“…we stagger into you smeared with pollen…”

More Than Enough

BY MARGE PIERCY
The first lily of June opens its red mouth.
All over the sand road where we walk
multiflora rose climbs trees cascading
white or pink blossoms, simple, intense
the scene drifting like colored mist.
The arrowhead is spreading its creamy
clumps of flower and the blackberries
are blooming in the thickets. Season of
joy for the bee. The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly
new, grass lifting its wheaty seedheads
into the wind. Rich fresh wine
of June, we stagger into you smeared
with pollen, overcome as the turtle
laying her eggs in roadside sand.

“…I inhale it anyway…”

Breathing

BY MARK O’BRIEN
Grasping for straws is easier;
You can see the straws.
“This most excellent canopy, the air, look you,”
Presses down upon me
At fifteen pounds per square inch,
A dense, heavy, blue-glowing ocean,
Supporting the weight of condors
That swim its churning currents.
All I get is a thin stream of it,
A finger’s width of the rope that ties me to life
As I labor like a stevedore to keep the connection.
Water wouldn’t be so circumspect;
Water would crash in like a drunken sailor,
But air is prissy and genteel,
Teasing me with its nearness and pervading immensity.
The vast, circumambient atmosphere
Allows me but ninety cubic centimeters
Of its billions of gallons and miles of sky.
I inhale it anyway,
Knowing that it will hurt
In the weary ends of my crumpled paper bag lungs.
 

“…You can’t see a barrier without pushing through it…”

Infighting

BY RODDY LUMSDEN
Take this: for nothing here’s chiming, vibrating
and all this vainglory and self-deprecating
just goads at the tender parts, gets irritating.
You’ll make no advance advocating monopoly
on any vocabulary; even cacophony
needs the needle to make its point properly.
It’s true that you find yourself fey and bewitching,
yet always you feel that the itch that you’re scratching’s
soothed better by far by bravadoes of bitching.
The off-pat flyting, back-biting and threnody
you render and throw up, at will, won’t remedy
the rot of your serenading, lute-laden wannabe.
You can’t see a barrier without pushing through it;
it’s a poor pearl of pathos you don’t disintuit
and you now give a doing when once you’d just do it.
You want my advice? Here it is: try removing
the self from your argument – gluts of self-loving
just pudding the gut of whatever you’re proving.
That’s it on the chin and I’m sure you can take it,
but that shadow you’re boxing is me, so please break it
gently. Best wishes, I hope that you make it.

“But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope…”

Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins
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)

“…In me thou see’st the twilight of such day…”

Sonnet 73:  That time of year thou mayst in me behold

By William Shakespeare 

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou see’st the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire,

Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.

This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long. 

 

“…what else do you expect of October?”

The Finality of a Poem

BY MICHAEL ANANIA
All day, that   
is forever,
they fall, leaves,   
pine needles,
as blindly as   
hours into hours
colliding,   
and the chill
rain—what else   
do you expect
of October?—
spilling from one
roof to another,   
like words from
lips to lips, your   
long incertain
say in all of this   
unsure of where
the camera is
and how the light
is placed and what   
it is that’s ending.
Michael Anania, “The Finality of a Poem” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by Michael Anania. Used by permission of Asphodel Press/Acorn Alliance.

Source: Selected Poems (1994)

 

“…her mouth biting open a word while the wind shreds the lake behind her…”

Tableaux: Four 19th Century Photographs

BY JOHN SPAULDING
1.
 
Somewhere Indians are walking across America.
One is a woman caught in stride
between two white birches, her eyes
on the ground, her mouth
biting open a word while the wind
shreds the lake behind her.
 
2.
 
A boy wakes alone in cold New England air.
From his window he watches his father’s breath
mix with the steam from cows’ urine.
A white blanket of sheep has unrolled
across the hill, and the yellow dogs
who ran and ran have now disappeared.
 
3.
 
A glass necklace floats on her white breast
just as she herself floats inside his lens
while he watches from under the dark hood—
her small black eardrops hang perfectly still,
her long white neck and cleavage ready to be
frozen forever by the touch of his finger.
 
4.
 
As the deer ate from the deep lawn
and the fish jumped near the willow trees,
the big white ferry paused briefly before sliding
back again across the lake, completely
unaware of its brightness and its beauty.
John Spaulding, “Tableaux: Four 19th Century Photographs” from The White Train. Copyright © 2004 by John Spaulding. Reprinted by permission of Louisiana State University Press.

Source: The White Train (Louisiana State University Press, 2004)