Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Poem of the Day: Rapture: Lucus by Tracy Brimhall

Posters for the missing kapok tree appear on streetlights
offering a reward for its safe return. I hate to spoil it,

but the end of every biography is death. The end of a city
in the rainforest is a legend and a lost expedition. The end

of mythology is forgetfulness, placing gifts in the hole
where the worshipped tree should be. But my memory

lengthens with each ending. I know where to find the lost
mines of Muribeca and how to cross the Pacific on a raft

made of balsa. I know the tree wasn’t stolen. She woke from
her stillness some equatorial summer evening by a dream

of being chased by an amorous faun, which was a memory,
which reminded her that in another form she had legs

and didn’t need the anxious worship of people who thought
her body was a message. She is happier than the poem tattooed

on her back says she is, but sadder than the finches nesting
in her hair believe her to be. I am more or less content to be

near her in October storms, though I can’t stop thinking that
with the right love or humility or present of silk barrettes

and licorice she might become a myth again in my arms, ardent
wordless, needing someone to bear her away from the flood.

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Copyright © 2014 by Traci Brimhall. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem

“This poem is part of a series I’m working on that mythologizes the town in Brazil where my mother was born and raised. Mysterious, and possibly miraculous things begin to occur there, and every resident has a different explanation. The speaker believes the reason for the miracles is a hamadryad nymph with a poem tattooed on her back, who ran away rather than be worshipped.”
—Traci Brimhall

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W. W. Norton, 2012). She teaches at Kansas State University and lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

Most Recent Book by Brimhall

(W. W. Norton, 2012)

"Song" by Brigit Pegeen Kelly


"Diana of the Hunt" by Forceythe Willson


"Like Any Good American" by Brynn Saito



Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends.

Overheard at Table Four: Charity and the English Major

She wrapped her hands around her coffee mug, and said blithely, "No I never could have gotten serious with Matthew.  I never could have married an English Major."

Maria leaned in, and said, "But why not?  That semester I remember he was really into you!"

She shrugged and said, "Because of my name.  Charity.   Any English major, at some point in our relationship, would say something stupid about how charity is giving out without expecting to get anything back.  And I knew that would make me so mad I'd probably gouge out the guy's eyes with a fork."

Maria laughed.  "So basically, you just saved the life of at least one English major."

Charity smiled.  "For whatever that's worth, yeah."

Maria said, "So, you actually DO live up to your name."

Charity gave her the look that only true friends can give when the other delivers a subtly cloying truth.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Song of the Day: Zen and the Art of Xenophobia by Five Iron Frenzy

Cling to your god and guns, 
the banjo’s playing Hot Cross Buns, 
Bucket seats set to recline, 
no need to cross the county line. 
Are the Arabs closing ranks , 
about to roll some Russian tanks? 
Shut the doors and save the kids, 
lock and load- just like Jesus did. 
The United States of Amnesia 
make us numb, make it dumb, anesthesia. 
Cut the cord, close the door, we don’t know ‘ya, 
it’s the zen and the art of xenophobia 
Let’s keep them separate, 
melanin just can’t succeed. 
“Give me liberty… or something.” 
It’s better if you just don’t read. 
Crank your phasers up to “slaughter” 
Turn your wine back into water. 
When you play this song, Al Qaeda wins, 
and Jesus was American.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Poem of the Day: Hand Grenade Bag by Henri Cole


This well-used little bag is just the right size

to carry a copy of the Psalms. Its plain-woven

flowers and helicopter share the sky with bombs

falling like turnips—he who makes light of other

men will be killed by a turnip. A bachelor,

I wear it across my shoulder—it’s easier to be

a bachelor all my life than a widow for a day.

On the bag’s face, two black shapes appear

to be crows—be guided by the crow and you

will come to a body—though they are

military aircraft. A man who needs fire

will soon enough hold it in his hands.
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Copyright © 2014 by Henri Cole. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem

“Over the past thirty years hand grenades, tanks, fighter jets, missiles, helicopters, and assault rifles have replaced traditional floral patterns in rug making and other textiles. Depicting these realities of war has helped the Afghan people to survive during times of conflict.”
—Henri Cole
Henri Cole is the author of Nothing to Declare, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in March of 2015.  He teaches at Ohio State University in Columbus and lives in Boston part-time.

Most Recent Book by Cole

(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015)

"War Rug" by Henri Cole


"Mosul" by David Hernandez


"Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002" by Marvin Bell



Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends.