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.