June 25, 2018


Just to pass the time, here are some verses of poetry I’ve been reading and re-reading recently. They are each evocative and beautiful and striking in their own way:

Party Ship

Kay Ryan (2015)

You are a
land I can’t
stand leaving
and can’t not. 
My party ship
is pulling out.
We all have
hats. I try to
toot some notes
you’ll understand
but this was not
our instrument
or plan.

After the Alphabets

W.S. Merwin (1987)

I am trying to decipher the language of insects
they are the tongues of the future
their vocabularies describe buildings as food
they can depict dark water and the veins of trees
they can convey what they do not know
and what is known at a distance
and what nobody knows
they have terms for making music with the legs
they can recount changing in a sleep like death
they can sing with wings
the speakers are their own meaning in a grammar without
they are wholly articulate
they are never important they are everything

Red Brocade

Naomi Shihab Nye (2014)

The Arabs used to say,
When a stranger appears at your door,
feed him for three days
before asking who he is,
where he’s come from,
where he’s headed.
That way, he’ll have strength
enough to answer.
Or, by then you’ll be
such good friends
you don’t care.

Let’s go back to that.
Rice? Pine nuts?
Here, take the red brocade pillow.
My child will serve water
to your horse.

No, I was not busy when you came!
I was not preparing to be busy.
That’s the armor everyone put on
to pretend they had a purpose
in the world.

I refuse to be claimed.
Your plate is waiting.
We will snip fresh mint
into your tea.

Enough (excerpt)

Robert Creeley (1967)

Don’t we dance
a little bit,

slowly. My

will work

to the tunes of
a happy time.

After Language

Chaia Heller

When all the drowsy metaphors
about women and fruit
have been peeled
and devoured;

there’s just you, me
a bowl full of summer peaches,
two parentheses
with nothing in between
                (just space)
for the tongue’s imagination