Archive for the ‘Group 2’ Category

Song for Autumn, by Mary Oliver

Monday, November 6th, 2006

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

i thought this poem was appropriate considering that it’s fall now and a lot of the leaves are really starting to change. i liked this poem because of the sense of anticipation, of fall coming to full bloom. i also liked the enjambment; the way it was crafted allows each line on its own to have significance, or simply to sound pleasant. also, the stanza arrangement (the hanging lines) helped to lend rhythm and keep the poem from being a solid block of text.

At Home by Hugo Claus

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

At Home

Father was eating partridge and Mother was out
and I and Joris were talking about murders
and getaways and on what trains
when the sun rolled into our attic
and lay there gleaming in the hay.
Father swore and said: God sees me.
Joris made his getaway
and I went on playing with the trains
which ran on electricity across the floor
between posts.

 I like how this poem tells a narrative without giving too much away.

 The speaker is probably younger since he is continues to play with the toy trains even after his father curses outloud: the older brother must have an idea of what the father is cursing about, and either wants to run away from that, or is anticipating what usually follows after his father curses.

I think the repetition of trains and getaways is good because I think that it implies that the speaker is now older and can see the difference between the getaways that characters in stories versus the real ones that people make.

 I thought at first when I read this poem that it should end right after “went on playing with the trains” but I think now that it should continue in like it does. I think this because the speaker, at that moment in time, is like the train and the tracks he speaks of: he’s caught between his parents because the only track he sees in his life at that time is the one running between them. The posts, like parents, frame a home for children.

Living with Ballads: Sidna Allen

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

He mounted to the bar
with a pistol in his hand
and he sent Judge Massie
to the Promised Land:

the only mountain ballad
my mother ever sang
the years that she was raising me
on Pop Rocks and Tang,

and Grandmother thought secular
music miles beneath
her notice, so my mind is not
one Stith Thompson motif

after another, not a green
wood thick with noble felons,
no Gypsy Davies to seduce,
no Barbara Allens,

just local Sidna, late
in the murder song tradition,
coming at you straight
out of my mother’s kitchen.

i liked this poem mainly because of the rhyme. it’s kind of untraditional in that, as far as i can tell, only 2 out of the 4 lines of each stanza (with the exception of the last) rhyme with eachother. also, the rhyme scheme of the poem matched that of the italicized song lyrics that opened the poem, giving it the feel of a song which is very appropriate considering the subject matter and construction of the poem.

revision of dog poem

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

so I’m not sure if we’re supposed to post revisions, but here’s one of my dog poem. hope its a little more cheery now:


Perhaps it was a bad idea, taking her

to my house for the week. I insisted;

“She’ll love it.” Dad frowned

and left the address of the beach house prefaced

with emergency vet numbers

and 24-hour kennels.

I envisioned wagging tails and long walks

but I couldn’t avoid the warning signs. Fur ruffled

along her shoulder blades as we passed under the

foreign door frame together. She searched the house

as if there had been some mistake; there was no doggy door,

there wasn’t even a fireplace. Perhaps I should not have ignored

the quiet cries as I helped four tired legs

up the unusually uncarpeted stairs.

But I could have sworn

I saw her black beagle lips form a soundless smile,

thanking me every time I reappeared in view.

The first to come under attack were the bedposts,

carefully whittled to jagged edges. She had autographed

my chair legs by the second day, scrawling her name

with hundreds of tiny teeth marks along the dresser

and desk posts. I let her take over

the room, but it was not until she found

the purse from New York that became supper

and the shoes from Paris for desert

followed by presents scattered to every corner

that I surrendered and packed up the car for home. She watched

knowing where we were going, her tail

beating against the passenger seat like a pulse

as we pulled onto the highway.

“She’s just old,” my mother said. “you know

she can’t be away from the house.”

I should have known

she couldn’t be away from the house, and yet

somewhere between Fredericksburg and DC

between the reassuring pets and promises of her bed

I thanked her for her inability to change.

The car went into park as her nose left its last smudge on the window

and we both smiled as we unlocked the front door

and went from room to room, turning on all the familiar lights.

this was the poem featured on my birthday

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

the poem of the day on poetry daily, may 1, 2006:

“When Dylan Left Hibbing, Minnesota, August 1959”

by John Hogden

Not even Dylan then, more like David the Blue-Eyed Shepherd Boy Giant Killer instead,
the way he must have looked in those Golden Book Illustrated Bible Stories we never read,
the ones with the pictures of the prophets, each with a gold record stuck to his head,
or like the Classic Comics Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov rocking and rolling on his bed,
heading on down the highway out of St. Petersburg, the landlord’s axe still in the shed,
throwing stones at all the stop signs a-bleeding in his head.

Wasn’t he a singing terrorist then, slaying us in the aisles, knocking us dead,
like some wild-eyed kid from Fallujah now, his machine gun guitar slipped over his head,
his ass in a sling, his mind full of dynamite, his righteous streets turning red,
his only song his heaven’s door, toward which he runs, arms outspread.
Oh, Zimmerman, we never heard a single word you ever said,
from Ararats to ziggurats, from alpha down to zed,
our heads cut off, our tongues cut out, no words left to be said,
all the things we’ve ever loved, dead, dead, dead, dead.

like I’ve said in a couple responses, I love Bob Dylan, probably because I grew up with my dad reading me dylan songs and poems, by both bob dylan and dylan thomas. this poem is actually about the day bob dylan, then bob zimmerman, left his small hometown of hibbing, minnesota to go to college and eventually get his music career underway.

this poem almost sounded to me like a dylan song. the sound, especially the endings, all variations of the sound “dead” all just remind me of something dylan would write. im pretty sure its about when dylan changed his name from zimmerman to dylan, maybe explains the line “oh, zimmerman, we never heard a word you said,” since he wrote everything under the name dylan. im not really sure of the literary references in the first stanza, and theres quite a shift to the second, especially with the violent imagery, but i really like the phrase “singing terrorist,” implying that dylans songs actually elicited some sort of physical response.

Mary Karr on Poetry Daily

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Delinquent Missive

Before David Ricardo stabbed his daddy
           sixteen times with a fork — Once
for every year of my fuckwad life
— he’d long
           showed signs of being bent.
In school, he got no valentine nor birthday
           cake embellished with his name.
On Halloween, a towel tied around his neck
           was all he had to be a hero with.
He spat in the punchbowl and smelled like a foot.
           His forehead was a ledge
he leered beneath. When I was sent to tutor him
           in geometry, so he might leave
(at last) ninth grade, he sat running pencil lead
           beneath his nails.
If radiance shone from those mudhole eyes,
           I missed it. Thanks, David
for your fine slang. You called my postulates
           post holes; your mom endured
ferocious of the liver. Plus you ignored —
           when I saw you wave at lunch —
my flinch. Maybe by now you’re ectoplasm,
           or the zillionth winner of the Texas
death penalty sweepstakes. Or you occupy
           a locked room with a small
round window held fast by rivets, through which
           you are watched. But I hope
some organism drew your care — orchid
           or cockroach even, some inmate
in a wheelchair whose steak you had to cut
           since he lacked hands.
In this way, the unbudgeable stone
           that plugged the tomb hole
in your chest could roll back, and in your sad
           slit eyes could blaze
that star adored by its maker.


This past Saturday, Leah and I got to listen to some of the readings at DC’s Bookfest, and we heard Mary Karr read some poetry from her book, Sinners Welcome. Two of her poems were featured on poetry daily a while ago, neither of which she read outloud, but what was featured in both venues showcases Karr’s narrative technique.

I really like Karr’s sense of humor and sarcastic quips (I would hate to land a spot on her bad side). There are some great sounds in this poem, like “the unbudgeable stone / that plugged the tomb hole,” and I think reading this poem outloud, to another person, is the only way of summing up the story of David Ricardo. This poem reminds me of how you can only recall a person from high school, one that you didn’t know too well, by way of saying “the kid who….”  and then when you’re done remembering, you make your predictions as to how they’re faring these days. For the line “you are watched. I hope” makes me think that since she only worked with him, but didn’t know him personally (and didn’t want to know him personally, as she ignored his waves) she feels she owes him at least a little concern on his whereabouts, but not necessarily a phone call. She at least gives him the benefit of the doubt, it seems.

I’d like to hear what anyone else thinks about the title “Delinquent Missive.” I’m interpreting it as a failing to send a message, that maybe she did indeed have some thoughts (and feelings?) for this person, at the time that she knew him, but was too young to express them.

Lyrical, by Joseph Millar

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

The spaniel next door yaps at the sparrows,
he yaps at the crows and the mailman,
yaps at the compost pile and the sunflower,
yaps at the rain and the sky. He yaps
at the steps leading down to the creek
where the flax plants bloom high as my waist
and the blue flowers force their way up
through small stones the color of night. He
yaps at the garbage truck’s back-up beeper,
iron bell song of the priest and bridegroom,
song of the lone ship, song of the train,
song of the big waves rolling and breaking
over the western reefs. He yaps at the rosebush,
yaps at the fence, song for the sidewalk cracked
in half, the wine bottle resting against the curb,
the neighbor who doesn’t come home.


i liked this poem initially because i thought the subject matter was rather funny; everyone has been around a dog who barks at literally everything. also, the title “Lyrical” was initially funny as well, as most people wouldn’t necessarily think of a dog’s bark as having any “Lyrical” qualities. however, but the end of the poem, Millar breaks the pattern of “Yaps at…” and refers to the sound as “song” and then brings in the idea of a neighbor who has not come home. i was struck by the ambiguity, and rather serious nature of this last line when compared to the rest of the poem, which to that point, felt rather light-hearted. in an untraditional sort of way, assuming there is a neighbor who is missing, a dog’s bark could to some degree be seen as an elegy, or lyrical somehow. i also thought the ambiguous nature of the last line was intriguing and thought-provoking.

Verse Daily: Cat Nap by Asa Boxer

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Enjoying rest, the feral house-cat wears her twilight coat, curls up,
and disappears among the waves of a rumpled blanket. So softly does she sleep,
it seems birds could fold safely into her paws, mice slip out of her pockets.
But in her brain, the owl flicks awake the dim lanterns of its eyes.

The mice stash their tiny beds safely under the boards of the hardwood floors.
The birds have worried in the eaves, tucking in their quiet nests, weaving whirlwinds
of twigs, pine needles, and string from the forest’s busy kitchen, where the fall
is cooking up a dreadful storm; mixing in every wild spice the forest can afford.

The woodpecker has peppered the trees and peppered the air with its knocking.
By ant-back, bee-sock, and squirrel-cheek, the forest is getting carried away.
The forest is shedding and shifting while the cat twitches an ear, listening
as the porcupine munches the main beam of the house down to the sweet core.

When the main beam snaps and the house leans with a groan of steel and wood,
when its hidden shelters crack and betray the mice at their gnawing, the eyelids
of the cat will split, her eyes break open, her claws slip out. She’ll leap at the bird,
toy with the mouse, and hunt till the buzz of the forest is caught.


It was the prosy quality of this poem that initially drew me to it. I think it allows for the lyrical quality of its stanzas. This is indicative in lines such as, “The forest is shedding and shifting while the cat twitches an ear, listening …” Also, the slant rhymes (see: whirlwinds / afford; wood / bird) afford the poem a whimsical property appropriate to its subject matter.
What I enjoyed most about this poem is all the animal imagery throughout. It sounds cheesy but birds “weaving whirlwinds,” “porcupine[s] munching,” and the concept of “forest’s busy kitchen” made me grin (in a good way).

Poetry Daily: Haircut

Monday, September 25th, 2006


I sit on the dock for a haircut and watch

as summer spreads out, relieving the general,

indiscriminate gray, like a mouthful of gin

spreading out through the capillaries

of my brain, etherizing everything

it is too painful to think or say,

as I dangle my feet in the water,

like bits of a man. On the goldenrod,

Japanese beetles are holding an orgy.

The green snake throws off its enameled skin.

And somewhere — invisible as the avenues

of the dead — a little door is left open for love,

pushing and pulling at each of us, as the water

pushes and pulls at my young gray hairs.



I think there are alot of mingling life and death images in here that somehow carry this poem afloat. The poem seems to twist at leaving the “little door” open for love, as the poem doesn’t even need to state that, and it could have sunk, and maybe it did for you, but I think that the image of the summer sun over the water takes care of it for me. The poem sort of starts out as a reminder that we’re all alone and as tiny and broken as this man on the dock, but then life continues on, and your hair keeps growing, and this man has let some love reach him through the act of handing over the scissors to a friend. I like how the poem both ends and starts on the dock, yet has narrowed down from just a man on the dock, to “young gray hairs.”

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

from Robert Pinsky’s “Impossible to tell” (the 1st 6 stanzas):

Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,

The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing. “Bashõ”

He named himself, “Banana Tree”: banana
After the plant some grateful students gave him,
Maybe in appreciation of his guidance

Threading a long night through the rules and channels
Of their collaborative linking-poem
Scored in their teacher’s heart: live, rigid, fluid

Like passages etched in a microscopic cicuit.
Elliot had in his memory so many jokes
They seemed to breed like microbes in a culture

Inside his brain, one so much making another
It was impossible to tell them all:
In the court-culture of jokes, a top banana.

its funny, I actually came across this poem when I was watching the simpsons the other day, robert pinksy was visiting the college where lisa was pretending to be a student and read (well, read some of) “impossible to tell.” I had never heard anything by Pinsky so I googled him and found the poem (which is pretty long, by the way). I think what drew me into it was not only hearing Pinsky read it (he really was a guest on the show) but the sound in general; his vocab is crazy. i had to look up “ichor” (it has something to do with pathology), and i think Basho is a japanese artist.