Thursday, April 10, 2008

Poem-a-Day — WYSIWYG

I've been a little swamped this month, so I let the Poem-a-Day e-mails pile up, unattended for a few days. I know, shame on me, but today I read them.

If you haven't already, you really must sign up. The poems include not only a poem in its entirety, but also a couple of other titles (with hyperlinks) to other poems by the same author and related poems. You will recognize some poems, and others you may not.

Monday's poem by Alan Shapiro led me to another. I liked them both, so I will share both with you now.

The one that was e-mailed was "Just" and among the other poems suggested by the same author was "Haunting." Really, did you think I could resist?

Without further ado, please enjoy these two poems, courtesy of


after the downpour, in the early evening,
late sunlight glinting off the raindrops sliding
down the broad backs of the redbud leaves
beside the porch, beyond the railing, each leaf
bending and springing back and bending again
beneath the dripping,
between existences,
ecstatic, the souls grow mischievous, they break ranks,
swerve from the rigid V's of their migration,
their iron destinies, down to the leaves
they flutter in among, rising and settling,
bodiless, but pretending to have bodies,

their weightlessness more weightless for the ruse,
their freedom freer, their as-ifs nearly not,
until the night falls like an order and
they rise on one vast wing that darkens down
the endless flyways into other bodies.

Nothing will make you less afraid.

© 2008 by Alan Shapiro. From Old War.


The Haunting

It may not be
the ghostly ballet
of our avoidances
that they’ll remember,
nor the long sulks
of those last months,
nor the voices
chilly with all
the anger we
were careful mostly
not to show
in front of them,
nor anything
at all that made
our choice to live
apart seem to us
both not only
but good, but just.

No, what I think
will haunt them is
precisely what
we’ve chosen to
forget: those too
infrequent (though
even toward
the end still
possible) moments
when, the children
upstairs, the dinner
cooking, one of us
would all at once
start humming an old
tune and we’d dance,
as if we did
so always, in
a swoon of gliding
all through the house,
across the kitchen,

down the hall
and back, we’d sway
together, we’d twirl,
we’d dip and cha-
cha and the children
would hear us and
be helpless not
to come running
down to burrow
in between us,
into the center
of the dance that now,
I think, will haunt them
for the very joy
itself, for joy
that was for them,
for all of us
together, something
better than joy,
and yet for you
and me, ourselves,
alone, apart,
still not enough.

© 2005 by Alan Shapiro. From Tantalus In Love.

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