Bill Murray the Poet


Friday, July 25, 2008

Every good cause needs some celebrity support, and poetry is no different. Bill Murray joined hundreds of people at an event for the Poets House, in New York. He’s a frustrated poet himself, as Studio 360’s Eric Molinsky found out.


Eric Molinsky

Comments [51]

diwakar ganjare from India

It is a pleasing experience to listen poems. I shall be thankful if you provide audio of A Frosty Night by Robert Graves. Thank you.

Jun. 19 2010 09:05 AM
Cathy Nicastro from Central Massachusetts

Thanks for the great show. I've listened to it twice. I love poetry, so "favorite" changes daily, but Grace Paley is one I turn to again and again. This is from her final collection:
On Occasion
Grace Paley

I forget the names of my friends
and the names of the flowers in
my garden my friends remind me
Grace it's us the flowers just
stand there stunned by the sun

A long time ago my mother said
darling there are also wildflowers
but look these I planted

my flowers are pink and rose and
orange they're sturdy they make
new petals every day to fill in
their fat round faces

suddenly before I thought I
called out ZINNIA zinnia
zinnia along came a sunny
summer breeze they swayed
lightly bowed I said Mother

Aug. 13 2008 05:45 PM
Keith from Boston

I don't have one favorite poem, since each is unique -- like apples and orange roughy -- but the first to wake me to the power of poetry was Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est":

The second was W.S. Merwin's "On the Subject of Poetry," written back when he was still using punctuation:

More recently I've discovered that real haiku are not about counting syllables, but a moment of perception. Here's a classic by the master, Basho:

even in Kyoto
hearing the cuckoo
I long for Kyoto

You have to take the trouble to enter into the poem -- haiku are always understated -- but it's well worth it.

Aug. 11 2008 10:40 AM
Tony Heriza from Philadelphia, PA

My favorite poem... a work that has comforted and inspired me with its mystery and wisdom...

The Blessing
-by James Wright

Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

Aug. 10 2008 09:14 PM
sandee collins from pittsburgh pennsylvania

My favorite poem:


"Write me a poem," she says
Like she's asking Babe Ruth to stroke one deep,
Forgetting that *this* batter is
Up to his shoulders in slump.

"What's-his-name wrote to his goy mistress..."
I want to correct her, then remember
How often her misheard lines
Make me rethink my everything.

"At least compare me to a summer's day-"
I see her instead in foaming snow-
Venus *mit* peacoat and shovel
Clearing a path for the rest of us.
Falling flakes form a halo
Staggering even the saints.

I *am* writing a poem, Sis-
Each day a revision.
Some men see things as they are and ask why:
I married the other kind-
What a lucky guy.

By Mark Collins.

Aug. 10 2008 07:28 PM
Matt Willis from Rockfall, CT

My favorite poem:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

-- Dylan Thomas

Aug. 10 2008 05:07 PM
Neil Clancy from Pittsburgh, PA

A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford by Derek Mahon has been my favorite poem since I read its first line as a college student studying to get into medical school---a time, sadly, that I allowed poor few thoughts to grow. The language always struck me as beautiful, but over the years the meanings of the poem have grown with me as I've moved through the stations of life: as a man in the modern world; a physician; a medical mycologist; a son of Irish immigrants who has spent many days with his thoughts among the abandoned buildings, appaling history and beauty of the Irish countryside; a traveler; a family member and friend both true and failed; and as an ordinary person of roughly equal measures good and bad destined to lie among the asphodels himself.

Limitless stuff. I read it every few months, and each time I encounter it anew.

Aug. 10 2008 12:34 PM
Patty Van Dyke from Fort Worth, TX

I could attempt to impress you with my sophistication & talk about April being cruel or Tigers in the night, but my favorite poem is more simple. It's by Don Blanding & the copy I have in a book purchased in 1969 was the 52nd printing of the book.

It's Vagabond's House & describes all of the things that the author would put in his dream house. It doesn't make you think, it makes you feel. The essence of the house is so real that you feel that you have been there.

The other favorite is by Edward Field and is called Icarus.

Also, my 13 year old granddaughter loves for me to read her poems as she plays on the computer.

Aug. 09 2008 04:26 PM
Littie Elise Rau from Springfield, NJ

One of my favorite poems is by Louise Erdrich, called "Advice to Myself".

I tried to tape it here for you, but it wouldn't submit.

Aug. 09 2008 03:21 PM
Frank De Canio from Union City, N. J.

My favorite poem is Dylan Thomas' A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London
which paradoxically becomes a poignant elegy; its condensed, conflated images resonant with biblical references affirming the sancity and inherent immortality of its tragic referent.

But "...the unmourning waters of the riding Thames" tells us that this is no sentimental appeal to post-mortem sufferance but a reassimilation into primordial nature. "After the first death there is no other" again seems to be as much an echo of the compensatory solace in knowing the child lies beyond further suffering as an appeal to traditional concepts of immortality.

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
the mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother
Secret by the unmourning waters of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

Aug. 09 2008 12:18 PM
Cocol Bernal from Reading, PA

Favorite poem is by Baudelaire, from "Les fleurs du mal". I first read it when I was 12 and it click with my need to see through everything - roman't found a good translation.

A Carcass

My love, do you recall the object which we saw,
That fair, sweet, summer morn!
At a turn in the path a foul carcass
On a gravel strewn bed,

Its legs raised in the air, like a lustful woman,
Burning and dripping with poisons,
Displayed in a shameless, nonchalant way
Its belly, swollen with gases.

The blow-flies were buzzing round that putrid belly,
From which came forth black battalions
Of maggots, which oozed out like a heavy liquid
All along those living tatters.

All this was descending and rising like a wave,
Or poured out with a crackling sound;
One would have said the body, swollen with a vague breath,
Lived by multiplication.

Crouched behind the boulders, an anxious dog
Watched us with angry eye,
Waiting for the moment to take back from the carcass
The morsel he had left.

— And yet you will be like this corruption,
Like this horrible infection,
Star of my eyes, sunlight of my being,
You, my angel and my passion!

Yes! thus will you be, queen of the Graces,
After the last sacraments,
When you go beneath grass and luxuriant flowers,
To molder among the bones of the dead.

Then, O my beauty! say to the worms who will
Devour you with kisses,
That I have kept the form and the divine essence
Of my decomposed love!

Aug. 08 2008 04:23 PM
Larry Hertz from Albuquerque, NM

to carry the child

to carry the child into adult life
is good? i say it is not.
to carry the child into adult life
is to be handicapped.

the child in adult life is defenseless
and, if he is grown up, knows it,
and the grownup looks at the childish part
and despises it.

the child, too, despises the clever grownup,
the man-of-the-world, the frozen,
for the child has the tears alive on his cheeks,
and the man has none of them,

as the child has colors, and the man sees no
colors, or anything,
being easy only in things of the mind;
the child is easy in feeling-

easy in feeling, easily excessive,
and, in excess, powerful,
for instance, if you do not speak to the child,
he will make trouble.

you would say that the man had the upper hand
of the child (if a child survive),
but i say that the child has fingers of strength
to strangle the man alive.

oh, it is not happy, it is never happy,
to carry the child into adulthood.
let children lie down before full growth,
and die in their infanthood,
and be guilty of no ones blood.

stevie smith

Aug. 08 2008 01:45 PM
Brad Lichtenstein from Milwaukee, WI

I came across Eleven Eyes by Lyn Hejinian (actually section of a longer poem) when my students turned it into an animation

The spoons have clattered
Aren't children little pears and observant birds
I note that the green blanket is askew again briefly
I have flung my sweater over the banister again
The corn cockle is beautiful
For months I've owed someone I'll call Amy Rossini a letter and tomorrow I'll
write it but I can't explain
There was of course the matter of the curious descent into a mine and the terrible
ascent of children hauling ore out of context
Brevity is not child's play though child's play is brief but slowly
Today a man in a green leather hat advised me to sink my shovel
If I were to write a letter to Knut Handekker now he wouldn't remember who I
was which in any case is not who I continue to be
Tchaikovsky died when he was 53
We'll celebrate my birthday wearing hats in May at the beach
Taking the espresso I said gracias, and much else in daily life is unauthorized
The house in which I toss is known by its address but it might have been named
Credulity and called a film
Believe me
Long ago I was once in Seville in a blue dress that could be washed and dried in
less than an hour
I want to speak of revolutions in beauty but I hear hordes counting down to
The tales I used to tell myself no longer do
None of this is true

Aug. 08 2008 08:13 AM
Becca from Chicago, IL

I have too many favorite poems to mention, but here is the last poem that made me laugh, by the contemporary American poet Hoa Nguyen:

[Staying at work for lunch]

Staying at work for lunch

eat an apple

no shoes on

or cats that talk by a bed

bring in bats please neon blue

(unavailable weather and socks)

make me cry in a dumb cube

well fuck you too

Aug. 07 2008 12:34 PM
Carol Robinson from Gulfport, Florida

My current favorite poem is Love After Love by Derek Walcott. The first time I heard it, I wept.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Aug. 07 2008 11:31 AM
Tolu Jegede

My favorite poem is "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Aug. 05 2008 07:51 PM
Shirley Polk from Lakeland, FL

I am especially fond of the poem "Dark Memories" by Richard Eberhart. It is from the collection titled Florida Poems. This poem speaks to the very soul. Whenever I read it, I feel an instant joyful connection to the infinite universe.

Aug. 05 2008 04:24 PM

One Art, Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Aug. 05 2008 04:04 PM
Mark Barton from New York City

I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Bishop, and my current favorite of hers comes from the recent posthumous collection of her work, Edgar Allen Poe & the Juke-box. The poem is 'Keaton':

I will be good; I will be good.

I have set my small jaw for the ages

and nothing can distract me from

solving the appointed emergencies

even with my small brain

-witness the diameter of my hatband

and the depth of the crown of my hat.

I will be correct; I know what it is to be a man.

I will be correct or bust.

I will love but not impose my feelings.

I will serve and serve

with lute or I will not say anything.

If the machinery goes, I will repair it.

If it goes again I will repair it again.

My backbone

through these endless etceteras painful.

No, it is not the way to be, they say.

Go with the skid, turn always to leeward,

and see what happens, I ask you, now.

I lost a lovely smile somewhere,

and many colors dropped out.

The rigid spine will break, they say -

bend, bend.

I was made at right angles to the world

and I see it so. I can only see it so.

I do not find all this absurdity people talk about.

Perhaps a paradise, a serious paradise where lovers hold hands and everything works.

I am not sentimental.

Aug. 04 2008 10:34 PM
Missy Daniel from Washington, DC

I have always admired this poem -- an acrostic -- by Christopher Jane Corkery about love and language:

February 14

Various people will tell you
All about love, about poems. But
Listen, nobody ever can say how
Endless the love of words is.
Nightly and daily, words and love
Trip over each other, combine, find
In each other what possible means:
No word is meant to live by itself.
Each one looks for a listener.

Aug. 04 2008 11:16 AM
Tony Palm from Washington, DC

I spent 12 of my 20 year US Navy career on ships at sea. I was homeported on both coasts, deployed to the Medatranian, North Atlantic, and Western Pacific, and visited 20 countries on 4 continents.

My favorite poem is by Barry Cornwall (1787–1874) entitled simply, The Sea. Here is the first stanza.

THE SEA! the sea! the open sea!
The blue, the fresh, the ever free!
Without a mark, without a bound,
It runneth the earth’s wide regions round;
It plays with the clouds; it mocks the skies;
Or like a cradled creature lies.

Aug. 04 2008 10:40 AM
Rebecca Burgess from Salt Lake City, UT

Shortly after her 80th birthday my mom returned from her daily walk and wrote:
A Passing Thought
We passed as you walked to school,
Giggling and skipping, ponytails flying.
I looked at you and saw myself
Through time's kaleidoscope.
And to myself I said:
"I am you as you are me.
You are the past of me.
I am the future of you.
I am the accumulation of many selves-
Student and teacher,
Grandchild and grandmother,
Daughter, wife, mother, friend,
Layer upon layer of personality.
My today is all you see."
We passed along the road,
You, just beginning to gather your selves,
And I...on my way home.
--Loa Jean Shumway
Since then my mom has begun to have difficulty in finding the words she needs to carry on everyday conversations, making doubly precious to me the poetry and essays she has written over her lifetime.
Rebecca Burgess

Aug. 04 2008 12:12 AM
Nicole Moriarty from Norman Oklahoma

When Death Comes
by Mary Oliver
This one and and a summer day are my two favorite poems. I was glad to see that someone else posted it.

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Aug. 04 2008 12:09 AM
Ann Strickland from Bainbridge Island, Washington

I'm a singer/songwriter and from time to time use my favorite poems for lyrics. I love Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Rilke, Baudelaire, Sappho, Franz Wright, Mary Karr, Chris Abani...the list goes on and on, but my current favorite is Ernest Dowson, born in England in 1867. He died penniless and a drunkard at age 32.

Here is one of his I wrote a tune for:

I was not sorrowful, I could not weep,
And all my memories were put to sleep.

I watched the river grow more white and strange,
All day till evening I watched it change.

All day till evening I watched the rain
Beat wearily upon the window pane.

I was not sorrowful, but only tired
Of everything that ever i desired.

Her lips, her eyes, all day became to me
The shadow of a shadow utterly.

All day mine hunger for her heart became
Oblivion, until the evening came,

And left me sorrowful, inclined to weep,
With all my memories that could no sleep.


Aug. 03 2008 11:48 PM
Moe Moellering from St Louis, MO

My favorite poem is by Robert Graves. It describes my self, as a person with attention deficit disorder and i love it for speaking of me with respect.

"Flying Crooked"

The butterfly, a cabbage white,

(His honest idiocy of flight)

Will never now, it is too late,

Master the art of flying straight.

Yet has-- who knows as well as I?

A just sense of how not to fly:

He lurches here and here by guess

And God and hope and hopelessness.

Even the aerobatic swift

Has not his flying crooked gift.

Aug. 03 2008 10:25 PM
aurelio madrid from denver, co

...this is not a favorite, but one of the more interesting I've read recently, considering Karadzic's recent arrest.

I have the deepest sympathy for all who suffered & perished under this man's arrogant idealism.

by Radovan Karadzic

This fateful hour stiffened and reached the sky
Like a tree it now binds all existence in its branches
I am the cause of universal distress
A certain knight called Moses secretly fears me
From this fateful hour hours pass by upward like my head
And you are bound by some chilly
By some frosty terror
It's only the snake-like world that changed-its dirty skin
For the moment
It is only I who sprouted from the Universe like the morning star
And the Universe blushed with envy and changed colors
It is only cowards eating their cowardice
And their non-existent strength
It is I speaking and burning
I won't be silent after all
And let the crowd go to the devil past redemption
I'll handle you in no time
And without much ado
And right at this moment
A tomcat shall peep at the neighborhood kitty through a chink
And two lovers
Shall stand by the first casket on hand
And kiss each other as I command

Aug. 03 2008 09:59 PM
Taylor Brorby from Bismarck, ND

One of my favorite poems, which I find very humorous, is by Robert Bly.

Starting a Poem

You're alone. Then there's a knock

On the door. It's a word. You

Bring it in. Things go

OK for a while. But this word

Has relatives. Soon

They turn up. None of them work.

They sleep on the floor, and they steal

Your tennis shoes.

You started it; you weren't

Content to leave things alone.

Now the den is a mess, and the

Remote is gone.

That's what writing a poem

Is like! You never receive your

Wife only . . . but the

Madness of her family.

It's good. Otherwise

We could get what

We want in a poem

And the world would end.

Aug. 03 2008 06:52 PM
Noah Scalin from Richmond, VA

I always thought I hated poetry. I just didn't connect with it the way I did with other forms of literature. The stuff I read in school seemed pointlessly obtuse, but happily it turns out I was just reading the wrong poetry! The writer that finally turned me around? Richard Brautigan. Oh, how to pick a favorite?!? Here's one of many...

“Star-Spangled” Nails

You’ve got
some “Star-Spangled”
in your coffin, kid.
That’s what
they’ve done for you,

Aug. 03 2008 06:01 PM
margot richters from rockville, md

here's my favorite poem:

Hello there, my paper heart.
You've been torn quite a bit.
I must admit, the world hasn't been so kind to you.
Scribbled upon, crumpled.
I turn away from you
Confused, disgruntled.
Oh paper heart, flimsy heart
Be a little bit stronger
You may last me a little bit longer
If you weren't always so broken.
No pity will be given here
Not one tear shed on your behalf
You silly, flimsy paper heart.
So easily, so very easily
do you get torn apart

written by my 12 year old daughter, Katharine

Aug. 03 2008 02:47 PM
Blake Southwood from San Carlos, California

My mom wrote a lot of poetry and this one is my favorite.

Aug. 03 2008 12:57 AM
jeroboam bramblejam from Fairfax, Virginia

Additional brief comment:
..Accessibility is another fault of much poetry. A reader's ability to relate to a particular theme is a matter of experience, sophistication and culture; but a poem fails when that theme is obscured by the writer's own cleverness or romance.

A fine example is Baxter Black's poem that begins (if memory serves):

Lightning cracked across the sky
Like veins on the back of your hand
It reached an angry finger out as if in reprimand
And touched a giant cottonwood
That leaned against the sky
The cottonwood exploded and threw its fiery seeds
Out across the prairie igniting all the weeds...

I was unable to find the text.

Aug. 02 2008 08:49 PM
jeroboam bramblejam from Fairfax, Virginia

As a graphic designer, I strongly favor visual poetic themes. But the auditory flow and rhythm of a poem is an essential element often lacking in otherwise excellent poems; careful attention to the natural inflection of words and syllables during construction and revision allows the reader to follow the theme without having to parse the text.


Earth pirouettes about the sun
warming first her cheeks then buns
so vapours rising from her sea
condense in perpetuity

Restless Coriolis forces
ceaseless currents oceanic
winding misty wisps into
horrendous hurricanes titanic

Intermediary calm
gives precious life a chance to flower
Tranquil seasons foster trust
then dash new hope with careless power

Gaia oozes molten goos
as gravid mountains split asunder
Lightning charges through the sky
to usher echoed peals of thunder

Far flung typhoons send souls aloft
to join the gods they can't appease
Ignoring signs of more to come
will bring survivors to their knees

We don't exist despite her rage
but as a natural result
Her patience with our careless ways
is clearly nearly running out

Jeroboam Bramblejam

Aug. 02 2008 08:19 PM
Linda Billings from Arlington, VA

My favorite poem is by my friend Dennis Sipe, who lives in Bloomington, Indiana. I read it frequently, and it always (strangely) makes me smile:

My Days Are Stray Dogs That Won't Come When I Call

I keep leading myself to the wall.
Never take a blindfold
or smoke a last cigarette.
I keep coming back to hear rifle bolts working.
My days are like when you repeat a word
over and over again
until it doesn't mean anything.
My days are stray dogs that won't come when I call.
But I keep trying.

Aug. 02 2008 04:38 PM
meredyth byrd from Alexandria, VA

One of my favorite poems is Cirriculum Vitae by Lisel Mueller. I actually have part of the last sentence of the 14th stanza tattoo'd on the inside of my elbow.

Aug. 02 2008 02:03 PM
Chrus from Manhattan

It's hard to pick one favorite poem. My favorite poets,as of this moment, are Billy Collins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Czeslaw Milosz.

Here'a one of my favorite Milosz poems:

Late Ripeness

Not soon, as ate as the approach of my ninetieth year,
I felt a door opening in me and I entered
the clarity of early morning.

One after another my former lives were departing,
like ships, together with their sorrow.

And the countries, cities, gardens, the bays of seas
assigned to my brush came closer,
ready now to be described better than they were before.

I was not separated from people,
grief and pity joined us.
We forter--I kept saying--that we are all children of the King.

For where we come from there is no division
into Yes and No, into is, was, and will be.

We were miserable, we used no more that a hundreth part
of the gift we received for our long journey.

Moments from yesterday and from centuries ago--
a sword blow, the painting of eyelashed before a mirror
of polished metal, a lethal musket shot, a caravel
staving its hull against a reef--they dwell in us,
waiting for fulfillment.

I knew, alwyas, that I would be a worker in the vineyard,
as are all men and women living at the same time,
whether they are aware of it or not.

Aug. 02 2008 10:56 AM
Elizabeth Hennessey from Flushing, New York

My very favourite poem is King Robert of shows the progression of mighty becoming lowly and redemption back to mighty again....very, very interesting and thought provoking.
Thanks for asking.

Elizabeth Hennessey

Aug. 02 2008 10:55 AM
Ted Connelly from Philadelphia, PA

My favorite poem is by WH Auden: "If I Could Tell You"

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Aug. 02 2008 08:58 AM
Philip Lustig from Downingtown, PA

Fovorite poem:
When I was a kid in Newark NJ there appeared EVERY DAY a new poem by Edgar A Guest. The one thaat impressed me and thaat I memorized was:

It Couldn't be Done

It Couldn't Be Done
Edgar Guest

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

This poem has inspired me all my life.

Aug. 02 2008 08:23 AM
Linda Flemming from Phoenixville Pa

My favorite Poem is Flanders field by John McCrae
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row that mark our place and in the sky the larks still bravely singing fly, scarce heard amid the guns below, we are the dead, short days ago we lived, felt dawn saw sunset glow.Loved and were loved and now we lie in Flanders fields.
Take up the quarrel with the foe, to you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours who hold it high,if ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

Aug. 02 2008 08:04 AM
Amanda Watson from Salt Lake City, Utah

Driving Montana
by Richard Hugo

The day is a woman who loves you. Open
Deer drink close to the road and magpies
spray from your car. Miles from any town
your radio comes in strong, unlikely
Mozart from Belgrade, rock and roll
from Butte. Whatever the next number
you want to hear it. Never has your Buick
found this forward a gear. Even
the tuna salad in Reedpoint is good.

Towns arrive ahead of imagined schedule
Absorakee at one. Or arrive so late-
Silesia at nine - you recreate the day.
Where did you stop along the road
and have fun? Was there a runaway horse?
Did you park at that house, the one
alone in a void of grain, white with green
trim and red fence, where you know you lived
once? You remembered the ringing creek,
the soft brown forms of far off bison.
You must have stayed hours, then drove on.
In the motel you know you'd never seen it before.

Tomorrow will open again, the sky wide
as the mouth of a wild girl, friable
clouds you lose yourself to. You are lost
in miles of land without people, without
one fear of being found, in the dash
of rabbits, soar of antelope, swirl
merge and clatter of streams.

Aug. 02 2008 01:16 AM
Amanda Watson from Salt Lake City, Utah

I first encountered Richard Hugo's "Driving Montana" in college. I had always like poetry, but with this piece I began to love it. What really touched me was how personal this particular poem was to me.
I am Montanan, and my favorite thing about Montana is a solitary drive through the expanse of open.
Also, with this poem, I realized that poetry didn't have to be daffodils in the Lake Country, or Jazz in Harlem. Instead, I found that I too had poems in me, poetry of "the dash of rabbits, soar of antelope, swirl
merge and clatter of streams."

poem included in separate email, (it was too long).

Aug. 02 2008 01:16 AM
Sienna from Reston, VA

Can't decide what my favorite poem is, there are so many! But I am loving Galway Kinnell at this moment:

From Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight:

You scream, waking from a nightmare.

When I sleepwalk
into your room, and pick you up,
and hold you up in the moonlight, you cling to me
as if clinging could save us. I think
you think
I will never die, I think I exude
to you the permanence of smoke or stars,
even as
my broken arms heal themselves around you.

Jul. 28 2008 02:22 PM

I always come back to this William Carlos Williams poem, The Term:

A rumpled sheet
Of brown paper
About the length

And apparent bulk
Of a man was
Rolling with the

Wind slowly over
And over in
The street as

A car drove down
Upon it and
Crushed it to

The ground. Unlike
A man it rose
Again rolling

With the wind over
And over to be as
It was before.

Jul. 27 2008 11:54 PM
Lynn Gifford from Fargo, ND

My favorite poem is "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear. I like to recite it aloud to small children, changing my voice to add variety to the characters a British accent for the narrator, French for the Owl, Southern Belle for the Pussycat.

"The owl and the pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat.
They took some honey and plenty of honey
Wrapped up in a five pound note . . ."

I used to know the whole thing in French,
mais j'oublie . . .

Lynn in Fargo

Jul. 27 2008 11:43 PM
Mandi from St. Louis, MO

My favorite poem is Versos Sencillos by José Martí, a 19th century Cuban. I read it in introductory Spanish class as a kid, and was moved by it even before I understood all of the words.

or, in an early English translation:

Jul. 27 2008 08:33 PM
Geoffrey from NJ Suburbs

my favorite poem
"the Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service

Heard this poem as a kid growing up and remember loving the subject matter. The fantasy of the north.

Read this poem to my 8 year old and appreciate the internal rhyming structure and the rhythms and the audacity of the silly ending.

Great under appreciated piece of work

Jul. 27 2008 09:48 AM
Marc Cantor from Boston

Stanley Kunitz wrote my favorite poem (at least today's favorite). He was productive and vital into his 2nd century. I am 50, and hopeful not to be done with my changes.

The Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written,
I am not done with my changes.

Jul. 26 2008 07:29 PM
Lisa from West Village, NYC

This was a great show. Thank you! One of my very favorite poems follows:
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

from New and Selected Poems, 1992
Beacon Press, Boston, MA

Jul. 26 2008 03:55 PM
Mark Underwood from Port Washington NY

My favorite is Wallace Steven's "The Snow Man."

My last poem, made from pieces in a Stevens-humbled world.

Bill Murray rocks.


Jul. 26 2008 10:35 AM
KMoore451 from Brooklyn

My favorite poem is by a young, unknown poet, Tomara Aldrich - currently an adjunct professor of English at Hunter College, NY.

First Sightings
My sister and I squeezed
onto the toilet seat, top down, to watch my mother bathe
her breasts floating and shiny wet
when dad pushed through the door
and saw them too. He climbed right in,
(my sister and I squealing at their wet sides)
piling himself into her, his flight suit, black boots, still on.

Jul. 26 2008 10:34 AM
Stefi Weisburd from Albuquerque, NM

My favorite poem is by Amy Beeder:

Yellow Dress


Girl set on a heap of street sweepings high
as a pyre, laid on snarled wire & dented rim.
Girl set down among the wrung-out hides.
A girl who was coming from church. It is late
Sunday afternoon. Was it a seizure? Is it
destiny or bad luck we should fear? Weak heart
or swerving taxi? In Tet Bef by the dirty ocean
thousands crush past her, not pausing
at the shrine of her spayed limbs; brilliance
like the flesh of lilies sprouting from the pummeled cane.
Is it possible to be lighthearted, hours later?
Days? To forget the yellow dress?
I am waiting for her mother to find her, still
wearing one white spotless glove (where is the other?)
my idle taxi level with her unbruised arm,
her fingers just curling like petals of a fallen flower
and how did it end? Let someone have gathered her up
before the stars assembled coldly overhead:
her dress brighter than gold, crocus, the yolk of an egg
her face covered like the bride of a god; let them
have found her & borne her though the traffic’s clamor
veiled with a stranger’s handkerchief.

Jul. 25 2008 03:33 PM

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