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Juan Morris the Writer

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Poem of the Day: My Father

My father was a tall man and yet the ripened rye
Would come above his shoulders, the spears shot up so high.
My father was a tall man and yet the tasseled corn
Would hide him when he cut the stalks upon a frosty morn.
The green things grew so lushly in the valley of my birth,
Where else could one witness the luxuriance of earth?
The plow would turn so rhythmically the loose, unfettered loam,
There was no need of effort to drive the coulter home.
My father walked behind his team before the sun was high,
Fine as a figure on a frieze cut sharp against the sky.
And when he swung the cradle in the yellow of the grain,
He could command all eyes around, or when he drove the wain.
I wonder if his acres now that lie so far away
Are waiting for his footprint at the coming of the day.
I wonder if the brown old barn that still is standing long
And ghostly cattle in the stalls are waiting for his song.

Source: Father: An Anthology of Verse(EP Dutton & Company, 1931)

Jessie B. Rittenhouse

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Poem of the Day: Photo of a Girl on a Beach

Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,
a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,
I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,
then I vanished. I gave the day a fingerprint,
then forgot.
I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.
The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.
The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,
but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,
and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.
For truth’s sake, I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.
She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.
Carmen Giménez Smith, “Photo of a Girl on a Beach” from Odalisque in Pieces. Copyright © 2009 by Carmen Gimenez Smith. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: Odalisque in Pieces(University of Arizona Press, 2009)

Carmen Giménez Smith

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Poem of the Day: Dear One Absent This Long While

It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.
I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,
you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,
the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.
In May we dreamed of wreaths burning on bonfires
over which young men and women leapt.
June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall
so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain.
I have new gloves and a new hoe.
I practice eulogies. He was a hawk
with white feathered legs. She had the quiet ribs
of a salamander crossing the old pony post road.
Yours is the name the leaves chatter
at the edge of the unrabbited woods.
Lisa Olstein, “Dear One Absent This Long While” from Radio Crackling, Radio Gone. Copyrigh 2006 by Lisa Olstein. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, http://bit.ly/2iMe3eQ.

Source: Radio Crackling Radio Gone(Copper Canyon Press, 2006)

Lisa Olstein

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Poem of the Day: A Summer Wind

O wind, thou hast thy kingdom in the trees,
        And all thy royalties
        Sweep through the land to-day.
              It is mid June,
And thou, with all thy instruments in tune,
              Thine orchestra
Of heaving fields and heavy swinging fir,
              Strikest a lay
              That doth rehearse
Her ancient freedom to the universe.
        All other sound in awe
              Repeats its law:
        The bird is mute; the sea
        Sucks up its waves; from rain
        The burthened clouds refrain,
To listen to thee in thy leafery,
              Thou unconfined,
Lavish, large, soothing, refluent summer wind.

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Poem of the Day: Pauline Is Falling

from the cliff’s edge,
kicking her feet in panic and despair
as the circle of light contracts and blackness
takes the screen. And that
is how we leave her, hanging—though we know
she will be rescued, only to descend
into fresh harm, the story flowing on,
disaster and reprieve—systole, diastole—split
rhythm of a heart that hungers
only to go on. So why is this like my mother,
caged in a railed bed, each breath,
a fresh installment in a tortured tale
of capture and release? Nine days
she dangled, stubborn,
over the abyss, the soft clay crumbling
beneath her fingertips, until she dropped
with a little bird cry of surprise
into the swift river below.
Here metaphor collapses, for there was no love
to rescue her, no small boat
waiting with a net to fish her out,
although the water carried her,
and it was April when we buried her
among the weeping cherries and the waving
flags and in the final fade, a heron
breasted the far junipers
to gain the tremulous air and swim away.

Source: Poetry March 2000

Jean Nordhaus

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Poem of the Day: Getting in the Wood

The sour smell,
       blue stain,
               water squirts out round the wedge,
Lifting quarters of rounds
       covered with ants,
      “a living glove of ants upon my hand”
the poll of the sledge a bit peened over
so the wedge springs off and tumbles
        ringing like high-pitched bells
               into the complex duff of twigs
               poison oak, bark, sawdust,
               shards of logs,
And the sweat drips down.
        Smell of crushed ants.
The lean and heave on the peavey
that breaks free the last of a bucked
        three-foot round,
                it lies flat on smashed oaklings—
Wedge and sledge, peavey and maul,
       little axe, canteen, piggyback can
       of saw-mix gas and oil for the chain,
knapsack of files and goggles and rags,
All to gather the dead and the down.
       the young men throw splits on the piles
       bodies hardening, learning the pace
and the smell of tools from this delve
       in the winter
             death-topple of elderly oak.
Four cords.
Gary Snyder, “Getting in the Wood” from Axe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder.  Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press.

Source: Axe Handles(North Point Press, 1983)

Gary Snyder

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Poem of the Day: A History of Sexual Preference

We are walking our very public attraction
through eighteenth-century Philadelphia.
I am simultaneously butch girlfriend
and suburban child on a school trip,
Independence Hall, 1775, home
to the Second Continental Congress.
Although she is wearing her leather jacket,
although we have made love for the first time
in a hotel room on Rittenhouse Square,
I am preparing my teenage escape from Philadelphia,
from Elfreth’s Alley, the oldest continuously occupied
residential street in the nation,
from Carpenters’ Hall, from Congress Hall,
from Graff House where the young Thomas
Jefferson lived, summer of 1776. In my starched shirt
and waistcoat, in my leggings and buckled shoes,
in postmodern drag, as a young eighteenth-century statesman,
I am seventeen and tired of fighting for freedom
and the rights of men. I am already dreaming of Boston—
city of women, demonstrations, and revolution
on a grand and personal scale.
                                                       Then the maître d’
is pulling out our chairs for brunch, we have the
surprised look of people who have been kissing
and now find themselves dressed and dining
in a Locust Street townhouse turned café,
who do not know one another very well, who continue
with optimism to pursue relationship. Eternity
may simply be our mortal default mechanism
set on hope despite all evidence. In this mood,
I roll up my shirtsleeves and she touches my elbow.
I refuse the seedy view from the hotel window.
I picture instead their silver inkstands,
the hoopskirt factory on Arch Street,
the Wireworks, their eighteenth-century herb gardens,
their nineteenth-century row houses restored
with period door knockers.
Step outside.
We have been deeded the largest landscaped space
within a city anywhere in the world. In Fairmount Park,
on horseback, among the ancient ginkgoes, oaks, persimmons,
and magnolias, we are seventeen and imperishable, cutting classes
May of our senior year. And I am happy as the young
Tom Jefferson, unbuttoning my collar, imagining his power,
considering my healthy body, how I might use it in the service
of the country of my pleasure.
“A History of Sexual Preference” from All-American Girl, by Robin Becker, ©1996. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: All-American Girl(University of Pittsburgh Press, 1996)

Robin Becker

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Poem of the Day: So We’ll Go No More a Roving

So, we’ll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.

Lord Byron (George Gordon)

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Poem of the Day: The Rain

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.
 
What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it
 
that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me
 
something other than this,
something not so insistent—
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.
 
Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out
 
of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.
Robert Creeley, “The Rain” from Selected Poems of Robert Creeley. Copyright © 1991 by the Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with the permission of the University of California Press.

Source: Selected Poems of Robert Creeley(University of California Press, 1991)

Robert Creeley

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