Category Archives: Poetry Month 2012

If

Sometimes all you have are words. And sometimes they are even enough.

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you wake up beside your old love

Some of you are so sad it makes us want to take it all back! Some of you are also pretty confused and furious. The rest of you are loving this maniac of a sale. The bookstore is retiring for the same reasons that humans retire. Which makes sense, I guess, since it’s owned and operated by humans, who have decided to retire. We want to make the next month or so a celebration and not a mourning, but those of you who manage to relay, between gulps of air, while weeping into my neck, how deeply sad you are… well, there isn’t anything adequate to say, except to continue hugging you. Yes, this was the only independent bookstore around for many miles, and yes it was a truly magical place and though it was irreplaceable, you mustn’t ever forget that where there is great need, it will always be met in one way or another. Don’t lose hope now, don’t give in just yet and forgo a longer drive in favor of clicking a button. Hold on just a little longer.

In the meantime, it is still Poetry Month and I, for one, am glad about that. Here’s a poem for today.

Starfish
by Eleanor Lerman

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to 
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a 
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have 
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman 
down beside you at the counter who say, Last night, the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological 
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old 
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it 
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the 
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave,
so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you 
were born at a good time. Because you were able 
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And 
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland, 
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel, 
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.

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none of these will bring disaster

by Elizabeth Bishop
from The Complete Poems 1927-1979
 
 
 

 
One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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having drunk from the gash of sunset

Be Near Me
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
translated by Naomi Lazard

Be near me now,
My tormenter, my love, be near me—
At this hour when night comes down,
When, having drunk from the gash of sunset, darkness comes
With the balm of musk in its hands, its diamond lancets,
When it comes with cries of lamentation,
                                             with laughter with songs;
Its blue-gray anklets of pain clinking with every step.
At this hour when hearts, deep in their hiding places,
Have begun to hope once more, when they start their vigil
For hands still enfolded in sleeves;
When wine being poured makes the sound
                                             of inconsolable children
                      who, though you try with all your heart,
                                             cannot be soothed.
When whatever you want to do cannot be done,
When nothing is of any use;
—At this hour when night comes down,
When night comes, dragging its long face,
                                             dressed in mourning,
Be with me,
My tormenter, my love, be near me.




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your half of the milk

 

Milk Division

I duct-tape a border down the middle

Of every room—my side, your side—

So I won’t be able to watch the clock

And you won’t be able to see the mirror

While you dress each morning, and I’ll

Have to lean across the plants to tell you

What shoes you’re wearing with what hat.

It’s a good system. If your toes wander

Onto my side of the bed, I’ll keep them

And raise them as my own, and one day

You’ll come home early and you’ll catch me

With your half of the milk. This is all

In the future. Goddamn, you’ll say,

We should have tried this years ago.

 by Josh Bell

from no planets strike

April is Poetry Month. We’re celebrating here with a poem a day, by giving out poems like candy when you visit us, and discounting all poetry books by 10%. Because reading poetry is a fairly acceptable form of social deviance. And we’re all about that.

 

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I wonder if They bore it long

I measure every Grief I meet (561)
by Emily Dickinson 

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes – 
I wonder if It weighs like Mine – 
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long – 
Or did it just begin – 
I could not tell the Date of Mine – 
It feels so old a pain – 

I wonder if it hurts to live – 
And if They have to try – 
And whether – could They choose between – 
It would not be – to die – 

I note that Some – gone patient long – 
At length, renew their smile –  
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil – 

I wonder if when Years have piled –  
Some Thousands – on the Harm –  
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –  

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve – 
Enlightened to a larger Pain –  
In Contrast with the Love –  

The Grieved – are many – I am told –  
There is the various Cause –  
Death – is but one – and comes but once –  
And only nails the eyes –  

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –  
A sort they call "Despair" –  
There's Banishment from native Eyes – 
In sight of Native Air –  

And though I may not guess the kind –  
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –  

To note the fashions – of the Cross –  
And how they're mostly worn –  
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own – 


April is Poetry Month. We’re celebrating here with a poem a day, by giving out poems like candy when you visit us, and discounting all poetry books by 10%. Because reading poetry is a fairly acceptable form of social deviance. And we’re all about that.

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the wooden shoe that sailed the sky

Wynken, Blynken and Nod
by Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
Said Wynken,
Blynken,
and Nod.

The old moon laughed and he sang a song,
And they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish
For never afraid are we,”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,-
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe
Bringing the fishermen home.
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folks thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So close your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be;
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken,
Blynken,
and Nod.

April is Poetry Month. We’re celebrating here with a poem a day, by giving out poems like candy when you visit us, and discounting all poetry books by 10%. Because reading poetry is a fairly acceptable form of social deviance. And we’re all about that.

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