A Poem A Day

My Grave

by Ella Wheeler WIlcox

If, when I die, I must be buried, let
No cemetery engulph me — no lone grot,
Where the great palpitating world comes not,
Save when, with heart bowed down and eyelids wet,
It pays its last sad melancholy debt
To some outjourneying pilgrim. May my lot
Be rather to lie in some much-used spot,
Where human life, with all its noise and fret,
Throbs on about me. Let the roll of wheels,
With all earth’s sounds of pleasure, commerce, love,
And rush of hurrying feet surge o’er my head.
Even in my grave I shall be one who feels
Close kinship with the pulsing world above;
And too deep silence would distress me, dead.

When I Have Fears

by John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain
Before high piled books in charact’ry
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold upon the night’s starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the fairy powre
Of unreflecting love — then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone and think,
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Sonnet

by Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Two Worlds

by Raymond Carver

In air heavy
with odor of crocuses,

sensual smell of crocuses,
I watch a lemon sun disappear,

a sea change blue
to olive black.

I watch lightning leap from Asia as
sleeping,

my love stirs and breathes and
sleeps again,

part of this world and yet
part of that.

Home Thoughts from Abroad

by Robert Browning

Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower —
Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Random Interview

by Pat Lowther

1,  the fear

the fear is of everything
staying the way it is
and only i changing

the fear is
of everything changing
and i staying the same

the world expanding
branch tunnel cell
more and more
precious and terrible

while i grow only more
fragile and confused

the fear is my own
hands beating
like moths

my eyelids stuttering
light breaking into
meaningless phrases

the fear is of you
patiently elsewhere growing
a blood shape
of all my wishes

2,  i am tired

i am tired of pain
i am tired of my own pain
i am tired of
the pain of others

i am tired of lives
unwinding like a roll
of bloody bandage
i shall roll up
the sky, pinch the sun

i go out to the cliff pours
of stars, the tall
volumes of stars

i go down
to the grains of soil
to bacteria
to viruses
to the neat mechanics of molecules

to escape the pain
to escape the pain

3,  what i want

what i want is to be blessed
what i want is a cloak of air

the light entering my lungs
my love entering my body
the blessing descending
like the sky
sliding down the spectrum

what i want is to be
aware of the spaces between stars, to breathe
continuously the sources of sky,
a veined sail moving,
my love never setting
foot to the dark
anvil of earth

Provide, Provide

by Robert Frost

The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they knew,
Others on being simply true.
What worked for them might work for you.

No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!

Our Other Sister

by Jeffrey Harrison

for Ellen

The cruelest thing I did to my younger sister
wasn’t shooting a homemade blowdart into her knee,
where it dangled for a breathless second

before dropping off, but telling her we had
another, older sister who’d gone away.
What my motives were I can’t recall: a whim,

or was it some need of mine to toy with loss,
to probe the ache of imaginary wounds?
But that first sentence was like a strand of DNA

that replicated itself in coiling lies
when my sister began asking her desperate questions.
I called our older sister Isabel

and gave her hazel eyes and long blonde hair.
I had her run away to California
where she took drugs and made hippie jewelry.

Before I knew it, she’d moved to Santa Fe
and opened a shop. She sent a postcard
every year or so, but she’d stopped calling.

I can still see my younger sister staring at me,
her eyes widening with desolation
then filling with tears. I can still remember

how thrilled and horrified I was
that something I’d just made up
had that kind of power, and I can still feel

the blowdart of remorse stabbing me in the heart
as I rushed to tell her none of it was true.
But it was too late. Our other sister

had already taken shape, and we could not
call her back from her life far away
or tell her how badly we missed her.

Giving Up Smoking

by Wendy Cope

There’s not a Shakespeare sonnet
Or a Beethoven quartet
That’s easier to like than you
Or harder to forget.

You think that sounds extravagant?
I haven’t finished yet—
I like you more than I would like
To have a cigarette.

Instant Fish

by Peter Porter

Instant Fish
by Phidias!
Add water
and they swim.