Evening Poetry, August 31

In Late August

by Peter Campion

In a culvert by the airport
under crumbling slag
wine colored water seeps
to this pool the two does
drink from: each sipping as
the other keeps look out.
The skyline is a blur
of  barcode and microchip.
Even at home we hold
the narrowest purchase.
No arcs of tracer fire.
No caravans of fleeing
families. Only this
suspicion ripples
through our circles of lamp glow
(as you sweep the faint sweat
from your forehead and flip
another page in your novel)
this sense that all we own
is the invisible
web of our words and touches
silence and fabulation
all make believe and real
as the two does out
scavenging through rose hips
and shattered drywall:
their presence in the space
around them liveliest
just before they vanish.

This poem was featured in November 2007 edition of Poetry Magazine.

Evening Poetry, August 30

[‘Often rebuked, yet always back returning’]

by Emily Brontë

Often rebuked, yet always back returning
    To those first feelings that were born with me,
And leaving busy chase of wealth and learning
    For idle dreams of things which cannot be:

To-day, I will seek not the shadowy region;
    Its unsustaining vastness waxes drear;
And visions rising, legion after legion,
    Bring the unreal world too strangely near.

I’ll walk, but not in old heroic traces,
    And not in paths of high morality,
And not among the half-distinguished faces,
    The clouded forms of long-past history.

I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading:
    It vexes me to choose another guide:
Where the gray flocks in ferny glens are feeding;
    Where the wild wind blows on the mountain side.

What have those lonely mountains worth revealing?
    More glory and more grief than I can tell:
The earth that wakes one human heart to feeling
    Can centre both the worlds of Heaven and Hell.

You can find this in The Complete Poems.

Evening Poetry, August 29

Messenger

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

You can find this in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, August 28

Twilight: After Haying

by Jane Kenyon

Yes, long shadows go out

from the bales; and yes, the soul

must part from the body:

what else could it do?

The men sprawl near the baler,

too tired to leave the field.

They talk and smoke,

and the tips of their cigarettes

blaze like small roses

in the night air. (It arrived

and settled among them

before they were aware.)

The moon comes

to count the bales,

and the dispossessed–

Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will

–sings from the dusty stubble.

These things happen. . .the soul’s bliss

and suffering are bound together

like the grasses. . .

The last, sweet exhalations

of timothy and vetch

go out with the song of the bird;

the ravaged field

grows wet with dew.

You can find this in Collected Poems.

Evening Poetry, August 27

Love (III)

George Herbert 1593-1633

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
            Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
            From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
            If I lacked anything.

“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”:
            Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
            I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
            “Who made the eyes but I?”

“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
            Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
            “My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
            So I did sit and eat.

You can find this in George Herbert and The Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets.

Evening Poetry, August 26

A Pretty Song

by Mary Oliver

From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.
Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?

This isn’t a play ground, this is
earth, our heaven, for a while.
Therefore I have given precedence
to all my sudden, sullen, dark moods

that hold you in the center of my world.
And I say to my body: grow thinner still.
And I say to my fingers, type me a pretty song.
And I say to my heart: rave on.

You can find this in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, August 25

After Working Long on One Thing

by Jane Kenyon

Through the screen door

I hear a hummingbird, inquiring

for nectar among the stalwart

hollyhocks-an erratic flying

ruby, asking for sweets among

the sticky-throated flowers.

The sky won’t darken in the west

until ten. When shall I turn

this light and tired mind?

You can find this poem in Collected Poems.

Evening Poetry, August 24

Lingering in Happiness

by Mary Oliver

After rain after many days without rain,
it stays cool, private and cleansed, under the trees,
and the dampness there, married now to gravity,
falls branch to branch, leaf to leaf, down to the ground

where it will disappear–but not, of course, vanish
except to our eyes. The roots of the oaks will have their share,
and the white threads of the grasses, and the cushion of moss;
a few drops, round as pearls, will enter the mole’s tunnel;

and soon so many small stones, buried for a thousand years,
will feel themselves being touched.

You can find this poem in Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, August 23

Daedal

by A.E. Stallings

To build a labyrinth it takes
A twisted mind, a puzzled art,
A fractal branching of mistakes.

Drag out the shovels and the rakes,
The spirit level, sacred chart.
To build a labyrinth it takes

Shadows, stones, a way that snakes
And ladders to its shaky start;
An average mazing of mistakes,

The kind that everybody makes,
Set random intervals apart.
To build a labyrinth it takes

Dead ends that seem like lucky breaks,
The paths of bats that weave and dart
Through limestone caverns of mistakes.

The shaken Etch A Sketch awakes
A lost child buried in its heart.
To build a labyrinth it takes
Some good intentions, some mistakes.

This poem appeared in the May 2020 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Evening Poetry, August 22

The Blessing

by Joyce Carol Oates

Barefoot daring
to walk
amid
the thrashing eye-glitter
of  what remains
when the tide
retreats
we ask ourselves
why did it matter
so much
to have the last
word?
Or any
word?

Here, please—
take what
remains.
It is yours.

You can find this poem in the July/August 2020 issue of Poetry Magazine.