Poem of the week: “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” By Bob Dylan


Johnny’s in the basement, mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement, thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat, badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough, wants to get it paid off
Look out kid, it’s somethin’ you did
God knows when, but you’re doin’ it again
You better duck down the alley way, lookin’ for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap in the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills, you only got ten.

Maggie comes fleet foot, face full of black soot
Talkin’ that the heat put, plants in the bed but
The phone’s tapped anyway, Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May, orders from the DA
Look out kid, don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes, don’t try, ‘No Doz’
Better stay away from those that carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose, watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weather man, to know which way the wind blows.

Get sick, get well, hang around an ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell, if anything is goin’ to sell

Try hard, get barred, get back, write Braille

Get jailed, jump bail Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid, you’re gonna get hit
But losers, cheaters, six-time users
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool, lookin’ for a new fool
Don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meters.

Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift, twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid, they keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle, don’t wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals

Don’t wanna be a bum, you better chew gum
The pump don’t work
‘Cause the vandals took the handles.

Subterranean Homesick Blues” by Bob Dylan, originally released in 1965 as a single on Columbia Records


Poem of the Week: “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation,”by Natalie Diaz

Angels don’t come to the reservation.
Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things.
Coyotes, too. They all mean the same thing—
death. And death
eats angels, I guess, because I haven’t seen an angel
fly through this valley ever.
Gabriel? Never heard of him. Know a guy named Gabe though—
he came through here one powwow and stayed, typical
Indian. Sure he had wings,
jailbird that he was. He flies around in stolen cars. Wherever he stops,
kids grow like gourds from women’s bellies.
Like I said, no Indian I’ve ever heard of has ever been or seen an angel.
Maybe in a Christmas pageant or something—
Nazarene church holds one every December,
organized by Pastor John’s wife. It’s no wonder
Pastor John’s son is the angel—everyone knows angels are white.
Quit bothering with angels, I say. They’re no good for Indians.
Remember what happened last time
some white god came floating across the ocean?
Truth is, there may be angels, but if there are angels
up there, living on clouds or sitting on thrones across the sea wearing
velvet robes and golden rings, drinking whiskey from silver cups,
we’re better off if they stay rich and fat and ugly and
’xactly where they are—in their own distant heavens.
You better hope you never see angels on the rez. If you do, they’ll be marching you off to
Zion or Oklahoma, or some other hell they’ve mapped out for us.
Natalie Diaz, “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation” from When My Brother Was an Aztec. Copyright © 2012 by Natalie Diaz. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Photo Credit: https://decolonization.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/gaagegoo-dabakaanan-miiniwaa-debenjigejig-no-borders-indigenous-sovereignty/

Poem of the Week: “Slowly,” by Denise Levertov



~Denise Levertov


Spirit has been alone

of late. Built a house

of fallen leaves

among exposed tree-roots.

Plans dreamily

to fetch water


from a stone well.




is mute,

listening. Spirit

doesn’t know

what the sound will be,

song or cry.



one word. Holds

at heart a

red thread, winding


back to the world,


to one who holds the far end,

far off.


throws off the quilts

when darkness

is very hearvy,


shuffles among

the leaves

upstairs and down




the thread to vibrate


again. Again! Crimson!


Meanwhile refuses

visitors, asks

those who come

no questions,

answers none. Digs in

for winter,




from Life in the Forest, New Directions, 1978.

Poem of the Week: Allowables, by Nikki Giovanni

BW Spider Web



I killed a spider

Not a murderous brown recluse

Nor even a black widow

And if the truth were told this

Was only a small

Sort of papery spider

Who should have run

When I picked up the book

But she didn’t

And she scared me

And I smashed her


I don’t think

I’m allowed


To kill something


Because I am





by Nikki Giovanni, from “Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid,” 2013, William Morrow 



Poem of the Week: The Only Portrait of Emily Dickinson by Irene McKinney

fullsizerender-16The Only Portrait of Emily Dickinson by Irene McKinney
The straight neck held up out of the lace
is bound with a black velvet band.
She holds her mouth the way she chooses,
the full underlip constrained by a small muscle.
She doesn’t blink or look aside,
although her left eye is considering
a slant. She would smile
if she had time, but right now
there is composure to be invented.
She stares at the photographer.
The black crepe settles. Emerging
from the sleeve, a shapely hand
holds out a white, translucent blossom.
“They always say things which embarrass
my dog,” she tells the photographer.
She is amused, but not as much as he’d like.
Irene McKinney, “The Only Portrait of Emily Dickinson” from Unthinkable: Selected Poems 1976-2004, Red Hen Press. Copyright © 2009 by Irene McKinney.

Poem of the week: Discoverers of Chile by Pablo Neruda


Off the coast of Coronado Island near San Diego, CA.

Discoverers of Chile by Pablo Neruda, translated by Angel Flores


From the north Almagro brought his wrinkled lightning,

and over the territory, amid explosion and twilight

he bent day and night as over a chart.

Shadow of thorns, shadow of thistle and wax

the Spaniard united with his dry figure,

watching the wounded strategies of earth.

Night, snow and sand make the form

of my slim fatherland,

all silence is in its long line,

all foam emerges from its marine beard,

all coal fills it with mysterious kisses.

Like an ember, gold burns in its fingers

and silver illumines, like a green moon,

its hardened shadow of grave planet.

The Spaniard seated near the rose, one day,

near the oil, near the wine, near the old sky,

could not conceive this spot of angry stone

rising from the dung of the marine eagle.


“Discoverers of Chile” by Pablo Neruda. As published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Volume LXIX, No. 1 (Chicago, October 1946).

Poem of the Week: Green Pear Tree in September by Freya Manfred

Green Pear Tree in September
On a hill overlooking the Rock River
my father’s pear tree shimmers,
in perfect peace,
covered with hundreds of ripe pears
with pert tops, plump bottoms,
and long curved leaves.
Until the green-haloed tree
rose up and sang hello,
I had forgotten. . .
He planted it twelve years ago,
when he was seventy-three,
so that in September
he could stroll down
with the sound of the crickets
rising and falling around him,
and stand, naked to the waist,
slightly bent, sucking juice
from a ripe pear.
Poem copyright ©2003 by Freya Manfred.