'Speaking blurred names back into the world'

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How many Oak Grove cemeteries can there be in America? There's one just a mile from my home. Here's another, with a poet, Don Thompson, to show us around. Poetry thrives on sounds as well as sense, and the vowel sounds in line eight are especially artfully collected. Thompson lives in California and his most recent book is A Journal of the Drought Year (Encircle Publications, 2016). 




OAK GROVE CEME...

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American Life in Poetry

'Five daughters in the slant light on the porch'

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A front porch is very much like a stage, and this poem by Marilyn Nelson is like watching a little play. The poet, who has published books of poetry and prose for young and old alike, lives in Connecticut and her most recent book is My Seneca Village (Namelos, 2015). 




DAUGHTERS 1900 

by Marilyn Ne...

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American Life in Poetry

'He was a calm man, a useful attribute for sending young men to their deaths'

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Nearly all of us have a story about once brushing up against somebody famous. On their honeymoon my father and mother went to New York City where they rode up in a hotel elevator with the famous strip...

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American Life in Poetry

'The cranes, the grass, they tell us: this can go on for millions of years'

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Charles Peek is a Nebraska poet who lives near that section of the Platte river where early each year hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes pause in their migration to nourish themselves for the lo...

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American Life in Poetry

'Brenda wasn't listening to a word, wrapped up in lonely teardrops shed for Greg'

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Here's a poem by John Stanizzi, who lives in Connecticut, in which we get a good look inside middle-school culture in the 'sixties. But is it really any different today? This poet's most recent book i...

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American Life in Poetry

'The broken pieces, made whole again, merged into two reconstructed hearts'

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There are those like me who can't even tell when an avocado is ripe, and those who know exactly how to perfectly prepare a ripe one. Here's a poem of avocado expertise by Diane Lockward from The Uneat...

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American Life in Poetry

'How to be private and patient, how to be unbuttoned'

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The next time you open your closet, this poem will give you reason to pay a little more attention to what's hanging inside. Gary Whited is from Massachusetts and his most recent book is Having Listene...

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American Life in Poetry

'With only a smear of water to keep them singing'

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All too often poets shun simple, direct, and earthy words like "tea" in favor of others that sound more sophisticated, like Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong. But fancy words put experience at a greater d...

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American Life in Poetry

'Only she can see where she goes and track where she's been'

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Fog carries mystery within it, and here's a fine poem about a day in which a memory approaches through fog and makes itself real. Michael Lauchlan lives in Michigan and his most recent book is Trumbul...

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American Life in Poetry

'You are now only a person I may hope to meet momentarily'

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Seeing a stranger who reminds you of someone else, well, it happens to all of us. After my father died I saw dozens of little old men in hats like he wore, on their way here and there, not quite my da...

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American Life in Poetry

'One by one all the questions you ever had become clear'

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Those of you who've returned home to visit parents may recognise the way the familiar and the strange wash together in this wise and peaceful poem by Robert Tremmel. The poet is from Iowa and his most...

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American Life in Poetry

'Some trace that stays while the great body remains below out of sight'

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Marge Saiser is a Nebraska poet about whose work I have said that no contemporary poet is better at writing about love. Here's a love poem from her new book, I Have Nothing to Say about Fire, from Bac...

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American Life in Poetry

'We pull an arm's length of the sail down over itself, then do this again'

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I'm fond of poems in which we see people working together, helping one another. I've never folded a sail, nor seen anybody fold one, but here I get to watch it happen, and feel it happen, too. Alan Fe...

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American Life in Poetry

'What I want tonight is lipstick. As pure a red as I can find'

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There are times when a single word in a poem is so perfect a choice that it pops like a firecracker, and I'll let you guess which word did that for me. A hint: it's a modifier. The poem is by Anya Kru...

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