Poetry Near You

Find poetry readings, workshops, festivals, conferences, literary organizations, and poetry-friendly bookstores, and learn more about poets laureate, in your area.

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See a list of all state poets laureate.

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Nearing Autobiography

Those are my bones rifted
and curled, knees to chin,
among the rocks on the beach, 
my hands splayed beneath my skull
in the mud. Those are my rib
bones resting like white sticks
wracked on the bank, laid down,
delivered, rubbed clean
by river and snow.

Ethereal as seedless weeds
in dim sun and frost, I see
my own bones translucent as locust
husks, light as spider bones, 
as filled with light as lantern
bones when the candle flames.
And I see my bones, facile,
willing, rolling and clacking,
reveling like broken shells
among themselves in a tumbling surf.

I recognize them, no other's,
raggedly patterned and wrought, 
peeled as a skeleton of sycamore
against gray skies, stiff as a fallen
spruce. I watch them floating
at night, identical lake slivers
flush against the same star bones
drifting in scattered pieces above.

Everything I assemble, all
the constructions I have rendered 
are the metal and dust of my locked
and storied bones. My bald cranium
shines blind as the moon.

Choke

Of all the ways of forgetting
not turning the pilot on is not
                             the worst

The house is intact
you are floating
in time
buckets of it streaming through
                  the windows

youth turned it up I think
or on & fell asleep

Remembering to do.
You are too intact
the dappled sunlight on the lawn
or pots of darkness
like salt instead of depths

Still once I turned it up
the popping commenced
like applause for the present
tense
the site of my sway

Larry's new car is wide & safe
a woman's voice conducts
us left & right
she's crazy he laughs
again & again

my shrink said buy it now
about the car

I told him about my phenomenal streak
of winning & when the stakes 
rose I began to bid low & 
not at all
I could have won; you choked
he said.

Woof. To not choke
is I suppose to experience
to hold it in & go forth
though you need the heat

The sun had not done more
suddenly for a while

it's like we took off our skin
and said it is hot.
It's like we sold our skin
& said where did everyone go?

when the weather's too hot for comfort
& we can't have ice-cream cones
it ain't no sin
to take off your skin
& dance around in your bones

Naming the Heartbeats

I’ve become the person who says Darling, who says Sugarpie,
Honeybunch, Snugglebear—and that’s just for my children.
What I call my husband is unprintable. You’re welcome. I am
his sweetheart, and finally, finally—I answer to his call and his
alone. Animals are named for people, places, or perhaps a little
Latin. Plants invite names for colors or plant-parts. When you
get a group of heartbeats together you get names that call out
into the evening’s first radiance of planets: a quiver of cobras,
a maelstrom of salamanders, an audience of squid, or an ostentation
of peacocks. But what is it called when creatures on this earth curl
and sleep, when shadows of moons we don’t yet know brush across
our faces? And what is the name for the movement we make when
we wake, swiping hand or claw or wing across our face, like trying
to remember a path or a river we’ve only visited in our dreams?