Many Poems of the Week: Poem in Your Pocket Day
Thursday, April 29th is Poem in Your Pocket Day, one of the highlights of National Poetry Month. It's never a bad time to carry around some verse in your pocket (or tucked into a boot or nestled close to your heart), but this particular day is a special chance for us to hold onto a poem, both as a personal spell to keep close and as a gesture of words that can be shared. All week, we'll be sticking poems in your curbside bags so that you're ready for Thursday! Each year, the Academy of American Poets releases a selection of poems that can be shared in the public domain for this occasion. For this week's Poem of the Week, I'm taking a slightly different route and sharing some personal favorites from this year's selections below. Enjoy these few and head to poets.org to see what other poems the Academy has on tap this year.
Instructions on Not Giving Up
More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees that really gets to me. When all the shock of white and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath, the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin growing over whatever winter did to us, a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then, I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.
- Ada Limón
From The Carrying: poems
Sun makes the day new. Tiny green plants emerge from earth. Birds are singing the sky into place. There is nowhere else I want to be but here. I lean into the rhythm of your heart to see where it will take us. We gallop into a warm, southern wind. I link my legs to yours and we ride together, Toward the ancient encampment of our relatives. Where have you been? they ask. And what has taken you so long? That night after eating, singing, and dancing We lay together under the stars. We know ourselves to be part of mystery. It is unspeakable. It is everlasting. It is for keeps. MARCH 4, 2013, CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS
- Joy Harjo
From Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings
Making a Fist
We forget that we are all dead men conversing with dead men.
—Jorge Luis Borges
For the first time, on the road north of Tampico,
I felt the life sliding out of me,
a drum in the desert, harder and harder to hear.
I was seven, I lay in the car
watching palm trees swirl a sickening pattern past the glass.
My stomach was a melon split wide inside my skin.
“How do you know if you are going to die?”
I begged my mother.
We had been traveling for days.
With strange confidence she answered,
“When you can no longer make a fist.”
Years later I smile to think of that journey,
the borders we must cross separately,
stamped with our unanswerable woes.
I who did not die, who am still living,
still lying in the backseat behind all my questions,
clenching and opening one small hand.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
From Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab American Poetry
In the High Country
Some days I am happy to be no one The shifting grasses In the May winds are miraculous enough As they ripple through the meadow of lupine The field as iridescent as a Renaissance heaven & do you see that boy with his arms raised Like one of Raphael’s angels held within This hush & this pause & the sky’s lapis expanse? That boy is my son & I am his only father Even when I am no one
- David St. John
Originally published in POETRY magazine