30 Days of Poetry

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ~Leonard Cohen

Song After Sadness * Katie Ford

Despair is still servant
to the violet and wild ongoings
of bone. You, remember, are 
that which must be made 
servant only to salt, only 
to the watery acre that is the body
of the beloved, only to the child
leaning forward into 
the exhibit of birches 
the forest has made of bronze light
and snow. Even as the day kneels 
forward, the oceans and strung garnets, too,
kneel, they are all kneeling, 
the city, the goat, the lime tree
and mother, the fearful doctor,
kneeling. Don't say it's the beautiful 
I praise. I praise the human, 
gutted and rising.

E.B. White * Conch

Hold a baby to your ear
as you would a shell:
Sounds of centuries you hear
New centuries foretell.

Who can break a baby’s code? 
And which is the older—
The listener, or his small load?
The held or the holder?

Day of Grief * Gerald Stern


I was forcing a wasp to the top of a window
where there was some sky and there were tiger lilies
outside just to love him or maybe only
simply a kiss for he was hurrying home
to fight a broom and I was trying to open
a door with one hand while the other was swinging
tomatoes, and you could even smell the corn
for corn travels by wind and there was the first
hint of cold and dark though it was nothing
compared to what would come, and someone should mark
the day, I think it was August 20th, and 
that should be the day of grief for grief
begins then and the corn man starts to shiver
and crows too and dogs who hate the wind
though grief would come later and it was a relief
to know I wasn’t alone, but be as it may,
since it was cold and dark I found myself singing
the brilliant love songs of my other religion.

The Poet with His Face in His Hands * Mary Oliver

You want to cry aloud for your 
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world 
doesn’t need anymore of that sound.

 

So if you’re going to do it and can’t 
stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t 
hold it in, at least go by yourself across

 

the forty fields and the forty dark inclines 
of rocks and water to the place where 
the falls are flinging out their white sheets

 

like crazy, and there is a cave behind all that 
jubilation and water fun and you can 
stand there, under it, and roar all you

 

want and nothing will be disturbed; you can 
drip with despair all afternoon and still, 
on a green branch, its wings just lightly touched

 

by the passing foil of the water, the thrush, 
puffing out its spotted breast, will sing 
of the perfect, stone-hard beauty of everything.

Sea Fever * John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

On Silence * R. Zamora Linmark



Is it the Garcia Lorca kind
faithful as a cricket’s
tune about a boy fishing
in a pool of rainwater
for his lost voice
praying it’ll sing back
so he can wear it
on his finger again
like a wedding ring?

Maybe it’s the anti-parakeet
Nicanor Parra kind
remorseful as a memoir
that survived four wars
half a dozen sexually
transmitted depressions
insomnia-
inspired hallucinations
and a dedication to
its remaining readers
last count forty-five
asking them to burn each page
upon reading memories
it had tried to capture

unless it’s the Paz kind
not Paz-be-with-you of olden
days difficult now
to digest Paz or any Zense
of peace without Belano or Bolaño
pearly-gate-crashing in an Impala
slingshooting saints out
of their poses harping
on angels reciting bad poetry
aloud anything to disturb
the last of the angry gods’
siesta atop a mountain of ashes
once rich without meaning.

Hustlers with Bad Timing * D. A. Powell




That pip in the pear is a blackbird. Tussle on the grass a grackle. 

   It is officially spring. Watch:

Some kids pulling up BURIED WATER PIPE flags. And next to 

   them the little violets. Rain violets. The flags are blue.

The sycamores are just greening. “The world in fact is just,” 

   Chaos said. And we believed him, who called himself

the most difficult thing he could think of. He wanted to get into 

   the club. The club he was clubbed outside of.


Later, it’ll matter that there’s no marker. Before he was Chaos, 

   Robin he was, because he stole. Was blank before.

A bronze angel thoughtfully placed for all who grieve a child. 

   Of course a child. What else might you have lost.

The Heart of the Matter * Dana Gioia

The heart of the matter, the ghost of a chance,
A tremor, a fever, an ache in the chest.
The moth and the candle beginning their dance,
A cool white sheet on which nothing will rest.

Come sit beside me. I’ve waited alone.
What you need to confess I already know.
The scent of your shame is a heavy cologne
That lingers for hours after you go.

The dregs of the bottle, the end of the line,
The laggard, the loser, the last one to know.
The unfinished book, the dead-end sign,
And last summer’s garden buried in snow.

Invitation to Love * Paul Laurence Dunbar



Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

Song * Adrienne Rich

Song

You’re wondering if I’m lonely:
OK then, yes, I’m lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I’m lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawn’s first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I’m lonely
it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning