Poem for the Day: November 22nd, 2021

Wight by Stanley Plumly

In the dark we disappear, pure being.
Our mirror images, impure being.

Being and becoming (Heidegger), being and
nothingness (Sartre)—which is purer being?

Being alone is no way to be: thus
loneliness is the test of pure being.

Nights in love I fell too far or not quite
far enough—one pure, one impure being.

Clouds, snow, mist, the dragon's breath on water,
smoke from fire—a metaphor's pure being.

Stillness and more stillness and the light locked
deep inside—both pure and impure being.

Is is the verb of being, I the noun—
or pronoun for the purists of being.

I was, I am, I looked within and saw
nothing very clearly: purest being.

© 1999 Stanley Plumly. “Wight” first appeared in the May 1999 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Stanley Plumly (1939-2019) was greatly influenced by his working-class background, a fact which is evident in his work. He earned his B.A. at Wilmington College in Ohio and his Ph.D. at Ohio University. During his long career, he taught at the University of Iowa, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the University of Maryland. He also served as the poet laureate of Maryland for several years. You can read more about his life and work here.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 20th, 2021

Chorus Attempting to Interpret Unearthed Fragments of Their Play by Carolina Ebeid

Can you let go the concern
for how it began what happened

Here the word house remains
A reddening ( ) near house

To describe the sounds
coming in A human voice
barks through the window

the same voice like horsehair
stretched along the bow drawn
across the strings

Where the action is missing
we place ( ) A girl pours out

water from a pail flung up
so that the water arches
into a sickle in an instant
of daylight

The word swallows as a complaint
of swallows raiding the air
suddenly thick with gnats

When you notice the ash
you will mutter ash
& it will appear again: ash
on everything, behind the ears ash

Maybe this shadow belongs
to the house at 4:30
Shadow is a length of gauze
loosened over the garden

It began with blizzards
for nine hours

A cleft on the ceiling
or a cleft in the chest
No matter, a cleft let
the weather in

Here is a description
of a face in anger
a weather of arrows

Instead of counting sheep
the injured man folds clothes
in his head into heaps

Separate what is missing
from what’s disappeared

(here has been eaten by silverfish)
We are left to think of ( )

as the space between falling
asleep & waking up
Swallow can be a passage

the gullet, throat,
a grave in the ground
We’re surrounded by swallows

that open ( ) so fluent with bodies
nobodies

Here there was a story
& we were part of the after-
waves in a disaster

braiding wreaths of roadside flowers

The violet ones we’ll call purple daughters
The white ones: asylum lights

© 2019 Carolina Ebeid. Today’s poem originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Ebeid earned her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin and is pursuing her Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver. She currently lives in Colorado where she teaches at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She also serves as poetry editor at The Rumpus and edits (with her husband, Jeffrey Pethybridge) Visible Binary, an online journal specializing in experimental poetics and avant-garde expression. She has been published in numerous journals both in print and online and has been awarded multiple fellowships, among them fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

You Ask Me To Talk About the Interior by Carolina Ebeid

She is the author of the poetry collection You Ask Me To Talk About the Interior, which was published in 2016 by Noemi Press and is available to purchase through Small Press Distribution.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 15th, 2021

Power Politics by Margaret Atwood

[you fit into me] by Margaret Atwood

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

© 1971 Margaret Atwood. “you fit into me” originally appeared in Atwood’s collection Power Politics, which was published in 1971 by House of Anansi Books. Margaret Atwood (1939-) is one of the world’s most beloved writers with more than seventy published works to her credit. You can find a full bibliography of her works here.

Further Reading

Margaret Atwood’s 10 essential books (CBC Books; originally posted on October 9th, 2019)

Open Door: The World We Think We See Is Only Our Best Guess: A Conversation with Margaret Atwood by M. Buna (Poetry Foundation; originally posted on November 18th, 2020)

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: November 9th, 2021

…the way Corral repeats and inverts the imagery of thorns and honey in the first and last lines of the poem lend it a freshness and vivacity not always seen in (unrequited) love poems.

Autobiography of My Hungers by Eduardo C. Corral

His beard: an avalanche of   honey,
an avalanche
of  thorns. In a bar too close to the Pacific,
he said, “I don’t love you,
but not because I
couldn’t be attracted to you.” Liar—
even my soul
is potbellied. Thinness,
in my mind, equals the gay men
on the nightly news.
Kissed by death & public scorn.
The anchorman declaring,
“Weight loss is one
of the first symptoms.” The Portuguese
have a word for imaginary, never-
to-be-experienced love.
Whoop-de-doo.
“I don’t love you,” he said.
The words flung him back—
in his eyes, I saw it—
to another bar
where a woman sidestepped his desire.
Another hunger.
Our friendship.
In tenth grade, weeks after
my first kiss, my mother
said, “You’re looking thinner.”
That evening, I smuggled a cake
into my room.
I ate it with my hands,
licked buttercream off
my thumbs until I puked.
Desire with no future,
bitter longing—
I starve myself  by yearning
for intimacy that doesn’t
& won’t exist.
Holding hands on a ferry. Tracing,
with the tip of my tongue,
a  jawline. In a bar too close
to the Pacific, he said,
“I don’t love you, but not
because I couldn’t be attracted to you.”
His beard:
an avalanche of thorns,
an avalanche of honey.

© 2020 Eduardo C. Corral. “Autobiography of My Hungers” first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Poetry Magazine. You can purchase this issue here.

I love the way Corral compares unrequited love to boundless hunger in this poem. Comparing the desire for food with the desire for love or sex is far from new—one need only watch Tom Jones (1963) to see a perfect example—but the way Corral repeats and inverts the imagery of thorns and honey in the first and last lines of the poem lend it a freshness and vivacity not always seen in (unrequited) love poems.

Do you have a favorite poem comparing unrequited love with physical hunger? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email.

Books by Eduardo C. Corral (With Purchase Links)

Slow Lightning (Yale Series of Younger Poets) by Eduardo C. Corral and Carl Phillips (Foreword)
Guillotine: Poems by Eduardo C. Corral

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 26th, 2021

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Today’s poem first appeared in the August 1913 issue of Poetry. It was later collected in Kilmer’s 1914 collection entitled Trees and Other Poems, which is available to purchase wherever books are sold. A free public domain version of the text can be accessed and disseminated without limitations at Project Gutenberg.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: October 15th, 2021

Notes from the Camoufleurs by Karen Skolfield

The light in Afghanistan
is not the light in Vietnam.
If  vegetation, describe the leaf.

If  rock, its striation. If city, its doorways
and lintels, its hosting of guests.
Its gestures of welcome and warning.

Describe the wattage of searchlights,
the color of streetlamps, the wakefulness
of men. Describe the cigarette’s blooded eye,

a crimp of smoke. Describe evening’s
lift of heat, the riming of sweat.
If olive trees, describe the olives.

How a fig feels in the hand.
Of the women to be outfitted calculate
their curvatures and needs, if they require

more or fewer pockets for pens.
Determine torso length, musculature,
what weapons may be carried; where

the ammo belt sits, if more men
dress right or left, if concertina wire
bares its teeth every three inches or four.

Study how nature tucks itself into grasses,
study the striping of zebras, the panther’s
darkness, a savannah and the jackal

folded within; how a seal’s belly blends
with the sky when viewed from below.
A ptarmigan feathering into snow.

Describe the mission: peacekeeping
or suppression. Shield or storm.
Consider that a pattern may dazzle

or disrupt. Describe the sight lines:
heat-seeking technology versus scopes.
Scopes versus the sharp-eyed.

When a friend is not always a friend.
When a back might be turned. Consider,
at times, how the jaguar wants to be seen.

© 2020 Karen Skolfield. Today’s poem was taken from the May 2020 issue of Poetry.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: September 25th, 2021

Tongues by Justin Danzy

Becoming the raspberry stain on the pink of   your cheek,
a tongue’s soft landing spot. Becoming the empty ritual,
what can’t be said. Becoming intercession, my language
becoming yours, the blessing of tongues. Becoming the river
in the belly, implanted language, dead boy’s song. Becoming dry
with manhood. Becoming the doors we’ve closed, those I’ve learned
to open with a tongue. Becoming seen in the body, witnessed, becoming
clarity, the fear of it. Becoming the name I’ve been given,
the honorific, a placeholder. Becoming postured
to my Father’s dilemma, the inherited tongue. Becoming
what I wish I could be on my own. Becoming kept,
becoming stolen, becoming made free to leave when I am not yet ready
to go. Becoming the might of what we serve, the oft-
invisibled. Becoming don’t look back, pillar of salt. Becoming idoled.
Becoming possessed. Becoming the body’s mettle, the tongue’s chisel.
Becoming compass. Becoming the help that I needed, my Father’s hidden
forgiveness. Becoming the secrets I hope to taste in you,
the wounded tongue, braided blood covenant. Becoming forbidden’s
starting point, a bold beginning, the flaying of   what I do not yet know I believe.

“Tongues” appears in the September 2021 issue of Poetry, which is now available to buy from newsstands everywhere or to read on the Poetry Foundation’s website.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.