Monday, April 11, 2011


By Kay Ryan

Much of life
is Dutch
in which
legions of
big robust
people crouch
badly cracked
dike systems
by the thumbs
their wide
balloon-pantsed rumps
up-ended to the
northern sun
while, back
in town, little
tulip magnates
stride around.

Ryan, K. (2000). Say Uncle. New York, NY: Grove Press.
Photo Credit: Peter DaSilva

Bad Day

By Kay Ryan

Not every day
is a good day
for the elfin tailor.
Some days
the stolen cloth
reveals what it
was made for:
a handsome weskit
or the jerkin
of an elfin sailor.
Other days
the tailor
sees a jacket
in his mind
and sets about
to find the fabric.
But some days
neither the idea
nor the material
presents itself;
and these are
the hard days
for the tailor elf.

Ryan, K. (2000). Say Uncle. New York, NY: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Photo Credit: Alan Dep

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


By Don Paterson

In the same way that the mindless diamond keeps
one spark of the planet's early fires
trapped forever in its net of ice,
it's not love's later heat that poetry holds,
but the atom of the love that drew it forth
from the silence: so if the bright coal of his love
begins to smoulder, the poet hears his voice
suddenly forced, like a bar-room singer's -- boastful
with his own huge feeling, or drowned by violins;
but if it yields a steadier light, he knows
the pure verse, when it finally comes, will sound
like a mountain spring, anonymous and serene.
Beneath the blue oblivious sky, the water
sings of nothing, not your name, not mine.

Paterson, D. (2001). The White Lie; New and Selected Poetry. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press.

Ain't I a Woman?

By Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Photo Credit: Borrowed from


By Elizabeth Austen

            "a brief and strange species"
                        —W.S. Merwin

The day begins in disarray
you ought you should you must you
must you must you must

the bees will not be stilled
what stitches mind
to body who
cues the unraveling
if it's true
we're infused
with something not found
in doorknob bird or bee
why am I confused
about all the important things
crows trampoline the power lines
from house to house they don't care
who runs the world
I gape at the sky
color of sunflower color of blood
the world is not
as I have believed it to be
I find no vantage point no long
view across even the surface
peristalsis propels the worm
into darkness electricity
animates the lamp
the leaf drinks
at the top of the tree
I understand none
of the beautiful things
the sparrow bathes in dirt
I don't know why
the birds do not ask themselves
or each other how are we
to live they do not
ask us to love them.

Austen, E. (2009). Skin Prayers. Seattle, WA: Crab Creek Review. 

Photo Credit: M.C. Escher, Dewdrop in a leaf, 1948.