Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Lake Isle of Innisfree — Poem in Your Pocket Day during National Poetry Month!

Print this poem and stick it in your pocket for Poem in Your Pocket Day!

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
by W. B. Yeats 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dulce et Decorum Est — National Poetry Month

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

by Wilfred Owen
courtesy War Poetry

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Power — National Poetry Month

Listen to writer Cheryl Strayed speak about this poem, and power, and poetry, via Brain Pickings.

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.
by Adrienne Rich
courtesy Brain Pickings  

Monday, April 27, 2015

There is no frigate like a book — National Poetry Month

There is no frigate like a book (1263)

There is no Frigate like a Book  
To take us Lands away,  
Nor any Coursers like a Page  
Of prancing Poetry –   
This Traverse may the poorest take         
Without oppress of Toll –   
How frugal is the Chariot  
That bears a Human soul.
by Emily Dickinson

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trans- during National Poetry Month

I read a "joke" by an athlete who competed against Bruce Jenner that he was upset that he lost an Olympic competition to a woman. It's not funny. It's demeaning and sexist. Women are not inferior athletes, or inferior anything. Knock it off. Now.


I work a lot and live far less than I could,
but the moon is beautiful and there are
blue stars . . . . I live the chaste song of my heart.
—Garcia Lorca to Emilia Llanos Medinor,
November 25, 1920
The moon is in doubt
over whether to be
a man or a woman.

There’ve been rumors,
all manner of allegations,
bold claims and public lies: 

He’s belligerent. She’s in a funk.
When he fades, the world teeters.
When she burgeons, crime blossoms.

O how the operatic impulse wavers!
Dip deep, my darling, into the blank pool.

by Rita Dove

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Insomnia — National Poetry Month


The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she's a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
she'd tell it to go to hell,
and she'd find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me. 

by Elizabeth Bishop
courtesy Poem Hunter

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ponderable — National Poetry Month


The pine branches reach—the rain! the sun! the edge of the
        moving air! three goats!
Girls on razor scooters turn the corner and scoot
Autonomy actually shows, it shines amidst the stars of decision
I sacrifice hearing to writing, I return to the back of the train
Surrounded by nothing but tattered island nasturtia, the
        shoveler is prepared to exclaim, “Grief exterior, grief
Beastly pine cones are falling from the sky
Down in the middle, and a soft wall, the midnight breeze
Check the role, the rock, the rule!
From cardboard pressed to ginger, water spilled on a list, salt
        sprinkled over…
Why so many references to dogs, purple, and bananas?
Then the carnival—it came up afterwards like a vermillion
        buttress to say of itself “it appears”
Wren in a ragged bee line, flora sleeping live
Yuki, Felicia, and Maxwell have between them $13.75, and they
        are hungry as they enter the small café, where they see a
        display of pies and decide to spend all their money on pie
        there and then—how much pie will each get to eat if
        each pie costs $5.25?
Invincible is my myopia, great is my waist, choral are my ideas,
        wingéd are my eyebrows, deep is my obscurity—who am I?

by Lyn Hejinian

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hope — National Poetry Month

Natalie Fuller was a smart, vibrant artist and author. In March 2105, she lost her battle with illness, a brain disorder that manifested itself as bipolar disorder with psychosis, after eight years of treatment. Natalie wrote this poem in November 2013, and her mother included it in a recent article in the Washington Post.


There is a little piece of glitter following me around

I see it on the carpet and I see it on the ground

that’s been following me for quite some time

guess I never noticed it before

But I know what it means, that little glitter on the floor

It’s hope.

It’s not coincidence, nope, it’s hope.

And I know that I’ve failed you

yeah I know I’ve been untrue

but that glitter on the floor

tells me it doesn’t matter any more

Cuz’ no matter how many times I fail

I’ve got hope.

This time, I’m gonna be better

and I know there’s stormy weather

Please believe in me

I will solve this mystery

and I will show you

to have hope.

It’s not coincidence, nope, it’s hope.

Someday that glitter will shine

Gonna write my rhyme until the time.

My heart’s beatin’ outta my chest

I wanna rest but that don’t impress

I gotta fight this urge

gotta get the electricity surge

I know I can do it

Beat my demons

appreciate the seasons.

I hope, hope, hope I can to it too

make all my wildest dreams come true.

by Natalie Fuller
courtesy The Washington Post

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April Prayer — National Poetry Month

April Prayer

Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.

by Stuart Kestenbaum  
from Prayers and Run-on Sentences. © Deerbrook Editions, 2007. 
courtesy The Writer's Almanac

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Double Dutch — National Poetry Month

Congratulations to Gregory Pardio, who was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his book, Digest.

Double Dutch

The girls turning double-dutch
bob & weave like boxers pulling
punches, shadowing each other,
sparring across the slack cord
casting parabolas in the air. They
whip quick as an infant’s pulse
and the jumper, before she
enters the winking, nods in time
as if she has a notion to share,
waiting her chance to speak. But she’s
anticipating the upbeat
like a bandleader counting off
the tune they are about to swing into.
The jumper stair-steps into mid-air
as if she’s jumping rope in low-gravity,
training for a lunar mission. Airborne a moment
long enough to fit a second thought in,
she looks caught in the mouth bones of a fish
as she flutter-floats into motion
like a figure in a stack of time-lapse photos
thumbed alive. Once inside,
the bells tied to her shoestrings rouse the gods
who’ve lain in the dust since the Dutch
acquired Manhattan. How she dances
patterns like a dust-heavy bee retracing
its travels in scale before the hive. How
the whole stunning contraption of girl and rope
slaps and scoops like a paddle boat.
Her misted skin arranges the light
with each adjustment and flex. Now heather-
hued, now sheen, light listing on the fulcrum
of a wrist and the bare jutted joints of elbow
and knee, and the faceted surfaces of muscle,
surfaces fracturing and reforming
like a sun-tickled sleeve of running water.
She makes jewelry of herself and garlands
the ground with shadows.

by Gregory Pardlo
from Totem, published by The American Poetry Review
courtesy Poetry Foundation

Monday, April 20, 2015

Next Time Ask More Questions — National Poetry Month

Next Time Ask More Questions

Before jumping, remember
the span of time is long and gracious.
No one perches dangerously on any cliff
till you reply. Is there a pouch of rain
desperately thirsty people wait to drink from
when you say yes or no? I don’t think so.
Hold that thought. Hold everything.
When they say “crucial”—well, maybe for them?
Hold your horses and your minutes and
your Hong Kong dollar coins in your pocket,
you are not a corner or a critical turning page.
Wait. I’ll think about it.
This pressure you share is a misplaced hinge, a fantasy.
I am exactly where I wanted to be.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jayne Mansfield and Amber Tamblyn — National Poetry Month

Amber Tamblyn wrote Dark Sparkler, an exquisite book of poems about the death of actresses. You simply must purchase this book and read the poems. You will weep. You will celebrate their lives cut short. You will search for more information about the women in this book, even the ones you think you know. You will be thankful this book is written. Below is the first poem I read from the book. When you read this book, and I know you will, let me know what you thought of it.

Jayne Mansfield

Your neck was a study of the asterisk,
the silken shape of Sanskrit,
the sucker punch of succulents.

Your neck an thinning glacier,
fine at the grind of a blade curbe

soft as a k in a known word
long as they say about slow burns.

Your neck the place pearls retired
below the face your girls admired.

Your neck was a fortune you did not spend.
Your neck is what they'll remember the most.
Your neck in the end.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Found Poetry from Time — National Poetry Month

Found Poetry From Time's '100 Most Influential People' List

Sometimes, poetry is discovered in the most interesting places. Time Magazine identified 100 influential individuals, then asked them to reflect on their fellow designees. Poetry? You decide.

Submit poetry to Hedgehog Lover during National Poetry Month and win a book of poetry. 

She’s just getting started with what she plans to mine from her
boundlessly talented
and beautiful

Her constant inspiration reminds us that nothing looks better on a woman than the clarity, courage and conviction of vision.
Courtesy The Atlantic

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Cows at Night — National Poetry Month

The Cows at Night

The moon was like a full cup tonight,
too heavy, and sank in the mist
soon after dark, leaving for light

faint stars and the silver leaves
of milkweed beside the road,
gleaming before my car.

Yet I like driving at night
in summer and in Vermont:
the brown road through the mist

of mountain-dark, among farms
so quiet, and the roadside willows
opening out where I saw

the cows. Always a shock
to remember them there, those
great breathings close in the dark.

I stopped, and took my flashlight
to the pasture fence. They turned
to me where they lay, sad

and beautiful faces in the dark,
and I counted them — forty
near and far in the pasture,

turning to me, sad and beautiful
like girls very long ago
who were innocent, and sad

because they were innocent,
and beautiful because they were
sad. I switched off my light.

But I did not want to go,
not yet, nor knew what to do
if I should stay, for how

in that great darkness could I explain
anything, anything at all.
I stood by the fence. And then

very gently it began to rain.

from Collected Shorter Poems. © Copper Canyon Press, 1991.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One of my favorite poems, shared with you, during National Poetry Month

I include for your considerations one of my favorite poems. Every time I read it, I feel like it reveals one more wonderful image previously unnoticed. And yes, I include it every year. I shall continue to do so if I wish. It, simply, is that deserving.

XIII (Dedications)

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a gray day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

by Adrienne Rich
from Atlas of a Difficult World

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Oh Yes — National Poetry Month

Oh Yes

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
too late. 

by Charls Bukowski
courtesy poem hunter

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Funeral Blues — National Poetry Month

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

by W.H. Auden
courtesy all poetry

Monday, April 13, 2015

Unpacking a Globe — National Poetry Month

Unpacking a Globe

I gaze at the Pacific and don’t expect
to ever see the heads on Easter Island,
though I guess at sunlight rippling
the yellow grasses sloping to shore;
yesterday a doe ate grass in the orchard:
it lifted its ears and stopped eating
when it sensed us watching from
a glass hallway—in his sleep, a veteran
sweats, defusing a land mine.
On the globe, I mark the Battle of
the Coral Sea—no one frets at that now. A poem can never be too dark,
I nod and, staring at the Kenai, hear
ice breaking up along an inlet;
yesterday a coyote trotted across
my headlights and turned his head
but didn’t break stride; that’s how
I want to live on this planet:
alive to a rabbit at a glass door—
and flower where there is no flower.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dancing With Strom — National Poetry Month

Dancing with Strom

           I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough
            troops in the army to force the southern people to break
            down segregation and accept the Negro [pronounced Nigra]
            into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes,
            and into our churches.
                                    —Strom Thurmond, South Carolina
                                    Senator and Presidential Candidate
                                         for the States’ Rights Party, 1948

            I said, “I’m gonna fight Thurmond from the mountain to
            the sea.”
                                    —Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Civil
                              Rights Matriarch, South Carolina, 1948

The youngest has been married off.


He is as tall as Abraham Lincoln. Here, on his

wedding day, he flaunts the high spinning laugh

of a newly freed slave. I stand above him, just

off the second-floor landing, watching

the celebration unfold.


Uncle-cousins, bosom buddies, convertible cars

of nosy paramours, strolling churlish penny-

pinchers pour onto the mansion estate. Below,

Strom Thurmond is dancing with my mother.


The favorite son of South Carolina has already

danced with the giddy bride and the giddy bride’s

mother. More women await: Easter dressy,

drenched in caramel, double exposed, triple cinched,

lined up, leggy, ready.


I refuse to leave the porch.


If I walk down I imagine he will extend his

hand, assume I am next in his happy darky line,

#427 on his dance card. His history

and mine, burnt cork and blackboard chalk,

concentric, pancaked, one face, two histories,

slow dragging, doing the nasty.


My father knows all this.


Daddy’s Black Chief Justice legs straddle the boilerplate

carapace of the CSS H. L. Hunley, lost Confederate

submarine, soon to be found just off the coast of

Charleston. He keeps it fully submerged by

applying the weight of every treatise he has

ever written against the death penalty of

South Carolina. Chanting “Briggs v. Elliott,”

he keeps the ironside door of the submarine shut.

No hands.


His eyes are a Black father’s beacon, search-

lights blazing for the married-off sons, and

on the unmarried, whale-eyed nose-in-book

daughter, born unmoored, quiet, yellow,

strategically placed under hospital lights to

fully bake. The one with the most to lose.


There will be no trouble. Still, he chain-

smokes. A burning stick of mint & Indian

leaf seesaws between his lips. He wants

me to remember that trouble is a fire that

runs like a staircase up then down. Even

on a beautiful day in June.


I remember the new research just out:

What the Negro gave America

Chapter 9,206:


Enslaved Africans gifted porches to North

America. Once off the boats they were told,

then made, to build themselves a place—to live.


They build the house that will keep them alive.


Rather than be the bloody human floret on

yet another southern tree, they imagine higher

ground. They build landings with floor enough

to see the trouble coming. Their arced imaginations

nail the necessary out into the floral air. On the

backs and fronts of twentypenny houses,

a watching place is made for the ones who will

come tipping with torch & hog tie through the

quiet woods, hoping to hang them as decoration

in the porcupine hair of longleaf.


The architecture of Black people is sui generis.

This is architecture dreamed by the enslaved:


Their design will be stolen.

Their wits will outlast gold.

My eyes seek historical rest from the kiss-

kiss theater below; Strom Thurmond’s

it’s-never-too-late-to-forgive-me chivaree.

I search the tops of yellow pine while my

fingers reach, catch, pinch my father’s

determined-to-rise smoke.


Long before AC African people did the

math: how to cool down the hot air of

South Carolina?


If I could descend, without being trotted

out by some roughrider driven by his

submarine dreams, this is what I’d take

my time and scribble into the three-tiered,

white créme wedding cake:


Filibuster. States’ Rights. The Grand Inquisition

of the great Thurgood Marshall. This wedding

reception would not have been possible without

the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (opposed by



The Dixiecrat senator has not worn his

sandy seersucker fedora to the vows.

The top of Strom Thurmond’s bald head

reveals a birthmark tattooed in contrapposto

pose: Segregation Forever.


All my life he has been the face of hatred;

the blue eyes of the Confederate flag,

the pasty bald of white men pulling wooly

heads up into the dark skirts of trees,

the sharp, slobbering, amber teeth of

German shepherds, still clenched inside

the tissue-thin, (still marching), band-leader

legs of Black schoolteachers, the single-

minded pupae growing between the legs of

white boys crossing the tracks, ready to

force Black girls into fifth-grade positions,

Palmetto state-sanctioned sex 101.


I didn’t want to dance with him.


My young cousin arrives at my elbow.

Her beautiful lips the color of soft-skin

mangoes. She pulls, teasing the stitches

of my satin bridesmaid gown, “You better

go on down there and dance with Strom—

while he still has something left.”


I don’t tell her it is unsouthern for her

to call him by his first name, as if they

are familiar. I don’t tell her: To bear

witness to marriage is to believe that

everything moving through the sweet

wedding air can be confidently, left—

to Love.


I stand on the landing high above the

beginnings of Love, holding a plastic

champagne flute, drinking in the warm

June air of South Carolina. I hear my

youngest brother’s top hat joy. Looking

down I find him, deep in the giddy crowd,

modern, integrated, interpretive.


For ten seconds I consider dancing with

Strom. His Confederate hands touch

every shoulder, finger, back that I love.

I listen to the sound of Black laughter

shimmying. All worry floats beyond

the gurgling submarine bubbles,

the white railing, every drop of

champagne air.


I close my eyes and Uncle Freddie

appears out of a baby’s breath of fog.

(The dead are never porch bound.)

He moves with ease where I cannot.

He walks out on the rice-thrown air,

heaving a lightning bolt instead of

a wave. Suddenly, there is a table set,

complete with 1963 dining room stars,

they twinkle twinkle up & behind him.

Thelonious, Martin, Malcolm, Nina,

Dakota, all mouths Negro wide &

open have come to sing me down.

His tattered almanac sleeps curled like

a wintering slug in his back pocket.

His dark Dogon eyes jet to the scene

below, then zoom past me until they are

lost in the waning sugilite sky. Turning

in the shadows of the wheat fields,

he whispers a truth plucked from

the foreword tucked in his back pocket:

Veritas: Black people will forgive you

quicker than you can say Orangeburg



History does not keep books on the

handiwork of slaves. But the enslaved

who built this Big House, long before

I arrived for this big wedding, knew

the power of a porch.


This native necessity of nailing down

a place, for the cooling off of air,

in order to lift the friendly, the kindly,

the so politely, the in-love-ly, jubilant,

into the arms of the grand peculiar,

for the greater good of

the public spectacular:



giving us


by Nikky Finney
 from Head Off & Split
courtesy New York Public Library