English 9 poetry: selections for memorization and commentary

By 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, please post below your first and second choices for poems to do oral commentary on next week. Simply copy, paste and post both poems as a reply to this blog post, indicating which you prefer. I want to approve all of your poems as soon as possible so that you can begin your analysis before Monday’s class. You’ll be submitting oral commentaries on these songs for next Wednesday. By posting on the blog, other students can take a look at appropriate selections, and can also look over your second-choice poems and possibly choose them.

I would like all students to choose new, modern poems between 15 and 25 lines in length, because I want to avoid poems with extensive analysis available online. (I am willing to make some exceptions for students who truly prefer older poems, but if your poem is analyzed on SparkNotes, Shmoop or GradeSaver, it is not eligible.) The poem you choose must be by a published, professional poet (i.e., amateur online poetry is not appropriate for this assignment).

This is an excellent site for reviewing possible choices, and this site is also usefulIf you set the browse or search options to poets born in the 20th century, you will avoid many overanalyzed options.

Poe art: The Raven

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60 Responses to English 9 poetry: selections for memorization and commentary

  1. victor.h.m says:

    “A First on TV” by David Ignatow

    This is the twentieth century,
    you are there, preparing to skin
    a human being alive. Your part
    will be to remain calm
    and to participate with the flayer
    in his work as you follow his hand,
    the slow, delicate way with the knife
    between the skin and the flesh,
    and see the red meat emerge.
    Tiny rivulets of blood will flow
    from the naked flesh and over the hands
    of the flayer. Your eyes will waver
    and turn away but turn back to witness
    the unprecedented, the incredible,
    for you are there
    and your part will be to remain calm.

    You will smash at the screen
    with your fist and try to reach
    this program on the phone, like a madman
    gripping it by the neck
    as if it were the neck of the flayer
    and you will scream into the receiver,
    “Get me station ZXY at once, at once,
    do you hear!” But your part
    will be to remain calm.

  2. Carlota says:

    Before You Came by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

    Before you came,
    things were as they should be:
    the sky was the dead-end of sight,
    the road was just a road, wine merely wine.

    Now everything is like my heart,
    a color at the edge of blood:
    the grey of your absence, the color of poison, of thorns,
    the gold when we meet, the season ablaze,
    the yellow of autumn, the red of flowers, of flames,
    and the black when you cover the earth
    with the coal of dead fires.

    And the sky, the road, the glass of wine?
    The sky is a shirt wet with tears,
    the road a vein about to break,
    and the glass of wine a mirror in which
    the sky, the road, the world keep changing.

    Don’t leave now that you’re here—
    Stay. So the world may become like itself again:
    so the sky may be the sky,
    the road a road,
    and the glass of wine not a mirror, just a glass of wine.

  3. 21EDUITA21 says:

    All It Is
    BY ALFRED CORN
    The flexible arc
    described by treetop leaves
    when breathing currents ripple
    a branch to one,
    then the other side.
    Or the level, quickened swell
    that follows a gust over wetlands
    home to a million reeds.

    Any terrain you find arises from all
    that came before: succeeding
    event horizons from earlier eras
    brought forward by today’s considered
    impetus to lift the way it looks,
    lightly, freely
    out toward whatever senses you are there—
    breathed into completion, a sphere,
    into all it is.

  4. 18manuelg says:

    The Unknown
    BY EDGAR LEE MASTERS
    Ye aspiring ones, listen to the story of the unknown
    Who lies here with no stone to mark the place.
    As a boy reckless and wanton,
    Wandering with gun in hand through the forest
    Near the mansion of Aaron Hatfield,
    I shot a hawk perched on the top
    Of a dead tree.
    He fell with guttural cry
    At my feet, his wing broken.
    Then I put him in a cage
    Where he lived many days cawing angrily at me
    When I offered him food.
    Daily I search the realms of Hades
    For the soul of the hawk,
    That I may offer him the friendship
    Of one whom life wounded and caged.

  5. 18dakshs says:

    The Window of Death
    BY TOMAŽ ŠALAMUN
    To stop the blood of flowers and to reverse harmony.
    To die in the river, to die in the river.
    To hear the heart of a rat. There is no difference
    between the silver of the moon and the silver of my tribe.

    To clear the field and to run to the edge of the earth.
    To bear a crystal in the chest: the word. Soap
    evaporates at the door, fire illuminates the day.
    To look back, to look back one more time.

    And to remove the robe. The poppy has bitten the sky.
    To walk empty roads and drink shadows.
    To feel the oak at the mouth of the well.

    To stop the blood of flowers, to stop the blood of flowers.
    Altars watch each other face to face.
    To lie down on a blue cabbage.

    —————————————————————————————————————————
    1979
    BY RODDY LUMSDEN
    They arrived at the desk of the Hotel Duncan
    and Smithed in, twitchy as flea-drummed squirrels.

    Her coat was squared and cream, his patent shoes
    were little boats you wouldn’t put to sea in.

    People, not meaning to, write themselves in
    to the soap that your life is, rise or fall in the plot.

    Seems that they were fleeing from the 1980s
    much as a hummingbird flies from a flower’s bell.

    These were the times when wine was still a treat
    and not yet considered a common bodily fluid.

    You will have heard that the mind works much
    as an oval of soap turned between two hands.

    She went round the room seeking lights
    that could be off without desire becoming love.

    He spread his arms behind his head, a gesture
    of libido she misread as test of temperature.

    Every carpet has its weave and underlay, seen
    only by the maker, the deliverer and the layer.

    The year was a dog but the day was as good as
    a song that ends with a wedding, meat on the rib.

    Evening was folding over the grid, slick walkers
    with armfuls of books splendored in dusk’s ask.

    The song of the pipes was eerie as a face pressed
    to glass, as a basketball with a mouth and teeth.

    They lay in the glow of the times and talked of
    how people form a queue to exact or escape love.

    Each sigh has a sequel, she thought, then he did,
    then the whole hotel pulsed through that thought.

    Scandal has an inroad, but you must tunnel out;
    she rose and stood up counting, all hair and beauty.

    Though we do not hear them, beneath our own,
    our shadows’ footsteps clatter, they match our dread.

    • 18dakshs says:

      He’s gone, and all our plans
      Are useless indeed.
      We’ll walk no more on Cotswold
      Where the sheep feed
      Quietly and take no heed.

      His body that was so quick
      Is not as you
      Knew it, on Severn river
      Under the blue
      Driving our small boat through.

      You would not know him now …
      But still he died
      Nobly, so cover him over
      With violets of pride
      Purple from Severn side.

      Cover him, cover him soon!
      And with thick-set
      Masses of memoried flowers—
      Hide that red wet
      Thing I must somehow forget.

  6. Meditation on a Bone
    by A.D. Hope

    Words scored upon a bone,
    Scratched in despair or rage –
    Nine hundred years have gone;
    Now, in another age,
    They burn with passion on
    A scholar’s tranquil page.

    The scholar takes his pen
    And turns the bone about,
    And writes those words again.
    Once more they seethe and shout,
    And through a human brain
    Undying hate rings out.

    ‘I loved her when a maid;
    I loathe and love the wife
    That warms another’s bed:
    Let him beware his life!’
    The scholar’s hand is stayed;
    His pen becomes a knife

    To grave in living bone
    The fierce archaic cry.
    He sits and reads his own
    Dull sum of misery.
    A thousand years have flown
    Before that ink is dry.

    And, in a foreign tongue,
    A man, who is not he,
    Reads and his heart is wrung
    This ancient grief to see,
    And thinks: When I am dung,
    What bone shall speak for me?

  7. XimenaM says:

    What I Learned From My Mother
    BY JULIA KASDORF
    I learned from my mother how to love
    the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
    in case you have to rush to the hospital
    with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
    still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
    large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
    grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
    and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
    and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
    I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know
    the deceased, to press the moist hands
    of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
    sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
    I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
    what anyone will remember is that we came.
    I learned to believe I had the power to ease
    awful pains materially like an angel.
    Like a doctor, I learned to create
    from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
    you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
    To every house you enter, you must offer
    healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
    the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

  8. 18mateom says:

    Alone
    BY TOMAŽ ŠALAMUN
    One finger is the tundra,
    one finger is the Bodhisattva,
    one finger is mother Slovenia.
    Two fingers still remain, beckoning
    and with awful force feeding me
    seventeen hands with this arrangement.
    Alone,
    I’m alone on the roof of the world and drawing
    so stars are created.
    I’m spurting through the nose so the Milky Way is created
    and I’m eating
    so shit is created, and falling on you
    and it is music.
    I am God.
    I am God and I’m dancing.
    This table is a gift, this house is a gift,
    this garden is a gift, these squirrels are a gift.
    These human legs are murmuring mantras.
    Alone,
    alone.
    Glug glug glug I drink gulps of light
    and I brush.
    So I shower and put myself back, alone.
    I alone am the center of the world’s light, the Lord’s lamb.
    I alone am all animals: a tiger, an ant, a deer,
    a rabbit, a porcupine (a hedgehog), a butterfly, an insect,
    a piranha, a baby rabbit, a daddy rabbit,
    the god of ferrets, the straw hat of a sketched
    puppy and his paws.
    I alone am all plants: strawberries, birch, hazel,
    pumpkin, fern, dandelion, juves (juves is a plant
    with thin roots, resembling the roots
    of parsley, but it has a nose and head like
    a porcini cap and one birch’s hand,
    sitting all day in a race car like a liana),
    maple, oak, corn, alone.
    I alone am all the people named in this book
    and all the others: Joe, Janet, Agatha, Veronika,
    Boris, Ivan, Italo, Pierre, alone.
    I alone am the air, smoothly, the lining, two parallel tracks,
    pot (to sweat), pot (the road),
    the cause, the forceps, Lope de Vega, the streak,
    the dot on the forehead, the dot in the air, alone.
    Alone,
    I alone am the air and the golden butter,
    linden bark, the king, the sickle and hammer,
    the Dalmatian, the saw, Armenia, the key,
    alone.

  9. 18andreww says:

    A Gunner’s Day by Anonymous

    A gunner’s day is never done,
    Up at dawn before the sun.
    With the roar of engines in his head,
    Wishing he could have stayed in bed.

    Chow at four, fried eggs and such,
    Won’t have time to eat too much.
    Briefing at five, the crew is all there,
    And ever anxious to be up in the air.

    See to your chute, ammunition and guns,
    For the boys all know its not for fun.
    Jerry will be there high up in the blue,
    Waiting for someone, perhaps for you.

    Take off at six or maybe at six-thirty,
    Hope no one has a gun that is dirty.
    Form with the group at 12,000 feet,
    See the formation, they really look neat.

    Put on your mask the air is getting thin,
    Off to battle, some with a grin.
    Were over the water, now test your guns,
    Enemy coast, here comes the fun.

    Flak at six and flak at twelve,
    Look out! you hear the bombardier yell.
    Here come Fighters, coming in low
    Maybe they’re ours, don’t shoot till you know.

    P-58’s and P-38’s
    Our escort is here, they’re never late.
    They’re fighting fools, each man and his ship.
    There is never a Jerry they couldn’t whip.

    The air is cold just fifty below,
    Turn up the heat so you don’t freeze a toe.
    A sharp lookout boys, the target is near
    We don’t care to meet the enemy here.

    There is the target, plenty of flak,
    Bombs Away! Boys now we turn back.
    Coming out of the sun, there are enemy ships,
    Aim true boys, we’ve still got more trips.

    There goes one down, another one too.
    Our Fighters are busy to see none get through.
    There one flames in the sky, as another goes down
    The pilot bails out, he makes it safe to the ground.

    Then in our tail our guns start to roar,
    There’s blood on your guns, you shoot as before.
    Your ship is hit but still flies through the air,
    You think of your loved ones and whisper a prayer.

    Smoke from the target leaps high in the sky,
    We’ll show the damn Jerries we know how to fly,
    The Fighters have left us, the few that are left
    Our Fighters got some, we got the rest.

    We’ve been up six hour, two hours to go
    Though were doing 200, it seems very slow.
    England at last, the tail gunners learn
    We think of our buddies who will not return.

    We’re over the field the crew gives a sigh
    We have finished another to do or to die.
    Wheels touched the ground with a screech and a bump,
    Our ship brought us back over the hump.

    We’re tired, dirty, thirsty and sore,
    The sun has gone down an hour before.
    First clean your guns, do it good boys
    For that gun’s life is mine or yours.

    A sandwich and coffee, your chute you turn in,
    Down to the briefing room, turn in your gun.
    Two meals, both in the darkness of night,
    Get on your nerves, but you’re still ready to fight.

    The mess hall is warm in the cold of night,
    You sit down to eat, talk between bites.
    You talk of Fighters, theirs and ours, too
    And of the boys that didn’t get through.

    Of ships going down exploding in air,
    The bullets that missed your head by a hair.
    Your ship full of holes, guess Joe is in bed,
    He has a flak fragment lodged in his head.

    Then head for your sack at nine or ten.
    A letter from home, another from her.
    I love you she wrote, then you know you’ve won,
    A gunners day is never done.

  10. Harry says:

    Spring in War-Time
    BY SARA TEASDALE
    I feel the spring far off, far off,
    The faint, far scent of bud and leaf—
    Oh, how can spring take heart to come
    To a world in grief,
    Deep grief?

    The sun turns north, the days grow long,
    Later the evening star grows bright—
    How can the daylight linger on
    For men to fight,
    Still fight?

    The grass is waking in the ground,
    Soon it will rise and blow in waves—
    How can it have the heart to sway
    Over the graves,
    New graves?

    Under the boughs where lovers walked
    The apple-blooms will shed their breath—
    But what of all the lovers now
    Parted by Death,
    Grey Death?

  11. Juan U says:

    Dilemma
    BY ANTHONY HECHT

    “Dark and amusing he is, this handsome gallant,
    Of chamois-polished charm,
    Athlete and dancer of uncommon talent—
    Is there cause for alarm
    In his smooth demeanor, the proud tilt of his chin,
    This cavaliere servente, this Harlequin?

    “Gentle and kindly this other, ardent but shy,
    With an intelligence
    Who would not glory to be guided by—
    And would it not make sense
    To trust in someone so devoted, so
    Worshipful as this tender, pale Pierrot?

    “Since both of them delight, if I must choose
    I win a matchless mate,
    But by that very winning choice I lose—
    I pause, I hesitate,
    Putting decision off,” says Columbine,
    “And while I hesitate, they both are mine.”

  12. 18ethelr says:

    “Phenomenal Women”
    by Maya Angelou

    Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
    I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
    But when I start to tell them,
    They think I’m telling lies.
    I say,
    It’s in the reach of my arms,
    The span of my hips,
    The stride of my step,
    The curl of my lips.
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    I walk into a room
    Just as cool as you please,
    And to a man,
    The fellows stand or
    Fall down on their knees.
    Then they swarm around me,
    A hive of honey bees.
    I say,
    It’s the fire in my eyes,
    And the flash of my teeth,
    The swing in my waist,
    And the joy in my feet.
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenally.

    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    Men themselves have wondered
    What they see in me.
    They try so much
    But they can’t touch
    My inner mystery.
    When I try to show them,
    They say they still can’t see.
    I say,
    It’s in the arch of my back,
    The sun of my smile,
    The ride of my breasts,
    The grace of my style.
    I’m a woman
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    Now you understand
    Just why my head’s not bowed.
    I don’t shout or jump about
    Or have to talk real loud.
    When you see me passing,
    It ought to make you proud.
    I say,
    It’s in the click of my heels,
    The bend of my hair,
    the palm of my hand,
    The need for my care.
    ’Cause I’m a woman
    Phenomenally.
    Phenomenal woman,
    That’s me.

    *I know this is a more famous poem but it’s not on shmoop,sparknotes, or gradesaver.*

    Second choice:
    *I actually think I’ll be choosing this one since it’s less famous and more analysable*

    The Great Society

    Dentists continue to water their lawns even in the rain:
    Hands developed with terrible labor by apes
    Hang from the sleeves of evangelists;
    There are murdered kings in the light-bulbs outside movie theaters:
    The coffins of the poor are hibernating in piles of new tires.

    The janitor sits troubled by the boiler,
    And the hotel keeper shuffles the cards of insanity.
    The President dreams of invading Cuba.
    Bushes are growing over the outdoor grills,
    Vines over the yachts and the leather seats.

    The city broods over ash cans and darkening mortar.
    On the far shore, at Coney Island, dark children
    Playing on the chilling beach: a sprig of black seaweed,
    Shells, a skyful of birds,
    While the mayor sits with his head in his hands.

  13. Mark Jeffcoat says:

    To Solitude
    BY ALICE CARY
    I am weary of the working,
    Weary of the long day’s heat;
    To thy comfortable bosom,
    Wilt thou take me, spirit sweet?

    Weary of the long, blind struggle
    For a pathway bright and high,—
    Weary of the dimly dying
    Hopes that never quite all die.

    Weary searching a bad cipher
    For a good that must be meant;
    Discontent with being weary,—
    Weary with my discontent.

    I am weary of the trusting
    Where my trusts but torments prove;
    Wilt thou keep faith with me? wilt thou
    Be my true and tender love?

    I am weary drifting, driving
    Like a helmless bark at sea;
    Kindly, comfortable spirit,
    Wilt thou give thyself to me?

    Give thy birds to sing me sonnets?
    Give thy winds my cheeks to kiss?
    And thy mossy rocks to stand for
    The memorials of our bliss?

    I in reverence will hold thee,
    Never vexed with jealous ills,
    Though thy wild and wimpling waters
    Wind about a thousand hills.

  14. 18andreww says:

    1. On the Western Front by Alfred Noyes
    I found a dreadful acre of the dead,
    Marked with the only sign on earth that saves.
    The wings of death were hurrying overhead,
    The loose earth shook on those unquiet graves;

    For the deep gun-pits, with quick stabs of flame,
    Made their own thunders of the sunlit air;
    Yet, as I read the crosses, name by name,
    Rank after rank, it seemed that peace was there;

    Sunlight and peace, a peace too deep for thought,
    The peace of tides that underlie our strife,
    The peace with which the moving heavens are fraught,
    The peace that is our everlasting life.

    The loose earth shook. The very hills were stirred.
    The silence of the dead was all I heard.

    II

    We, who lie here, have nothing more to pray.
    To all your praises we are deaf and blind.
    We may not ever know if you betray
    Our hope, to make earth better for mankind.

    Only our silence, in the night, shall grow
    More silent, as the stars grow in the sky;
    And, while you deck our graves, you shall not know
    How many scornful legions pass you by.

    For we have heard you say (when we were living)
    That some small dream of good would “cost too much.”
    But when the foe struck, we have watched you giving,
    And seen you move the mountains with one touch.

    What can be done, we know. But, have no fear!
    If you fail now, we shall not see or hear.

    2. The Death Bed by Siegfried Sassoon
    He drowsed and was aware of silence heaped
    Round him, unshaken as the steadfast walls;
    Aqueous like floating rays of amber light,
    Soaring and quivering in the wings of sleep.
    Silence and safety; and his mortal shore
    Lipped by the inward, moonless waves of death.

    Someone was holding water to his mouth.
    He swallowed, unresisting; moaned and dropped
    Through crimson gloom to darkness; and forgot
    The opiate throb and ache that was his wound.
    Water—calm, sliding green above the weir;
    Water—a sky-lit alley for his boat,
    Bird-voiced, and bordered with reflected flowers
    And shaken hues of summer: drifting down,
    He dipped contented oars, and sighed, and slept.

    Night, with a gust of wind, was in the ward,
    Blowing the curtain to a gummering curve.
    Night. He was blind; he could not see the stars
    Glinting among the wraiths of wandering cloud;
    Queer blots of colour, purple, scarlet, green,
    Flickered and faded in his drowning eyes.

    Rain—he could hear it rustling through the dark;
    Fragrance and passionless music woven as one;
    Warm rain on drooping roses; pattering showers
    That soak the woods; not the harsh rain that sweeps
    Behind the thunder, but a trickling peace,
    Gently and slowly washing life away.

    He stirred, shifting his body; then the pain
    Leaped like a prowling beast, and gripped and tore
    His groping dreams with grinding claws and fangs.
    But someone was beside him; soon he lay
    Shuddering because that evil thing had passed.
    And death, who’d stepped toward him, paused and stared.

    Light many lamps and gather round his bed.
    Lend him your eyes, warm blood, and will to live.
    Speak to him; rouse him; you may save him yet.
    He’s young; he hated war; how should he die
    When cruel old campaigners win safe through?

    But death replied: “I choose him.” So he went,
    And there was silence in the summer night;
    Silence and safety; and the veils of sleep.
    Then, far away, the thudding of the guns.

  15. 18emiliod says:

    Our Vanishing
    BY JOYCE PESEROFF

    Thanks, no thanks, to eternal life. What pleasure
    watching my old house broken-beamed, grey

    elephant brought to its knees? White ash—gone
    the way of trilobites and horsehair fern,

    even the nuclear-proof cockroach in deep-freeze.
    Cueballs knock each other randomly; reverse.

    the tape and movement looks the same, illustrating
    the end of time: things happen, but don’t matter.

    And if Lethe strips you like a swimmer
    from his trunks, where will “I” be? If Heaven

    without you is Hell, how will I know? A forever
    of no-never-mind does not appeal, God’s heart

    a cold, contracting cinder. Give me the white light,
    the slit of split-second calm, and knowing over is over.

    • 18emiliod says:

      the second one is this one
      All It Is
      BY ALFRED CORN
      The flexible arc
      described by treetop leaves
      when breathing currents ripple
      a branch to one,
      then the other side.
      Or the level, quickened swell
      that follows a gust over wetlands
      home to a million reeds.

      Any terrain you find arises from all
      that came before: succeeding
      event horizons from earlier eras
      brought forward by today’s considered
      impetus to lift the way it looks,
      lightly, freely
      out toward whatever senses you are there—
      breathed into completion, a sphere,
      into all it is.

      • 18emiliod says:

        This is my final decision

        Actaeon
        BY A. E. STALLINGS
        The hounds, you know them all by name.
        You fostered them from purblind whelps
        At their dam’s teats, and you have come
        To know the music of their yelps:

        High-strung Anthee, the brindled bitch,
        The blue-tick coated Philomel,
        And freckled Chloe, who would fetch
        A pretty price if you would sell—

        All fleet of foot, and swift to scent,
        Inexorable once on the track,
        Like angry words you might have meant,
        But do not mean, and can’t take back.

        There was a time when you would brag
        How they would bay and rend apart
        The hopeless belling from a stag.
        You falter now for the foundered hart.

        Desires you nursed of a winter night—
        Did you know then why you bred them—
        Whose needling milk-teeth used to bite
        The master’s hand that leashed and fed them?

  16. angel21ray says:

    Option 1:

    The optimists among us
    taking heart because it is spring
    skip along
    attending their meetings
    signing their e-mail petitions
    marching with their satiric signs
    singing their we shall overcome songs
    posting their pungent twitters and blogs
    believing in a better world
    for no good reason
    I envy them
    said the old woman

    The seasons go round they
    go round and around
    said the tulip
    dancing among her friends
    in their brown bed in the sun
    in the April breeze
    under a maple canopy
    that was also dancing
    only with greater motions
    casting greater shadows
    and the grass
    hardly stirring

    What a concerto
    of good stinks said the dog
    trotting along Riverside Drive
    in the early spring afternoon
    sniffing this way and that
    how gratifying the cellos of the river
    the tubas of the traffic
    the trombones
    of the leafing elms with the legato
    of my rivals’ piss at their feet
    and the leftover meat and grease
    singing along in all the wastebaskets

    Option 2:

    We keep my sister alive by force,
    pin her down and nurse her with raw
    eggs from the chickens that did not drown

    and milk taken from a goat staked
    to the ground. The dull tolling of the bell
    around her neck speaks as she moves.

    Here, I am here. She wanders to the river,
    and we find her. In a tree, singing
    to a starling, we find her. We dig a grave

    for the missing body, but nothing
    consoles her. In mourning, the cure
    is the sickness. A year ago, a lion

    took our mother as she tended the fire.
    This hunger bewilders me. We found half
    of her bones and buried her

    uneaten heart in a dead cub’s rib cage.
    When we returned three days later
    we saw no bones, no heart, only tracks

    in the sand leading east. Ghost me. Fossil me.
    Resurrect me near dawn. We’re always at the mercy
    of one menacing grace, one rite, an art

    that makes us suffer twice. At night we wait
    with out knives where the tall grass begins.
    We will kill it or die or become the lion.

  17. 18brunab says:

    Alone
    One finger is the tundra,
    one finger is the Bodhisattva,
    one finger is mother Slovenia.
    Two fingers still remain, beckoning
    and with awful force feeding me
    seventeen hands with this arrangement.
    Alone,
    I’m alone on the roof of the world and drawing
    so stars are created.
    I’m spurting through the nose so the Milky Way is created
    and I’m eating
    so shit is created, and falling on you
    and it is music.
    I am God.
    I am God and I’m dancing.
    This table is a gift, this house is a gift,
    this garden is a gift, these squirrels are a gift.
    These human legs are murmuring mantras.
    Alone,
    alone.
    Glug glug glug I drink gulps of light
    and I brush.
    So I shower and put myself back, alone.
    I alone am the center of the world’s light, the Lord’s lamb.
    I alone am all animals: a tiger, an ant, a deer,
    a rabbit, a porcupine (a hedgehog), a butterfly, an insect,
    a piranha, a baby rabbit, a daddy rabbit,
    the god of ferrets, the straw hat of a sketched
    puppy and his paws.
    I alone am all plants: strawberries, birch, hazel,
    pumpkin, fern, dandelion, juves (juves is a plant
    with thin roots, resembling the roots
    of parsley, but it has a nose and head like
    a porcini cap and one birch’s hand,
    sitting all day in a race car like a liana),
    maple, oak, corn, alone.
    I alone am all the people named in this book
    and all the others: Joe, Janet, Agatha, Veronika,
    Boris, Ivan, Italo, Pierre, alone.
    I alone am the air, smoothly, the lining, two parallel tracks,
    pot (to sweat), pot (the road),
    the cause, the forceps, Lope de Vega, the streak,
    the dot on the forehead, the dot in the air, alone.
    Alone,
    I alone am the air and the golden butter,
    linden bark, the king, the sickle and hammer,
    the Dalmatian, the saw, Armenia, the key,
    alone.

  18. Harry says:

    Difference
    BY STEPHEN VINCENT BENÉT
    My mind’s a map. A mad sea-captain drew it
    Under a flowing moon until he knew it;
    Winds with brass trumpets, puffy-cheeked as jugs,
    And states bright-patterned like Arabian rugs.
    “Here there be tygers.” “Here we buried Jim.”
    Here is the strait where eyeless fishes swim
    About their buried idol, drowned so cold
    He weeps away his eyes in salt and gold.
    A country like the dark side of the moon,
    A cider-apple country, harsh and boon,
    A country savage as a chestnut-rind,
    A land of hungry sorcerers.
    Your mind?

    —Your mind is water through an April night,
    A cherry-branch, plume-feathery with its white,
    A lavender as fragrant as your words,
    A room where Peace and Honor talk like birds,
    Sewing bright coins upon the tragic cloth
    Of heavy Fate, and Mockery, like a moth,
    Flutters and beats about those lovely things.
    You are the soul, enchanted with its wings,
    The single voice that raises up the dead
    To shake the pride of angels.
    I have said.

  19. 18marianas says:

    1. MEMORY http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/250034
    Memory is an old Mexican woman
    sweeping her yard with a broom.
    She has grown even smaller now,
    residing at that vanishing point
    decades after one dies,
    but at some times, given
    the right conditions—
    an ordinary dream, or practically
    anything in particular—
    she absolutely looms,
    assuming the stature
    she had in the neighborhood.

    This was the Great Valley,
    and we had swept in
    to do the grooming.
    We were on the move, tending
    what was essentially
    someone else’s garden.
    Memory’s yard was all that
    in miniature, in microcosm:
    rivers for irrigation,
    certain plants, certain trees
    ascertained by season.
    Without formal acknowledgment,
    she was most certainly
    the head of a community, American.

    Memory had been there forever.
    We settled in around her;
    we brought the electricity
    of blues and baptized gospel,
    ancient adaptations of icons,
    spices, teas, fireworks, trestles,
    newly acquired techniques
    of conflict and healing, common
    concepts of collective survival. . .

    Memory was there all the while.
    Her house, her shed, her skin,
    were all the same— weathered—
    and she didn’t do anything, especially,
    except hum as she moved;
    Memory, in essence, was unmemorable.

    Yet, ask any of us who have long since left,
    who have all but forgotten that adulterated place
    paved over and parceled out by the powers that be,
    and what we remember, without even choosing to,
    is an old woman humming, sweeping, smoothing her yard: Memory.

    2. Innocence
    BY LINDA HOGAN
    There is nothing more innocent
    than the still-unformed creature I find beneath soil,
    neither of us knowing what it will become
    in the abundance of the planet.
    It makes a living only by remaining still
    in its niche.
    One day it may struggle out of its tender
    pearl of blind skin
    with a wing or with vision
    leaving behind the transparent.

    I cover it again, keep laboring,
    hands in earth, myself a singular body.
    Watching things grow,
    wondering how
    a cut blade of grass knows
    how to turn sharp again at the end.

    This same growing must be myself,
    not aware yet of what I will become
    in my own fullness
    inside this simple flesh.

    • 18marianas says:

      Dead Girl Gang Bang
      BY CATE MARVIN
      Though I can’t recall your last name
      now, Howie, I’ve been penciling myself in
      to your way back then, way back
      when, in your gangbangland, she was
      loose and gone, struggling up on a limb
      to raise herself off from your bed, but lost,
      fell back, let the all of you in again. Said
      just trying to get out your room

      was no use since she’d got her own
      self in. Curbside-mind, I venture
      you are still alive. Wondering what she’d
      think of that, but, then, I don’t
      know, can a ghost think when its body’s shot
      itself in the head? Hell, just thinking about
      it makes me wish I were dead. Just
      some girl, you, then you letting your friends

      shovel their coal-selves up into her, just some
      person. I knew. Her mother’s now offering
      a twenty-percent discount for crystal
      healing therapy on her website. In high school,
      she was a calm mother, dull job as telephone
      operator, back in that town her dead
      daughter and I always swore we
      would leave, back in that town dead to me,

      and me, I marry a man who mocks
      me for crying. We-we-we, he calls out,
      snickering in the gloom. Yet still I wear the dead
      girl’s perfume. And I’ve got an accident
      to report. Because it was all our centers,
      uninvited, you rucked up inside, then bade your
      friends park their reeking selves in the garage
      of her feminine. What did you call it

      back then? You balding fuck, you’ve forgot.
      Sloppy seconds. Forgot her slippage, eyes dead
      drunk spirals, face some fluid spilling down
      your sheets. I’ve been where she’s been,
      and I can be where you are now, switch my hips,
      sashay into your office to see you any day now,
      wearing her perfume. What pack animal
      would you choose to be in your next life?

      Every day, the marsupial clouds grow
      hungrier for our reunion, the reunion I’ve been
      packing for all my life. There is a swing set
      and a girl in a dress who doesn’t know about this
      next. First, she’s pretty. Finally, she’s done for.
      So I took some pills to forget I knew you last
      as friend. Then I learned the ways of your wiles,
      how you did my girl who’s now dead in.

  20. 18oscarp says:

    “The Plain Sense of Things”
    BY WALLACE STEVENS

    After the leaves have fallen, we return
    To a plain sense of things. It is as if
    We had come to an end of the imagination,
    Inanimate in an inert savoir.

    It is difficult even to choose the adjective
    For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
    The great structure has become a minor house.
    No turban walks across the lessened floors.

    The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
    The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
    A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
    In a repetitiousness of men and flies.

    Yet the absence of the imagination had
    Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
    The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
    Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence

    Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
    The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
    Had to be imagined as an inevitable knowledge,
    Required, as a necessity requires.

  21. Vale says:

    1) Poem:
    Never will I be covered in tattoos
    My legs and toes shall forever stay bruised.
    I’ll never paint or carry a tune
    Forever and ever, I’ll wear a tutu.
    I won’t dye my hair pink or blue
    My piercings will stay as the simple two
    Nails cut short and hair in a bun
    In ballet, this must be done.
    Pink tights by the mound
    Bobby pins all around
    Leotards on the floor
    Pointe shoes by the door.
    Toes taped so tightly
    Smiling big and brightly
    Red lipstick adding to her beauty
    The dancer moves so smoothly.
    Turned out from my hips
    No words coming from my lips
    I dance sweetly to the sound
    Ooh ballet, to you, I am bound.
    Full of grace, never haste
    Filling perfectly my costume of lace
    Ever so sweet, my dancing feet
    Step after step, I repeat and repeat.
    Obtaining perfection is my key
    It’s what I strive for, it’s all that defines me
    Pushing harder and harder to reach my goal
    It’s what I live for, ballet is my soul.
    My toes may bleed
    And my knees, grow weak
    But I’ll never stop dancing…
    Not until I reach my peak.
    Pirouette, Pirouette
    Dancer’s silhouette
    Practicing at dusk
    Dedication is a must.
    Stretching my limbs
    Choreographing on a whim
    Alway aiming to be stronger
    To hold my arabesque longer.
    When I do finally reach that triple pirouette
    and all is done and all is set
    I put myself back into class
    Aiming for a fourth, to be better than the last.
    This is the life of a dancer en point
    Risking the health of her feet, legs and joints
    Just for that one perfect moment on stage
    Where the ballerina stands tall and all are amazed.

    2) Poem:

    she danced
    her way through
    the dark night,
    a soul lost into
    the evil darkness,
    but she must not
    be fooled by the
    mask evil wears,
    because she is naive
    and young and she
    doesn’t like what
    she is becoming
    and what the world
    has made of her
    innocent heart,
    she is a prisoner,
    trapped into her own
    little black world,
    but she wants escape,
    escape that can only be
    provided by suicide.

  22. 18oscarp says:

    “I Am My Own Monster” by Scarlet …..

    everyone fears the monster under their bed
    I fear the monster in my bed
    I fear me
    for I am the one that continues on in pain
    I am the one that seeks comfort in the darkness
    into this pain and suffer
    I am my own monster
    my mind is my deepest fear
    my thoughts are the only bumps in the night that fear
    most fear the darkness
    well I live in it
    my mind fears the light
    for we fear what we do not understand
    and I do not understand the light
    happiness…what is that
    love…..what does that feel like
    I fear not only the light but the rejection if I ever tried to come into the light
    for when you live in the darkness
    you live alone
    no possibility of rejection
    I feel safe and cold in the darkness
    but what is this warmth I hear the light tease about
    it do not know how it feels to be warm
    I love the darkness’s cold embrace
    when I feel it I know I am safe
    when I feel it slip away that is when I start to worry
    I start to fear
    it usually means the light is near
    I want to make it in to the light
    I want to feel these things
    warmth
    love
    and happiness
    but my mind screams no
    it starts to worry
    it starts to over think
    it feeds the fear
    and I am stuck feeling it grow within
    drowning in fear
    I turn and run into the darkness
    searching for its
    cool embrace
    and only then
    do the screams of fear stop
    only then does my mind slow
    and try to rest
    only then do I feel no fear\none at all
    sure I feel pain and suffering
    but I have felt those for so long
    they have become my only company
    my only friends
    I know everything about them
    and they know me
    and accept me
    unlike the light I am certain of the darkness
    sure it is full of pain and suffering
    but I know how those feel
    I understand the darkness
    I know the darkness
    the light is totally unknown to me
    and for that reason it scares me
    really scares me

    “Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die.

  23. Emily B says:

    First Choice:

    “Cornelius … Cornelius Gurlitt” by Gerard Malanga

    How tired are you? How benevolent the cause
    for those slim, aching moments of blinding obscurity,
    and the blinds drawn and the sunlight louvered
    until even the knickknacks cling to their dust as to Time
    passing passing, if even that. The yearning
    to be not bothered, to be passed on the street,
    the rehab, the food mart, the many shoppe window reflections. So many
    times, the eyes averted in fear,
    so many times you remain obscure, even to your more obscured self.
    A silence charting your whereabouts
    at the many roundabouts,
    the Tenderloins forever unnamed.
    Even the sounds of the half-painted trams remain silent
    in passing. Their wheels grinding yet silent. The rain
    silent. The accusations even more silent,
    or the “friends” who never talk back, clouded in darkness.
    The landscapes drifting.
    The equestrian trots drifting.
    All the genres mixed up or simply misplaced.
    The memories gone blank.
    The mundane measured in hours, minutes, or decades, intervening, descending.

    Second Choice:

    “Dividend of the Social Opt Out” by Jennifer Moxley

    How tired are you? How benevolent the cause
    for those slim, aching moments of blinding obscurity,
    and the blinds drawn and the sunlight louvered
    until even the knickknacks cling to their dust as to Time
    passing passing, if even that. The yearning
    to be not bothered, to be passed on the street,
    the rehab, the food mart, the many shoppe window reflections. So many
    times, the eyes averted in fear,
    so many times you remain obscure, even to your more obscured self.
    A silence charting your whereabouts
    at the many roundabouts,
    the Tenderloins forever unnamed.
    Even the sounds of the half-painted trams remain silent
    in passing. Their wheels grinding yet silent. The rain
    silent. The accusations even more silent,
    or the “friends” who never talk back, clouded in darkness.
    The landscapes drifting.
    The equestrian trots drifting.
    All the genres mixed up or simply misplaced.
    The memories gone blank.
    The mundane measured in hours, minutes, or decades, intervening, descending.

  24. danielaj25 says:

    First Choice:

    Our Vanishing
    BY JOYCE PESEROFF

    Thanks, no thanks, to eternal life. What pleasure
    watching my old house broken-beamed, grey

    elephant brought to its knees? White ash—gone
    the way of trilobites and horsehair fern,

    even the nuclear-proof cockroach in deep-freeze.
    Cueballs knock each other randomly; reverse.

    the tape and movement looks the same, illustrating
    the end of time: things happen, but don’t matter.

    And if Lethe strips you like a swimmer
    from his trunks, where will “I” be? If Heaven

    without you is Hell, how will I know? A forever
    of no-never-mind does not appeal, God’s heart

    a cold, contracting cinder. Give me the white light,
    the slit of split-second calm, and knowing over is over.

  25. Camila B says:

    FIRST CHOICE: Fade To Light, by Cole Swensen

    Hand me this hand
    The sail is bent
    The trail is sold
    and the wind tied in knots

    Answer the phone
    The tune is left
    The stones uncoil
    in a wide-angle lens

    A search for clues
    encounters bliss
    A lip on the edge
    of the flowering dark

    A shell falls with hail
    Hidden and hides
    The following sky
    The descending kiss.

    SECOND CHOICE: No Worry, by Cole Swensen

    No, worry about nothing
    but the chiseling
    of hills into distance
    in the slight haze

    and sleep lost over color
    no two ever the same

    the wringing hands
    float ashore amazed.
    Worry about beauty.
    It can sell you anything.
    Lakes collect in the
    chambers of the heart
    where the sailboats are made
    of flying fish about
    the size of match heads.

    Sleep can be lost as
    easily as a house key,
    the shock can consume
    at any moment
    if the hills are not rising
    weather is wearing them down
    and you are driving
    north in the late afternoon
    or holding your eyes
    in your hands like addresses.

    • Jess Barga says:

      Hi Camila—the second poem here is (possibly) already claimed, but your first choice is available. I do think it will be a bit of a challenge considering how very short it is (it does have the minimum number of required lines, but each line has very few words, making the poem shorter than anyone else’s). If you absolutely love it, use it; if you aren’t sure, let’s look for another option tomorrow in class.

  26. Xiwen Wang (Steven) says:

    If by Rudyard Kipling
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
    If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Experience
    By Ralph Waldo Emerson
    The lords of life, the lords of life,—
    I saw them pass,
    In their own guise,
    Like and unlike,
    Portly and grim,—
    Use and Surprise,
    Surface and Dream,
    Succession swift and spectral Wrong,
    Temperament without a tongue,
    And the inventor of the game
    Omnipresent without name;—
    Some to see, some to be guessed,
    They marched from east to west:
    Little man, least of all,
    Among the legs of his guardians tall,
    Walked about with puzzled look.
    Him by the hand dear Nature took,
    Dearest Nature, strong and kind,
    Whispered, ‘Darling, never mind!
    To-morrow they will wear another face,
    The founder thou; these are thy race!’

  27. valentina says:

    FIRST CHOICE: The Coplas on the Death of His Father

    Let from its dream the soul awaken,
    And reason mark with open eyes
    The scene unfolding,—
    How lightly life away is taken,
    How cometh Death in stealthy guise,—
    At last beholding;

    What swiftness hath the flight of pleasure
    That, once attained, seems nothing more
    Than respite cold;
    How fain is memory to measure
    Each latter day inferior
    To those of old.

    Beholding how each instant flies
    So swift, that, as we count, ’tis gone
    Beyond recover,
    Let us resolve to be more wise
    Than stake our future lot upon
    What soon is over.

    Let none be self-deluding, none,—
    Imagining some longer stay
    For his own treasure
    Than what today he sees undone;
    For everything must pass away
    In equal measure.

    Our lives are fated as the rivers
    That gather downward to the sea
    We know as Death;
    And thither every flood delivers
    The pride and pomp of seigniory
    That forfeiteth;

    Thither, the rivers in their splendor;
    Thither, the streams of modest worth,—
    The rills beside them;
    Till there all equal they surrender;
    And so with those who toil on earth,
    And those who guide them.

  28. 18aliciangc says:

    First choice:
    At My Best
    BY JOHN RODRIGUEZ
    August is the cruelest month: never enough daylight, too much
    heat, no holidays and nothing matters except September’s

    dawning responsibilities, but the August of 1994 I was Holden
    Caulfield, summer camp senior counselor for the junior trail

    blazers, black and brown children two weeks shy of first, second,
    and third grade. Nothing is as positive, as motivating a force within

    one’s life as a school bus full of kids singing along to the local
    radio station blazing hip-hop and R&B. (Imagine this cherubic

    chorus riding upstate to Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes the Hotstepper.”
    [“Muuur-derah!”]) My workday is filled with hazards like chocolate

    melted sticky swim trunk pockets, insistent sunburn, and the assorted
    rah rah of parental unsupervision, but those bus rides back from

    upstate water parks and pools were my favorite times working.
    Have you ever ridden in a cheesebus with ashy children asleep

    against you, staring at sudden trees — more numerous than project
    windows — blurring along the highways like confusion giving way

    to doubt, the heady smell of dried chlorine and musty towels
    lulling you into the soft timbre of a Midwest falsetto? Tell me

    what it is to fall in love with a lightskin girl covering the Isley
    Brothers. I was not two weeks into 21 years old. I had yet

    to wear a box cutter in my fifth pocket, or see a semi-automatic
    aimed at my center mass, to feel its dumbness against my spine.

    My life was uncertain, save for its unlikely length under my control,
    like the pilot who falls short of what he says, what he says

    he’s all about, all about. All my homeboys were still alive, just
    like Aaliyah Dana Haughton, not yet an angel of the cruelest August,

    begging a boy, who may not be in the mood to learn what he thinks
    he knows, to look beyond his world and try to find a place for her.

    Second choice:

    Pantoum of the Great Depression
    BY DONALD JUSTICE

    Our lives avoided tragedy
    Simply by going on and on,
    Without end and with little apparent meaning.
    Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.

    Simply by going on and on
    We managed. No need for the heroic.
    Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes.
    I don’t remember all the particulars.

    We managed. No need for the heroic.
    There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
    I don’t remember all the particulars.
    Across the fence, the neighbors were our chorus.

    There were the usual celebrations, the usual sorrows.
    Thank god no one said anything in verse.
    The neighbors were our only chorus,
    And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.

    At no time did anyone say anything in verse.
    It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us,
    And if we suffered we kept quiet about it.
    No audience would ever know our story.

    It was the ordinary pities and fears consumed us.
    We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
    What audience would ever know our story?
    Beyond our windows shone the actual world.

    We gathered on porches; the moon rose; we were poor.
    And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
    Somewhere beyond our windows shone the world.
    The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.

    And time went by, drawn by slow horses.
    We did not ourselves know what the end was.
    The Great Depression had entered our souls like fog.
    We had our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues.

    But we did not ourselves know what the end was.
    People like us simply go on.
    We have our flaws, perhaps a few private virtues,
    But it is by blind chance only that we escape tragedy.

    And there is no plot in that; it is devoid of poetry.

    • Jess Barga says:

      Alicia, both of these poems would work well, but they’re rather long, so the memorization might be challenging (the second repeats a number of lines, so it might be easier even though it has fewer lines; the first has long, complex lines). Personally, I think the first poem is amazing—I love it! I would rather you chose that one, but in case you think it’s too long to memorize well, I’ll put both by your name (on the document) and leave it up to you to choose.

  29. 18mateom says:

    first choice:
    Second Coming, William Yates

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    • Jess Barga says:

      Mateo, I know that it’s an excellent poem, one of my favorites—but I’m going to say that this one is simply TOO covered to work for this particular assignment. If you truly adore it and want to memorize this one but analyze a different one for the commentary, that would work for me. But for your commentary you need something newer, fresher, not SparkNotes’ed or Shmoop’ed. Let me know if you need suggestions…

  30. 18annah says:

    FIRST CHOICE:

    The World in the Evening
    By Rachel Sherwood

    As this suburban summer wanders toward dark
    cats watch from their driveways — they are bored
    and await miracles. The houses show, through windows
    flashes of knife and fork, the blue light
    of televisions, inconsequential fights
    between wife and husband in the guest bathroom

    voices sound like echoes in these streets
    the chattering of awful boys as they plot
    behind the juniper and ivy, miniature guerillas
    that mimic the ancient news of the world
    and shout threats, piped high across mock fences
    to girls riding by in the last pieces of light

    the color of the sky makes brilliant reflection
    in the water and oil along the curb
    deepened aqua and the sharp pure rose of the clouds
    there is no sun or moon, few stars wheel
    above the domestic scene — this half-lit world
    still, quiet calming the dogs worried by distant alarms

    there — a woman in a window washes a glass
    a man across the street laughs through an open door
    utterly alien, alone. There is a time, seconds between
    the last light and the dark stretch ahead, when color
    is lost — the girl on her swing becomes a swift
    apparition, black and white flowing suddenly into night.

    SECOND CHOICE:

    An Old-Fashioned Song
    By John Hollander
    (Nous n’irons plus au bois)

    No more walks in the wood:
    The trees have all been cut
    Down, and where once they stood
    Not even a wagon rut
    Appears along the path
    Low brush is taking over.

    No more walks in the wood;
    This is the aftermath
    Of afternoons in the clover
    Fields where we once made love
    Then wandered home together
    Where the trees arched above,
    Where we made our own weather
    When branches were the sky.
    Now they are gone for good,
    And you, for ill, and I
    Am only a passer-by.

    We and the trees and the way
    Back from the fields of play
    Lasted as long as we could.
    No more walks in the wood.

  31. 21EDUITA21 says:

    1) The Daffodils- William Wordworth

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the Milky Way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced, but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A Poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    2) Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden
    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message “He is Dead”.
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
    For nothing now can ever come to any good.

  32. 18marianap says:

    April Midnight
    By Arthur Symons
    Side by side through the streets at midnight,
    Roaming together,
    Through the tumultuous night of London,
    In the miraculous April weather.

    Roaming together under the gaslight,
    Day’s work over,
    How the Spring calls to us, here in the city,
    Calls to the heart from the heart of a lover!

    Cool to the wind blows, fresh in our faces,
    Cleansing, entrancing,
    After the heat and the fumes and the footlights,
    Where you dance and I watch your dancing.

    Good it is to be here together,
    Good to be roaming,
    Even in London, even at midnight,
    Lover-like in a lover’s gloaming.

    You the dancer and I the dreamer,
    Children together,
    Wandering lost in the night of London,
    In the miraculous April weather.

    • Jess Barga says:

      Mariana, this is a lovely poem and a great choice: if it’s your first choice, go with it. I will sign you up for it unless you let me know otherwise.

  33. 18allysonm says:

    2nd choise

    Diameter
    BY MICHELLE Y. BURKE
    You love your friend, so you fly across the country to see her.

    Your friend is grieving. When you look at her, you see that something’s missing.

    You look again. She seems all there: reading glasses, sarcasm, leather pumps.

    What did you expect? Ruins? Demeter without arms in the British Museum?

    Your friend says she believes there’s more pain than beauty in the world.

    When Persephone was taken, Demeter damned the world for half the year.

    The other half remained warm and bountiful; the Greeks loved symmetry.

    On the plane, the man next to you read a geometry book, the lesson on finding the circumference of a circle.

    On circumference: you can calculate the way around if you know the way across.

    You try across with your friend. You try around.

    I don’t believe in an afterlife, she says. But after K. died, I thought I might go after her.

    In case I’m wrong. In case she’s somewhere. Waiting.

    • Jess Barga says:

      This is a good poem, especially for someone interested in Greek mythological allusions. Since Allyson’s first choice was approved, this one is available: if you’d like to claim it, say so in a reply to this comment.

  34. 18allysonm says:

    first choice:

    Song of Smoke
    BY KEVIN YOUNG

    To watch you walk
    cross the room in your black

    corduroys is to see
    civilization start—

    the wish-
    whish-whisk

    of your strut is flint
    striking rock—the spark

    of a length of cord
    rubbed till

    smoke starts—you stir
    me like coal

    and for days smoulder.
    I am no more

    a Boy Scout and, besides,
    could never

    put you out—you
    keep me on

    all day like an iron, out
    of habit—

    you threaten, brick-
    house, to burn

    all this down. You leave me
    only a chimney.

  35. 18hugoo says:

    The Animals By Josephine Jacobsen
    At night, alone, the animals came and shone.
    The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals:
    The lion the man the calf the eagle saying
    Sanctus which was and is and is to come.

    The sleeper watched the people at the waterless wilderness’ edge;
    The wilderness was made of granite, of thorn, of death,
    It was the goat which lightened the people praying.
    The goat went out with sin on its sunken head.

    On the sleeper’s midnight and the smaller after hours
    From above below elsewhere there shone the animals
    Through the circular dark; the cock appeared in light
    Crying three times, for tears for tears for tears.

    High in the frozen tree the sparrow sat. At three o’clock
    The luminous thunder of its fall fractured the earth.
    The somber serpent looped its coils to write
    In scales the slow snake-music of the red ripe globe.

    To the sleeper, alone, the animals came and shone,
    The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals.
    Just before dawn the dove flew out of the dark
    Flying with green in her beak; the dove also had come.
    .
    The News
    BY WENDY XU
    Tossing off expletives into the sea
    of cab lights, I lounge ever more
    than I work. I wear my silk pants
    to the middle-of-America themed bar
    as if white-collar were this Halloween’s
    hottest new costume. It sinks
    like a stone, this attention to the lives
    of others. I think I have evolved to respect
    my social obligations, only complaining
    to the cell phone’s warm
    illicit glow. I feel drunk on the whole
    leafy season when you hear me, working
    ever to avoid work. Sentiment
    forbidden by custom, industrialization
    forbidden by nothing. Down the block they
    have begun restoring the mid-century
    antique dresser, men shuffling back
    and forth with gold polish and sand. It’s insane
    that I care to ask towards its progress.
    We repeat a process of hoping our bodies
    to the future though for now mine
    eats cucumbers in bed. I had a dream
    about a crystal blue pool.
    I felt stupid when I saw the ocean.

    • 18hugoo says:

      Another Feeling By Ruth Stone
      Once you saw a drove of young pigs
      crossing the highway. One of them
      pulling his body by the front feet,
      the hind legs dragging flat.
      Without thinking,
      you called the Humane Society.
      They came with a net and went for him.
      They were matter of fact, uniformed;
      there were two of them,
      their truck ominous, with a cage.
      He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
      you saw his eyes. He understood.
      He was trembling.
      After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
      Years later, you remember his misfit body
      scrambling to reach the others.
      Even at this moment, your heart
      is going too fast; your hands sweat.

      The News
      BY WENDY XU
      Tossing off expletives into the sea
      of cab lights, I lounge ever more
      than I work. I wear my silk pants
      to the middle-of-America themed bar
      as if white-collar were this Halloween’s
      hottest new costume. It sinks
      like a stone, this attention to the lives
      of others. I think I have evolved to respect
      my social obligations, only complaining
      to the cell phone’s warm
      illicit glow. I feel drunk on the whole
      leafy season when you hear me, working
      ever to avoid work. Sentiment
      forbidden by custom, industrialization
      forbidden by nothing. Down the block they
      have begun restoring the mid-century
      antique dresser, men shuffling back
      and forth with gold polish and sand. It’s insane
      that I care to ask towards its progress.
      We repeat a process of hoping our bodies
      to the future though for now mine
      eats cucumbers in bed. I had a dream
      about a crystal blue pool.
      I felt stupid when I saw the ocean.

      • Jess Barga says:

        Facundo, your Wendy Xu poem (“The News”) is perfect: use it. NOTE for others: this means that Facundo’s other selections (above), also very good, are available… consider using one of them.

  36. 18teresaf says:

    Prelude to a Revolution
    BY TRACI BRIMHALL
    We go to prison windows and pass cigarettes, tangerines
    and iodine through the bars. Anything we think

    could heal a man. Assassins kiss our fingers.
    Mercenaries sing us songs about unbroken light

    as we mend their shirts. The bilingual murderers recite
    lamentations in one tongue, and in another, young myths.

    We fold and unfold our shawls, and the men squint
    into the sunlight, dumb with hope. Some days they confuse

    the walls of their cage with their skin. Some days,
    the sky. They see their deaths in the sweat darkening

    our dresses. To sweeten the hours we share scandals
    from the city, how curators removed an elephant’s heart

    from the museum because it began beating when anyone
    in love looked at it, how the coroner found minnows

    swimming in a drowned girl’s lungs. They ask if it’s true,
    if slaves are chained together on ships to prevent suicide.

    We say they’ll never be free. They warn us one night soon
    the judge will wake to find his bed alive with wasps,

    while across town the night watchman will stare stunned
    at the moths circling before he realizes he’s on fire.

    Nellie Clark
    BY EDGAR LEE MASTERS
    I was only eight years old;
    And before I grew up and knew what it meant
    I had no words for it, except
    That I was frightened and told my
    Mother; And that my Father got a pistol
    And would have killed Charlie, who was a big boy,
    Fifteen years old, except for his Mother.
    Nevertheless the story clung to me.
    But the man who married me, a widower of thirty-five,
    Was a newcomer and never heard it
    Till two years after we were married.
    Then he considered himself cheated,
    And the village agreed that I was not really a virgin.
    Well, he deserted me, and I died
    The following winter.

    • Jess Barga says:

      Teresa, these are great, dark, violent poems. I like the first you posted (“Prelude to a Revolution”) and encourage you to use it. I will post it for you on the chart unless you tell me you’d rather use the other one (which is also great).

  37. 18hugoo says:

    The Animals By Josephine Jacobsen
    At night, alone, the animals came and shone.
    The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals:
    The lion the man the calf the eagle saying
    Sanctus which was and is and is to come.

    The sleeper watched the people at the waterless wilderness’ edge;
    The wilderness was made of granite, of thorn, of death,
    It was the goat which lightened the people praying.
    The goat went out with sin on its sunken head.

    On the sleeper’s midnight and the smaller after hours
    From above below elsewhere there shone the animals
    Through the circular dark; the cock appeared in light
    Crying three times, for tears for tears for tears.

    High in the frozen tree the sparrow sat. At three o’clock
    The luminous thunder of its fall fractured the earth.
    The somber serpent looped its coils to write
    In scales the slow snake-music of the red ripe globe.

    To the sleeper, alone, the animals came and shone,
    The darkness whirled but silent shone the animals.
    Just before dawn the dove flew out of the dark
    Flying with green in her beak; the dove also had come.

  38. 18alanam says:

    Love Is Not All
    by Edna St. Vincent Millay

    Love is not all: It is not meat nor drink
    Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain,
    Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
    and rise and sink and rise and sink again.
    Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
    Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
    Yet many a man is making friends with death
    even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
    It well may be that in a difficult hour,
    pinned down by need and moaning for release
    or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
    I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
    Or trade the memory of this night for food.
    It may well be. I do not think I would.

    Distant light
    by Walid Khazindar

    Harsh and cold
    autumn holds to it our naked trees:
    If only you would free, at least, the sparrows
    from the tips of your fingers
    and release a smile, a small smile
    from the imprisoned cry I see.
    Sing! Can we sing
    as if we were light, hand in hand
    sheltered in shade, under a strong sun?
    Will you remain, this way
    stoking the fire, more beautiful than necessary, and quiet?
    Darkness intensifies
    and the distant light is our only consolation—
    that one, which from the beginning
    has, little by little, been flickering
    and is now about to go out.
    Come to me. Closer and closer.
    I don’t want to know my hand from yours.
    And let’s beware of sleep, lest the snow smother us.

    • Jess Barga says:

      Hi Alana, if it’s OK with you I’ll ask that you use the second poem above (“Distant Light”), since St Vincent Millay’s poem (also lovely) is well-known and well-covered on the Internet. I’ll post “Distant Light” for you—great choice.

  39. 18matheusm says:

    After a Rainstorm
    By Robert Wrigley
    Because I have come to the fence at night,
    the horses arrive also from their ancient stable.
    They let me stroke their long faces, and I note
    in the light of the now-merging moon

    how they, a Morgan and a Quarter, have been
    by shake-guttered raindrops
    spotted around their rumps and thus made
    Appaloosas, the ancestral horses of this place.

    Maybe because it is night, they are nervous,
    or maybe because they too sense
    what they have become, they seem
    to be waiting for me to say something

    to whatever ancient spirits might still abide here,
    that they might awaken from this strange dream,
    in which there are fences and stables and a man
    who doesn’t know a single word they understand.

    • 18matheusm says:

      Ah! Why, Because the Dazzling Sun
      By Emily Brontë
      Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
      Restored my earth to joy
      Have you departed, every one,
      And left a desert sky?

      All through the night, your glorious eyes
      Were gazing down in mine,
      And with a full heart’s thankful sighs
      I blessed that watch divine!

      I was at peace, and drank your beams
      As they were life to me
      And revelled in my changeful dreams
      Like petrel on the sea.

      Thought followed thought—star followed star
      Through boundless regions on,
      While one sweet influence, near and far,
      Thrilled through and proved us one.

      Why did the morning rise to break
      So great, so pure a spell,
      And scorch with fire the tranquil cheek
      Where your cool radiance fell?

      Blood-red he rose, and arrow-straight,
      His fierce beams struck my brow;
      The soul of Nature sprang elate,
      But mine sank sad and low!

      My lids closed down—yet through their veil
      I saw him blazing still;
      And bathe in gold the misty dale,
      And flash upon the hill.

      I turned me to the pillow then
      To call back Night, and see
      Your worlds of solemn light, again
      Throb with my heart and me!

      It would not do—the pillow glowed
      And glowed both roof and floor,
      And birds sang loudly in the wood,
      And fresh winds shook the door.

      The curtains waved, the wakened flies
      Were murmuring round my room,
      Imprisoned there, till I should rise
      And give them leave to roam.

      O Stars and Dreams and Gentle Night;
      O Night and Stars return!
      And hide me from the hostile light
      That does not warm, but burn—

      That drains the blood of suffering men;
      Drinks tears, instead of dew:
      Let me sleep through his blinding reign,
      And only wake with you!

    • Jess Barga says:

      This (“After a Rainstorm”) is a great poem to use, Matheus: I’d stick with it. I’ll post it for you on the document, OK?

  40. Leo says:

    No Worry
    BY COLE SWENSEN
    No, worry about nothing
    but the chiseling
    of hills into distance
    in the slight haze

    and sleep lost over color
    no two ever the same

    the wringing hands
    float ashore amazed.
    Worry about beauty.
    It can sell you anything.
    Lakes collect in the
    chambers of the heart
    where the sailboats are made
    of flying fish about
    the size of match heads.

    Sleep can be lost as
    easily as a house key,
    the shock can consume
    at any moment
    if the hills are not rising
    weather is wearing them down
    and you are driving
    north in the late afternoon
    or holding your eyes
    in your hands like addresses.

    and…

    Turning the Tables
    BY JOEL DIAS-PORTER
    For Eardrum

    First hold the needle
    like a lover’s hand
    Lower it slowly
    let it tongue
    the record’s ear
    Then cultivate
    the sweet beats
    blooming in the valley
    of the groove
    Laugh at folks
    that make requests
    What chef would let
    the diners determine
    Which entrees
    make up the menu?
    Young boys
    think it’s about
    flashy flicks
    of the wrist
    But it’s about filling the floor
    with the manic
    language of dance
    About knowing the beat
    of every record
    like a mama knows
    her child’s cries
    Nobody cares
    how fast you scratch
    Cuz it ain’t about
    soothing any itch
    It’s about how many hairstyles
    are still standing
    At the end of the night.

    • Jess Barga says:

      Leo, these are both great poems. Personally I like them both but think the second (“Turning the Tables”) would be much the easier to interpret (and to relate to, for your classmates who will hear you recite it). Do you like the first better? I’ll post them both by your name on the document, and leave you to delete the one you don’t want.

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