Evening Poetry, October 9

The Old Poets of China

by Mary Oliver

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.

It offers me its busyness. It does not believe

that I do not want it. Now I understand

why the old poets of China went so far and high

into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

You can find this poem in Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, September 23

The Fist

by Mary Oliver

There are days

when the sun goes down

like a fist,

though of course

if you see anything

in the heavens

in this way

you had better get

your eyes checked

or, better still,

your diminished spirit.

The heavens

have no fist,

or wouldn’t they have been

shaking it

for a thousand years now,

and even

longer than that,

at the dull, brutish

ways of mankind–

heaven’s own

creation?

Instead: such patience!

Such willingness

to let us continue!

To hear,

little by little,

the voices–

only, so far, in

pockets of the world–

suggesting

the possibilities

of peace?

Keep looking.

Behold, how the fist opens

with invitation.

You can find this poem in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, September 8

Praying

by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try

to make them elaborate, this isn’t

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak.

You can find this poem in Thirst.

Evening Poetry, April 30

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the praises and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.

Evening Poetry, April 29

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Milkweed

the milkweed now with their many pods are standing

like a country of dry women.

The wind lifts their flat leaves and drops them.

This is not kind, but they retain a certain crisp glamour;

moreover, it’s easy to believe

each one was once young and delicate, also

frightened; also capable

of a certain amount of rough joy.

I wish you would walk with me out into the world.

I wish you could see what has to happen, how

each one crackles like a blessing

over its thin children as they rush away.

This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.

Evening Poetry, April 28

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light–

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch , now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

This poem can be found in the collection Why I Wake Early.

Evening Poetry, April 27

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Not Anyone Who Says

Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be

careful and smart in the matters of love,”

who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,”

but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all

but were, as it were, chosen

by something invisible

and powerful and uncontrollable

and beautiful and possibly even

unsuitable–

only those know what I’m talking about

in this talking about love.

This poem can be found in the collection Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 26

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

I Did Think, Let’s Go About This Slowly

I did think, let’s go about this slowly.

This is important. This should take

some really deep thought. We should take

small thoughtful steps.

But, bless us, we didn’t.

This poem is found in the collection Felicity.

Evening Poetry, April 25

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

Coming Home

When we’re driving, in the dark,

on the long road

to Provincetown, which lies empty

for miles, when we’re weary,

when the buildings

and the scrub pines lose

their familiar look,

I imagine us rising

from the speeding car,

I imagine us seeing

everything from another place–the top

of one of the pale dunes

or the deep and nameless

fields of the sea–

and what we see is the world

that cannot cherish us

but which we cherish,

and what we see is our life

moving like that,

along the dark edges

of everything–the headlights

like lanterns

sweeping the blackness–

believing in a thousand

fragile and unprovable things,

looking out for sorrow,

slowing down for happiness,

making all the right turns

right down to the thumping

barriers to the sea,

the swirling waves,

the narrow streets, the houses,

the past, the future,

the doorway that belongs

to you and me.

This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.

Evening Poetry, April 24

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

The Sunflowers

Come with me

into the field of sunflowers.

Their faces are burnished disks,

their dry spines

creak like ship masts,

their green leaves,

so heavy and many,

fill all day with the sticky

sugars of the sun.

Come with me to visit the sunflowers,

they are shy

bu want to be friends;

they have wonderful stories

of when they were young–

the important weather,

the wandering crows.

Don’t be afraid

to ask them questions!

Their bright faces,

which follow the sun,

will listen, and all

those rows of seeds–

each one new life!–

hope for a deeper acquaintance;

each of them, though it stands

in a crowd of many,

like a separate universe,

is lonely, the long work

of turning their lives

into a celebration

is not easy. Come

and let us talk with those modest faces,

the simple garments of leaves,

the coarse roots in the earth

so uprightly burning.

This poem can be found in the collection Dream Work.