Many readers are joining our staff in sharing favorite poems this month. Alba writes:
I could never take Charles Bukowski seriously. His books always seemed to be props for a certain type of guy I was endlessly attracted to. These guys were never into Wallace Stevens, say, or Lucille Clifton, just Bukowski. So Bukowski ended up being shorthand for pretentious guys who wanted to seem cool, and edgy, and arty.
Fast forward a few years: I’m done with those guys, living a life I hadn’t planned on—my choice, yes, but still difficult. I woke up this morning wondering how to keep going today with my responsibilities, with the to-dos, with all the work of a life that feels at this moment so constricted. I opened YouTube and “The Laughing Heart” appeared as a suggestion. I’m not sure why I clicked on it, but I did. It was the poem I needed—the poem that told me why and how to be today.
The opening lines:
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
Read the rest here.
“For those down and hard times,” Norris sends “Don’t Quit” by John Greenleaf Whittier:
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Full poem here.
To Brennan, “one of the most beautiful poems ever written” is Mark Strand’s “My Mother On An Evening In Late Summer”:
and as she gazes,
under the hour’s spell,
she will think how we yield each night
to the soundless storms of decay
that tear at the folding flesh,
and she will not know
why she is here
or what she is prisoner of
if not the conditions of love that brought her to this.
Full poem here.