Tuesday, November 04, 2014

You've Been Reviewed: Instant Winner

Instant WinnerInstant Winner by Carrie Fountain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Poems about prayer - or the wish for prayer - interrupt and compliment parenthood and livelihood in Fountain's second collection. She deftly mixes the grounding of the domestic with the optimism of religion. I'm a big fan of the titular short poem, Instant Winner.

This is a faster read than her first book, Burn Lake, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Each of her books ends too soon, leaving me selfishly wanting more.



View all my reviews

Monday, December 02, 2013

Go Nick Laird.

I just found out about the Irish poet Nick Laird recently, and I really like him. Check him out.





Saturday, August 04, 2012

There is great wisdom here.


The Real Work

by Wendell Berry


It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,


and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.


The mind that is not baffled is not employed.


The impeded stream is the one that sings.
"The Real Work" by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And What Have You Done?

Confessions

by Lowell Jaeger

I once shoplifted
a tin of Vienna sausages.
Crouched in the aisle
as if to study the syllables
of preservatives, tore off the lid,
pulled out a wiener and sucked it down.

I've cheated on exams.
Made love to foldouts.
Walked my paper route in a snowstorm after dark,
so I could steal down a particular alley
where through her gauze curtains, a lady
lounged with her nightgown undone.

I've thrown sticks at stray dogs.
Ignored the cat scratching to come inside.
Even in the rain.
Sat for idle hours in front of the TV, and not two feet away
the philodendrons for lack of a glass of water
gasped and expired.

So many excuses I've concocted to get by.
Called in sick when I was not. Grabbed credit
for happy accidents I had no hand in.
Pointed fingers
to pin the innocent with crimes
unmistakably mine.

I have failed
to learn from grievous error.
Repeated gossip.
Invented gossip. Held hands
in a circle of friends to rejoice
over the misfortune of strangers.
Pushed over tombstones.
Danced the devil's jig.

Once, when I was barely old enough
to walk home on my own, I hid
behind an abandoned garage.
Counted sixteen windows.
Needed only four handfuls of stones
to break every one.

"Confessions" by Lowell Jaeger, from We. © Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2010.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

National Poetry Month Should Not Be Ignored, Nor the Names of Flowers

Field Guide

by Billy Collins

No one I ask knows the name of the flower
we pulled the car to the side of the road to pick
and that I point to dangling purple from my lapel.

I am passing through the needle of spring
in North Carolina, as ignorant of the flowers of the south
as the woman at the barbecue stand who laughs
and the man who gives me a look as he pumps the gas

and everyone else I ask on the way to the airport
to return to where this purple madness is not seen
blazing against the sober pines and rioting along the
   roadside.

On the plane, the stewardess is afraid she cannot answer
my question, now insistent with the fear that I will leave
the province of this flower without its sound in my ear.

Then, as if he were giving me the time of day, a passenger
looks up from his magazine and says wisteria

"Field Guide" by Billy Collins from Questions about Angels. © William Morrow and Company, 1991. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Merwin's May

To This May

by W. S. Merwin

They know so much more now about
the heart we are told but the world
still seems to come one at a time
one day one year one season and here
it is spring once more with its birds
nesting in the holes in the walls
its morning finding the first time
its light pretending not to move
always beginning as it goes 

"To This May" by W.S. Merwin, from Present Company. © Copper Canyon Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

An old and trusted favorite!

Life Story

by Tennessee Williams

After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
      Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time 
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all
      along,

and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms. 

"Life Story" by Tennessee Williams, from The Collected Poems of Tennessee Williams. © New Directions, 2002. Reprinted with permission (buy now)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I woke up this morning dreaming of New York...

and this poem was sitting in my inbox.


New York Notes
by Harvey Shapiro

1. Caught on a side street in heavy traffic, I said to the cabbie, I should have 
walked. He replied, I should have been a doctor. 
2. When can I get on the 11:33  I ask the guy in the information booth at the Atlantic Avenue Station. 
When they open the doors, he says. I am home among my people. 

"New York Notes" by Harvey Shapiro, from How Charlie Shavers Died and Other Poems. © Wesleyan University Press, 2001. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another cup, please!

In Praise of Joe
by Marge Piercy

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.

I drink you rancid out of vending machines,
I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.

Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.

Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed

but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.

You waken in me the gift of speech
when I am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.