Galway Kinnell, a Tribute

Galway Kinnell

February 1, 1927 – October 28, 2014

From flint and plain words,
Unflinching,
From the harsh and the ugly,
The sometimes violent,
Yet never with raised voice,
From the simple and mundane,
Frogs in a pond,
The odor of bear in a snowbank,
The muffled come-cry,
And the startling muscle of his progeny,
The world rumbled
In his baritone
And came into light to be seen.

Home

Home

That rainy day in February when we stepped
Into the strange house and looked out
Across the valley, we knew we were home.

Of course we weren’t. The empty rooms still spoke
Of other lives and dreams, and so much lay
Before us, a map of uncertainty

Framed in wood and glass and hung on desire,
The tenuous hook of ourselves laid bare
And offered up as if a sacrifice

To strangers who only counted coin,
A foreign language of counter-offer,
Escrow, inspection, title, deed, and key.

And yesterday? When we looked out across
The familiar valley and spoke, it was
About the tenacious hooks of home.

We spoke about your mother, my father,
Stairs, infirmity, uncertainty,
And loss. You said you couldn’t call this house home

Without me were I to go before you
[As I almost surely will]. I’ve thought of that,
Too, when you’ve been gone a day. We rattle

Through empty, unfamiliar rooms, the house
Gone strange again, just a frame, the scaffold
For the home we’ve long settled in our hearts.

The original version of this poem was first published on day 28 of the Writer’s Digest April Poem-a-Day Challenge (www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-28). It’s an honor to have it selected as one of the top ten poems of the day by judges Robert Lee Brewer (editor of the blog) and guest judge Sandra Beasley.

If I Were William Shakespeare

If I Were William Shakespeare

Would I compare you to a a summer’s day?
I think not. Runny nose and itchy eyes,
Those allergies and frequent curse words, say,
Strongly suggest I seek a compromise.
Perhaps then, sessions of sweet silent thought,
Something between sneezes, like evenings past?
Were there such times? My dear, I’m overwrought.
They were so far, few, and sadly didn’t last.
Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck,
But rather from the tissue box right here,
Your bleary eyes, you nose that runs amuck,
The fevered season. Hey, let’s face it dear:
If I were him, you’d have me on the run.
I’d change my name to Johnny and be Donne.

The original version of this poem was first published on day 14 of the Writer’s Digest April Poem-a-Day Challenge (www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-14). It’s an honor to have it selected as one of the top ten poems of the day by judges Robert Lee Brewer (editor of the blog) and guest judge Jericho Brown.

Long Shadows

Long Shadows

I grew in long shadows, twilight stretching
Into night, the sloped fields stippled with stars,
Long grasses rustling uphill to dark woods
At the margins of sight. I grew into
The whisper of willows down by the brook.

I grew in cool air rising with fog.
Bats darting over the pond. I grew
As an echo of the whippoorwill’s song,
A chorus of crickets feeding the sky
As I grew into long shadows and slept.

The original version of this poem was first published on day 30 of the Writer’s Digest April Poem-a-Day Challenge (www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-30). It’s an honor to have it selected as one of the top ten poems of the day by judges Robert Lee Brewer (editor of the blog) and guest judge Jillian Weise, whose second book of poems, The Book of Goodbyes, won the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the American Academy of Poets for an outstanding second book.

Between Palms

 Between Palms

“Cities,” she said, “are miraculous,”
And here she spread her hands to reveal
Between her slender fingers and soft palms

A city of cut paper, miniature,
Undulating over an air of white dunes,
Bright streets between low buildings, layered and white,
Sharp lines of shadows under lintels
Where doors and windows gave onto white rooms
Swept clean, white chairs and small tables, a bowl
Of clear soup. Beyond a back door, bleached sheets
Hung in harsh sun, children, pale ghosts, played hoops
In alleyways twisting toward white tents
Billowing in the wind, a souk where
Women in white chadors haggled over
Exquisite peppers, papery, tiny, and thin,
Lentils, bolts of white lace, and in the distant haze
The alabaster gleam of a minaret
Rose into the sun, a muezzin’s robes,
Beautiful white tissue, rustling. He raised
His arms to begin the call to prayer

And she lifted her, enfolding that small
Wonder between the delicate arches
Of her palms as if in prayer herself.

The original version of this poem was first published on day 12 of the Writer’s Digest April Poem-a-Day Challenge (www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-12). It’s an honor to have it selected as one of the top ten poems of the day by judges Robert Lee Brewer (editor of the blog) and guest judge Victoria Chang.