funnel cake stand at Comanche Fair

Flashing ignition light to the engines of the great abyss


Sy Hoahwah, “Colors of the Comanche Nation Flag” from Velroy and the Madischie Mafia. Copyright © 2009 by Sy Hoahwah.

Source: Velroy and the Madischie Mafia(West End Press, 2009)

Stuart Youngman "Sy" Hoahwah

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Poem of the Day: Still When I Picture It the...
Before it disappears

on the sand his long white      beard before it disappears

The face of the man

in the waves I ask her does she see it ask her does

The old man in the waves      as the waves crest she see it does

she see the old man his

White     his face crumbling face it looks

as old as he’s as old as

The ocean looks

and for a moment almost looks

His face like it’s     all the way him

As never such old skin

looks my / Daughter age four

She thinks it might he might be real she shouts Hello

And after there’s no answer answers No

Source: Poetry November 2015

Shane McCrae

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Poem of the Day: [That]
That this is the morning in which nothing much

that the sky is still there and the water dresses

accordingly that only at night does the water rest

vanish from sight that the stars are too small too far

to register there that all our names too are writ

invisibly on water that abiding requires more hope

than I can possibly acquire that hope is not a thing

with feathers that hope is a thing with a fist a thin

crust sketched over oceans that hope is what despair

uses for bait come in hope says the water's fine

that hope is the blood with which you write letters

that start dear sea dear ocean stop asking so fucking

much that hope is a telegram delivered by men

in pairs men in uniform a telegram that says missing

stop that says once again presumed lost stop
 

Leslie Harrison, "[That]" from The Book of Endings. Copyright © 2017 by Leslie Harrison. Reprinted by permission of University of Akron Press.

Source: The Book of Endings(University of Akron Press, 2017-10-06)

Leslie Harrison

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Poem of the Day: Tonight, in Oakland
I did not come here to sing a blues.
Lately, I open my mouth
 
& out comes marigolds, yellow plums.
I came to make the sky a garden.
 
Give me rain or give me honey, dear lord.
The sky has given us no water this year.
 
I ride my bike to a boy, when I get there
what we make will not be beautiful
 
or love at all, but it will be deserved.
I’ve started seeking men to wet the harvest.
 
Come, tonight I declare we must move
instead of pray. Tonight, east of here,
two boys, one dressed in what could be blood
 
& one dressed in what could be blood
before the wound, meet & mean mug
 
& God, tonight, let them dance! Tonight,
the bullet does not exist. Tonight, the police
 
have turned to their God for forgiveness.
Tonight, we bury nothing, we serve a God
 
with no need for shovels, we serve a God
with a bad hip & a brother in prison.
 
Tonight, let every man be his own lord.
Let wherever two people stand be a reunion
 
of ancient lights. Let’s waste the moon’s marble glow
shouting our names to the stars until we are
 
the stars. O, precious God! O, sweet black town!
I am drunk & I thirst. When I get to the boy
 
who lets me practice hunger with him
I will not give him the name of your newest ghost
 
I will give him my body & what he does with it
is none of my business, but I will say look,
 
I made it a whole day, still, no rain
still, I am without exit wound
 
& he will say Tonight, I want to take you
how the police do, unarmed & sudden
 
& tonight, when we dream, we dream of dancing
in a city slowly becoming ash.

Danez Smith, "Tonight, in Oakland." Copyright © 2015 by Danez Smith. Used by permission of the author for PoetryNow, a partnership between the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network.

Source: PoetryNow(PoetryNow, 2015)

Danez Smith

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Poem of the Day: And There Was a Great Calm
 
                                       I
There had been years of Passion—scorching, cold,
And much Despair, and Anger heaving high,
Care whitely watching, Sorrows manifold,
Among the young, among the weak and old,
And the pensive Spirit of Pity whispered, “Why?”
 
 
                                       II
Men had not paused to answer. Foes distraught
Pierced the thinned peoples in a brute-like blindness,
Philosophies that sages long had taught,
And Selflessness, were as an unknown thought,
And “Hell!” and “Shell!” were yapped at Lovingkindness.
 
 
                                       III
The feeble folk at home had grown full-used
To 'dug-outs', 'snipers', 'Huns', from the war-adept
In the mornings heard, and at evetides perused;
To day-dreamt men in millions, when they mused—
To nightmare-men in millions when they slept.
 
 
                                       IV
Waking to wish existence timeless, null,
Sirius they watched above where armies fell;
He seemed to check his flapping when, in the lull
Of night a boom came thencewise, like the dull
Plunge of a stone dropped into some deep well.
 
 
                                       V
So, when old hopes that earth was bettering slowly
Were dead and damned, there sounded 'War is done!'
One morrow. Said the bereft, and meek, and lowly,
'Will men some day be given to grace? yea, wholly,
And in good sooth, as our dreams used to run?'
 
 
                                       VI
Breathless they paused. Out there men raised their glance
To where had stood those poplars lank and lopped,
As they had raised it through the four years’ dance
Of Death in the now familiar flats of France;
And murmured, 'Strange, this! How? All firing stopped?'
 
 
                                       VII
Aye; all was hushed. The about-to-fire fired not,
The aimed-at moved away in trance-lipped song.
One checkless regiment slung a clinching shot
And turned. The Spirit of Irony smirked out, 'What?
Spoil peradventures woven of Rage and Wrong?'
 
 
                                       VIII
Thenceforth no flying fires inflamed the gray,
No hurtlings shook the dewdrop from the thorn,
No moan perplexed the mute bird on the spray;
Worn horses mused: 'We are not whipped to-day;'
No weft-winged engines blurred the moon’s thin horn.
 
 
                                       IX
Calm fell. From Heaven distilled a clemency;
There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky;
Some could, some could not, shake off misery:
The Sinister Spirit sneered: 'It had to be!'
And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, 'Why?'
Source: Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems(Palgrave, 2001)

Thomas Hardy

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Poem of the Day: Self-Portrait, 1969
He's still young—; thirty, but looks younger—
or does he? . . . In the eyes and cheeks, tonight,
turning in the mirror, he saw his mother,—
puffy; angry; bewildered . . . Many nights
now, when he stares there, he gets angry:—
something unfulfilled there, something dead
to what he once thought he surely could be—
Now, just the glamour of habits . . .
                                                                 Once, instead,
he thought insight would remake him, he'd reach
—what? The thrill, the exhilaration
unravelling disaster, that seemed to teach
necessary knowledge . . . became just jargon.

Sick of being decent, he craves another
crash. What reaches him except disaster?



Frank Bidart, "Self-Portrait, 1969" from In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-1990. Copyright © 1997 by Frank Bidart. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Source: In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965-1990(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997)

Frank Bidart

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Poem of the Day: from WHEREAS

WHEREAS a string-bean blue-eyed man leans back into a swig of beer work-weary lips at the dark bottle keeping cool in short sleeves and khakis he enters the discussion;

Whereas his wrist loose at the bottleneck to come across as candid “Well at least there was an Apology that’s all I can say” he offers to the circle each of them scholarly;

Whereas under starlight the fireflies wink across East Coast grass and me I sit there painful in my silence glued to a bench in the midst of the American casual;

Whereas a subtle electricity in that low purple light I felt their eyes on my face gauging a reaction and someone’s discomfort leaks out in a well-stated “Hmmm”;

Whereas like a bird darting from an oncoming semi my mind races to the Apology’s assertion “While the establishment of permanent European settlements in North America did stir conflict with nearby Indian tribes, peaceful and mutually beneficial interactions also took place”;

Whereas I cross my arms and raise a curled hand to my mouth as if thinking as if  taking it in I allow a static quiet then choose to stand up excusing myself  I leave them to unease;

Whereas I drive down the road replaying the get-together how the man and his beer bottle stated their piece and I reel at what I could have said or done better;

Whereas I could’ve but didn’t broach the subject of “genocide” the absence of this term from the Apology and its rephrasing as “conflict” for example;

Whereas since the moment had passed I accept what’s done and the knife of my conscience pierces with bone-clean self-honesty;

Whereas in a stirred conflict between settlers and an Indian that night in a circle;

Whereas I struggle to confess that I didn’t want to explain anything;

Whereas truthfully I wished most to kick the legs of that man’s chair out from under him;

Whereas to watch him fall backward legs flailing beer stench across his chest;

Whereas I pictured it happening in cinematic slow-motion delightful;

Whereas the curled hand I raised to my mouth was a sign of indecision;

Whereas I could’ve done it but I didn’t;

Whereas I can admit this also took place, yes, at least;

 

WHEREAS we ride to the airport in a van they swivel their necks and shoulders around to speak to me sugar and lilt in their voices something like nurses their nursely kindness through my hair then engage me as comrades in a fight together. Well what we want to know one lady asks is why they don’t have schools there? Her outrage empathy her furrowed brow. There are schools there I reply. Grade schools high schools colleges. But why aren’t there any stores there? There are stores there. Grocery stores convenience stores trading posts whatever what-have-you I explain but it’s here I recognize the break. It’s here we roll along the pavement into hills of conversation we share a ride we share a country but live in alternate nations and here I must tell them what they don’t know or, should I? Should I is the moment to seize and before I know it I say Well you know Native people as in tribes as in “people” living over there are people with their own nations each with its own government and flag they rise to their own national songs and sing in their own languages, even. And by there I mean here all around us I remind them. Drifting in side-glances to whirring trees through the van windows then back to me they dig in they unearth the golden question My God how come we were never taught this in our schools? The concern and furrow. But God the slowing wheels and we lurch forward in the van’s downshift and brake. Together we reach a full-stop. Trapped in a helix of traffic we’re late for check-in security flights our shoulders flex forward into panicked outward gazes nerves and fingers cradle our wristwatches so to answer their question now would be untimely because to really speak to it ever is, untimely. But there Comrades there there Nurses. I will remember the swing of your gold earrings. There your perfume around me as a fresh blanket. There you checked my pulse kindly. There the boundary of bedside manners;

 

WHEREAS a woman I know says she watched a news program a reporter detailed the fire a house in which five children burned perhaps their father too she doesn’t recall exactly but remembers the camera on the mother’s face the mother’s blubbering her hiccuping and wail she leans to me she says she never knew then in those times that year this country the northern state she grew up in she was so young you see she’d never seen it before nobody talked about them she means Indians she tells me and so on and so on but that moment in front of the TV she says was like opening a box left at her door opening to see the thing inside whereas to say she learned through that mother’s face can you believe it and I let her finish wanting someone to say it but she hated saying it or so she said admitting how she never knew until then they could feel;

 

WHEREAS the word whereas means it being the case that, or considering that, or while on the contrary; is a qualifying or introductory statement, a conjunction, a connector. Whereas sets the table. The cloth. The saltshakers and plates. Whereas calls me to the table because Whereas precedes and invites. I have come now. I’m seated across from a Whereas smile. Under pressure of formalities, I fidget I shake my legs. I’m not one for these smiles, Whereas I have spent my life in unholding. What do you mean by unholding? Whereas asks and since Whereas rarely asks, I am moved to respond, Whereas, I have learned to exist and exist without your formality, saltshakers, plates, cloth. Without the slightest conjunctions to connect me. Without an exchange of questions, without the courtesy of answers. This has become mine, this unholding. Whereas, with or without the setup, I can see the dish being served. Whereas let us bow our heads in prayer now, just enough to eat;

Source: Poetry January 2017

Layli Long Soldier

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Poem of the Day: The Last Movie
Saturday, April 5. Welles’s Othello:
black and white grid of rage,

steam of sheer fury spewing from the vent
of violence that followed where they went.

Wind howled on the battlements, but sun
gilded glum canals. The lovers floated

beneath black bridges, coupled in stone rooms.
The unrepentant villain (at the start

so all the rest was flashback)
dangled from a cage

squinting inscrutably at the funeral
procession winding through the town below.

The air was full of wailing.
Knives of sunlight glittered on the sea.

We lurched out onto Fifty-Seventh Street.
You said “I think I’m dying.”

Next week your eyes went out.
Shining under the lamp,

your blue gaze, now opaque,
your face drawn sharper but still beautiful:

from this extremity you can attempt
to rise to rage and grief. Or you can yield

to the cozy quicksand of the bed.
You wave your hand at walls of books:

“What do I do? Do I throw all these away?”
Their anecdotes, their comforts—now black glass.

Rachel Hadas, “The Last Movie” from Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems. Copyright ? 1998 by Rachel Hadas. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Halfway Down the Hall: New and Selected Poems(Wesleyan University Press, 1998)

Rachel Hadas

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Poem of the Day: To Madame Curie
Oft have I thrilled at deeds of high emprise,
And yearned to venture into realms unknown,
Thrice blessed she, I deemed, whom God had shown
How to achieve great deeds in woman’s guise.
Yet what discov’ry by expectant eyes
Of foreign shores, could vision half the throne
Full gained by her, whose power fully grown
Exceeds the conquerors of th’ uncharted skies?
So would I be this woman whom the world
Avows its benefactor; nobler far,
Than Sybil, Joan, Sappho, or Egypt’s queen.
In the alembic forged her shafts and hurled
At pain, diseases, waging a humane war;
Greater than this achievement, none, I ween.

Source: The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson Volume 2 The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers(Oxford University Press, 1988)

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

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Poem of the Day: Willow
...and a decrepit handful of trees.
—Aleksandr Pushkin

And I matured in peace born of command,
in the nursery of the infant century,
and the voice of man was never dear to me,
but the breeze’s voice—that I could understand.
The burdock and the nettle I preferred,
but best of all the silver willow tree.
Its weeping limbs fanned my unrest with dreams;
it lived here all my life, obligingly.
I have outlived it now, and with surprise.
There stands the stump; with foreign voices other
willows converse, beneath our, beneath those skies,
and I am hushed, as if I’d lost a brother.

Source: Poetry December 2005

Anna Akhmatova

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Poem of the Day: The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee
I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things

You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive

N. Scott Momaday, “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee” from In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961-1991. Copyright ©1991 by N. Scott Momaday. Reprinted with the permission of the author and St. Martin’s Press, LLC.

Source: In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems 1961-1991(St. Martin's Press LLC, 1992)

N. Scott Momaday

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Poem of the Day: America, I Sing You Back
America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.
Sing back the moment you cherished breath.
Sing you home into yourself and back to reason.
 
Before America began to sing, I sung her to sleep,
held her cradleboard, wept her into day.
My song gave her creation, prepared her delivery,
held her severed cord beautifully beaded.
 
My song helped her stand, held her hand for first steps,
nourished her very being, fed her, placed her three sisters strong.
My song comforted her as she battled my reason
broke my long-held footing sure, as any child might do.
 
As she pushed herself away, forced me to remove myself,
as I cried this country, my song grew roses in each tear’s fall.
 
My blood-veined rivers, painted pipestone quarries
circled canyons, while she made herself maiden fine.
 
But here I am, here I am, here I remain high on each and every peak,
carefully rumbling her great underbelly, prepared to pour forth singing—
 
and sing again I will, as I have always done.
Never silenced unless in the company of strangers, singing
the stoic face, polite repose, polite while dancing deep inside, polite
Mother of her world. Sister of myself.
 
When my song sings aloud again. When I call her back to cradle.
Call her to peer into waters, to behold herself in dark and light,
day and night, call her to sing along, call her to mature, to envision—
then, she will quake herself over. My song will make it so.
 
When she grows far past her self-considered purpose,
I will sing her back, sing her back. I will sing. Oh I will—I do.
America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.
 

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, "America, I Sing You Back" from Streaming. Copyright © 2014 by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press, http://www.coffeehousepress.org.

Source: Streaming(Coffee House Press, 2014)

Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

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Poem of the Day: Retrospect
There is a better thing, dear heart,
    Than youthful flush or girlish grace.
There is the faith that never fails,
    The courage in the danger place,
The duty seen, and duty done,
    The heart that yearns for all in need,
The lady soul which could not stoop
    To selfish thought or lowly deed.
All that we ever dreamed, dear wife,
    Seems drab and common by the truth,
The sweet sad mellow things of life
    Are more than golden dreams of youth.



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Poem of the Day: Day After Day of the Dead
“While we’re alive,” we kept
    repeating. Tongues, throats,
roofs of our mouths bone dry,
      skeletons we’d someday
                                                    be...
   Panicky masks we wore for
       effect more than effect,
     more real than we’d admit...
 
 No longer wanting to know
   what soul was, happy to
                                               see
      shadow, know touch...
 Happy to have sun at our
   backs, way led by shadow,
 happy to have bodies, block
                                                     light...
Afternoon sun lighting leaf,
       glint of glass, no matter what,
           about to be out of body it
                                                           seemed...
   Soon to be shadowless we thought,

     said we thought, not to be offguard,
 caught out. Gray morning we            
                                                        meant
          to be done with, requiem so
      sweet we forgot what it lamented,
                                                                    teeth
    turning to sugar, we
  grinned
 
                       •
 
  Day after day of the dead we were
    desperate. Dark what the night
 before we saw lit, bones we’d
       eventually be... At day’s end a
                                                             new
  tally but there it was, barely
                                                     begun,
   rock the clock tower let go of,
     iridescent headstone, moment’s
    rebuff... Soul, we saw, said we
                                                           saw,
invisible imprint. No one wanted to
                                                                  know
   what soul was... Day after day of
       the dead we were deaf, numb to
     what the night before we said moved
                                                                         us,
   fey light’s coded locale... I fell away,
 we momentarily gone, deaf but to
      brass’s obsequy, low brass’s
   croon begun. I fell away, not fast,
                                                                floated,
        momentary mention an accord
  with the wind, day after day of the dead
    the same as day before day of
 
the dead... “No surprise,” I fell away
      muttering, knew no one would
                                                               hear,
    not even
      me

                       •

   We wore capes under which we
were in sweaters out at the elbow.
 Arms on the table, we chewed our
                                                                spoons...
      Mouthing the blues, moaned an
 abstract truth, kept eating. The
  dead's morning-after buffet
someone said it was. Feast of 
                                                      the
unfed said someone else... What
  were we doing there the exegete
 kept asking, adamant, uninvited,
                                                              morose...

     Elbows in the air like wings, we
         kept eating, rolled our eyes,
                                                            kept
      shoveling it in... Day after day
of the dead we were them. We
  ate inexhaustibly, ate what wasn't
                                                                there,
        dead no longer dying of thirst,
      hung over, turned our noses up
                                                                to
    what
   was





             ________________

  It was me, we were it, insensate,
   sugared sweat what what we drank
tasted like. Even so, the tips of
                                                         our
   tongues tasted nothing, we sipped
without wincing... We ate cakes,
                                                            we
ate fingernail soup, a new kind of
    gazpacho, no one willing to say
  what soul was... Knucklebone
soufflé we ate, we ate gristle, eyes
                                                              we
     took from flies flying backward
   a kind of caviar, none of us wanting
                                                                   to say
 what soul
was

Nathaniel Mackey, “Day After Day of the Dead” from Nod House. Copyright © 2011 by Nathaniel Mackey. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Nod House(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2011)

Nathaniel Mackey

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Poem of the Day: Triolet on a Line Apocryphally...
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,   
The booze and the neon and Saturday night,   
The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?   
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?   
Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons   
And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?   
Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,   
The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

A. E. Stallings, "Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther" from Poetry, Aprill 2005. Copyright © 2005 by A. E. Stallings. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Poetry April 2005

A. E. Stallings

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Poem of the Day: A Rhyme for Halloween
Tonight I light the candles of my eyes in the lee
And swing down this branch full of red leaves.
Yellow moon, skull and spine of the hare,
Arrow me to town on the neck of the air.

I hear the undertaker make love in the heather;
The candy maker, poor fellow, is under the weather.
Skunk, moose, raccoon, they go to the doors in threes
With a torch in their hands or pleas: "O, please . . ."

Baruch Spinoza and the butcher are drunk:
One is the tail and one is the trunk
Of a beast who dances in circles for beer
And doesn't think twice to learn how to steer.

Our clock is blind, our clock is dumb.
Its hands are broken, its fingers numb.
No time for the martyr of our fair town
Who wasn't a witch because she could drown.

Now the dogs of the cemetery are starting to bark
At the vision of her, bobbing up through the dark.
When she opens her mouth to gasp for air,
A moth flies out and lands in her hair.

The apples are thumping, winter is coming.
The lips of the pumpkin soon will be humming.
By the caw of the crow on the first of the year,
Something will die, something appear.

Maurice Kilwein Guevara, "A Rhyme for Halloween" from Poems of the River Spirit. Copyright © 1996 by Maurice Kilwein Guevara.  All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.  Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press, www.pitt.edu/~press.

Source: Poems of the River Spirit(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)

Maurice Kilwein Guevara

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Poem of the Day: Ars Poetica?
I have always aspired to a more spacious form   
that would be free from the claims of poetry or prose   
and would let us understand each other without exposing   
the author or reader to sublime agonies.   

In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:   
a thing is brought forth which we didn’t know we had in us,   
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out   
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.   

That’s why poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a daimonion,   
though it’s an exaggeration to maintain that he must be an angel.   
It’s hard to guess where that pride of poets comes from,   
when so often they’re put to shame by the disclosure of their frailty.   

What reasonable man would like to be a city of demons,   
who behave as if they were at home, speak in many tongues,   
and who, not satisfied with stealing his lips or hand,   
work at changing his destiny for their convenience?   

It’s true that what is morbid is highly valued today,   
and so you may think that I am only joking   
or that I’ve devised just one more means   
of praising Art with the help of irony.   

There was a time when only wise books were read,   
helping us to bear our pain and misery.   
This, after all, is not quite the same   
as leafing through a thousand works fresh from psychiatric clinics.   

And yet the world is different from what it seems to be   
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings.
People therefore preserve silent integrity,   
thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.   

The purpose of poetry is to remind us   
how difficult it is to remain just one person,   
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,   
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

What I'm saying here is not, I agree, poetry,   
as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,   
under unbearable duress and only with the hope   
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument.

Berkeley, 1968

Czeslaw Milosz, "Ars Poetica?" from The Collected Poems: 1931-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Czeslaw Milosz Royalties, Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems: 1931-1987(The Ecco Press, 1988)

Czeslaw Milosz

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Poem of the Day: from Jubilate Agno
For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having consider'd God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defence is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord's poor and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually—Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can set up with gravity which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master's bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Ichneumon-rat very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God's light about him both wax and fire.
For the Electrical fire is the spiritual substance, which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, tho he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.




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