Monday, December 12, 2011


Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.

Catherine Wing, "The Darker Sooner" from The Best American Poetry 2010. Copyright © 2010 by Catherine Wing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Hinge Poem: Dorianne Laux


The quiet, the bitter, the bereaved,
the going forth of us, the coming home,
the drag and pull of us, the tome and teem
and tensile greed of us, the opening
and closing of us, our eyes, in sleep,
our crematorium dreams?

The brush of us one against another,
the crumple on the couch of us,
the spring in our step, the sequestered dance
in front of the cracked mirrors of us,
our savage suffering, our wobbly ladders
of despair, the drenched seaweed-green
of our tipped wineglass hearts, our wheels
and guitars, white spider bites blooming
on our many-colored skins, the din
of our nerves, our pearl onion toes
and orangey fingers, our effigies
and empty bellies, our plazas
of ache and despair, our dusky faces
round as dinner plates, our bald pates,
our doubt, our clout, our bold mistakes?

Who needs the footprints of us,
the glimpse of us in a corridor of stars,
who sees the globes of our breath
before us in winter, the angels
we make in the stiff snow,
the hack and ice of us, the glide
and gleam and busted puzzle of us,
the myth and math of us,
the blue bruise and excuse of us,
who will know the magnified
magnificence of us, could there be
too many of us, the clutch and strum
and feral singing of us, the hush of us,
who will hear the whisker of silence
we will leave in our wake?

(C) Dorianne Laux

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"The Dream" by Louise Bogan

O God, in the dream the terrible horse began
To paw at the air, and make for me with his blows,
Fear kept for thirty-five years poured through his mane,
And retribution equally old, or nearly, breathed through his nose.

Coward complete, I lay and wept on the ground
When some strong creature appeared, and leapt for the rein.
Another woman, as I lay half in a swound
Leapt in the air, and clutched at the leather and chain.

Give him, she said, something of yours as a charm.
Throw him, she said, some poor thing you alone claim.
No, no, I cried, he hates me; he is out for harm,
And whether I yield or not, it is all the same.

But, like a lion in a legend, when I flung the glove
Pulled from my sweating, my cold right hand;
The terrible beast, that no one may understand,
Came to my side, and put down his head in love.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful --
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.


Thursday, August 4, 2011


When you come back to me
it will be crow time
and flycatcher time,
with rising spirals of gnats
between the apple trees.
Every weed will be quadrupled,
coarse, welcoming
and spine-tipped.
The crows, their black flapping
bodies, their long calling
toward the mountain;
relatives, like mine,
ambivalent, eye-hooded;
hooting and tearing.
And you will take me in
to your fractal meaningless
babble; the quick of my mouth,
the madness of my tongue.

~ Ruth Stone

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why It Often Rains in the Movies by Lawrence Raab

Because so much consequential thinking
happens in the rain. A steady mist
to recall departures, a bitter downpour
for betrayal. As if the first thing
a man wants to do when he learns his wife
is sleeping with his best friend, and has been
for years, the very first thing
is not to make a drink, and drink it,
and make another, but to walk outside
into bad weather. It's true
that the way we look doesn't always
reveal our feelings. Which is a problem
for the movies. And why somebody has to smash
a mirror, for example, to show he's angry
and full of self-hate, whereas actual people
rarely do this. And rarely sit on benches
in the pouring rain to weep. Is he wondering
why he didn't see it long ago? Is he wondering
if in fact he did, and lied to himself?
And perhaps she also saw the many ways
he'd allowed himself to be deceived. In this city
it will rain all night. So the three of them
return to their houses, and the wife
and her lover go upstairs to bed
while the husband takes a small black pistol
from a drawer, turns it over in his hands,
then puts it back. Thus demonstrating
his inability to respond to passion
with passion. But we don't want him
to shoot his wife, or his friend, or himself.
And we've begun to suspect
that none of this is going to work out,
that we'll leave the theater feeling
vaguely cheated, just as the movie,
turning away from the husband's sorrow,
leaves him to be a man who must continue,
day after day, to walk outside into the rain,
outside and back again, since now there can be
nowhere in this world for him to rest.

(C)Lawrence Raab

It was supposed to rain today by Weam Namou

It was supposed to rain today,
but it’s warm and sunny instead.
I sit on the porch to have my
morning coffee, all alone,
with no one to call my name
to order apple juice or screach, “Boula”
the Iraqi word for urine.

I’ve taken one, maybe two sips of my favorite drink,
Nes Café, a dash of sugar and milk,
when I hear the laughing voices
of my husband and daughter echo from inside the house.
He comes out, carrying her over his shoulders
like a sack of rice.
She is still in her pajamies, holding onto her blanket.

He instructs me to sit elsewhere.
There are bees in the barbecue grill beside me.
I move the chair to another place,
then do the same with my coffee cup,
the novel I’m reading, the journal I plan to write in,
the cell and home phone
I’ve taken outside so that it will
not wake anyone up when it rings.

He removes the cover off the barbecue grill.
Inside a honeycomb has been built.
A bright yellow bee comes to it.
I take a deep breath, close my eyes to pray.
“You’re falling asleep!” I hear an elder warn.
I’m annoyed. It’s an elder who is staying with us for a bit.

He brings over a scrub brush
bangs the honeycomb, then the bee.
The honeycomb falls to the ground,
the bee is dead. A second bee flies away.

I pick up the honeycomb and observe there’s no honey yet.
I think… of the people whose plans are spoiled
due to them being an inconvenience, or for whatever other reason,
to another group of humans who are so mighty
they can, with one bang, change the outcome of the weak one’s future.

I throw the honeycomb, go inside to prepare a breakfast of cheese and bread.

(C) Weam Namou

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The End and the Beginning

After every war
someone has to clean up.
Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble
to the side of the road,
so the corpse-filled wagons
can pass.

Someone has to get mired
in scum and ashes,
sofa springs,
splintered glass,
and bloody rags.

Someone has to drag in a girder
to prop up a wall.
Someone has to glaze a window,
rehang a door.

Photogenic it’s not,
and takes years.
All the cameras have left
for another war.

We’ll need the bridges back,
and new railway stations.
Sleeves will go ragged
from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,
still recalls the way it was.
Someone else listens
and nods with unsevered head.
But already there are those nearby
starting to mill about
who will find it dull.

From out of the bushes
sometimes someone still unearths
rusted-out arguments
and carries them to the garbage pile.

Those who knew
what was going on here
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.

In the grass that has overgrown
causes and effects,
someone must be stretched out
blade of grass in his mouth
gazing at the clouds.
Wislawa Szymborska, “The End and the Beginning” from Miracle Fair, translated by Joanna Trzeciak. Copyright © 2001 by Joanna Trzeciak. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Source: Miracle fair (New York : Norton, c2001., 2001)

Wisława Szymborska b. 1923

Saturday, January 1, 2011

100 Words by Neil Gaiman

A hundred words to talk of death?
At once too much and not enough.
My plans beyond that final breath
are currently a little rough.

The dying thing comes on so slow:
reluctance to get out of bed
is magnified each day and so
transmuted into dead.

I dream of dying all alone,
nobody there to watch me pass
nothing remains for me to own,
no breath remains to fog the glass.

And when I do put down my pen
my memories will fly like birds.
When I am done, when I am dead,
and finished with my hundred words.