Poem of the Week, by Sean Thomas Dougherty


Mr. Kraft and his family lived in the town of 300 I grew up five miles north of. One day when I was about nine, he and my mother stood talking in his driveway. He nodded to me at one point and said quietly to my mother, “She’s got it.”

She, meaning me. Got it, as in. . . I don’t know what. But those three words have seen me through every rough patch of my entire life. Every awful conversation, every time someone has tried to tear me down, and also in those dark and frequent moments when I think, You’re a failure, Alison. 

I remember how still I stood in Mr. Kraft’s driveway that day, how something lifted from my shoulders, how the world suddenly seemed bigger and kinder. I thought of him again when I read this poem. Wherever you are now, Mr. Kraft, in whatever far-off universe, know how you softened the world for a small girl that day, and how she never forgot your words.


Why Bother, by Sean Thomas Dougherty

Because right now there is someone
out there with
a wound in the exact shape
of your words.


For more information about Sean Thomas Dougherty, please check out his website.

Twitter and Instagram: @alisonmcgheewriter 

Poem of the Week, by Adelia Prado

Photos 997My daughter at eight: What would happen if you die? I tell her she would be very sad but everyone would take such good care of her, and she says No, they wouldn’t. Because I would be dead too, of sadness. My son at four shuffles out of the bedroom in his first pair of flip-flops, having put them on himself with the strap between his second and third toes. It’s fine, mama, don’t worry, they don’t hurt, I can walk. My grandmother, flustered and red-faced in the small kitchen where she’s trying to make dinner for me: Oh Alison, I’m just no use at all anymore. Me outwardly protesting but inwardly stricken by the knowledge that in that single instant, everything is now changed.  

“Because living is just too much!” I always say when someone in an audience asks why I became a writer. “It’s all too hard! I’d lose my mind if I didn’t turn it into books!” 

I laugh and they laugh, but do they know I’m not joking? Writing makes it possible for me to live in a world without my grandmother in it, a world where my heart beats outside my body in the form of my children, where every new day brings a thousand possibilities and a thousand losses. Writing is my way of cheating time.


The Mystical Rose, by Adelia Prado

The first time
I became conscious of form,
I said to my mother:
“Dona Armanda has a basket in her kitchen
where she keeps tomatoes and onions”
and began fretting that even lovely things
eventually spoil,
until one day I wrote:
“It was here in this room that my father died,
here that he wound the clock
and rested his elbows
on what he thought was the windowsill
but was the threshold of death.”
I understood that words grouped like that
made it possible to live without
the things they describe,
that my father was returning, indestructible.
It was as if someone had painted a picture
of Dona Armanda’s basket and said:
“Now you can eat the fruit.”
So, there is order in the world!
—where does it come from?
And why does order, which is joy itself,
and bathes in a different light
than the light of day,
make the soul sad?
We must protect the world from time’s corrosion,
cheat time itself.
And so I kept writing: “My father died in this room…
Night, you can come on down,
your blackness can’t erase this memory.”
That was my first poem.    


​For more information on Adelia Prado, please follow this link.​



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Poem of the Week, by Richard Wilbur

Calligraphy letters, 2011When it came to homework, I was kind of a hands-off mother, a mother whose life –and whose children’s lives– became instantly better when I made the decision to quit checking the portal. (The portal. The portal. The portal of hell.) My children never asked me to look at or edit their papers, so I didn’t, and when it came to math, I couldn’t help them anyway. But my youngest daughter preferred to do her homework, especially essay assignments, at the dining table when I was working. She would write her papers, I would write my stories. This daughter works best with solid blocks of time, earbuds in and playlist on, while her mother at the other end of the table twitches and rocks and grinds her teeth, trying trying trying to get the words out. My sleek iridescent child, my clattering commotion of keys. This poem feels as if it came straight out of my own heart. 


The Writer, by Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
my daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
from her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
as if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

the whole house seems to be thinking,
and then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
how we stole in, lifted a sash

and retreated, not to affright it;
and how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
we watched the sleek, wild, dark

and iridescent creature
batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
to the hard floor, or the desk-top,

and wait then, humped and bloody,
for the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
rose when, suddenly sure,

it lifted off from a chair-back, 
beating a smooth course for the right window
and clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
what I wished you before, but harder. 


For more information on Richard Wilbur, please click here.

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Poem of the Week, by Stephen Dunn

IMG_0447I’m teaching a Creative Writing Boot Camp this week. Six days in a row, seven hours a day, nineteen of us gather in a windowed classroom halfway between Minneapolis and St. Paul to write and write and talk and talk about the art and craft and act of writing. Poems and tiny short stories, tiny memoirs. Beautiful, painful, funny, wistful fragments of life, captured on paper and released into the invisible air of the room. I could teach for another fifty years and never lose this astonishment, that nurses and truck drivers and musicians and stay at home parents and hair stylists and sex workers and clerks and commodities traders and group home workers, Muslim and Christian and atheist, come together in a single small room and transform themselves and me and the whole outside world by the power of sharing stories. If a teacher asked me to name a sacred place, the classroom would be mine.

The Sacred
     – Stephen Dunn

After the teacher asked if anyone had
a sacred place
and the students fidgeted and shrank

in their chairs, the most serious of them all
said it was his car,
being in it alone, his tape deck playing

things he’d chosen, and others knew the truth
had been spoken
and began speaking about their rooms,

their hiding places, but the car kept coming up,
the car in motion,
music filling it, and sometimes one other person

who understood the bright altar of the dashboard
and how far away
a car could take him from the need

to speak, or to answer, the key
in having a key
and putting it in, and going.


For more information about Stephen Dunn, please click here.

Poem of the Week, by William Stafford

When I Met My Muse, by William Stafford
I glanced at her and took my glasses
off–they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

​For more information on William Stafford, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/william-e-stafford​

My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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