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#national poetry month

You are like the sun

Warming but still distant

The closer I get the more I burn

You are like the moon

Awake all night and lighting up

But changing with seasons

But unlike the moon I cannot predict your seasons

I hope you are fine

I hope the darkness does not drown you

I hope happiness is in plenty for you

And when I disappear from you eventually

May you remember only the good fragments of me

Paint a flower of me

But for the moment,

For the moment,

I know I have fallen in love with you

And I know its illicit

Won’t you fall for me too ?

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I once saw a man on moat. He was holding a cane and a coat. He flung them aside and went for a dive. And that was the end that he wrote.

My panic had raced to my throat. And I screamed out to the remote. Shaking aside, I started to cry. And that’s when I first saw the boat.

The sailor he grabbed for his tote. And circled around with some rope. Slight waves they died. He spotted the guy. Who came to the top with a float

My heart it sank lIke a slope. To see the poor man’s breath was but nope. I couldn’t see clear the reasoning here. A life that he left with no hope. 

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Foot in the stirrup, deep breath in, it’s okay.
It might feel foreign for just a moment,
but your body knows this like breathing.
If there was ever a moment
for faith, it’s this one,
the smell of hay
in your nose:
you belong


April 30, 2020 | Prompt: Write a poem of farewell for our thirtieth day […] but about something that returns.

This is a nonet. A nonet is “a 9-line poem that has 9 syllables in the first line, 8 syllables in the second line, 7 syllables in the third line, and continues to count down to one syllable in the final (ninth) line.”

I miss horses.

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Bearer of worlds, destroyer of hoards;

caring, loyal, fierce, compassionate.

Frightening, menacing, mother of death -

giver of life, champion to her allies.

Ten thousand titles can’t capture her

essence - the unconditional love

that emanates from her being

straight to the marrow of my soul.

My friend

My protector

My touchstone

My heart

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amaranthine // c.a.)

i struggled all through this poem trying to think of a symbol or metaphor for you. i touched all the bright places down inside me until i had light staining my fingertips in the hopes that some magic might manifest one for you, but you remain hidden from me. still. the light’s long faded, but you’re still there. flitting behind my eyes.  

you’ve been so patient even though you aren’t exactly waiting for me to, you know, blossom you from my rain-stained earth of fallen stars. but i know you’re waiting for me to learn to bloom flowers from my sorrow. but here’s the secret about flowers and sorrow. you have to bleed a little first. and you haven’t bled for me, not like i’ve bled for you. you’ve burned for me though. but you can’t bloom flowers from ash and iron. i’ve bled nearly enough for the both of us, but you are no flower. i will not forge a flower from you. i refuse.  

you’re more like a hand that’s reaching for me from beyond the mist and smoke and frustration and rain, one that the moment i reach out, bursts apart into shards of light the second my fingers melt into yours. and that hurts me the most. i can’t touch you. but you can touch me, crystalline as i am. remember what i said about not bleeding enough? you might think this sounds stupid, but it’s not like i want you to bleed. or burn. i just want to be able to take that hand. and there’s not a spell or fingertip of light that’ll let me. it’s all you.
and i hate that the most. you. you, you, you. it’s always you. whenever i look up to ask the moon if i’ve finally felt enough to warrant absolution from this primordial hell you’ve cast me into, she always asks if i’ve felt enough for you. the last time she told me that, i told the moon to fuck off. she knows nothing. she sees nothing. she hears nothing. she’s thousands of miles from me and my rain-stained earth. she is…absolutely right.  

haven’t i, with all of the bleeding, the burning, the reaching and picking up the phone at midnight when you’ve seen a terrible fate and texting when the moon takes it upon herself to pull at my rather tender heartstrings and, wondering if your voice sounds the same as i remember it sounding, and, look at me, i’m amaranthine with it. with
you. is this what you want? what you mean when you tell me to stop? does this terrify you too?  

am i hidden from you too?

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Storage space, where we have been hidden from the sunlight,
behind the wheel, loaded for years. For these springs tonight,
we stand like life forms in a niche. Once, centuries ago,
Daughters of Baldom hated the Gorgons. No railroad track
can fool me. Secret or place, beside a lake; detachment
underground, the passage of intelligence will mark
the dry year. Maybe seasonal speech. Instead of people, magic,
mirrors and ash specks. The rats run after what they think
is trash. A voice in their heads fell silent. Steal
from a place where croak echoes around. And turn
those scratches on your skin where we always leave you.

Written by a GPT-2 1558M language model, this is the last of thirty poems for National Poetry Month. This poem is an unedited original created by the model after seeding it with the first line of every poem it has generated so far.

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Lot’s Wife

Do not look behind you.
–Gen. 19:17

So simple a mistake. They say I turned to look;
instead it was to listen. I did not know: only the dead
can stand the music of the spheres made mortal.

Caught in my hood, the hard chords of chaos:
the childish scream, the mother’s litany as she names
the loss which instantly unnames her.

And then the inconceivable: between the flint
blast and the crack of iron, I heard
the burning of the scorched moth wing,

the lily as its petals crisp to white fire,
but more than these, the footfall
of a naked man who runs to nothing.

And so I chose this brine,
now crystals shift. The salt dissolves
and I want to speak.

Whore of all hopes, I now believe
some stories survive
in order to remake their endings.

–Dana Littlepage Smith

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if i could
i’d get lost in the wind
let it carry me somewhere new
just to see where i land
maybe i can start anew
maybe i’d appreciate where i am now
but i think i need a change of scenery
i think i need to get swept up and sent somewhere else

(cc, 2020) | poem everyday in april, 30/30

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If you’re nasty and you know it
Clap your cheeks
If you cower and you show it
Fail to speak

If you’re nasty, cruel and mean
and content with a routine
You will come to find
that you’ll be left behind

If you’re nasty and you’re scared
Drag your feet
If your dirty laundry’s aired
Rinse, repeat

If you’re nasty, cruel and mean
and the opposite of clean
You will come to know
that you will never grow

If you’re nasty and you boast
Shout and yell
If you tattle more than most
Go and tell

If you’re nasty, cruel and mean
and you chase a shattered dream
You will come to see
that we will not agree

© Worthy Poetry
FB/Worthy Poetry

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the cracking from the joints
in her hands is loud— so loud
there’s no need to get out
the silver paint.
there’s no need to crawl
from the covers to breathe.

but, she’ll still flinch
when the quiet creeps
back and panic demands
some new noise to fill
the gaps in her teeth,
the hole still getting bigger
in her chest, bigger
but never any stronger.

getting so big the need
to consume is great.
she’ll grab sand and claw
incapable at the music
to do the filling
though there’s no use.
the softness of her racket
is unavoidable.

[can’t believe it’s been a month already! this was fun and I look forward to revisiting the rest of this project as the year goes on. I really like the noise in this piece. sometimes you need it and it’s not around so you have to make your own.]

In 2010 I wrote a poem a day, everyday, for the entire year. It was an exercise in endurance and agile writing and editing and I learned so much about myself as a poet.  A decade later it seems right to mark the achievement or at least revisit the work. In 2020 I’ll be choosing a week at random every month and doing rewrites and reedits of those poems. I might talk about the pieces or apologize for them, but probably will let them do their thing on their own.

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A Birthday | W. S. Merwin

Something continues and     I don't know what to call it
though the language is full of suggestions
in the way of language
                but they are all anonymous
and it's almost your birthday     music next to my bones
these nights we hear the horses     running in the rain
it stops and the moon comes out     and we are still here
the leaks in the roof go on dripping     after the rain has passed
smell of ginger flowers     slips through the dark house
down near the sea     the slow heart of the beacon flashes
the long way to you is still tied to me     but it brought me to you
I keep wanting to give you     what is already yours
it is the morning     of the mornings together
breath of summer     oh my found one
the sleep in the same current     and each waking to you
when I open my eyes     you are what I wanted to see.
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As I ebb’d with the ocean of life,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walk’d where the ripples continually wash you Paumanok,
Where they rustle up hoarse and sibilant,
Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways,
I musing late in the autumn day, gazing off southward,
Held by this electric self out of the pride of which I utter poems,
Was seiz’d by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot,
The rim, the sediment that stands for all the water and all the land of the globe.

Fascinated, my eyes reverting from the south, dropt, to follow those slender windrows,
Chaff, straw, splinters of wood, weeds, and the sea-gluten,  
Scum, scales from shining rocks, leaves of salt-lettuce, left by the tide,
Miles walking, the sound of breaking waves the other side of me,
Paumanok there and then as I thought the old thought of likenesses,
These you presented to me you fish-shaped island,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walk’d with that electric self seeking types.

As I wend to the shores I know not,
As I list to the dirge, the voices of men and women wreck’d,
As I inhale the impalpable breezes that set in upon me,
As the ocean so mysterious rolls toward me closer and closer,
I too but signify at the utmost a little wash’d-up drift,
A few sands and dead leaves to gather,
Gather, and merge myself as part of the sands and drift.

O baffled, balk’d, bent to the very earth,
Oppress’d with myself that I have dared to open my mouth,
Aware now that amid all that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not once had the least idea who or what I am,
But that before all my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch’d, untold, altogether unreach’d,
Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows,
With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written,
Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath.

I perceive I have not really understood any thing, not a single object, and that no man ever can,
Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart upon me and sting me,
Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at all.

You oceans both, I close with you,
We murmur alike reproachfully rolling sands and drift, knowing not why,
These little shreds indeed standing for you and me and all.

You friable shore with trails of debris,
You fish-shaped island, I take what is underfoot,
What is yours is mine my father.

I too Paumanok,
I too have bubbled up, floated the measureless float, and been wash’d on your shores,
I too am but a trail of drift and debris,
I too leave little wrecks upon you, you fish-shaped island.

I throw myself upon your breast my father,
I cling to you so that you cannot unloose me,
I hold you so firm till you answer me something.

Kiss me my father,
Touch me with your lips as I touch those I love,
Breathe to me while I hold you close the secret of the murmuring I envy.

Ebb, ocean of life, (the flow will return,)
Cease not your moaning you fierce old mother,
Endlessly cry for your castaways, but fear not, deny not me,
Rustle not up so hoarse and angry against my feet as I touch you or gather from you.

I mean tenderly by you and all,
I gather for myself and for this phantom looking down where we lead, and following me and mine.

Me and mine, loose windrows, little corpses,
Froth, snowy white, and bubbles,
(See, from my dead lips the ooze exuding at last,
See, the prismatic colors glistening and rolling,)
Tufts of straw, sands, fragments,
Buoy’d hither from many moods, one contradicting another,
From the storm, the long calm, the darkness, the swell,
Musing, pondering, a breath, a briny tear, a dab of liquid or soil,
Up just as much out of fathomless workings fermented and thrown,
A limp blossom or two, torn, just as much over waves floating, drifted at random,
Just as much for us that sobbing dirge of Nature,
Just as much whence we come that blare of the cloud-trumpets,
We, capricious, brought hither we know not whence, spread out before you,
You up there walking or sitting,
Whoever you are, we too lie in drifts at your feet.

Walt Whitman (1860)

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Thank you for reading and listening and watching—for being part of our community—throughout this month. With final good wishes for the health of all, here is Frank O'Hara (1926-1966), one of the presiding spirits of Knopf Poetry for his generosity on the page, his pursuit of beauty in its myriad forms, his boundless sense of adventure and of literature’s possibilities. May soft banks enfold you until we meet again over a poem.


Whole days would go by, and later their years,
while I thought of nothing but its darkness
drifting like a bridge against the sky.
Day after day I dreamily sought its melancholy,
its searchings, its soft banks enfolded me,
and upon my lengthening neck its kiss
was murmuring like a wound. My very life
became the inhalation of its weedy ponderings
and sometimes in the sunlight my eyes,
walled in water, would glimpse the pathway
to the great sea. For it was there I was being borne.
Then for a moment my strengthening arms
would cry out upon the leafy crest of the air
like whitecaps, and lightning, swift as pain,
would go through me on its way to the forest,
and I’d sink back upon that brutal tenderness
that bore me on, that held me like a slave
in its liquid distances of eyes, and one day,
though weeping for my caresses, would abandon me,
moment of infinitely salty air! sun fluttering
like a signal! upon the open flesh of the world.

More on this book and author:

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Merit in Service

Eighteen years ago today,

I joined the military. It was

one of the most difficult trials

I’ve been through, but I made it

out the other side - mostly

in one piece. I learned to push

through the blood and the tears

(and the pneumonia).

While I became an integral

part of a team, I also found

the strength to rely on myself.

I served my country proudly

and honorably for six years.

I will always be grateful

for the drive to aim high.

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