Monday Poem

Ross Gay is a sincerely upbeat poet, optimistic but never smarmy.  Here is his poem from Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011).

Sorrow Is Not My Name

after Gwendolyn Brooks

No matter the pull toward brink. No
matter the florid, deep sleep awaits.
There is a time for everything. Look,
just this morning a vulture
nodded his red, grizzled head at me,
and I looked at him, admiring
the sickle of his beak.
Then the wind kicked up, and,
after arranging that good suit of feathers

Another bullet poem

They are legion now, as are the bullets. This one from a moving anthology called Bullets into Bells (thoughtfully edited by Brian Clements, Alexandra Teague and Dean Rader), which combines poems with reactions from survivors of gun violence:

The Bullet, in Its Hunger 

The bullet, in its hunger, craves the womb
of the body. The warm thrum there. Begs always
release from the chilly, dumb chamber.
Look at this one whose glee
of escape was outshone only by the heavens
above him. The night’s even-keeled
breath. All things thus far dreams from
his cramped bunker. But now
the world. Let me be a ravenous diamond
in it, he thinks, chewing through the milky jawbone
of this handsome seventeen-year-old. Of course
he would love to nestle amidst the brain’s
scintillating catacombs (which, only for the boy’s dumb luck,
slipped away) but this will do. The bullet does
not, as the boy goes into shock, or as his best friend
stutters, palming the fluid wound, want to know the nature
of the conflict, nor the sound of the shooter’s
mother in prayer, nor the shot child’s future harmonies:
the tracheotomy’s muffled wheeze
threaded through the pencil’s whisper as the boy scrawls I’m
scared. No,
the bullet, like you, simply craves
the warmth of the body. Like you, only wants
to die in someone’s arms.

Ross Gay

 

At Squaw Valley

gayIt’s the end of June, and I’m at the poetry workshop in Squaw Valley. While I hardly ever publish long poems here, I heard one tonight that just blew me away. Evie Shockley talked about how poets use time, especially the way they use it to address race and history, and her first example was this poem by Ross Gay:

spoon

   for Don Belton

Who sits like this on the kitchen floor
at two in the morning turning over and over

the small silent body in his hands
with his eyes closed fingering the ornate

tendril of ivy cast delicately into the spoon
that came home with me eight months ago

from a potluck next door during which
the birthday boy so lush on smoke

ad drink and cake made like a baby
and slept on the floor with his thumb

in his mouth until he stumbled through my garden
to my house the next morning where I was frying up

stove top sweet potato biscuits, and making
himself at home as was his way,

after sampling one of my bricks
told me I could add some baking powder

to his and could I put on some coffee
and turn up the Nina Simone and rub, maybe,

his feet, which I did, the baking powder,
stirring it in, and I like to think, Continue reading “At Squaw Valley”