5
July

Fisher’s Club by Sharon Chmielarz

If you wish, you may visit the archived columns at www.americanlifeinpoetry.org, where you may find other poems by the poets we feature. Today’s is the third we’ve published by Sharon Chmielarz. a Minnesota poet with several fine books in print, including The Widow’s House, just released by Brighthorse books.

Fisher’s Club

A roadside inn. Lakeside dive. Spiffed up.
End of a summer day. And I suppose
I should be smiling beneficently
at the families playing near the shore,
their plastic balls and splashes and chatter.

But my eye pivots left to a couple;
he is carrying her into the water.
He’s strong enough, and she is light
enough to be carried. I see
how she holds her own, hugging
his neck, his chest steady as his arms.

I have never seen such a careful dunk,
half-dunk, as he gives her. That beautiful
play he makes lifting her from the water.

And I suppose I should be admiring
the sunset, all purple and orange and rose now.
Nice porch here, too. Yeah, great view.

But I have never seen such a loving
carrying as he gives her. Imagine

being so light as to float
above water in love.

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6
June

Delivered by Cynthia Ventresca

American Life in Poetry: Column 585
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The greeting card companies are still making money, though the inventive online “cards” are gaining ground. Here’s a poem about pen and ink greeting cards, by Cynthia Ventresca, who lives in Delaware.

Delivered

She lived there for years in a
small space in a high rise that saw
her winter years dawn. When the past
became larger than her present,
she would call and thank us for cards
we gave her when we were small;
for Christmas, Mother’s Day, her birthday,
our devotion scrawled amidst depictions
of crooked hearts and lopsided lilies.

She would write out new ones,
and we found them everywhere—unsent;
in perfect cursive she wished us joy,
chains of x’s and o’s circling her signature.
And when her time alone was over,
the space emptied of all but sunshine, dust,
and a cross nailed above her door,
those cards held for us a bitter peace;
they had finally been delivered.

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2
June

“Think Like Water” Poetry Workshops

This may be of interest, if you live in the Southern California area:

workshops

Dear Los Angeles Poet Society Members and Friends,

Check out all the great poetry happenings in Eagle Rock this summer!
Come on down starting Tuesday, June 14, and every other Tuesday after that, to learn new poetic techniques and styles this summer! Each class is only $5, and you get a journal! Taught by LAPS Founder & Poet, Jessica M. Wilson MFA!

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30
May

One Poet’s Paradox – Rick Stephen

One Poet’s Paradox

I put words to paper
in relentless attempts
to persuade you
I am no fraud

But how can I
sway you when
I fail to convince
even myself?

Endless words
penned countless times
to prove that which I
can’t accept myself.

2 comments

29
May

My Dead by Tim Nolan

tim-nolan-298x450American Life in Poetry: Column 583
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

At some moment every day I call up a memory of one or another of my family members who have passed on, so I was especially taken with this poem by Tim Nolan, who lives in Minnesota. His forthcoming book is The Field, (New Rivers Press, October, 2016).

My Dead

They grow in number all the time
The cat, the Mother, the Father
The grandparents, aunts, and uncles

Those I knew well and hardly at all
My best friend from when I was ten
The guy who sat with me in the back

Of the class where the tall kids lived
Bill the Shoemaker from Lyndale Avenue
The Irish poet with rounded handwriting

They live in The Land of Echo, The Land
Of Reverb, and I hear them between
The notes of the birds, the plash of the wave

On the smooth rocks. They show up
When I think of them, as if they always
Are waiting for me to remember

I drive by their empty houses
I put on their old sweaters and caps
I wear their wristwatches and spend

Their money. So now I’m in six places
At once—if not eighteen or twenty
So many places to be thinking of them

Strange how quiet they are with their presence
So humble in the low song they sing
Not expecting that anyone will listen

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24
May

Micropoetry – 5/24/2016 – Rick Stephen

girlwindowshe waited for him with
an abiding patience
yet he had worlds
to conquer
of which hers
was but one

6 comments

4
May

They Dance Through Granelli’s – Pat Emile

American Life in Poetry: Column 580
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Pat Emile is Assistant Editor and Jill-Of-All-Trades for this column. Were it not for her help I couldn’t keep these weekly selections coming. Here she is in another role, as a poet, stopping in a little food market and noticing things the way a poet should notice them.

They Dance Through Granelli’s

He finds her near the stack
of green plastic baskets waiting to be filled
and circles her waist with his left arm,
entwines her fingers in his, pulls her toward him,
Muzak from the ceiling shedding a flashy Salsa,
and as they begin to move, she lets
her head fall back, fine hair swinging
a beat behind as they follow
their own music—a waltz—past the peaches
bursting with ripeness in their wicker baskets,
the prawns curled into each other
behind cold glass, a woman in a turquoise sari,
her dark eyes averted. They twirl twice
before the imported cheeses, fresh mozzarella
in its milky liquid, goat cheese sent down
from some green mountain, then glide past
ranks of breads, seeds spread across brown crusts,
bottles of red wine nested together on their sides.
He reaches behind her, slides a bouquet
of cut flowers from a galvanized bucket, tosses
a twenty to the teenaged boy leaning
on the wooden counter, and they whirl
out the door, the blue sky a sudden surprise.

3 comments

26
April

With Spring In Our Flesh – Don Welch

American Life in Poetry: Column 579
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Don Welch

Don Welch

Early each spring, Nebraska hosts, along a section of the Platte River, several hundred thousand sandhill cranes. It’s something I wish everyone could see. Don Welch, one of the state’s finest poets, lives under the flyway, and here’s his take on the migration. His most recent book is Gnomes, (Stephen F. Austin State Univ. Press, 2013).

With Spring In Our Flesh

With spring in our flesh
the cranes come back,
funneling into a north
cold and black.

And we go out to them,
go out into the town,
welcoming them with shouts,
asking them down.

The winter flies away
when the cranes cross.
It falls into the north,
homeward and lost.

Let no one call it back
when the cranes fly,
silver birds, red-capped,
down the long sky.

4 comments

19
April

Glowing Gazania by Rick Stephen

gg

A beautiful Gazania blossom glows when backlit by the sun. A sure sign of spring around these parts, Gazania blossoms are everywhere thanks to a relatively wet winter courtesy of El Niño.

Photograph by Rick Stephen. Available on Fine Art America.

2 comments

18
April

The Way We Said Goodbye by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate

kooser_hp
American Life in Poetry: Column 578

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I can’t help wishing that dogs lived as long as we do. I have buried a number of them, and it doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder. Here’s Mark Vinz, a Minnesota poet, from his book Permanent Record and Other Poems, from Red Dragonfly Press.

The Way We Said Goodbye

So many years later, the old dog
still circles, head lowered, crippled by
arthritis, nearly blind, incontinent.
We repeat the litany, as if we need
convincing that the end is right.

I’ll get her an ice cream cone if you’ll
drive her to the vet, my wife says.
So there we sit on the front steps
with our friend, and in the car, as always,
when she senses the doctor’s office
drawing near, she moans and tries to
burrow underneath the seats.

 What remains, the memory of how
she taught us all the way we need
to learn to live with wasting.
There we sit, together, one last time
as all that sweetness slowly disappears.

2 comments

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