Friday, December 02, 2022

Poetry Friday: December Poem-a-Day (curated by Arthur Sze) and "Prayer" by Jorie Graham

Three weeks ago, I shared Arthur Sze's "The Shapes of Leaves" and now, serendipitously, I see that Sze is the December guest editor for Poem-a-Day at Lovely! 

Here's their interview with him about his curation process and his own poetry. In that interview, they asked what poem in the collection he would send readers to: ... If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

Sze: I would direct readers to the poem “Prayer” by Jorie Graham. And it’s a short poem; it’s a marvelous poem that begins with observing a stream of minnows. And I love how it moves from the visible to the invisible world; how, in its syntax, it enacts a swaying and large, deep, generous vision of life. And she gets to say really large, fundamentally powerful things that are harnessed, that come by surprise through looking again at this stream of minnows. And I find it a marvelous poem, so I want to send readers to that.

Upon that recommendation, I offer you Jorie Graham's "Prayer." Some of my favorite lines from the poem are: 

Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. 


Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers) a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                         motion that forces change—

(Read the rest here, at 


And don't forget to sign up, if you haven't already, for "Poem-a-Day." 

(Photo credit: Suzy Hazelwood at Pexels.)

Friday, November 18, 2022

Poetry Friday: Thankful, thankful, thankful (and Joy Harjo)

Thanksgiving is on the horizon and I'm feeling so grateful for my family and for all that has transpired around our kitchen table over the years. 

At our table we have eaten, of course, but our kitchen table has been the heart of so much more. We have laughed there, yes. We have wept. We've discussed books and writing. We've spent time with our babies, our toddlers, our teens, our grown and beautiful daughters. We've considered cancer treatments, health changes, chronic illness, new ways of eating. We've discussed politics and surrealism. We have shared stories of friends, faith, art, history. We have pondered jobs and job changes, school and not-school. We have lived in our kitchen; if our table could speak, it would be overflowing with stories from the lives of the Edmistens. 

I'm so grateful for our kitchen table.  

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo captures the essence of this core, this beating heart of our shared lives, in "Perhaps the World Ends Here." 

Here's to the kitchen table, and to the happiest of Thanksgivings. May your gratitude be overflowing. 

Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo 

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been
    since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They 
    scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. 
    We make men at it, we make women.

(Read the rest here, at 


The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted by the hostess with the mostest, Jama Rattigan. 

(Photo credit: Matthias Cooper, Pexels)

Friday, November 11, 2022

Poetry Friday: "The Shapes of Leaves" by Arthur Sze

One day soon I'll be ready to stop talking about autumn, golden leaves, and the bottomless supply of beauty that I find in this time of year. 

But today is not that day. 

In "The Shape of Leaves" Arthur Sze captures a relationship with nature that is either a simple but complex web or a complicatedly simple interdependence, a symbiotic relationship that helps us define who we are. Whichever way we look at it, "way leads on to way" and nature's depths and riches inform our lives until, as Sze says in the final line, "I am living at the edge of a new leaf." 

Enjoy this short but sublime piece: 

The Shapes of Leaves
by Arthur Sze

Ginkgo, cottonwood, pin oak, sweet gum, tulip tree:
our emotions resemble leaves and alive
to their shapes we are nourished.

Have you felt the expanse and contours of grief
along the edges of a big Norway maple?
Have you winced at the orange flare

searing the curves of a curling dogwood?

(Read the whole poem here, at 


The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted today by Buffy Silverman

(Photo credit: Marta Wave, Pexels)

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Poetry Friday: "November Night" by Adelaide Crapsey

I've shared this one before but it's always worth a re-share. 

Maisy thinks so too: 

"Adelaide Crapsey? Inventor of the cinquain?
Oh, yes, please, I'd love that." 

November Night 

Listen. . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.


Friday, October 28, 2022

Poetry Friday: "October" by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A final farewell to October. 

In this one, by the incomparable Paul Laurence Dunbar, October is the haughty "treasurer of the year," caring not for the troubles of the other months, but rather reveling in her royalty, and accepting her final fate. 

Farewell, beloved October! 

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

October is the treasurer of the year,
And all the months pay bounty to her store;
The fields and orchards still their tribute bear,
And fill her brimming coffers more and more.
But she, with youthful lavishness,
Spends all her wealth in gaudy dress,
And decks herself in garments bold
Of scarlet, purple, red, and gold.

She heedeth not how swift the hours fly,
But smiles and sings her happy life along;
She only sees above a shining sky;
She only hears the breezes' voice in song.
Her garments trail the woodlands through,
And gather pearls of early dew
That sparkle, till the roguish Sun
Creeps up and steals them every one.

But what cares she that jewels should be lost,
When all of Nature's bounteous wealth is hers?
Though princely fortunes may have been their cost,
Not one regret her calm demeanor stirs.
Whole-hearted, happy, careless, free,
She lives her life out joyously,
Nor cares when Frost stalks o'er her way
And turns her auburn locks to gray.

("October" is in the public domain.)


Thursday, October 13, 2022

Poetry Friday: "And Now it's October" by Barbara Crooker

She's always right. 

And Now it’s October 
by Barbara Crooker 

the golden hour of the clock of the year. Everything that can run 
to fruit has already done so: round apples, oval plums, bottom-heavy 
pears, black walnuts and hickory nuts annealed in their shells, 
the woodchuck with his overcoat of fat. Flowers that were once bright 
as a box of crayons are now seed heads and thistle down. All the feathery
(Read the rest here. The final lines are everything: "...but nothing can stopper time.") 


Drop by Matt Forrest Esenwine's Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for the Poetry Friday round-up. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

Poetry Friday: Sending you elsewhere

 I don't have a poem ready for today, but I do have this: 

Joy: Editor's Discussion, September, 2022 at the Poetry Foundation. 

  • I had never read Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Renascence" before (as Shoemaker had not) and I was deeply moved (as was Shoemaker.)

  • I loved learning that Ross Gay is unreachable during his office hours, which he holds in his garden. Oh, joy! The setting aside of technology. Yes. 
  • And I reveled in the piece by Ada Limón (now the 24th Poet Laureate of the U.S. — huzzah!) about being alone. That short piece was written in 2008 so you'll laugh at the technology references. She wrote, "We spend so much time checking our IM, our e-mails, our texts, that we’re hardly ever alone with our own thoughts." Ah, the difference fourteen years makes. We're drowning even more, wishing that the only noises came from IM, email, texting...But the message is the same. It is good to be alone. We have to be alone sometimes if, as Limón notes, we are to think of Yeats, to write, to simply be. 

Spend a little time alone today, or spend time with your favorite Poetry Friday people. (Or spend the day alone with your Poetry Friday people?) Tabatha is hosting today, at The Opposite of Indifference

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Poetry Friday: (Maisy and) "Song for Autumn" by Mary Oliver

It's here. 
It's autumn.
It's my favorite time of year. 
It's my favorite quote about autumn: 

"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon?" cried Daisy, "and the day after that, and the next thirty years?"

"Don't be morbid," Jordan said. "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
 ~~ The Great Gatsby

It's my favorite kitten in autumn: 

Maisy on top of the world. 

Maisy making it incredibly hard for me to get anything done. 

Maisy, with no idea why we are applauding her very existence.

It's my favorite (okay, one favorite) Mary Oliver poem about autumn: 

Song for Autumn 
by Mary Oliver 

Don’t you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for

the birds that will come—six, a dozen—to sleep
(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.) 


It's my favorite thing to do on a Friday: 
refer you to the Poetry Friday host: 

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Poetry Friday: Pangur Bán (a monk and his cat, or, me and our new kitten)

We have a new kitten. I am smitten.
She is (I say with complete objectivity) perfect.

As the poet said, "Truth to tell, just being here,/Housed alone, housed together,/Adds up to its own reward." 

Pangur Bán 
By Anonymous 
Translated by Seamus Heaney 
(from a ninth-century Irish poem about a monk and his cat) 

 Pangur Bán and I at work, 
Adepts, equals, cat and clerk: 
His whole instinct is to hunt, 
Mine to free the meaning pent. 

More than loud acclaim, I love 
Books, silence, thought, my alcove. 
Happy for me, Pangur Bán 
Child-plays round some mouse’s den. 

Truth to tell, just being here, 
Housed alone, housed together, 
Adds up to its own reward: 
Concentration, stealthy art.


The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted this week 

And just in case you need another dose of Maisy: 

Friday, August 26, 2022

Poetry Friday: School's In (but not for Atticus!)

Since he usually has summers off, this season with Atticus hasn't felt particularly different. But now? Now that schools all around us are in session, Ramona's started her second year of college, and all of my husband's colleagues have returned to work? Now we're feeling it: 

Atticus is retired. 

Yup. After thirty-five years of teaching, he's retired from full-time work. (And from teetering stacks of sophomore and senior essays hauled home so many weekends.) He plans to sub here and there (so maybe it's more accurate to call him semi-retired?) but it's likely that he'll never again lead a deep dive into Hamlet, or introduce kids to To Kill a Mockingbird, or do his best to help a high school student understand gerunds or tweak a dangling modifier. 

As for us? I know we'll keep talking about those things. We'll keep discussing, learning, and sharing about literature and language, and we'll keep seeking to understand and revel in the world around us. Our hearts will still leap up, as Wordsworth's did. It's a new phase of life, but he's still Atticus. "The Child is the father of the Man." Long live the child, the man, the retiree. 

My heart leaps up. 

My Heart Leaps Up
by William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.


The inimitable Tanita Davis has the round-up today. 
Visit her at fiction, instead of lies. 

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Things of August" by Wallace Stevens

Some lines from Wallace Stevens for this August Friday. 

Locusts and crickets as ambits of the soul? It rings satisfyingly true. 

This poem appeared in the 



Past musings on Wallace Stevens are here


Molly is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up at 
Nix the Comfort Zone

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Time to Hear Ourselves Think"

I've missed you! 

I haven't really had time to think lately as I've been traveling back and forth between my own town and my parents', helping them out with a number of health issues, and just trying to stay afloat. So Dick Allen's "Time to Hear Ourselves Think" feels like an appropriate choice for today. 

I hope you can enjoy some time this week to hear yourself think. 

Time to Hear Ourselves Think 
by Dick Allen 

We've missed that for years, not so much 
The thinking itself — that goes on regardless —
But the hearing of it, small waterwheels ....

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.) 


Thursday, June 16, 2022

Poetry Friday: I love the father my husband is


Every Father's Day, I marvel at the amazing father that my husband became, and is. 

And here's a perfectly beautiful poem by Li-Young Lee about his father. 

The happiest of Father's Days to Atticus, to my dad, and to all fathers. 

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,


Michelle Kogan is hosting the round-up this week. 

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Poetry Friday: I'm hosting!

I took an unintentional blog break as I moved from the busyness of the school year into helping my parents with a couple of things and now I've suddenly realized: 

It is June

In honor of June, summer, seasonal beauty, and in honor of my deep love for Yeats, I give you "The Lake Isle of Innisfree." Is there anything more perfect? 

I'm hosting Poetry Friday this week, so please add your links — June-ish, summery, and otherwise — to Mr. Linky, below. 

Happy Arrival of June and Happy Poetry Friday! 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Poetry Friday: Billy Collins reads Lawrence Raab

On Wednesday's Poetry Broadcast, Billy Collins read a short poem called "One of the Ways We Talk to Each Other" by Lawrence Raab. (I can't find that one in print online, but you can hear Collins read it here, starting at the 29:00 minute mark.) As someone who's been married for 38 years, I appreciated the genuine peek into a moment of communication gone wrong, then set right. 

I also appreciated the introduction to Raab — I wasn't familiar with him at all — and it made me want to buy his latest collection, April at the Ruins. Poetry Foundation says, "Conversational yet precise, Raab’s lyrical meditations trace human fallibility and doubt." 

Ah, a few of my favorite things. 

Here's another one: 


by Lawrence Raab

Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
(Read the rest of this short one here, at Poetry Foundation.)