Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Aquarium, February,” by Liz Ahl

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A note about the choosing of this poem from Center for Poetry Intern, Allison Costello: “In light of the intense winter storm that has made its way across Michigan, I wanted to choose a poem that referenced winter but honored the safety and stillness of indoors. “Aquarium, February” by Liz Ahl does just that, describing the ice outside making “daggers of the grass” in a blizzard, while the “neon” sea creatures behind the glass of the aquarium are blissfully unaware to the harshness of the outdoors. I thought we could all use the comforting imagery of the warm water flowing around the “meditative bass” in contrast to the hectic frozen landscape we’re experiencing right now.”

 

Aquarium, February

Liz Ahl

 

When ice outside makes daggers of the grass,

I come to where the tides of life still flow.

The water here still moves behind the glass.

 

In here, the seasons never seem to pass—

the sullen shark and rays still come and go.

Outside the ice makes daggers of the grass

 

and coats the roads. The meditative bass

won’t puzzle how the blustery blizzards blow.

The water here still moves. Behind the glass,

 

rose-tinted corals house a teeming mass

of busy neon creatures who don’t know

“outside.” The ice makes daggers of the grass

 

and oily puddles into mirrors. Gas

freezes in its lines; my car won’t go,

but water here still moves behind the glass.

 

No piles of valentines, no heart held fast—

just sea stars under lights kept soft and low.

Outside, the ice makes daggers of the grass;

in here, the water moves behind the glass.

 

 

 

 

Poem copyright ©2008 by Liz Ahl, “Aquarium, February,” from A Thirst That’s Partly Mine,

(Slapering Hol Press, 2008).

 

 

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Miscegenation,” by Natasha Trethewey

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Center for Poetry intern Elizabeth Sauter says this about her choice this week:

“I chose this poem by Natasha Trethewey in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day on January 21.  Majoring in political science due to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird has led me to have a renewed passion for advocating for better racial equality in American society.  As we reflect on what Reverend King achieved this week, may we also reflect on how to better our country for all Americans.”

 

Miscegenation

~ Natasha Trethewey

 

In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi;

they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi.

 

They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name

begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.

 

A year later they moved to Canada, followed a route the same

as slaves, the train slicing the white glaze of winter, leaving Mississippi.

 

Faulkner’s Joe Christmas was born in winter, like Jesus, given his name

for the day he was left at the orphanage, his race unknown in Mississippi.

 

My father was reading War and Peace when he gave me my name.

I was born near Easter, 1966, in Mississippi.

 

When I turned 33 my father said, It’s your Jesus year—you’re the same

age he was when he died. It was spring, the hills green in Mississippi.

 

Natasha Trethewey, “Miscegenation” from Native Guard. Copyright © 2007 by Natasha Trethewey.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “The Older Man,” by Karin Gottshall

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“I chose this poem because I admire Karin Gottshall’s use of language throughout all of her poems, but this one in particular feels extremely comforting to me. The lines “Your apartment,/dim and small, was in a neighborhood redolent/of cinnamon.” is so unique and such an interesting way of describing a location. I thought this poem was perfect for a day in January because it speaks of such cozy, intimate moments. It’s just something you need on a cold day, like a little pick-me-up. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!”

– RCAH Center for Poetry Intern, Estee Schlenner

 

White-on-white like tumbled

sheets, the crumpled paper. It was autumn;

I spent hours sketching the dancers

in the Degas galleries. Five times

a day I heard the docent say Degas portrayed

his dancers, his bathers like unthinking

animals—but I was in love

with their arched backs, the blatant pleasures

and fidgets of the body in use. Your apartment,

dim and small, was in a neighborhood redolent

of cinnamon. I was clunky in corduroy

and wool as you tenderly unwound

my scarf each night; it seemed your cat

would never leave off worshipping

my ankles. You unbuttoned

my heavy coat, received my load of books,

and set before me, once, a baked pear—rich

with brown sugar, sweet

butter, redundant with spice. I ate it

ravenously, that exotic food.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Burning the Old Year,” by Naomi Shihab Nye

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Center for Poetry intern, Amy Potchen, tells us why she chose this poem: “This poem only seems fitting for the beginning of the year. It serves as a reminder that a new year brings new beginnings. I enjoy the artful thought of being able to burn monotonous parts of the old year.”

Burning the Old Year

BY NAOMI SHIHAB NYE

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   

Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   

transparent scarlet paper,

sizzle like moth wings,

marry the air.

 

So much of any year is flammable,   

lists of vegetables, partial poems.   

Orange swirling flame of days,   

so little is a stone.

 

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   

an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   

I begin again with the smallest numbers.

 

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   

only the things I didn’t do   

crackle after the blazing dies.