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Featured post

Poem of the Day: Seaweeds

I know a little what it is like, once here at high tide
Stranded, for them to be so attached to the bottom’s
Sarcophagus lids, up to their brown green gold wine
Bottle necks in the prevailing booze, riding, as far
As we can see, like a picnic on a blanket.
Whatever plucks them from below the red horizon
Like snapped pulleys and ropes for the pyramidal effort
Of the moon, they come in, they come through the breakers,
Heaps of hair, writing across the beach a collapsed
Script, signers of a huge independence.
Melville thought them pure, bitter, seeing the fog-sized
Flies dancing stiff and renaissance above. But I
Have eaten nori and dulse, and to have gone deep
Before being cast out leaves hardly a taste of loneliness.
And I take in their iodine.
Sandra McPherson, “Seaweeds” from Radiation (New York: The Ecco Press, 1973). Copyright © 1973 by Sandra McPherson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Poetry November 1972

Sandra McPherson

Biography
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Poem of the Day: A Song: When June is past, the fading rose

Ask me no more where Jove bestows,
When June is past, the fading rose;
For in your beauty’s orient deep
These flowers as in their causes, sleep.
Ask me no more whither doth stray
The golden atoms of the day;
For in pure love heaven did prepare
Those powders to enrich your hair.
Ask me no more whither doth haste
The nightingale when May is past;
For in your sweet dividing throat
She winters and keeps warm her note.
Ask me no more where those stars light
That downwards fall in dead of night;
For in your eyes they sit, and there,
Fixed become as in their sphere.
Ask me no more if east or west
The phoenix builds her spicy nest;
For unto you at last she flies,
And in your fragrant bosom dies.

http://bit.ly/2sczchX

Poem of the Day: Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992

I forgot how lush and electrified
it was with you. The shaggy
fragrant zaps continually passing
back and forth, my fingertip
to your clavicle, or your wrist
rubbing mine to share gardenia
oil. We so purred like dragonflies
we kept the mosquitoes away
and the conversation was heavy,
mother-lacerated childhoods
and the sad way we’d both
been both ignored and touched
badly. Knowing that being
fierce and proud and out and
loud was just a bright new way
to be needy. Please listen to me, oh
what a buzz! you’re the only one
I can tell. Even with no secret,
I could come close to your ear
with my mouth and that was
ecstasy, too. We barely touched
each other, we didn’t have to
speak. The love we made leapt
to life like a cat in the space
between us (if there ever was
space between us), and looked
back at us through fog. Sure,
this was San Francisco, it was
often hard to see. But fog always
burned off, too, so we watched
this creature to see if it knew
what it was doing. It didn’t.
Brenda Shaughnessy, “Gay Pride Weekend, S.F., 1992” from So Much Synth. Copyright © 2016 by Brenda Shaughnessy.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, http://bit.ly/2iMe3eQ.

Source: So Much Synth(Copper Canyon Press, 2016)

Brenda Shaughnessy

Biography
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Poem of the Day: Celebration for June 24

Before you, I was living on an island
And all around the seas of that lonely coast
Cast up their imitation jewels, cast
Their fables and enigmas, questioning, sly.
I never solved them, or ever even heard,
Being perfect in innocence: unconscious of self;
Such ignorance of history was all my wealth—
A geographer sleeping in the shadow of virgins.
But though my maps were made of private countries
I was a foreigner in all of them after you had come,
For when you spoke, it was with a human tongue
And never understood by my land-locked gentry.
Then did the sun shake down a million bells
And birds bloom on bough in wildest song!
Phlegmatic hills went shivering with flame;
The chestnut trees were manic at their deepest boles!
It is little strange that nature was riven in her frame
At this second creation, known to every lover—
How we are shaped and shape ourselves in the desires of the other
Within the tolerance of human change.
Out of the spring’s innocence this revolution,
Created on a kiss, announced the second season,
The summer of private history, of growth, through whose sweet sessions
The trees lift toward the sun, each leaf a revelation.
Our bodies, coupled in the moonlight’s album,
Proclaimed our love against the outlaw times
Whose signature was written in the burning towns.
Your face against the night was my medallion.
Your coming forth aroused unlikely trumpets
In the once-tame heart. They heralded your worth
Who are my lodestar, my bright and ultimate North,
Marrying all points of my personal compass.
This is the love that now invents my fear
Which nuzzles me like a puppy each violent day.
It is poor comfort that the mind comes, saying:
What is one slim girl to the peoples’ wars?
Still, my dice are loaded: having had such luck,
Having your love, my life would still be whole
Though I should die tomorrow. I have lived it all.
—And love is never love, that cannot give love up.
Thomas McGrath, “Celebration for June 24” from Movie At The End of the World. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Used by permission of Swallow Press/Ohio University Press.

Source: Poetry June 1944

Thomas McGrath

Biography
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Poem of the Day: Summer at North Farm

Fires, always fires after midnight,
the sun depending in the purple birches
and gleaming like a copper kettle.
By the solstice they’d burned everything,
the bad-luck sleigh, a twisted rocker,
things “possessed” and not-quite-right.
The bonfire coils and lurches,
big as a house, and then it settles.
The dancers come, dressed like rainbows
(if rainbows could be spun),
and linking hands they turn
to the melancholy fiddles.
A red bird spreads its wings now
and in the darker days to come.
Stephen Kuusisto, “Summer at North Farm” from Only Bread Only Light. Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Kuusisto. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, http://bit.ly/2iMe3eQ.

Source: Poetry August 1989

Stephen Kuusisto

Biography
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Poem of the Day: The Soul

It disappeared.
It reappeared
as chimney smoke
that burnt through carcasses
of swallows stilled,
and that it portrayed no will
was why I followed that smoke
with this pair of eyes.
It was that it didn’t need
or require my belief
that I leant upon it
as a tired worker
upon
a gate.

Source: Poetry November 2012

Katie Ford

Biography
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Poem of the Day: Summer Solstice

I wanted to see where beauty comes from
without you in the world, hauling my heart
across sixty acres of northeast meadow,
my pockets filling with flowers.
Then I remembered,
it’s you I miss in the brightness
and body of every living name:
rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.
You are the green wonder of June,
root and quasar, the thirst for salt.
When I finally understand that people fail
at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,
the paper wings of the dragonfly
aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?
If I get the story right, desire is continuous,
equatorial. There is still so much
I want to know: what you believe
can never be removed from us,
what you dreamed on Walnut Street
in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,
learning pleasure on your own.
Tell me our story: are we impetuous,
are we kind to each other, do we surrender
to what the mind cannot think past?
Where is the evidence I will learn
to be good at loving?
The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond
for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.
There are violet hills,
there is the covenant of duskbirds.
The moon comes over the mountain
like a big peach, and I want to tell you
what I couldn’t say the night we rushed
North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers
and the way you go into yourself,
calling my half-name like a secret.
I stand between taproot and treespire.
Here is the compass rose
to help me live through this.
Here are twelve ways of knowing
what blooms even in the blindness
of such longing. Yellow oxeye,
viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms
pleading do not forget me.
We hunger for eloquence.
We measure the isopleths.
I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.
The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.
Fireflies turn on their electric wills:
an effulgence. Let me come back
whole, let me remember how to touch you
before it is too late.
Stacie Cassarino, “Summer Solstice” from Zero at the Bone. Copyright © 2009 by Stacie Cassarino. Reprinted by permission of New Issues Press.

Source: Zero at the Bone(New Issues Press, 2009)

Stacie Cassarino

Biography
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Poem of the Day: Brahma

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.
They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

http://bit.ly/2sJUEz4

Poem of the Day: St. Peter Claver

Every town with black Catholics has a St. Peter Claver’s.
My first was nursery school.
Miss Maturin made us fold our towels in a regulation square and nap on army cots.
No mother questioned; no child sassed.
In blue pleated skirts, pants, and white shirts,
we stood in line to use the open toilets
and conserved light by walking in darkness.
Unsmiling, mostly light-skinned, we were the children of the middle class, preparing to take our parents’ places in a world that would demand we fold our hands and wait.
They said it was good for us, the bowl of soup, its pasty whiteness;
I learned to swallow and distrust my senses.
On holy cards St. Peter’s face is olive-toned, his hair near kinky;
I thought he was one of us who pass between the rich and poor, the light and dark.
Now I read he was “a Spanish Jesuit priest who labored for the salvation of the African Negroes and the abolition of the slave trade.”
I was tricked again, robbed of my patron,
and left with a debt to another white man.
Toi Derricotte, “St. Peter Claver” from Captivity. Copyright © 1989 by Toi Derricotte. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, http://www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Captivity(1989)

Toi Derricotte

Biography
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