Category Archives: Poetry

Trees

TREES

by JOYCE KILMER

“I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.”


Instructions on Not Giving Up

Instructions on Not Giving Up
by Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

About This Poem

“It was a hard winter. My whole body raged against it. But right as the world feels uninhabitable, something miraculous happens: the trees come back. I wanted to praise that ordinary thing as a way of bringing myself back too.”
—Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015). She teaches in the low-residency MFA prog


Dreams

Dreams
by Helen Hunt Jackson

Mysterious shapes, with wands of joy and pain,
Which seize us unaware in helpless sleep,
And lead us to the houses where we keep
Our secrets hid, well barred by every chain
That we can forge and bind: the crime whose stain
Is slowly fading ’neath the tears we weep;
Dead bliss which, dead, can make our pulses leap—
Oh, cruelty! To make these live again!
They say that death is sleep, and heaven’s rest
Ends earth’s short day, as, on the last faint gleam
Of sun, our nights shut down, and we are blest.
Let this, then, be of heaven’s joy the test,
The proof if heaven be, or only seem,
That we forever choose what we will dream!


Afternoon on a Hill


Afternoon on a Hill
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will be the gladdest thing
    Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
    And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
    With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
    And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
    Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
    And then start down!


Gay Haiku

I don’t understand
You love it when I do that–
Wait, no.  That’s Stephen.

Remember when I
Said I disliked oral sex?
I meant just with you.

My seventh birthday;
I weep at Barbie’s Dream House.
How could you not know?

The salmon’s divine,
But I’m afraid we can’t stay–
I screwed our waiter.

He’s gorgeous, witty
And stimulating.  Please, God,
Let him be a top.

EDIT: These are all from “Gay Haiku” by Joel Derfner. 


Tears, Idle Tears

Tears, Idle Tears
Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1809 – 1892

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!


Alabama 

Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee,
From thy Southern shore where groweth,
By the sea thine orange tree.
To thy Northern vale where floweth
Deep and blue thy Tennessee.
Alabama, Alabama
We will aye be true to thee!

VERSE 2

Broad the Stream whose name thou bearest;
Grand thy Bigbee rolls along;
Fair thy Coosa – Tallapoosa
Bold thy Warrior, dark and strong.
Goodlier than the land that Moses
Climbed lone Nebo’s Mount to see
Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee!

VERSE 3

From thy praries broad and fertile,
Where thy snow – white cotton shines.
To the hills where coal and iron
Hide in thy exhaustless mines.
Strong – armed miners – sturdy farmers:
Loyal hearts what’er we be.
Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee!

VERSE 4

From the quarries where the marble
White as that of Paros gleams
Waiting till thy sculptor’s chisel,
Wake to like thy poet’s dream;
For not only wealth of nature,
Wealth of mind hast thou to fee.
Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee!

VERSE 5

Where the perfumed south – wind whispers,
Thy magnolia groves among,
Softer than a mother’s kisses
Sweeter than a mother’s song;
Where the golden jasmine trailing,
Woos the treasure – laden bee,
Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee!

VERSE 6

Brave and pure thy men and women,
Better this than corn and wine,
Make us worthy, God in Heaven,
Of this goodly land of Thine;
Hearts as open as our doorways,
Liberal hands and spirits free,
Alabama, Alabama,
We will aye be true to thee!

VERSE 7

Little, little, can I give thee,
Alabama, mother mine;
But that little — hand, brain, spirit,
All I have and am are thine.
Take, O take the gift and giver.
Take and serve thyself with me,
Alabama, Alabama,
I will aye be true to thee.

“Alabama,” words by Julia S. Tutwiler and music by Edna Gockel Gussen, was designated the official state song of the state of Alabama in 1931. 

Alabama will always be my home, no matter where I live. I was sadden to see it’s name dragged through the mud yet again yesterday. Governor Robert Bentley, the Luv Guv, resigned as governor over more than just a sexting scandal. It is what he did to try and cover up the scandal that ultimately proved his downfall. In the past year the three highest ranking Republicans in Alabama, Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was convicted of corruption and removed from office, Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office for defying a federal court order over same-sex marriage, and now Governor Robert Bentley has been removed for corruption charges. Only in Alabama would an Acting Chief Justice have to swear in the Lt. Governor as the new Governor. Alabama now has her second female governor, Kay Ivey. If Ivey lives up to the grandness of Lurleen Wallace who turned out to be more than a puppet of her husband, George Wallace, then Alabama may have some redemption. However, Ivey should have never become governor. She does not have the wherewithal to hold the office and rumors of her dementia have been widespread in the state. The saddest part of all is that this should be the downfall of the Alabama Republican Party, yet Alabama will always be a one party state. At one time that was the Democratic Party, but now the Republicans have taken over and I’m afraid that the people in Alabama are not smart enough to see it as the party of corruption that it is. There’s even rumors that the next governor will either be a woman bought and paid for by Alabama Power, the state’s largest electric company, or it might just be Roy Moore. I can’t explain how overwhelmingly sad all this is for me.


My Church

I’ve cussed on a Sunday
I’ve cheated and I’ve lied
I’ve fallen down from grace
A few too many times
But I find holy redemption
When I put this car in drive
Roll the windows down and turn up the dial

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

When Hank brings the sermon
And Cash leads the choir
It gets my cold cold heart burning
Hotter than a ring of fire
When this wonderful world gets heavy
And I need to find my escape
I just keep the wheels rolling, radio scrolling
‘Til my sins wash away

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church

Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse

Yeah I guess that’s my church
Can I get a hallelujah
Can I get an amen
Feels like the Holy Ghost running through ya
When I play the highway FM
I find my soul revival
Singing every single verse
Yeah I guess that’s my church
Yeah I guess that’s my church
Yeah I guess that’s my church

“My Church” is a song by American country music singer Maren Morris. It was released in January 2016 as her debut single and serves as the lead single from her debut studio album, Hero (2016). Morris co-wrote and co-produced the song with busbee. The song won the award for Best Country Solo Performance and was nominated for Best Country Song at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

The church in the song is used figuratively to describe the sanctuary that she feels is her car when she plays music on the Highway FM radio while driving. The song refers to listening to country icons like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and is about “the simple joy that comes with turning up the volume, rolling down the windows and singing along to the radio at 65 miles an hour.” She compares the experience to a church revival, saying, “Yeah, I guess that’s my church.” She co-wrote and co-produced the single with busbee.


Dead Leaves

Dead Leaves
By Georgia Douglas Johnson

The breaking dead leaves ’neath my feet
A plaintive melody repeat,
Recalling shattered hopes that lie
As relics of a bygone sky.

Again I thread the mazy past,
Back where the mounds are scattered fast—
Oh! foolish tears, why do you start,
To break of dead leaves in the heart?


Bells in the Rain

Bells in the Rain
By Elinor Wylie

Sleep falls, with limpid drops of rain,
Upon the steep cliffs of the town.
Sleep falls; men are at peace again
While the small drops fall softly down.

The bright drops ring like bells of glass
Thinned by the wind; and lightly blown;
Sleep cannot fall on peaceful grass
So softly as it falls on stone.

Peace falls unheeded on the dead
Asleep; they have had deep peace to drink;
Upon a live man’s bloody head
It falls most tenderly, I think.


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