Turtle

by Mary Oliver

Now I see it–
it nudges with its bulldog head
the slippery stems of the lilies, making them tremble
and now it noses along in the wake of the little brown teal

who is leading her soft children
from one side of the pond to the other; she keeps
close to the edge
and they follow closely, the good children–

the tender children,
the sweet children, dangling their pretty feet
into the darkness.
And now will come–I can count on it–the murky splash

the certain victory
of that pink and gassy mouth, and the frantic
circling of the hen while the rest of the chicks
flare away over the water and into the reeds, and my heart

will be most mournful
on their account. But, listen,
what’s important?
Nothing’s important

except that the great and cruel mystery of the world,
of which this is a part,
not be denied. Once,
I happened to see, on a city street, in summer,

a dusty, fouled turtle plodding along–
a snapper–
broken out I suppose from some backyard cage–
and I knew what I had to do–

I looked it right in the eyes, and I caught it–
I put it, like a small mountain range,
into a knapsack, and I took it out
of the city, and I let it

down into the dark pond, into
the cool water,
and the light of the lilies,
to live

This Is the One

by Mary Oliver

The bear
  who shuffles
    over the hillsides
      filling himself

with berries
  until his tongue is purple
    (which, remember, is
      a royal color)--

the bear
  who circles the cabin,
    who will not steal the honey,
      who will not rifle the knapsack

of the sleeping camper--
  the one
    who sits by himself
      by the river,

who sings to himself
  the secret song
    no one has ever heard--
      the bear

who yawns
  with the cavernous mouth
    of a shaggy god--
      who, when he sees me

is solidly silent
  and rises
    on the mass of his legs,
      disdainful and free

as anything on earth
  could ever be--
    this is the bear
      I want to see.

Snow Geese by Mary Oliver

Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
    What a task
      to ask

of anything, or anyone,

yet it is ours,
    and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.

One fall day I heard
  above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was

a flock of snow geese, winging it
    faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun

so they were, in part at least, golden. I

held my breath
as we do
sometimes
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us

as with a match
which is lit, and bright, 
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.

The geese
flew on.
I have never 
seen them again,

Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.

Mugshot of Grandma by Kristene Brown


If this photo could speak
    it would
slur, it would spit. Framed
in hard edges,
black and white, her face
a fight,
a riot
     of broken lines
in dirt worn cheeks.
Taken, the night she charged
into every rowdydow honky-tonk
west of Warsaw,
     looking
for that mean old mister
Pop-Pop. Her hair fist-knotted
     into the bog-slosh
     of tears and mud
tangled into some long night,
last call,
     whiskey, beer,
        fuck it all.
Her mouth a slow drawl
     yodel-ladee
song and dance
of handcuffed backtalk
in that cattle-dusted
back lot where she found him
     with her,
the other woman.
In the photo her eyes are closed
as if she's crying
or is about to.
     Captured
in a quick white flash—
     shot
when she wasn't even looking.

Buy Scraped Knees by Kristene Brown

Six Apologies, Lord by Olena Kalytiak Davis

I Have Loved My Horrible Self, Lord.
I Rose, Lord, and I Rose, Lord, And I,
Dropt. Your Requirements, Lord. ‘Spite Your Requirements, Lord,
I have Loved The Low Voltage Of The Moon, Lord,
Until There Was No Moon Intensity Left, Lord, No Moon Intensity Left
For You, Lord. I Have Loved The Frivolous, The Fleeting, The Frightful
Clouds. Lord, I Have Loved The Clouds! Do Not Forgive Me, Do Not
Forgive Me LordandLover, HarborandMaster, GuardianandBread, Do Not.
Hold Me, Lord, O, Hold Me

Accountable, Lord. I Am
Accountable. Lord.

Lord It Over Me,
Lord It Over Me, Lord. Feed Me

Hope, Lord. Feed Me
Hope, Lord, Or Break My Teeth.

Break My Teeth, Sir,

In This My Mouth.

Concerning Birds along a Hillside by Jeff Hardin

                to Jan LaPerle


You wouldn't believe the birds here, wild spinnings
after so many months of cold—I can scarcely think
for all the noise they make, but maybe that's
a blessing since I'm never sure what thoughts
have brought me anyway. Strange companions.
Broken things, really. I try to give a few to you
in hope our worlds might overlap or be more
clearly understood. I learned from Dickinson
that thoughts remain unfinished—from where
or why they come no one can say. Just up the hill
an ash tree leans away from where the others reach.
I've studied it a decade now. I, too, lean away
from where the day is heading. From the one,
most likely, I'll become. From every understanding
I have found and entertained. And not because
I am dissatisfied and not because the thoughts I know
are weary, small, or lacking purpose. I guess
because they feel like guesses in the end. I guess
because they're trapped by what they can't imagine,
trapped by what's in front of them, trapped by words,
the only form they take. What if we, in holding
who we think we are, completely miss the self
we might have come to be? What other questions
might have framed our joys and fears? I'm not asking
for an answer, nor am I asking to be mended by
a moment's trace of what our being here will mean.
I guess I'm asking if the noise we make will fill the sky.
Is thought the closest we can get to being other
than the self that has the thought? Is ever you?


Buy Small Revolution

Maya Angelou’s Birthday

Maya Angelou's book of PoemsGoogle, today, honored Maya Angelou on what would be her 90th b-day. They did this with a Google Doodle of one of her famous poems: “Still I Rise” https://g.co/doodle/hqbawy?ds=em I like this poem well enough but wish they wouldn’t have chopped it up with guest readers. Too sappy for my taste. Safe. Accessible. Vanilla for the masses.

Reaching for a collection of her poems on my shelf and thumbing through it one is reminded of so many less safe (for children) challenging, Rocky-Road with Tabasco on top… pieces; poems that I wouldn’t consider reprinting here. She was brave, raw, and real much of the time. She’s not my favorite poet but she could really “bring it” sometimes and I am so grateful she wrote and grateful I’ve had a chance to read some of her books and much of her poetry.

Here’s a poem I came across while flipping through her book just now: (still safe for young readers)

Africa

Thus she had lain
sugar cane sweet
deserts her hair
golden her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.

Over the white seas
rime white and cold
brigands ungentled
icicle bold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she had lain.


Google. Thank you for reminding me of Maya Angelou today.