Poetry Should Ride the Bus

poetry should hopscotch in a polka dot dress
wheel cartwheels
n hold your hand
when you walk past the yellow crack house

poetry should wear bright red lipstick
n practice kisses in the mirror
for all the fine young men with fades
shootin craps around the corner

poetry should dress in fine plum linen suits
n not be so educated that it don’t stop in
every now n then to sit on the porch
and talk about the comins and goins of the world

poetry should ride the bus
in a fat woman’s Safeway bag
between the greens n chicken wings
to be served with tuesday’s dinner

poetry should drop by a sweet potato pie
ask about the grandchildren
n sit through a whole photo album
on an orange plastic covered lazyboy with no place to go

poetry should sing red revolution love songs
that massage your scalp
and bring hope to your blood
when you think you’re too old to fight

poetry should whisper electric blue magic
all the years of your life
never forgettin to look you in the soul
every once in a while
n smile

~ Ruth Forman

The Large Blue Horses by Franz Marc


As Imperceptibly As Grief

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away —
Too imperceptible at last
To seem like Perfidy –

A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun,
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon —
The Dusk drew earlier in —
The Morning foreign shone —
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone —
And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.

~ Emily Dickinson

First Responder Rescue

A. A. Milne’s Excerpt from “A Word for Autumn”

There is a crispness about celery that is of the essence of October. It is as fresh and clean as a rainy day after a spell of heat. It crackles pleasantly in the mouth. Moreover it is excellent, I am told, for the complexion. One is always hearing of things which are good for the complexion, but there is no doubt that celery stands high on the list. After the burns and freckles of summer one is in need of something. How good that celery should be there at one’s elbow.

A week ago—(“A little more cheese, waiter”)—a week ago I grieved for the dying summer. I wondered how I could possibly bear the waiting–the eight long months till May. In vain to comfort myself with the thought that I could get through more work in the winter undistracted by thoughts of cricket grounds and country houses. In vain, equally, to tell myself that I could stay in bed later in the mornings. Even the thought of after-breakfast pipes in front of the fire left me cold. But now, suddenly, I am reconciled to autumn. I see quite clearly that all good things must come to an end. The summer has been splendid, but it has lasted long enough. This morning I welcomed the chill in the air; this morning I viewed the falling leaves with cheerfulness; and this morning I said to myself, “Why, of course, I’ll have celery for lunch.” (“More bread, waiter.”)

~ A. A. Milne, excerpt from an essay, “A Word for Autumn”

Elegy for a Diver

Jacknife swandive gainer twist
High off the board you’d pierce the sky
And split the apple of the devil sun
And spit in the sun’s fierce eye.
When you were young you never missed,
Archer-diver who flew too high
So everything later became undone.

Later everything burned to ash
Wings too close to the sun broke down
Jacknife swandive gainer twist
Can’t be done on the ground
And nothing in your diver’s past
Had warned you that a diver drowns
When nothing replaces what is missed.

Everything beautiful falls away
Jacknife swandive gainer twist
Muscles drop and skin turns coarse
Even skin the sun had kissed.
You drank the sun down every day
Until the sun no longer existed
And only the drink had any force.

Only the drink had any force
Archer-diver who flew too high
When you were young you never missed
And spit in the sun’s fierce eye.
Later everything burned to ash:
Everything beautiful falls away
Even skin the sun had kissed
Jacknife swandive gainer and twist


And now I see your bones in dreams
Turning and twisting below our feet
Finger bones bending out like wings
As once again your body sings
Swandiving slowly through the stone
That sparks your skill and shoulder bones
Layer by layer and over and over
You flash through limestone sand and lava
Feet together and backbone arched
Like an arrow aimed at the devil’s heart
The dead are watching your perfect dive
Clicking their fingers as if alive
High off the board and to hell with the chances
As once again your body dances
Anything done well shines forever only polished by death’s dark weather
Diver diver diving still
Now and forever I praise your skill

~ Peter Meinke

The Craftsman

I ply with all the cunning of my art
This little thing, and with consummate care
I fashion it—so that when I depart,
Those who come after me shall find it fair
And beautiful. It must be free of flaws—
Pointing no laborings of weary hands;
And there must be no flouting of the laws
Of beauty—as the artist understands.

Through passion, yearnings infinite—yet dumb—
I lift you from the depths of my own mind
And gild you with my soul’s white heat to plumb
The souls of future men. I leave behind
This thing that in return this solace gives:
“He who creates true beauty ever lives.”

~ Marcus B. Christian

Madam and the Phone Bill

You say I O.K.ed
O.K.ed it when?
My goodness, Central
That was then!

I’m mad and disgusted
With that Negro now.
I don’t pay no REVERSED
CHARGES nohow.

You say, I will pay it–
Else you’ll take out my phone?
You better let
My phone alone.

I didn’t ask him
To telephone me.
Roscoe knows darn well
Ain’t free.

If I ever catch him,
Lawd, have pity!
Calling me up
From Kansas City.

Just to say he loves me!
I knowed that was so.
Why didn’t he tell me some’n
I don’t know?

For instance, what can
Them other girls do
That Alberta K. Johnson
Can’t do–and more, too?

What’s that, Central?
You say you don’t care
Nothing about my
Private affair?

Well, even less about your
PHONE BILL, does I care!

Un-humm-m! . . . Yes!
You say I gave my O.K.?
Well, that O.K. you may keep–

But I sure ain’t gonna pay!

~Langston Hughes


Closer to a bell than a bird,
that clapper ringing
the clear name
of its inventor:

by turns louder
and quieter than a clock,
its numbered face
was more literate,

triplets of alphabet
like grace notes
above each digit.

And when you dialed,
each number was a shallow hole
your finger dragged
to the silver

then the sound of the hole
traveling back
to its proper place
on the circle.

You had to wait for its return.
You had to wait.
Even if you were angry
and your finger flew,

you had to await
the round trip
of seven holes
before you could speak.

The rotary was weird for lag,
for the afterthought.

Before the touch-tone,
before the speed-dial,
before the primal grip
of the cellular,

they built glass houses
around telephones:
glass houses in parking lots,
by the roadside,
on sidewalks.

When you stepped in
and closed the door,
transparency hugged you,
and you could almost see

your own lips move,
the dumb-show
of your new secrecy.

Why did no one think
to conserve the peal?

Just try once
to sing it to yourself:
it’s gone,

like the sound of breath
if your body left.

~ Christina Pugh


Café Terrace by Vincent van Gogh


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