Poems are where voices can join together and sing in a voice more powerful than one. Poems mark a trail of identities; poems laid end to end are a map of the human voice. The poems gathered in this volume move across time and place to remind us that the world has always been broken and has always been whole. The poem can potentially last forever and thus the poem outlasts the poet.
David Singleton - Poetry
For none of us individually will be able to tell our story for all time. Human beings have been vulnerable for as long as there have been human beings, some more so than others. As a student and caretaker of the tradition of black female creativity, I know that tradition has always given handbooks for hard times. So, too, the poems here. Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind , wrote Gwendolyn Brooks, words that are always apt. I find that black elders offer the long view in ancestral hum: make a way out of no way , as they say.
That genius. The wisdom and beauty of poems is all around us. Poets tilt their heads and swoop their butterfly nets to capture it, distill it, and give it to the people. Lie down. The horrible opera of the day is over.
The Parched Well: Poems
Close your eyes, so the world which loves you can go to sleep, too. We have come through the suburbs of the moon to these mountains drawn on a map in hurried lambdas, like the work of a junior cartographer. But they are beautiful in person, and I love sitting on the porch of this motel, the room number over my head so I resemble Euclid on vacation.
I am poring over the dark biographies of horses, counting the money I will probably not win tomorrow while the lips of the great American dusk hover just inches from my own. Beneath my feet the pier shifts and drools.
Above, some gulls carve out the sturdy air as surfers arrange themselves like quarter notes across a distant wave. Crouched on plump haunches, as a mantis prays She shrieks to eviscerate its abdomen.
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The lesson is the same. The maid removes Both prodigies from their interest in science. The girl, in lemon frock, begins to scream As the maimed, teetering thing attempts its flight. She is herself a thing of summery light, Frail as a flower in this blue August air, Not marked for some late grief that cannot speak. The mind swings inward on itself in fear Swayed towards nausea from each normal sign.
Heredity of cruelty everywhere, And everywhere the frocks of summer torn, The long look back to see where choice is born, As summer grass sways to the scythe's design. Derek Walcott In the Village I I came up out of the subway and there were people standing on the steps as if they knew something I didn't. This was in the Cold War, and nuclear fallout. I looked and the whole avenue was empty, I mean utterly, and I thought, The birds have abandoned our cities and the plague of silence multiplies through their arteries, they fought the war and they lost and there's nothing subtle or vague in this horrifying vacuum that is New York.
I caught the blare of a loudspeaker repeatedly warning the last few people, maybe strolling lovers in their walk, that the world was about to end that morning on Sixth or Seventh Avenue with no people going to work in that uncontradicted, horrifying perspective.
A Far Cry from Africa
It was no way to die, but it's also no way to live. Well, if we burnt, it was at least New York. II Everybody in New York is in a sitcom. I'm in a Latin American novel, one in which an egret-haired viejo shakes with some invisible sorrow, some obscene affliction, and chronicles it secretly, till it shows in his face, the parenthetical wrinkles confirming his fiction to his deep embarrassment.
Look, it's just the old story of a heart that won't call it quits whatever the odds, quixotic. It's just one that'll break nobody's heart, even if the grizzled colonel pitches from his steed in a cavalry charge, in a battle that won't make him a statue. It is the hell of ordinary, unrequited love.
Watch these egrets trudging the lawn in a dishevelled troop, white banners trailing forlornly; they are the bleached regrets of an old man's memoirs, printed stanzas. III Who has removed the typewriter from my desk, so that I am a musician without his piano with emptiness ahead as clear and grotesque as another spring?
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My veins bud, and I am so full of poems, a wastebasket of black wire. The notes outside are visible; sparrows will line antennae like staves, the way springs were, but the roofs are cold and the great grey river where a liner glides, huge as a winter hill, moves imperceptibly like the accumulating years. I have no reason to forgive her for what I brought on myself. I am past hating, past the longing for Italy where blowing snow absolves and whitens a kneeling mountain range outside Milan.
- More by Derek Walcott.
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- Ron Koertge!
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Through glass, I am waiting for the sound of a bird to unhinge the beginning of spring, but my hands, my work, feel strange without the rusty music of my machine. No words for the Arctic liner moving down the Hudson, for the mange of old snow moulting from the roofs. No poems. No birds. I have kept the same furies, though my domestic rage is illogical, diabetic, with no lessening of love though my hand trembles wildly, but not over this page.