Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Moth on a summer night
By Jennifer O'Grady

Adrift in the liberating, late light
of August, delicate, frivolous,
they make their way to my front porch
and flutter near the glassed-in bulb,
translucent as a thought suddenly
wondered aloud, illumining the air
that's thick with honeysuckle and dusk.
You and I are doing our best
at conversation, keeping it light, steering clear
of what we'd like to say.
You leave, and the night becomes
cluttered with moths, some tattered,
their dumbly curious filaments
startling against my cheek. How quickly,
instinctively, I brush them away.
Dazed, they cling to the outer darkness
like pale reminders of ourselves.
Others seem to want so desperately
to get inside. Months later, I'll find
the woolens, snug in their resting places,
full of missing pieces.

Moth in a New Hampshire morning

Jennifer O'Grady
This delicate poem is originally from Poetry. I discovered it this morning from the Writer's Almanac's daily newsletter.  You can follow the link and hear the poem read aloud by Garrison Keillor - or read it aloud yourself.  It fills the mouth like a good wine - delightful, complex on the tongue, with a lovely long finish.  And if you read it aloud yourself, or to someone near you, you'll find yourself drifting back to it in days to come. 

Jennifer O'Grady is a graduate of the Columbia University Writer's program and the author of the volume of poetry ~ White, published by Mid-List Press and available through Amazon.  She describes the poems in the following way:

It occurred to me from something Mark said that we do not see colors (even as basic a color as white) in the same way. This realization impacted my experience of marriage and gave rise to my book's title poem. The attempt to come to terms with this fundamental and unalterable difference of perspective as it inhabits and shapes the most intimate of human relationships is a theme that runs through White. Stylistically, the poems of White are expressed through single-voice narrative as well as verse that juxtaposes two or more voices or texts to convey a divided and ambivalent consciousness. More that what is said in a poem, I am interested in what is not said, the pauses and silences, the space that flows around lines and between stanzas. It is within that space that much of our communication is made palpable, and the boundaries between self and other are illuminated. 

The two lovely images come from the design blog Hunters and Gatherers, whose mission is to 
...hunt for precious finds. Objects that represent timeless beauty and tell stories of time and place, taste and utility, integrity and influence. We're passionate about expanding our visual vocabulary and gather indigenous palettes, textures and forms that provide us with inspiration and application for our everyday lives.

Of the photos of moths, they say, 
There are many memories that surface on warm summer nights in New Hampshire- memories of camp with the smell of campfires, countless stars in an inky night sky and moths scraping the screens and shadowing the porch lights. We have what seem like a trillion of them in NH and one seems more beautiful than the next in the light of morning. 
I think this speaks to what Jennifer was reaching for in her poem also.  Other poems of Jennifer O'Grady's on the web are Illuminated Page (Poetry), and How to Clean Practically Anything, (Poetry Daily, originally from Southwest Review).  I hope you enjoy ~  

(used with permission of the author)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Poems for members of Congress to read

Please read this delightful piece by Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, on how poetry may be just the thing to humanize the legislators in Washington.  I Yield My Time to the Gentleman From Stratford-Upon-Avon

He asked David Orr, poetry columnist for the Book Review, to select some good poems for members of Congress to read ~ here is a link to Bedside Table Suggestions for Congress


Friday, August 5, 2011

After the Storm ~ Chapel Hill, NC, 1985

by Corinna McClanahan Schroeder

He stepped onto the porch and lit his pipe,
inhaled the scent of pine. The hail had sheered
the needles from the trees — the ground now lost
beneath white stones. Sunset’s afterglow threw
its light up from the west, and in the east,
the petulant clouds retreated into black.
How rare, he thought, to see two sides of sky
instead of one blank scope. His pipe to lip,
he paused and listened to the hiss and crack
as the hail sublimed to mist. The vapor rose,
a slow, encroaching fog that masked the earth.
Inside, his wife was sleeping, belly burdened
with child — the undesigned result of love — while here,
the sublimation as form gave way to form. Fear swelled
inside his throat with father — that shape to come.

But overhead, between the east and west,
a distant star established his space, a mark
as ancient as his thoughts. Exhaling smoke,
he watched the fog disperse until no sign
remained — only the slow and steady whir
of summer pushing itself from day to day.

From Measure, Vol. II, Issue 2, 2009

Corinna McClanahan Schroeder
There is a small river that runs between the significant transitions in our lives that poets explore.  After the Storm is a remarkable rendering of one of these, capturing the moment with a quiet dignity.    

Corinna McClanahan Schroeder holds an M.F.A. from the University of Mississippi where she was the recipient of a John and RenĂ©e Grisham Fellowship.  She is currently a Ph.D. student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California where she holds a Wallis Annenberg Endowed Fellowship.  

Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Tampa Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Cave Wall, and Linebreak. She is the recipient of a 2010 AWP Intro Journals Award in poetry and an honorable mention in Copper Nickel’s 2011 poetry contest, and she is currently a 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship finalist. Read more by following these links ~ Pebble Lake Review, Barely South ReviewGlass:  A Journal of Poetry.  

(used with permission of the author)

Summer Stars

by Carl Sandburg

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

I found this Carl Sandburg poem on E-Verse Radio and it seems to capture the gorgeous lazy music of a summer night. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


by April Lindner

At cruising altitude the earth comes clean,
the slapdash rummage sale of man-made things
and nature’s thousand tangled hues of green,
made tidy by the miles. Seen past our wings,
roads run straight, and silos glint like dimes,
each swimming pool slick as a polished gem.
Even mountain ranges, wild sublimes
of river, butte and canyon, figure trim
and tailor cut, their splendid disarray
mere patterns on a rug. Obedient
and orderly, the planet curls away,
its edges gently smudged, but on descent
it tugs us back, its noise and ample mess
as welcome as a lover’s sloppy kiss.

Coming into Cape Town
Coming back from Africa ~ so many hours on airplanes over amazing landscapes ~ I discovered April Lindner's wonderful poem Neat in one of my new favorite journals, Think Journal (click the name or the links on the right).  In my mind, this is the best type of contemporary verse - it's beautifully crafted, freshly observant, linguistically and metrically interesting and lovely. I'm looking forward to reading more! 

April Lindner‘s poetry collection, Skin, received the 2002 Walt McDonald First Book Prize from Texas Tech University Press. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Paris Review, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Mezzo Cammin, and The Formalist, as well as in numerous anthologies and textbooks. With R. S. Gwynn, she co-edited Contemporary American Poetry, an anthology in Longman’s Penguin Academics series.  She teaches at St. Joseph's University and you can find details of her publications there. 

April Lindner
Visit her at her website April Lindner.com, look for her poetry collection Skin, or read selections of her work on the American Life in Poetry blog by Ted Kooser, on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, or a poem from Skin in the Writer's Almanac archive. 

(used with permission of the author)