Poems i like


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Poems i like

  1. 1. Poems I Like<br />Summer Music  by May Sarton<br />Summer is all a green air--<br />From the brilliant lawn, sopranos<br />Through murmuring hedges<br />Accompanied by some poplars;<br />In fields of wheat, surprises;<br />Through faraway pastures, flows<br />To the horizon's blues<br />In slow decrescendos.<br />Summer is all a green sound--<br />Rippling in the foreground<br />To that soft applause,<br />The foam of Queen Anne's lace.<br />Green, green in the ear<br />Is all we care to hear--<br />Until a field suddenly flashes<br />The singing with so sharp<br />A yellow that it crashes<br />Loud cymbals in the ear,<br />Minor has turned to major<br />As summer, lulling and so mild,<br />Goes golden-buttercup-wild.<br />"Summer Music" by May Sarton, from Collected poems: 1930-1993. (c) W.W. Norton & Company, 1993. Reprinted with permission.<br />Summer Trips  by Jonathan Greene<br />As a child sequestered in<br />the back seat on a long journey,<br />exiled in one's own world,<br />a refuge. Deep sleep naps.<br />Ice-cream stand oases after<br />a long stretch of highway.<br />In the front seat: the troubles<br />of the world, treaties with<br />foreign nations, domestic squabbles<br />with aunts and uncles, at times<br />at a whisper, classified<br />information.<br />A whole year of work<br />brings us this week at the beach.<br />The Devil's bargain parents made,<br />a contract that renews every time,<br />weary after the nine-to-fives,<br />they unlock the front door.<br />"Summer Trips" by Jonathan Greene, from Distillations and Siphonings. (c) Broadstone Books, 2010. Reprinted with permission.<br />Supper  by April Lindner<br />Turn the knob. The burner ticks<br />then exhales flame in a swift up burst,<br />its dim roar like the surf. Your kitchen burns white,<br />lamplight on enamel, warm with the promise<br />of bread and soup. Outside the night rains ink.<br />To a stranger bracing his umbrella,<br />think how your lit window must seem<br />both warm and cold, a kiss withheld,<br />lights strung above a distant patio.<br />Think how your bare arm, glimpsed<br />as you chop celery or grate a carrot<br />glows like one link in a necklace.<br />How the clink of silverware on porcelain<br />carries to the street. As you unfold your napkin,<br />book spread beside your plate, consider<br />the ticking of rain against pavement,<br />the stoplight red and  steady as a flame.<br />"Supper" by April Lindner, from Skin. (c) Texas Tech University Press, 2002. Reprinted with permission.<br />The Fair  by Hank Hudepohl<br />Before the gates opened, before popcorn<br />             and cotton candy drifted down throats<br />like sweet and salty summer evenings<br />             of childhood, before the townspeople<br />confessed to the music and lights,<br />             the Ferris wheel baskets swung empty<br />in a slow arc, one by one, offering color<br />             to the sky -- red, yellow, orange, blue.<br />Just roving boys, what else could we do<br />             but follow the sandaled feet of girls<br />out to the fair to buy them rides<br />             until our pockets turned up penniless,<br />until we lost them in the dark<br />             the way sparrows will fly from you,<br />until our last walk past the fun house<br />             mirrors stretched our bodies like gum,<br />when we caught ourselves looking<br />             back at ourselves for the first time.<br />"The Fair" by Hank Hudepohl, from The Journey of Hands. (c) Word Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission.<br />Untitled  by Bruce Dethlefsen<br />what would I write<br />if I had only<br />four or five lines worth<br />of ink or time left?<br />how we children were put down<br />around eight o-clock in the bedroom nearby<br />with a crack of light from the open door<br />so the grownups could smoke play cards and talk<br />how I walked my sweetheart home<br />from eighth grade on that orange afternoon<br />carried her books from school<br />and she said the word marriage<br />how perfect the rainbow of the ball<br />my triple during<br />the all-star game<br />with my father there<br />how I heard the first cries of my baby<br />little bundle wrapped<br />in that thin pale yellow flannel blanket<br />in my arms against my chest<br />what would I write?<br />would I drop an anonymous note to jesus?<br />would I beg you<br />to remember to keep<br />this untitled green and blue<br />world of ours?<br />really what would I write<br />if I had only<br />four or five lines worth<br />of ink or time left?<br />"Untitled" by Bruce Dethlefsen, from Breather. (c) Fireweed Press, 2009. Reprinted with permission.<br />Gray  by Philip F. Deaver<br />This was our pretty gray kitten,<br />hence her name; who was born<br />in our garage and stayed nearby<br />her whole life. There were allergies;<br />so she was, as they say,<br />an outside cat.<br />But she loved us. For years,<br />she was at our window.<br />Sometimes, a paw on the screen<br />as if to want in, as if<br />to be with us<br />the best she could.<br />She would be on the deck,<br />at the sliding door.<br />She would be on the small<br />sill of the window in the bathroom.<br />She would be at the kitchen<br />window above the sink.<br />We'd go to the living room;<br />anticipating that she'd be there, too,<br />hop up, look in.<br />She'd be on the roof,<br />she'd be in a nearby tree.<br />She'd be listening<br />through the wall to our family life.<br />She knew where we were,<br />and she knew where we were going<br />and would meet us there.<br />Little spark of consciousness,<br />calm kitty eyes staring<br />through the window.<br />After the family broke,<br />and when the house was about to sell,<br />I walked around it for a last look.<br />Under the eaves, on the ground,<br />there was a path worn in the dirt,<br />tight against the foundation --<br />small padded feet, year after year,<br />window to window.<br />When we moved, we left her<br />to be fed by the people next door.<br />Months after we were gone,<br />they found her in the bushes<br />and buried her by the fence.<br />So many years after,<br />I can't get her out of my mind.<br />"Gray" by Philip F. Deaver, from How Men Pray. (c) Anhinga Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission.<br />A Green Cornfield  by Christina Rossetti<br />The earth was green, the sky was blue:<br />I saw and heard one sunny morn<br />A skylark hang between the two,<br />A singing speck above the corn;<br />A stage below, in gay accord,<br />White butterflies danced on the wing,<br />And still the singing skylark soared,<br />And silent sank and soared to sing.<br />The cornfield stretched a tender green<br />To right and left beside my walks;<br />I knew he had a nest unseen<br />Somewhere among the million stalks.<br />And as I paused to hear his song<br />While swift the sunny moments slid,<br />Perhaps his mate sat listening long,<br />And listened longer than I did.<br />Dew  by Robert Morgan<br />It's something of a mystery,<br />this minute rain downloading from<br />the sky so slowly and invisibly<br />you don't know when it came except<br />at dusk the grass is suddenly wet,<br />a visitation from the air,<br />precipitant from spirit world<br />of whitest incarnation or<br />reverse transfiguration, herald<br />of river, swamp and ocean breath<br />sent heavenward, released to earth<br />again to water weed and stone,<br />and shatter rainbows in the sun,<br />the purest liquid that exists,<br />too fine to slake our human thirst.<br />"Dew" by Robert Morgan, from Terroir. (c) Penguin Poets, 2011. Reprinted with permission.<br />Riding the Red Line  by Eric Nixon<br />On the subway<br />On a hot summer night<br />Riding the Red Line<br />Outbound to Alewife<br />So is everyone else<br />Standing in the packed car<br />Staring blankly at the<br />Reflections in the window<br />Stealing looks every so often<br />At the pretty mid-20-something<br />Sitting on the seat near me<br />Noticing that she is<br />Glancing sideways<br />At the paper the person<br />Next to her is reading<br />Well not so much reading<br />Since he's got his eyes<br />Looking to the side at<br />Someone else behind me<br />Everyone is pretending<br />To look somewhere neutral<br />Everyone is experiencing<br />Ulterior motives checking out<br />Everyone else around them<br />Trying to be all sneaky about it<br />With each stop<br />The people change<br />The dynamics change<br />Keeps the subway car<br />Fresh and interesting<br />Just as long as she doesn't leave<br />I'll be happy standing here<br />Packed among strangers<br />With wandering eyes<br />And stealing glances<br />Alongside them<br />On this hot, hot night<br />"Riding the Red Line" by Eric Nixon, from Anything But Dreams. (c) iUniverse, Inc, 2004. Reprinted with permission.<br />Running on the Shore  by May Swenson<br />The sun is hot, the ocean cool. The waves<br />throw down their snowy heads. I run<br />under their hiss and boom, mine their wild<br />breath. Running the ledge where pipers<br />prod their awls into sand-crab holes,<br />my barefoot tracks their little prints cross<br />on wet slate. Circles of romping water swipe<br />and drag away our evidence. Running and<br />gone, running and gone, the casts of our feet.<br />My twin, my sprinting shadow on yellow shag,<br />wand of summer over my head, it seems<br />that we could run forever while the strong<br />waves crash. But sun takes its belly under.<br />Flashing above magnetic peaks of the ocean's<br />purple heave, the gannet climbs,<br />and turning, turns<br />to a black sword that drops,<br />hilt-down, to the deep.<br />"Running on the Shore" by May Swenson, from Nature: Poems Old & New. (c) Mariner Books, 2000. Reprinted with permission.<br />At Summer's End  by John Engels<br />Early August, and the young butternut<br />is already dropping its leaves, the nuts<br />thud and ring on the tin roof,<br />the squirrels are everywhere.<br />Such richness! It means something to them<br />that this tree should seem so eager<br />to finish its business.<br />The voice softens, and word becomes air<br />the moment it is spoken. You finger the limp leaves.<br />Precisely to the degree that you have loved something:<br />a house, a woman, a bird, this tree, anything at all,<br />you are punished by time.<br />Like the tree,<br />I take myself by surprise.<br />"At Summer's End" by John Engels, from Sinking Creek. (c) The Lyons Press, 1998. Reprinted with permission.<br />The Ordinary Weather of Summer  by Linda Pastan<br />In the ordinary weather of summer<br />with storms rumbling from west to east<br />like so many freight trains hauling<br />their cargo of heat and rain,<br />the dogs sprawl on the back steps, panting,<br />insects assemble at every window,<br />and we quarrel again, bombarding<br />each other with small grievances,<br />our tempers flashing on and off<br />in bursts of heat lightning.<br />In the cooler air of morning,<br />we drink our coffee amicably enough<br />and walk down to the sea<br />which seems to tremble with meaning<br />and into which we plunge again and again.<br />The days continue hot.<br />At dusk the shadows are as blue<br />as the lips of the children stained<br />with berries or with the chill<br />of too much swimming.<br />So we move another summer closer<br />to our last summer together--<br />a time as real and implacable as the sea<br />out of which we come walking<br />on wobbly legs as if for the first time,<br />drying ourselves with rough towels,<br />shaking the water out of our blinded eyes.<br />"The Ordinary Weather of Summer" by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998. (c) W.W. Norton & Company, 1998. Reprinted with permission.<br />Moths  by Jennifer O'Grady<br />Adrift in the liberating, late light<br />of August, delicate, frivolous,<br />they make their way to my front porch<br />and flutter near the glassed-in bulb,<br />translucent as a thought suddenly<br />wondered aloud, illumining the air<br />that's thick with honeysuckle and dusk.<br />You and I are doing our best<br />at conversation, keeping it light, steering clear<br />of what we'd like to say.<br />You leave, and the night becomes<br />cluttered with moths, some tattered,<br />their dumbly curious filaments<br />startling against my cheek. How quickly,<br />instinctively, I brush them away.<br />Dazed, they cling to the outer darkness<br />like pale reminders of ourselves.<br />Others seem to want so desperately<br />to get inside. Months later, I'll find<br />the woolens, snug in their resting places,<br />full of missing pieces.<br />"Moths" by Jennifer O'Grady, from White. (c) Mid-list Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission.<br />The Dragonfly  by Louise Bogan<br />You are made of almost nothing<br />But of enough<br />To be great eyes<br />And diaphanous double vans;<br />To be ceaseless movement,<br />Unending hunger,<br />Grappling love.<br />Link between water and air,<br />Earth repels you.<br />Light touches you only to shift into iridescence<br />Upon your body and wings.<br />Twice-born, predator,<br />You split into the heat.<br />Swift beyond calculation or capture<br />You dart into the shadow<br />Which consumes you.<br />You rocket into the day.<br />But at last, when the wind flattens the grasses,<br />For you, the design and purpose stop.<br />And you fall<br />With the other husks of summer.<br />"The Dragonfly" by Louise Bogan, from The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968. (c) Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995. Reprinted with permission.<br />Evening Star  by Charles Goodrich<br />Fork down hay<br />for the white-face steers.<br />Sit in the hay mow door<br />watching the horses graze,<br />chewing myself a dry clover sprig.<br />Long day over.<br />No evening plans.<br />Dust motes drift<br />on the ambering light.<br />Pigeons flap and coo in the rafters.<br />First star now<br />low in the east.<br />Sweat cools<br />and crusts on my face,<br />muscles lean back on their bones<br />and all thoughts heal down<br />to a low whistling.<br />"Evening Star" by Charles Goodrich, from Insects of South Corvallis. (c) Cloudbank Books, 2003. Reprinted with permission.<br />Prayer for the Small Engine Repairman  by Charles W. Pratt<br />Our Sundays are given voice<br />By the small engine repairman,<br />Whose fingers, stubby and black,<br />Know our mowers and tractors,<br />Chainsaws, rototillers,<br />Each plug, gasket and valve<br />And all the vital fluids.<br />Thanks to him our lawns<br />Are even, our gardens vibrant,<br />Our maples pruned for swings,<br />The underbrush whacked away.<br />"What's broke can always be fixed<br />If I can find the parts,"<br />He says as he loosens a nut,<br />Exposes the carburetor,<br />Tinkers and tunes until<br />To the slightest pull on the cord<br />The engine at once concurs.<br />Let him come into our homes,<br />Let him discipline our children,<br />Console and counsel our mates,<br />Adjust the gap of our passions,<br />The mix of our humors: lay hands<br />On the small engine of our days.<br />In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerel  by Stanley Plumly<br />Pickerel have infinite, small bones, and skins<br />of glass and black ground glass, and though small for pike<br />are no less wall-eyed and their eyes like bone.<br />Are fierce for their size, and when they flare<br />at the surface resemble drowning birds,<br />the wing-slick panic of birds, but in those<br />seconds out of water on the line,<br />when their color changes and they choose for life,<br />will try to cut you and take part of your hand<br />back with them. And yet they open like hands,<br />the sweet white meat more delicate in oil,<br />to be eaten off the fire when the sun<br />is level with the lake, the wind calm,<br />the air ice-blue, blue-black, and flecked with rain.<br />"In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerel" by Stanley Plumly, from The Marriage in the Trees. (c) The Ecco Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission.<br />