Poem of the Day! (from poetryfoundation.org)


At the Bomb Testing Site



At noon in the desert a panting lizard   

waited for history, its elbows tense,   

watching the curve of a particular road   

as if something might happen.


It was looking at something farther off   

than people could see, an important scene   

acted in stone for little selves

at the flute end of consequences.


There was just a continent without much on it   

under a sky that never cared less.   

Ready for a change, the elbows waited.   

The hands gripped hard on the desert.


William Stafford, “At the Bomb Testing Site” from Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems. Copyright © 1960 by William Stafford. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

I Sit and Sew



I sit and sew—a useless task it seems,

My hands grown tired, my head weighed down with dreams—

The panoply of war, the martial tred of men,

Grim-faced, stern-eyed, gazing beyond the ken

Of lesser souls, whose eyes have not seen Death,

Nor learned to hold their lives but as a breath—

But—I must sit and sew.


I sit and sew—my heart aches with desire—

That pageant terrible, that fiercely pouring fire

On wasted fields, and writhing grotesque things

Once men. My soul in pity flings

Appealing cries, yearning only to go

There in that holocaust of hell, those fields of woe—

But—I must sit and sew.


The little useless seam, the idle patch;

Why dream I here beneath my homely thatch,

When there they lie in sodden mud and rain,

Pitifully calling me, the quick ones and the slain?

You need me, Christ! It is no roseate dream

That beckons me—this pretty futile seam,

It stifles me—God, must I sit and sew?



from The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer

Source: The Works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson Volume 2 (The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers) (Oxford University Press, 1988)

Strong stuff. Thanks.

To converse with the greats




To converse with the greats

by trying their blindfolds on;

to correspond with books

by rewriting them;

to edit holy edicts,

and at the midnight hour

to talk with the clock by tapping a wall

in the solitary confinement of the universe.


Source: Poetry (January 2010)

Figs from Thistles: First Fig



My candle burns at both ends;

   It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

   It gives a lovely light!


Poem of the day for 25 January 2021


Winter Garden


for Robert Dash


A permanent occasion

Knotted into the clouds: pink, then blue,

Like a baby holding its breath, or colorless


As the gush and pop of conversations

Under water. You feel handed from clasp to clasp,

A concert carried off by the applause.


Other times half of you is torn

At the perforated line and mailed away.

You want to say, "Today, the smithereens


Must fend for themselves,"

And know the ever-skating decimal's joy,

To count on thin ice


Growing thinner by degrees, taking its own

Sweet time and taking us with it,

To navigate magnetic zones in which


Intense ecstatic figures touch, like worlds,

But don't collide, it being their devotion

To depend on you to name for each


A proper sphere. "Today, I turn to silence;

Let the language do the talking."

X the Unknown and his laughable, lovable crew, 


The tumbling balconies of one-of-us-is-a-robot-

And-it's-not-me waves

(Spanking a beach so empty


If you weren't around to trip me

Would I really fall?) and days

When the wind is a bridge across our power


To enumerate, to dig, to plant, to hold

And to communicate the twill-and-tweed-

Covered field's coldness


Toward our game of enticing it indoors,

As if we could erect a rival gate to the departure

Whose uniform destination can't surprise,


Is blind, speaks not, 

When on those white and sudden afternoons

I take your eyes, and see the sun set twice. 


Donald Britton, "Winter Garden" from In The Empire of the Air.  Copyright © 2016 by Donald Britton.  Reprinted by permission of Nightboat Books.