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Poem of the Day: Frank Stanford

THE LIGHT THE DEAD SEE

There are many people who come back
After the doctor has smoothed the sheet
Around their body
And left the room to make his call.

They die but they live.

They are called the dead who lived through their deaths,
And among my people
They are considered wise and honest.

They float out of their bodies
And light on the ceiling like a moth,
Watching the efforts of everyone around them.

The voices and the images of the living
Fade away.

A roar sucks them under
The wheels of a darkness without pain.
Off in the distance
There is someone
Like a signalman swinging a lantern.

The light grows, a white flower.
It becomes very intense, like music.

They see the faces of those they loved,
The truly dead who speak kindly.

They see their father sitting in a field.
The harvest is over and his cane chair is mended.
There is a towel around his neck,
The odor of bay rum.
Then they see their mother
Standing behind him with a pair of shears.
The wind is blowing.
She is cutting his hair.

The dead have told these stories
To the living.

—from Frank Stanford’s The Light the Dead See (University of Arkansas Press, 1991)

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Poem of the Day: Brigit Pegeen Kelly

DOING LAUNDRY ON SUNDAY

So this is the Sabbath, the stillness
in the garden, magnolias
drying damp bells, petticoats,

over the porch rail, while bicycle
wheels thrum and the full-breasted tulips
open their pink blouses

for the hands that pressed them first
as bulbs into the earth.
Bread, too, cools on the sill,

and finches scatter bees
by the Shell Station where a boy
in blue denim watches oil

spread in phosphorescent scarves
over the cement. He dips
his brush into a bucket and begins

to scrub, makng slow circles
and stopping to splash water on the children
who, hours before it opens,

juggle bean bags outside Gantsy’s
Ice Cream Parlor,
while they wait for color to drench their tongues,

as I wait for water to bloom
behind me—white foam, as of magnolias,
as of green and yellow

birds bathing in leaves—wait,
as always, for the day, like bread, to rise,
and, with movement

imperceptible, accomplish everything.

—appears on Poetry Foundation here

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New Poem: A Seagull Makes A Lone Call, Off-Course (after Sylvia Plath)

A SEAGULL MAKES A LONE CALL, OFF-COURSE

And across from me a bird roots
in the gutter, looking for spare twigs.

Its dark feathered body dip in and out
of the track, its tail striking the air. I wonder instead

if it has made a nest up there when its body
disappears. Chirps rise in the early, warm days

of spring. I make notes, so we might look out
the next time we clean the gutters, might check-in

if there’s another freeze. The sky is the rare robin’s-egg
blue of the birds who nested in a nearby tree

last summer. The heat on my neck suggests I might burn,
but I welcome it, treasuring the rare day

when the sun comes out of hiding.

—after Sylvia Plath’s “Little Fugue” from her Collected Poems (HarperCollins, 1981)

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New Poem Tonight: “To the Dark Who Follows Me After My Second Child is Born”

TO THE DARK WHO FOLLOWS ME
AFTER MY SECOND CHILD IS BORN:


Tell me they’d miss me. Tell me they love me, even 
on the days when my voice rises higher 

than the tide. Tell me they believe me when I say 
I love them to the moon and back—that same moon 

that pushes and pulls the shore. Strong and wicked thing, 
tell me what their life would be like without me. 

Tell me, if you can, how long 
they would remember me—how long until 

they stop saying my name 
at the dinner table. How long until 

they push my death to the deepest parts 
of themselves—

the aftershock of a gun wound or too many pills—

and then let it go. 

Tell me. 

The work of your voice coming from the backseat 
has been a recurring drone, and on 

the darker nights, I believe it. But I like to think, 
I like to think they would hear me calling 

from some windy terrain, their names rising 
over icy sheets like fresh steam. 

I hold onto that hope like love. 

I hold onto their love like a rope. 

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“Exit Strategies” featured in great weather for MEDIA’s latest anthology!

Hi everyone, and happy Tuesday! I’m very excited to share that great weather for MEDIA has released their annual anthology, this year’s titled Birds Fall Silent in the Mechanical Sea.

I received my contributor’s copy yesterday and am even more pleased to share my poem, “Exit Strategies,” was featured as the opening piece after the introduction!

You can find the anthology for purchase here. I’ve read it and highly recommend it; it’s a lovely read.

Since it’s a print publication, I’ve also included a few pictures of the anthology and my poem below.

You can also see the inspirational image that started it all here.

Thank you, all, for your support and for reading! More soon!

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New Poem Tonight: “Nightlight, a celebration”

NIGHTLIGHT, a celebration

3:30 am—brother born, & the air in the house shifts 
like a pedaled drum. I touch his hair, 

his skin, & remember your similar textures, 
the softness. How your eyes, like his, looked to me

in adoration—looked to me & saw Mother, 
First Love, Captain of this ship sailing somewhere

into the sea. How things have changed 
as you’ve grown—how things will change 

for him. In the dark, I hold you, sleeping & close, & 
breathe you in. 

You are the growing cotton in the field. The seed
& the earth. The rock, the bed, the snow. 

You are the fire in the man-groves. 

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New Poem Tonight: “Light in the Field”

LIGHT IN THE FIELD

You can see our
mutual cornflower locks

across the field. When she ran
before I could braid it,

I look to you
as you watch

our daughter’s hair
fly high, & I’m relieved

you can see it: her hair
turning wide like a sail

against the great blue sky,
the green hill dotted

with flowers &
strawberry clusters. As she moves

along, she runs
carelessly

& touches anything
with her small hands, her strands

an extension
of the twining field, I try

to let go of feelings
of missed opportunities,

too little time writing
at the table. I hold

my breath as I focus
on this moment:

how her manners and love floor me—
how they flash in the light—

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New Poem Tonight: “An Accord”

AN ACCORD

In the early light, their see-through dress wings
show against my shirt, their bodies

muted yellow, & I do not mind if they might harm me.
The mutual understanding here is simple: let me live. The small

non-exchange of a sting for the smack of a hand. The need
for the bee to have somewhere to burrow its body

is the same as my need to rejoice
in the ruby red of the flower. We live our own lives

in a breath, only to minimally address the rest.

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My Poem, “Bad Omens,” Was a Winner in the Vocal Poets’ 2019 Contest!

Hi everyone and Happy Tuesday! I hope you’re having a wonderful week. For today, I have a fun announcement!

Vocal Poets announced their 2019 “Poetry-in-Motion” contest back at the end of March, in honor of National Poetry Month. My poem, “Bad Omens,” was one entry of nearly 1,000 entries to Vocal Poets’ 2019 “Poetry-in-Motion” Poetry Contest. One winner and three runners-up were selected for this contest.

(You may remember my poem, “Bad Omens,” which I shared here, as an example of creating a writing prompt, and writing a poem from it.)

I’m pleased to share today that “Bad Omens” was one of the three runners-up poems selected, which included a small royalty, publication, and an absolutely beautiful visual representation of an excerpt of the poem.

You can view the entire poem, “Bad Omens,” here.

You can see the video created by the very talented, Julianne Waber, of an excerpt of my poem, here.

And last, but certainly not least, here is the list of winners, their poems, and the visualizations of their work, here.

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This is now listed under my publications, as well. If you’re interested in seeing other poems I’ve recently had published, or work that is forthcoming, you can see all of that here. (And my full portfolio, of all of my published writings, is here!)

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Poem of the Day: Meg Day

HYMN TO A LANDLOCKED GOD

Perhaps as a child
you, too, saw
these stallion clouds
& knew a sky
with no blue
was a sky too
reverent to be
overlooked
or understood.
Perhaps heaven
is the moon flag,
not the moon,
& you came
to know praise
as vertical only
because the earth
refused your reach.
Look up.
There’s a tear
in the sky tonight
like the shriek
of a frightened mare
or the long wail
a saxophone makes
on a corner at dawn
& this is how I know
you are a woman:
we are both broken
in two by our own
creations. I have
looked to the west
in search of water
& the sheer faces
of so many boulders
stare back, their bodies
bent in genuflection
at the altar of the sky.
Why have you made me
know the sea?
Make me a bird, Lord;
make me a man.
Make me a barn
with a spine so swayed
it pulls back my neck
to crane toward the sky.

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—poem from Meg Day’s Last Psalm at Sea Level, here

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Interested in having your poem featured with the Poem of the Day Series? See the How to Submit page for details.

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Poem of the Day: James Wright

A BLESSING

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

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—poem featured previously on Poetry Foundation, here

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Interested in having your poem featured with the Poem of the Day Series? See the How to Submit page for details.

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Poem of the Day: Jennifer Jackson Berry

LOST & FOUND LOVE POEM WITH ORANGES & TRASH

Seven clementines line the counter.
I put the only three still firm
in my lunch bag. The segments
of the four remaining had pulled back
from the browning rind like
the brain is set back from the skull,
where blood collects post-trauma.
I cup the softened orbs.
The carpels move under that delicate, rugged covering.
& later when I look up
all kinds of oranges,
I find rind originates by a thickening
of a single ovary wall.
The fruit of any citrus tree: hesperidium, modified berries,
with seeds & flesh soft, self-fertile.
& at noon I press my thumbnail near the stem, 3x piercing
then stripping to the pith.
I will find that heady scent still
with me hours later when I touch my face.
& when I get home
the sweet fruit are buried in the trash.  

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—poem from Jennifer Jackson Berry’s poetry collection, The Feeder, here

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Interested in having your poem featured with the Poem of the Day Series? See the How to Submit page for details.

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It features exclusive content with the latest books and reviews, updates about my top niches, and author features, among other cool things you won’t find on my blog or social media channels! [newsletter]

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