Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Morning Reading: "The aspen doing something "

The Problem of Describing Trees
- Robert Hass

The aspen glitters in the wind
And that delights us.

The leaf flutters, turning,
Because that motion in the heat of August
Protects its cells from drying out. Likewise the leaf
Of the cottonwood.

The gene pool threw up a wobbly stem
And the tree danced. No.
The tree capitalized.
No. There are limits to saying,
In language, what the tree did.

It is good sometimes for poetry to disenchant us.

Dance with me, dancer. Oh, I will.

Mountains, sky,
The aspen doing something in the wind.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Morning Reading: "this blessing love gives again into our arms"

Fergus Kinnell and his father the poet Galway Kinnell. August 7, 2014.

 After Making Love We Hear Footsteps 
 - Galway Kinnell

For I can snore like a bullhorn
or play loud music
or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman
and Fergus will only sink deeper
into his dreamless sleep, which goes by all in one flash,
but let there be that heavy breathing
or a stifled come-cry anywhere in the house
and he will wrench himself awake
and make for it on the run—as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our bodies,
familiar touch of the long-married,
and he appears—in his baseball pajamas, it happens,
the neck opening so small he has to screw them on—
and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.

In the half darkness we look at each other
and smile
and touch arms across this little, startlingly muscled body—
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making,
sleeper only the mortal sounds can sing awake,
this blessing love gives again into our arms.


Galway Kinnell was honored at the Vermont Statehouse this past week: 

Galway Kinnell honored by poets, friends


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Poetry Workshop! Thursdays 7-10

Virginia Shank and her velomobile.

The Thursday evening poetry workshop will convenes again at Irvine Valley College this fall.  The semester begins on August 18 and the first class session is August 21.

It is best to enroll early though to ensure that the class will make.  Check out the online schedule:


The workshop is taught by Professor Virginia Shank  (MFA in Poetry from University of Idaho, Moscow and PhD in Creative Writing from SUNY-Binghamton).

If you have any questions about the workshop, email vshank@ivc.edu.
This is a terrific opportunity to work on your craft in a workshop setting.  The class generally attracts both undergraduates and those with advanced degrees who want the discipline and community of a weekly class.

Pass the word. 


Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Morning Reading: "They look at our arid lives"

Items left behind by undocumented immigrants lie on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River on July 24, 2014 near Mission, Texas. Photograph by John Moore.

 from "Hong Kong"
by Dunya Mikhail

We look
at their lush lives
across the river.
They look
at our arid lives
crossing the river.

Full poem appears online, published in Guernica.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Morning Reading: " I lived in the first century of these wars"

photo by Sergey Ponomarev

- Muriel Rukeyser

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.

I lived in the first century of these wars.


Friday, July 4, 2014

The Morning Reading: "Who dreamed for every child an even chance cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not."

Of History and Hope
by Miller Williams

We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Morning Reading: El Tigre Market

El Tigre Market, 2nd Street, San Bernardino, CA 2006 by Thomas McGovern
 El Tigre Market 

- Juan Delgado

As apparent as the rest, the asphalt cracks
are crowded with yellow weeds, the rust goes
beyond its bleeding color, and the lot's rails,
battered by cars, cast larger bars by noon.
On one side of the market someone painted
a row of flower pots, hanging geraniums
for the locals who must now go across town.
As apparent as the rest, El Tigre walks upright,
wears a tiny sombrero and sarape, and pushes
a grocery cart full of food. His painted stripes
are starting to flake like the bounty he wheels
for the families drifting into the parking lot
off 3rd Street and next to the train station
still waiting to the retrofitted for the big one.

from Juan Delgado & Thomas McGovern: Vital Signs (Heyday Books)
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