"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.

"Noguchi’s Fountain" by Helen T. Glenn


Another fine poem posted in Ted Kooser’s column. Take a read!

American Life in Poetry: Column 439

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Here’s a fine poem about the stages of grief by Helen T. Glenn, who lives in Florida.

Noguchi’s Fountain

The release of water in the base
so controlled that the surface tension,
tabletop of stability, a mirror,
remains unbroken. Moisture seeps
down polished basalt sides.

This is how I grieve, barely
enough to dampen river stones,
until fibers in my husband’s
tweed jacket brush my fingers
as I fold it into a box. How close
the whirlpool under my feet.


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 Helen T. Glenn, and reprinted from the Nimrod International Journal, Vol. 56, no. 1, 2012, by permission of Helen T. Glenn 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.

"Forever Young" tribute to Trayvon Martin in Baltimore

look how we became the stars themselves!

each hand waving to a sound
rocketing through our bones
    rain fell
      people sang
        united
stadium a solar system
vocal chords straining and the only
fissure that of time:
youth-summer-black-white all orbiting an encore.

[from the Jay Z, Justin Timberlake concert last night in Baltimore – the song Forever Young, in tribute to Trayvon Martin, the entire stadium lit up with phones, the entire stadium singing along]

you take it all for granted

this is less a poem and more a few thoughts i have today. remembering the life of a fellow volleyball player. someone i knew only through association and friends yet i am deeply saddened over the loss of her to the world. when someone dies, you feel it too.

when someone dies, you feel it too.
your bones quake.
you remember with razor instinct
this skin is not
forever, this sky is such
ephemeral gift – how
wildly your cells
take for granted
“breathe in
breathe out”
each and every second.
you never noticed it before
or how your loved
ones seem so far away.
and then someone else just stops
and your breath catches,
you’re asleep, now Wake Up.

Afterlife by Bruce Snider

Exceptional, must-read poem from Bruce Snider, as featured on American Life in Poetry. “the rusty nail he hammered catches me, leaves its stain…” brilliant.

American Life in Poetry: Column 435
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006
Perhaps there’s a kind of afterlife that is made up of our memories of a departed person, especially as these cling to that person’s belongings. Bruce Snider, who lives and teaches in California, suggests that here.

Afterlife

I wake to leafless vines and muddy fields,
patches of standing water. His pocketknife

waits in my dresser drawer, still able to gut fish.
I pick up his green shirt, put it on for the fourth day

in a row. Outside, the rusty nail he hammered
catches me, leaves its stain on everything.

The temperature drops, the whole shore
filling with him: his dented chew can, waders,

the cattails kinked, bowing their distress.
At the pier, I use his old pliers to ready the line:

fatheads, darters, a blood worm jig. Today, the lake’s
one truth is hardness. When the trout bite,

I pull the serviceable things glistening into air.

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 Bruce Snider from his most recent book of poems, Paradise, Indiana, Pleiades Press, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Bruce Snider 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.

The Vacation by Wendell Berry

Great piece featured by Ted Kooser today~ and great advise for me as I get ready for my next big adventure. Taking the family to Italy/Sicily! WOO! So if you don’t hear from me until June, you’ll know why 🙂
 

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

If we haven’t done it ourselves, we’ve known people who have, it seems: taken a vacation mostly to photograph a vacation, not really looking at what’s there, but seeing everything through the viewfinder with the idea of looking at it when they get home. Wendell Berry of Kentucky, one of our most distinguished poets, captures this perfectly.

The Vacation

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it. It would be there. With a flick
of a switch, there it would be. But he
would not be in it. He would never be in it.
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 Wendell Berry, whose most recent book of poems is New Collected Poems, Counterpoint, 2012. Poem reprinted from New Collected Poems, Counterpoint, 2012, and used with permission of Wendell Berry 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.

Arnold (reaching full sail)

I wonder how Arnold feels
on the Canton docks, drying his skin
after a windy cold winter.

He will be under a new moon tonight
streets lit up with
city haze alone.
He will be under the awning of Safeway
sketchbook clutched in one hand,
bottle in the other.

“Maybe,” he says, “if I hadn’t been drunk that day
I would have met Oprah before
she moved to Chicago and I could call her now
as a friend.”

The harbor sways up to comment
but only trash reaches the dock. Far beyond,
other peoples’ boats reach full sail
into the Bay.