Seamus Heaney: Crossings, xxxiii

The world lost a Great One, August 30, 2013.
-Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam-


Be literal a moment. Recollect
Walking out on what had been emptied out
After he died, turning your back and leaving.

That morning tiles were harder, windows colder,
The raindrops on the pane more scourged, the grass
Barer to the sky, more wind-harrowed,

Or so it seemed. The house that he had planned
‘Plain, big, straight, ordinary, you know’,
A paradigm of rigour and correction,

Rebuke to fanciness and shrine to limit,
Stood firmer than ever for its own idea
Like a printed X-ray for the X-rayed body.

–Seamus Heaney

James Woods: You Can’t Eat Poetry


This poem will cost you.
It will not register Black voters in Georgia.
It will not wash oil from ducks.
This poem will starve the big-bellied babies
in Angola, if they send it.
It . . will . . not . . get . . off . . the . . page
to convince the President
that loaded guns are dangerous
and should be kept out of the hands
of infants and senile demagogues.
This poem will not feel around under your dress
down by the lake. It will not be generous
with its time, nor forgive. It can’t be
warmed up at midnight after the skating
nor charm the miser out of his hole
nor proclaim amnesty. It’s words,
God damn it, it’s words.

–James Woods


Lawrence Ferlinghetti: I Am Waiting


[. . .]

and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

–Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Stephen Crane: Black Riders LI


A man went before a strange God,–
The God of many men, sadly wise.
And the Deity thundered loudly,
Fat with rage, and puffing,
“Kneel, Mortal, and cringe
And grovel and do homage
To My particularly sublime majesty.”

The man fled.

Then the man went to another God,–
The God of his inner thoughts.
And this one looked at him
With soft eyes
Lit with infinite comprehension,
And said, “My poor child!”

–Stephen Crane, from
             The Black Riders
                and Other Lines


here on the mountain
only the birds bear witness
only the birds are aware

close to the cliff-edge
a lonely woman staring
the red-faced birds are aware

For dVerse. Victoria has asked us to write with patterns in mind. I thought I might try to pack as many patterns as I could into a small verse form. I chose a sedoka, with it’s repeating pattern of 5/7/7. Besides repeating a few words, I also used many repeating sound patterns, such as “only” and “lonely,” and some repetitions that are more visual, such as “are” and “aware.” See how many more patterns you can find. This was fun–write a poem and come join in!


Heather Allen: Grasses

American Life in Poetry: Column 491

Here’s a fine poem by Heather Allen, a Connecticut poet who pays close attention to what’s right under her feet. It may seem ordinary, but it isn’t.

So still at heart,
They respond like water
To the slightest breeze,
Rippling as one body,

And, as one mind,
Bend continually
To listen:
The perfect confidants,

They keep to themselves,
A web of trails and nests,
Burrows and hidden entrances—
Do not reveal

Those camouflaged in stillness
From the circling hawks,
Or crouched and breathless
At the passing of the fox.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©1996 by Heather Allen. Reprinted from Leaving a Shadow, 1996, by permission of Copper Canyon Press, Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Thomas Wolfe: A Stone, a Leaf, a Door


. . . A stone, a leaf, an unfound door;
Of a stone, a leaf, a door.
And of all the forgotten faces.

Naked and alone we came into exile.
In her dark womb
We did not know our mother’s face;
From the prison of her flesh have we come
Into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison
Of this earth.

Which of us has known his brother?
Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?
Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent?
Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

O waste of loss, in the hot mazes, lost,
Among bright stars
On this most weary unbright cinder, lost!
Remembering speechlessly
We seek the great forgotten language,
The lost lane-end into heaven,
A stone, a leaf, an unfound door.

–Thomas Wolfe, from Look Homeward, Angel.
Arranged in verse by John S. Barnes.

The Wave

Driving east
toward Tybee Beach,
the smell of salt air
takes me back
twenty-five years.

I see in my mind
the shape of
one particular wave,
and the bob of your head
as you drift away.



And now, with the stresses bold:


Driving east
toward Tybee Beach,

the smell of salt air
takes me back
twenty-five years.


I see in my mind
the shape of

one particular wave,
and the bob of your head
as you drift away.

For dVerse. Tonight Gay would like us to reach deep into our natural poetic rhythms. I first posted the poem without noting how I hear the rhythm, to give you, dear reader, the chance to find how you read it on your own. This is an older poem that was written without rhythm necessarily in mind, and I think it is pretty typical of my inner beat. Do you hear it the same way that I do?