'Her smile an invitation to join in her bliss'

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I was once on Deer Isle, Maine, on the Fourth of July, and attended their own town parade. Deer Isle isn’t big enough to mount a very long parade, so they ran it past us twice, first down to the water, and then back up. And we applauded as much with our second viewing as we did with the first. July 4th parades are a wonderful institution. And here’s a parade for you, by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, ...

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American Life in Poetry

'She told us children how the cows could sense when their calves were marked for butchering'

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Now and then, I get a complaint from one of our readers saying that what we publish isn’t poetry because it doesn’t rhyme. Actually, we’ve published quite a lot of poetry with rhymes — end-rhymes, half-rhymes, internal rhymes, and now and then a sonnet, if that sonnet is a fine poem, too. And here’s...

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American Life in Poetry

'The music lived in his head, the tip of his tongue'

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Karla Huston was Wisconsin’s poet laureate in 2017 and 2018, and lives in Appleton. She’s published several books and chapbooks and does the good work of reviewing poetry for various journals. 'Lip', ...

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American Life in Poetry

'My dead father’s Brooks Brothers wingtips, heels worn down from running between women'

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Here’s a delightful poem you can almost smell. Don’t we all know that old-shoe-plus-shoe-polish odour? I don’t remember oxblood smelling different from plain old black or brown, but Andy Roberts, writ...

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American Life in Poetry

'All his calculations secretly yearning away from algebra'

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How fascinated a young person can be with the secret lives of his or her teachers. I left junior high — middle school today — more than 60 years ago but still I occasionally wonder about the private l...

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American Life in Poetry

'The busy waitress pauses, nods. She’s always known the boys'

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I’ve shown you a couple of poems from the anthology, Local News: Poetry About Small Towns, from MWPH Books, PO Box 8, in Fairwater, WI. Here’s another, by Mark Vinz, who lives in Minnesota. Time and t...

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American Life in Poetry

'The many anonymous mute stones in their shade'

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We’ve featured several other poems by Bruce Guernsey, who lives in Illinois and Maine. But here he is visiting Gettysburg and giving us a poem for Memorial Day. 'Naming the Trees' is forthcoming in th...

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American Life in Poetry

'Idaho russets and Yukon Golds, reds and whites and yams'

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Once, as a young man, I needed a pair of black shoes to wear at a wedding at which I was to be a groomsman and after work one day I was following a truck with a flapping canvas over the open back, whe...

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American Life in Poetry

'Having been happily trained for pain, they flash their unharmed smiles'

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Deirdre O’Connor is the director of The Writing Center at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and the following poem is from her new collection from Able Muse Press, The Cupped Field. I’m sticking my ...

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American Life in Poetry

'This moment before the splash of lights'

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Most of the school-age athletes I know or have known would have been embarrassed to show any vulnerability, and this fine poem by Al Ortolani, from his chapbook Hansel and Gretel Get the Word on the S...

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American Life in Poetry

'Let's stand by the window and look out at the light on the field'

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I had to drop out of a philosophy class in college because I'd begun to think about what I was thinking about and I was getting dizzy and sick. Here's a poem by Danusha Laméris about getting relief fr...

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American Life in Poetry

'A pool of intermingled wings and bodies'

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How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? Only one. Here’s a poem by Jared Carter from his new book, The Land Itself, from Monongahela Press. This is a fine example of how a talented poet ca...

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American Life in Poetry

'Every butterfly knows that the end is different from the beginning'

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I'm writing this column on a summer day when a hungry crowd of Monarch butterfly caterpillars are eating the upper leaves of the milkweed just outside my door in Nebraska, and my wife and I are joyful...

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American Life in Poetry

'Each time, the found world surprises - that is its nature'

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Jane Hirshfield, who lives in California, is one of our country's finest poets. I found this beautiful meditation in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books o...

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American Life in Poetry

'Though I am inclined to share, I know that opening the window will change the world'

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Karen Head lives in Georgia, and possums seem to live everywhere. You may drive past a dead one on a roadside somewhere today. Here's a poem in which the poet chooses to keep a safe distance from wild...

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American Life in Poetry

'A convenience store with a bike stand, and three smoke-drenched taverns'

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I’ve mentioned the anthology, Local News: Poetry About Small Towns from MWPH Books, PO Box 8, in Fairwater, Wisconsin. Here’s one of the many poems I’ve enjoyed, by Scott Wiggerman, who lives in New M...

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American Life in Poetry

'Consider me a prospector probing with my own gold'

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Lest we forget our vegetables, here's a poem by James Bertolino about one of our dearest and healthiest ones. The poet lives in Bellingham, Washington, and this is from his book, Every Wound Has A Rhy...

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American Life in Poetry

'Some rituals of this good earth continue'

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That sage curse, "May you live in interesting times," has been upon us for the past few years, but here a Kentucky poet, Jonathan Greene, offers us some reassurance that there is order in the world. G...

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American Life in Poetry

'Our souls have been longing to go home ... the body doesn't agree'

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Robert Bly is one of the last living major American poets of his generation, and WW Norton recently published his Collected Poems. I and many other poets of the central states owe Bly, who grew up on ...

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American Life in Poetry

'Somewhere the night had accommodated him'

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This week’s poem is one of my favourites and I can’t explain why in the 15 years I’ve been writing this column I’ve neglected until now to share it with you. Wendell Berry is one of our country’s fine...

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American Life in Poetry

'All day it continues, each kindness reaching toward another'

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Tolstoy said, "Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness." I found this poem by Dorianne Laux in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness P...

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American Life in Poetry

'Your hand a quick tremble in brief illumination'

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This is the sixth of Marge Saiser's poems to appear in my column, and I've written elsewhere how much I admire her work. This poem is typical of her clear, accessible poetry of close observation. I am...

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American Life in Poetry

'Her daylilies bobbed wide open out in the wild, blue sun'

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This week and next I want to show you two beautiful poems of grief and loss by David Baker, from his new and selected poems, Swift, published in 2019 by WW Norton. Baker teaches at Denison University ...

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American Life in Poetry

'He always came back just in time for the bell'

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Poets Tom Montag and David Graham have just published a fine anthology, Local News: Poetry About Small Towns, from MWPH Books, PO Box 8, in Fairwater, Wisconsin. Here’s one of the many poems I’ve enjo...

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American Life in Poetry

'You hold life like a face between your palms'

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There’s a very fine book, Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, Connecticut, and I’ve found a number of poems for this column there. Here’...

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American Life in Poetry

'Purple trumpet blowing high notes at the sky'

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I'm a big fan of short, imagistic, haiku-like poems, and here's a fine one for the end of the year. It's by Sarah Freligh of New York, from her book Sad Math, from Moon City Press.

 

DECEMBER

...

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