Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Rain,” by Claribel Alegria

RAIN

Rain

                                ~ Claribel Alegria

As the falling rain

trickles among the stones

memories come bubbling out.

It’s as if the rain

had pierced my temples.

Streaming

streaming chaotically

come memories:

the reedy voice

of the servant

telling me tales

of ghosts.

They sat beside me

the ghosts

and the bed creaked

that purple-dark afternoon

when I learned you were leaving forever,

a gleaming pebble

from constant rubbing

becomes a comet.

Rain is falling

falling

and memories keep flooding by

they show me a senseless

world

a voracious

world—abyss

ambush

whirlwind

spur

but I keep loving it

because I do

because of my five senses

because of my amazement

because every morning,

because forever, I have loved it

without knowing why.

 

From Casting Off by Claribel Alegría. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. Copyright © 2003 by Curbstone Press.

 

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Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “The White Poet Wants to Know Why I Don’t Write More Arab Poems,” by Leila Chatti

The White Poet Wants to Know Why I Don’t Write More Arab Poems

Because, while a war blooms at the margins

of the other country that claims me, still

 

I am here with my ordinary grief and its language.

 

Because every time I open my mouth

I am an Arab opening my mouth

 

and the poem is, and isn’t, responsible.

 

Sometimes I have to shake

the sand from my story

like a shoe by the side of the road.

 

I have lost nearly everyone I love, and all

to mundane tragedies.

 

I have never felt in my bones a bomb’s

radius of light.

 

The truth is I can only write about God

so many times

 

before he starts listening.

 

The truth is, like you

some days I am struck

 

by pleasure so simple and insistent

I can’t resist—the sun offering indiscriminate

 

brightness against my window, on the table

an empty glass glittering

 

—or sometimes, too, I am unwilling

to mention the wild

 

flowers staked in the field like flags.

 

Previous published in the Summer 2017 issue of The Georgia Review 

Please join us Wednesday, April 18 as we welcome Leila for a reading at 7 p.m. and as she announces the winner of the Annie Balocating Prize. Details at Poetry.RCAH.msu.edu

Posted in poem of the week, Spring Poetry Festival

Poem of the Week: “Tapestry,” by Carolyn Forché

Please join us this week in welcoming Carolyn Forché for our Spring Poetry Festival. For full schedule, visit our website.

Millefleur-Tapestry (1)

Tapestry

There is no album for these, no white script on black
paper, no dates stamped in a border, no sleeve, no fire,
no one has written on the back from left to right.
Your hair has not yet fallen out nor grown back—
girl walking toward you out of childhood
not yet herself, having not yet learned to recite
before others, and who would never wish to stand
on a lighted proscenium, even in a darkened house,
but would rather dig a hole in a field and cover herself
with barn wood, earth and hay, to be as quiet as plums turning.
There is no calendar, no month, no locket, but your name
is called and called in the early storm. No one finds
you no one ever finds you. Not in a small grave
dug by a child as a hiding place, nor years
later in the ship’s hold, not in the shelter, nor high
on the roof as the man beside you leapt, not
in a basket crossing a vineyard, nor in a convent
kitchen on the last night, as a saint soon to be
murdered told you how to live your life,
never found you walking in the ruins of the blown
barracks, wading in the flooded camp, taking cover
in the machinist’s shop, or lighting every votive
in the Cathedral of St. Just, with its vaulted
choir and transept, a wall of suffering souls.
It was just as Brecht wrote, wasn’t it? “You came
in a time of unrest when hunger reigned.
You came to the people in a time of uprising
and you rose with them. So the time
passed away which on earth was given you.”
Gather in your sleep the ripened plums.
Stay behind in the earth when your name is called.

Carolyn Forché

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “April,” by Anita Skeen

Mountain-avens

April

April is the cruelest month….

–T.S. Eliot

 

April is the killer month,

the month of late frost smothering

apple and cherry blossoms,

the month of too much blooming

too soon in too many colors.

How many shades of pink

exist, how many constellations

of purple in the grass, how many

galaxies of pear petals twinkling

in the field after last night’s storm?

The jonquils in their symphony

of yellow, each one claiming

to be First Trumpet, the tulips

holding high their bowls for rain.

The smiley-faced dandelions

are back, ready to take over

the world. There’s too much

happiness out there. The birds

can’t keep their mouths shut,

tweeting us before the sun

is even up. Lilacs show some

restraint, as do the azaleas,

not flaunting their hallmark

flowers until later. Bees lunge

dizzy with pollen, bumping

into walls, dropping from gutters

like bungee jumpers. For some

of us, spring’s not all that nifty.

Not all things return to life.

Graves will not open to give back

captives. Persephone does not

come home. All this floral hoopla,

too funereal. We’re relieved

when it’s time to flip the switch

to nightfall where just shapes

and silhouettes border the path.

Stars remain their constant selves,

a comfort they’re so far away.

 

                                                      ~ Anita Skeen

 

Join us this week as we celebrate ten years of the RCAH Center for Poetry with founder/Director Anita Skeen, and original assistants Stephanie Glazier and Lia Greenwell. Visit our Facebook event for details.