Poems for the 21at Century
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Author:  Saffron [ Wed May 01, 2019 7:46 am ]
Post subject:  Poems for the 21at Century

National Poetry Month has had an effect on me - snapped me back into the poetry habit. So, I've decided to open a new thread. I am calling it Poems for the 21st Century. Please join me in posting poems that are relevant to life in the 21st, poems do not need to have been written in the 2000s. Here is my first contribution. This is a new poem to me and I will have to think about it today and will comment in my next post.

Nick Laird

Even this freckle testifies to the strength
of second thoughts. My family

is a poem, the clear expression of
mixed feelings, and your emergent

system at five years old fires
like the shoal of neon tetra kept

in the depths of a ten gallon
darkness. As for infinity, it’s there,

haggling with contradiction,
asking each question but one.

You will find for a while there
you held the exquisite to daylight

before setting it down on the baize,

Sometimes it will feel like
the entire body consists of flames;

and sometimes concrete;
sometimes collapsing like a waterfall

or steady as a lake of evening lapping,
the midges clouding the surface.

Sometimes it will feel like air
just before the air itself

turns to snow. The solution is
a solution, by which I mean

lots of things dissolving to one.

Copyright © 2019 by Nick Laird

Author:  Saffron [ Fri May 03, 2019 11:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

Yes, this is just what I mean a poem describing life in the 21st - Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror. A few years ago I read Jared Diamond's Collapsed. He muses over what, whoever cut down the last of the trees on the Pitcairn Islands, he/she was thinking - "Oh, well, what good could only 2 trees be when all the others are gone?!" Are we there yet? Are we so far down the path that we might as well cut the final tree?

Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror
Kelli Russell Agodon

The night sounds like a murder
of magpies and we’re replacing our cabinet knobs
because we can’t change the world, but we can
change our hardware. America breaks my heart
some days, and some days it breaks itself in two.
I watched a woman have a breakdown in the mall
today and when the security guard tried to help her
what I could see was all of us
peeking from her purse as she threw it
across the floor into Forever 21. And yes,
the walls felt like another way to hold us in
and when she finally stopped crying,
I heard her say to the fluorescent lighting, Some days
the sky is too bright. And like that we were her
flock in our black coats and white sweaters,
some of us reaching our wings to her
and some of us flying away.

Author:  DWill [ Sat May 04, 2019 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

This William Stafford poem that might be familiar was written pretty far back in the previous C., but I think about it often as having increasing relevance as our presence expands.

Traveling through the Dark

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason—
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

Author:  Saffron [ Sat May 04, 2019 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

The Stafford poem sent chills down my spine. Thanks for posting it.

Author:  DWill [ Sat May 04, 2019 11:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

I just bought a collection of Stafford's. Saw him on a panel once at CSU, which was far back in the last century, btw.

Author:  Saffron [ Mon May 06, 2019 5:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

I am going to try to post at least once a week. I hope those of you out there reading will join in and post poems and your response to the poems that get posted. Here is my offering for today -

Common Things
Christopher Kondrich

The most common thing in the world
is a statue with its arms broken off.
The brokenness a flatness exposing the texture of the marble or clay.
The second most common thing are the arms.
The right to bear them.
Which is something even those who do not want the right have.
Having something or someone to pray for
doesn’t mean you have to pray.
Who gave you something or someone to pray for, think of that.
In the third most common thing, grass still wet
from rain overnight, which you did not participate in by watching.
You were asleep in the fourth most common thing.
You wake now and walk on the fifth most common thing.
The smooth surface of it.
Without meaning to be reductive.
You say the name of a country to refer to its ongoing conflict.
The word conflict a rag that wipes the blade clean.
A clean blade above a fireplace is the sixth most common thing.
Which means you have a neighbor, either
to the east or west, who is currently displaying a weapon.
Even if you do not own a weapon, you could.
And because of this you are complicit.
But you cannot do anything about most things.
You cannot put the arms back onto a statue
is another way of saying you can’t put a bullet back into a gun.
The body subsumes bullets as though it is in love.
It inculcates bullets in the ways of the flesh.
Which is torn by the time the bullet is convinced.
You aren’t convinced of anything you don’t already believe in.
In this way you are always standing your ground.
The ground under someone standing it
is the seventh most common thing.
The eighth is the air in which you openly carry.
You like the feel, the weight, the heft of it in your hand.
But mostly you like the ability to take another’s life should you need to.
It was your grandfather’s ability, your father’s.
Before you know it, it will be your child’s.
Whose body in the fetal position resembles a finger curling over a trigger.
Whose whole life is still in the magazine.
Until it isn’t and the sound is like that of a sternal saw
cutting through the breastbone of the world.
Finally buckling under the tink, tink, tink of the hammer against the saw.
And you thought you had hid the key to the drawer where you keep the gun.
But a key whose location is known is the ninth most common thing.
The tenth most common thing is a thoracic cavity
opened with a few cranks of the rib-spreader.
And the esophagus and lungs are fished around by the hands of a surgeon
who begins to massage the heart.
To clamp the aorta.
So that more blood is directed into the brain.
Instead of into the bowels, which have emptied by now.
While what is being filled are the gun racks of those.
Whose child is not on the table.
Is not statuesque in the beauty sense of the word.
But in the way rigor mortis sets in.
Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Kondrich. O

Author:  Saffron [ Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert is definitely a poem for the times we are in. It is a lovely, sad and hopeful poem.

Failing and Flying
Jack Gilbert - 1925-2012

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Jack Gilbert. From Refusing Heaven, 2005, Alfred A. Knopf

Author:  geo [ Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

I really like this poem. Thanks for posting it.

It reminded me of something else I read that may have been about Icarus too. One of the lines goes something like this: "not falling, but flying." Unfortunately I can't remember much more than that, and Google doesn't help.

Of course, there's this one by William Carlos Williams.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning


Author:  Saffron [ Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Poems for the 21at Century

I was going to post this Lucille Clifton poem on the Poem of the Day thread but then thought this is a poem for this whole year, for this whole first part of the 21st Century and most of all for my dear friend who lost her sister yesterday.

blessing the boats
(at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

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