Elizabeth Gaskell – On Visiting the Grave of My Stillborn Little Girl

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (September 29, 1810 – November 12, 1865) Sunday July 4th 1836 I made a vow within my soul, O Child,When thou wert laid beside my weary heart,With marks of death on every tender partThat, if in time a living infant smiled,Winning my ear with gentle sounds of loveIn sunshine of such joy, …

Tracy K Smith – I Sit Outside In Low Late Afternoon Light To Feel Earth Call To Me

Tracy K Smith (April 16, 1972 -) I wish it would grab me by the ankles and pull.I wish its shadow would dance up close, closing in.When I close my eyes a presence forms, backs away.I float above a lake, am dragged backfrom a portion of sky. Down, down, the falling doesn’t end.Every marked body …

Dorianne Laux – Against Endings

Dorianne Laux (January 10, 1952 -) On the street outside the windowsomeone is talking to someone else,a baffling song, no words, only the musicof voices—low contralto of questions,laughter’s plucked strings—voices in darknessbelow stars where someone straddles a bikeup on the balls of his feet, and someone elsestands firm on a curb, her arms crossed, twodogs …

Gregory Djanikian – Banality

Gregory Djanikian There's something to be said for banality,the way it keeps everything on a level plane,one cliché blithely following anotherlike cows heading toward the pasture. How lovely sometimes not to thinkabout Russian Futurism, or the second lawof thermodynamics, or how thinking itselfrequires some thoughtfulness. I'd like to ask if Machiavelliever owned a dog named …

John Clare – I Am

John Clare (July 13, 1793 – May 20, 1864) I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;My friends forsake me like a memory lost:I am the self-consumer of my woes—They rise and vanish in oblivion’s host,Like shadows in love-frenzied stifled throes—And yet I am and live—like vapours tossed Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,Into …

Joyce Carol Oates – This Is Not A Poem

Joyce Carol Oates (June 16, 1938 -)  in which the poet discoversdelicate white-parched bonesof a small creatureon a Great Lake shoreor the desiccated remainsof cruder roadkillbeside the rushing highway.Nor is it a poem in whicha cracked mirror yieldsa startled face,or sere grasses hiss-ing like consonantsin a foreign language.Family photo albumfilled with yearningstrangers long deceased,closet of …

Christian Wiman – I Don’t Want To Be A Spice Store

Christian Wiman I don’t want to be a spice store.I don’t want to carry handcrafted Marseille soap,or tsampa and yak butter,or nine thousand varieties of wine.Half the shops here don’t open till noonand even the bookstore’s brined in charm.I want to be the one store that’s open all nightand has nothing but necessities.Something to get …