Monday, November 23, 2015

Say It by Joyce Sutphen

Say that it is the continuous life
you desire, that one day might stretch into
the next without a seam, without seeming
to move one minute away from the past
or that in passing through whatever comes
you keep coming to the faces you love,
never leaving them entirely behind.
Say that it is simply a wish to waste
time forever, lingering with the friends
you’ve gathered together, a gradual
illumination traveling the spine,
eyes brimming with the moment that is now.
Say that it is the impulse of the soul
to endure forever. Say it again.

“Say It” by Joyce Sutphen from Modern Love & Other Myths. © Red Dragonfly Press, 2015.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Corn Picking 1956

Corn Picking 1956 — Afternoon Break by Tom Hennen

I needed a heavy canvas jacket riding the cold red tractor, air
an ice cube on bare skin. Blue sky over the aspen grove I drove
through on the way back to the field, throttle wide open, the
empty wagon I pulled hitting all the bumps on the dirt road. In
the high branches of the aspens little explosions now and then
sent leaves tumbling and spinning like coins tossed into the air.
The two-row, tractor-mounted corn-picker was waiting at the
end of the corn rows, the wagon behind it heaped so high with
ears of corn their yellow could be seen a mile away. My father,
who ran the picker, was already sitting on the ground, leaning
back against the big rear wheel of the tractor. In that spot out
of the wind we ate ham sandwiches and doughnuts, and drank
hot coffee from a clear Mason jar wrapped in newspaper to
keep it warm. The autumn day had spilled the color gold every-
where: aspen, cornstalks, ears of corn piled high, coffee mixed
with fresh cream, the fur of my dog, Boots, who was sharing
our food. And when my father and I spoke, joking with the
happy dog, we did not know it then, but even the words that
we carelessly dropped were left to shine forever on the bottom
of the clear, cold afternoon.

"Corn Picking 1956 — Afternoon Break” by Tom Hennen from Darkness Sticks to Everything. © Copper Canyon Press, 2013.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Harvesting All Night

Harvesting All Night by Jane Hoogestraat

Twenty years ago, my father stops
in the small farm town where he was a boy
to watch his nephews, already men, play softball.
The long arc of a ball hit toward the far corner
leaves the light behind for a long sigh.
He told us later he wanted to stay that night.
When the harvest is late, the ground too muddy,
the players will wait until the earth freezes, then harvest
all night, the sodium lights of expensive combines
eerie as UFOs on the horizon, ringed by frost stars.
A family cemetery dated 1949 holds now the second
generation after the immigrants, and a few small graves
from the third. It will all last another generation or two,
be tended, that cemetery, the games in the park.
Dvorak visiting in Iowa caught it once,
as it retreated from him, a country that could
not be his, although he called it a new world, and brave.
His largo captures all he would know
of native melody, the indigenous music of the plains
that will outlive everything we’re losing, everything we are.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

As imperceptibly as Grief

As imperceptibly as Grief by Emily Dickinson

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away—
Too imperceptible at last,
To seem like Perfidy—
A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon—
The Dusk drew earlier in—
The Morning foreign shone—
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone—
And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Night Migrations

The Night Migrations by Louise Glück

This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds’ night migrations.
It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on,
they disappear.
What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won’t need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.

“The Night Migrations” by Louise Glück from Averno. © Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

And Now it's October

And Now it’s October by Barbara Crooker
the golden hour of the clock of the year. Everything that can run
to fruit has already done so: round apples, oval plums, bottom-heavy
pears, black walnuts and hickory nuts annealed in their shells,
the woodchuck with his overcoat of fat. Flowers that were once bright
as a box of crayons are now seed heads and thistle down. All the feathery
grasses shine in the slanted light. It’s time to bring in the lawn chairs
and wind chimes, time to draw the drapes against the wind, time to hunker
down. Summer’s fruits are preserved in syrup, but nothing can stopper time.
No way to seal it in wax or amber; it slides though our hands like a rope
of silk. At night, the moon’s restless searchlight sweeps across the sky.

“And Now it’s October” by Barbara Crooker from Small Rain. © Purple Flag Press, 2014.
Thanks to The Writers Almanac

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Talk About Walking

Talk about Walking by Philip Booth

Where am I going? I’m going
out, out for a walk. I don’t
know where except outside.
Outside argument, out beyond
wallpapered walls, outside
wherever it is where nobody
ever imagines. Beyond where
computers circumvent emotion,
where somebody shorted specs
for rivets for airframes on
today’s flights. I’m taking off
on my own two feet. I’m going
to clear my head, to watch
mares’-tails instead of TV,
to listen to trees and silence,
to see if I can still breathe.
I’m going to be alone with
myself, to feel how it feels
to embrace what my feet
tell my head, what wind says
in my good ear. I mean to let
myself be embraced, to let go
feeling so centripetally old.
Do I know where I’m going?
I don’t. How long or far
I have no idea. No map. I
said I was going to take
a walk. When I’ll be back
I’m not going to say.

"Talk about Walking” by Philip Booth from Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1999 (Viking Press).