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Tag: reading poems

Poem of the Day: Justin Phillip Reed

Happy Tuesday, friends! As I mentioned yesterday, I’m throwing myself back into doing the things I love—and I LOVE celebrating my fellow writers. If you’d like to have one of your works featured, or do a mini-interview with me about your process or one of your successes, I’d love to hear from you. Check out how to submit here.

In the meantime, here is today’s incredible Poem of the Day, coming to you late Tuesday evening:

WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND AFTER A HAWK HAS SEIZED A SMALLER BIRD MIDAIR

I like men who are cruel to me;
men who know how I will end;
men who, when they touch me,
fasten their shadows to my neck
then get out my face when certain
they haven’t much use for being seen.
I like men to be cruel to me.
Any men who build their bodies into
widths of doors I only walk through
once will do. There’s a difference
between entrances and exits I don’t
have much use for now. I’ve seen
what’s left behind after a hawk
has seized a smaller bird midair.
The feathers lay circled in prattle
with rotting crab apples, grasses passing
between the entrances and exits
of clover. The raptor, somewhere
over it, over it. Cruelty where?
The hell would grief go in a goshawk?
It’s enough to risk the open field,
its rotten crab apples, grasses passing
out like lock-kneed mourners in sun.
There I was, scoping, scavenging
the damage to drag mystery out of
a simple read: two animals wanted
life enough to risk the open field
and one of them took what it hunted.
Each one tells me he wants me
vulnerable. I already wrote that book.
The body text cleaved to the spine,
simple to read as two animals wanting
to see inside each other and one
pulling back a wing to offer—See?
Here—the fastest way in or out
and you knew how it would end.
You cleaved the body text to the spine
cause you read closely. You clock damage.
It was a door you walked through once
before pivoting toward a newer image of risk.

poem previously featured by Poem-A-Day

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Happy National Poetry Month! Poem of the Day: Angela Voras-Hills

Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope you’re all enjoying your week. For those of you who may not be aware, and for those who are too overwhelmed with other things right now to be focused on this (know that I feel you and am here for you), April is National Poetry Month.

For the entire month of April, I’m going to do my best to post a poem every single day by an amazing poet—weekends included. I think, especially right now, we need as much art in our lives as we can get, and I like knowing I’m contributing in some very small way to the resourcing of that.

In my own work, I’m also aiming to write a poem each day, and to write a minimum of one new article per week. I’ll either share them here, or provide links to where you can find them. I’m not so worried about actually pitching and submitting right now; I only have so much energy, and I’d rather put it into creation, rather than pushing for publication, for just a little while.

Though, I want to mention, for those of you who are using this time to focus on larger goals, I have a writing group that is focused on getting your writing done, seeking publication, marketing and growing your readership. Whether you’re a poet, a playwright, a freelancer, a novelist, or anywhere in-between, I’m confident there is useful information in that group for you. If you’d like to check it out (it’s totally free), make sure to keep scrolling after the poem, and join the free Facebook group. I’d love to see you there.

Okay, enough of the logistics for tonight! Here is our Poem of the Day:

ON MY WAY HOME

A great horned owl sits in the window
of a silo along the highway. The foundation

of the barn is now rubble, its boards salvaged.
My mother has scraped and painted the wood

into plant stands. On the other side
of the highway, flames chew clean

to the steel skeleton of a sedan, its body
barely identifiable. Firemen stand close

with the hose, but no water comes through.
There’s no ambulance. The lake

has recently frozen over. Yesterday,
firemen gathered on it, jumped hard

to collapse the shell and fell through.
Each body tall in a black dry-suit, then,

only a watery hole where they’d stood.
The mother of one of the men watched

in the snow beside me. Just then,
my son was in biology class.

But what he was learning about the body,
I don’t know.

—from Angela Voras-Hills’ Louder Birds (Pleiades Press, 2020)

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Poem of the Day: Sylvia Plath

BLACKBERRYING

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,   
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.   
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,   
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me   
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock   
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space   
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths   
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

—from Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems (HarperCollins, 1981)

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Reading Rae Armantrout: 5 Days until Halloween

Apple cider, fall leaves & crisp air, jack-o-lanterns a’glow—These are a few of my favorite, spookiest things…

Happy Saturday, friends! If you’ve been here for a while, you know how much I love Halloween. And I also love countdowns. So—

To showcase the five days we have left until Halloween, here’s a lovely, spooky poem by Rae Armantrout:

DJINN

Haunted, they say, believing
the soft, shifty
dunes are made up
of false promises.

Many believe
whatever happens
is the other half
of a conversation.

Many whisper
white lies
to the dead.

“The boys are doing really well.”

Some think
nothing is so
until it has been witnessed.

They believe
the bits are iffy;

the forces that bind them,
absolute.

poem originally featured by the Poetry Foundation, here

Happy Saturday, friends! I’ll see you again tomorrow for our next poem.

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A Night of Building a Manuscript & Reading Poetry

Happy Tuesday night, all! I hope you had a wonderful weekend—and a relaxing Labor Day.

My Labor Day weekend revolved (mostly) around lovely “guilty pleasures,” ranging from binge-watching Season 3 of The Good Place, starting my latest re-read of Stephen King’s IT in preparation for IT: Part Two hitting theaters on September 6th, spending time with my family, and (perhaps of course) building out my poetry manuscript.

I could talk to you, probably for hours, about my love, theories, aches, and pains surrounding The Good Place, and I can always take time to talk about my favorite Stephen King reads, and show off pictures of my kids—but tonight’s all about that darn poetry collection that’s been hiding on the pull-out shelf of my desk all summer.

My poetry manuscript, tentatively titled DAUGHTER WILD, alongside a beautiful, lounging, and aloof Teddy. Cat Not Included in Eventual Publication. ha!

An old mentor of mine told me that the process of a “true writer” was slow—so I’m choosing to see it as a positive that I’ve been sitting with this manuscript for so long.

This manuscript originally dated back to 2010 with some of my earlier poems—until this summer, that is, when I finally removed them. I’ve watched this collection morph for years, through my MFA years when I thought I might actually have a publishable manuscript, through the next couple years while sending it out and tweaking it, to finally this summer, when I looked at it in a new way.

I never stopped writing, or thinking about writing, in the time since my MFA was completed and I began sending the collection out. However, I was doing all the thinking, rather than actively listening to my writing.

You see, in a way, each piece you write—every story, every poem—carries its own personality, its own goal, its own essence. The answer to how that piece’s personality will gel with another varies from compared piece to compared piece. You have to listen to how those poems are talking to each other, to decide if they’re going to be able to live inside the same collection or not.

It took writing a certain poem, between 2018 and now, to realize that I was forcing poems together into the same collection, rather than listening to how they were talking to each other.

When I wrote what I currently expect will be the title poem, “Daughter Wild,” I realized the mistake I was making. I realized the direction I currently wanted to write in, and how avidly I wanted to write about certain topics. Once I realized what the theme was that I was chasing, I was able to look back at the poems I had currently gathered together, and remove the ones that weren’t contributing to that conversation.

This summer, I removed half of the poems from the collection—literally half.

For some of my readers out there, I’m sure this will sound devastating. It will sound like a lot of lost work. I know for me, even two years ago, this would have sounded like too drastic of a move. I used to believe that, if the poem was fine-tuned enough, strong enough on its own, then it was ready to be published in a collection. Now, I realize that’s technically not true.

The poem may be strong enough for a collection somewhere down the line, but you can’t force a poem into just any collection. It has to speak to the collection you’re creating. It’s like a giant, sophisticated puzzle, and each poem has to perform as a fitting piece.

Perhaps those poems I cut will find their place in a future collection or chapbook; I’m certainly not closing that door. But right now, I’m content in the work I’ve done, and find myself peacefully writing in the direction of finishing this collection.

Hopefully, its theme will speak to an editor this year, as well. That’s the dream, at least.

Have a good night, all.

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Reading Shaindel Beers

Happy (very early!) Friday, everyone! This week, I’ve been spending some time with a really wonderful poet, Shaindel Beers. Soon enough, I’ll have an interview of her, her writing process, and her latest, Secure Your Own Mask, to share with you; and in the meantime, this upcoming Wednesday, I’ll be posting an in-depth review of the collection. I haven’t enjoyed a book of poems this much in a long time, and I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to share it with you! Here are five poems I enjoyed and catch my mind turning back to (but there are so many I could have included!). Enjoy!

UNFRIENDING THE DEAD

They show up in the Newsfeed. Facebook
as memorial. Birthday reminders. Events where
the guest of honor will never appear. Someone

who has forgotten or who hasn’t heard will leave
a joyful, “Eat cake!” a copied and pasted “Happy birthday!”
even just the letters HBD in our light-speed world.

Still not so far away from lost messengers in ancient times,
letters gone down at sea or never delivered because of a lame horse.
But others — “Miss you, Mama. It’s been hard.”

“This earth isn’t the same without you on it.” Sometimes
I think about the ways we die. Cancer, car accident,
suicide, suicide, suicide, suicide — I think

of the body hanging. The children unknowing on
the other side of the door while the blood stops travelling,
the cells shut down without oxygen. This is all

very mechanical. It is just lights going out on a cellular
level. The same way pixels spark out of my LED screen
sending their image and are then shut down. Some days

I want to type, “I saw your son in the school concert.
He was wonderful. You would be so proud.” Or,
“The earth misses the weight of your terrible beauty.”

Is this the modern way of planting flowers in a cemetery?
Placing stones on a grave? Is the digital world temperate
or desert? Victorians must’ve felt this way about photographs,

and before this, paintings. How are we always inventing
ways to keep the dead with us? Why is it so hard to let
the cursor hover over Unfriend? Block? How permanently

to release you? To make room for more. To keep the pixels
of you from my screen the way the tiny lights of your body
turned out — One, by one, by one.

THE SECRET RABBIT

In the story the woman hits the rabbit on the way home to her husband
from her lover’s. What does the rabbit symbolize?

Fertility, a student says. Maybe she wants to get pregnant by
her lover. The death of a new beginning, says another. Maybe

she can’t really leave her husband and just start over. Maybe
the rabbit dying means that she is pregnant like old pregnancy tests

used to be. Some students look doubtful. They have peed on sticks
that show lines or plus marks, kept the time on smartphones.

The rabbit was white, says another. It is true. In the story,
it was snowing. No way she could have seen a white rabbit.

The student continues, Maybe it’s the death of purity. Other
students like this theory. But the story doesn’t say for sure

it’s a rabbit. She thinks that she hit a rabbit. It might have been
a cat or a dog. She looks in her rearview mirror and keeps

driving. It’s definitely symbolic of an ending. She can’t go back.
What I don’t tell them about is my own rabbit. That I had been

drinking. That at 55 mph on a country road, the rabbit panics
and runs straight toward your headlights. I don’t tell them

that after this you are just as panicked as the rabbit. Who
can you tell about this? How to explain where you were,

what you were doing driving three beers in at that hour.
Maybe the rabbit saw the light as a rabbit hole. Maybe

it reminded him of first opening his eyes at six days old.
Maybe he saw it as his escape to another world, one free

of coyotes and harsh winters. The way I always saw a man
as an escape hatch to another world because

I was raised to. The way girls were given by their fathers
to a husband to a grave and that was the only story. Until

a man just became an escape hatch to another man,
and all the worlds were eventually the same, this one

with more yelling or less than the previous one, and me
with no way to make a world of my own because I didn’t know

how. You keep this rabbit hidden for years from anyone
wondering what it could possibly mean.

FRIENDS, 1991

We were desperate sex in girls’ bodies.
We were girls mothers warned sons about.
We were handcuffed together to a bed at a party.
Sent home together in a cab from a field trip.
We were barns burning for anyone’s love.
We were lonely walks to the cemetery & talking to graves.
Blowjobs behind tombstones. Always hoping
to get caught. Always dreaming of escape.
We were talks on the hood of a car. Dreaming
up early dramatic deaths. Scared shitless
of ending up pregnant or poor or fat
or all three. We were learning to drive
a stick shift on gravel roads while eating
ice cream. Flirting for freebies from sweat-
nervous boys at restaurants. We couldn’t have
lived any different. We couldn’t have saved
one another. We were just trying to survive
the only way we knew how.

THERE ARE NO (SIMPLE) HAPPY ENDINGS

Every fairy tale requires the absence of mother.
Possibly the presence of stepmother. But where
did the mother go? Dead in fever-dream, my dear?
Lips burning prayers to Jesus, your tiny palm
pinning a cool cloth to her forehead?
This is a different story. The Tale
of the Mother Who Left.

Every day the same. Putting the food in,
cleaning up what comes out. A child
is a type of worm in its infancy.
But a worm everyone seems to adore.
Strange larva, always wanting more.

And it is this always-wanting-always-touching
that blurs the border between
parasite / predator / predator / prey.
But which escape to plan?

There is the crying-crying-won’t-stop-crying
melon-thud of head into wall. Ohmigod, I’m so
sorry, Ohmigod I’m so sorry. But then the stunned
beauty of silence. The calm call to the police.
Waiting in the sun and fresh air of the new world
outside of the screaming—

Or petal bloom of blood
underwater. Crush-metal of car into concrete.
All the mother ever wants is silence. All she
wants to be is alone. To drown in the river
or whisky, to marry the knife or the pills. To free-
fall eight stories, but with or without
the baby?

And this is where we learn
The Mother Who Left is hero / not monster.
To walk away, board the bus, step up
into the cab of the big rig, telling the trucker
Thank you. I’ve just got to get out of here
is the same story as giving the child love.

AFTER MARY OLIVER

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”
—Mary Oliver

I have become a lover of solitude.
Feeder of finches, savior of starlings
and sparrows. After you, I no longer
want to be human. I will be woodsprite.
River imp. I might believe in love
when I become a river otter, a dove.
All of the pressure of human relationships
is too much. It has been the one fantastic
failure of my life. The one puzzle piece
I’ve never been able to make fit.
Once, after a poetry reading, a past life
regressionist said to me, “We need
to find out what makes you attract
this type of man.” I didn’t go because
I’m rebuilding myself very deliberately.
I would have wanted her to tell me that
I’m still not fully human — that that’s why
I haven’t figured human love out.
That there’s been a terrible mistake.
That it will never have to happen again.


—all from Shaindel Beers’ Secure Your Own Mask, White Pine Press (2018)

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“My Face Resembles / The One Reflected in the Water”: Reading David Dodd Lee’s And Others, Vaguer Presences

 
The thing that I love about erasure poetry is how interactive it can (and should!) be with the original work it is pulling from. I think, for some writers who attempt this form, the goal is to reinvent the words that are on the page, than to accept them and attempt to draw something new out of the woodwork. But I find this to be problematic: if the writer chooses to engage with another writer’s work, and distance their resulting works from it, what are they truly accomplishing? How have they challenged themselves? What are they implying about the original work?

On the flip-side, when the writer takes what the other writer has done, celebrates it, and points out some of the facets we may have missed in the previous work, by performing this erasure, then I believe those writers are onto something. And I believe this is where David Dodd Lee comes in, with the two collections of erasure poetry he has compiled of John Ashbery’s extensive work. Just as Ashbery himself notes in the blurb for this second collection, that the poems “were actually written by the poems themselves, which had definite ideas about what they wanted and didn’t want” (2017). This suggests to me that David Dodd Lee not only remained true to what he believed John Ashbery had originated on the page, but he created new poems that were reflective of what he believed the original poems wanted to be.

Whatever John Ashbery’s original intentions with his work—that question could easily take up a series of blog posts in and of itself!—the poems that Lee generates in their place are energetic, intense, and surprising. True to the persona of a Lee poem, they are nature-centric, imagistic, and politically-focused. Much like John Ashbery’s poems, these new erasures examine relationships, specific memories and images, and where we fall within nature ecopoetically, as well as where we live within the political landscape.

To explore these ideas in more detail, I have selected one of my favorite poems from the collection, titled “Summer,” and based on John Ashbery’s poem, “The Double Dream of Spring.”

 
SUMMER

There is that sound
                                like forgetting
                                                             somebody
time hardly seen
                             the twigs of a tree
                             the trees of a life
We,     among all others

                                  And suddenly,
                to be dying
                                    a little mindless construction
of pine needles
                            and winter
                of cold stars
                            and summer

I step to a narrow ledge.
                                My face resembles
             the one reflected in the water.

 
Isn’t this lovely? This is truly one of my favorite poems from the collection, for its imagery, use of white space, and what it reflects in, both, Lee’s and Ashbery’s work (again, my favorite form of erasure—when it can reflect both of the writers involved). I admire the work that goes into erasing poetry, and I’m definitely of the mind that the work should still embody that work from which it has borrowed, and I think that’s achieved here rather wonderfully. First, the opening phrase, contained in the first three lines of this poem, are highly reminiscent to me of my all-time-favorite Ashbery poem, “At North Farm,” which opens with, “Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you.” This line has stayed with me for years, from the first time I ever gave that poem a read. There’s something about the combined certainty of both of these phrases, in Ashbery and Lee’s work, as well as almost the removal of agency from the persona at hand: we can’t help that someone is approaching, much like we can’t help the process of forgetting. Both of these things seem inevitable, and hardly memorable or noteworthy most of the time, but there is both trouble and comfort to be found in that inevitability.

Second, I’m very interested in how this poem works visually, and what both white space and short lines bring to John Ashbery’s work. Admittedly, I’ve always read his work very slowly, and I read more pauses into his lines than is technically warranted by how the poems are laid out on the page. However, I think there’s something that can be said for that—their density and complexity, their need for breath. While it could be argued that Ashbery’s poems could be laid out differently to better encapsulate their imagery and movement, which I think is on the list of what Lee has achieved here in his retelling, I think it’s important, too, to recognize that density is as welcome in a compart form as in the sparse ranges that so many of us now seek out in our most contemporary reading cycles. I think on some level this is addressed through Lee’s embodiment of these poems, in his repurposing of the longer lines into something more minimal, but still rich with imagery, question, and complexity.

Finally, from a thematic angle, both of these writers spend admirable amounts of time exploring and celebrating nature, and our place within it, while also addressing many of our vulnerabilities, both ecopoetically and politically. In this poem that I’ve shared above alone, there are questions about our dealings with memory, as well as our approach to death, and our recognition of ourselves at various stages in our lives. These are topics with heavy, underlying questions that both of these poets have tackled beautifully and even ruthlessly in their own work—so it only seems fitting that such questions would appear in the crossover of erasure. They are themes that can be troubling, yes, but are important and should be addressed nonetheless—and I believe how they are arrived at in these erasure poems is both organic and surprising, leaving us with twinges of their intensity and rereading for more.

Whether or not you’re new to the process of erasure poetry, or John Ashbery’s work, or David Dodd Lee’s work, I think this collection can be a wonderful starting place for the reader interested in investing in one or all. These poems are highly indicative of both writers’ breadth and quality, as well as the extensive process that goes into well-written erasures. If you aren’t so new to the process or these poets, you’ll bring with you hindsight that highlights some of the more secret elements of these poems, and what they illuminate about each poet. Basically, if you haven’t read this collection yet, there is a reason for you to do so—and then you’ll more than likely find, like me, that you immediately want to read it again, more slowly this time, because the ideas and images always seem to keep going, rather furiously, and the last thing you want to do is miss a breath.

 
DAVID DODD LEE is a visual artist and author of ten books of poems, in reverse chronological order: And Others, Vaguer Presences, a Second Book of Ashbery Erasure Poems (BlazeVox, 2016), Animalities (Four Way Books, 2014); The Coldest Winter on Earth (Marick Press, 2012); Orphan, Indiana (Akron, 2010); The Nervous Filaments (Four Way Books, 2010); Sky Booths in the Breath Somewhere, the Ashbery Erasure Poems (BlazeVox, 2010); Abrupt Rural (New Issues, 2004); Arrow Pointing North (Four Way Books, 2002); Wilderness (chapbook) (March Street Press, 2000); Downsides of Fish Culture (New Issues, 1997). As Editor, he completed: The Other Life: the Selected Poems of Herbert Scott (Carnegie Mellon, 2010); Shade 2004 & 2006 (fiction and poetry anthologies) (Four Way Books). As publisher, he managed: Half Moon Bay, a chapbook press, with titles by Hugh Seidman and Franz Wright. He is presently Editor-in-Chief of 42 Miles Press.

 
Lee, David Dodd. And Others, Vaguer Presences: A Book of Ashbery Erasure Poems. Buffalo NY, BlazeVOX Books, 2017. To read, find it here and here.
 
 

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Reading David Dodd Lee

Happy Sunday, all!

As fellow readers, book lovers, and writers, I know you have authors and books in your back pocket that you find yourself returning to from time to time. Maybe it’s an annual thing, maybe it’s when you’re having a rough time, or are in a creative slump. For me, one of those writers is David Dodd Lee… I’m finally getting around to really digging deep into his second collection of John Ashbery erasure poems, And Others, Vaguer Presences: A Book of Ashbery Erasure Poems, and reviewing it. I’ve read the collection before, right after its release, but not with the space and attention I wanted—so really, this review, going up tonight, is a long time coming.

In the meantime, here are a few poems I particularly love and praise from the collection:

 
HUNGRY AGAIN

I      shout
     stars

The rain

          appears
   to know
     this

             It has
not come
             to take
me
   to God
             God is
at your house,
a
   dark
             wind swept
   storm
             a mind-crystal

 
COUSIN SARAH’S KNITTING

You keep asking me that
              Trust me     I think
                 nobody

            is
              that nice

   Pulled from space
            after they examined
   her

          no one
          living
                 understood

Then
          it was all
                    a longing in the loins

   I was going
                  to remind you of the story
         of the     overfed

   One got off
         The other was     dazed
            By the time

it was summer again
         somebody’s boy came up
                 and
   wandered over
                 their reputations

 
TO REDOUTE

To true roses uplifted on the bilious tide of evening

          And morning glory

                    seeds:

    I am

             light forever

    Or back into
             night,

                     magenta
    in
            the grave

 
ABSENT AGENDA

To be old
isn’t a bad idea    One is
    king
               wetting
    the sky,
             shaking

Crying?
      I know it’s none of my business, but

      dreams are
      good, a planet
      tiled with
                 fabric,
      feathery to the touch

      as though autumn had fallen off
an animal,
             one as distinctive
      as some grand occasion
                          or event
      no one recognizes anymore

 
SUMMER

There is that sound
                like forgetting
                        somebody
time hardly seen
               the twigs of a tree
               the trees of a life
We,     among all others

                    And suddenly,
             to be dying
               a little mindless construction
of pine needles
              and winter
             of cold stars
              and summer

I step to a narrow ledge.
                My face resembles
             the one reflected in the water.

 
All poems appear in David Dodd Lee’s latest John Ashbery erasure poetry collection: And Others, Vaguer Presences: A Book of Ashbery Erasure Poems. Buffalo NY, BlazeVOX Books, 2017. It comes highly recommended, and is available here and here.

 
Image Credit: You can see the original, raw artwork over here!
 
 

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Poem of the Day: Ada Limón

 

Help me turn my mind off. Help me be more than a song. The stress like a crow’s open flame. Help me to not give up on forgiveness. The work has become too wild here. Help me. Help me—
(Days like today, poetry reminds me to live.)

 

INSTRUCTIONS ON NOT GIVING UP

 

1976

 

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

 

—appeared previously with Poets.Org

 

 

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Poem of the Day: Julie Bruck

 

                —after Philip Larkin

 

TO BRING THE HORSE HOME

 

Is all I’ve wanted past wanting
since I was six and delirious with fever,
an infinitive forged from a night
when giant ladybugs with toothpick
antennae patrolled my wicker nightstand.
Yes, I’ve been with horses since,
travelled illegally with them in trailers,
known certain landscapes only framed
by alert ears, and with one in particular,
spent whole afternoons with her big jaw
heavy on my shoulder. Still, I hatched
plots to bring a horse to the house, to ride
to school, to pasture one or even three
in the garden, shaded by that decorative
willow, which could have used a purpose.
But there were city bylaws in two languages,
and over the years, a dog, stray cats,
turtles, and many fish. They lived, they died.
It wasn’t the same. Fast-forward, I brought
the baby home in a molded bucket seat, but she
lacked difference, attuned as I was, checking
her twenty-four-seven. Now that she’s
grown, I’m reduced to walking city parks
with this corrosive envy of mounted police,
though I’m too old for the ropes test,
wouldn’t know what to do with a gun.
If there’s a second act, let me live
like the racetrack rat in a small room
up the narrow stairs from the stalls,
the horse shifting comfortably below,
browsing and chewing sweet hay.
A single bed with blanket the color
of factory-sweepings will suffice,
each day shaped to the same arc,
because days can only end when
the lock slides free on the stall’s
Dutch door, and I lead the horse in,
then muscle the corroded bolt shut.
That’s what days are for: I cannot rest
until the horse comes home.

 

—appeared previously with the Academy of American Poets

 

 

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Poem of the Day: Cynthia Cruz

 

SELF-PORTRAIT

 

I did not want my body
Spackled in the world’s
Black beads and broke
Diamonds. What the world

Wanted, I did not. Of the things
It wanted. The body of Sunday
Morning, the warm wine and
The blood. The dripping fox

Furs dragged through the black New
York snow—the parked car, the pearls,
To the first pew—the funders,
The trustees, the bloat, the red weight of

The world. Their faces. I wanted not
That. I wanted Saint Francis, the love of
His animals. The wolf, broken and bleeding—
That was me.

 

—previously appeared with The Academy of American Poets

 

 

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Poem of the Day: Lisa Nanette Allender

 

L.V. WOMEN

 

The Women wear their hair
like a blonde ballet
trained to perform
each golden strand
sun-bleached and
chemical-precision,
in perfect position.

The women wear their skin
unnaturally tight
dry and porous
like the concrete surrounds,
pneumatic-pillow breasts
under their gowns.

The women wear their men
on their arms
never hand-in-hand,
old enough to be their fathers

The men
whose tanned, wrinkled hands
perch like brown birds
on the mechanical devices,
hungry,
they scavenge
seek sustenance
in this bright space
painted sky
clouds like candy
hung too low
the birds scatter
over tables,
over currency.
Some of it:
cash
some of it:
women,
skirted in anonymity
eyes uplifted
in a dark beg,
a not-too-solemn promise
to behave
like their blond strands
to be a medal
for the men
who leave this,
the casino,
otherwise
empty-handed.

 

—previously appeared on Goodgoshalmighty and Lisa Nanette Allender’s website.

 

 

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