Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “All Souls’ Day”, by Carol Rumens








All Souls’ Day

By Carol Rumens


Let’s go our old way
by the stream, and kick the leaves
as we always did, to make
the rhythm of breaking waves.

This day draws no breath –
shows no colour anywhere
except for the leaves – in their death
brilliant as never before.

Yellow of Brimstone Butterfly,
brown of Oak Eggar Moth –
you’d say. And I’d be wondering why
a summer never seems lost

if two have been together
witnessing the variousness of light,
and the same two in lustreless November
enter the year’s night…

The slow-worm stream – how still!
Above that spider’s unguarded door,
look – dull pearls…Time’s full,
brimming, can hold no more.

Next moment (we well know,
my darling, you and I)
what the small day cannot hold
must spill into eternity.

So perhaps we should move cat-soft
meanwhile, and leave everything unsaid,
until no shadow of risk can be left
of disturbing the scatheless dead.

Ah, but you were always leaf-light.
And you so seldom talk
as we go. But there at my side
through the bright leaves you walk.

And yet – touch my hand
that I may be quite without fear,
for it seems as if a mist descends,
and the leaves where you walk do not stir.


Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Unmarked,” by Tim Seibles



for Natalie


So much like sequins

the sunlight on this river.

Something like that kiss—



Fourth of July, with the moon

down early    the air moved


as if it were thinking,

as if it had begun

to understand


how hard it is

to feel at home

in the world,


but that night

she found a place

just above your shoulder


and pressed her lips

there. Soft rain


had called off the fireworks:

the sky was quiet, but

back on Earth


two boys cruised by on bikes

trying out bad words. You turned

to reach her mouth,


at last, with yours    after weeks

of long walks, talking


about former loves

gone awry—


how the soul finally

falls down


and gets up alone

once more


finding the city strange,

the streets unmarked.


Every time you meet someone

it’s hard not to wonder


who they’ve been—one story

breaking so much


into the next: memory

engraves its hesitations—


but that night

you found yourself

unafraid. Do you remember


what the wind told the trees

about her brown hair?—

how the cool dark turned around:


that first kiss,

long as a river.


Didn’t it seem like you already loved her?


Off the sidewalk: a small pond,

the tall cattails, all those sleepy koi


coloring the water.



Center for Poetry intern Estee Schlenner had this to say about her choice of “Unmarked” this week:
I like this poem so much because, as a poet, it is difficult to write about love or most sentimental feelings, without leaning into clichés. I think Seibles walked that line perfectly. He spoke of love and a first kiss, while making it about so much more than that. I think it’s very admirable when a poet can write a poem like this because it’s a very difficult task to accomplish.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Wounded Men Seldom Come Home to Die,” by Austin Smith



Regarding this week’s selection, Interim Director Cindy Hunter Morgan says, “I’ve been sharing Austin Smith’s poems with friends and students and strangers since I discovered his book, Almanac, in 2013. I was delighted to find this new poem in the August issue of Adroit Journal. I admire how Smith balances the ordinary with the surreal, and how the poem, as a vessel, accommodates both gentleness and violence. I admire his use of simile. ‘Clutching his wound like a bunch of kindling’ is wonderfully odd and perfectly right, and the description of the wound — the way, as Smith says, ‘It’s still drifting around inside his body, bouncing,’ also feels weird and true.”





And this is why: when a wounded man comes home
To die he must come in through the summer kitchen,
Clutching his wound like a bunch of kindling.
At the sight of him his mother faints. He catches her

Just in time and lays her down on the floor.
When his sister comes in from slopping hogs to find her
Brother at the table with his long legs kicked out
And their mother senseless on the linoleum, she sighs

And unbuttons his shirt. The wound isn’t visible yet,
It’s still drifting around inside his body, bouncing
Under his skin like a man swimming under ice,
Desperate to find the place where he fell through.

When the wound surfaces, that’s when she’ll know
Whether he’ll live or die. For now, his eyes are calm
And blue. He asks her which boys have been bothering her
At school. She knows not to ask him where he’s been.

When their mother comes to, she insists she’s fine.
“It’s just this heat is all,” she says. After putting a pot
Of coffee on, she says, “Now if you’ll excuse me,
I’m going upstairs and close my eyes awhile.”

There’s blood soaking through his white tee-shirt now.
His sister pretends not to see it. They talk through the evening.
Around midnight she tells him the sheets on his bed are clean.
He thanks her and tells her he might sit on the porch,

Watch fireflies like he used to when he was little.
In the morning his bed hasn’t been slept in. There’s no note
On the kitchen table, just a few fireflies in a Mason jar,
Holes punched in the tin lid so they can breathe.

(Originally Published in the Adroit Journal, August 2018)

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Dear Amy Nehzooukammyatootill,” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

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Center for Poetry intern Grace Carras selected this poem, and had this to say:

“I had the great privilege of participating in a poetry workshop led by Aimee Nezhukumatathil over the summer. As a teacher, she was tremendously energetic and inspiring; as a poet, her wit and attention to sensory detail sets her work apart from so many others. I’ve felt inspired by her poetry for months, and I hope you find yourself inspired as well.”


Dear Amy Nehzooukammyatootill,

(a found poem, composed entirely of e-mails from various high school students)


If I were to ask you a question about your book

and sum it up into one word it would be, Why?

I think I like Walt Whitman better than you. I just don’t

get literature, but for a fast hour and a half read, your book


takes the cake. I like how you organized the lines

in that one poem to represent a growing twisting bonsai tree.

Are you going to get a rude reaction when you meet

that one guy in that one poem? I guess you never know.


You are very young to be a poet. I also like how your poems take

up an entire page (it makes our reading assignment go faster).

In class we spend so much time dissecting your poems

and then deeply analyzing them. I think I like Walt Whitman


better than you, but don’t take offense—you are very good too!

You are young, You are young and pure and really just want

to have a good time. Thank you we have taken a debate

and you are a far better poet than Walt Whitman. And I loved


how your poems were easy to read and understand. Hello

my name is Alicia. We read you book and I just loved it.

We also read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. There

was no competition there. I liked your book a whole lot better.


It was an easy read. But poetry is not my favorite type

of literature. Sometimes I am offered drinks and guys

try to talk to me but I too just brush it off and keep dancing.

Every once and a while the creepy mean guys try to offer you


things and then they say something. What would you do?

Lastly, I was wondering if you ever wrote a poem that really

didn’t have a deeper meaning but everyone still tried

to give it one anyways? Walt Whitman is better than you.