Poem of the Week, by Mark Strand

I just returned from the Red Balloon Bookshop, where I sat at a table for a couple of hours signing books and talking to any of the customers who felt like talking. One of them was an older woman wearing a big poofy winter jacket. She was in town for a few days from Kentucky, where she lives, and buying up bunches of picture books to give to her grandchildren. She admired my pigtails; I admired her smile. “Well, I certainly am happy,” she said (and she was, she gave off a kind of lightness of being), and I told her that the older I got the happier I got. “Just wait till you’re 70!” she said. “You’re not going to BELIEVE how happy you’ll be!”
* * *
The Coming of Light
     – Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

​For  more information on Mark Strand, please click here.

Poem of the Week, by Suzanne Cleary

We’re born with backups, twinned in so many ways: two hands, two ears, two eyes, two kidneys. Lose one and the other steps right up and does the job of both. But not with the heart. We each have only one of them.

– Suzanne Cleary

How does, how does, how does it work
so, little valve stretching messily open, as wide as possible,
all directions at once, sucking air, sucking blood, sucking air-in-blood,
how? On the screen I see the part of me that always loves my life, never tires
of what it takes, this in-and-out, this open-and-shut in the dark chest of me,
tireless, without muscle or bone, all flex and flux and blind
will, little mouth widening, opening and opening and, then, snapping
shut, shuddering anemone entirely of darkness, sea creature
of the spangled and sparkling sea, down, down where light cannot reach.
When the technician stoops, flips a switch, the most unpopular kid in the class
stands off-stage with a metal sheet, shaking it while Lear raves.
So this is the house where love lives, a tin shed in a windstorm,
tin shed at the sea’s edge, the land’s edge,
waters wild and steady, wild and steady, wild.

​For more information on Suzanne Cleary, please click here.

My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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Poem of the Week, by Antonio Machado

Thursday I had some minor heart surgery to fix a lifelong glitch. There was a moment of pure fear before they went to work –it’s my heart, you know?– and I asked them all please to take good care of me. Later I didn’t think I remembered anything, but then, the next day, I had a memory of my heart burning inside my chest. Because it had literally been burned, lasered in four places. And I thought of this poem, which is one of the five I would bring to a desert island if I hadn’t already memorized it. Golden bees making sweet honey out of past bitterness.

Last Night I Had a Dream
– Antonio Machado (translated by Alan Trueblood)

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a fountain flowing
deep down in my heart.
Water, by what hidden channels
have you come, tell me, to me,
welling up with new life
I never tasted before?

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a hive at work
deep down in my heart.
Within were the golden bees
straining out the bitter past
to make sweet-tasting honey,
and white honeycomb.

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a hot sun shining
deep down in my heart.
The heat was in the scorching
as from a fiery hearth;
the sun in the light it shed
and the tears it brought to the eyes.

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamed it was God I’d found
deep down in my heart.


For more information on Antonio Machado, please click here.

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Poem of the Week, by lucille clifton

The ongoing focus of my fabulous church for the non-churchy is racial justice, and the service this morning was particularly fabulous. We started out dancing in the pews to Pharrell Williams, we listened to the words of two of my favorite Nina Simone songs, we read a little Thoreau and Frederick Douglass and we all left laughing and full of energy. Halfway through the last song, some of my favorite lines from lucille clifton came ghosting into my head, including the last lines of this particular poem, so here you go.

The Lost Baby Poem
– lucille clifton

the time i dropped your almost body down
down to meet the waters under the city
and run one with the sewage to the sea
what did i know about waters rushing back
what did i know about drowning
or being drowned

you would have been born into winter
in the year of the disconnected gas
and no car     we would have made the thin
walk over genesee hill into the canada wind
to watch you slip like ice into strangers’ hands
you would have fallen naked as snow into winter
if you were here i could tell you these
and some other things

if i am ever less than a mountain
for your definite brothers and sisters
let the rivers pour over my head
let the sea take me for a spiller
of seas    let black men call me a stranger
always     for your never named sake

– for more information on lucille clifton (she spelled her name lower case), please click here.

– ​My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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Poem of the Week, by Janee H. Baugher

Every time I read this poem, the last line brings a lump to my throat. Not sure why. Maybe thinking about all the times in my life I’ve been afraid, but all those times there was something next to me, made by me, that was “never afraid”?

Light’s Effect on the Body
–  Janée J. Baugher

You’re not alone.
Your shadow’s your perfect fit.

It has no specificities
just imperial black — sum of all colors

all possibilities
to cast the pure, generalized you.

You are the body
that makes shadow possible.

Your body
is light’s filter on shadow.

When you run
from light, shadow’s the one sure thing before you.

Upon your death
shadow becomes a shadow of itself.

It began small
as you did. And through all that happened

your shadow was never afraid.

For more information on Janee H. Baugher, please click here.

My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts