Posted in poetry

‘How Pharaoh Tried to Steal the Exodus’

For Passover, I wrote a rhyming poem in the style of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” It’s called “How Pharaoh Tried to Steal the Exodus.” The link I provided here will get you through the paywall. At the top of the article, there’s a link to a SoundCloud recording that will open in a new window and play you my 9-minute narration of the poem, in case you’d like to listen while you read with the text. Hey, if you don’t need the transcription and just want the direct link to the SoundCloud, there you go.

Enjoy the holiday! Let quarantines not take rhyming poetry, at least, away from us.

Posted in poetry

Poems read Oct-Dec 2020

Poems that stumbled across my path online. You might like them, too.

Lisa Ampleman, “Gilding the Lily”
Molly Brodak, “Ok
William Bronk, “Deus Vobiscum”, “Questions for Eros,” “The Remains of a Farm”
Jericho Brown, “Another Elegy,” in The New Testament
Lauren Clark, “Illinois in Spring”
Lucille Clifton, “birth-day”
Cid Corman, “The Unforgivable”
Gregory Corso, “Hello”
Kwame Dawes, “Loneliness
Ansel Elkins, “Autobiography of Eve
Rhina P. Espaillat, “November”
Jack Gilbert, “Exceeding the Spirit”
Aracelis Girmay, “[strange earth, strange]”
Peter Gizzi, “The Present is Constant Elegy
Louise Glück, “October,” “The Pond” in The House On Marshland
Linda Gregg, “God’s Places”
Paul Guest, “Post Factual Love Poem”
Alen Hamza, “Someday I Will Learn”
Joy Harjo, “She Had Some Horses”
Zbigniew Herbert, “Prayer”
Amorak Huey, “Lifespan of a Deer”
Laura Jensen, “Memory,” “Here in the Night”
Jean Joubert, “Brilliant Sky” (tr. Denise Levertov)
Dilawar Karadaghi, “[I’m not here]”
Joanna Klink, “On Mercy”
Ada Limón, “Instructions on Not Giving Up”
Moira Linehan, “My Great Blue”
Timothy Liu, “Survivors”
Audre Lorde, “Speechless
Sophia de Mello Breyner, “[You will never again feel]”
W. S. Merwin, “The Morning”, “How It Happens”
Malena Mörling, “Ashes
Sharon Olds, “I Cannot Say I Did Not”
Mary Oliver, “Fall Song,” in American Primitive
Charles Olson, “[I measure my song]”
George Oppen, “Psalm”, “World, World–“
Katherine Osborne, “[My son died.]”
Linda Pastan, “In This Season of Waiting,” “Go Gentle”
Carl Phillips, “And If I Fall
Rowan Ricardo Phillips, “Grief and the Imaginary Grave”
Roger Reeves, “After Death”
Rainer Maria Rilke, “[Only in our doing can we grasp you]” in The Book Of Hours
Theodore Roethke, “Memory”
Charif Shanahan, “Ligament
Natalie Shapero, “Not Horses,” in Hard Child
Izumi Shikibu, “[You ask my thoughts]” tr. Hirshfield & Aratani
Charles Simic, “Poem” [Every morning I forget how it is]
Maggie Smith, “Rain, New Year’s Eve”
Tracy K. Smith, “An Old Story”
Molly Spencer, “Most Accidents Occur At Home”
Matt Stefon, “A bent rainbow”
Nomi Stone, “On World-Making
Timmy Straw, “Willamette”
Anna Swir, “Her Death is In Me” (tr. Milosz and Leonard Nathan)
Fiona Sze-Lorrain, “[Nothing in my song]”
Shuntaro Tanikawa, “Twenty Billion Light Years of Loneliness” trans. Wright
Chase Twichell, “Fox Bones”
Jean Valentine, “The One You Wanted to Be Is The One You Are”
diane wakoski, “the moon has a complicated geography”
Katharine Whitcomb, “Through the Window,” in The Daughter’s Almanac
James Womack, “To Maximian”
Wendy Xu, “[Most things lose]”

Posted in poetry

Poems read July-Sept 2020

Albert Abonado, “Luxury,” in Jaw
John Ashbery, “Iphigenia in Sodus”
Ruth Awad, “We don’t talk about children until we do”
David Baker, “Fire Watch: After You Have Gone”
Wendell Berry, “A Warning To My Readers”
Frank Bidart, “You Cannot Rest”
Yves Bonnefoy, “Wind and Smoke,” [trans. John Naughton]
Lucille Clifton, “blessing the boats”
Peter Clive, “Chimpanzee”
Natalie Diaz, “Isn’t The Air Also a Body, Moving?” in Postcolonial Love Poem
Jack Gilbert, “Walking Home Across the Island”
Aracelis Girmay, “Jacaranda,” [“Listen to me”]
Louise Glück, “Elms,” “October” “The Traveler” and “The Destination,” “Descent to the Valley”
Linda Gregg, “We Manage Most When We Manage Small,” in All of It Singing
Guillevic, tr. Levertov, [“Is there still talk of thee…”]
Joy Harjo, “The Story Wheel”
Jim Harrison, “Return,” “Mary” in Songs of Unreason
Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays”
Denis Johnson, “The Heavens”
Saeed Jones, “A Stranger”
W. Todd Kaneko, “Naming the Birds”
Celia Kim, “We Make the Deer”
Suji Kwock Kim, “The Tree of Unknowing,” in Notes from the Divided Country
Noelle Kocot, “Pressure Belt”
Li-Young Lee, “The Hammock,” [“I loved you before I was born.”]
Ada Limon, “The Conditional”
Timothy Liu, “The Lovers”
Devon Marsh, “Motion”
Jane Mead, “Bounty,” in To the Wren
W. S. Merwin, “Separation”
Emilee Moyce, “To My Younger Self”
Lisel Mueller, “Joy”
John Murillo, “Mercy, Mercy Me”
Frank O’Hara, “To the Harbormaster”
Grace Paley, “Proverbs”
Emily Pettit, “How to Be Alone in a Shape”
Carl Phillips, “For Long to Hold,” [“All night, again…”], “For Chiron”
Ben Purkert, “The Only Conversation”
Adrienne Rich, “Song”
Mary Ruefle, “Blue”
Diane Seuss, “Tear Bottle”
Tracy K. Smith, “The Universe is a House Party,” in Life on Mars
Leon Stokesbury, “Unsent Message to My Brother in His Pain”
D. Thomas, “[see the titbits…]”
Tomas Tranströmer, “Slow Music”
Jean Valentine, “[You ask, Could we have coffee?]”
Diane Wakoski, “Walking Past Paul Blackburn’s Apt. on 7th St.”

Posted in poetry, Uncategorized

Poems read April-June 2020

These poems made their way across my Twitter feed. I am grateful to all the people–poets, translators, and sharers–who caused them to appear.

Chris Abani, [“This is not a lamentation, damn it.”] in Santificum
Hanif Abdurraqib, “Lights Out Tonight, Trouble In the Heartland”
Kim Addonizio, “Knowledge”
Ayobami Adesina, “absence”, in Memento
Anna Akhmatova, “Everything is Plundered”
Anne-Marie Albiach, “Such Sweetness,” trans. Anthony Barnett
John Ashbery, “Wet Casements”, “Of Linnets and Dull Time”, “Composition”, “This Room”, “Girls on the Run”
Mary Jo Bang, “The Cruel Wheel Turns Twice”
Frank Bidart, “For an Unwritten Opera”
Caroline Bird, “A Surreal Joke”
Eavan Boland, “Tree of Life”, “Atlantis–A Lost Sonnet”
John Brehm, “Opening,” in Inland Empire
Adam Clay, “Only Child,” in To Make Room for the Sea
Wanda Coleman, “Red Squall”
Katie Condon, “Origin,” in Praying Naked
Eduardo C. Corral, “To Francisco X. Alarcón (1954-2016)”
H.D., “The Walls Do Not Fall”
Tadeusz Dąbrowski, “Redshift,” trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Meg Day, [“Make me a bird, Lord”]
Natalie Diaz, “Grief Work,” in Postcolonial Love Poem
Chelsea Dingman, “In America”; “How a Woman Uses the Wind,” in Through a Small Ghost
Tarfia Faizullah, “The Distance Between Fire and Stone”
Ariel Francisco, “The Sea Can Stand Anything—I Can’t,” in A Sinking Ship Is Still a Ship, and “Meditation on Patience”
Ross Gay, “Sorrow is Not My Name”
Jack Gilbert, “The Abandoned Valley,” “The Great Fires”
Allen Ginsberg, “America”
Louise Glück, “March”
Andrew Grace, “Do You Consider Writing to be Therapeutic?”
Paul Guest, “My Mock-Scale Dream”
Hilda Hilst, “XXXII,” translated by Laura Cesarce Eglin
Jane Hirshfield, “Like Others
Joanna Klink, “Some feel rain”
Randall Jarrell, “What’s the Riddle…”
Laura Jensen, “Tapwater”
June Jordan, [“There is no chance we will fall apart”]
Bob Kaufman, “I Have Folded My Sorrows”
Suji Kwock Kim, [“You must not grieve that the world…”]
Kim Kyung Ju, “Let Me In,” trans. Jake Levine
Philip Larkin, “Days”
Robin Coste Lewis, “Summer”
Ada Limón, “The End of Poetry”
Jayanta Mahapatra, “After the Death of a Friend”
Rachel McKinley, “Still”
Milosz, “Meaning”
Ben Mirov, “Monkey Heart,” in Hider Roser
Laura Moriarty, [“So then as I say I begin again…”]
Lisel Mueller, “There Are Mornings”
John Murillo, [“To preach forgiveness…”] in Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry
Hieu Minh Nguyen, “Heavy”
Frank O’Hara, “Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul
Bruno K Öijer, “[we were the last / to leave every party]” (trans. Öijer/Häggblom)
Sharon Olds, “True Love”
Lisa Olstein, “My Only Life”
Jill Osier, “The Steps in the Snow Lead Around and Around a Place Called Want,” in The Solace is Not the Lullaby
Kiki Petrosino, “Crossing”
Stanley Plumly, “At Night”
Samih Al-Qasim, “Tickets” trans. by Nazih Kassis
Pierre Reverdy, “Memory,” trans. Kenneth Rexroth
Rainer Maria Rilke, “Ich will ihn preisen. Wie vor einem Heere”
Mary Ruefle, “Genesis”
Kay Ryan, “Bitter Pill”
Umberto Saba, “Dawn,” “The Broken Window” (both were trans. George Hochfield & Leonard Nathan)
Steve Scafidi, “Ferocious Ode”
Caitlin Scarano, “How do I know when I have the truth about myself?” in The Hatchet and the Hammer
Anne Sexton, “Just Once”
Jo Shapcott, “Myself Photographed”
Brenda Shaughnessy, “All Possible Pain”
Izumi Shikibu, “[The way I must enter]”, “[Even if I now saw you]” (trans. Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani)
Adeeba Shahid Talukder, “The first three weeks of war”
Marisa Silva-Dunbar, “Americana”
Bruce Smith, “Devotion: Red Roof Inn”
Tracy K. Smith, [“Maybe desire is nothing but memory”]
Molly Spencer, “Elegy with Edge Effects,” in If the House
Mark Strand, “[even this late it happens]”
Mathias Svalina, “Wastoid,” in Wastoid
John Allen Taylor, “On the Anniversary of a Failed Suicide”
Genya Turovskaya, “The World is Not the World”
M.A. Vizsolyi, “[when i’m done what i have to do is]”
Richard Wilbur, “Juggler
Franz Wright, “[The long silences need to be loved]”
James Wright, “Hell
Dean Young, “Zero Hour”, and “Reality” in Solar Perplexus
Lu Yu, “Night Thoughts,” trans. Rexroth

Posted in listening

‘The Bride Minaret’: Poems by Heather Derr-Smith

The Bride Minaret by Heather Derr-Smith

Heather Derr-Smith’s poetry collection The Bride Minaret (Akron Series in Poetry, 2008) is an intricate, heavy narrative, focusing in large part on the poet’s relation to her son and the specificity of places she’s visited or lived in.

Within this beautiful arrangement, three poems especially caught my attention.

‘Star Chamber’

In the book’s first section, “Portents,” I noticed the poem “Star Chamber.” Farm machinery would be strange to me, and this poem gives me such a clear image of what it might be like to encounter it.

“There are farm machines that look like spacecraft with spotlights
And drown out the stars above. You know what they are called,
The machines with names like pets and attachments.”

‘The Girl Named Tents, Tanf Refugee Camp’

In the book’s second section, “Prophecies,” the long poem “The Girl Named Tents, Tanf Refugee Camp” reads like a biography and a prayer. “She was supposed to be a boy, as all girls are”—thus begins her journey.

“She is nine years old and beginning to know.
But dreams continue to cudgel her, bit by bit, stone by stone,
Knocking her off balance.
The wind writes its calligraphy in invisible ink.”

This same form of silent messaging makes itself known to all the girl’s people:

Alif by alif,
Every bone in the camp is bound together like the stitching on a codex.”

‘The Pelican’

In the book’s third section, “Histories,” the poem “The Pelican” tells a wildlife rescue story. The bird’s mouth-pouch was hooked on a fishing line, “an episiotomy / That birthed only fear.” The poet’s father had a sewing kit — “He was prepared for anything but fatherhood” — and he “crept low to the ground in a gesture of humility the bird recognized,” enabling him to save the bird, according to the story she was told.

What the world communicates to us

In these lines I’ve selected, the common theme seems to be how some information is conveyed not through language but through embodiment: that of objects, people, and animals.