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Louise Erdrich

June 8, 2011

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

— from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems

Cypresses

March 25, 2011

Aboard a bus between the hills of Rome
and Florence, I was dozing with my wife
but heard that cypress means eternal life.
Our guide talked on; at least one fact hit
home.

I saw the cypresses upon the hills,
like spearheads pointing heavenward, leaf-
green
up close and smoke-wreathed flames of life
when seen
through Tuscan haze. This dreaming vision fills

the wine-cup of the poet’s mind, I think;
the lamp that hangs by golden chains above
the sculptor’s stone. So Dante’s verses sink
so deeply in the soul, and rays of love

revealed to toiling Michelangelo
a David in the marble’s ageless glow.

-Thomas Zimmerman, from The Corner Club Press

Humming

March 16, 2011

Our father taught us
music too—
Saturday evenings,
the tubes grew hot
as the turn-table
ran across a needle.
Steady low strings
held the cut of high
strings, in the air
around the room.
We listened;
the hiss and hum
of Copland’s
Spring, resonated
the speaker gauze.
We lay with him
on the carpet;
one of our hands
in each of his,
while notes pulled
new meanings
of what it meant
to be a hard-working
man, overcome
with such sound.

-Matthew Haughton, from Hamilton Stone Review

Drench

March 3, 2011

You sleep with a dream of summer weather,

wake to the thrum of rain – roped down by rain.

Nothing out there but drop-heavy feathers of grass

and rainy air. The plastic table on the terrace

has shed three legs on its way to the garden fence.

The mountains have had the sense to disappear.

It’s the Celtic temperament – wind, then torrents, then remorse.

Glory rising like a curtain over distant water.

Old stonehouse, having steered us through the dark,

docks in a pool of shadows all its own.

That widening crack in the gloom is like good luck.

Luck, which neither you nor tomorrow can depend on.

- Anne Stevenson

Delphiniums in a Window Box

February 22, 2011

Every sunrise, even strangers’ eyes.

Not necessarily swans, even crows,

even the evening fusillade of bats.

That place where the creek goes underground,

how many weeks before I see you again?

Stacks of books, every page, characters’

rages and poets’ strange contraptions

of syntax and song, every song

even when there isn’t one.

Every thistle, splinter, butterfly

over the drainage ditches. Every stray.

Did you see the meteor shower?

Did it feel like something swallowed?

Every question, conversation

even with almost nothing, cricket, cloud,

because of you I’m talking to crickets, clouds,

confiding in a cat. Everyone says,

Come to your senses, and I do, of you.

Every touch electric, every taste you,

every smell, even burning sugar, every

cry and laugh. Toothpicked samples

at the farmers’ market, every melon,

plum, I come undone, undone.

-Dean Young

Books Read 2011

January 10, 2011

Half a Life, V.S. Naipaul

Lit Sites/Journals

December 19, 2010

Granta Magazine

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