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Poem-A-Day 2000

April is National Poetry Month and we always celebrated in our stores and online with our POEM A DAY program. Each and every customer in the store got a printed copy of the day's poem and every one on our email list had the poem emailed their way. We shared some of our favorite poems this way from 2000 to when we closed our doors for the last time. All poetry books were 10% OFF for the entire month as well.
Enjoy the poems.

— other poems from other years: 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2005 | 2006 | 2009

April 1


Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) 'Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no

Inner Resources.' I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

     John Berryman

     The Dream Songs

     Farrar, Straus and Giroux

April 2


The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seemed filled with the intent
to be lost that there 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.

     Elizabeth Bishop
     The Complete Poems
     Farrar, Straus and Giroux

April 3

THE WASTE LAND - IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.
A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.
Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

     T. S. Eliot
     Selected Poems
     Harcourt Brace & Co.

April 4


Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

     (IV. i. 148-158)
     William Shakespeare

April 5


Rain falls on fallen rain, pocking
the clear surfaces it has made-each drop sending
out rings like the orbits
of the nine planets,
or (in very slow motion)
the repercussions
of a kiss given seventy years ago.
Playing a grand but invisible piano,
it will suddenly stop
without your noticing when the last drop
fell-like a lover
whose last embrace you cannot remember,
embedded as it was in the natural order.
I am not the first to say
it is all color and no color-the way
a dead person you love is everywhere
and yet nowhere.
Or it's Time-that prince
who lavished jewels, now relentless,
the dispenser of pain.
See how, whatever its changes, the rain
is a cage you
can walk through.

     Jeredith Merrin
     University of Chicago Press

April 6


the fox came every evening to my door
asking for nothing. my fear
trapped me inside, hoping to dismiss her
but she sat till morning, waiting.

at dawn we would, each of us,
rise from our haunches, look through the glass
then walk away.

did she gather her village around her
and sing of the hairless moon face,
the trembling snout, the ignorant eyes?

child, i tell you now it was not
the animal blood i was hiding from,
it was the poet in her, the poet and
the terrible stories she could tell.

     Lucille Clifton
     The Terrible Stories
     BOA Editions

April 7


Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself , nor me the weaker now;
'Tis true, then learn how false fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

     John Donne

April 8


Above the fresh ruffles of the surf
Bright striped urchins flay each other with sand.
They have contrived a conquest for shell shucks,
And their fingers crumple fragments of baked weed
Gaily digging and scattering.

And in answer to their treble interjections
The sun beats lightning on the waves,
The waves fold thunder on the sand;
And could they hear me I would tell them:

O brilliant kids, frisk with your dog,
Fondle your shells and sticks, bleached
By time and the elements; but there is a line
You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it
Spry cordage of your bodies to caresses
Too lichen-faithful from too wide a breast.
The bottom of the sea is cruel.

     Hart Crane
     The Complete Poems

April 9



These fought in any case,
and some believing,
pro domo, in any case . . .

Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some from love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later . . .
some in fear, learning love of slaughter,

Died some, pro patria
non "dulce" non "et decor" . . .
walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;
usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.

Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
fair cheeks, and fine bodies;

fortitude as never before

frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.


There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization,

Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,

For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.

     Ezra Pound
     Selected Poems of Ezra Pound
     New Directions

April 10


Early April on Broadway, south of Union Square,
a man jumps from the twentieth floor. I
stop him at the tenth. Tell me, I say,
what have you learned in your travels?
We sit and rest awhile. I have only
just asked the question, he says. The answer
will come to me later. He smiles shyly
and continues falling to the fifth floor
where I stop him again. Tell me, I say,
what have you learned in your travels?
He smiles again, being basically cheerful,
but shakes his head. These answers
are slow in approaching, he says,
perhaps it is too soon to tell.
Beneath us
the crowd is clamoring for his arrival.
They shout and clap their hands in unison.
They would sing songs of welcome
if they knew them. They would beat drums.
I shrug and let him continue. He falls,
twisting silently. He nicks a streetlight,
smashing it. He hits the hood of a blue
Chevrolet, smashing it. He bounces thirty feet
and hits a parking meter, smashing it.
He lies there as people run toward him.
Their hands are open like shopping bags.
Their mouths are open like pits in the earth.
All his answers cover their faces.

     Stephen Dobyns
     Velocities: New & Selected Poems

April 11


It didn't seem right, walking on the dead all day,
digging through frozen soil for corner pins,
cutting a line through juniper and yew.

On subdivided farms, stones marked one plot's end
where deeds predicted. No brush snagged
theodolite and tribrachs in the fields.

By the cemetery gate, cows snapped rusted wire,
trampled plastic wreaths and iron crosses,
chewed apples fallen onto graves.

All day I walked the boundaries,
balanced mirrors over rusted pipes,
found whole families buried beneath single dates.

At home, the computer printed only lines and numbers.
Black ink turned the dead to rows of squares.
The final map was abstract as snow on graves.

Who knows the stories beneath the printer's lines?
Who can color each box with vivid facts
or tell how families vanished in a year?

     Henry Hart
     The Rooster Mask
     University of Illinois Press

April 12


Your peonies burst out, white as snow squalls,
with red flecks at their shaggy centers
in your border of prodigies by the porch.
I carry one magnanimous blossom indoors
and float it in a glass bowl, as you used to do.

Ordinary pleasures, contentment recollected,
blow like snow into the abandoned garden,
overcoming the daisies. Your blue coat
vanishes down Pond Road into imagined snowflakes
with Gus at your side, his great tail swinging,

but you will not reappear, tired and satisfied,
and grief's repeated particles suffuse the air-
like the dog yipping through the entire night,
or the cat stretching awake, then curling
as if to dream of her mother's milky nipples.

A raccoon dislodged a geranium from its pot.
Flowers, roots and dirt lay upended
in the back garden where lillies begin
their daily excursions above stone walls
in the season of old roses. I pace beside weeds

and snowy peonies, staring at Mount Kearsage
where you climbed wearing purple hiking boots.
"Hurry back. Be careful, climbing down."
Your peonies lean their vast heads westward
as if they might topple. Some topple.

     Donald Hall
     Mariner Books

April 13


Nothing in the air to call me here-
Trees recede into the dark circumference
Of the hill and everything's reduced
To the chilled circle of its lesser self.
No muddy spoor, no red sleeve of a fox
Against snow. But things accumulate
As if from nothing. Nests of broken glass.
A frozen mess of bird feather, kicked, upturns
The bird intact, the beak a tiny rictus.

Once, when I lived near woods like these,
I followed older boys who stumbled
On a child's body wrapped in wool-nothing
Left but sinew tangled with bones.
What's this? Sycamore bark that's flaked
Away like skin. Trees shift uneasily-
A hawk, wings too lofty for this wood,
Descends to look at me; its head turns once
Before the branch it rests on breaks away.

Then nothing. Silence thinning on a hill
Too low for speculation on our lives-
There's nothing here I don't already know.
So more than anything, more than the slow,
Determined beat of wings, I'm on the lookout
For the bone, the skeleton half buried
In leaves, the body sprinkled hastily
With dirt and sticks, the open hand, the face
Disheveled and no stranger than my own.

     James Longenbach
     University of Chicago Press

April 14


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.

     William Stafford
     The Way It Is
     Graywolf Press

April 15


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
-Those dying generations-at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enameling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

     William Butler Yeats
     The Collected Poems
     Simon and Schuster

April 16


The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

     Philip Larkin
     Collected Poems
     Farrar, Straus and Giroux

April 17


My dearest Kathy: When I heard your tears and those of your
mother over the phone from Moore, from the farm
I've never seen and see again and again under the most
uncaring of skies, I thought of this town I'm writing from,
where we came lovers years ago to fish. How odd
we seemed to them here, a lovely young girl and a fat
middle 40's man they mistook for father and daughter
before the sucker light in their eyes flashed on. That was
when we kissed their petty scorn to dust. Now, I eat alone
in the cafe we ate in then, thinking of your demons, the sad
days you've seen, the hospitals, doctors, the agonizing
breakdowns that left you ashamed. All my other letter
poems I've sent to poets. But you, your soft round form
beside me in our bed at Jackson, you were a poet then,
curving lines I love against my groin. Oh, my tenderest
racoon, odd animal from nowhere scratching for a home,
please believe I want to plant whatever poem will grow
inside you like a decent life. And when the wheat you've known
forever sours in the wrong wind and you smell it
dying in those acres where you played, please know
old towns we loved in matter, lovers matter, playmates, toys,
and we take from our lives those days where everything moved,
tree, cloud, water, sun, blue between two clouds, and moon,
days that danced, vibrating days, chance poem. I want one
who's wondrous and kind to you. I want him sensitive
to wheat and how wheat bends in cloud shade without wind.
Kathy, this is the worst time of day, nearing five, gloom
ubiqitous as harm, work shifts changing. And our lives
are on the line. Until we die our lives are on the mend.
I'll drive home when I finish this, over the pass that's closed
to all but a few, that to us was always open, good days
years ago when our bodies were in motion and the road rolled out
below us like our days. Call me again when the tears build
big inside you, because you were my lover and you matter,
because I send this letter with my hope, my warm love. Dick.

     Richard Hugo
     Making Certain it Goes On

April 18


I chose the book haphazard
from the shelf, but with Nabokov's first
sentence I knew it wasn't the thing
to read to a dying man:
The cradle rocks above an abyss, it began,
and common sense tells us that our existence
is but a brief crack of light
between two eternities of darkness.

The words disturbed both of us immediately,
and I stopped. With music it was the same-
Chopin's Piano Concerto-he asked me
to turn it off. He ceased eating, and drank
little, while the tumors briskly appropriated
what was left of him.

But to return to the cradle rocking. I think
Nabokov had it wrong. This is the abyss.
That's why babies howl at birth,
and why the dying so often reach
for something only they can apprehend.

At the end they don't want their hands
to be under the covers, and if you should put
your hand on theirs in a tentative gesture
of solidarity, they'll pull the hand free;
and you must honor that desire,
and let them pull it free.

     Jane Kenyon
     Graywolf Press

April 19


My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way-the stone lets me go.
I turn that way-I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
Wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

     Yusef Komunyakaa
     Neon Vernacular
     Wesleyan University Press

April 20


Every night in the town,
a boy was shooting arrows at the darkness.

His arrows flew to hit the white stars.
In the town where the meteors fell and the boy slept,
a nightmare was lit up like a lamp every night.

Once an arrow
hit the heart of the moon.

The moon shed her white blood in a stream.
The moonlight drenched the earth and the boy's dream.

The boy died with the moonlight tied round his neck.
He died in the park holding a bow in his hand.

The white moon which has lost her songs
is now lit up alone over the fountain.

     Kim Yo-sop, translation Ko Won

April 21


Lights on the river
Are thin daggers.
The walls of houses
Have cutting edges at corners
Where the jagged teeth of iron railings
Keep guard over nothing.
Under my feet the stones,
And on my heart
The dark rain falling.
O, rain, be merciful.
Wash away the sharp edges of the world.
Crumble under my feet the stones of my desolations.

     Katherine Anne Porter
     Katherine Anne Porter's Poetry
     University of South Carolina Press

April 22


Come out and climb the Garden path
Luriana, Lurilee.
The China rose is all abloom
And buzzing with the yellow bee.
We'll swing you on the cedar bough,
Luriana, Lurilee.

I wonder if it seems to you,
Luriana, Lurilee,
That all the lives we ever lived
And all the lives to be,
Are full of trees and changing leaves,
Luriana, Lurilee.

How long it seems since you and I,
Luriana, Lurilee,
Roamed in the forest where our kind
Had just begun to be,
And laughed and chattered in the flowers,
Luriana, Lurilee.

How long since you and I went out,
Luriana, Lurilee,
To see the Kings go riding by
Over lawn and daisy lea,
With their palm leaves and cedar sheaves,
Luriana, Lurilee.

Swing, swing, swing on a bough,
Luriana, Lurilee,
Till you sleep in a humble heap
Or under a gloomy churchyard tree,
And then fly back to swing on a bough,
Luriana, Lurilee.

     Charles Elton
     Another World Than This

April 23


The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

     Wallace Stevens
The Palm At the End of the Mind

April 24


Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

     James Wright
     Above the River: Collected Poems

April 25


Whether he will go on singing
or not, knowing what he knows
of the horror of this world:

He was not wandering among meadows
all this time. He was down there
among the mouthless ones, among
those with no fingers, those
whose names are forbidden,
those washed up eaten into
among the gray stones
of the shore where nobody goes
through fear. Those with silence.

He has been trying to sing
love into existence again
and he has failed.

Yet he will continue
to sing, in the stadium
crowded with the already dead
who raise their eyeless faces
to listen to him; while the red flowers
grow up and splatter open
against the walls.

They have cut off both his hands
and soon they will tear
his head from his body in one burst
of furious refusal.
He foresees this. Yet he will go on
singing, and in praise.
To sing is either praise
or defiance. Praise is defiance.

     Margaret Atwood
     Selected Poems II
     Houghton Mifflin

April 26


In the high seat, before-dawn dark,
Polished hubs gleam
And the shiny diesel stack
Warms and flutters
Up the Tyler Road grade
To the logging on Poorman creek.
Thirty miles of dust.
There is no other life.

     Gary Snyder
     Turtle Island
     New Directions

April 27

My heart of silk
is filled with lights,
with lost bells,
with lilies and bees.
I will go very far,
farther than those hills,
farther than the seas,
close to the stars,
to beg Christ the Lord
to give back the soul I had
of old, when I was a child,
ripened with legends,
with a feathered cap
and a wooden sword.

     Federico García Lorca, translation Stephen Spender
     Selected Poems

April 28

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
dies there, inside the dishes and in the glasses
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

     Rainer Maria Rilke, translation Robert Bly
     Selected Poems

Sick on a journey,
my dream hovers over
the withered fields.

     Basho, translation Robert Hass
     The Essential Haiku
     Ecco Press

April 29

If I could have two things in one:
The peace of the grave,
And the light of the sun.

     Edna St. Vincent Millay
Selected Poems

Sick on a journey,
my dream hovers over
the withered fields.

     Basho, translation Robert Hass
     The Essential Haiku
     Ecco Press

If I could have two things in one:
The peace of the grave,
And the light of the sun.

     Edna St. Vincent Millay
     Selected Poems

April 30


"One day, to pass the time away, we read
Of Lancelot-how love had overcome him.
We were alone, and we suspected nothing.
And time and time again that reading led
our eyes to meet, and made our faces pale,
and yet one point alone defeated us.
When we had read how the desired smile
was kissed by one who was so true a lover,
this one, who never shall be parted from me,
while all his body trembled, kissed my mouth.
A Gallehault indeed, that book and he
who wrote it, too; that day we read no more."
And while one spirit said these words to me,
the other wept, so that-because of pity-
I fainted, as if I had met my death.
And then I fell as a dead body falls.

     Dante Alighieri, translation Allen Mandelbaum
     The Divine Comedy
     Bantam Books
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