"The Good Life" by Tracy K Smith

Another gem from Ted Kooser to pick up your Tuesday!!! Please let me know what you think in the comments. Also, for more poetry yumminess, follow @PoetryFound

American Life in Poetry: Column 442
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

Tracy K. Smith won the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poems, Life on Mars, from which I’ve
selected this week’s poem, which presents a payday in the way many of us at some time have
experienced it. The poet lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The Good Life

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org),
publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of
Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Tracy K. Smith from her most recent book of poems, Life on Mars, Graywolf Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Tracy K. Smith and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

American Life in Poetry ©2006 The Poetry Foundation
Contact: alp@poetryfoundation.org
This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

"Burning the Book" by Ron Koertge

Hi friends, been in a creative slump recently but hoping to get back to writing soon. Busy busy but as the weather turns, hopefully, so will the ideas. Until then~ enjoy Ron Koertge’s piece below. Wonderfully expressive imagery.


American Life in Poetry: Column 419

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

It pains an old booklover like me to think of somebody burning a book, but if you’ve gotten one for a quarter and it’s falling apart, well, maybe it’s OK as long as you might be planning to pick up a better copy. Here Ron Koertge, who lives in Pasadena, has some fun with the ashes of love poems.

Burning the Book

The anthology of love poems I bought
for a quarter is brittle, anyway, and comes
apart when I read it.

One at a time, I throw pages on the fire
and watch smoke make its way up
and out.

I’m almost to the index when I hear
a murmuring in the street. My neighbors
are watching it snow.

I put on my blue jacket and join them.
The children stand with their mouths
open.

I can see nouns—longing, rapture, bliss—
land on every tongue, then disappear.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2012 by Ron Koertge, whose most recent book of poems is Fever, Red Hen Press, 2006. Poem reprinted by permission of Ron Koertge. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

"Living Tree" by Robert Morgan

LOVED this poem. Enjoy my friends! And your mission today: pass on the joy of poetry to one other person. Let’s start a movement!

American Life in Poetry: Column 418
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Robert Morgan, who lives in Ithaca, New York, has long been one of my favorite American poets. He’s also a fine novelist and, recently, the biographer of Daniel Boone. His poems are often about customs and folklore, and this one is a good example.

Living Tree

It’s said they planted trees by graves
to soak up spirits of the dead
through roots into the growing wood.
The favorite in the burial yards
I knew was common juniper.
One could do worse than pass into
such a species. I like to think
that when I’m gone the chemicals
and yes the spirit that was me
might be searched out by subtle roots
and raised with sap through capillaries
into an upright, fragrant trunk,
and aromatic twigs and bark,
through needles bright as hoarfrost to
the sunlight for a century
or more, in wood repelling rot
and standing tall with monuments
and statues there on the far hill,
erect as truth, a testimony,
in ground that’s dignified by loss,
around a melancholy tree
that’s pointing toward infinity.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2012 by Robert Morgan, whose most recent book of poems is Terroir, Penguin Poets, 2011. Poem reprinted from The Georgia Review, Spring 2012, by permission of Robert Morgan and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Koi Pond, Oakland Museum by Susan Kolodny

Been saving this one for awhile~ hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

American Life in Poetry: Column 403
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

Among the most ancient uses for language are descriptions of places, when a person has experienced something he or she wants to tell somebody else about. Some of these get condensed and transformed into poetry, and here’s a good example, by Susan Kolodny, a poet from the Bay Area of California.

Koi Pond, Oakland Museum

Our shadows bring them from the shadows:
a yolk-yellow one with a navy pattern
like a Japanese woodblock print of fish scales.
A fat 18-karat one splashed with gaudy purple
and a patch of gray. One with a gold head,
a body skim-milk-white, trailing ventral fins
like half-folded fans of lace.
A poppy-red, faintly disheveled one,
and one, compact, all indigo in faint green water.
They wear comical whiskers and gather beneath us
as we lean on the cement railing
in indecisive late-December light,
and because we do not feed them, they pass,
then they loop and circle back. Loop and circle. Loop.
“Look,” you say, “beneath them.” Beneath them,
like a subplot or a motive, is a school
of uniformly dark ones, smaller, unadorned,
perhaps another species, living in the shadow
of the gold, purple, yellow, indigo, and white,
seeking the mired roots and dusky grasses,
unliveried, the quieter beneath the quiet.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Susan Kolodny from her first book of poems, After the Firestorm, Mayapple Press, 2011. Poem first appeared in the New England Review, Vol. 18, no. 1, 1997. Reprinted by permission of Susan Kolodny and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

American Life in Poetry ©2006 The Poetry Foundation
Contact: alp@poetryfoundation.org
This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Zippo by Judith Slater

Please enjoy this exceptional poem by Judith Slater. Happy Monday everyone!

American Life in Poetry: Column 383
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006
Sometimes, when we are children, someone or something suddenly throws open a window and
the world of adults pours in. And we never quite get over it. Here’s a poem about an experience
like that by Judith Slater, who lives in New York.

Zippo
I didn’t think handsome then, I thought
my father the way he saunters down Main Street,
housewives, shopkeepers, mechanics calling out,
children running up to get Lifesavers. The way
he pauses to chat, flipping his lighter open,
tamping the Lucky Strike on his thumbnail.

I sneak into his den when he’s out, tuck
into the kneehole of his desk and sniff
his Zippo until dizzy, emboldened;
then play little tricks, mixing red and black
inks in his fountain pen, twisting together
paperclips. If I lift the telephone receiver

quietly, I can listen in on our party line.
That’s how I hear two women
talking about him. That’s why my mother
finds me that night sleepwalking, sobbing.
“It’s all right,” she tells me,
“you had a nightmare, come to bed.”

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org),
publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of
Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Judith Slater from her most recent book of poems, “The Wind Turning Pages,” Outriders Poetry Project, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Judith Slater and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004- 2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


American Life in Poetry ©2006 The Poetry Foundation
Contact: alp@poetryfoundation.org
This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

"My mother was like the bees" by Jeanne Wagner (American Life in Poetry)

Good day readers, I have returned from New Zealand and while I sort out my own ideas, thought I would start the week off with Ted Kooser’s pick…. Enjoy!

American Life in Poetry: Column 366
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

I don’t think we’ve ever published a poem about a drinker. Though there are lots of poems on this topic, many of them are too judgmental for my liking. But here’s one I like, by Jeanne Wagner, of Kensington, California, especially for its original central comparison.

My mother was like the bees

because she needed a lavish taste
on her tongue,
a daily tipple of amber and gold
to waft her into the sky,
a soluble heat trickling down her throat.
Who could blame her
for starting out each morning
with a swig of something furious
in her belly, for days
when she dressed in flashy lamé
leggings like a starlet,
for wriggling and dancing a little madly,
her crazy reels and her rumbas,
for coming home wobbly
with a flicker of clover’s inflorescence
still clinging to her clothes,
enough to light the darkness
of a pitch-black hive.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Jeanne Wagner from her most recent book of poetry, “In the Body of Our Lives,” Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Jeanne Wagner and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

American Life in Poetry ©2006 The Poetry Foundation
Contact: alp@poetryfoundation.org
This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

straw sandals by Jennifer Marin [Guest Post]

So, I like everything about this guest post – from the message preface to the deceptively simple verse. Jennifer Marin is a fabulous designer (among other talents) but has never considered herself a poet, at least not that I know of. Goes to show that everyone has a little poetry in their soul 🙂 Please follow her at @Hungry4Design

“Looks like my handwriting…. Found it in my 2006 notebook – from the very first 3 months I was here [United States from Venezuela]

Another year is gone
A travelers shade on my head
Straw sandals at my feet”

untitled (poetry through your eyes) Guest Blogger, Deb Burrows

Poetry through your eyes
So eloquent, yet real
Speaking verse
In heartfelt tongue
Capturing life
In snippets
From a heart
Filled with soul

*** One great big squishy thank you to today’s guest blogger Deb Burrows for her beautiful words. Deb sent this piece to me via email in response to a few poems I sent to her. Understandably, I am beyond flattered 🙂 I should also mention that Deb is one of my really fabulously awesome aunts! Enjoy, leave her encouraging comments, and contact me if you’d like to be featured here….

Advice you should take from this post: SHARE POETRY!

Cowards (in case you don’t read comments) – guest post by Bobby Ty

Guest post tonight by author Bobby Ty. He treats us with a piece left in the comments section of this blog. It (along with some of his other comments in the past) deserves recognition. Enjoy and leave him your thoughts below… Thank you Bobby Ty! Looking forward to more from you. If any of you other readers are interested in guest blogging, please let me know….

Cowards

We get to say
Those things we can’t say
Out loud

We cowards
We poets
We don’t say it

Bluster and
Bravado we “just wrote it that way”
Only

We mean it; can’t say it

Aloud…

Cowards…

In Mind by Brenda Bufalino

i’m featuring poet Brenda Bufalino tonight. a friend gave me her book, and i wanted to share. [Brenda, Codhill Press, i hope you don’t mind!]

From Circular Migrations, Codhill Press 2010

In Mind

Digging deep in mind
has no regrets for unpredicted
unforeseen results
yet anticipation
is the germination
to do
to make
to facilitate
to orchestrate
and then
to let the music play

http://www.brendabufalino.com/