Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond”

rose

Center for Poetry intern, Amy Potchen, explains her choice of poem: ” A friend showed me this poem last week and I have been in love with it even since. I love the imagery of the rose and the different ways that it is used in this poem. The first flowers of the spring time mentioned in the poem remind me of the flowers that are beginning to pop up around East Lansing.”

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond

By E.E. Cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Find this poem online at  www.familyfriendpoems.com

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: excerpt from “Perihelion: A History of Touch”

 

treeThe following poem is an excerpt from the poem “Perihelion: A History of Touch.” The excerpts below are the third and fourth stanzas out of twelve in the poem. This poem is from the book Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) by Franny Choi. The original version of this poem is double justified but has been formatted due to the restrictions of this website. You can read the first two parts of the poem on a broadside given out at a reading by the poet on Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00pm in the RCAH Theater, in Snyder-Phillips hall. 

 

Perihelion: A History of Touch

By Franny Choi

                                               Worm Moon

Like any girl, I pulled myself into shreds to test the rumor that

 something with blood like mine could be halved and still whole.

And what did I learn? I buried myself all over the garden, but the

 pieces only sprouted into new riddles: squid leg, spaghetti squash, a

jerking thumb. Their names still sounded like mine; everyone in the

 same dress, chewing dirt to avoid each others’ eyes. I lay down next

to the one beneath the porch, hiding among the oyster shells. Don’t

 cry, I said, but she cried anyway. Her tears fell straight into my eyes.

What a lesson—to watch them float back and forth between us until

we knew each one’s shape. Until we knew, finally, what to do with

them.

 

                                                  Pink Moon
Outside, the colors leapt from the trees. Here, inside, some new

 word was blooming in my underwear—darker than I’d expected. I’d

expected something pink; a slow, sweet trickle. Not this wet tar,

 treacle, dark, like the blood had been stretching inside me for years,

slow-building into a sticky chord, the first falling away. Soil’s been

watered; come play. First stuck, first gum, first hum of pollen,

 calling in the bees and readying to wilt.

 

Find this poem online at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/144599/perihelion-a-history-of-touch

 

 

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Blind Boone’s Pianola Blues,” by Tyehimba Jess

piano keys

RCAH Center for Poetry intern Amy Potchen discusses this poem: “I love the way Jess uses imagery in this poem. I feel like I’m there with the person playing the piano. This is a poem from Jess’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “Olio.” This Wednesday, April 10th, listen to Jess read his work in the RCAH Theater at 7:00. While there, pick up a free broadside of Jess’s poem “Mark Twain v. Blind Tom.”

Blind Boone’s Pianola Blues

They said I wasn’t smooth enough
to beat their sharp machine.
That my style was obsolete,
that old rags had lost their gleam
and lunge. That all I had
left was a sucker punch
that couldn’t touch
their invisible piano man
with his wind up gut-
less guts of paper rolls.
And so, I went and told them
that before the night was through
I’d prove what the son of an ex-
slave could do: I dared them
to put on their most twisty
tune. To play it double-time
while I listened from another
room past the traffic sounds
of the avenue below.
To play it only once,
then to let me show
note for note how that scroll
made its roll through Chopin
or Bach or Beethoven’s best.
And if I failed to match my fingers
and ears with the spinning gears
of their invisible pneumatic piano
scholar, I’d pay them the price
of a thousand dollars.

And what was in it for Boone?
you might ask…

Might be the same thing that drives men
through mountains at heart attack pace.
Might be just to prove some tasks
ain’t meant to be neatly played
out on paper and into air,
but rather should tear
out from lung, heart and brain
with a flair of flicked wrists
and sly smile above the 88s…
and, of course, that ever-human
weight of pride that swallows us
when a thing’s done just right…
But they were eager to prove me wrong.
They chose their fastest machine
with their trickiest song and stuck it
in a room far down the hall from me.
They didn’t know how sharp
I can see with these ears of mine—
I caught every note even though
they played it in triple time.
And when I played it back to them
even faster, I could feel the violent
stares… heard one mutter
    Lucky black bastard…
and that was my cue to rise,
to take a bow in their smoldering
silence and say, Not luck,
my friend, but the science
of touch and sweat and
stubborn old toil. I’d bet
these ten fingers against any coil
of wire and parchment and pump.

And I left them there to ponder
the wonders of blindness
as I walked out the door
into the heat of the sun.

 

Find this poem online at https://bombmagazine.org/articles/two-poems-17/

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Hammond B3 Organ Cistern,” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

iced green tea

Amy Potchen, Center for Poetry Intern, discusses this poem: “The poet is able to express a dark topic in such a poetic way. Interns in the Center have recently transformed this poem into a letter-pressed broadside to give out at Calvocoressi’s reading.  Get your broadside on Wednesday April 3rd at 7:00 in the Snyder-Phillips basement theater at the reading.”

 

Hammond B3 Organ Cistern

by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

 

The days I don’t want to kill myself

are extraordinary. Deep bass. All the people

in the streets waiting for their high fives

and leaping, I mean leaping,

when they see me. I am the sun-filled

god of love. Or at least an optimistic

under-secretary. There should be a word for it.

The days you wake up and do not want

to slit your throat. Money in the bank.

Enough for an iced green tea every weekday

and Saturday and Sunday! It’s like being

in the armpit of a Hammond B3 organ.

Just reeks of gratitude and funk.

The funk of ages. I am not going to ruin

my love’s life today. It’s like the time I said yes

to gray sneakers but then the salesman said

Wait. And there, out of the back room,

like the bakery’s first biscuits: bright-blue kicks.

Iridescent. Like a scarab! Oh, who am I kidding,

it was nothing like a scarab! It was like

bright. blue. fucking. sneakers! I did not

want to die that day. Oh, my God.

Why don’t we talk about it? How good it feels.

And if you don’t know then you’re lucky

but also you poor thing. Bring the band out on the stoop.

Let the whole neighborhood hear. Come on, Everybody.

Say it with me nice and slow

      no pills       no cliff       no brains onthe floor

Bring the bass back.          no rope         no hose        not today, Satan.

Every day I wake up with my good fortune

and news of my demise. Don’t keep it from me.

Why don’t we have a name for it?

Bring the bass back. Bring the band out on the stoop.

Hallelujah!

 

 

Published 11/19/2018 in The New Yorker