Monday, April 30, 2018

NPM 4-30: End of April

On this last day of April, it's fitting that I share this poem by Phillis Levin.

End of April

Under a cherry tree
I found a robin’s egg,
broken, but not shattered.

I had been thinking of you,
and was kneeling in the grass
among fallen blossoms

when I saw it: a blue scrap,
a delicate toy, as light
as confetti

It didn’t seem real,
but nature will do such things
from time to time.

I looked inside:
it was glistening, hollow,
a perfect shell

except for the missing crown,
which made it possible
to look inside.

What had been there
is gone now
and lives in my heart

where, periodically,
it opens up its wings,
tearing me apart.

I've enjoyed exploring different poets and poems this month. Thanks for following along. And remember, just because National Poetry Month is ending, doesn't mean the daily reading of poetry has to end.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

NPM 4-29: Like Two Negative Numbers Multiplied by Rain

Today I'm sharing a poem by Jane Hirshfield.

Like Two Negative Numbers Multiplied by Rain

Lie down, you are horizontal.
Stand up, you are not.

I wanted my fate to be human.

Like a perfume
that does not choose the direction it travels,
that cannot be straight or crooked, kept out or kept.

Yes, No, Or
—a day, a life, slips through them,
taking off the third skin,
taking off the fourth.

And the logic of shoes becomes at last simple,
an animal question, scuffing.

Old shoes, old roads—
the questions keep being new ones.
Like two negative numbers multiplied by rain
into oranges and olives.

Happy Sunday all.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

NPM 4-28: Insomniac's Song

Today I'm sharing a poem by Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, a Trinidadian poet and artist. You can learn more about her at her web site.

Insomniac’s Song

The night is a bomb.

No one will sweep
up the morning.

I am wrecked,
a vessel hollow
and lost

Undone, I wander
an ocean of dying
moths, with a heartful
of flammable terrors
to buoy me.

This is my moon,
Sliver of bone
among the flotsam

I know the sun
will not wake
for me.

Happy Saturday all.

Friday, April 27, 2018

NPM 4-27: Poems by Safia Elhillo

All this month I've been sharing poems as they move me. I've made an effort to read new to me poets and poems. Today I'm sharing poems by Safia Elhillo, a Sudanese-American poet known for her written and spoken poetry.

You can read poems from her book The January Children at Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

I hope you'll take some time to check out all the amazing poetry being shared today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday all. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

NPM 4-26: Requiem for the left hand

Today I'm sharing a poem by Cuban poet Nancy Morejón. You can learn more about Morejón at The Poetry Center at Smith College.

Requiem for the left hand

                         For Marta Valdés

On a map you can draw all the lines
          horizontal, straight, diagonal
from the meridian of Greenwich to the Gulf of Mexico
                    lines that more or less
reflect our idiosyncrasy

there are also very large maps
                    in the imagination
and infinite terrestrial globes

but today I guess that on very
          small map
the smallest
drawn on notebook paper
          all of history can fit

Happy Thursday all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

NPM 4-25: Poem About My Rights

Today I'm sharing a poem by June Jordan, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants born in Harlem in 1936. I have just learned about her and her writing and am humbled by it. You can read more about her at the Poetry Foundation.

Poem about My Rights

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this

Read the poem in its entirety.

Happy Wednesday all.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

NPM 4-24: Maps

Today I'm sharing a poem by Yesenia Montilla.


For Marcelo

Some maps have blue borders
like the blue of your name
or the tributary lacing of
veins running through your
father’s hands. & how the last
time I saw you, you held
me for so long I saw whole
lifetimes flooding by me
small tentacles reaching
for both our faces. I wish
maps would be without
borders & that we belonged
to no one & to everyone
at once, what a world that
would be. Or not a world
maybe we would call it
something more intrinsic
like forgiving or something
simplistic like river or dirt.
& if I were to see you
tomorrow & everyone you
came from had disappeared
I would weep with you & drown
out any black lines that this
earth allowed us to give it—
because what is a map but
a useless prison? We are all
so lost & no naming of blank
spaces can save us. & what
is a map but the delusion of
safety? The line drawn is always
in the sand & folds on itself
before we’re done making it.
& that line, there, south of
el rio, how it dares to cover
up the bodies, as though we
would forget who died there
& for what? As if we could
forget that if you spin a globe
& stop it with your finger
you’ll land it on top of someone
living, someone who was not
expecting to be crushed by thirst—

This poem was first published in Poem-a-Day on March 28, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Happy Tuesday all!

Monday, April 23, 2018

NPM 4-23: Names

Spoken word poetry sometimes brings me to my knees. Watch this video of Rachel Rostad reciting her poem Names during the 2013 National Poetry Slam.

You can read the poem in full at Verse. Here is a short excerpt.
When you find, say, an injured bird in your backyard, and you wanna to nurse it back to health and release it back into the wild, they tell you not to name it. If you name something, it becomes a someone. It makes it harder to give it up. 
When my parents named me Rachel, it was a prayer for everything they wanted me to be: American. 
Sometimes I’m glad my first name is as apple pie and baseball as Rachel. But also kinda not. 
How your ancestors had a different name stepping off of Ellis Island than when they stepped on. 
The pros and cons of taking your husband’s last name as your own. 
The pros and cons of accepting a diagnosis. 
Some say written language is only the bad translation of spoken. 
You cannot read a speech and see the speaker. 
You cannot read sheet music and hear the song. 
When the very first word was written down, something must have been lost. 
When my parents renamed me “Rachel,” something must have been lost.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

NPM 4-22: Pinning Down

Today I'm sharing a poem by Jill Peláez Baumgartner, a Professor of English and the Dean of Humanities and Theological Studies at Wheaton College.

Pinning Down

My names, a drunkenness of vowels,
l’s, ümlauts, a mélange of ancestries,
diacritics, an unreasonable stretch
of signature, this seven-syllable
amalgam, this roughhouse of families,
this farrago of Spanish, English,
German, this gallimaufry
of tree gardener, medieval shrew,
Pelayo’s son, this rummage
sale of dactyl and anapest.

This, what I announce near the titles
of poems or at their endings,
on office door and syllabus,
name tags squeezing it into the exquisite
particularity of syllables.

To be envied: the orderly
timbre of Mary Smith
and its portable anonymity.

But here, now,
inextricably attached,
I stumble after, as my names,
roughshod, wheelless,
go galumphing on,
vowel-net unfurled,
all of my consonants pushing ahead
like a lopsided cow catcher.

Happy Sunday all.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

NPM 4-21: Valentine for Ernest Mann

Today I'll be walking all over downtown Richmond as part of the 2018 RVA Taco Crawl. Since I'll be eating tacos at 7 different restaurants, it will be good to walk a bit between bites.

Whenever I hear the word taco, I can't help but think of Naomi Shihab Nye and her poem Valentine for Ernest Mann.
You can read it at

Happy Saturday all.

Friday, April 20, 2018

NPM 4-20: Poems by Izumi Shikibu

Today I'm sharing 2 poems by Izumi Shikibu, a Japanese poet who lived more than a thousand years ago. You can learn a bit more about her at the Poetry Foundation.

From darkness
On a shadowed path
I must make my way;
Let it faintly shine,
The moon upon the mountain’s edge.

Varied are
The feelings in my heart
Soaking are my sleeves.

You can read more of her poems at Waka Poetry.

I  do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

NPM 4-19: Poem of the One World

Today I'm sharing a bit of Mary Oliver.

Poem of the One World

This morning
the beautiful white heron
was floating along above the water

and then into the sky of this
the one world

we all belong to

where everything

sooner or later

is a part of everything else

which thought made me feel

for a little while
quite beautiful myself.

Happy Thursday all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

NPM 4-18: Invictus

I love this recitation.

Here's the poem.

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Happy Wednesday all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NPM 4-17: The More Loving One

Today I'm sharing a poem by W. H. Auden, a poet I might never have read were it not for the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. (You can see an excerpt here.)

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

Happy Tuesday all.

Monday, April 16, 2018

NPM 4-16: Lord, the air smells good ...

Today I'm sharing a poem by Rumi.

Lord, the air smells good today,
straight from the mysteries
within the inner courts of God.
A grace like new clothes thrown
across the garden, free medicine for everybody.
The trees in their prayer, the birds in praise,
the first blue violets kneeling.
Whatever came from Being is caught up in being, drunkenly
forgetting the way back.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

NPM 4-15: Ode to Ironing

Today I'm sharing a poem by Pablo Neruda.

Ode to Ironing

Poetry is white:
it comes from the water covered with drops,
it wrinkles and piles up,
the skin of this planet must be stretched,
the sea of its whiteness must be ironed,
and the hands move and move,
the holy surfaces are smoothed out,
and that is how things are made:
hands make the world each day,
fire becomes one with steel,
linen, canvas, and cotton arrive
from the combat of the laundries,
and out of light a dove is born:
chastity returns from the foam.

Happy Sunday all.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

NPM 4-14: Marathon

I'm not running a marathon, but a 10K today. This poem seemed fitting.

by E. Ethelbert Miller

it’s a strange time which finds me jogging
in early morning
the deadness of sleep alive in this world
the empty parks filled with unloved strangers
buildings grey with solitude
now near the end of another decade
i am witness to the loss of my twenties
a promise invisible
i run without purpose
far from the north star
i run with the sound of barking dogs closing in
i have lost count of the miles
i am older and nothing much matters
or has changed

Happy Saturday all.

Friday, April 13, 2018

NPM 4-13 and Poetry Friday: This One's for Lee

How do you honor someone who's heart and soul breathes poetry?

Today the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins is celebrating a birthday. This then, is the perfect day to celebrate all he has done and continues to do to commend, nurture and expand the world of children's poetry. While he is a noted poet and prized anthologist, Lee does so much more for children's poetry. Lee founded the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, an award presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of children's poetry published in the previous calendar year. Since its inception in 1993, the winning poet or anthologist has received a plaque and honorarium made possible through Lee's generosity. You'll also find his name attached to the ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, which is given every three years to a promising new poet of children’s poetry (for children and young adults up to grade 12).

I first "met" Lee when I began my career as a classroom teacher and read a number of his articles in professional journals and publications for teachers. Now, I was not teaching elementary students or an English Language Arts teacher, but I saw great connections between poetry and science, particularly in emphasizing the skill of observation. My first poetry purchases for the classroom were the two anthologies pictured below.
In 2009 I was honored to interview Lee for my Poetry Makers series. I finally had the pleasure of meeting him in person in 2010 at the NCTE conference in Orlando. He was smart and funny and just plain lovely.

I can't say enough about his generosity of spirit, his mentoring and tireless efforts on behalf of poets both new and experienced, and his boundless enthusiasm for poetry as a medium to touch the hearts and lives of children.

On this special day, here's a short poem for Lee.

How do you honor
an icon? With poetry
crafted in love.

With much gratitude and so much love for who you are, what you do, and what you stand for, I send you the fondest birthday wishes.

I  do hope you'll take some time to check out the other birthday wishes and all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Robin at Life on the Deckle Edge. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

NPM 4-12: So Much Happiness

Today I'm sharing a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye.

So Much Happiness

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to
pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs
or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

Happy Thursday all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NPM 4-11: You See I Want a Lot

Today I'm sharing a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.

You See I Want a Lot

You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything:
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing,
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you see are faces
that do work and feel thirst.

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

Happy Wednesday all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

NPM 4-10: When I Am Among the Trees

I've been listening to (in yin) and reading quite a bit of Mary Oliver these days. Today I'm sharing one of her poems.

When I Am Among the Trees
by Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
 but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Happy Tuesday all.

Monday, April 09, 2018

NPM 4-9: Lilacs

When I was growing up, we had purple and while lilac bushes in the yard. The city held a Lilac Festival every year. I adored lilacs. When I moved to Virginia, I learned that Wisteria is a shoddy substitute. Since I've just returned from a trip to Rochester (a snowy one!), I have lilacs on my mind.

Today I'm sharing an excerpt from a poem by Amy Lowell.

False blue,
Color of lilac.
Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,
Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,
Lilac in me because I am New England,
Because my roots are in it,
Because my leaves are of it,
Because my flowers are for it,
Because it is my country
And I speak to it of itself
And sing of it with my own voice
Since certainly it is mine.

Read the poem in its entirety.

Happy Monday all.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

NPM 4-8: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

Today I'm sharing an excerpt from the poem When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman.

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird, 
Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes, 
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines. 

Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song, 
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe. 

O liquid and free and tender! 
O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer! 
You only I hear—yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,) 
Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me. 

Happy Sunday all.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

NPM 4-7: Highway 90

I've been reading essays on poetry, most recently The Art of Finding by Linda Gregg. Today I'm sharing on of her poems.

Highway 90

An owl lands on the side
of the road. Turns its head
to look at me going fast,
window open to the night
on the desert. Clean air,
and the great stars.
I’m trying to decide
if this is what I want.

“Highway 90” by Linda Gregg from In the Middle Distance, Graywolf Press.

Happy Saturday all.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Poetry Sisters Write to a Bishop Line

The challenge this month was to take one line from the poem One Art by Elizabeth Bishop and use it as a line in a new poem.

Since I have a 10K coming up in a week, running has been on my mind. In an effort to lift my spirits when I go out for longer runs, I've been wearing pigtails. Can you imagine it? A 50-something in pigtails? It makes me giggle a little when I see my shadow and seems to make the miles just a bit more fun. If you've been on Facebook you've seen the pictures. Since one of our group is not on Facebook (ahem!), I've posted it here for her viewing pleasure.
Here's the poem I wrote to the line "Then practice losing farther, losing faster." This poem couldn't decide if it wanted to be angsty or funny, so it has a bit of a split personality, but it was a good place to start my writing and thinking.

I Am A Runner
Running is my morning prayer.
A meditation on the moment,
in the silence of waking dawn,
the beauty of the world unfolds
while I sweat, ache, and complain.
I do it, but often (usually) hate it.

I don’t run to win.
There won’t be a race I’ll finish
anywhere near the front.
Hills, water stops, a stray wisp of hair,
the need to constantly adjust my shorts,
slow me down.

I suppose this practice
(losing farther, losing faster),
only serves to push me forward,
keeps me putting one expensive shoe
in front of the other.

Running is about faith -
Faith in my feet
Faith in the uneven road
Faith that I’ll get out of bed
Faith that I’ll start
because once I'm in the race,
there's nothing to do but

After I got this one under my belt, I felt like I needed something more "serious." I ended up with a list poem that kept changing. Since these exercises are all about getting poems out in the world, I'm finally setting this one free, even though it doesn't actually feel finished. It actually needs some sort of lamentation at the end, but I'm just not sure what that is yet. Here's what I've written so far using the line "of lost door keys, the hour badly spent." You'll notice that in this poem and the one above, I didn't exactly stick to the selected line.

Lamentation for Things Lost

lost jobs, beloved colleagues
books lent and not returned

lost pets, time to myself
the pleasure of quiet spaces

lost door keys, hours badly spent
real money in loose change

lost oaks and pines, the Monopoly dog,
the sound of my father's voice

lost innocence, idealism
a favorite president

lost hope (every now and then)
the ability not to care

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Amy at The Poem Farm. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

NPM 4-5: Keeping Things Whole

Today I am sharing a poem by Mark Strand.

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

“Keeping Things Whole” by Mark Strand from Selected Poems, Alfred A. Knopf.

Happy Thursday all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

NPM 4-4: The Peace of Wild Things

Today I'm sharing a poem by Wendell Berry. Give a listen.

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Happy Wednesday all.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

NPM 4-3: A Map to the Next World

Today I'm sharing an excerpt from the poem A Map to the Next World by Joy Harjo.
You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder. 
A white deer will greet you when the last human climbs from the
Remember the hole of shame marking the act of abandoning our
tribal grounds. 
We were never perfect. 
Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth who was
once a star and made the same mistakes as humans. 
We might make them again, she said. 
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end. 
You must make your own map.
Read the poem in its entirety.

Happy Tuesday all.

Monday, April 02, 2018

NPM 4-2: Sailing Into National Poetry Month

I am late to the party, having nothing planned for the month but to share poetry as it moves me.

Can two words be a poem? I'd like to think so. Yesterday at the sunrise Easter service, the sermon ended with the words "Joy wins." Those words ran through my mind all day and are still with me. I'm going to carry them for a while.

Today I'm sharing a poem Lucille Clifton.

blessing the boats
(at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back   may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

“blessing the boats” Copyright © 2001 by Lucille Clifton from Quilting: Poems 1987-1990, BOA Editions, Ltd.

Happy Monday all.