April 30, 2008

Final Notations by Adrienne Rich

Posted in poetry tagged , at 7:33 pm by placeinthestars

Final Notations
by Adrienne Rich

it will not be simple, it will not be long
it will take little time, it will take all your thought
it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
it will be short, it will not be simple

it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
it will not be long, it will occupy your thought
as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple

You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
you are taking parts of us into places never planned
you are going far away with pieces of our lives

it will be short, it will take all your breath
it will not be simple, it will become your will

***

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April 28, 2008

Cloud by Sandra Cisneros

Posted in poetry tagged , at 3:32 pm by placeinthestars

Cloud
by Sandra Cisneros

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud
floating in this sheet of paper.
—Thich Nhat Hanh

Before you become a cloud, you were an ocean, roiled and
murmuring like a mouth. You were the shadow of a cloud cross-
ing over a field of tulips. You were the tears of a man who cried
into a plaid handkerchief. You were a sky without a hat. Your
heart puffed and flowered like sheets drying on a line.

And when you were a tree, you listened to trees and the tree
things trees told you. You were the wind in the wheels of a red
bicycle. You were the spidery María tattooed on the hairless arm
of a boy in downtown Houston. You were the rain rolling off the
waxy leaves of a magnolia tree. A lock of straw-colored hair
wedged between the mottled pages of a Victor Hugo novel. A
crescent of soap. A spider the color of a fingernail. The black nets
beneath the sea of olive trees. A skein of blue wool. A tea saucer
wrapped in newspaper. An empty cracker tin A bowl of blueber-
ries in heavy cream. White wine in a green-stemmed glass.

And when you opened your wings to wind, across the punched-
tin sky above a prison courtyard, those condemned to death and
those condemned to life watched how smooth and sweet a white
cloud glides.

***

April 26, 2008

How To Research A Poem by Justin Evans

Posted in poetry tagged , at 1:29 pm by placeinthestars

How To Research A Poem

Cruise through your hometown
looking for old friends,
marking into different columns
who has grown fat, bald, or dead.

Snap pictures of new storefronts.
Be sure to note the names of
what those places used to be.

Thumb through your high school
yearbook, phone your date for the prom
pretending to be pleased as she talks
about her spouse and children.

Explore your grandmother’s house
looking for remnant shadows,
ignoring the nice young couple
who bought the house six years ago.

Dig through your parent’s yard
for the bones of the family pet,
measuring the distance from
the garage to the femur both
in feet and meters.

Hang the Do Not Disturb sign for room 5
of the Ace Motel on your way out of town,
taking advantage of the cold shower
and neon lights outside your window.

~Justin Evans

***

April 23, 2008

Spelling by Margaret Atwood

Posted in poetry tagged , at 4:27 pm by placeinthestars

Spelling

My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
spelling,
how to make spells.

            *

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

            *

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
There is no either / or.
However.

            *

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.
Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.
A word after a word
after a word is power.

            *

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.
This is a metaphor.

            *

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.

~Margaret Atwood

***

April 20, 2008

Tercets from the Book of Revelation by Eileen Tabios

Posted in poetry tagged , at 3:56 pm by placeinthestars

Tercets from the Book of Revelation

after Rupert Thomson’s The Book of Revelation

(i)

How does the air
come to pulse
like a muscle

As if your scent
lingers
before your arrival

How does the night

April 18, 2008

He Speaks Stars by Ann Walters

Posted in poetry tagged , at 11:23 pm by placeinthestars

He Speaks Stars

He speaks stars into my ear:
just for me Arcturus and Capella ring their silver glow.
No other voice is as clear.

A hundred galaxies are brought near
to my thirsty fingertips – to touch is to know.
He speaks stars into my ear,

whispers words like Pleiades and nebula, not mere
lovers’ trills, and when he does, time sways slow.
No other voice could be so clear.

Nighthawks cry as a catalog of myth appears:
hunter and herdsman, fox and dog, virgin and crow,
when he speaks stars into my ear.

He pulls comets from their courses to veer
into my palm, sings dusky stardust from his throat.
What other voice could be so clear?

Earth hums with life, but I hear
only the lovestruck sigh of the cosmos
as he speaks stars into my ear.

There is no other voice so clear.

~Ann Walters

***

April 16, 2008

When Are You Not by Margo Berdeshevsky

Posted in poetry tagged , at 1:01 pm by placeinthestars

When Are You Not

When are you not a poet and just a woman
the lover asks, honey on his false tongue,
jackhammer to a swollen earth of your breasts
Never, you want to scream Never
not a linguist of the soul daring word
to prayer. & rage. & please, peace. Never
not a maker of the small to serve.
(But not your—kind of mother.)
Never not a chisel to the morning leaf
or the sorrow of the storm. Never not
a gatherer of cries in these hands that
have lost thumbs, but have prayers.
When are you a normal person gathering the fallen
fruit for juice not for the mystery of the tree,
Never—not watching the larvae. The hungry
white fly. Its kiss. Never the thigh not jiggling
at tedium, so eager to leap stones at a stream,
imagine the gazelle.
Never when the sperm is pulsed at the womb, no music.
No colored cry. No muted sax playing God’s baritone.
Ask him when was Christ not a carpenter? when He hung
on wood to die? building chairs for thieves to sit on,
to His future right, and to His future left? Ask him,
when are you not a man, and just a woman, love, there
in line at the new Eagle Brand Hardware store, waiting
for its morning doors to open so you two may buy nails,
a ladder, gladioli— newly born.

~Margo Berdeshevsky

***

April 13, 2008

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

Posted in poetry tagged , at 1:13 pm by placeinthestars

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

***

April 11, 2008

Before She Decides by Kelly Madigan Erlandson

Posted in poetry tagged , at 1:20 pm by placeinthestars

Before She Decides

They are in a dark plum thicket
and she is too far above the ground,
can feel the lift and fall or walking
but is not walking. Beneath her
are the shoulders of a boy
who is willing to carry her for years

but he is unsteady as a shirt
unbuttoned in the wind and she
is like a feather on the surface
of a river with round stones
in its bed. She already knows
he will fall and because she is above
him she will fall further

but that doesn’t matter yet, the night
held up all around her
like great bolts of cloth for her choosing.

~Kelly Madigan Erlandson

***

April 9, 2008

Pearl by Sheila Black

Posted in poetry tagged , at 5:17 pm by placeinthestars

Pearl

The mold has already tufted the strawberries
left in their open carton on the table
since morning. And then there was the hose
leaking over the dry earth tonight when I stepped
from the hot car, the mud in rivulets,
and the clumps of new grass,
here and there a jagged yellow flower.
And this is how I try to love the world,
the smooth seal curve of my son’s furred back,
my daughter chewing on the ends of her hair
her thighs already widening, spreading
out of girlhood and the fuzz on her cheeks
like the fuzz on a ripe peach. My friend Merrill’s
wife writes that the cancer has spread,
his kidneys have failed. He takes dialysis
four hours three days a week. The last time
I was in his house he had filled a large gray vase
with cut threads of ocotillo, the spongy stems
and above the violent flowers like pinned birds,
cut tongues or tethered hands striving to reach up and away
from the earth. The vase was centered on the smooth
pine of his dining room table. He had prepared
chicken with lemon grass, Thai chiles, fragrant shards
of coconut served with ice-cold beer. We filled
our glass steins until they trembled, the golden
liquid, the foam moustaching our upper lips,
and the curve of dishes and spoons passing from
hand to hand. What do we do when we outlive
the wholeness of the body? All night I see him
in the dark-lit curves of windows, in the polished
ceramic bowls, the glint and flicker of the light
of things passed around, bouncing from surface
to surface, the gathering of the light like the
girl in Vermeer’s Pearl Earring, turning in the black
doorway. The pearl contained, numinous, outside this.

~Sheila Black

***

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