Poetry Favourites

Just a collection of my favourite poems, put up weekly to share with others.


Week One.

January 1st 2017 – William Wordsworth, 536.Ode. Intimations of Immortality.

“With light upon him from his father’s eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Shaped by himself with newly-learnèd art;
A wedding or a festival, A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long”


Week Two.

January 8th 2017 – Sylvia Plath, Magnolia Shoals

“bow, and recover their look
of the imperishable
gardens in an antique book
or tapestries on a wall,
leaves behind us warp and lapse.
The late month withers, as well.”


Week Three.

January 15th 2017 – Mary Oliver, In Blackwater Woods

“you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.”


Week Four.

January 22nd 2017 – William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.”


Week Five.

January 29th 2017 – The Raven, Edgar Allen Poe

“And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!”


Week Six.

February 5th 2017 – Forrest Gander, Abscess

“Jars incubate tomato plants. His mother sweeps the dirt
yard away from flowering vinca and bottle tree.
Straightens up, one-eyed by ragged hens. As her boy
ambles away to the steady pulse
in his skull.”


Week Seven.

February 12th 2017 – Christina Rossetti, Remember

“Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
       Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.”


Week Eight.

February 19th 2017 – John Donne, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

“Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
Men reckon what it did, and meant;

But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers’ love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit

Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.”


Week Nine.

February 26th 2017 – Trumbull Stickney, Loneliness

“These autumn gardens, russet, gray and brown,
The sward with shrivelled foliage strown,
The shrubs and trees
By weary wings of sunshine overflown
And timid silences,–

Since first you, darling, called my spirit yours,
Seem happy, and the gladness pours
From day to day,
And yester-year across this year endures
Unto next year away.”


Week Ten.

March 4th 2017 – Edgar Lee Masters, Lucinda Matlock

“At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you —
It takes life to love Life.”


Week Eleven.

March 11th 2017 – Cole Swensen, Chaïm Soutine: The Errant Road

“In this case
can you say that a man is lost just because
you cannot distinguish him from the background.”


Week Twelve.

March 18th 2017 – Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Sonnet

“I had not thought of violets late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.”


Week Thirteen.

March 25th 2017 – Linda Hogan, When The Body

“Still, think of the willows
made into a fence that began to root and leaf,
then tore off the wires as they grew.
A human does throw off bonds if she can, if she tries, if it’s possible,
the body so finely a miracle of its own, created of the elements
and anything that lived on earth where everything that was
still is.”


Week Fourteen.

April 1st 2017 – Dominique Christina, Chain Gang

“So you dig and
Pound and
Snatch and
Haul and
Scrape and
Lift and
Tote and
Hammer.”


Week Fifteen.

April 8th 2017 – Pablo Neruda, If You Forget Me

“I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.”


Week Sixteen.

April 15th 2017 – Edgar Allen Poe, Imitation

“A dark unfathomed tide
Of interminable pride –
A mystery, and a dream,
Should my early life seem;
I say that dream was fraught
With a wild and waking thought
Of beings that have been,
Which my spirit hath not seen,
Had I let them pass me by,
With a dreaming eye!”


Week Seventeen.

April 22nd 2017 – William Butler Yeats, The Fisherman

“And the reality;
The living men that I hate,
The dead man that I loved,
The craven man in his seat,
The insolent unreproved,
And no knave brought to book
Who has won a drunken cheer,
The witty man and his joke
Aimed at the commonest ear,
The clever man who cries
The catch-cries of the clown,
The beating down of the wise
And great Art beaten down.”


Week Eighteen.

April 29th 2017 – Theodore Roethke, In A Dark Time

“A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.”


Week Nineteen.

May 6th 2017 – Evie Shockley, — Shall Become As —

You put this pen
in my hand and you
take the pen from
my hand. the night
before the full moon

the moon seems
full. what is missing
is a dark hungry
sickle, the sliver
of shadow eating

us up inside. after
the mountains breathe
their mint-and-sorrow
green against the long
summer sky, they burst


Week Twenty.

May 13th 2017 – Robert Herrick, A Hymn To Love

No, no, I’ll be
In fetters free;
While others they sit wringing
Their hands for pain,
I’ll entertain
The wounds of love with singing.

With flowers and wine,
And cakes divine,
To strike me I will tempt thee;
Which done, no more
I’ll come before
Thee and thine altars empty.


Week Twenty-One.

May 20th 2017 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Sometime During Eternity

They stretch him on the Tree to cool
And everybody after that
is always making models
of this Tree
with Him hung up
and always crooning His name
and calling Him to come down
and sit in
on their combo
as if he is THE king cat
who’s got to blow
or they can’t quite make it

Only he don’t come down
from His Tree

Him just hang there
on His Tree
looking real Petered out
and real cool
and also
according to a roundup
of late world news
from the usual unreliable sources
real dead


Week Twenty-Two.

May 27th 2017 – William Wordsworth, I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud (Daffodils)

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.


Week Twenty-Three.

June 3rd 2017 – Brian Russell, Wild Silk

the meticulous work
it took to shape a pattern out of
patience wore down a continent’s

grasses into paths and passed
through dangerous terrain for what
for something so indisputably beautiful

you’d be willing to trade everything for it
you’d be willing to go to war to wear it
under your armor as close as anything

might get to your heart, it’s hard to believe
something so small so easy
to kill for even less could produce this dress
this red mess it makes of my senses


Week Twenty-Four.

June 10th 2017 – Jillian Weise, Some Rights

Be something for sale
Be a strategy
Last fall was tough on us
Ask after me
Ask after me again
Small business owners
Big pharma
There are said to be 7000
   bodies buried under
   that university
If we write, it’s identity
If they write, it’s Reflections
on American Legacy

The ADA
Those aren’t just letters
Punk a bunch of coffins


Week Twenty-Five.

June 17th 2017 – Czesław Miłosz, Letter Beginning with Two Lines

I had one student
who opened a door and died. 

It was the front
door to his house, but

it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written

any name. The shooter
was thirteen years old

and was aiming
at someone else. But

a bullet doesn’t care
about “aim,” it doesn’t

distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent,

and how was the bullet
supposed to know this

child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment


Week Twenty-Six.

June 24th 2017 – Naomi Shihab Nye, All the Names We Will Not Know

Before dawn, trembling in air down to the old river,

circulating gently as a new season

delicate still in its softness, rustling raiment

of hopes never stitched tightly enough to any hour.

I was almost, maybe, just about, going to do that.

A girl’s thick dark hair, brushed over one shoulder

so regularly no one could imagine it not being there.

Hair as a monument.   Hovering – pitched.

Beloved sister, maker of plans, main branch,

we needed you desperately, where have you gone?


Week Twenty-Seven.

July 1st 2017 – Hilda Doolittle, Sea Poppies

Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,

treasure
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:

your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.

Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?


Week Twenty-Eight.

July 8th 2017 – Stephen Crane, In the Desert

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”


Week Twenty-Nine.

July 15th 2017 – Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet V

I lift my heavy heart up solemnly,
As once Electra her sepulchral urn,
And, looking in thine eyes, I overturn
The ashes at thy feet. Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me,
And how the red wild sparkles dimly burn
Through the ashen greyness. If thy foot in scorn
Could tread them out to darkness utterly,
It might be well perhaps. But if instead
Thou wait beside me for the wind to blow
The grey dust up….—those laurels on thine head
O my belovèd, will not shield thee so.
That none of all the fires shall scorch and shred
The hair beneath. Stand further off then! go.


Week Thirty.

July 22nd 2017 – Rachel Zucker, Hours Days Years Unmoor Their Orbits

tonight I’m cleaning baby portobellos
for you, my young activist

wiping the dirty tops with a damp cloth
as carefully as I used to rinse raspberries

for you to adorn your fingertips
before eating each blood-red prize

these days you rarely look me in the eye
& your long shagged hair hides your smile

I don’t expect you to remember or
understand the many ways I’ve kept you

alive or the life my love for you
has made me live 


Week Thirty-One.

July 29th 2017 – Edna St. Vincent Millay, Kin to Sorrow

Am I kin to Sorrow,
    That so oft
Falls the knocker of my door—
    Neither loud nor soft,
But as long accustomed,
    Under Sorrow’s hand?
Marigolds around the step
    And rosemary stand,
And then comes Sorrow—
    And what does Sorrow care
For the rosemary
    Or the marigolds there?
Am I kin to Sorrow?
    Are we kin?
That so oft upon my door—
    Oh, come in!


Week Thirty-Two.

August 5th 2017 – Percy Bysshe Shelley, Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?— 


Week Thirty-Three.

August 12th 2017 – Emilia Phillips, Pathetic Fallacy

the sap that I am springtime
               makes me want to reread Virgil’s

Georgics while eating cacio
              e pepe with fresh-shelled

peas this morning over coffee I
              watched a video of spinach

leaves washed of their cellular
              information and bathed in stem

cells until they became miniature
              hearts vascular hopes capable

of want to roll down a hill
              of clover to cold-spoon chrysanthemum

gelato or to stop whenever
              their phones autocorrect gps

to god the sublime is a suspension
              of disbelief the earth has gotten

sentimental this late in the game […]


Week Thirty-Four.

August 19th 2017 – Lucille Clifton, Thursday 9/13/01

The firemen

ascend
in a blaze of courage
rising
like jacobs’ ladder
into the mouth of
history
reaching through hell
in order to find 
heaven
or whatever the river jordan
is called
in their heroic house


Week Thirty-Five.

August 26th 2017 – Claude McKay, Comrades Four

Dear comrades, my comrades,
    My heart is always true;
An’ ever an’ ever
    I shall remember you.

We all joined together,
    Together joined we four;
An’ I have been first to
    Pass t’rough the open door.

We four drilled together,
    Together drilled we all;
An’ I’ve been the first to
    Flee from the life o’ gall.


Week Thirty-Six.

September 2nd 2017 – D.H. Lawrence, The Mystic Blue

And all the manifold blue and joyous eyes,
The rainbow arching over in the skies,
New sparks of wonder opening in surprise.

All these pure things come foam and spray of the sea
Of Darkness abundant, which shaken mysteriously,
Breaks into dazzle of living, as dolphins that leap from the sea
Of midnight shake it to fire, so the secret of death we see.


Week Thirty-Seven.

September 9th 2017 – Diane Seuss, There is a force that breaks the body

There is a force that breaks the body, inevitable,
the by-product is pain, unexceptional as a rain
gauge, which has become arcane, rhyme, likewise,
unless it’s assonant or internal injury, gloom, joy,
which is also a dish soap, but not the one that rids
seabirds of oil from wrecked tankers, that’s Dawn,
which should change its name to Dusk, irony being
the flip side of sentimentality here in the Iron Age,
ironing out the kinks in despair, turning it to hairdo
from hair, to do, vexing infinitive, much better to be
pain’s host, body of Christ as opposed to the Holy
Ghost, when I have been suffering at times I could
step away from it by embracing it, a blues thing,
a John Donne thing, divest by wrestling, then sing.


Week Thirty-Eight.

September 16th 2017 – Alfred Lord Tennyson, Vivien’s Song

  ‘It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.

    ‘The little rift within the lover’s lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.

    ‘It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all’.


Week Thirty-Nine.

September 23rd 2017 – D.H. Lawrence, A Winter’s Tale

Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow,
And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge;
Yet her deep footsteps mark the snow, and go
On towards the pines at the hills’ white verge.

I cannot see her, since the mist’s white scarf
Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky;
But she’s waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half
Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.


Week Forty.

September 30th 2017 – Michele Wolf, Sky Lake Redux

Photo of my youth: on fire from napalm, a naked
Vietnamese girl sprinting, shrieking, as she fled
Her countrymen’s blast. At home, two-inch palmetto bugs
Ate crayons stashed in a shoe box bumping colored paper
And pencils in a closet, burst into a psychedelic mess
Whenever I thwacked one with a shoe. One time a friend
Barreled out of her house in only a T-shirt. Bad mescaline.
For the girls in my circle, earning A after A was a given,
Our engines vrooming even in the hours allotted
To lazing at Haulover Beach, a half-dozen concert venues,
Discount Records, Greynolds Park. We had to get out.


 Week Forty-One.

October 7th 2017 – Jorie Graham, Exchange

die. What is die. Now there is not blood on the earth
anymore. We disappear. We pixilate. Races or places, is it.
Which? Remember what it was to carry your load? Your you. That
weight. Wondrous it was. At intervals light-struck. Silence and then the
cutting of water, sleeping audible, thrown about by breath, keeping a sharp lookout —
here’s where free choice vanished, here rights, here the
real meaning of the word — (you choose) — consequence, capital, commodity, con-
sumption. Community? Come here says time. Just try to
find it, the here. Such a good game to keep you
occupied for now. The rest of the now. It’s going to be a long
time. Why are you here. What are they lending you.
How can it be loaned. What is a loan. The changers.
Who gets to keep it. No one gets to keep it. No one. None of it.
What is it. The money changers. What can


Week Forty-Two.

October 14th 2017 – Mark Waldron, The Stick

Existence trumps nonexistence every time. It has
all the colors and all the shapes and all the moves,

it is rude in its bounty and its grotesque reach that
overcomes all before it. This bit of stick I found in

the park was showing off because the dead can’t have it.
They can’t have any of it. It was sticky and prickled

with a showy, dazzling presence, though it’s quietened
a little now, now that I’ve taken it home

and have it here on the mantelpiece. It has dressed
in purple robes and carried its being like a chalice

with such disarming mock-solemnity down and down
the pale carved steps into its candlelit depths.


Week Forty-Three.

October 21st 2017 – Margarita Engle, Ritmo/Rhythm

Mad has decided to catch a vulture,
the biggest bird she can find.

She is so determined, and so inventive,
that by stringing together a rickety trap
of ropes and sticks, she creates
a puzzling structure that just might
be clever enough to trick a buzzard,
once the trap’s baited with leftover pork
from supper.


Week Forty-Four.

October 28th 2017 – Francisco X. Alarcon, Words are Birds

words
are birds
that arrive
with books
and spring

they
love
clouds
the wind
and trees

some words
are messengers
that come
from far away
from distant lands


Week Forty-Five.

November 4th 2017 – Sylvia Plath, Blackberrying

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.


Week Forty-Six.

November 11th 2017 – Margarita Engle, The Life of a Digger

Jamaican digging crews have to sleep
eighty men to a room, in huge warehouses
like the ones where big wooden crates
of dynamite are stored.

My hands feel like scorpion claws,
clamped on to a hard hard shovel all day,
then curled into fists at night.

At dawn, the steaming labor trains
deliver us by the thousands, down into
that snake pit where we dig
until my muscles feel
as weak as water
and my backbone
is like shattered glass.

But only half the day
is over.


Week Forty-Seven.

November 18th 2017 – Russell Edson, With Sincerest Regrets

Like a monstrous snail, a toilet slides into a living room on a track of wet, demanding to be loved.
It is impossible, and we tender our sincerest regrets. In the book of the heart there is no mention made of plumbing.
And though we have spent our intimacy many times with you, you belong to an unfortunate reference, which we would rather not embrace …
The toilet slides away …


Week Forty-Eight.

November 25th 2017 – Claude McKay, The White City

I will not toy with it nor bend an inch.
Deep in the secret chambers of my heart
I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch
I bear it nobly as I live my part.
My being would be a skeleton, a shell,
If this dark Passion that fills my every mood,
And makes my heaven in the white world’s hell,
Did not forever feed me vital blood.
I see the mighty city through a mist—
The strident trains that speed the goaded mass,
The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed,
The fortressed port through which the great ships pass,
The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate,
Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate.