Poems of the Week


The Pitch of Childhood

The whipped soul, the whacked and wounded self,
the bleeding bowels, the suffocating shadow,
the post-war flashing star in the broken bottle

of the nation, I had acute something the matter

with me. I was the absence I made of myself as I sat
in a soft chair. I was the lost piece of the moon rocket

that never fell to earth. I was faster than the eagle

on the back of the quarter I tossed into the bay.
I was the letter on the oval desk of the president.

I could not receive. I could not be received.


A poem written three thousand years ago

about a man who walks among horses
grazing on a hill under the small stars

comes to life on a page in a book

and the woman reading the poem,
in the silence between the words,

in her kitchen, filled with a gold, metallic light,

finds the experience of living in that moment
so clearly described as to make her feel finally known

by someone—and every time the poem is read,

no matter her situation or age,
this is more or less what happens.

Summer Night

A man gets up from the chair in the restaurant and stands outside

on the sidewalk and strikes a match and holds the flame a little
ahead of the tip of the cigarette and breathes in, his head lifted,

inhaling the little puffs of smoke, and the scent of dark coffee

from a café at the end of the street, and even the warm white light
of the lampposts, and, sensing the pale humidity of time, he wants to stay,

quite unexpectedly, from now on, amidst the passing cars and people.

*all from Stupid Hope, Graywolf Press, 2009.

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