Evening Poetry, May 31

In Memoriam: Martin Luther King, Jr.

by June Jordan


honey people murder mercy U.S.A.   
the milkland turn to monsters teach   
to kill to violate pull down destroy   
the weakly freedom growing fruit   
from being born


tomorrow yesterday rip rape   
exacerbate despoil disfigure   
crazy running threat the   
deadly thrall
appall belief dispel
the wildlife burn the breast   
the onward tongue
the outward hand
deform the normal rainy   
riot sunshine shelter wreck
of darkness derogate
delimit blank
explode deprive
assassinate and batten up
like bullets fatten up
the raving greed
reactivate a springtime

death by men by more
than you or I can



They sleep who know a regulated place
or pulse or tide or changing sky
according to some universal   
stage direction obvious   
like shorewashed shells

we share an afternoon of mourning   
in between no next predictable
except for wild reversal hearse rehearsal   
bleach the blacklong lunging
ritual of fright insanity and more
deplorable abortion
more and

You can find this poem in Directed by Desire.

Evening Poetry, May 30

Eurydice Speaks

by Eavan Boland

How will I know you in the underworld?

How will we find each other?

We lived for so long on the physical earth–

Our skies littered with actual stars

Practical tides in our bay–

What will we do with the loneliness of the mythical?

Walking beside the ditches brimming with dactyls,

By a ferryman whose feet are scanned for him

On the shore of a river written and rewritten

As elegy, epic, epode.

Remember the thin air of our earthly winters?

Frost was an iron, underhand descent.

Dust was always in session

And no one needed to write down

Or restate, or make record of, or ever would,

And never will,

The plainspoken message of recognition,

Nor the way I often stood at the window–

The hills growing dark, saying,

As a shadow became a stride

And a raincoat was woven out of streetlight

I would know you anywhere.

You can find this poem in A Woman Without A Country.

Evening Poetry, May 29

Every Day

by Naomi Shihab Nye

My hundred-year-old next-door neighbor told me:

every day is a good day if you have it.

I had to think about that a minute.

She said, Every day is a present

someone left at your birthday place at the table.

Trust me! It may not feel like that

but it’s true. When you’re my age

you’ll know. Twelve is a treasure.

And it’s up to you

to unwrap the package gently,

lift out the gleaming hours

wrapped in tissue,

don’t miss the bottom of the box.

You can find this A Maze Me: Poems for Girls.

Evening Poetry, May 28


by Richard Wilbur

A word sticks in the wind’s throat;

A wind-launch drifts in the swells of the rye;

Sometimes, in broad silence,

The hanging apples distil their darkness.

You, in a green dress, calling, and with brown hair,

Who comes by the field-path now, whose name I say

Softly, forgive me love if also I call you

Wind’s word, apple-heart, haven of grasses.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.

Evening Poetry, May 27

For Light

by John O’Donohue

In the glare of neon times,
Let our eyes not be worn
By surfaces that shine
With hunger made attractive.

That our thoughts may be true light,
Finding their way into words
Which have the weight of shadow
To hold the layers of truth.

That we never place our trust
In minds claimed by empty light,
Where one-sided certainties
Are driven by false desire.

When we look into the heart,
May our eyes have the kindness
And reverence of candlelight.

That the searching of our minds
Be equal to the oblique
Crevices and corners where
The mystery continues to dwell,
Glimmering in fugitive light.

When we are confined inside
The dark house of suffering
That moonlight might find a window.

When we become false and lost
That the severe noon-light
Would cast our shadow clear.

When we love, that dawn-light
Would lighten our feet
Upon the waters.

As we grow old, that twilight
Would illuminate treasure
In the fields of memory.

And when we come to search for God,
Let us first be robed in night,
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.

You can find this poem in To Bless The Space Between Us.

Evening Poetry, May 26

Your Night Is of Lilac



The night sits wherever you are. Your night
is of lilac. Every now and then a gesture escapes
from the beam of your dimples, breaks the wineglass
and lights up the starlight. And your night is your shadow—
a fairy-tale piece of land to make our dreams
equal. I am not a traveler or a dweller
in your lilac night, I am he who was one day
me. Whenever night grew in you I guessed
the heart’s rank between two grades: neither
the self accepts, nor the soul accepts. But in our bodies
a heaven and an earth embrace. And all of you
is your night … radiant night like planet ink. Night
is the covenant of night, crawling in my body
anesthetized like a fox’s sleepiness. Night diffusing a mystery
that illuminates my language, whenever it is clearer
I become more fearful of a tomorrow in the fist. Night
staring at itself safe and assured in its
endlessness, nothing celebrates it except its mirror
and the ancient shepherd songs in a summer of emperors
who get sick on love. Night that flourished in its Jahili poetry
on the whims of Imru’ el-Qyss and others,
and widened for the dreamers the milk path to a hungry
moon in the remoteness of speech …

You can find this poem in The Butterfly’s Burden.

Evening Poetry, May 25

The Garden by Moonlight


A black cat among roses,
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,   
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish   
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush.   
Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,   
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.

You can find this poem in Amy Lowell: Selected Poems.

Evening Poetry, May 24


by Mary Oliver

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

You can find this poem in Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, May 23

Though the air is full of singing
my head is loud
with the labor of words.

Though the season is rich
with fruit, my tongue
hungers for the sweet of speech.

Though the beech is golden
I cannot stand beside it
mute, but must say

‘It is golden,’ while the leaves
stir and fall with a sound
that is not a name.

It is in the silence
that my hope is, and my aim.
A song whose lines

I cannot make or sing
sounds men’s silence
like a root. Let me say

and not mourn: the world
lives in the death of speech
and sings there.

You can find this in The Country of Marriage: Poems.

Evening Poetry, May 22

Wyeth’s Milk Cans

by Richard Wilbur

Beyond them, hill and field

Harden, and summer’s easy

Wheel-ruts lie congealed.

What if these two bells tolled?

They’d make the bark-splintering

Music of pure cold.

You can find this poem in Richard Wilbur: Collected Poems 1943-2004.