Poem of the Week, by Jim Moore

When someone signs up for a workshop they often say something like Alison, I need you to be hard on me. Don’t sugarcoat anything. I just tilt my head and smile.

When I was young I sat through lots of tense workshops in which a few lukewarm-nice things were said and then the “real” critique started, about everything wrong with the piece. Too many times I watched students turn bright red, fight back tears.

“I do best when a teacher is tough on me.” Do you, though? What about when someone focuses on what’s beautiful, what is yours and yours alone? Watch a wild, silent power emerge. The teacher in this poem speaks to the artist in me.

A Young Man, a Stranger, Smiled at Me, by Jim Moore

           Maybe I reminded him of his grandfather
or his favorite teacher in grade school,
           the one who lied to him
about his painting of the goldfish bowl,
           who looked hard at it and said, Beautiful.

For more information about Jim Moore, please visit his website.


Words by Winter: my podcast

Poem of the Week, by Jim Moore

My poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

The other day I passed a tall chemo-bald man in a fur hat despite the warm day. They cut the bad parts out and now I’m good to go, he told the UPS driver. I smiled at him and he waved, full of cheer.

The broken world is a phrase I see everywhere these days. Yeah, it’s broken, and yeah, wild worry about the future keeps me from sleep. But haven’t all our hearts been broken, over and over, and don’t most of us just want to keep going? Want to haul ourselves up from a fall, from surgery, from depression, from everything that gets thrown at us, so that we can keep on living? There’s something so beautiful about that.

Whatever Else, by Jim Moore

Whatever else, the little smile on the face of the woman
listening to a music the rest of us can’t hear and a sky at dawn
with a moon all its own. Whatever else, the construction crane
high above us waiting to be told how to do our bidding,
we who bid and bid and bid. Whatever else, the way cook #1
looks with such longing at cook #2. Let’s not be too sad
about how sad we are. I know about the disappearance
of the river dolphins, the sea turtles with tumors.
I know about the way the dead
don’t return no matter how long they take to die
in the back of the police car. I know about the thousand ways our world
betrays itself. Whatever else, my friend, spreading wide his arms,
looks out at the river and says,
“After all, what choice did I have?” After all,
I saw the man walking who’d had the stroke, saw the woman
whose body won’t stop shaking. I saw the frog in the tall grass,
boldly telling us who truly matters. I saw the world
proclaim itself an unlit vesper candle while a crow
flew into the tip of it, sleek black match, burning.

For more information about Jim Moore, please check out his website