Poem of the Week, by Ted Kooser

 

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My grandfather had a wild child of a sister who, if I’m remembering right, ran off in her teens to marry a carnie. She loved to fall in love, but it didn’t always end well. I only met her once, at lunch, when my family was on a road trip and we stopped at her and her current husband’s home. When he was spoken about among family members, it was always in dark, hushed tones. He was mean, apparently, angry and abusive, with a violent temper, and my great-aunt was afraid of him. At that lunch what I, the child, saw was an old man who sat silently at the head of the table. I watched as he tried to spread mustard on a piece of bread. The knife dropped from his hand and mustard splattered on his plate. I remember the covert look he darted around the table when this happened. No one said anything or looked at him, but I remember briefly meeting his eyes and sensing his humiliation. The image of that old man and the look in his eyes has been with me my whole life, and it came flooding back when I read this poem.

Tattoo
– Ted Kooser

What once was meant to be a statement—
a dripping dagger held in the fist
of a shuddering heart—is now just a bruise
on a bony old shoulder, the spot
where vanity once punched him hard
and the ache lingered on. He looks like
someone you had to reckon with,
strong as a stallion, fast and ornery,
but on this chilly morning, as he walks
between the tables at a yard sale
with the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt
rolled up to show us who he was,
he is only another old man, picking up
broken tools and putting them back,
his heart gone soft and blue with stories.

 

For more information on Ted Kooser, please click here.

 

 

Poem of the Week, by Kim Addonizio

IMG_3122I never paid much attention to tattoos until my children and their friends, and then my own friends, started getting them. For me, it’s been a natural progression from disinterest + a tinge of sadness (that beautiful skin, forever altered) to mild interest + resignation (that beautiful skin, forever altered) to deep interest (what’s the story behind that tattoo? + admiration (it’s an art form, with the body as medium) = these days, tattoos are among the first things I notice when out wandering the streets and beach. This poem, by one of my favorite poets, makes me think about them in a different way, in an everything-we-can’t-see-but-know-is-there kind of way. All the unknown stories walking around out there.

 

First Poem for You
     – Kim Addonizio

I like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you

to me, taking you until we’re spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.

 

For more information on Kim Addonizio, please click here.