I fear the vast dimensions of eternity. I fear the gap between the platform and the train. I fear the onset of a murderous campaign. I fear the palpitations caused by too much tea. I fear the drawn pistol of a rapparee. I fear the books will not survive the acid rain. I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane. I fear the Jabberwock, whatever it might be. I fear the bad decisions of a referee. I fear the only recourse is to plead insane. I fear the implications of a lawyer’s fee. I fear the gremlins that have colonized my brain. I fear to read the small print of the guarantee. And what else do I fear? Let me begin again.
From Selected Poems by Ciaran Carson, published by Wake Forest University Press. Copyright © 2001 by Ciaran Carson. Reprinted with permission by Wake Forest University Press. All rights reserved.
August sauntered down the mountain-side, Dropping mottled, turbid wraiths of decay. The air was like an old priest Disrobing without embarrassment Before the dark and candid gaze of night. But these things brought no pause To the saucily determined squirrel. His eyes were hungrily upturned To where the stars hung—icily clustered nuts Dotting trees of solitude. He saw the stars just over the horizon, And they seemed to grow On trees that he could reach. So he scampered on, from branch to branch, Wondering why the fairy nut-trees Ran away from him. But, looking down, he spied A softly wild cheeked mountain pool, And there a handful of fairy nuts Bit into the indigo cupping them. With a squeal of weary happiness The squirrel plunged into the mountain pool, And as he drowned within its soundless heart The fairy nuts were jigging over him, Like the unheard stirring of a poem.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
It’s not that we’re not dying.
Everything is dying.
We hear these rumors of the planet’s end
none of us will be around to watch.
It’s not that we’re not ugly.
Look at your feet, now that your shoes are off.
You could be a duck,
no, duck-billed platypus,
your feet distraction from your ugly nose.
It’s not that we’re not traveling,
But it’s not the broadback Mediterranean
carrying us against the world’s current.
It’s the imagined sea, imagined street,
the winged breakers, the waters we confuse with sky
willingly, so someone out there asks
are you flying or swimming?
That someone envies mortal happiness
like everyone on the other side, the dead
who stand in watch, who would give up their bliss,
their low tide eternity rippleless
for one day back here, alive again with us.
They know the sea and sky I’m walking on
or swimming, flying, they know it’s none of these,
this dancing-standing-still, this turning, turning,
these constant transformations of the wind
I can bring down by singing to myself,
the newborn mornings, these continuals—
Copyright © 2015 by Peter Cooley. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 11, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.