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Poem of the Day: At the Putney Co-Op, an Opera

“Go ahead,” I say to my neighbor at the Putney Co-op who tells
     me he can’t complain. “Let it out. It’s mid-March and there’s still
two feet of snow on the ground. Fukushima has just melted down and
the Washington Monument cracked at its pyramidion. Put down your
     bags and sing. How many times dear father, graybeard, lonely old
     courage teacher must you walk down the aisles as a randy eidolon
humming your tunes for us to start? Our song begins in silence and grows
to a buzz. We make it up as we go along, then watch our numbers swell—
     ten thousand members who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Who fly
     like a swarm to join us in our chambers, which are these aisles.”
     I’m singing without knowing it, carrying the tune of main things,
     lamenting the prices with Bernie Sanders. My neighbor joins me
for no other reason than singing along as a member of the cast we call
the multitudes of lonely shoppers. I roam the aisles with the sadness
     of America, juggling onions, blessing the beets. It’s a local stage on
     which the country opens like a flower that no one sees beside the road.
In my hungry fatigue, I’m shopping for images, which are free on the highest
shelf but costly in their absence—the only ingredient here that heals my sight
     of blindness. I see you, Walt Whitman, pointing your beard toward axis
     mundi by the avocados, reading the labels as if they were lines, weighing
the tomatoes on the scale of your palms, pressing the pears with your thumbs
the way you did in Huntington, Camden, and Brooklyn. And you, also, Ruth
     and Hayden, at the checkout counter with empty bags you claim are full
     of apples, almonds, and bananas. What can you say to those outside who
haven’t read your poems? Who find it hard to get the news from poetry
but die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.
     It’s night. The Connecticut slips by across Rt. 5. The moon is my egg
     and stars, my salt. I score the music of the carrots, scallions, and corn in
the frost of the freezer windows. The sough of traffic on 91 washes my ears
with the sound of tires on blue macadam. The doors close in an hour….
     We’ll both be lonely when we return on the long dark roads to our silent
     houses. I touch your book and dream of our odyssey westward to a field
in Oregon, Kansas, or California where we plant our oars and die ironically.
Where we finish our journey as strangers in our native land. These are the
     lyrics to our song in the aisles—the buzz of the swarm with our queen
     at the center. What America did you have, old howler, when you scattered
into the sky, then floated like a cloud as another form in the making outside
of time, forgetful at last and empty of all you sang?
Chard deNiord, “At the Putney Co-Op, an Opera” from Interstate. Copyright © 2015 by Chard deNiord.  Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Interstate(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

Chard DeNiord

Biography
More poems by this author

http://bit.ly/2uXx3wN

Poem of the Day: Radiance versus Ordinary Light

Meanwhile the sea moves uneasily, like a man who
suspects what the room reels with as he rises into it
is violation—his own: he touches the bruises at each
shoulder and, on his chest,
                                                  the larger bruise, star-shaped,
a flawed star, or hand, though he remembers no hands,
has tried—can’t remember . . .
                                                        That kind of rhythm to it,
even to the roughest surf there’s a rhythm findable,
which is why we keep coming here, to find it, or that’s
what we say. We dive in and, as usual,
                                                                      the swimming
feels like that swimming the mind does in the wake
of transgression, how the instinct to panic at first
slackens that much more quickly, if you don’t
look back. Regret,
                                 like pity, changes nothing really, we
say to ourselves and, less often, to each other, each time
swimming a bit farther,
                                           leaving the shore the way
the water—in its own watered, of course, version
of semaphore–keeps leaving the subject out, flashing
Why should it matter now and Why,
                                                                  why shouldn ‘t it,
as the waves beat harder, hard against us, until that’s
how we like it, I’ll break your heart, break mine.
Carl Phillips, “Radiance Versus Ordinary Light” from Riding Westward. Copyright © 2006 by Carl Phillips. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://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: Riding Westward(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)

Carl Phillips

Biography
More poems by this author

http://bit.ly/2gTBEK2

Poem of the Day: Buffalo Dusk

The buffaloes are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone.

Source: The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg(Harcourt Brace Iovanovich Inc., 1970)

Carl Sandburg

Biography
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Poem of the Day: This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
William Carlos Williams,”This Is Just to Say” from The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939, copyright ©1938 by New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: The Collected Poems: Volume I, 1909-1939(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1991)

William Carlos Williams

Biography
More poems by this author

http://bit.ly/2tlrzHy

Poem of the Day: This is No Case of Petty Right or Wrong

This is no case of petty right or wrong
That politicians or philosophers
Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot
With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers.
Beside my hate for one fat patriot
My hatred of the Kaiser is love true:—
A kind of god he is, banging a gong.
But I have not to choose between the two,
Or between justice and injustice. Dinned
With war and argument I read no more
Than in the storm smoking along the wind
Athwart the wood. Two witches’ cauldrons roar.
From one the weather shall rise clear and gay;
Out of the other an England beautiful
And like her mother that died yesterday.
Little I know or care if, being dull,
I shall miss something that historians
Can rake out of the ashes when perchance
The phoenix broods serene above their ken.
But with the best and meanest Englishmen
I am one in crying, God save England, lest
We lose what never slaves and cattle blessed.
The ages made her that made us from dust:
She is all we know and live by, and we trust
She is good and must endure, loving her so:
And as we love ourselves we hate our foe.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57205/this-is-no-case-of-petty-right-or-wrong

Poem of the Day: On the Beach at Night Alone

On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.
A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

http://bit.ly/2tdWNQH

Poem of the Day: To Those of You Alive in the Future

who somehow have found a sip of water,
on this day in the past four syndicated
series involving communication with the dead
were televised and in this way we resembled
our own ghosts in a world made brief with flowers.
To you, our agonies and tizzies
must appear quaint as the stiff shoulders
of someone carrying buckets from a well
or the stung beekeeper gathering honey.
Why did we bother hurrying from A to B
when we’d get no further than D, if that?
On Monday, it sleeted in Pennsylvania
while someone’s mother was scoured further
from her own mind. A son-in-law smoked
in the parking lot, exhaling white curses
torn apart by the large invisible indifference.
The general anesthetic wore off
and someone else opened her eyes to the results.
In this way our world was broken and glued.
But why did we bother shooing away the flies?
Did we think we could work our way
inside a diamond if we ground more pigment
into the paper’s tooth, tried to hold fire
on our tongues, sucked at the sugars of each other?
Many the engagement rings in the pawnshop.
Many the empties piled at the curbs.
A couple paused on a bridge to watch
chunks of ice tugged by bickering currents.
One who slept late reached out
for one who wasn’t there. Breads, heavy
and sweet, were pulled from wide infernos
of stone ovens. My name was Dean Young,
I wrote it on a leaf. Sometimes
I could still manage to get lost,
there was no guidance system wired inside me yet.
Laughter might have come from a window
lit far into the night, others were dark
and always silent.

Source: Poetry October 2009

Dean Young

Biography
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Poem of the Day: from Stone: 122

Let me be in your service
like the others
mumbling predictions,
mouth dry with jealousy.
Parched tongue
thirsting, not even for the word—
for me the dry air is empty
again without you.
 
I’m not jealous any more
but I want you.
I carry myself like a victim
to the hangman.
I will not call you
either joy or love.
All my own blood is gone.
Something strange paces there now.
Another moment
and I will tell you:
it’s not joy but torture
you give me.
I’m drawn to you
as to a crime—
to your ragged mouth,
to the soft bitten cherry.
Come back to me,
I’m frightened without you.
Never had you such power
over me as now.
Everything I desire
appears to me.
I’m not jealous any more.
I’m calling you.
 
Osip Mandelstam, “from Stone #122” from Selected Poems.  Translation copyright © 1973 by Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin.  Reprinted by permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc..

Source: Selected Poems(Atheneum Publishers, 1973)

Osip Mandelstam

Biography
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http://bit.ly/2tvOQFY

Poem of the Day: Innocence

There is nothing more innocent
than the still-unformed creature I find beneath soil,
neither of us knowing what it will become
in the abundance of the planet.
It makes a living only by remaining still
in its niche.
One day it may struggle out of its tender
pearl of blind skin
with a wing or with vision
leaving behind the transparent.
I cover it again, keep laboring,
hands in earth, myself a singular body.
Watching things grow,
wondering how
a cut blade of grass knows
how to turn sharp again at the end.
This same growing must be myself,
not aware yet of what I will become
in my own fullness
inside this simple flesh.
Linda Hogan, “Innocence” from Dark. Sweet. Copyright © 2014 by Linda Hogan.  Reprinted by permission of Coffee House Press.

Source: Dark. Sweet.(Coffee House Press, 2014)

Linda Hogan

Biography
More poems by this author

http://bit.ly/2umL5qJ

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