Poem for the Day: November 24th, 2021

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This poem is in the public domain. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of Robert Frost’s best-known and most-loved poems. It was written in 1922 and included in his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection New Hampshire, which was published by Henry Holt in 1923.

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 19th, 2021

Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Public domain. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” was originally published in October 1923 in The Yale Review. It was also included in Frost’s collection New Hampshire, which was published that same year by Henry Holt and for which Robert Frost won the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for 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: November 14th, 2021

Lines Written Near San Francisco by Louis Simpson

I wake and feel the city trembling.
Yes, there is something unsettled in the air
And the earth is uncertain.

And so it was for the tenor Caruso.
He couldn’t sleep—you know how the ovation
Rings in your ears, and you re-sing your part.

And then the ceiling trembled
And the floor moved. He ran into the street.
Never had Naples given him such a reception!

The air was darker than Vesuvius.
“O mamma mia,”
He cried, “I’ve lost my voice!”

At that moment the hideous voice of Culture,
Hysterical woman, thrashing her arms and legs,
Shrieked from the ruins.

At that moment everyone became a performer.
Otello and Don Giovanni
And Figaro strode on the midmost stage.

In the high window of a burning castle
Lucia raved. Black horses
Plunged through fire, dragging the wild bells.

The curtains were wrapped in smoke. Tin swords
Were melting; masks and ruffs
Burned—and the costumes of the peasants’ chorus.

Night fell. The white moon rose
And sank in the Pacific. The tremors
Passed under the waves. And Death rested.


2
Now, as we stand idle,
Watching the silent, bowler-hatted man,
The engineer, who writes in the smoking field;

Now as he hands the paper to a boy,
Who takes it and runs to a group of waiting men,
And they disperse and move toward their wagons,

Mules bray and the wagons move—
Wait! Before you start
(Already the wheels are rattling on the stones)

Say, did your fathers cross the dry Sierras
To build another London?
Do Americans always have to be second-rate?

Wait! For there are spirits
In the earth itself, or the air, or sea.
Where are the aboriginal American devils?

Cloud shadows, pine shadows
Falling across the bright Pacific bay ...
(Already they have nailed rough boards together)

Wait only for the wind
That rustles in the eucalyptus tree.
Wait only for the light

That trembles on the petals of a rose.
(The mortar sets—banks are the first to stand)
Wait for a rose, and you may wait forever.

The silent man mops his head and drinks
Cold lemonade. “San Francisco
Is a city second only to Paris.”


3
Every night, at the end of America
We taste our wine, looking at the Pacific.
How sad it is, the end of America!

While we were waiting for the land
They’d finished it—with gas drums
On the hilltops, cheap housing in the valleys

Where lives are mean and wretched.
But the banks thrive and the realtors
Rejoice—they have their America.

Still, there is something unsettled in the air.
Out there on the Pacific
There’s no America but the Marines.

Whitman was wrong about the People,
But right about himself. The land is within.
At the end of the open road we come to ourselves.

Though mad Columbus follows the sun
Into the sea, we cannot follow.
We must remain, to serve the returning sun,

And to set tables for death.
For we are the colonists of Death—
Not, as some think, of the English.

And we are preparing thrones for him to sit,
Poems to read, and beds
In which it may please him to rest.

This is the land
The pioneers looked for, shading their eyes
Against the sun—a murmur of serious life.

© 1988 Louis Simpson. “Lines Written Near San Francisco” first appeared in Simpson’s Collected Poems, which was published in 1988 by Paragon House. Louis Simpson (1923-2012) was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the United States when he was 17 years old to study at Columbia University. Though his studies were briefly interrupted by military service, he eventually returned to New York and worked for a time as an editor before earning his Ph.D. A contemporary of poets like Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, Simpson won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1964 for his collection At the End of the Open Road.

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 10th, 2021

The Wild Iris by Louise Glück

End of Winter by Louise Glück

Over the still world, a bird calls
waking solitary among black boughs.

You wanted to be born; I let you be born.
When has my grief ever gotten
in the way of your pleasure?

Plunging ahead
into the dark and light at the same time
eager for sensation

as though you were some new thing, wanting
to express yourselves

all brilliance, all vivacity

never thinking
this would cost you anything,
never imagining the sound of my voice
as anything but part of you—

you won't hear it in the other world,
not clearly again,
not in birdcall or human cry,

not the clear sound, only
persistent echoing
in all sound that means good-bye, good-bye—

the one continuous line
that binds us to each other.

© 1992 Louise Glück. “End of Winter” is taken from The Wild Iris, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1993. Louise Glück is one of the most celebrated American poets of her generation. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2020 “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”

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 5th, 2021

the sonnet-ballad by Gwendolyn Brooks

Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
They took my lover's tallness off to war,
Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess
What I can use an empty heart-cup for.
He won't be coming back here any more.
Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew
When he went walking grandly out that door
That my sweet love would have to be untrue.
Would have to be untrue. Would have to court
Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange
Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort)
Can make a hard man hesitate—and change.
And he will be the one to stammer, "Yes."
Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?

Today’s poem is taken from “”Appendix to The Anniad: leaves from a loose-leaf war diary”, which first appeared in Annie Allen, published by Harper in 1949.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) published more than twenty books of poetry during her lifetime, as well as works in other genres. She was the first Black woman named as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, a post now referred to as Poet Laureate. Among numerous awards and accolades, she was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Award. You can read more about her 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 2nd, 2021

Women by Alice Walker

They were women then 
My mama’s generation
Husky of voice—stout of
Step
With fists as well as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
Must know
Without knowing a page
Of it
Themselves.

© Alice Walker. Alice Walker is one of the preeminent American writers of her generation. She is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, poet, and activist whose work, while critically-acclaimed and highly-lauded by members of the literary intelligentsia, far surpasses any words which mere mortals may bestow upon it. For her 1982 novel The Color Purple, Walker won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The Steven Spielberg-directed film adaptation was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, and if you’re asking me, the fact that it didn’t win in any category is one of the biggest snubs in Oscars history.

I first read “Women” as a high school freshman, memorizing and reciting it for extra credit. Later on, it grew in significance for me when I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and learned that if not for Alice Walker, Hurston’s great body of work would probably have languished in obscurity for all time. Walker’s acknowledgment of the labor of her Black women foremothers in making her own life possible is a major theme throughout her body of work, and nowhere is it clearer than in today’s poem.

Further Reading

“How Alice Walker Created Womanism — The Movement That Meets Black Women Where Feminism Misses The Mark” by Camille Rahatt (blavity.com, February 4th, 2020)

“In Search of Zora Neale Hurston” by Alice Walker (Ms. Magazine, 1975)

“Still Searching Out Zora Neale Hurston” by Kyle Bachan (Ms. Magazine, February 2nd, 2011)

“Womanist Theology” by Emilie M. Townes, written for and included in the Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America by Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Ruether, eds.

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 1st, 2021

November for Beginners by Rita Dove

Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.

So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,
memorizing

a gloomy line
or two of German.
When spring comes
we promise to act
the fool. Pour,
rain! Sail, wind,
with your cargo of zithers!


November 1981

© 2012 Rita Dove. Today’s poem appeared in the June 2012 issue of Poetry. Among numerous other awards and accolades, Dove won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection Thomas and Beulah. She was named US poet laureate in 1993, which at the age of 40 made her the youngest person to ever hold that position. She is currently the Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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 28th, 2021

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

No More Cake Here by Natalie Diaz

When my brother died
I worried there wasn’t enough time
to deliver the one hundred invitations
I’d scribbled while on the phone with the mortuary:
Because of the short notice no need to rsvp.
Unfortunately the firemen couldn’t come.
(I had hoped they’d give free rides on the truck.)
They did agree to drive by the house once
with the lights on— It was a party after all.

I put Mom and Dad in charge of balloons,
let them blow as many years of my brother’s name,
jails, twenty-dollar bills, midnight phone calls,
fistfights, and er visits as they could let go of.
The scarlet balloons zigzagged along the ceiling
like they’d been filled with helium. Mom blew up
so many that she fell asleep. She slept for ten years—
she missed the whole party.

My brothers and sisters were giddy, shredding
his stained T-shirts and raggedy pants, throwing them up
into the air like confetti.

When the clowns came in a few balloons slipped out
the front door. They seemed to know where
they were going and shrank to a fistful of red grins
at the end of our cul-de-sac. The clowns played toy bugles
until the air was scented with rotten raspberries.
They pulled scarves from Mom’s ear—she slept through it.
I baked my brother’s favorite cake (chocolate, white frosting).
When I counted there were ninety-nine of us in the kitchen.
We all stuck our fingers in the mixing bowl.

A few stray dogs came to the window.
I heard their stomachs and mouths growling
over the mariachi band playing in the bathroom.
(There was no room in the hallway because of the magician.)
The mariachis complained about the bathtub acoustics.
I told the dogs, No more cake here, and shut the window.
The fire truck came by with the sirens on. The dogs ran away.
I sliced the cake into ninety-nine pieces.

I wrapped all the electronic equipment in the house,
taped pink bows and glittery ribbons to them—
remote controls, the Polaroid, stereo, Shop-Vac,
even the motor to Dad’s work truck—everything
my brother had taken apart and put back together
doing his crystal meth tricks—he’d always been
a magician of sorts.

Two mutants came to the door.
One looked almost human. They wanted
to know if my brother had willed them the pots
and pans and spoons stacked in his basement bedroom.
They said they missed my brother’s cooking and did we
have any cake. No more cake here, I told them.
Well, what’s in the piñata? they asked. I told them
God was and they ran into the desert, barefoot.
I gave Dad his slice and put Mom’s in the freezer.
I brought up the pots and pans and spoons
(really, my brother was a horrible cook), banged them
together like a New Year’s Day celebration.

My brother finally showed up asking why
he hadn’t been invited and who baked the cake.
He told me I shouldn’t smile, that this whole party was shit
because I’d imagined it all. The worst part he said was
he was still alive. The worst part he said was
he wasn’t even dead. I think he’s right, but maybe
the worst part is that I’m still imagining the party, maybe
the worst part is that I can still taste the cake.

© 2012 Natalie Diaz. “No More Cake Here” appears in Diaz’s collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, which was published in 2012 by Copper Canyon Press.

Note: While I have endeavored to ensure this poem was formatted on this page as the author originally intended, there may be slight differences between what is displayed here and what appears in a physical format.

Natalie Diaz is a Latina and Mojave poet and is enrolled as a member of the Gila Indian Community. She currently lives in Arizona and is an Associate Professor at Arizona State University. She is the author of two poetry collections, When My Brother Was an Aztec and Postcolonial Love Poem, which was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for 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.

Quote for the Day: September 16th, 2021

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.

There’s a lot of pain, yes, but there’s also so much joy. The Color Purple is so radiant it practically glows in the dark.

The Color Purple is one of my favorite books of all time. Because there are so many books I want to read, there are only a few books I’ll reread; The Color Purple is one of them. I get more from it each time I read it. More than just a great novel, it is a blueprint for expressing love through careful attention, through putting oneself in a place of openness and willingness to accept the love we feel we don’t deserve. There’s a lot of pain, yes, but there’s also so much joy. The Color Purple is so radiant it practically glows in the dark.

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 and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Poem for the Day: August 21st, 2021

Portland, 1968 by Louise Glück

You stand as rocks stand 
to which the sea reaches
in transparent waves of longing;
they are marred, finally;
everything fixed is marred.
And the sea triumphs,
like all that is false,
all that is fluent and womanly.
From behind, a lens
opens for your body. Why
should you turn? It doesn’t matter
who the witness is,
for whom you are suffering,
for whom you are standing still.
Louise Glück. Unknown Author. Public Domain.

Note: Louise Glück was the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her collection of poetry, The Wild Iris (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

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