Poet's Corner

Discussion in 'Writing' started by sky dancer, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    Writing In The Afterlife - by Billy Collins

    I imagined the atmosphere would be clear,
    shot with pristine light,
    not this sulphurous haze,
    the air ionized as before a thunderstorm.

    Many have pictured a river here,
    but no one mentioned all the boats,
    their benches crowded with naked passengers,
    each bent over a writing tablet.

    I knew I would not always be a child
    with a model train and a model tunnel,
    and I knew I would not live forever,
    jumping all day through the hoop of myself.

    I had heard about the journey to the other side
    and the clink of the final coin
    in the leather purse of the man holding the oar,
    but how could anyone have guessed

    that as soon as we arrived
    we would be asked to describe this place
    and to include as much detail as possible—
    not just the water, he insists,

    rather the oily, fathomless, rat-happy water,
    not simply the shackles, but the rusty,
    iron, ankle-shredding shackles—
    and that our next assignment would be

    to jot down, off the tops of our heads,
    our thoughts and feelings about being dead,
    not really an assignment,
    the man rotating the oar keeps telling us—

    think of it more as an exercise, he groans,
    think of writing as a process,
    a never-ending, infernal process,
    and now the boats have become jammed together,

    bow against stern, stern locked to bow,
    and not a thing is moving, only our diligent pens.
     
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  2. TheGreatKing
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    TheGreatKing Member

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    Living - by Alok Srivastava

    A chance encounter with a word
    gave rise to a recessed memory
    of a long forgotten smell,
    attached to various things hoary.
    Thus unearthing an era,
    long gone and nullified,
    pressed under sheets of experiences
    like the fossil of a reptile.
    The folded lobes of the mind
    contain chapters of lives past.
    A smell here, a sound there
    are enough to raise their facade.
    We are so busy in living
    that the beauty of the moment is lost.
    Only such triggered visions
    make us realize what we tossed.
    A life well lived,
    or a life lived not?
     
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  3. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    Mercury in Retrograde

    BY SHERYL LUNA

    The day ended badly with a broken ankle,
    a jinxed printer, and a dead car. The dry yellow grass
    against the sunset saved me. Roosters

    pranced across a lawn of shit, proudly plumed
    in black feathers, bobbing before the gray goats.
    It was the first day I saw god in the quiet,

    and found a mustard seed was very small.
    There I had been for years cursing “why?”
    and all the gold in the sun fell upon me.

    There was a white mare in the midst
    of brown smog, majestic in the refinery
    clouds. Even the radio wouldn’t work!

    My mother limps and her hair falls out.
    The faithful drive white Chevy trucks
    or yellow Camrys, and I’m here golden

    on the smoking shock-less bus.
    I lost language in this want, each poem
    dust, Spanish fluttered

    as music across the desert, even weeds
    tumbled unloved. The police sirens seared
    the coming night, dogs howled helplessly
    sad.

    Lo I walk the valley of death, love
    lingers in my hard eyes. Mañana never
    comes just right. I mend myself in the folds

    of paper songs, ring my paper bells
    for empty success. Quiero Nada,
    if I sing long enough, I’ll grow dreamlike
    and find a flock of pigeons, white under
    wings lifting awkward bodies like doves
    across the silky blue-white sky.
     
  4. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    Bones" by Sheryl Luna

    Once, as a girl, she saw a woman shrink
    inside herself, gray-headed and dwarf-sized,
    as if her small spine collapsed. Age
    and collapse were something unreal, like war
    and loss. That image of an old woman sitting
    in a café booth, folding in on herself, was forgotten
    until her own bones thinned and hollowed,
    music-less, un-fluted, empty.

    She says she takes shark cartilage before she sleeps,
    a tablet or two to secure flexibility and forget
    that pain is living and living is pain.

    And time moves like a slow rusty train
    through the desert of weeds, and the low-riders
    bounce like teenagers young and forgiving
    in her night’s dream. She was sleek in a red dress

    with red pumps, the boys with slick hair, tight jeans.
    She tells me about 100-pound canisters of lard
    and beans, how she could dance despite her fifth
    child, despite being beaten and left
    in the desert for days, how she saw an angel
    or saint glimmer blonde above her, how she rose
    and walked into the red horizon despite
    her husband’s sin.

    I’m thinking how the women
    in my family move with a sway, with a hip
    ache, and how they each have a disk
    slip. The sky seems sullen, gray, and few birds
    whisk. It’s how the muse is lost
    in an endless stream of commercials, how people
    forget to speak to one another as our ending skulks
    arthritically into our bones, and the dust
    of a thousand years blows across the plain,
    and the last few hares sprint across a bloodied
    highway. Here in the desert southwest, loss
    is living and it comes with chapped lips,
    long bumpy bus rides and the smog of some man’s
    factory trap. And there are women everywhere
    who have half-lost their souls
    in sewing needles and vacuum-cleaner parts.
    In maquiladoras there grows a slow poem,
    a poem that may only live a moment sharply
    in an old woman’s soul, like a sudden broken hip.

    And yet, each October, this old woman rises
    like the blue sky, rises like the fat turkey vultures
    that make death something beautiful, something
    towards flight, something that circles in a group
    and knows it is best not to approach death alone.

    Each October she dances, the mariachis yelp
    and holler her back to that strange, flexible youth,
    back to smoky rancheras and cumbias—songs
    rolling in the shadows along the bare Mexican hills.
    She tells me, “It’s in the music, where I’ll always
    live.” And somehow, I see her jaw relax,
    her eyes squint to a slow blindness
    as if she can see something I can’t.

    And I remember that it is good to be born of dust,
    born amid cardboard shanties of sweet gloom.
    I remember that the bare cemetery stones
    in El Paso and Juárez hold the music, and each spring
    when the winds carry the dust of loss there is a howl,
    a surge of something unbelievable, like death,
    like the collapse of language, like the frail bones
    of Mexican grandmothers singing.
     
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  5. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be”
    By Ethan Smith

    Dear Emily,
    Every time I watch baseball a voice I no longer recognise whispers
    “Ethan, do you remember? When you were going to be the first girl
    To play in the major league Seattle mariners rally cap?”
    But to honest Emily I don’t
    Dad told me that like it was someone else’s bedtime story
    But I do know you had that drive
    Didn’t let anyone tell you to wear shorts above your knees
    Didn’t care if boys thought your hair fell on your shoulders just right
    But with girls, sleepovers meant the space between your shoulder and hers
    Was a 6-inch fatal territory
    The year you turned 11
    Was the first time you said out loud that you didn’t want to live anymore
    In therapy you said you wouldn’t make it to 21
    On my 21st birthday I thought about you
    You were right
    At 19 you started to fade
    I tried to cross you out like a line in my memoir
    I wished I could erase completely
    And maybe I’m misunderstanding the definition of death
    But even though parts of you still exist
    You are not here
    Most of my friends have never heard your name until now


    I’ve been trying to write this letter for 6 months
    I still can’t decide if it should be an apology or not
    But now you will never hear “Emily Smith” announced at a college graduation
    Get married, give birth
    When the prescribed testosterone started taking effect my body stopped producing the potential for new life every month
    I thought about your children, how I wanted them too
    I let a doctor remove your breasts so I could stand up straighter
    Now even if I somehow had those children I wouldn’t be able to nourish them
    My body is obsolete
    Scarred cosmetic but never C-section
    I was 4 days late
    There will never be grandparents
    I was one week late
    They will never hold their lover’s sleeping figure
    I was 11 days late
    They will never breathe in a sunset and a sunrise in the same night
    I was 2 weeks late
    They will never learn to jump rope
    I was 3 weeks late
    They will never shout “Watch mummy, watch me on the slide”
    I was 2 months late
    A piece of us will never wrap their arms around our legs for comfort
    Just to keep them from falling down
    And I am sorry that this process is so slow and all you can do is wonder if you ever had a place
    You did
    You still do
    Don’t forget that
    Yours, Ethan
    P.S. I never hated you
     
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  6. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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  7. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    Thanks, midcan and everyone for making this such a great thread.

    I'm proud of it's continuity for so many years.
     
  8. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship."

    Your friend is your needs answered.

    He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

    And he is your board and your fireside.

    For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

    When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."

    And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;

    For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

    When you part from your friend, you grieve not;

    For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

    And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

    For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

    And let your best be for your friend.

    If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

    For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

    Seek him always with hours to live.

    For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

    And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

    For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

    Khalil Gibran
     
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  9. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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  10. Dhara
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    Dhara Gold Member

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    Salt Sheet

    By Liam O'Brien

    There’s a wound in me, wound up in me, expert
    like a corkscrew unscrewed. And the cork is kept.
    Press a palm over it—help, there’s a wound in me—
    no, three. No, more. No, here is a ship at sea
    and she sinks. She was the enemy. So the borer—
    the boy with his brace & auger—he swims over
    to the Golden Vanity. Entreaty. Captains,
    can’t trust them far from land. And so he ends—
    the boy—I’m drifting with the tide. They stitch
    him in his hammock—it was so fair and wide.
    How many holes got the enemy? How many
    left to plug, crew bailing, boys tiring in the tide?
    Fight’s over, brace & auger. Wrap me in my salt sheet.
    What deserves disease will get it, or has already.




    Liam O’Brien grew up on a small island outside Seattle. In 2012, he graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, where he received the Stanley and Evelyn Lipkin Prize for Poetry and the Nancy Lynn Schwartz Prize for Fiction. His work can be found in print in “Unsaid Magazine,” and online at “The Offending Adam,” “Blackbird VCU,” “Buffalo Almanack,” and “Industrial Lunch.” He is currently pursuing his MFA at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.
     

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