"Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn." ~Thomas Gray

"Poetry unites." ~Anon

"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it." ~Emily Dickinson

By Diana Athill
From her memoir: Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter

What is.

A full moon in a clear sky, waking me
to a far-away time, a far-away space
existing above or under the familiar-
or interwoven with it: a place
of dust-grey deserts, mountains of eroded rock,
turned by being so far away into
a silver disc
floating there to mock
stories of gods, myths of origin, hell’s penalties
or heaven’s bliss;
saying Look!
Why want anything more marvelous
than what is.

We Have Not Long To Love
By  Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)
The writer was born in Columbus, Mississippi.
Biography HERE.

We have not long to love.
Light does not stay.
The tender things are those
we fold away.
Coarse fabrics are the ones
for common wear.
In silence I have watched you
comb your hair.
Intimate the silence,
dim and warm.
I could but did not, reach
to touch your arm.
I could, but do not, break
that which is still.
(Almost the faintest whisper
would be shrill.)
So moments pass as though
they wished to stay.
We have not long to love.
A night. A day....

Written by Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
The writer was born in Worcester, Massachusetts
in 1911, and died October 6, 1979.

The Fish

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of its mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
— the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly —
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
— It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
— if you could call it a lip —
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels — until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Written by Brenda Bryant
Born in England in 1931, she now lives in
New South Wales, Australia
Her blog HERE.

Hannah's Banner

My name's Hannah, and I'm handy with a spanner.
I can saw and plane and rivet with the best of them.
I can dig some dandy ditches,
And I get dirt on my breeches,
And I work, from dawn to dusk, just like the rest of them.
But when the world is free
They'll say 'Hannah! Make the tea!'

My name's Hannah. I've a firm and forthright manner,
And, every day, my attitude is toughening.
I may not be a man,
But I'm not an also-ran,
And it makes me proud to see my hands are roughening.
But when they end the war
They'll say 'Hannah! Mop the floor!'

My names Hannah and I wear a bright bandana.
See! My curls are tucked in neatly and proficiently.
Yes, even though it hurts,
I've abandoned frilly skirts,
And these trousers keep me safe at work, efficiently.
But, when victory flags unfurl,
They'll say 'Hannah! Be a girl!'

My name's Hannah. I'm a thinker and a planner,
And what's inside my head, you wouldn't dream about.
I could be a big tycoon!
I could blast-off to the moon!
These are the things I lie in bed and scheme about.
But, when planes fly back to base,
They'll say 'Hannah! Know your place!'

My names Hannah and I'd sing a loud Hosannah
If the powers that be could recognise equality.
If they'd take note of my brains,
And my skill at building planes,
And not treat me as some silly, sweet, frivolity!
But, when the guns fall mute,
They’ll say 'Hannah, you're just cute.'

My names Hannah and, one day, I'll be a Nanna,
And I'm happy that there's motherhood in store for me.
But I know that, even then,
I'll be an underling to men,
And they'll throw me crumbs,
Like opening the door for me.
Yes, isn't it a farce!
They'll put me out to grass!
All this will come to pass
Under ceilings made of glass.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Pablo Neruda
The great Chilean writer was born July 12, 1904

and died September 23, 1973.
Read about him HERE and HERE

Love Sonnet LXXIX
Translated version

By night, Love, tie your heart to mine, and the two
together in their sleep will defeat the darkness
like a double drum in the forest, pounding
against the thick wall of wet leaves.

Night travel: black flame of sleep
that snips the threads of the earth's grapes,
punctual as a headlong train that would haul
shadows and cold rocks, endlessly.

Because of this, Love, tie me to a purer motion,
to the constancy that beats in your chest
with the wings of a swan underwater,

so that our sleep might answer all the sky's
starry questions with a single key,
with a single door the shadows had closed.

Original version

De noche, amada, amarra tu corazón al mío
y que ellos en el sueño derroten las tinieblas
como un doble tambor combatiendo en el bosque
contra el espeso muro de las hojas mojadas.

Nocturna travesía, brasa negra del sueño
interceptando el hilo de las uvas terrestres
con la puntualidad de un tren descabellado
que sombra y piedras frías sin cesar arrastrara.

Por eso, amor, amárrame el movimiento puro,
a la tenacidad que en tu pecho golpea
con las alas de un cisne sumergido,

para que a las preguntas estrelladas del cielo
responda nuestro sueño con una sola llave,
con una sola puerta cerrada por la sombra.

Written by Robert Hayden
The writer was born in 1913 in Detroit, Michigan
and died in 1980. He was America's first black poet laureate.
Read more about him HERE and HERE

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Written by Anne Bryant-Hamon
She lives in Florida, USA
Her blog HERE

Originally published in 2River View (Fall 1999)

To Vincent

I wish he could have seen the fields of Spain,
the massive blocks of sunflowers,
their pug-nosed faces upturned toward the sunset;
more than enough to paint past thirty-seven's gate.
Have you seen yellow ochre past a tender age,
its vintage kept by shaded, airtight glass
beyond the pale of early learning years,
still wet enough to draw the latter rains?
In Holland there are colors known to few
where pails of silver poured the milk and lime.
I saw them once and never left behind the taste
of umber's golden sunburn on my tongue.
I wonder if he listened to his peers,
which paintings that we'll never chance to view,
forever buried under yellowed graves,
and if, perhaps, the best were left undone?

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by A.E. Stallings
She lives in Athens, Greece
Her website HERE

Published in her first collection, Archaic Smile,
University of Evansville Press, 1999.


The two of them stood in the middle water,
The current slipping away, quick and cold,
The sun slow at his zenith, sweating gold,
Once, in some sullen summer of father and daughter.
Maybe he regretted he had brought her—
She'd rather have been elsewhere, her look told—
Perhaps a year ago, but now too old.
Still, she remembered lessons he had taught her:
To cast towards shadows, where the sunlight fails
And fishes shelter in the undergrowth.
And when the unseen strikes, how all else pales
Beside the bright-dark struggle, the rainbow wroth,
Life and death weighed in the shining scales,
The invisible line pulled taut that links them both.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Tom Sheehan
He lives in Saugus, Massachusetts, USA
His website HERE
Interviews HERE and HERE

Originally published in The 2River View, 5.4
(Summer 2001)

The Lilac Run

For twelve years the lilac
sat still. Each spring I
waited for lavender odors

to uproot the air, carve
a name across an evening,
break subtle barriers.

The last bloom was yours.
When you shook it loose
in the kitchen, wet it,

the square room softened
and wore wings only lilacs
enfranchise. You died too soon.

Purple hosannas leaped today,
up sang the lilac choir
from the twelve year silences.

All night your voice
sounds like perfume
escaping the flask,

sits thick as gun-
powder near wounds
hardly worth healing.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Therese Broderick
She lives in Albany, New York, USA
Her site: Small Returns

Originally posted on Every Photo Tells A Story
for the image prompt shown here

Operation Smile

Child, because I sent my pledge
to some torn patch of the globe--
Cambodia, Morocco, Honduras--
you can now smile for the first time
at your mother's deep brown eyes,
or chew the banana she peels for you,
or learn how to say another word, tongue
meeting the new roof of your mouth.
The word for "love" or "tasty" or
"more." More hugs, more bananas.
And when you are no longer a child,
when you are healed enough to
recite your village's oldest words,
smile when you come to that story's
tragic ending. Mend whatever you can
of our clefted world. Smile often
for the sake of disconsolate poets.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Arlene Ang
She lives in Spinea, Italy
Her website: Arlene Ang

(Originally published in Creations Magazine,
Vol. 18, Issue 3, June/July 2004)

Blood Oranges in Spring

Like Botero's women,
plump with dimples --
an orotund sunset gathering.
My eyes grow accustomed
to windows, observing
fruit fall on grass.
Since the slip downstairs,
my wrinkled ankle has bloated
to sanguinello beauty.
The hired gardener comes daily
to tend my flowers, a stillborn
loneliness on his lapel.
Twice now, he has left two
ripe-red orbs on the porch bench
like a humbling confession of love.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Kathryn Kirkpatrick
She lives in Boone, North Carolina, USA

(Originally published by The Cortland Review, May 2007, Issue 35)

When she left

you went into the barn
to open windows,
release house wrens
trapped in the eaves,
and they rose to the top
branches of the buckeye
while you stood below,
rooted, facing what was left
of the day, until finally
they flew beyond memory
into dusk and you went in
to sleep so drenched by dreams
you did not want to wake.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Gordon Mason
He was born in Fife, Scotland, and now divides
his writing time between Scotland and Spain.
His blog: Catapult To Mars

(Originally published in Snakeskin)


Blue passion flower, anvil
for butterflies delivered
by a soft yellow-dressed afternoon.

I think of the amethyst cross
between her breasts,
coffee in small rococo cups

and wood smoke that braids
her hair a fragrance of olive.
Her hands speak

like keepers of my old dreams.
Let the bad winds blow, they say,
they will never open scars.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Ben Howard
He lives in Alfred, New York, USA
His website: One Time, One Meeting

(Originally published by Cortland Review, No. 6, February 1999)

Old News

Those little increments
of grief: how silently

they travel in the blood
of mourners, bearing news

that makes no headlines, wears
no byline, yet remains

for years, for generations,
persisting as it must

in vein and artery,
lung and bone. And when

its broadcast comes, its blast
is loosed into the heart,

how sudden it appears
and how remote, as though

its presence there were foreign,
its virulence unknown.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Susan Stewart
(From Red Rover, University of Chicago Press, 2008.)

the fox

Did we live lightly then?
Twice we’ve seen the fox,
the flash
of red that leaps
the weeds and brush, an after-
image gray,

then blank, then gone
delight cannot be sought
or pleasure thought
or joy re-caught
but twice we saw the fox, not once,
and knew his fear of us

Step in time, love, step in time,
live inside the morning
twice we saw the fox, not once,
and knew his fear of us

Posted with consent from with the writer.

Written by Karen Nowviskie
She lives in West Virginia, USA
Her blog: Keeping Secrets

O, Danny Boy

We climbed the rocks above the gorge
to have your party as you wanted.

The evening sun shone from the ancient
river like a fire encased in steel.

The air, sweet and cold, rang little
breath clouds as we sang your Irish song.

Anna, swaying as she sang, held to you as you
had held to her when she was still your child.

You didn’t mind the clinging; you seemed
in no great rush to go your way alone.

When finally it was time for you to leave, you faltered,
torn between falling back with us and flying free.

Just then, the wind picked up the tune, the trees
piped out your name, and we in silence watched

as you embraced the sky.

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Sarah Copeland
She lives in Gabriola Island, Canada
Her blog: Questions in Black and White
And, 2009 in Pictures

Burial Song *Hum soft my night angel*

Take my hand and lead me on
as you sing this burial song

'oh hum soft my night angel
lifting your eyes to a horizon
bathed in caramel

oh hum soft my night angel
lowering your blood stained bones
into an earthen swaddle

oh hum soft my night angel
as the flies fill your ears,
you are deaf but don't be doubtful

oh hum soft my night angel
the shadows they laugh with grief
miming your journey dismal

oh hum soft my night angel
in the sky somewhere between the stars
there is a space for you my angel

oh hum soft my night angel
as this song comes to an end
and your body begins to shrivel

oh hum soft my night angel
lifting your eyes to a cover of mud
that stray feet will trample

oh hum soft my night angel
so as not to frighten the ignorant;
hum soft my night angel.'

Posted with consent from the writer.

Written by Emily Anderson
She lives in Columbus, Ohio, USA
Her blog: Rice in the Cupboard


(Debris, Ohio State University, January 2009 )

A half-eaten bagel and a pair
of black furry earmuffs curl
together on a bench outside
Denney Hall, like animals
trying to keep warm by sharing
the small heat of their bodies.

The sidewalk glows thinly,
slick and dangerous. A receipt
from the bookstore is frozen
against the curb, over a hundred
dollars for one book. Free
newspapers scuttle across
my path. Even they are rushed,
hurrying for shelter, missing
so much of this experience.

Posted with consent from the writer.

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