Category Archives: Poetry

Fallen Swan

Like an apple on toothpicks,
the elderly ballerina
tiptoes across the yard.

Finding the pond,
she asks
the dark waters
for their old reflections.

Like a duck,
she submerges her head,
draining away
the makeup
and the years.

Emerging as swan,
she swims the shadows—
Echappe, pas ballonne, glissade.

across the years,
across the algean floor,
freeing dreams
of Barishnikov.

NaPoWriMo Day 5 (Villanelle): Running for the Train

I think I see you running for the train
The shock of recognition stops me still
Our love’s been lost for years, so I refrain.

Your form remains a blur in all this rain
I start to lift my hand and yet I’m still
I think I see you running for the train.

I see your happy eyes and I’m all pain
Sensations long forsaken prompt me still
Our love’s been lost for years, so I refrain.

You’re soaring with a girl down this wide lane
You’re thinner and your clothes are different, still
I think I see you running for the train.

I’m wrong, it isn’t you, my eyes complain
The need to know consumes me ’till I’m ill
Our love’s been lost for years, so I refrain.

It’s too late now, I know it’s all in vain,
I shut my eyes but see your image still
I think I see you running for the train
Our love’s been lost for years, so I remain.


NaPoWriMo Day 3 (Palindrome): It stopped with you

lightningIt stopped
one day
when there was biology everywhere
air became love
alive again
bees buzzing
birds singing
clouds flowing
rain falling
finally there was
electricity with


with electricity finally
was there
falling rain
flowing clouds
singing birds
buzzing bees
again alive
beating hearts
love became air
everywhere biology was there when
day one

Howl by Allen Ginsberg

Howl Track 4
Howl Track 4 (Photo credit: filmresearch)

So a friend of mine at work says: Word Wabbit, you gotta read “Howl.” And I’m all like: I have a million books—I can’t afford to buy another!

He says, No it’s really short. You can read it in an evening. But you might be depressed after.

So I go online, there it is for free at Poetry—simply a great resource.

So for anyone who’s interested, here’s Howl:

Sewing Factory

Rev engine
Avert eyes
Watch fingers
Drone songs
Carried on
Threaded needles
Under pressure
Fix machines
Screaming out “Roberta!”

Stops cost
Peppermint pains
Shoulders and backs
Bundle the day
Minutes catch the hours.

The day
at last
is sold.
Like children freed
Grin. Stampede.
Sew sheets to pillow
Wake confused

Cows are headed for slaughter.

The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems

By William Stafford (1914–1993); Graywolf Press; @ 1998; 254 pages.

All the poets I know have said they like William Stafford. The book everyone knows is Writing the Australian Crawl. It’s the inspirational how-to book for poets and writers. Stafford is from the Midwest. He was a conscientious objector during World War II. He moved to the Northwest and taught and wrote and traveled. Some might say he was a workaholic, and certainly he was prolific, rising every morning around 4 a.m. to write. He wrote more than 50 books and more than 3,000 poems. He won the National Book Award for Traveling Through the Dark.

I like William Stafford too, but after a full book of poems, he remains an enigma. After I read Mary Oliver’s poems, I felt I knew Mary Oliver; the same was true for Billy Collins, Ted Kooser, and even Tomas Transtormer. But William Stafford, for me, is just out of reach. Maybe the complicated simplicity of Collins has me spoiled. All the same, when I read Stafford, I remember cicadas, open fields of diverse species (not monocultures), and why I once thought of Oregon as a magical paradise. I become wistful and want to hit the road.

Poems I especially liked included:

  • Easter Morning

    American poet William Stafford (1914-1993)
    American poet William Stafford (1914-1993) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • You and Art
  • One Evening
  • Afterwards
  • Sayings of the Blind
  • The Way It Is
  • Big Bang
  • Wovoka’s Witness (3)
  • Things in the Wild Need Salt
  • Accountability   !!!
  • At the Playground
  • The Little Girl by the Fence at School
  • At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border!
  • As Me
  • One Home
  • (Plain black hats rode the thoughts that made our code.)
  • Ceremony
  • Circle of Breath
  • At the Bomb Testing Site
  • Outside
  • In the Oregon Country
  • In Response to a Question
  • Lit Instructor
  • Glances
  • Some Shadows
  • Back Home
  • Fifteen
  • Recoil
  • The Animal That Drank Up Sound
  • Bess
  • Holcomb Kansas
  • A Sound from the Earth
  • Things That Happen
  • So Long
  • Freedom
  • The Coyote in the Zoo
  • Meditation
  • West of Here
  • Coyote
  • That Year
  • Dropout
  • Some Remarks When Richard Hugo Came
  • A Wind From a Wing
  • Old Prof
  • Poetry
  • Men
  • In the All Verbs Navaho World
  • Malheur before Dawn
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Is This Feeling About the West Real?
  • Through the Junipers
  • It Still Happens Now
  • Objector
  • How It Is
  • My Life
  • A Course in Creative Writing
  • Things I Learned Last Week
  • Incident
  • Our Kind
  • We Interrupt to Bring You
  • Pegleg Lookout
  • Burning a Book
  • Thinking About Being Called Simple by a Critic
  • Waiting in Line
  • An Oregon Message
  • Why I Am Happy
  • The Sparkle Depends on Flaws in the Diamond
  • How It Is with Family
  • Run Before Dawn
  • Remarks on My Character
  • How These Words Happened

Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985

By Ted Kooser; @1980, 1985 University of Pittsburgh Press, 142 pages.

This is the one. This is my favorite book of poems by Ted Kooser. Ted has tremendous talent for evoking vivid scenes with simple, unassuming language. My favorite poems include:

Selecting a Reader
Christmas Eve
Sitting All Evening Alone in the Kitchen
The Man with the Hearing Aid
How to Make Rubarb Wine
A Widow
So This Is Nebraska
After the Funeral
Shooting a Farmhouse
Late September
Looking for You, Barbara
Abandoned Farmhouse
A Goldfish Floats to the Top of His Life
They Had Torn Off My Face at the Office
Year’s End
Flying at Night
Just Now
A Birthday Card
A Room in the Past
Decoration Day
At Nightfall
The Voyager II Satellite

Sailing Alone Around the Room

Cover of "Sailing Alone Around the Room: ...
Cover via Amazon

By Billy Collins; @ 2001 Random House; 172 pages.

Sailing Alone Around the Room is one of the books I bought when I was on my Billy Collins kick. I’m not sure if Collins is my favorite poet in the whole wide world, but there is no doubt that he is talented. Reading him always gets me in the mood to write, and I envy those who were/are so lucky to have him as a professor. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Sailing Alone Around the Room includes new poems as well as selected poems from The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988), Questions About Angels (1991), The Art of Drowning (1995), and Picnic, Lightning (1998).

The poems out of this book I most responded to were:

  • Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House
  • The Lesson
  • Winter Syntax
  • Advice to Writers
  • Introduction to Poetry
  • Schoolsville
  • Questions About Angels
  • Candle Hat
  • The Dead
  • Vade Mecum
  • Purity
  • Days
  • Workshop
  • Piano Lessons
  • Some Final Words
  • Aristotle

The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems

Cover of "The Great Enigma: New Collected...
Cover of The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems

By Tomas Tranströmer; Translated by Robin Fulton; @ 2006 by New Directions Publishing Corporation, 257 pages.

Tomas Tranströmer was the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize for literature “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

Born April 15, 1931, in Stockholm, Sweden, Tomas Tranströmer has been translated into 50 languages. The Great Enigma is the complete collection of Tranströmer’s published poetry, a compilation of his 12 poetry books. Tranströmer’s subject matter often focuses on the Swedish natural landscape and on the poet’s observations from daily life. One gets a sense of the cold, salty sea air when reading his poems.

I came to Tranströmer’s poetry, having never visited Sweden and knowing very little about life there. I found his poems very difficult to penetrate. Often they seemed to be talking about one thing, only to stray completely from the topic at hand. Tomas Tranströmer has a lot to offer. His poems need to be read and digested slowly. They deserve many reads. There are many wonderful lyrical phrases, but taken as units, I found them hard to decipher.

Poems from this book that I plan to come back to are as follows:

  • Ostinato
  • Agitated Meditation
  • Elegy
  • Epilogue
  • Weather Picture
  • The Four Temperaments
  • Secrets on the Way
  • After an Attack
  • The Couple
  • The Tree and the Sky
  • Espresso
  • The Palace
  • The Half-Finished Heaven
  • A Winter Night
  • From an African Diary
  • Winter’s Formulae
  • Morning Birds
  • Alone
  • Downpour over the Interior
  • In the Open
  • By the River
  • Preludes
  • Sketch in October
  • Along the Radius
  • Baltics
  • Schubertiana
  • The Gallery
  • A Place in the Forest
  • Icelandic Hurricane
  • Dream Seminar
  • Early May Stanzas
  • Leaflet
  • The Indoors Is Endless
  • Madrigal
  • Golden Wasp
  • April and Silence

Lines I especially liked:

“Waking up is a parachute jump from dreams.”

“A dog’s barking is a hieroglyph painted in the air above the garden”

“I stood in a room that contained every moment—a butterfly museum.”

“There’s a tree walking around in the rain, it rushes past us in the pouring grey.”

“It helps perhaps with handshakes like a flight of migratory birds.”

“The lake is a window into the earth.”

“In the daylight a dot of beneficent black that quickly flows into a pale customer.”

I looked at the sky and at the earth and straight ahead

and since then I’ve been writing a long letter to the dead

on a typewriter with no ribbon just a horizon line

so the words knock in vain and nothing sticks.”