A Poem Thread


"I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over."
Reasons to Log Off
by Kate Baer

The girl who said she could never eat a second slice
of pizza my senior year of college is doing really well.
My cousin posts a photo of a loaded gun. Have I ever
heard of the Second Amendment? Have I ever heard
of this new recipe? Cauliflower, a hint of lemon, some
chopped-up ginger root. Hey, do you want to lose
weight in only thirty minutes? Hey, can I have just a
moment of your time? Click here to receive a special
invitation. Click here if you want to believe in God.
Tomorrow there’s a Pride walk to support the right to
marry. One comment says: I will pray for your affliction.
Another says: I hope you trip, fall down, and die.
Swipe up to find my new lip filler. Scroll down to read
why these four girls were horribly afraid. Greg is
asking for your number. Greg wants to send a
big surprise.

"The Ship of Death (1933)

By D.H. Lawrence


Now it is autumn and the falling fruit
and the long journey towards oblivion.

The apples falling like great drops of dew
to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.

And it is time to go, to bid farewell
to one’s own self, and find an exit
from the fallen self.


Have you built your ship of death, O have you?
O build your ship of death, for you will need it.

The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall
thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.

And death is on the air like a smell of ashes!
Ah! can’t you smell it?

And in the bruised body, the frightened soul
finds itself shrinking, wincing from the cold
that blows upon it through the orifices.


And can a man his own quietus make
with a bare bodkin?

With daggers, bodkins, bullets, man can make
a bruise or break of exit for his life;
but is that a quietus, O tell me, is it quietus?

Surely not so! for how could murder, even self-murder
ever a quietus make?


O let us talk of quiet that we know,
that we can know, the deep and lovely quiet
of a strong heart at peace!

How can we this, our own quietus, make?


Build then the ship of death, for you must take
the longest journey, to oblivion.

And die the death, the long and painful death
that lies between the old self and the new.

Already our bodies are fallen, bruised, badly bruised,
already our souls are oozing through the exit
of the cruel bruise.

Already the dark and endless ocean of the end
is washing in through the breaches of our wounds,
already the flood is upon us.

Oh build your ship of death, your little ark
and furnish it with food, with little cakes, and wine
for the dark flight down oblivion.


Piecemeal the body dies, and the timid soul
has her footing washed away, as the dark flood rises.

We are dying, we are dying, we are all of us dying
and nothing will stay the death-flood rising within us
and soon it will rise on the world, on the outside world.

We are dying, we are dying, piecemeal our bodies are dying
and our strength leaves us,
and our soul cowers naked in the dark rain over the flood,
cowering in the last branches of the tree of our life.


We are dying, we are dying, so all we can do
is now to be willing to die, and to build the ship
of death to carry the soul on the longest journey.

A little ship, with oars and food
and little dishes, and all accoutrements
fitting and ready for the departing soul.

Now launch the small ship, now as the body dies
and life departs, launch out, the fragile soul
in the fragile ship of courage, the ark of faith
with its store of food and little cooking pans
and change of clothes,
upon the flood’s black waste
upon the waters of the end
upon the sea of death, where still we sail
darkly, for we cannot steer, and have no port.

There is no port, there is nowhere to go
only the deepening black darkening still
blacker upon the soundless, ungurgling flood
darkness at one with darkness, up and down
and sideways utterly dark, so there is no direction any more
and the little ship is there; yet she is gone.
She is not seen, for there is nothing to see her by.
She is gone! gone! and yet
somewhere she is there.


And everything is gone, the body is gone
completely under, gone, entirely gone.
The upper darkness is heavy as the lower,
between them the little ship
is gone
she is gone.

It is the end, it is oblivion.


And yet out of eternity a thread
separates itself on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
that fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.

Is it illusion? or does the pallor fume
A little higher?
Ah wait, wait, for there’s the dawn,
the cruel dawn of coming back to life
out of oblivion.

Wait, wait, the little ship
drifting, beneath the deathly ashy grey
of a flood-dawn.

Wait, wait! even so, a flush of yellow
and strangely, O chilled wan soul, a flush of rose.

A flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again.


The flood subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and lovely.
And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing
on the pink flood,
and the frail soul steps out, into the house again
filling the heart with peace.

Swings the heart renewed with peace
even of oblivion.

Oh build your ship of death, oh build it!
for you will need it.
For the voyage of oblivion awaits you."
by Adélia Prado
Issue no. 103 (Summer 1987)

"Purple puts on the squeeze.
Purple is tart and narrow.
Tyrant purple goes straight for the heart,
crazy for dawn.
Jesus’s passion is purple and white,
very close to joy.
Purple is tart, it will ripen.
Purple is handsome and I like him.
Yellow likes him.
The sky purples morning and evening,
a red rose growing older.
I gallop after purple,
a sad memory, a four o’clock flower.
I round up love to turn me purple with passion,
I who choose and am chosen."
Like a small grey
sits the squirrel.
He is not

all he should be,
kills by dozens
trees, and eats
his red-brown cousins.

The keeper on the
other hand,
who shot him, is
a Christian, and

loves his enemies,
which shows
the squirrel was not
one of those.
How to boil a lettuce

"I'm going to boil a lettuce"
My mother said to me
"I'm going to boil a lettuce.
We are having it for tea"

"I'm not that partial to boiled lettuce"
I replied in my disapproving voice
"Are you only serving lettuce?
Or do I have a choice?"

"You always have a choice"
My mother did reply
"Eat a well done boiled lettuce,
Or fill your mouth with nothing and die"

"Would you prefer I die
In the dinning room
Or move into the lounge
To pass away to my doom?"

"I really don't care" said mother
"How you conduct yourself"
Said mother as she swept into the kitchen
So here I am, by myself

I peeked into the kitchen
To see what was going on
Mother had the lettuce placed in a pot
The lettuce I had forgone

At one time I mentioned "You boil a cabbage"
Nearly started a riot
" No no no you boil a lettuce.
A cabbage on a diet"

Water in the saucepan
Put the lettuce in
Heat the water to boiling
Boil for about 10 min

Not a lot to remember
Not a lot required
You could boil lettuce all day
But your brain might get tired

If you have come this far
Now you know the method
You can adapt the technique
As long as not slipshod

Go my friends
I wish you luck
But for me boiled lettuce
Bah its just muck

Messing about, to many spare moments

I know it could be a lot better but was getting bored

“Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.”

~Mary Oliver, “Mysteries, Yes”
"Dear Someone"

by Deborah Landau

Issue no. 192 (Spring 2010)

"my emptiness has a lake in it deep and watery
with several temperaments milk cola beer

at night the selves are made of water
all the openings flooded streaming with rain

my emptiness has an aqueduct in it
selves rushing through channels

dissolving washing away in streaks

my emptiness has a fish in it
a piece of seaweed liferaft a rocky strait

all night the selves are breaking themselves
again and again on the sandbar

you can’t get out from the drowning
nightwatery the blacksparkling pools

my emptiness has a nowhere reef an island
at night the immersion comes deep-running and sudden

the selves
it washes us under and sudden"
Edward Thomas, 1916

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.


by Rainer Maria Rilke

"What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self and disappear into that vastness.)

Space reaches from us and construes the world.
To know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you. Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits. Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there."
The lyrics are from a song I wrote in my 20s. Had to use words with different meaning from original trying to keep the rhyme.

No One's Land

Now I wish you with lean passion and I smile
I'm feeling your skin soft and delicious
you are all I want... my Lyle
cheerful... vain... and capricious.

The afternoon deceives us the sense
night comes and you wake up my sleep
to stay with you, you ask so tense
you want to always be mine, to me your life to keep

I go outside to breathe some air, I can do no more
you call me and I answer, I'll be there... ma'am
slowly in silence I rather walk the back door
my love, I leave you, because no one's land... I am.
My Favorite Poets
by Adam Zagajewski

My favorite poets
never met
They lived in different countries
and different ages
surrounded by ordinariness
by good people and bad
they lived modestly
like an apple in an orchard
They loved clouds
they lifted their heads
a great armada
of light and shade
sailed above them
a film was playing
that still hasn’t ended
Moments of bitterness
passed swiftly
likewise moments of joy
Sometimes they knew
what the world was
and wrote hard words
on soft paper
Sometimes they knew nothing
and were like children
on a school playground
when the first drop
of warm rain

Translated by Clare Cavanagh
Georgia Douglas Johnson

I know you love me better, cold—
Strange as the pyramids of old,
But I am frail, am spent and weak
With surging torrents that bespeak
A living fire!
So, like a veil, my poor disguise
Is draped to save me from your eyes'
Deep challenges.
Fain would I fling this robe aside
And from you, in your bosom hide
You love me better cold,
Like frozen pyramids of old,

[via Poems.org↱]
The Snowy Egret
by Nancy Keating, 2021

Give me another word for regret,
something more like forget
only better, more effective,​

since in fact we really don’t forget
the bad things we did
or caused. I read in a letter​

to The Sun Magazine where a man
will always remember the egret
lying, a silent heap of cirrus clouds,​

at his 12-year-old feet. It was his first
and last time shooting a gun.
His confession stabbed me​

into a memory of unremembered shame
and the ache in my stomach telling me
I had joined humanity.​

by Toi Derricotte

"Maybe it’s a bat’s wings
at the corner of your eye, right
where the eyeball swivels
into its pocket. But when
the brown of your eye turns
where you thought the white saw,
there’s only air & gold light,
reality—as your mother defined it—
(milk/no milk). Not for years
did you learn the word longing,
and only then did you see the bat—
just the fringe of its wings
beating, its back in a heavy
black cloak."
We are All God's Poems
Phillip Metres, 2021

all I crave is light & yet
sky is busy imitating milk
frozen in an upturned bowl

to be a person is a sounding
host of breath​
rehoused & rib scribbled inside

you there above
the page​
casting your gaze over us
wanting us to be your mouth

& what would you say
with my body​
bowed to bear the weight
of a line so taut it sings

[via Poets.org↱]
The Solstice
by W. S. Merwin

"They say the sun will come back
at midnight
after all
my one love

but we know how the minutes
fly out into
the dark trees
and vanish

like the great ‘ohias and the honey creepers
and we know how the weeks
walk into the
shadows at midday

at the thought of the months I reach for your hand
it is not something
one is supposed
to say

we watch the red birds in the morning
we hope for the quiet
daytime together
the year turns into air

but we are together in the whole night
with the sun still going away
and the year
coming back."
by James Baldwin (ca. 1983)

when you send the rain,
think about it, please,
a little?​
not get carried away
by the sound of falling water,
the marvelous light
on the falling water.​
am beneath that water.
It falls with great force
and the light​
me to the light.​

[via Poets.org↱]
Me and Trees

Trees speak to me;
Their language is full of silent tones, bare whispers.

They almost forget that I know what they're saying, which is kind of cute.
When I was young, I climbed trees to see what they had to say about it.
The world was full of sound and light up there, and the view was to die for.
"Dusk fell
and the cold came creeping,
came prickling into our hearts.
As we tucked beaks
into feathers and settled for sleep,
our wings knew.
That night, we dreamed the journey:
ice-blue sky and the yodel of flight,
the sun's pale wafer,
the crisp drink of clouds.
We dreamed ourselves so far aloft
that the earth curved beneath us
and nothing sang but
a whistling vee of light.
When we woke, we were covered with snow.
We rose in a billow of white.”
― Joyce Sidman, Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold