Poem of the Day: I’m a Fool to Love You

Some folks will tell you the blues is a woman,
Some type of supernatural creature.
My mother would tell you, if she could,
About her life with my father,
A strange and sometimes cruel gentleman.
She would tell you about the choices
A young black woman faces.
Is falling in love with some man
A deal with the devil
In blue terms, the tongue we use
When we don’t want nuance
To get in the way,
When we need to talk straight.
My mother chooses my father
After choosing a man
Who was, as we sing it,
Of no account.
This man made my father look good,
That’s how bad it was.
He made my father seem like an island
In the middle of a stormy sea,
He made my father look like a rock.
And is the blues the moment you realize
You exist in a stacked deck,
You look in a mirror at your young face,
The face my sister carries,
And you know it’s the only leverage
You’ve got.
Does this create a hurt that whispers
How you going to do?
Is the blues the moment
You shrug your shoulders
And agree, a girl without money
Is nothing, dust
To be pushed around by any old breeze.
Compared to this,
My father seems, briefly,
To be a fire escape.
This is the way the blues works
Its sorry wonders,
Makes trouble look like
A feather bed,
Makes the wrong man’s kisses
A healing.
Cornelius Eady, "I’m a Fool To Love You" from Autobiography of a Jukebox. Copyright © 1997 by Cornelius Eady.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.

Source: Autobiography of a Jukebox(Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997)

Cornelius Eady

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Poem of the Day: January 6

We must stop bragging. There are limits
For us to the cold and the twelfth night
 
Marks them all. Just off the coast of Maine
The lobster boats pass, dragging their nets.
 
Capsize once in a while, in water
Like that you die, that’s all, that water
 
Isn’t even frozen. Not even
Frozen, and that’s as cold as it gets.
 
The hearts of birds beat voraciously
So they keep warm, so if you put out
 
A feeder, keep it full of the seeds
Their hearts feed on, then it is only
 
When their food runs out that you find them
Inexpressibly taut in hollows,
 
And that’s as cold as it ever gets.
Vicki Hearne, "January 6" from Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2007 by Vicki Hearne.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems(The University of Chicago Press, 2007)

Vicki Hearne

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Poem of the Day: Age Appropriate

Sometimes,
mystified by the behavior
of one of my sons,
my wife will point out
if it’s age-appropriate,
making me wonder why
I still shout at ballplayers on tv
and argue with the dead.
Last week, my oldest son,
with a wild pitch, turned
my left ankle into an eggplant.
I didn’t yell at the doctors
who refused my insurance,
or get angry with a friend
who told me to soak it
in bourbon and garlic. No,
I read Montaigne who said
self-revelation is the purpose
of discourse, which, in his day,
meant knowing whether
to be flattered if a friend
didn’t use a food-taster,
or amused if a witch cast a spell
of weeping on an in-law.
Blaise Monluc, the king’s
lieutenant general during
the civil wars, Montaigne says,
threw so many hanged Protestants
down a well you could reach in
and touch the top one’s head. Yes,
Monluc, who was fond of saying
“When the scaffolds are full, use trees,”
knew what was appropriate.
On occasion I’ll run into a lobby
to avoid greeting a friend,
not because my mind vanishes
and I can’t remember his name,
which is true, but because I
must flee what is darkest in me.
In other words, when evicted from
a strange lobby into a stranger street,
where every scaffold is full
and bodies dangle in the long
blue sorrow of the afternoon,
without context, explanation, or sympathy,
it’s good to know, even momentarily,
how to live, among the relevant,
the passionate, and the confused.

Source: Poetry July/August 2013

Philip Schultz

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Poem of the Day: I Sit and Sew

I sit and sew—a useless task it seems,
My hands grown tired, my head weighed down with dreams—
The panoply of war, the martial tred of men,
Grim-faced, stern-eyed, gazing beyond the ken
Of lesser souls, whose eyes have not seen Death,
Nor learned to hold their lives but as a breath—
But—I must sit and sew.
I sit and sew—my heart aches with desire—
That pageant terrible, that fiercely pouring fire
On wasted fields, and writhing grotesque things
Once men. My soul in pity flings
Appealing cries, yearning only to go
There in that holocaust of hell, those fields of woe—
But—I must sit and sew.
The little useless seam, the idle patch;
Why dream I here beneath my homely thatch,
When there they lie in sodden mud and rain,
Pitifully calling me, the quick ones and the slain?
You need me, Christ! It is no roseate dream
That beckons me—this pretty futile seam,
It stifles me—God, must I sit and sew?
Source: The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson Volume 2 The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers(Oxford University Press, 1988)

Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson

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Poem of the Day: I Am Offering this Poem

I am offering this poem to you,
since I have nothing else to give.
Keep it like a warm coat
when winter comes to cover you,
or like a pair of thick socks
the cold cannot bite through,
                         I love you,
I have nothing else to give you,
so it is a pot full of yellow corn
to warm your belly in winter,
it is a scarf for your head, to wear
over your hair, to tie up around your face,
                         I love you,
Keep it, treasure this as you would
if you were lost, needing direction,
in the wilderness life becomes when mature;
and in the corner of your drawer,
tucked away like a cabin or hogan
in dense trees, come knocking,
and I will answer, give you directions,
and let you warm yourself by this fire,
rest by this fire, and make you feel safe
                         I love you,
It’s all I have to give,
and all anyone needs to live,
and to go on living inside,
when the world outside
no longer cares if you live or die;
remember,
                         I love you.
Jimmy Santiago Baca, "I Am Offering This Poem" from Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems. Copyright © 1990 by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Reprinted by permission of Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Source: Immigrants in Our Own Land and Selected Early Poems(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1990)

Jimmy Santiago Baca

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Poem of the Day: Poem for the New Year

I’ve tracked myself from day to day
how many steps through a field of snow
how many hours have I slept
what have I eaten
what did I burn
calories or cigarettes
what birds have poured
through Bellefontaine
where mausoleums bear the names
of Busch and Brown
Lemp and Spink
on marble white as winter endive
when I can read my title clear

to mansions in the skies

what have I read
how many words
what facts
statistics biometrics
what data aggregation
what news
of wins and losses
getting and spending
each dawn a color wheel
to gauge the shifting moods
the daylight sunk in trees
an index of attraction
According to the Tao Te Ching
each day brings more
and more of less
less and still less
with no end to nothing
and nothing left undone
Even here in Bellefontaine
along a winding street
silence brings an interval
of yet more distant sound
trucks along the interstate
a plane behind the clouds
Source: Poetry December 2016

Devin Johnston

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Poem of the Day: New Year’s Poem

The Christmas twigs crispencrispen To make crisp and needles rattle
Along the window-ledge.
             A solitary pearl
Shed from the necklace spilled at last week’s party
Lies in the suety,suety Fatty; from suet, an animal fat used in cooking to create tallow snow-luminous plainness
Of morning, on the window-ledge beside them.   
And all the furniture that circled stately
And hospitable when these rooms were brimmed
With perfumes, furs, and black-and-silver
Crisscross of seasonal conversation, lapses
Into its previous largeness.
             I remember   
Anne’s rose-sweet gravity, and the stiff grave
Where cold so little can contain;
I mark the queer delightful skull and crossbones
Starlings and sparrows left, taking the crust,
And the long loop of winter wind
Smoothing its arc from dark ArcturusArcturus The brightest star in the northern sky, located in the constellation Boötes down
To the bricked corner of the drifted courtyard,
And the still window-ledge.
             Gentle and just pleasure
It is, being human, to have won from space
This unchill,unchill Warmed, thawed habitable interior
Which mirrors quietly the light
Of the snow, and the new year.
"New Year’s Poem" by Margaret Avison. Reprinted from Always Now: The Collected Poems (in three volumes) by Margaret Avison, by permission of the Porcupine’s Quill. © The Estate of Margaret Avison, 2003.

Source: Always Now: The Collected Poems(The Porcupine’s Quill, 2003)

Margaret Avison

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Poem of the Day: Narcissist Advice Column

Pepper blacks the pan so never shake it near me.
Wait for the flagrant animation in my bedroom, in my bed base.
In mountaineering situations sleep swaddled, wake ecstatic
my frantic menus in your mind.
I taste of them all. Refuse to refuse me.
Waste your time on my errands.
Squeeze your lime on my lemons.
Turn up wearing the whole bird not just the feathers.
Source: Poetry July/August 2016

Hinemoana Baker

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Poem of the Day: The Taxis

In the first taxi he was alone tra-la,
No extras on the clock. He tipped ninepence
But the cabby, while he thanked him, looked askance
As though to suggest someone had bummed a ride.
In the second taxi he was alone tra-la
But the clock showed sixpence extra; he tipped according
And the cabby from out his muffler said: ‘Make sure
You have left nothing behind tra-la between you’.
In the third taxi he was alone tra-la
But the tip-up seats were down and there was an extra
Charge of one-and-sixpence and an odd
Scent that reminded him of a trip to Cannes.
As for the fourth taxi, he was alone
Tra-la when he hailed it but the cabby looked
Through him and said: ‘I can’t tra-la well take
So many people, not to speak of the dog.’
Louis MacNeice, “The Taxis” from The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice.  Copyright © 1967 by Louis MacNeice.  Reprinted by permission of David Higham Associates, Ltd.
 

Source: The Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice(Oxford University Press, 1967)

Louis MacNeice

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