National Poetry Month

April 20th 2010
Maybe Dats Your Pwoblem Too by James W. Hall All my pwoblems who knows, maybe evwybody's pwoblems is due to da fact, due to da awful twuth dat I am SPIDERMAN. I know.  I know.  All da dumb jokes: No flies on you, ha ha, and da ones about what do I do wit all doze extwa legs in bed.  Well, dat's funny yeah. But you twy being SPIDERMAN for a month or two.  Go ahead. You get doze cwazy calls fwom da Gubbener askin you to twap some booglar who's only twying to wip off color T.V. sets. Now, what... Read Post
April 19th 2010
Inheritance Retired, my grandfather chewed his frijoles like a camel, His large jaw churning, His tortilla a napkin at the edge of his plate. He ate alone, or nearly alone, A parakeet the size of a swollen thumb Glancing in a mirror. When the parakeet rang its bell, Grandfather moved his camel head and scolded, "Shaddup." The bird was not his, But grandmother's, hall shuffler in pink slippers, Whipper of rugs and work clothes, Beautician dying her hair black on shadow-cold mornings. Nights,... Read Post
April 17th 2010
The Beach of Acre The camel train moves slowly in the dawn Across the ivory crescent of the beach; Dark shapes against a sky of pearl and fawn, Where darker silhouettes of palm trees reach. They bring gold oranges and silk and myrrh; Candles they bring, and incense for a shrine; Tributes for every humble worshiper Of three religions of an ancient line. Here is the past made visible anew, -- Shapes of antiquity, and high above This shore of ancient hope; through heaven's blue, Flash suddenly... Read Post
April 16th 2010
Elegy for Jane (My student, thrown by a horse) by Theodore Roethke I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils; And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile; And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her, And she balanced in the delight of her thought, A wren, happy, tail into the wind, Her song trembling the twigs and small branches. The shade sang with her; The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing, And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose... Read Post
April 14th 2010
...and we're in New England: A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest; keep us here All simply in the springing of the year. Oh, gives us pleasure in the orchard white, Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; And make us happy in the happy bees, The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. And make us happing in the darting bird That suddenly above the bees is heard, The meteor that... Read Post
April 13th 2010
Vespers by Louise Glück In your extended absence, you permit me use of earth, anticipating some return on investment. I must report failure in my assignment, principally regarding the tomato plants. I think I should not be encouraged to grow tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold the heavy rains, the cold nights that come so often here, while other regions get twelve weeks of summer. All this belongs to you: on the other hand, I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots like wings... Read Post
April 11th 2010

What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than with an exciting story told in verse?  M. T. Anderson's The Serpent Came to Gloucester is just such a story.  It's based on a true series of events that took place in Gloucester, Massachusetts - not 40 miles from Somerville - during the summers of 1817 and 1818. Hundreds of people reported seeing a sea serpent playing in the harbor and around the shores of Cape Ann, and the author references some of the many eyewitness accounts in a... Read Post

April 9th 2010
No Matter No matter how hot-burning it is outside when you peel a long, fat cucumber or cut deep into a fresh, ripe watermelon you can feel coolness come into your hands - Lee Bennett Hopkins
April 8th 2010
The Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell' by W.S. Gilbert 'Twas on the shores that round our coast From Deal to Ramsgate span, That I found alone on a piece of stone An elderly naval man. His hair was weedy, his beard was long, And weedy and long was he, And I heard this wight on the shore recite, In a singular minor key: "Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold, And the mate of the Nancy brig, And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite, And the crew of the captain's gig." And he shook his fists and he tore his... Read Post
April 7th 2010
The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke by David Lehman Can't swim; uses credit cards and pills to combat intolerable feelings of inadequacy; Won't admit his dread of boredom, chief impulse behind numerous marital infidelities; Looks fat in jeans, mouths clichés with confidence, breaks mother's plates in fights; Buys when the market is too high, and panics during the inevitable descent; Still, Pop can always tell the subtle difference between Pepsi and Coke, Has defined the darkness... Read Post
April 5th 2010
And herewith, a poem: Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself by Wallace Stevens At the earliest ending of winter, In March, a scrawny cry from outside Seemed like a sound in his mind. He knew that he heard it, A bird's cry at daylight or before, In the early March wind. The sun was rising at six, No longer a battered panache above snow... It would have been outside. It was not from the vast ventriloquism Of sleep's faded papier mâché . . . The sun was coming from outside. That... Read Post
October 7th 2009
Here's a poem for you anyway, for no reason at all. I found it in One Hundred Poems from the Chinese, translated by Kenneth Rexroth. Jade Flower Palace The stream swirls. The wind moans in The pines. Grey rats scurry over Broken tiles. What prince, long ago, Built this palace, standing in Ruins beside the cliffs? There are Green ghost fires in the black rooms. The shattered pavements are all Washed away. Ten thousand organ Pipes whistle and roar. The storm Scatters the red autumn leaves... Read Post
April 28th 2009
Chieftan Iffucan of Azcan with caftan Of tan with henna hackles, halt! Damned universal cock, as if the sun Was blackamoor to bear your blazing tail. Fat! Fat! Fat! Fat! I am the personal. Your world is you. I am my world. You ten-foot poet among inchlings. Fat! Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines, Bristles, and points their Appalachian tangs, And fears not portly Azcan nor his hoos.
April 27th 2009
Little poppies, little hell flames, Do you do no harm? You flicker. I cannot touch you. I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns. And it exhausts me to watch you Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth. A mouth just bloodied. Little bloody skirts! There are fumes that I cannot touch. Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules? If I could bleed, or sleep! - If my mouth could marry a hurt like that! Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,... Read Post
April 22nd 2009
Pray To What Earth by Henry David Thoreau Pray to what earth does this sweet cold belong, Which asks no duties and no conscience? The moon goes up by leaps, her cheerful path In some far summer stratum of the sky, While stars with their cold shine bedot her way. The fields gleam mildly back upon the sky, And far and near upon the leafless shrubs The snow dust still emits a silver light. Under the hedge, where drift banks are their screen, The titmice now pursue their downy dreams, As often in... Read Post