Poetry Wednesday – Sci-Fi by Tracy K. Smith

Welcome to the return of Poetry Wednesday! I know, it was a little ridiculous of me to let Poetry Wednesday slide during National Poetry Month, but April is always so hectic. Plus, National Poetry Month is probably the one month of the year where you are seeing a lot of poetry elsewhere, so I didn’t feel too bad. In any case, here is today’s poem in a happy nod to Star Wars Day! Science fiction poetry isn’t really something you see very often. Clearly it exists and someone is writing and reading it, but I’d love to see more of it. I love the concept behind this poem and the way it really plays with some of the more common tropes of science fiction, like curved lines, but then makes its way into something unique. There are one or two couplets that don’t really convince me, but as a whole, this poem is well-crafted.


Sci-Fi by Tracy K. Smith

There will be no edges, but curves.
Clean lines pointing only forward.

History, with its hard spine & dog-eared
Corners, will be replaced with nuance,

Just like the dinosaurs gave way
To mounds and mounds of ice.

Women will still be women, but
The distinction will be empty. Sex,

Having outlived every threat, will gratify
Only the mind, which is where it will exist.

For kicks, we’ll dance for ourselves
Before mirrors studded with golden bulbs.

The oldest among us will recognize that glow—
But the word sun will have been re-assigned

To a Standard Uranium-Neutralizing device
Found in households and nursing homes.

And yes, we’ll live to be much older, thanks
To popular consensus. Weightless, unhinged,

Eons from even our own moon, we’ll drift
In the haze of space, which will be, once

And for all, scrutable and safe.

Poetry Wednesday – Rhina P. Espaillat (2)

I know I just posted another poem by Rhina P. Espaillat last Wednesday, but when I read this one, I couldn’t help but feature another one. You’re going to see immediately why I like it, I guarantee it. Rhina P. Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic under the Trujillo regime. Her and her family moved to New York when she was a young woman and she began writing poetry, in Spanish and then in English. I love the way she treats bilingualism as the blessing it really is here. Absolutely beautiful.


Bilingual/Bilingüe by Rhina P. Espaillat

My father liked them separate, on there,
one here (allá y aquí), as if aware

that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart
(el corazón) and lock the alien part

to what he was – his memory, his name
(su nombre) – with a key he could not claim.

“English outside this door, Spanish inside,”
he said, “y basata.” But who can divide

the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from
any child? I knew how to be dumb

and stubborn (testaruda);  late, in bed,
I hoarded secret syllables I read

until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run
where his stumbled. And still the heart was one.

I like to think he knew that, even when,
proud (orgulloso) of his daughter’s pen,

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear
of words he loved but wanted not to hear.

Poetry Wednesday – Audre Lorde

Photo credit: flickr user englishsnowLook I made a shiny new Poetry Wednesday button! Anyway, today I’d like to feature a poem by Audre Lorde. Lorde is, for me, one of the most expressive poets I have read. When you read her words, you just want to say them out loud. They have such a natural fluidity and rhythm. This poem in particular was an early favorite of mine. I considered posting another one today, just so I could have something new to read, but nothing else seemed to embody the way I feel about Audre Lorde like this poem does.

Hanging Fire by Audre Lorde

I am fourteen
and my skin has betrayed me
the boy I cannot live without
still sucks his thumb
in secret
how come my knees are
always so ashy
what if I die
before morning
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

I have to learn how to dance
in time for the next party
my room is too small for me
suppose I die before graduation
they will sing sad melodies
but finally
tell the truth about me
There is nothing I want to do
and too much
that has to be done
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his
why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up
and momma’s in the bedroom
with the door closed.

Poetry Wednesday – Edna St Vincent Millay

I’ve been vaguely aware of Edna St. Vincent Millay for a while now, but all of the sudden she seems to be popping up everywhere. So when I found this poem, I knew I had to post it. I also need to go take a walk on the beach, soon. I feel the same way whenever I think of living somewhere without the ocean. How do you orientate yourself? How do you know which way is north or south when you don’t have the ocean to remind you? (I am kind of asking this in all seriousness.)


Inland by Edna St Vincent Millay

People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound

Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
Tons of water striking the shore —
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?

People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbor’s head,
What do they long for, as I long for, —
Starting up in my inland bed,

Beating the narrow walls, and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning —
One salt taste of the sea once more?

Poetry Wednesday – Ted Kooser

Last week I mentioned Ted Kooser’s Poetry Home Repair Manual and it occurred to me that I should feature Ted Kooser here. He’s an excellent poet and I should really read more of his work.


Flying at Night by Ted Kooser

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the  chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard  light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.

Poetry Wednesday – Joseph Hutchison

Back when I was taking every poetry class that would let me in, we read The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser which is surprisingly good for its cheesy title and cover. There is a poem in its pages that has taken on near mythical proportions for the people in that class, so much so that there was talk  of getting tattoos of this poem. I think you’ll see why.


Artichoke by Joseph Hutchison

Oh heart weighed down by so many wings.

Poetry Wednesday – W. S. Merwin

I’m in a short poem mood, and since I usually schedule an entire month’s worth of Poetry Wednesday’s in one sitting, be prepared for an entire February of short poems. Fitting, as it is the  shortest month. First up is W. S. Merwin’s poem separation. I almost passed by this poem before reading the last line. Silly me.


Separation by W. S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.


Is that poetic perfection? Probably.

Poetry Wednesday – Linda Pastan

The pantoum is one of my favorite poetry forms.  While it can seem like a particularly constricting for,  the meanings that come out of it are really just astounding sometimes.  This is a lovely pantoum by US poet Linda Pastan.

Something About the Trees
by Linda Pastan

I remember what my father told me:
There is an age when you are most yourself.
He was just past fifty then,
Was it something about the trees that make him speak?

There is an age when you are most yourself.
I know more than I did once.
Was it something about the trees that make him speak?
Only a single leaf had turned so far.

I know more than I did once.
I used to think he’d always be the surgeon.
Only a single leaf had turned so far,
Even his body kept its secrets.

I used to think he’d always be the surgeon,
My mother was the perfect surgeon’s wife.
Even his body kept its secrets.
I thought they both would live forever.

My mother was the perfect surgeon’s wife,
I can still see her face at thirty.
I thought they both would live forever.
I thought I’d always be their child.

I can still see her face at thirty.
When will I be most myself?
I thought I’d always be their child.
In my sleep it’s never winter.

When will I be most myself?
I remember what my father told me.
In my sleep it’s never winter.
He was just past fifty then.


Poetry Wednesday (on Thursday) – Holly Iglesias

I have a penchant for poetry that incorporates the title as a line in the poem, both for reading it and for writing it, so I was immediately drawn to this poem by Holly Iglesias.

I Can Afford Neither the Rain
by Holly Iglesias

Nor the strip of light between the slats, the window
itself blind with grief. Nor the bench where the last
mourner lingers, the others on to the next thing,
leaning into the bar, toasting the sweethearts, gone
and gone, their passion and ire softening now into the
earth. Nor the bluff above the Mississippi where
centuries of war dead rest, where the stone stands
bearing their names, the wind of romance hard against it.

Poetry Wednesday – Joanna Klink

This poem is not necessarily an easy one to read, but don’t let that stop you, please.  Too often I don’t try with poetry.  I skip a poem and move on to the next one if it asks too much of me.  I decided to try with this one and the payoff was so worth it.


Pericardium by Joanna Klink

Am I not alone, as I thought I was, as I thought
The day was, the hour I walked into, morning
When I felt night fly from my chest where prospect had
Slackened, and close itself off, understanding, as I thought I did,
That the ground would resist my legs and not let them
Break nor let them be released into air as my heart, in its
Muscle, might be released from the body that surrounds it,
Like someone who, placing a hand on a shoulder’s
Blade, felt a life move inside an hour and a day
Break from the day the hour meant something more than weakness,
More than fear, and flew forward into the depths of
Prospect, your arms, where you’d been, before me, waiting
For me, the way the body has always been waiting for the heart to sense
It is housed, it is needed, it will not be harmed.