Midnight Streets

We were born to roam midnight streets
to leave sticky notes of jazz on exuberant thighs
stopped beneath streetlights of dancing rays
gnawing here and there, tipping them back, tossing aside.

We die each hour of impending day but
the streets become a blues pulse, thumping. Again,
hold on to night’s desperation and grind slow
into cobblestones content with the hour still late, late, late.

fox in Clifton Park

a fox in Clifton Park
crossed a road,
slipped among shadows.

some shadows are happy to be stretched
down long roads of abandonment.
then again some girls are easily bare
long legs thin and tough, scrambling side to side.

absurd, a fox here in a park of burnt out grass
trees choked
shadows stretched too thin
but hey, that’s the city.

around every corner, alley, boarded home, rats find a nibble.
girls slowly pull on their tights.

a fox makes a deal and gets away.

What It Looks Like To Us and the Words We Use by Ada Limon

Take a look… disorderly, marvelous, ours. What a great way to cap off the week!

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American Life in Poetry: Column 445
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Sit for an hour in any national airport and you’ll see how each of us differs from others in a million ways, and of course that includes not only our physical appearances but our perceptions and opinions. Here’s a poem by Ada Limón, who lives in Kentucky, about difference and the difficulty of resolution.

What It Looks Like To Us and the Words We Use 

All these great barns out here in the outskirts,
black creosote boards knee-deep in the bluegrass.
They look so beautifully abandoned, even in use.
You say they look like arks after the sea’s
dried up, I say they look like pirate ships,
and I think of that walk in the valley where
J said, You don’t believe in God? And I said,
No. I believe in this connection we all have
to nature, to each other, to the universe.
And she said, Yeah, God. And how we stood there,
low beasts among the white oaks, Spanish moss,
and spider webs, obsidian shards stuck in our pockets,
woodpecker flurry, and I refused to call it so.
So instead, we looked up at the unruly sky,
its clouds in simple animal shapes we could name
though we knew they were really just clouds—
disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.

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 Ada Limón, whose most recent book of poems is Sharks in the Rivers, Milkweed Editions, 2010. Poem reprinted from Poecology, Issue 1, 2011, by permission of Ada Limón 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. 

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American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. There are no costs for reprinting the columns; we do require that you register your publication here and that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration.

adams are ghosts

late hour, woozy with memories
that one adam says are ghosts.

how right he is, adams are vapor.

as are bens and jons
and young shadowy men
drinking too much,
driving too fast.

one adam wraps around a tree before i can tell him
anything, how i have a photo of him with birthday cake
poised waiting on his bottom lip for a sugary kiss

my god, we could have been anything by now
if we weren’t spread out across the sky, still waiting
on kisses from little girls like
dew-tipped grass in a morning chilly, ripe.