Brooks Haxton’s Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms connects poems to their roots in prayer. He explains in a brief introduction, “A few years back, when I was translating ancient Greek poems from the same period as the Hebrew Psalter, I began to feel that I wanted my own poems to flow from sources as vital to me as Aphrodite and Apollo were to the Greeks. I turned to the Psalms as poems from my childhood, from my parents’ and their parents’ childhoods, with this kind of charge. Psalms had fascinated me before I understood what such old-fashioned language meant, and later, when I learned the meanings of the words, the poems fascinated me and moved me that much more.” Each poem in Haxton’s book is a response to a psalm, by one who takes them less as doctrine than as outcries — as he concludes, “I cry back from whatever vantage I can find.”

Fists I Thought Were Made To Hold the ReinsHe delighteth not in the strength of the horse…He maketh peace…  — Psalm 147 Catfish, lacking scales, are beautiful in their repulsive way, but they will give you an infected wound if you’re not careful. The filets I rubbed with cayenne, chili, salt, and ginger, skillet hot and dry, then drowned with lemon. Even the kids, who don’t eat fish, left none. My wife and I stopped brooding, and my right hand opened with me staring into the empty palm, long having, if I ever knew, forgotten when and how the reins slipped free. I love equestrians, but I let go the reins, unlike my heroes, lacking their authority, and wishing now to lack my lack as well. An unimaginable horse is rippling at a gallop far away, unshod, with hoofbeats as impermanent as stars.

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Brooks Haxton’s Uproar: Antiphonies to Psalms connects poems to their roots in prayer. He explains in a brief introduction, “A few years back, when I was translating ancient Greek poems from the same period as the Hebrew Psalter, I began to feel that I wanted my own poems to flow from sources as vital to me as Aphrodite and Apollo were to the Greeks. I turned to the Psalms as poems from my childhood, from my parents’ and their parents’ childhoods, with this kind of charge. Psalms had fascinated me before I understood what such old-fashioned language meant, and later, when I learned the meanings of the words, the poems fascinated me and moved me that much more.” Each poem in Haxton’s book is a response to a psalm, by one who takes them less as doctrine than as outcries — as he concludes, “I cry back from whatever vantage I can find.”

Fists I Thought Were Made To Hold the Reins

He delighteth not in the strength of the horse…He maketh peace…  Psalm 147

Catfish, lacking scales, are beautiful
in their repulsive way, but they will give you
an infected wound if you’re not careful.
The filets I rubbed with cayenne, chili, salt,
and ginger, skillet hot and dry, then drowned
with lemon. Even the kids, who don’t eat fish,
left none. My wife and I stopped brooding,
and my right hand opened with me staring
into the empty palm, long having, if I ever
knew, forgotten when and how the reins
slipped free. I love equestrians,
but I let go the reins, unlike my heroes,
lacking their authority, and wishing now
to lack my lack as well. An unimaginable horse
is rippling at a gallop far away, unshod,
with hoofbeats as impermanent as stars.

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A broadside of Lucie Brock-Broido’s “Bird, Singing”
Click here to download a printable version.

A broadside of Lucie Brock-Broido’s “Bird, Singing”

Click here to download a printable version.

Doves, spiders, horses and leopards, a marmoset – all manner of creatures accompany Lucie Brock-Broido through the dazzling thicket of imagination and dense reality, the life both interior and exterior, of her latest collection, Stay, Illusion. In these poems, such animal spirits help us carry the burden of the human, and introduce other possibilities, other modes of travel or attitudes of being, as in “Bird, Singing,” below. (Enjoy the printable broadside of this poem by clicking here, and watch for other broadsides throughout the month.)


Bird, Singing Then, every letter opened was an oysterOf possible bad news, pried apart to reveal The imperfect probable pearl of your death. Then, urgent messages still affrighted me, sharpNoises caused the birds not yet in flight to fly. Then, this was the life of you.All your molecules Gathered for your dying offLike mollusks clinging to a great ship’s hull. Ceremony of wounds, tinned,Tiny swaddled starlings soaked in brine. A bird, singing in his wicker cage, winds down. Now, a trestle table lined with wooden plattersNeat with feathered wings of quail tucked-in. Until you sever the thing, from self, it feels.Thereafter it belongs to none. You have nothing to be afraid of, anymore. Outside Prague, I find you warm Among the million small gold bees set looseIn April’s onion show, quietly Quietly, would you sing this back to me, out loud?

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Doves, spiders, horses and leopards, a marmoset – all manner of creatures accompany Lucie Brock-Broido through the dazzling thicket of imagination and dense reality, the life both interior and exterior, of her latest collection, Stay, Illusion. In these poems, such animal spirits help us carry the burden of the human, and introduce other possibilities, other modes of travel or attitudes of being, as in “Bird, Singing,” below. (Enjoy the printable broadside of this poem by clicking here, and watch for other broadsides throughout the month.)

Bird, Singing
 
Then, every letter opened was an oyster
Of possible bad news, pried apart to reveal
 
The imperfect probable pearl of your death.
 
Then, urgent messages still affrighted me, sharp
Noises caused the birds not yet in flight to fly.
 
Then, this was the life of you.
All your molecules
 
Gathered for your dying off
Like mollusks clinging to a great ship’s hull.
 
Ceremony of wounds, tinned,
Tiny swaddled starlings soaked in brine.
 
A bird, singing in his wicker cage, winds down.
 
Now, a trestle table lined with wooden platters
Neat with feathered wings of quail tucked-in.
 
Until you sever the thing, from self, it feels.
Thereafter it belongs to none.
 
You have nothing to be afraid of, anymore.
 
Outside Prague, I find you warm
 
Among the million small gold bees set loose
In April’s onion show, quietly
 
Quietly, would you sing this back to me, out loud?



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From Edward Hirsch’s 1994 volume “Earthly Measures” – our market woes, in one sentence.

Mergers and Acquisitions Beyond junk bonds and oil spills,beyond the collapse of Savings and Loans,beyond liquidations and options on futures,beyond basket trading and expanding foreign markets,the Dow Jones industrial average, the Standard& Poor’s stock index, mutual funds, commodities,beyond the rising tide of debits and credits,opinion polls, falling currencies, the signsfor L. A. Gear and Coca Cola Classic,the signs for U.S. Steel and General Motors,hi-grade copper, municipal bonds, domestic sugar,beyond fax it and collateral buildups,beyond mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts,hostile takeovers, beyond the official policyon inflation and the consensus on happiness,beyond the national trends in buying and selling,getting and spending, the market stalledand the cost passed on to consumers,beyond the statistical charts on prices,there is something else that drives us, somerage or hunger, some absence smolderinglike a childhood fever vaguely rememberedor half-perceived, some unprotected desire,greed that is both wound and knife,a failed grief, a lost radiance.

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From Edward Hirsch’s 1994 volume “Earthly Measures” – our market woes, in one sentence.

Mergers and Acquisitions
 
Beyond junk bonds and oil spills,
beyond the collapse of Savings and Loans,
beyond liquidations and options on futures,
beyond basket trading and expanding foreign markets,
the Dow Jones industrial average, the Standard
& Poor’s stock index, mutual funds, commodities,
beyond the rising tide of debits and credits,
opinion polls, falling currencies, the signs
for L. A. Gear and Coca Cola Classic,
the signs for U.S. Steel and General Motors,
hi-grade copper, municipal bonds, domestic sugar,
beyond fax it and collateral buildups,
beyond mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts,
hostile takeovers, beyond the official policy
on inflation and the consensus on happiness,
beyond the national trends in buying and selling,
getting and spending, the market stalled
and the cost passed on to consumers,
beyond the statistical charts on prices,
there is something else that drives us, some
rage or hunger, some absence smoldering
like a childhood fever vaguely remembered
or half-perceived, some unprotected desire,
greed that is both wound and knife,
a failed grief, a lost radiance.

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A little romance – a sonnet from the pen of poet, translator and editor Jonathan Galassi, whose collection Left-handed is wide-ranging in its forms and feelings.

Shine Riches, a little dollop of your shineis everything I need to make my day:cheek of polished apple, wink of wine,forehead semaphore along my way;or torque of body gilded in the spray,toothy, tonguey, stretched-saliva grin,melon water sliding off a chin,eyelash droplet where a sunbeam plays.Slick of foam that glistens on the rim,coffee cream curl, baby oil spill, oh,and gabardine lap-luster, zipper shimmer,moiré patent-leather afterglow:I hoard it, all the gold that makes you mine(like finger ink spot, gaudy brilliantine).

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A little romance – a sonnet from the pen of poet, translator and editor Jonathan Galassi, whose collection Left-handed is wide-ranging in its forms and feelings.

Shine
 
Riches, a little dollop of your shine
is everything I need to make my day:
cheek of polished apple, wink of wine,
forehead semaphore along my way;
or torque of body gilded in the spray,
toothy, tonguey, stretched-saliva grin,
melon water sliding off a chin,
eyelash droplet where a sunbeam plays.
Slick of foam that glistens on the rim,
coffee cream curl, baby oil spill, oh,
and gabardine lap-luster, zipper shimmer,
moiré patent-leather afterglow:
I hoard it, all the gold that makes you mine
(like finger ink spot, gaudy brilliantine).

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A new Pocket Poets edition collects the significant poetry and the one surviving play of the novelist James Joyce. Here are two from his Pomes Penyeach, a small volume written while he was composing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.


Watching the Needle Boats at San Sabba I heard their young hearts cryingLoveward above the glancing oarAnd heard the prairie grasses sighing:No more, return no more! O hearts, O sighing grasses,Vainly your loveblown bannerets mourn!No more will the wild wind that passesReturn, no more return. Bahnhofstrasse The eyes that mock me sign the wayWhereto I pass at eve of day, Grey way whose violet signals areThe trysting and the twining star. Ah star of evil! star of pain!Highhearted youth comes not again Nor old heart’s wisdom yet to knowThe signs that mock me as I go.



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A new Pocket Poets edition collects the significant poetry and the one surviving play of the novelist James Joyce. Here are two from his Pomes Penyeach, a small volume written while he was composing A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Watching the Needle Boats at San Sabba
 
I heard their young hearts crying
Loveward above the glancing oar
And heard the prairie grasses sighing:
No more, return no more!
 
O hearts, O sighing grasses,
Vainly your loveblown bannerets mourn!
No more will the wild wind that passes
Return, no more return.
 
Bahnhofstrasse
 
The eyes that mock me sign the way
Whereto I pass at eve of day,
 
Grey way whose violet signals are
The trysting and the twining star.
 
Ah star of evil! star of pain!
Highhearted youth comes not again
 
Nor old heart’s wisdom yet to know
The signs that mock me as I go.

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From Mary Jo Salter’s Nothing by Design, a book in which the search for peace and understanding – both personal and public – is bracing, sometimes sobering, yet essentially uplifting because the journey toward truth is an expansion made possible by the poems themselves.


String of Pearls The pearls my mother gave me as a briderotted inside.Well, not the pearls, but the string.One day I was puttingthem on, about thirty years on,and they rattled onto the floor, one by one…I’m still not sure I found them all. As it happened, I kept a white seashellon my vanity table. It could serve as a cupwhere, after I’d scooped the lost pearls up,I’d save them, a many-sisterhaven in one oyster.A female’s born with all her eggs,unfolds her legs, then does her dance, is lovely, is the past –is old news as the lastcrinkle-foil-wrapped sweetin the grass of the Easter basket.True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classedmyself as a has-been? In the cloisterof the ovary, when released by an extra dose of estrogen,my chances for love dwindled, one by one.But am I done?

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From Mary Jo Salter’s Nothing by Design, a book in which the search for peace and understanding – both personal and public – is bracing, sometimes sobering, yet essentially uplifting because the journey toward truth is an expansion made possible by the poems themselves.

String of Pearls
 
The pearls my mother gave me as a bride
rotted inside.
Well, not the pearls, but the string.
One day I was putting
them on, about thirty years on,
and they rattled onto the floor, one by one…
I’m still not sure I found them all.
 
As it happened, I kept a white seashell
on my vanity table. It could serve as a cup
where, after I’d scooped the lost pearls up,
I’d save them, a many-sister
haven in one oyster.
A female’s born with all her eggs,
unfolds her legs,
 
then does her dance, is lovely, is the past –
is old news as the last
crinkle-foil-wrapped sweet
in the grass of the Easter basket.
True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classed
myself as a has-been? In the cloister
of the ovary, when
 
released by an extra dose of estrogen,
my chances for love dwindled, one by one.
But am I done?


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In the course of David Young’s poems, we meet literary greats such as Basho, Osip Mandelstam, and Henry Vaughan, but also some political figures who’ve captured our imagination: Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Chairman Mao, even Adlai Stevenson, whose fate the poet ponders while cleaning fish, in a poem set at a Maine resort in the summer of 1956. Poetic portraits of our leaders, whether in their moment or drawn much later, often become provocative portraits in our collective consciousness. 


Woodrow Wilson I pull on the tight clothes and go walking rectitude misting around my figure carrying the book of shadows a low moon crosses the powerstations the refineries and in the needle mountains there are lakes so cold and clear that the dead who sit on the bottom in buggies and machine-gun nests look up past the trout that nibble their shoulders to see the eclipse begin the dime-sized shadow sliding across the sun the insects settling around the bears in their yokes the antelopes acting out all their desires old lady who smothers her young in her iron robes you have wrung my thin neck a thousand times and taken my pinchnose glasses but I come back again with the gliding Indians settlers who have forgiven all their tools the shabby buffaloes wild sheep wapiti the inland sea that looks at the sky all day with only a widgeon’s wake to disturb it the V dividing away from itself all night under trembling constellations

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In the course of David Young’s poems, we meet literary greats such as Basho, Osip Mandelstam, and Henry Vaughan, but also some political figures who’ve captured our imagination: Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Chairman Mao, even Adlai Stevenson, whose fate the poet ponders while cleaning fish, in a poem set at a Maine resort in the summer of 1956. Poetic portraits of our leaders, whether in their moment or drawn much later, often become provocative portraits in our collective consciousness. 

Woodrow Wilson

I pull on the tight clothes and go walking
rectitude misting around my figure
carrying the book of shadows a low moon
crosses the powerstations the refineries
and in the needle mountains there are lakes
so cold and clear that the dead who sit
on the bottom in buggies and machine-gun nests
look up past the trout that nibble their shoulders
to see the eclipse begin the dime-sized shadow
sliding across the sun the insects settling
around the bears in their yokes the antelopes
acting out all their desires old lady
who smothers her young in her iron robes
you have wrung my thin neck a thousand times
and taken my pinchnose glasses but
I come back again with the gliding Indians
settlers who have forgiven all their tools
the shabby buffaloes wild sheep wapiti
the inland sea that looks at the sky all day
with only a widgeon’s wake to disturb it
the V dividing away from itself
all night under trembling constellations

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The story told below feels as though it happened yesterday, though Marie Ponsot, the author of six collections of poetry, is not only a daughter and a mother herself but also a grandmother and great-grandmother many times over.

As Is Objects new to this place, I receive you. It was I who sent for each of you. The house of my mother is empty. I have emptied it of all her things. The house of my mother is sold with All its trees and their usual tall music. I have sold it to the stranger, The architect with three young children. Things of the house of my mother, You are many. My house is Poor compared to yours and hers. My poor house welcomes you. Come to rest here. Be at home. Please Do not be frantic do not Fly whistling up out of your places. You, floor - and wall-coverings, be Faithful in flatness; lie still; Try. By light or by dark There is no going back. You, crystal bowls, electrical appliances, Velvet chair and walnut chair, You know your uses; I wish you well. My mother instructed me in your behalf. I have made room for you. Most of you Knew me as a child; you can tell We need not be afraid of each other. And you, old hopes of the house of my mother, Farewell.

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The story told below feels as though it happened yesterday, though Marie Ponsot, the author of six collections of poetry, is not only a daughter and a mother herself but also a grandmother and great-grandmother many times over.

As Is

Objects new to this place, I receive you.
It was I who sent for each of you.
The house of my mother is empty.
I have emptied it of all her things.
The house of my mother is sold with
All its trees and their usual tall music.
I have sold it to the stranger,
The architect with three young children.

Things of the house of my mother,
You are many. My house is
Poor compared to yours and hers.
My poor house welcomes you.
Come to rest here. Be at home. Please
Do not be frantic do not
Fly whistling up out of your places.
You, floor - and wall-coverings, be
Faithful in flatness; lie still;
Try. By light or by dark
There is no going back.
You, crystal bowls, electrical appliances,
Velvet chair and walnut chair,
You know your uses; I wish you well.
My mother instructed me in your behalf.
I have made room for you. Most of you
Knew me as a child; you can tell
We need not be afraid of each other.

And you, old hopes of the house of my mother,
Farewell.

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