An Old Poem That I Wish Was Not Relevant

Deciduous

Days like today
I could let it all go.

Release ambition
like a balloon floating

into someone else’s
yard. Let the radio

keep its death toll
and speeches. I will give

myself to what will answer
with blossom and fruit.

Could I die back?
Could I be mere twigs,

waiting? Give me
light, rain, a piece of ground.

Here I might remember
the prayer of silence, practice

one thing until done well,
heal what lies

within reach.

 

I wrote this poem sometime after September 11, 2001; that it feels so timely makes me sad beyond words.

“Poetry for All” Prompt 3: Desire

Here’s the third in my series of video prompts, “Poetry for All.” This week’s prompt features “Desire, Like a Hungry Lion” by Dorothy Trogdon (Tall Woman Looking from Blue Begonia Press).

Prompt 3: Desire

Desire, Like a Hungry Lion

                                                                  For RB

A hungry lion is loose in the streets of May.

How difficult it is for you to know what you require
at any passage of your life
               yet something sees and knows and waits

until you open your door and go forward to meet it,
to offer what has been taking shape within you.

Hold out the tempting crumbs in the palm of your hand
and quietly wait until you feel the touch of the velvet muzzle.

Look well at the fur and claw of wildness, your brother.
The stars need darkness or you would not know them.

—Dorothy Trogdon

You can hear Dorothy Trogdon reading her poem at KUOW.org.

Poem credits:

Dorothy Trogdon, “Desire, Like a Hungry Lion” from Tall Woman Looking. Copyright © 2012 by Dorothy Trogdon. Used with the permission of the author and Blue Begonia Press.

My thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems, and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

“Poetry for All” Prompt 2: A Visitation

Here’s the second in my National Poetry Month series of video poetry prompts. This week’s prompt includes a poem by Peter Pereira, from his collection What’s Written on the Body. These are intended for the poetry-curious, beginning writers, and anyone who’d like company at the desk. Please share freely, and I hope you’ll leave me a comment to let me know how it goes, OK?

Prompt 2: A Visitation

This prompt features Peter Pereira’s poem “Twenty Years after His Passing, My Father Appears to Us in Chicago, at Bobby Chinn’s Crab & Oyster House, in the Guise of Our Waiter, Ramon” from What’s Written on the Body (Copper Canyon Press).

See other prompts.

Poem credits:

Peter Pereira, “Twenty Years after His Passing, My Father Appears to Us in Chicago, at Bobby Chinn’s Crab & Oyster House, in the Guise of Our Waiter, Ramon” from What’s Written on the Body. Copyright © 2007 by Peter Pereira. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

My thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems, and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

National Poetry Month: Let’s Write!

Over at wapoetlaureate.org, I’ve just launched a short series of online poetry prompts: Poetry for All. These videos are mini versions of the free poetry writing workshops I’m giving all around Washington state. Each combines a model poem with a writing activity, and is intended to be useful to the poetry-curious and beginning writers alike. Here’s the first one.

Prompt 1: A Memorable Meal

Prompt 1 features Li-Young Lee’s “Eating Together,” from Rose (BOA Editions), and was inspired by the indispensable The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World by Brenda Miller and Holly J. Hughes.

Poem credits:

Li-Young Lee, “Eating Together” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

HUGE thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems, and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

“The self is a thousand localities”

Poet Diane Raptosh
Poet Diane Raptosh

I’m delighted to welcome Diane Raptosh, a poet who is currently serving as Idaho’s Writer-in-Residence, to Seattle.

We’ll read together at Elliott Bay Books on Sat., March 14 at 7p.

Raptosh is a prison studies scholar and a cultural critic. Check out her TEDxBoise talk: Poetry, Democracy and the Hope of Sounds.

To whet your appetite, here’s an untitled poem from her most recent collection, 
American Amnesiac
, which was long listed for the National Book Award:

The self is a thousand localities

like a small nation—assembly required: borders and roads,

 

armies, farms, small and large pieces of parchment. I stand by

all the territories I have ever been, even as I can’t

 

remember them. I am a locum—ear to the emperor penguin, a banner ad

blinking to the hoi polloi. Since I’ve become John Doe, I swear

 

I can feel most objects with sixty digits

instead of five. This makes me think

 

of Lisette. Makes me miss her left collar bone. Her hips’ wingtips.

A train moans from a far hummock.

 

Which reminds me that everyone I’ll have to live without

I must help to find a place within. Which is an act

 

of granite will. A strain. A ditty.

An exercise in utmost beautility.

 

from American Amnesiac, by Diane Raptosh

                             (Etruscan Press, 2013)