More of My Favorite Poems

And I Said to My Soul, Be Loud  (by Christian Wiman from Every Riven Thing)


Madden me back to an afternoon
I carry in me
not like a wound
but like a will against a wound

Give me again enough man
to be the child
choosing my own annihilations

To make of this severed limb
a wand to conjure
a weapon to shatter
dark matter of the dirt daubers' nests
galaxies of glass

Whacking glints
bash-dancing on the cellar's fire
I am the sound the sun would make
if the sun could make a sound

and the gasp of not
stabbed from the compost's lumpen living death
is me

O my life my war in a jar
I shake you and shake you
and may the best ant win

For I am come a whirlwind of wasted things
and I will ride this tantrum back to God

until my fixed self, my flourescent self
my grief-nibbling, unbewildered, wall-to-wall self
withers in me like a salted slug

****


The Closet    by Bill Knott


(...after my Mother’s death)
Here not long enough after the hospital happened
I find her closet lying empty and stop my play
And go in and crane up at three blackwire hangers
Which quiver, airy, released. They appear to enjoy

Their new distance, cognizance born of the absence
Of anything else. The closet has been cleaned out
Full-flush as surgeries where the hangers could be
Amiable scalpels though they just as well would be

Themselves, in basements, glovelessly scraping uteri
But, here, pure, transfigured heavenward, they’re
Birds, whose wingspans expand by excluding me. Their
Range is enlarged by loss. They’d leave buzzards

Measly as moths: and the hatshelf is even higher!—
As the sky over a prairie, an undotted desert where
Nothing can swoop sudden, crumple in secret. I’ve fled
At ambush, tag, age: six, must I face this, can

I have my hide-and-seek hole back now please, the
Clothes, the thicket of shoes, where is it? Only
The hangers are at home here. Come heir to this
Rare element, fluent, their skeletal grace sings

Of the ease with which they let go the dress, slip,
Housecoat or blouse, so absolvingly. Free, they fly
Trim, triangular, augurs leapt ahead from some geometric
God who soars stripped (of flesh, it is said): catnip

To a brat placated by model airplane kits kids
My size lack motorskills for, I wind up glue-scabbed,
Pawing goo-goo fingernails, glaze skins fun to peer in as
Frost-i-glass doors ... But the closet has no windows,

Opaque or sheer: I must shut my eyes, shrink within
To peep into this wall. Soliciting sleep I’ll dream
Mother spilled and cold, unpillowed, the operating-
Table cracked to goad delivery: its stirrups slack,

Its forceps closed: by it I’ll see mobs of obstetrical
Personnel kneel proud, congratulatory, cooing
And oohing and hold the dead infant up to the dead
Woman’s face as if for approval, the prompted

Beholding, tears, a zoomshot kiss. White-masked
Doctors and nurses patting each other on the back,
Which is how in the Old West a hangman, if
He was good, could gauge the heft of his intended ...

Awake, the hangers are sharper, knife-’n’-slice, I jump
Helplessly to catch them to twist them clear,
Mis-shape them whole, sail them across the small air
Space of the closet. I shall find room enough here

By excluding myself; by excluding myself, I’ll grow.

Bill Knott, “The Closet,” from Becos. Copyright © 1983 by Bill Knott. Reprinted with the permission of Random House, Inc.

Source: Becos (1983)

******


Samurai Song    by Robert Pinsky


When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.
 
 
 
******
 
 
 
Child    ...Sylvia Plath
 
 
Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
the zoo of the new
Whose names you meditate–
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,
Little
Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
should be grand and classical
Not this troublous
wringing of hands, this dark
ceiling without a star.