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POETRY SWAP MEET: Poetry we don't usually know about, or?

jade tiger
Tyrant of Words
United States
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Liz N. Clift


The Paint nickered, trotted toward us, lowered
its broad soft nose to our dog, and I wondered
why dogs and horses, even parakeets, touch noses,
how we might better love the world and trust
each other if we too touched noses as matter of
exploration, bumped shoulders, allowed
ourselves to hug more, think less.
I thought of the mahout I saw
in a photograph, his elephant exploring his face
with its trunk, and the way dolphins came to explore
my kayak in the Pacific, the way they brushed
alongside, stuck noses in the air to tap
my outstretched palm.
We stood there and after a long moment,
the horse raised its nose to me, extended quivering lips
to the jacket pocket where I stored dog treats. I placed
my palm first on its nose and then rubbed the plane
between its eyes, tried to understand why
we deny each other the culture
of touch, which isn’t about us, but about
being animal, about being a part of this world
instead of apart from this world, why when sirens
ring in the background, I have trouble imagining
a person. I think about how, when you place your hands
on my shoulders, just briefly, I feel whole.


Liz N. Clift: “I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, where words were music. But, like many Americans, I grew up believing I hated poetry—that it wasn’t something that I understood, or wanted to understand. It took a friend who loves poetry to teach me how to love it also. I write poems because poetry allows us to make connections that won’t work in any other medium. I want to capture the moments and could-have-been moments that create the stories we tell ourselves.”

Liz N. Clift’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hunger Mountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, anderbo.com, Crab Creek Review, White Whale Review, and others. Find her online at fractalsandfrost.blogspot.com.

jade tiger
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Alexandra Haines-Stiles


Ten years ago I finally handed in my ancient
Nokia, spilled Pinkberry on my Blackberry,

met my husband for a drink before I knew
practically anything about him. Obama

was sworn in, got his Nobel Peace Prize,
and we swore it would all be different now.

I had mousy bangs. Scientists sequenced
the whole mouse genome and discovered

water on the moon. Moore’s Law was still
going strong. Cheap mind-reading headsets

hit the gaming market. I never used one,
busy playing my own games, firing my

neurons hypothesizing what next, troubleshooting
my mysterious mis-wired technology.

Africa’s population hit one billion that year,
having doubled over the previous quarter century.

Troops and drones surged in South Asia.
I got a flu shot, flew to China, let a heat-seeking

scanner take my body temperature as I crossed
the threshold to the Shaanxi History Museum,

where disposable surgical masks were trending.
Climategate opened, the great healthcare debate

heated up, the auto industry stalled. Sully saved
all the people on his plane. As ever, we were

coming and going, leaving, arriving. That much
hasn’t changed. The present’s always ending,

so we live infinitely in the past and possible,
inveterate time travelers with failing hindsight

and prophetic vision. Get ready: 2020’s nearing
with its own time travails, another Prime decade.

LIn ten more years we’ll know how to implant IQ,
insert whole languages. I’ll be a superpoet, then,

microchipped to turbo-read neural odes,
history of sonnets and aubades brainlaced,

wisdom wended through the jugular, inspiration
ad infinitum. We’ll print solely on ether,

cloud vellum indelible, every word a relic
of sentient reverence pressed with angel ink,

medium of our new nature. I’ll go back
to bangs, a halo, fringe low over my eyes

to thwart AI reading my face. We’ll book
VR visits to the dearly departed, the first class

will splash out on private reservoirs, and fresh
spring water will sparkle, rare, diamond bright.

The Dead Sea will die. Lake Chad will be a pale
blue memory. California will quake. Voyager

will keep rushing its gold record into the sunset,
still the most urgent message anyone’s sent.

Humans and robots will be best friends
or mortal enemies. Some of us will be living

in heaven or interstellar space, our new horizon,
and I will miss you terribly. Listen, no one

ever said the future would be easy.

Alexandra Haines-Stiles: “In lieu of posting a #10yearchallenge pic, I starting thinking about what the world was like in 2009, who I was then, and where we might be by 2029. We’re grappling with so many urgent issues, and the coming decade will render things unrecognizable again in so many ways, from the personal to the geopolitical – that’s the ten year challenge on my mind right now.”

Haley Quaquaversal
Fire of Insight
United States
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Marvin Bell

White Clover

Once when the moon was out about three-quarters
and the fireflies who are the stars
of backyards
were out about three-quarters
and about three-fourths of all the lights
in the neighborhood
were on because people can be at home,
I took a not so innocent walk
out amongst the lawns,
navigating by the light of lights,
and there there were many hundreds of moons
on the lawns
where before there was only polite grass.
These were moons on long stems,
their long stems giving their greenness
to the center of each flower
and the light giving its whiteness to the tops
of the petals. I could say
it was light from stars
touched the tops of flowers and no doubt
something heavenly reaches what grows outdoors
and the heads of men who go hatless,
but I like to think we have a world
right here, and a life
that isn’t death. So I don’t say it’s better
to be right here. I say this is where
many hundreds of core-green moons
gigantic to my eye
rose because men and women had sown green grass,
and flowered to my eye in man-made light,
and to some would be as fire in the body
and to others a light in the mind
over all their property.

jade tiger
Tyrant of Words
United States
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O-Jeremiah Agbaakin

before, after & for the Christchurch mosque attack

last night, i was an omniscient again.
the evening sky was orange like crushed carrot.

i didn’t die though my body fell off
a bridge, limping away like a serpent bruised

by the son’s gunpowder. in the dream
i carried all my dead inside the wide casket

of my wail and to leave the city now
is to find a crack in the world: which is why

i’m stuck in this poem. my bladder fills
with blood. my heart stopped ticking like a clock

marking the end of time. & i ran & ran
as guns whistled their venom in the open harmattan.

my country was burning. all the men
were singeing into a pile of raven without wings

their birdsong fossilized into lukewarm char.
in my vision, a danfo omnibus was heading out of

the world; the bus stop filled with one-legged
tarry, one-legged panic. i was no more a child

picking bullet casings like cracked peanuts for fun
like i once gathered bleeding machetes from a world

war that started on our porch, circa forever.
but i am trying to gather what is more forbidden:

an apple before it falls on eve’s hand, a bullet
still in motion, a hand grenade before it unfolds its

fist into smoke, a tongue after it says brother—
meat flesh is more pleasing than cabbage flesh because

of blood. you cannot blame me. in the dream,
a gunman my age shoots his voice & there a small

war gathers in his throat. but fear can
no longer hold power when it’s come to pass.

i cede myself to the belly of a whale to find
water to drown this dream of fire. i cede myself without

feeling naked like this sky with no star spot;
like God stripped of his parts he wanted unrevealed before

the fruit was plucked from the field of vision.
then i stirred and jumped out of the dream back into my eyes

and unsaddled my bladder but there was no
blood and i wrote this down and i quaked as i pulled out

my cell to seek out the dead from the night.
tonight dreamland is the unsafest country to stay.

—from Poets Respond
March 17, 2019

O-Jeremiah Agbaakin: “In the wake of reactions to the mindless violence that broke out in the relatively peaceful New Zealand, I am forced to revisit the first bloodshed ever recorded in the Bible. That is not the interesting part. This poem was a written account of a nightmare I had before this tragedy so it in a way foretold one more evil in a long line of evils, and that is what makes the world scary. Our unfortunate ability to forget trauma, until the next, and so on. But out of all the reactions the one that tore me apart was a tweet by @Rafiq ibn Jubair that reads ‘the first victim of the terrorist attack in #Christchurch, New Zealand is seen standing by the door of the masjid. He is heard saying ‘Hello brother’ to the gunman before he is brutally gunned down. His last word to his killer was ‘brother.’’ I imagine that kind of ‘dialogue’ between Cain and Abel before the murder took place. I try in my own way to make sure this poem haunts us forever just like brothers murdering brothers will haunt us more than a hackneyed headline reporting of a gun shooting.”

jade tiger
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Katie Bickham


In the new world, as the goddess dictated,
each time a man touched a woman against
her will, each time he exposed himself,
each time he whistled, dropped something
in her drink, photographed her in secret

she sprouted a wing from her spine. Not feathered,
like birds or angels, not cellular, translucent,
veined like dragonflies, but a wing
like a blade, like a sword hammered flat,
thin as paper. One wing per wrong.

At first, the women lamented. All their dresses
needed altering, their blankets shredded,
their own hair sliced off like a whisper
if it grew down their backs. And those
misused by fathers, bosses, drunken strangers

evening after evening were blade-ridden,
their statures curved downward like sorrow
under such weight. But this was not the old world
of red letters or mouthfuls of unspoken names,
not the old world of women folded

around their secrets like envelopes, of stark
rooms where men asked what they’d done
to deserve this. And the goddess whispered
to the women in their dreams, and they awakened,
startled, and knew the truth.

They pinned up their hair, walked out into the morning,
their blades glittering in the sun, sistering
them to each other. They searched for the woman
with the most blades, found her unable to stand,
left for dead, nearly crushed beneath the blades’ weight.

They called her queen. They lifted her with hands
gentle as questions, flung her into the air,
saw her snap straight, beat the wings at last,
and they followed her, a swarm of them, terrible
and thrumming, to put the blades to use.


Katie Bickham: “When women are assaulted or raped, there seems to be a lot of pressure from friends, family, and even therapists to find peace, forgive, move on. When do women get a moment to be mad as hell for a change? Is it because vengeance isn’t feminine or attractive? Or is it because people know that if all of us who have ever been touched wrongly were to speak our own names all at once, the sheer volume of it would be deafening. This poem imagines that vengeance, that moment when finally, instead of being asked to heal and forgive, we are allowed the rage that is rightfully ours. We become the weapons that are used to take our power.”

poet Anonymous

Ingrid Jonker, was a South African poet. While she wrote in Afrikaans, her poems have been widely translated into other languages. Jonker has reached iconic status in South Africa and is often called the South African Sylvia Plath, owing to the intensity of her work and the tragic course of her turbulent life.

vir Abr. H. Jonker


Ek is die lappop wat nie praat
en maak net op jou liefde staat

Saans lê ek blind en stil en doof
en lig nie meer my semel-hoof

My hande roer nie en my lyf
word met jou weggaan koud en styf

Sonder jou hulp kan ek nie loop:
jy het my sommerso gekoop

en sal my nog een Guy Fawkes-nag
goedmoeds verbrand en daaroor lag.

Ek is die lappop sonder gees
My pyn jou luid gevierde fees.

it looses too much ov its nuances in translation

jade tiger
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Vincent Toro


Fox news recently reported that President Trump is threatening to cut off aid to three Mexican countries.

I want to live in all the Mexicos. The Mexico of Bolaño’s nostalgic fantasia.
The Mexico where Eliécer Gaitán served up his allocutions. Somewhere
I won’t be interrogated for taking a sick day. Where my neighbor stops

by to bring me caldo. I’ll live in any Mexico. The Mexico Rugama
and Gioconda Belli called home. Or even one of the Mexico’s where
everyone speaks French Creole. Any Mexico will do. So long as I don’t

lose any more digits to these Arctic gales. My lover once told me
of a Mexico where there are no advertisements and you’d swear
the café was made of gold. Sign me up for that Mexico. How about

the Mexico where Romero delivered his last sermon? Give me the ceiba
trees or dunes of the pampas, the cane fields of the Mexico that bred
my parents. My ankles are swelling from the sulfuric acid in these streets.

And if I’m going to be underpaid anyway, then why not take my coins to
the Mexico that houses the canal or one of the Mexicos the Orinoco runs
through. I’ll set up shop in any Mexico that will have me, so long as I can

weep on plots of earth that can say I’m so proud of you, mijo. So ship
me to Ana Cristina Cesar’s Mexico that also longs for the perhaps.
Box me up and leave me in Vallejo’s Mexico with its startling Volcanoes

of repentance. Give me all the Mexicos of the hemisphere, pistol
whipped by United Fruit and still making wisecracks. I’ll take root
in any Mexico that knows the difference between the gutter and stars.

—from Poets Respond
April 7, 2019

Vincent Toro: “This poem is a response to Fox new’s reporting that President Trump is threatening to cut off aid to three Mexican countries. This kind of yellow journalism imposes ignorance about the people of Latin America that can have a violent impact. I wanted to respond to that kind of deliberate ignorance that dehumanizes entire populations while also celebrating the people that Fox news is demeaning with this reportage.”

jade tiger
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Laurie Blauner


In some countries the bodies vanish.
Not here, little girls are unearthed
from their pink, overstuffed bedrooms
to kiss their plastic dolls, practicing for you.

Each family is marvelous with its mistakes,
an aunt kidnapped by an old lover who
dropped her decorously off at her parents’ house
screaming an hour later. How did she know

blindfolded? Here even snow is strange,
unconscious, filling the emptiness with
its tarnished whiteness, hiding the largest
objects. Covering up and then confessing.

I trust the destitute, after all, they have
nothing to lose. But then there was you
behind a fistful of chocolates and red flowers
who closed their faces to me every night.

How could I have believed in your soiled,
sweaty hands leaving prints on my mirror
and hairbrush, my skin and hers? They resembled
sticky blossoms unable to part from what remained.

I should have known what being late
meant, the shirt with its torn buttons
like missing body parts, the stain
of your hair used by someone else’s hands

as a weapon. Not my doing. I wore
rubber gloves to make you disappear, burned
my favorite rose splattered dress. I watched
while snow heaved itself into your packed

boxes, uncertainly, like someone wandering away
from a firing squad only to end up in front of
a teenager with a shaky gun who is crying
and babbling about crimes of the heart.


Laurie Blauner: “In college I read William Carlos Williams’ poem ‘The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,’ and I knew I wanted to write.

jade tiger
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Courtney Kampa


Tonight they’ve hung up lights in lilts across 2nd
and Water Street on the downtown mall, a Christmas choir

singing Oh Holy Night—twenty-four people lined
against the painted brick wall, its peeling curls—the wall

Will knelt beside on one knee, face full of fear, a sidewalk of gum
and toppled ice cream, to ask if I could always call him

mine—the same wall we crouched against in August,
shielding our heads with our arms, our bags, our books,

whatever we brought along that might protect us
from the rocks and spit they threw,

their emptied tear gas canisters hurled by arms roaring
with blood, their faces doing that angry Goya thing

with the colors. My mother called hours
after Heather breathed last, called

to make sure our front door was locked;
that I remembered tomorrow was a Holy Day

of Obligation, and if I didn’t go to church it would be
a mortal sin. Her own version of danger. That time in August

flowers weren’t blooming but there was one frail rose
on our rented front yard, and we could see it

from the upstairs window, the rose, but also
the gunmetal gray Dodge, plate GVF 1111, three houses

down, abandoned and blood-caked from taking
Heather’s life and mowing over others, full throttle forward

then revved into reverse, the steel front bumper
severed, like two arms bent, palms up

and sorry. A car to take a person places, not to take someone
away, and at the window Will became more beautiful

to me, his fingers on the glass, all of them his. Now, sort of,
mine too. The driver ran into the woods to crouch

and hide out like a squirrel. We walked our dog
through those woods that morning, green

and lush, as if beauty’s sole defense is to
always just be beautiful. On that Feast of the Assumption

Charlottesville opened their eyes as if a body
punctured. Tiki torches on fire. Adult children playing

with their fathers’ guns. There is a sound a body makes
when bounced off the hood of a car

that no one should hear. Tonight snow falls peacefully,
and the choir sings Fall on your knees,

and because we have nothing else to give, we do.

Courtney Kampa:
“Charlottesville is where I fell in love, both with the man I married and also with writing, as a student at UVA. Everything I am thankful to have, I owe to Charlottesville. It’s difficult to fully express. That affront to everyone’s humanity was not just evil, but deeply personal. It was in our backyard, and the backyards of those I love so utterly much. So I wrote the poem. It took five months to make sure that what I had written had done its best little attempt to get it okay. It’s still not okay, and it never will be.”

Tyrant of Words
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Courtney Kampa

A most fitting and excellent poem for that most difficult of circumstances - honouring a tragedy.

Tyrant of Words
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(by the Irish Poet Paul Durcan (1944- ). This poem published in 1993)

When in the heat of the first night of summer
I observe with a whistle of envy
That Jackson has driven out the road for a pint of stout,
She puts her arm around my waist and scolds me:
Am I not your pint of stout? Drink me.
There is nothing except, of course, self-pity
To stop you having your pint of stout.

Putting self-pity on a leash in the back of the car,
I drive out the road, do a U-turn,
Drive in the hall door, up the spiral staircase,
Into her bedroom. I park at the food of her bed,
Nonchalantly step out leaving the car unlocked,
Stroll over to the chest of drawers, lean on it,
Circumspectly inspect the backs of my hands,
Modestly request from her a pint of stout.
She turns her back, undresses, pours herself into bed,
Adjusts the pillows, slaps her hand on the coverlet:
Here I am - at the very least
Look at my new cotton nightdress before you shred it
And do not complain that I have not got a head on me.

I look around to see her foaming out of the bedclothes
Not laughing but gazing at me out of four-legged eyes.
She says: Close your eyes, put your hands around me.
I am the blackest, coldest pint you will ever drink
So sip me slowly, let me linger on your lips,
Ooze through your teeth, dawdle down your throat,
Before swooping down your guts.

When you drink me I will deposit my scum
On your rim and when you get to the bottom of me,
No matter how hard you try to drink my dregs -
And being a man, you will, no harm in that -
I will keep bubbling up back at you.
For there is no escaping my aftermath.

Tonight being the first night of summer -
You may drink as many pints of me as you like.
There are barrels of me in the tap room.
In thin daylight at nightfall,
You will fall asleep drunk on love.
When you wake early in the early morning,
You will have a hang-over
All chaste, astringent, aflame with affirmation,
Straining at the bit to get to First Mass
And Holy Communion and work - the good life.

David Macleod
Tyrant of Words
United Kingdom
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The poetry of Thomas Leonard, an excerpt

Yi write doon a wurd, nyi sayti yirsell,
that's no thi way a say it. Nif yi tryti
write it doon thi way yi say it, yi end up
wi thi page covered in letters stuck thigithir,
nwee dots above hof thi letters, in fact yi end
up wi wanna they thingz yi needti huv took a
course in phonetics ti be able ti read. But
that's no thi way a think, as if ad took a
course in phonetics. A doant mean that emdy
that's done phonetics canny think right --
it's no a questiona right or wrong. But ifyi
write down 'doon' wan minute, nwrite doon
'down' thi nixt, people say yir beein inconsistent.
But ifyi sayti sumdy, 'Whaira yi afti?' nthey say,
'Whut?' nyou say, 'Where are you off to?' they don't
say, 'That's no whutyi said thi furst time.' They'll
probably say sumhm like, 'Doon thi road!' anif you say,
'What?' they usually say, 'Down the road!' the second
time -- though no always. Course, they never really
say, 'Doon thi road!' or 'Down the road!' at all.
Least, they never say it the way it's spelt. Coz it
izny spelt, when they say it, is it?

jade tiger
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McKenzie Chinn


i am a stranger here
they have put me up in the fancy neighborhood and
when the alabaster white-haired fur coat woman
and her hesitant eyes hold the elevator for me and say

you don’t look like someone who i’ve met before

centuries pass between the someone and the who
and my muscles tense as i arm myself
with explanations for my presence in her the building,
this learned response, survival staple
gray matter imprinted infographic:
“how to keep a white woman from panicking”

i am a guest artist
i’m only temporary
i leave in December

i explain myself (away):

i am not a threat i am not a threat
i am not a threat i am not a threat and
i wonder what else might’ve been
in the canyon between the someone and the who

you don’t look like someone
who belongs here

you don’t look like someone
who inherited all the world

you don’t look like someone
who can pay these property taxes

really you look like the doorwoman
maybe you are her daughter, and forgot?
just a moment ago, our president was black but
you look like the doorwoman and
you don’t look like someone

and there was a moment when, instead of explain, i might have flipped my extensions and YES GIRL i just moved in and girl don’t you know i love it here! i’m never gonna leave, honey BELIEVE THAT! All clean and fancy up in here! where you get a coat like that? i want me a coat like that! girl, we finna TURN UP in this bitch! i’m finna tell my cousin ’bout this place. mmhmm, we movin right on up, you betta look at god ’cause won’t he do it. y’all got some thin walls in this place tho. ’spensive as hell but y’all got some thin walls. you like Biggie? but isn’t the ride always over before you even know what happened?

you don’t look like someone
i’ve met before

and only later do i realize—
i could’ve
said the same to her

McKenzie Chinn: “I write poems because I am finding that more conventional structures for storytelling are often not expansive enough to hold the breadth and mutability of my experience, perspective, and story. I am black and I am a woman; I have been colonized so many times over and wish to emerge from those wars. No one can bring me back my old languages, so I’m here to find new ones. Ones that feel innate to my time, place, and identities. Ones that have maybe never before been spoken, but can be understood in an instant by those with ears to hear them. I wrote this poem to remind myself that I look like all the women who came before me, took up space, survived.”

jade tiger
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Anonymous said:<< post removed >>

You only joined today and your first day you’re spamming a forum that’s about poetry by established poets ( both past and present ) who are well-known or less known, but NOT about DUP poets, past and present. When attempting to post on forum threads of this site, always check any introduction/ guidelines on the beginning first page.

Please delete your post from this forum thread immediately or It will be hidden by a Moderator.  

There is an alternate forum for Published DUP Poets/Members that you can try. But I advise you go over to the Welcome Party group first to introduce yourself.

Thank you, and welcome to the Deep.

~Jade, Forum Host

jade tiger
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Michael Lavers


That’s my dad, I say, pointing to the man in the photograph
with thin grey hair reflecting river-light.
And that’s my mom. My arch of nose, my chin.

I’m talking to my children, talking the way I do
about things that are not lost, that are still here,

knowing that it’s no use, that time and decay
do not obey language; that the dumb flesh of a tree,
for instance, doesn’t care about Samantha,
which word my son, ten years from now,

will carve into it;

doesn’t distinguish between the pain of his love for her,
and any old pain: woodpecker, beetle, axe, frost, flame.

* * *

Once, when I said she could not play
with a dead mouse, my daughter wailed so loud

I thought she might break.

This was in Great Falls, next to a riverbank
wafted with small blue moths. We’d strayed
from the playground near an overpass where people
seemed to be sleeping or hovering around fires.

She yelled Mine, astounding even herself, as if at the end
of the scream she thought there might be nothing left,

nothing of her,
nothing to listen to in this world.

* * *

The sad mechanic exercise …

My mother was finishing a master’s degree
in psychiatric nursing, writing a thesis
on gambling addiction, on people who wear diapers
so they can stay at slot machines for hours,
even days,

and when we asked her if we should try
to get the last course waived and the degree granted
before it was too late, she said nothing,
as if keeping new and hidden counsel
with herself, or with someone not present.

And my father,
dead ten years later of a heart attack
in the bathroom of a movie theatre—the ticket-taker

panting out that sad mechanic CPR—he must have felt
a terrible silence growing inside him, or a noise
too loud to hear, the crashing stillness after
a long inertia, the indifference
of that small wet machine suddenly reluctant to bear

for one more second

the weight of his body. As if the soul
at the end of a long journey
finally stepped through a door and put down its luggage.

Thinking, maybe, if he listened hard enough
he could make out
why stars had lost their willingness to dazzle,
or where they were going—through what dark nimbus
or invisible crack—and why without him,

why so fast.

* * *

Once as a child I drove a hammer’s claw into
the trunk of one of the small maples
lining our driveway,

peeling bark away in strips as thick as fingers
to the underflesh, the soft wet honey-gold,
tinted a bit off-pink, off-green.

It was like being, or imagining that I could be,
everywhere at once, light
right there in the palm of my hand,
made still and, well,


in ruins. Light’s unsingable psalm,
a thing outside
our sad economy of come and go.
A brief end to stagnation, briefly glimpsed.

My father was angry, but mostly bewildered.
He stared for a while, then said only
that the hammer wasn’t mine to take, and that the tree
wasn’t mine to do whatever I thought I was doing to it.
And what are you doing to it, he said, and I said

I don’t know.

* * *

Poor flesh, love says, baring her teeth.
Poor agitation of heat, of stars, shaking and far away.

Van Gogh in the final letter to his brother Theo:

Well, my own work,
I am risking my life for it and my reason
has half foundered because of it—that’s all right.

It’s true no metaphor can save us, store us
like gravel in the cheek of Hallelujah Creek,

Creek of Unclottable Light.
But that’s alright.

Why not exist, at least for each other,
in love and thickly streaked and made to end,
believing if not everything at least
one of the minor prophets, maybe,

Zephaniah: he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

* * *

That’s my mom I say to my kids,
that look she has like mine, of somebody enduring
happiness, expecting grief. And that, I say,

is her diploma, framed and hanging on the wall.

This is your breakfast, bananas and toast and jam,
our one life, ours in the only sense
that matters, something that we make … make what

Come forth, I think,

like stars, all flicker and distance, prodigal and dim,
but not so dim that if they vanished

we would not weep every night,
or stop trying, though we knew we couldn’t,
to describe them,
to remember.


Michael Lavers: “I wrote this poem as an attempt to put down in words what really mattered to me, what I would want my kids—still quite young—to know or think or feel about my parents, whom they’ll never meet. Of course, no poem could contain all of that, and so, like many poems, it became also a meditation on the failure of its own endeavor, the inadequacy of language, and of human memory, etc. But that’s OK with me. What I love about my favorite poems isn’t a perfectly communicated idea, or the measurable effects the poem has in the world. It is the daring to try, despite these limitations, that I find the most beautiful. Great poems—to quote one—remind us that ‘Tho’ much is taken, much abides’ and ‘that which we are, we are.’ Which is not nothing.”

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