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

anthony andrea
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There is a tremendous documentary about this dude on YouTube have you seen it it's really good I like him I like any poets who isn't listening to the sound of his own voice if you don't do that you're going to be half decent at least

jade tiger
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Greetings Anthony, and welcome to the Poetry Swap Meet.  

Are you referring to the David Kirby, the poet whose poem I posted on the previous page? Because if it is, I have a set of links on an occasion where the poet was speaking to an audience and reading his poetry. Listed below, I hope you will enjoy:

David Kirby - American Poet

Poetry@Tech, Part 1

Poetry@Tech, Part 2

Poetry@Tech, Part 3

Poetry@Tech, Part 4

Poetry@Tech, Part 5


jade tiger
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Jane Hirshfield

...is an American poet, essayist, and translator.
Born: February 24, 1953 (age 66 years), Manhattan, New York, NY

Education: Princeton University
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada
Nominations: National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry

Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature,
accept the gift
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,
oil the hooves well,
caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels.
Spare no expense, pay what is asked,
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated, brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,
do not hesitate even an instant----
stroke the white throat,
the heavy trembling dewlaps
you'd come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once
did you enter the pasture
without pause,
without yourself trembling,
that you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.


Jade: An encounter & impression of Hirshfield and her poem from a posting by member Umm on the DU forum “Favourite Quotes”:

jade tiger
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Derek Otsuji

for Jordan, Aiyana, Alina, Aily and Kai

We were ecotourists
for the day, paid a hefty
fee to watch the famed
humpbacks at their brilliant
synchronized display,
an orchestration from
beneath of the most amazing

feeding show on Earth,
a behavior which, as our
guide, a marine biologist,
explained, is not instinct
but something learned—
and more—passed on.

From which free exchange
of knowledge, from whale
to whale, we must infer
that there exists among
these cetaceans, a culture—
evolving as it archives

a collective repository
of shared knowledge they
deploy against changes
inflicted on their habitat
by humans, in a kind of cross-
species rebalancing act.

The bay was green and flat
as a stage, rimmed by
a coast brushed up with brushy
pines, the weather clear
on all sides. When the first
call out came—Two o’clock!—
we turned in unison
to look and caught sight
of the enormous spectacle—
a pod of giant mouths
launching up—as from
some invisible trap door,

to gulp down hoards of
herring expertly corralled—
then sinking back as quick
as they appeared, a squabble
of seagulls scrambling for
fish scraps in their wake.

And on the upward surge,
how inexplicably our
emotions surged up, too,
fed by exhalations,
a veritable chorus
of cries punctuated by

interjections, then
a smattering of applause,
as for a firework’s finale’s
final bow. A glittering lull.
And then, as if to oblige,
the grand sight repeated

for a second and third show,
each time in a different spot
of the bay, our guide assuring us
we were lucky to get
an encore so magnanimous,
which brightened the mood

of all on deck (we’d gotten our
money’s worth, no doubt!),
amateur nature photographers
proudly showing what images
they’d captured on their
spectacular iPhone displays.

Everything was satisfactory,
our young guide clearly
pleased the whales had been
amenable, his smile betraying
a complicit hand, as it were,
in the negotiated deal.

Then in the clear air
above us—we felt a shift,
a change in atmosphere,
stirred by an agitation
among seagulls on the edge
of alarm, the circling

body in flight tightening,
with mews and cries,
as wings tensed like bows
and down the gulls dove;
and up from the green sea
another flock drove up,

breaking surface—little silver
splinters leaping, wiggling
flickering in panicked flight,
driven up from the depths
on a boiling cloud,
and then, just port side,

too close, Oh God, a surge—
the mouths, cavernous
and truly monstrous,
like a clutch of mutant
bivalves, blindly opening,
clapping shut, as seagulls

squawked and green water
churned and foamed,
a cauldron of feeding and
frenzy so close it rocked
the boat. Screams—half glee,
half terror—in musical

riot rose, one excitable
woman pronouncing
upon it all the names
of our risen Lord,
as a squall of seagulls
descended, in a great cloud

of feeders. And just as
suddenly as they appeared,
the whales were gone,
the churning boiler went flat;
a straggling gull got down
his gullet the last fish.

A giddy calm ensued,
then conversations, in high-
pitched, excited voices
—what was seen, what it meant,
chewed over with wonder
and surmise, the motley

crowd of us awakened, eyes
—wilder yet subtler—seeing
that what we’d taken to be
mere spectacle, ingenious
display of that capacity
in face of shifting pressures, not for

adaption, merely, but invention
and redesign, such that
the creature’s very nature
is elevated to a new kind
of mind, rebalancing
the precarious equation

by which we all, in this shared
economy, either perish
or thrive—was, in fact, encounter
with culture the equal
to our own, a communal
music and movement

created out of ritual as deep
as any need to survive.
It was all of a piece, to which
a coda was now appended
when out of the blue
the first blowhole piped—

then another and
another, like a wheezy
slow-motion calliope
on an old riverboat
toting passengers down
and away, each plume of mist

hovering with a vaguely
valedictory air—
like a sailing white
kerchief. A single fluked tail
flapped like a wing, then
a hand, as the whole roving

herd rolled on, down
migratory roads, through
peaceable blue worlds, where,
suspended as in a dream,
they roam and feed and sleep
and sometimes sing.


Derek Otsuji: “In 2015, I went with my family on an Alaskan whale watching tour, eager to catch sight of the humpback whales bubble net feeding in the bay. We were expecting a tourist experience: spectacular nature kept at a safe distance. What we got instead was an alarmingly close encounter, which I have attempted to describe in this poem. In Dickinson’s ‘Narrow Fellow in the Grass,’ the little boy in the poem speaks of his acquaintance with ‘Nature’s People’ as a ‘transport,’ an ecstatic moment when he is lifted out of the human world into a revivifying space shared with the animals. This transport places the boy in direct contact with the natural world, an experience terrifying and exhilarating at once. It is that kind of an encounter that I have tried to capture here.”

jade tiger
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Aarti Rao


I found your recipe for gulab jamun online
and I have some concerns

well first of all it’s almost diwali
and my husband raped me three weeks ago
your recipe calls for khoa but I don’t have any
and I have completely stopped crying


and why did I look for recipes online
why don’t I remember how to make this
have you ever had this problem
have you ever forgotten your own recipes


and if I use milk powder in place of khoa
will the jamun be too dry
will they fall apart in syrup
my children depend on wholeness


and what if I make them but don’t taste them
will they still be sweet
will I be able to cry if I roll them right
will they teach me to name my truths
will they stand my rage without crumbling
just how much can these jamun take


and what if I turn them into something else entirely
how do I change the substance of them
what if instead of cooking them
I take them outside and put them on fallen leaves
for crows to eat
have you ever had this problem
have you ever started making gulab jamun
and been afraid


Aarti Rao: “This poem was a moment of grace snatched out of a hellacious year. It’s an honor to have it selected as my first-ever published piece of poetry.”

jade tiger
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Pavana Reddy


in Andhra Pradesh, India, lies the Tirumala Temple, 
situated upon a hill where devotees of Venkateswara 
flock from all over the world to climb. I used to pass 
by the stairs leading up to this hill every day and watch
as the first rays of sunlight softly crept up all 3500 steps
as if on pilgrimage for some higher meaning. my grandma 
used to tell me that I would miss this place once I leave, 
that people come from all over the world to climb the 
summit I pass by every day, as if they all carried questions 
tied to their backs and only the top held the answer. 

I told her they were foolish for doing it. 
she told me I was like the sun 
that is raised in the East 
only to settle in the West.

there’s a way in which you wake up each morning, 
as if the world hides inside the corners of your mouth 
waiting for dawn to break. 

you remind me of home— 
of bent backs and softly folded hands, 
of Sanskrit chants and hopeful hearts, 
of believers and of those who no longer do. 

I asked my grandma once,
“what do all these people expect to find at the top?”
she laughed and said, 
“they come out here to leave their questions behind.”

now I know that you and I don’t believe in gods as
much as we believe in the sky and everything she 
holds, but the way the morning hides behind the
sleeping mountain of your body has me believe that 
maybe we are all on a journey to answer the heaviness
tied upon our backs, and perhaps the journey is in
leaving it all behind. 

I guess what I am really trying to say is, I think the
sun goes to sleep every night with a new question
tied to her back, and I think you have always been
the place she goes to find her answer.

Pavana Reddy: “Poetry is making a story out of a moment. You can unpack any moment so many different ways, and that’s what I like to do.”

Fire of Insight
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i love this thread

Fire of Insight
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so do I ....

jade tiger
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Steve Henn


“Impeachment investigators are in talks with a lawyer for John Bolton about bringing the mustachioed former national security adviser in for a closed-door deposition …”
—New York Times Impeachment Briefing

… the hairy-lipped former Bush White House insider
is expected to be candid in his smudge-faced, hoary-mouthed
assessment of the Trump White House. He of the hirsute
nose-ledge battled with Trump on several issues, not the least
among them the policy on North Korea, with their
sickeningly clean-shaven and weak-shouldered dictator, and also on
Iraq, who for years we could rely on to broadcast the sweet,
sexy ’stache of Saddam “the human Rom Com” Hussein.
The follicle-face-feathered family man is a favorite
of conservatives—when he bites the corn dog
of Trump’s mishandled Ukraine situation don’t expect
one dollop of ketchup to be saved for later to savor
in the flavor-saver above his upper lip. Bolton
has appeared on Fox News, gaining him traction with
conservatives, who turn to his bountiful ’stache, his
regal, manly ’stache, whenever the cleanshaven face
of our own Baby Hitler disappoints them. In other news
our Tinfoil Hat Commander in Chief claims he’s comparable
to Lincoln, as if donning a tophat and calling oneself honest
is just as mustacherrific as saving the union, and freeing the enslaved.

Steve Henn: “When I saw in the daily emailed update from the New York Times that the writer took pains to refer to John Bolton as ‘mustachioed,’ I couldn’t help but imagine the scribe behind the story had some strange and silly fixation on facial hair. I used to write in a satiric mode a lot, and don’t nearly as often now, but I do like the idea of taking the wind out of the sails of self-aggrandizing heads of state with well-placed ridicule. A second story, earlier this week, noted what’s mentioned at the end of the poem—that our President is fond of telling everyone within earshot how much he reminds himself of Abraham Lincoln—even his poll numbers, he says, are better.”

jade tiger
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O-Jeremiah Agbaakin


ekùn, økø òkè—tiger, the mountain’s groom
—from Yoruba

the boy with the crow skin comes from a long
line of tigers who moved mountains to please

their women—who paraphrased the serpent in
its own words—fang disguised in fur. our love

of height, not the longing for gods built a tower.
the men stopped crying as soon as they were

born; picked up their claws & spears to fight.
Akinrere crushed the earth & founded a giant

elephant standing above it. then stole a woman
from his own camp, climbing the palace roof to

feel the mountain’s breath he hiked in youth as he
wrestled wild cats clicking their paws like a shearers’

knives. once, my father’s half-brother, drunk, tipped off
their balcony, broke his ribs & blamed his wife for descent.

he took them all: women widowed by wars, took war
returnees. the fireplace in his bones was too much for him.

after slaughtering the cockerel, my clan commands
me to pluck all the feathers to prove allegiance

& attention to details. the slaughter smooth & neat.
i come from woodcarvers chiselling their bodies into

gods. i want to leave this land, still toothed with
enough mountains—that crave ghosts’ claws marks

and their clothes hanging loose from uprighted
skeletons like mannequins hanging their snake skin

shedding. yet the mothers still wound open their
love like first milk. the mane shed them like a skin.

O-Jeremiah Agbaakin:
“My identity as an African is largely influenced by the relics of colonial intrusion in the shape of religion, thought, and language. I try as much as possible to reflect and interrogate the tension in my art. While contemporary African poetry may have shifted considerably from colonialism and post-colonialism talks, we are subconsciously influenced by their many impacts. These poems, in a way, examine historical narratives (like the Nigerian Civil War) as well as personal histories on the fulcrum of borrowed language and its tension.”

jade tiger
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Danny Eisenberg


At some point we realized what we owed
in back pay we couldn’t pay back; our goose

was cooked, our pancake overturned, kapowww!!
the wet half smooch-side to the linoleum. It had been

a good ride though, hadn’t it, us on our steeds,
galloping in time to the cardinals to meet up again

at the antipodes, each of us richer and ready to spend
a severed arm or a leg on amputee-strength painkillers—

Those were our Chernobyl days, our Exxon Valdez days,
our Hurricane-Andrew-for-days days, all white

and no yolk, all oil and nucleotides and
mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. Yes,

there was a man’s man, looking each of us back
from the lake; and also there, lingering abreast, a stooge,

his Charlie Chaplin suit the mushroomy shade
of disaster relief, his fingers as tightly gripped

around the handle of his tattered attaché as were his teeth
around the affricate he stitched onto the label: Ah-touch-ay

L(always a touchy subject). We must have known
he would come back to kill us for insulin money, eventually,

a thing we knew like we knew how to cure cancer:
the diagnosis is the vaccine itself. Reapers come

in pairs now, like Bible salesmen, to toll the bell and wait
for me to invite them into my godless kitchen

where pot after pot of leaden tap water froths
and boils, turning to gold I scald myself to touch.

jade tiger
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Chris Anderson


I have to admit that I don’t care about the historical Jesus.
One way or the other.
I’ve always thought there were larger forces at work.
The sun and the wind. The sadness that comes in the afternoon.
Did you know that our bones are only 10 years old?
No matter how old we are, it’s always the same.
Something to do with cells, I guess. With regeneration.
There are miracles like this all over the place,
in everybody’s bloodstream, and that’s alright with me.
Doris Day was once marooned on an island with another man.
Years went by and her husband, James Garner,
was about to marry another woman. Polly Bergen.
But then Doris came back and sang a lullaby to her kids,
then tucked them into bed. And they didn’t even know who she was.
I think that life is just like this.
Sometimes we are the stone and the Spirit is the river.
Sometimes we are the mountain and the Spirit is the rain.


Chris Anderson: “I am an English Professor at Oregon State University, but I am also a Catholic deacon, and my poetry is one result of the free association and spontaneity of lectio divina, the kind of prayer I practice every morning. In lectio you leap, and in leaping poetry, of course, you leap, and what I love about that is how there’s this mystery, this other story you don’t really understand, bigger than your own, that somehow gets implied in the gaps and jumps. Maybe a poem like ‘Living the Chemical Life’ would seem irreverent to a believer, but for me it’s not at all. It’s joyous. It’s one way of letting the Spirit move.”

jade tiger
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Jonathan Endurance


my father died bending like a dog
under the November cloud

unlike the stories we were told
about grief as a revolution inside

a tender throat     i grew up to learn
that even God has a thousand titles 

to his name & we only use the one
synonymous with grief when our

mouths are full of stories of guillotine
i have stories about ghost saved up

in my diary     this time no deception 
my mother never wanted me to know

i was born inside an eagle’s claws
i am saying every letter of my name 

has a sharp edge & blood gushes from
everything i touch 

i open my window into a field of dust 
the sun chokes on my shoulder blade

i invade the boneyard with holy books
& line the belly button of my father’s grave

with broken branches of cedars 
he smells like a lit cigarette 

there is always violence inside a crow’s beak
& for a body like this to inherit scars

that never heal     the sky falls back into
my mouth anchored by the stories that beguile me 


Jonathan Endurance: “I am a Nigerian poet and student of English literature in the University of Benin, Nigeria. For me, poetry has been a way of escaping emotional trauma. I write to set my soul free from the cage of bitter thoughts and sad experiences.”

Fire of Insight
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an interview with Jody Azzouni, who sent me his book—The Lust for Blueprints—many many years ago. since then he has written further books. he is probably the most interesting, genuine modern-day poet i've ever had the pleasure to read.

four poems by Jody Azzouni

an excerpt from Killing Its Parents:

What a thing to do to a child: put
it in a sandbox, and watch
as everything slips through its fingers.

from The Lust For Blueprints, the poet's press 1999-2001

jade tiger
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Scott Beal


Once I got lost alone in the woods
and found my way back. It made me
not new or strong, but wary of woods.
I trudged through shallow swamp and thickets
of prickers and chiggers, through tree dark
stretching all directions, four hungry hours
and no one made me do it the way they make you
chug a beer through a mouthful of tampons,
or get your back daggered into crocodile skin,
or spill over the side of a bark canoe
and swim the quaking mile to shore.
No one spun me with a blindfold and basket
and said, Bear this back to the house of your father
and he’ll pull the ripcord to rev your testicles
and carve you a sharp new Adam’s apple,
no tribe had gathered to cheer as I stumbled
clear of the canopy and back into my prescription
for Clearasil, my graph paper dungeon maps.
This was before I failed to swing back at bullies,
before the summer I failed driver’s ed
and had to take a makeup course at Sears
from a man who wore black socks with sandals.
It was not the woods where Wayne led me
to a Hefty bag of Hustlers, their centerfolds
stiff from snow. Not the woods
where Lee would stash a six pack of beer
and a box of stogies in wait for me, and slowly finish
two of each as I stood refusing to join him
in fear of my mother. Last week I sat to watch
a National Geographic special with my daughter,
and the screen filled with a million shimmering sperm,
like Hubble footage of a skyful of galaxies
thrashing their little flagella to race
at a tenth of an inch per minute
through vaginaland. I said, You have to learn
about this stuff sometime, and she said,
No I don’t. She’s eleven. At her age I was abusing
a St. Louis Cardinals wristband so early and often
I never had a wet dream. We stopped
the film before one brave sperm could ignite
an egg into a person who would grow to the age
when they saw off your clitoris, or file your teeth
to points with a sharpened stone, or knit leaves
into a glove and fill it with bullet ants and watch
to see if you scream as you shove
your budding warrior hand inside. They make you breathe
in a burqa, stuff your foot into glass, volt you up
on brown-brown and hand you a machete. They offer
a doctored passport and a waitress shift in London
where you find yourself bound to a dirty box spring
in a curtained corner. They want to test you,
they want to hurt you, they want to escort you
into the savage mess they’ve made of womanhood
and manhood. I failed in so many ways, I
was so lucky. I walked into woods by choice,
for kicks, it wasn’t supposed to smelt me into iron
and it didn’t. I even lied when I said I was alone.
I was with Greg Jensen, a boy I neither loved
nor respected, which made the loneliness worse
as we trod between wolf-whispering trees,
stomach-weak, scratched with brambles.
We had to hide the cowering boys inside us
and pretend we could hack it like men
who could swallow poison, take or give
a whip without flinching, like men who’d earned our way
to one day look a child in the face and say this
is how you grow up, this is how you die.

Scott Beal: “I am a recently divorced father with joint custody of two daughters, ages twelve and nine. In high school I had a crush on a girl who carried Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg books in her backpack.  It mystified me that anyone would read poetry by choice, rather than as a painful school assignment. When Lisa played me a recording of Waldman reading ‘Makeup on Empty Space,’ I got swept up in the energy and nerve of the words. I started writing partly to impress Lisa (which didn’t work), but also to see if I could make words, and the world around them, zip and snap like that.”

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