Posts tagged: poetry

Sweet Virginia

I got a letter from the government.
It said let there be night.
I went through your trash.
There was night, all right.
I consider how your light is spent.

I have butterflies a little bit.
I have some pills I take for it.
I’ve been up since four the day before.
Agony’s a cinch to sham.

Don’t worry about the environment.
Let it kill us if it can.
I give a tiny tinker’s damn.
I put the ox behind the cart.
Consume away my snow-blind heart.

Fastened to a service animal
it is waiting for the beep.
It is waiting for the right to change.
Hello, I know you’re there, pick up.

© 2014, Michael Robbins

Seriously amazing things happen to Student Readers. Not convinced? Some of our past Student Readers include Rilke, Rumi and Shakespeare. And those were just the guys who stood next to each other in line.

Guys. This is what I’m doing with my fancy background in marketing.


Seriously amazing things happen to Student Readers. Not convinced? Some of our past Student Readers include Rilke, Rumi and Shakespeare. And those were just the guys who stood next to each other in line.

Guys. This is what I’m doing with my fancy background in marketing.

Thoughts on TeachingWhen I was looking at grad school, I specifically stayed away from schools that seemed to emphasize…View Post

Thoughts on Teaching

When I was looking at grad school, I specifically stayed away from schools that seemed to emphasize…

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from “Transcendental Etude”

Adrienne Rich

There come times - perhaps this is one of them -
when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die
when we have to pull back from the incantations,
rhythms we’ve moved to thoughtlessly,
and disenthrall ourselves, bestow
ourselves to silence, or a severer listening, cleansed
of oratory, formulas, choruses, laments, static
crowding the wires.


Marilyn Hacker

You did say, need me less and I’ll want you more.
I’m still shellshocked at needing anyone,
used to being used to it on my own.
It won’t be me out on the tiles till four-
thirty, while you’re in bed, willing the door
open with your need. You wanted her then,
more. Because you need to, I woke alone
in what’s not yet our room, strewn, though, with your
guitar, shoes, notebook, socks, trousers enjambed
with mine. Half the world was sleeping it off
in every other bed under my roof.
I wish I had a roof over my bed
to pull down on my head when I feel damned
by wanting you so much it looks like need.

You remember too much,
my mother said to me recently.

Why hold onto all that? And I said,
Where can I put it down?

“The Glass Essay” by Anne Carson
(via anditslove)
The Gun

Stephen Dobyns

Late afternoon light slices through the dormer window
to your place on the floor next to a stack of comics.
Across from you is a boy who at eleven is three years
older. He is telling you to pull down your pants.
You tell him you don’t want to. His mother is out
and you are alone in the house. He has given you a Coke,
let you smoke two of his mother’s non-filter Pall Malls,
and years later you can still picture the red packet
on the dark finish of the phonograph. You stand up
and say you have to go home. You live across the street
and only see him in summer when he returns from school.
As you step around the comics toward the stairs,
the boy gives you a shove, sends you stumbling back.
Wait, he says, I want to show you something.
He goes to a drawer and when he turns around
You see he is holding a small gun by the barrel.
You feel you are breathing glass. You ask if it is
loaded and he says, Sure it is, and you say: Show me.
He removes the clip, takes a bullet from his pocket.
See this, he says, then puts the bullet into the clip,
slides the clip into the butt of the gun with a snap.
The boy sits on the bed and pretends to study the gun.
He has a round fat face and black hair, Take off
your pants, he says. Again you say you have to go home.
He stands up and points the gun at your legs. Slowly,
you unhook your cowboy belt, undo the metal buttons
of your jeans. They slide down past your knees.
Pull down your underwear, he tells you. You tell him
you don’t want to. He points the gun at your head.
You crouch on the floor, cover your head with your hands.
You don’t want him to see you cry. You feel you are
pulling yourself into yourself and soon you will be
no bigger than a pebble. You think back to the time
you saw a friend’s cocker spaniel hit by a car and you
remember how its stomach was split open and you imagine
your face split open and blood and gray stuff escaping.
You have hardly ever though of dying, seriously dying,
and as you grow more scared you have to go to the bathroom
more and more badly. Before you can stop yourself,
you feel yourself pissing into your underwar.
The boy with the gun sees the spreading pool of urine.
You baby, he shouts, you baby, you’re disgusting.
You want to apologize, but the words jumble and
choke in your throat. Get out, the boy shouts.
You drag your pants up over your wet underwear and
run down the stairs. As you slam out of his house,
you know you died up there among the comic books
and football pennants, died as sure as your friend’s
cocker spaniel, as sure as if the boy had shot your
face off, shot the very piss out of you. Standing in
the street with urine soaking your pants, you watch
your neighbors pursuing the orderly occupations of
a summer afternoon: mowing a lawn, trimming a hedge.
Where is that sense of the world you woke with
this morning? Now it is smaller. Now it has gone away.

Marie Howe
I want to write a love poem for the girls I kissed in seventh grade,
a song for what we did on the floor in the basement
of somebody’s parents’ house, a hymn for what we didn’t say but thought:
That feels good or I like that, when we learned how to open each other’s mouths
how to move our tongues to make somebody moan. We called it practicing, and
one was the boy, and we paired off—maybe six or eight girls—and turned out
the lights and kissed and kissed until we were stoned on kisses, and lifted our
nightgowns or let the straps drop, and, Now you be the boy:
concrete floor, sleeping bag or couch, playroom, game room, train room, laundry.
Linda’s basement was like a boat with booths and portholes
instead of windows. Gloria’s father had a bar downstairs with stools that spun,
plush carpeting. We kissed each other’s throats.
We sucked each other’s breasts, and we left marks, and never spoke of it upstairs
outdoors, in daylight, not once. We did it, and it was
practicing, and slept, sprawled so our legs still locked or crossed, a hand still lost
in someone’s hair … and we grew up and hardly mentioned who
the first kiss really was—a girl like us, still sticky with moisturizer we’d
shared in the bathroom. I want to write a song
for that thick silence in the dark, and the first pure thrill of unreluctant desire,
just before we’d made ourselves stop.
Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,   
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.   
Down the ravine behind the empty house,   
The cowbells follow one another   
Into the distances of the afternoon.   
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,   
The droppings of last year’s horses   
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.   
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
—-James Wright


(for Paul Muldoon)

It had been badly shot.
While he was plucking it
he found, he says, the voice box-
like a flute stop
in the broken windpipe-
and blew upon it
his own small widgeon cries.

-Seamus Heaney

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Act of Union

Seamus Heaney

To-night, a first movement, a pulse, 
As if the rain in bogland gathered head 
To slip and flood: a bog-burst, 
A gash breaking open the ferny bed. 
Your back is a firm line of eastern coast 
And arms and legs are thrown 
Beyond your gradual hills. I caress 
The heaving province where our past has grown. 
I am the tall kingdom over your shoulder 
That you would neither cajole nor ignore. 
Conquest is a lie. I grow older 
Conceding your half-independant shore 
Within whose borders now my legacy 
Culminates inexorably. 


And I am still imperially 
Male, leaving you with pain, 
The rending process in the colony, 
The battering ram, the boom burst from within. 
The act sprouted an obsinate fifth column 
Whose stance is growing unilateral. 
His heart beneath your heart is a wardrum 
Mustering force. His parasitical 
And ignmorant little fists already 
Beat at your borders and I know they’re cocked 
At me across the water. No treaty 
I foresee will salve completely your tracked 
And stretchmarked body, the big pain 
That leaves you raw, like opened ground, again

Casabianca, Elizabeth Bishop
Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite "The boy stood on
the burning deck." Love's the son
        stood stammering elocution
        while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
        or an excuse to stay
        on deck. And love's the burning boy. 
Leaves of Glass

Had Walt Whitman, an occasional proponent of Prohibition, lived today, he might have been horrified to discover that he in any way inspired a TV series about a murderous drug lord named Walter White.

Leaves of Glass by Kera Bolonik.

Fabulous essay in Po…

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You have played,
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of,
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break, and—
Just tired.
So am I.
E.E. Cummings, You are tired (I think)