You kneel the way this sky never learned
those chancy turns the dirt throws back
as breezes, still warm, scented
with what’s left from when the Earth
had two centers, one blue, the other
footsteps, half random, half gathered in
for stones no longer moving
–you begin each descent
unsure, around and around, entangled
as if roots would nudge the dead closer
again into your arm over arm waving goodbye
with one more than the other
–it’s how you dig, folded over
and your shadow deeper and deeper
already reeks from far off and wings.
You have to let them fall
though once the ground cools
–this toaster is used to it
sure each slice will climb
side by side and even alone
you wear a fleece-lined jacket
set the timer left to right
the way the first sunrise
turned from what was left
–it’s still warm inside
and each hillside –you expect them
to burn, to break apart midair
making the room the dead
no longer need
though there’s no forgetting
why this crust just through
two graves, yours
and alongside in the dirt
brought to the surface
as the cold bread
that no longer hopes for anything.
Holding on to the others this hillside
knows what it is to live alon
all these years falling off-center
though you no longer follow
still back away till your hands
and the dirt once it’s empty
both weigh the same –a small stone
can even things out
the way this casket on each end
leans toward shoreline, smells
from a sky unable to take root
or balance the Earth, half
with no one to talk to, half
just by moving closer –what you trim
floats off as that embrace all stone
is born with, covered
till nothing moves inside
except the lowering that drains forever.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website athttp://www.simonperchik.com.
The tongue of the waves tolled in the earth’s bell.
Blue rippled and soaked in the fire of blue.
The dried mouthbones of a shark in the hot swale
Gaped on nothing but sand on either side.
The bone tasted of nothing and smelled of nothing.
A scalded toothless harp, uncrushed, unstrung.
The joined arcs made the shape of birth and craving
And the welded-open shape kept mouthing O.
Ossified cords held the corners together
In groined spirals pleated like a summer dress.
But where was the limber grin, the gash of pleasure?
Infinitesimal mouths bore it away.
The beach scrubbed and etched and pickled it clean.
But O I love you it sings, my little my country
My food my parent my child I want you my own
My flower my fin my life my lightness my O.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
Robert Pinsky’s first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism, and such national enthusiasm in response, that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world. As Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans — of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state — shared their favorite poems.
Pinsky’s poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy and range. Selected Poems (FSG, 2011) is his most recent poetry. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Pinsky often performs his poems with eminent jazz musicians, in venues ranging from schools and universities to jazz clubs. His CDs PoemJazz and PoemJazz II House Hour, with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood, were released by Circumstantial Productions.
Robert Pinsky is the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on “The Simpsons” and “The Colbert Report.” For years a regular contributor to PBS’s The NewsHour, he publishes frequently in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review and The Best American Poetryanthologies. He is also the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize, Italy’s Premio Capri, the Korean Manhae Award and the Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. In 2015 Boston University named Robert Pinsky a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, which is the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members actively involved in research, scholarship, and University civic life, and teaching.
Mostly thick ticker tape and paper,
but it is relentless, and they ever more
aggressive as they start
to spot its treasured innards.
I just need the kids to be safe,
but beyond their blindfolded bat swinging
into a future where all is sweet and bright,
or one where all is rent
to bits – either demands the disintegration
of a small, soft body to get inside.
I am minding my own body, eyes widening
at the swings of years; still I don’t know how to be
known, be opened. I do not want my gifts
beaten out of me.
In addition to blogging at http://mnicolerwildhood.com, m.nicole.r.wildhood’s work appeared in The Atlantic, xoJane, The Atticus Review, Five and elsewhere. Her work is forthcoming in the Foley Poetry Contestanthology and great weather for MEDIA. She writes for Seattle’s street newspaper Real Change and is at work on a novel and two volumes of poetry.
Poetry matters because “with so much violence, apathy and disconnection the world over, she takes hope from seeing others able to find things to affirm in our world; poetry is one strong way to tell the truth, say yes to beauty and call out what is not yet.”