We will be talking about poetry – poets – anything remotely related to poetry on April 20 at 10:30 and hope you will join us.  Please post your favorite poem and bring one along to share (can be heartrending or can be Purple Cow variety – we’re open to anything).  Here are some names and titles to get you thinking.

Naomi Shihab Nye – received the 13th Annual robert Creeley Award.  Her books include There is no Long Distance Now, I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are You OK? and What Have you Lost?

Billy Collins – former poet laureate – his books include The Trouble with Poetry, Sailing Alone Around the Room and Ballistics

Mary Oliver – her books include Red Bird, The Truro Bear and Other Adventures and When I Wake Early

Walt WhitmanLeaves of Grass (or if you are an e-reader – a book called Works of Walt Whitman: Including Leaves of Grass, Specimen Days, Drum Taps & more

Randall JarrellThe Bat Poet and The Animal Family – both illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Natalie Merchant Leave Your Sleep  a collection of songs from favorite poems for children (and others) – my current favorite CD

The Odyssey Homer (many translations)

The Bell JarSylvia Plath  (and her Selected Poems)

Langston HughesThe Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

Emily DickinsonEmily Dickinson, A Biography – Connie Ann Kirk and her poems

Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons: The Story of Phillis Wheatley by Ann Rinaldi

Frost: Lit Life ReconsideredWilliam H. Pritchard

My First Cousin Once Removed: Money, Madness and the Family of Robert Lowell by Sarah Payne Stuart   —   The art of being truly funny is an undervalued one in these angst-ridden times, but it is an ability that acclaimed novelist Sarah Payne Stuart has in abundance. Her talents have never been on more glorious display than in My First Cousin Once Removed, a memoir—at once hilarious, personal and sad—of her extraordinary Boston Brahmin family, whose most famous member is the legendary poet Robert Lowell, the author’s first cousin (once removed).

The Salt House: A Summer on the Dunes of Cape Cod by Cynthia Huntington    –   The Salt House is a beautifully observed and written memoir of a long summer’s stay on the back shore of Cape Cod. Each chapter is like a prose poem, shedding increasing light on the challenge of finding “home” without the illusion of permanence, a quest based not on ownership but on affinity and familiarity with an area and its people. Cynthia Huntington expands her theme through images of the landscape, the shack, the new marriage.

Piping Down the Valleys Wild by Nancy Larrick – the favorite collection to share with my children

Donald Hall – books include White Apples and the Taste of Stone, the Painted Bed and Without:Poems.

Maxine Kumin – books include Where I Live and The Long Marriage

Jane Kenyon – NY poet laureate at the time of her death.  Books include From Room to Room and Let Evening Come

27 thoughts on “APRIL IS POETRY MONTH

  1. Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House

    The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
    He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
    that he barks every time they leave the house.
    They must switch him on on their way out.

    The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.
    I close all the windows in the house
    and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast
    but I can still hear him muffled under the music,
    barking, barking, barking,

    and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra,
    his head raised confidently as if Beethoven
    had included a part for barking dog.

    When the record finally ends he is still barking,
    sitting there in the oboe section barking,
    his eyes fixed on the conductor who is
    entreating him with his baton

    while the other musicians listen in respectful
    silence to the famous barking dog solo,
    that endless coda that first established
    Beethoven as an innovative genius.
    Billy Collins

  2. Daffodils

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.
    William Wordsworth

  3. Spring and Fall: to a young child – Gerald Manley Hopkins

    Margaret, are you grieving
    Over Goldengrove unleaving?
    Leaves, like the things of man, you
    With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
    Ah! as the heart grows older
    It will come to such sights colder
    By and by, nor spare a sigh
    Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
    And yet you wíll weep and know why.
    Now no matter, child, the name:
    Sorrow’s springs are the same.
    Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
    What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
    It is the blight man was born for,
    It is Margaret you mourn for.

  4. Just finished a collection of essays and poems by Calvin Trillin (Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin) who is, among many other things, The Nation’s deadline poet – which means he writes regular poems relative to current events with the necessity – often – of find rhymes for the names of political figures. Here is a sample:
    An Opponent of the War Attempts to Say Farewell to Donald Rumsfeld with at Least a Modicum of Courtesy.
    To be so wrong so often is a curse,
    But being arrogantly wrong is worse.
    Still, briefings were a hoot. Our favorite feature?
    That tone – exactly like a third-grade teacher
    Explaining math to those forevermore
    Too slow to get promoted to grade four.
    So may you find, as down life’s road you’re wending,
    More folks to whom you’re always condescending.

  5. Theme for English B
    The instructor said,

    Go home and write
    a page tonight.
    And let that page come out of you—
    Then, it will be true.

    I wonder if it’s that simple?
    I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
    I went to school there, then Durham, then here
    to this college on the hill above Harlem.
    I am the only colored student in my class.
    The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
    through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
    Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
    the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
    up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

    It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
    at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
    I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
    hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
    (I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

    Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
    I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
    I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
    or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
    I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
    the same things other folks like who are other races.
    So will my page be colored that I write?
    Being me, it will not be white.
    But it will be
    a part of you, instructor.
    You are white—
    yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
    That’s American.
    Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
    Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
    But we are, that’s true!
    As I learn from you,
    I guess you learn from me—
    although you’re older—and white—
    and somewhat more free.

    This is my page for English B.

  6. Annabel Lee

    It was many and many a year ago,
    In a kingdom by the sea,
    That a maiden there lived whom you may know
    By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
    And this maiden she lived with no other thought
    Than to love and be loved by me.

    I was a child and she was a child,
    In this kingdom by the sea;
    But we loved with a love that was more than love-
    I and my Annabel Lee;
    With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
    Coveted her and me.

    And this was the reason that, long ago,
    In this kingdom by the sea,
    A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
    My beautiful Annabel Lee;
    So that her highborn kinsman came
    And bore her away from me,
    To shut her up in a sepulchre
    In this kingdom by the sea.

    The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
    Went envying her and me-
    Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
    In this kingdom by the sea)
    That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
    Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

    But our love it was stronger by far than the love
    Of those who were older than we-
    Of many far wiser than we-
    And neither the angels in heaven above,
    Nor the demons down under the sea,
    Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

    For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
    Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
    In the sepulchre there by the sea,
    In her tomb by the sounding sea.
    Edgar Allan Poe

  7. 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.

  8. Long Live the Queen
    (for Ella Fitzgerald)

    Fourth of July, 1958
    at a backyard barbecue
    my face buried in a plate of hot dogs,
    baked beans and coleslaw,
    when a voice sliced through the grease and smoke-
    a voice as hot as grandma’s barbecue sauce
    as cool as lemonade on ice-
    a voice that changed everything.

    A singer with a strong sense of rhythm
    is said to “keep good time.”
    Ella, you didn’t just keep time
    You grabbed him by the ankles,
    turned him upside down,
    shook the change from his pockets
    flipped him back onto his feet
    slapped him on the ass
    and sent him on his dazed and dizzy way
    cheek smeared with scarlet lipstick.
    When you got it goin’ eyes shut tight,
    sweat rolling down your face,
    your sidemen wore the same amazed expressions
    the apostles exchanged that time
    Jesus called Lazarus back for an encore.

    Five hundred years from now
    on a mining ship light-years in outer space
    Some young jazz cat will be lying in bed
    listening to you sing Moonlight in Vermont
    Someone who’s never breathed real air
    or walked though an autumn forest
    but hearing your voice
    will reach out with eyes closed
    to take a fallen maple leaves,
    And breathe its faint perfume.

    Charles Coe

  9. Maria Hummel

    from POETRY, May 2012

    I don’t know when I stopped believing in heaven,
    or if I do. Maybe I just stopped receiving heaven.

    The sun rose. I climbed into the pines’ brittle
    crowns. You could say I was retrieving heaven.

    Not a place or a time, but blindness to everything
    but one light, pulsing, pleasing: heaven.

    We married in September. Everyone was still
    wearing their summer shirts, sleeves of heaven.

    It was white, there was a bend, and the car
    spun. It was then I prayed, pleading with heaven.

    When he goes limp, lie him down on the gurney,
    Mom. Oxygen mask, breathing heaven.

    The hospital shines, our son flies in and out.
    The snow falls hard, relieving heaven.

    He loves the colors of planets. I teach him
    their lifelessness: beautiful, deceiving heaven.

    I don’t know who is buried beneath me
    but I hear her break as I am leaving heaven.

    How can you cry for one ruined life, Maria,
    when you could be grieving heaven?

  10. On Rupert Brooke

    A young Apollo, golden-haired,
    Stands dreaming on the verge of strife,
    Magnificently unprepared
    For the long littleness of life.

    Frances Darwin Cornford

  11. Missed yesterday so 2 today


    Emily Dickinson

    A Light exists in Spring
    Not present on the Year
    At any other period —
    When March is scarcely here

    A Color stands abroad
    On Solitary Fields
    That Science cannot overtake
    But Human Nature feels.

    It waits upon the Lawn,
    It shows the furthest Tree
    Upon the furthest Slope you know
    It almost speaks to you.

    Then as Horizons step
    Or Noons report away
    Without the Formula of sound
    It passes and we stay —

    A quality of loss
    Affecting our Content
    As Trade had suddenly encroached
    Upon a Sacrament.

  12. The Daughter’s Tale
    Elizabeth Speller

    I take my father’s arm he is inclined
    To step out.
    He is inclined against me and he steps out in front of cars.

    My father has known all our lives. And more.
    He has known war. Has worn battledress
    And has floated from the sky under a canopy of silk.
    He has lain in Oxfordshire bluebell woods while the sky floated over him. He has drowsed in dusty lecture halls off the High then pedalled to St Giles for tea, gown in basket, as the yellow Michaelmas lights bloomed in a hundred tiny rooms. He has been jealous, has read The Scholar Gypsy, My Last Duchess, owns Milton and John Donne.
    He has run in the mud, has played rugby, cricket, hockey, tennis, and squash, he has a wavy book on how to sail. He can swim. He once tried a horse called Topper.
    My father’s hands were iridescent with trout scales, and he set himself until dusk in the balsam and midges of the riverbank, with his treasury of russet and crimson flies, his silver floats, his keep net, reels and priest.

    He wore a flowery tie, white shoes, a spotted scarf around his neck in France. He smelled of bay rum. He could jive.
    And all the cars he drove – the pilot, rapier, toledo; warrior cars hurled down the Hogs’ Back, or forced tense through Hanger Lane. Fists shaking. Silly buggers.

    This is not allowed now. He is inclined to step out in front of cars, even at the wheel. They have disarmed him.
    Though his words are wise his counsel considered. His temper sudden. His courage great. His folly muted. He takes the longer view. He has the gift of love.
    He has loved women, dogs, rivers and hot foreign places with lemon trees and white beaches and tideless green seas.
    And the dales where shadows wash over like a veil,
    And the east where the dark waves rattle the stones, and wires sing in the wind.
    And the west where he lived by the old lock, deep and arsenic green.
    And now London. Walled in his garden I have given him a rose called open arms.
    Light, lean, inclined against me.
    His is a life of curling corners, stories told.
    And yet he gets smaller, his sight closes in, his hearing dims.
    Why has all this, the years, the loves, the fights, the roads, the tales, diminished him?
    He steps out. The incline is becoming steeper.

  13. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.

    My little horse must think it queer
    To stop without a farmhouse near
    Between the woods and frozen lake
    The darkest evening of the year.

    He gives his harness bells a shake
    To ask if there is some mistake.
    The only other sound’s the sweep
    Of easy wind and downy flake.

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep.

  14. A Knot of Worms
    As day began to break, we passed
    the “honk for worms” sign,
    passed it honking again
    and again, to wake up the worms
    my dad said. It was only
    about another half mile to
    the aspen grove and our worm digs.
    The humus, spongy and almost
    black, turned over easily.
    I used my bare hands to put
    some moist earth into a coffee can
    and, as the aspen glittered
    in the risen sun, I gently
    slid the fresh, fat bait into my container.
    I heard the worms still in the ground
    gurgle as they tried to escape,
    while the ones in the can began
    to ball up as their numbers grew.
    Streamside, surrounded by mountains
    with snow lingering into summer,
    I picked out a worm and my dad
    arranged it on the hook to save
    my small fingers. Now you can purchase
    a time-share on that land.
    The colony of aspen, thinned
    by the builders, continues to
    tremble. No amount of honking
    brings back the worms.

  15. Adventures Of Isabel

    Isabel met an enormous bear,
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
    The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
    The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
    The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
    How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry.
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
    She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
    Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
    Once in a night as black as pitch
    Isabel met a wicked old witch.
    the witch’s face was cross and wrinkled,
    The witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled.
    Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
    I’ll turn you into an ugly toad!
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
    She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
    But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
    Isabel met a hideous giant,
    Isabel continued self reliant.
    The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
    He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
    Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
    I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
    She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
    And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.
    Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
    He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
    The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
    And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
    The doctor said unto Isabel,
    Swallow this, it will make you well.
    Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
    Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
    She took those pills from the pill concocter,
    And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.

    Ogden Nash

  16. A Dog Has Died

    My dog has died.
    I buried him in the garden
    next to a rusted old machine.

    Some day I’ll join him right there,
    but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
    his bad manners and his cold nose,
    and I, the materialist, who never believed
    in any promised heaven in the sky
    for any human being,
    I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
    Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
    where my dog waits for my arrival
    waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

    Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
    of having lost a companion
    who was never servile.
    His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
    withholding its authority,
    was the friendship of a star, aloof,
    with no more intimacy than was called for,
    with no exaggerations:
    he never climbed all over my clothes
    filling me full of his hair or his mange,
    he never rubbed up against my knee
    like other dogs obsessed with sex.

    No, my dog used to gaze at me,
    paying me the attention I need,
    the attention required
    to make a vain person like me understand
    that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
    but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
    he’d keep on gazing at me
    with a look that reserved for me alone
    all his sweet and shaggy life,
    always near me, never troubling me,
    and asking nothing.

    Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
    as we walked together on the shores of the sea
    in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
    where the wintering birds filled the sky
    and my hairy dog was jumping about
    full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
    my wandering dog, sniffing away
    with his golden tail held high,
    face to face with the ocean’s spray.

    Joyful, joyful, joyful,
    as only dogs know how to be happy
    with only the autonomy
    of their shameless spirit.

    There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
    and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

    So now he’s gone and I buried him,
    and that’s all there is to it.

  17. Concord Hymn
    Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837

    By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
    Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard round the world.

    The foe long since in silence slept;
    Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
    And Time the ruined bridge has swept
    Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

    On this green bank, by this soft stream,
    We set today a votive stone;
    That memory may their deed redeem,
    When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

    Spirit, that made those heroes dare
    To die, and leave their children free,
    Bid Time and Nature gently spare
    The shaft we raise to them and thee.

  18. This Is Just To Say
    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold

  19. Fun contest at @library – called book spine poetry. You stack books so that they give you a found poem. Won’t let me import a photo but here’s my stack

    Consider The Leaf
    The Warmth of Other Suns
    A Fine Balance

  20. Introduction to Poetry

    I ask them to take a poem
    and hold it up to the light
    like a color slide

    or press an ear against its hive.

    I say drop a mouse into a poem
    and watch him probe his way out,

    or walk inside the poem’s room
    and feel the walls for a light switch.

    I want them to waterski
    across the surface of a poem
    waving at the author’s name on the shore.

    But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it.

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.

    Billy Collins

  21. School photo, found after the Joplin tornado
    “Joey, 4th grade, 1992”

    He’s been on the fridge since it happened,
    sneaking glances from underneath the cat
    magnet at our dinners, coffee habits, arguments.
    We posted him on the database of items found,
    hoping that someone would recognize his messy
    hair, Batman t-shirt, blue eyes, but no one
    answered the post or claimed him.
    Somewhere a childhood photo album is not
    quite complete, or a grandmother’s mantelpiece;
    an uncle’s wallet. One afternoon I got restless,
    flipped through my old yearbooks, trying to find him,
    looking to see how he might have aged: did he lose
    the chubby cheeks? dye his hair? how long
    did he have to wear braces? But he’s too young
    to have passed me in the halls, the picture just
    a stranger, a small reminder of the whirling aftermath
    when Joplin was clutching at scraps: everything displaced,
    even this poor kid who doesn’t even know he’s lost.

  22. XIX. To an Athlete Dying Young
    by A. E. Housman (1859-1936)
    The time you won your town the race
    We chaired you through the market-place;
    Man and boy stood cheering by,
    And home we brought you shoulder-high.

    To-day, the road all runners come,
    Shoulder-high we bring you home,
    And set you at your threshold down,
    Townsman of a stiller town.

    Smart lad, to slip betimes away
    From fields were glory does not stay
    And early though the laurel grows
    It withers quicker than the rose.

    Eyes the shady night has shut
    Cannot see the record cut,
    And silence sounds no worse than cheers
    After earth has stopped the ears:

    Now you will not swell the rout
    Of lads that wore their honours out,
    Runners whom renown outran
    And the name died before the man.

    So set, before its echoes fade,
    The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
    And hold to the low lintel up
    The still-defended challenge-cup.

    And round that early-laurelled head
    Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
    And find unwithered on its curls
    The garland briefer than a girl’s.

  23. What I Learned From My Mother
    I learned from my mother how to love
    the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
    in case you have to rush to the hospital
    with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
    still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
    large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
    grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
    and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
    and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
    I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
    the deceased, to press the moist hands
    of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
    sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
    I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
    what anyone will remember is that we came.
    I learned to believe I had the power to ease
    awful pains materially like an angel.
    Like a doctor, I learned to create
    from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
    you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
    To every house you enter, you must offer
    healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
    the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

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