Life surely drifts away certainly
Their is no free freedom
Always questioning my own motives,
and never quite sure if I have my best interest
I wonder if waiting through the craving for transition
will settle me, only time will tell.
I sabotage possibilities
and their natural state of uncertainty.
(I have a secret addiction to fresh gazes and constant change)
People make promises about their futures
like professional palm readers or
a holy army marching through life
husband, child, wife.
I know girls who knew they wanted to be mamas
as soon as they could conceive of the idea
and predestined papas
with one hand on their training wheels
and the other on a car seat…
I’ve made plenty of pacts with past lovers
that have blown away behind me
maybe still written somewhere.
It’s hard to take words seriously,
especially when there are so many.
Fear is beside me all the time,
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The poem is a powerful tool
This semester, I’m teaching an introduction to poetry survey course. This course helps me more than my students, probably, because while drafting the curriculum and teaching the classes, I find myself forced (in a good way) to confront my own aims and purposes regarding the art. In addition, I discuss poetry more frequently with colleagues and friends when I’m teaching a class like this one.
A question I’ve been asking is: what can a poem do for a person? In particular, what do great poems do for people? The phrase “transform us” has been suggested, but I think that word in itself is too unspecific. Transform us in what ways? How?
Here are some of the answers I’ve received, and I think they are all worth considering. I’m always looking for more feedback on this question, so feel free to add comments…
• Poems help us to imagine or understand…
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Make you think
NOTHING IS UNNATURAL AT ALL
Nothing is unnatural at all.
Not shining surf nor pounded metal;
Not rusted gearhead or oaken oar.
Golden pharaohs are degraded dust
Sealed from sands that never settle
In mountains of sediment and must.
Hear out the blazing hornet’s circuit,
Watch as all engines guzzle up blood.
Count up the towers in your sockets,
Feel how your flesh depresses, revives;
How the heart is a cylinder block,
The structured city a corniced hive.
Even the orderly nodes on chips,
Even those wires shirted and screwed:
All of them crafted from dirt and chalk,
All of them born from element earth,
All of them yellow lightning runs through—
A power plucked from heaven’s hearth.
People of mind, you run on this fire,
Sparking and seething, murder, create;
Clay molding clay, your natural roar
Calls for mechanical gadgets of use,
Tempers inherencies inchoate.
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THE RAINBOW’S END
by LeeAnne McIlroy Langton
Years from now
Your grandchildren will
See what you dream of
This last night of your hunger
During the passage from Belfast
Across a sea of storms and slave bones:
Phosphorescent corn bursting from husks,
Blood-colored tomatoes bouncing out of crates
Like giant rubber balls,
Pistachios and almonds raining silently from leafy boughs,
Lettuce heads blossoming open like gardenias,
Grapefruits the size of cannonballs
And oranges as sweet as your grandmother’s final tears
Rolling out of the trees
Swimming into the mouth of the Delta
Washed down with the precious nectar of
The California Aqueduct.
Years from now your granddaughter will
Feel that enchanted sense of deja vu
And you will try to explain to her
(Through the whispers in the grass)
That she is living the vision of the dream you had
The last night on that ship
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Who said you can’t do it by yourself?
In the early 1990s, James Redfield’s self-published spiritual adventure, The Celestine Prophecy, shocked the book world by selling millions of copies through word- of-mouth marketing. Now, another book exploring the big questions about God and love has done it again. In just over a year, William “Paul” Young’s novel The Shack has sold more than 3.8 million copies.
In 2005, the Oregon-based father of six took The Shack—a spiritual parable about the tragic loss of a family’s young daughter—to Office Depot to make copies for Christmas presents. He made 15, passed them out to family and friends, and thought little more about it.
“I’m an accidental writer,” Young says. “I’ve always written, but the creative stuff has been for gifts. I have no formal writing education. It never crossed my mind to be published.”
That is, until Young began receiving e-mails from people he didn’t know, telling…
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