Poetry – a few selections

This is just a sampling of poems that I’ve read lately and enjoyed…I’ve been questing for more unknown poets instead of sticking to my old stand-by favourites. I think I like the last one best, but they’re all worth your time.


Concerning the Atoms of the Soul // John Glenday
Someone explained once how the pieces of what we are
fall downwards at the same rate
as the Universe.
The atoms of us, falling towards the centre

of whatever everything is. And we don’t see it.
We only sense their slight drag in the lifting hand.
That’s what weight is, that communal process of falling.
Furthermore, these atoms carry hooks, like burrs,

hooks catching like hooks, like clinging to like,
that’s what keeps us from becoming something else,
and why in early love, we sometimes
feel the tug of the heart snagging on another’s heart.

Only the atoms of the soul are perfect spheres
with no means of holding on to the world
or perhaps no need for holding on,
and so they fall through our lives catching

against nothing, like perfect rain,
and in the end, he wrote, mix in that common well of light
at the centre of whatever the suspected
centre is, or might have been.


Under the image of Buddha
all these spring flowers
seem a little tiresome.

Envoy Prayer // Kate Knapp Johnson
There’s not a corner, in all the world,
without its shallow grave –
mourned, unmourned, each
tucked under a shroud of grass. I know
in all the earth there’s not a plot of ground
where someone is not quietly gathering
an arsenal, mixing nitrates,
inventing a more economical manner
of death – nor one chamber
of the heart that hasn’t been stolen into
and darkened… But the first winds of spring
rise till the dogwood
extends herself in her white-tiered gown;
the stones hold their witness inside
while the finches and jays spill over
the edges of a single hour.

On TV last night, a man was speaking:
“I was running, carrying my son on my shoulders
when the soldiers shot him…why
was I running? It was my home…”
The man’s face was entirely covered
by his hands as if what he had seen
was so clear to him and so terrible
he was ashamed of surviving,
ashamed of being a man… And still

there are flowers like trumpets, flowers like stars –
two girls sail their bright-tailed kite over the schoolyard
while the lilacs snow down –
honey peach, and honey pear, each gift
ravishes, and restores in us
what will also be broken again
and again, without reconciliation. Lord,

do not save us
from this world.
Save us in it.

The Name of a Fish // Faith Shearin
If winter is a house then summer is a window
in the bedroom of that house. Sorrow is a river
behind the house and happiness is the name

of a fish who swims downstream. The unborn child
who plays the fragrant garden is named Mavis:
her red hair is made of future and her sleek feet

are wet with dreams. The cat who naps
in the bedroom has his paws in the sun of summer
and his tail in the moonlight of change. You and I

spend years walking up and down the dusty stairs
of the house. Sometimes we stand in the bedroom
and the cat walks towards us like a message.

Sometimes we pick dandelions from the garden
and watch the white heads blow open
in our hands. We are learning to fish in the river

of sorrow; we are undressing for a swim.

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