Archived Poems of the Month 2003-2004

Archived Poems for 2001-2002
Archived Poems for 2003-2004
Archived Poems for 2005-2006
Archived Poems for 2007-2008
Archived Poems for 2009-2010
January '03Here's to Midwinter February '03"More Than Stars In Their Eyes"
March '03When Spring Comes Again April '03Nothing Gold Can Stay
May '03"Jacaranda Blooms" June '03Sunrise on the Coast
July '03Magic August '03Jack Do-Good-For-Nothing
September '03There's a Kid Inside October '03October Song
November '03Lighted Fireplace December '03December Respite
January '04Winter Rose February '04Winter Sunrise
March '04Fast Break April '04An April Rhyme of June
May '04Beautous May June '04June
July '04Halcyon July In Algoma August '04August 1968
September '04The Day Is A Poem (September 19, 1939) October '04Ariadne On Naxos
November '04Listen | 014 December '04Winter Solstice, Camelot Station

Poem of the Month: January 2003

Here's to Midwinter
holly Standing again at the crossroads
of Winter here's to midwinter
and the twinkle of bright eyes
and here's to me Tom Fool with my handful of holly
I'll write the wren boys in, in frosty Antrim
& the Welsh with the Mari Llwyd
I'll write a twinkle in those eye holes
in the lanes of Ceredigion
Claret faced Christmas
talking turkey will have its full say
with carols till your ears melt
but I'll write magic
in a star hung sky
and what the wind whispers
on the black roadside nowhere
where the dead & the unborn
listen whispers this:
every kiss should be about what will be
every tear must be for what will never come again
here's to midwinter and the twinkle of bright eyes
here's to what cannot be taken
from the lowest in the coldest doorway
here's to what the highest cannot keep
with the highest walls
here's to what the granny and the wee baby knows
here's to the heart beat of the world
and here's to you.
—Robin Williamson

Poem of the Month: February 2003

I thought of various poems... but in the end this, though not strictly a poem, seemed fitting. Kalpana Chawla, my favorite astronaut, looked out on January 28, 2003, and saw the sunset overtaking the day, and the light and dark sides of Earth together. This is what she said later about that moment.
More than Stars in their Eyes
halfEarth In the retina of my eye,
the whole Earth and the sky
could be seen reflected.
So I called all the crew members one by one,
and they saw it,
and everybody said,
"Oh, wow!"
kalpana in space
—Kalpana Chawla

Poem of the Month: March 2003

When spring comes again
new flowers National Arboretum When spring comes again
Maybe she won't find me in the world anymore.
Now, I like being able to think Spring is a person
So I can imagine she'll cry,
When she sees she's lost her only friend.
But the Spring isn't even a thing:
She's a manner of speaking.
Even the flowers don't come back, or the green leaves.
There are new flowers, new green leaves.
There are other beautiful days.
Nothing comes back, nothing repeats itself, because everything is real.
—Alberto Caiero (11/7/1915)

Poem of the Month: April 2003

Nothing Gold Can Stay
spring bamboo Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her first leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
—Robert Frost

Poem of the Month: May 2003

Jacaranda Blooms
jacaranda blossoms Jacaranda blooms
A lavender canopy
over the asphalt
—Judy Sunderland

Poem of the Month: June 2003

Sunrise on the Coast
lake baikal
Grey dawn on the sand-hills — the night wind has drifted
All night from the rollers a scent of the sea;
With the dawn the grey fog his battalions has lifted,
At the call of the morning they scatter and flee.

Like mariners calling the roll of their number
The sea-fowl put out to the infinite deep.
And far overhead — sinking softly to slumber —
Worn out by their watching the stars fall asleep.

To eastward, where rests the broad dome of the skies on
The sea-line, stirs softly the curtain of night;
And far from behind the enshrouded horizon
Comes the voice of a God saying "Let there be light."

And lo, there is light! Evanescent and tender,
It glows ruby-red where 'twas now ashen-grey;
And purple and scarlet and gold in its splendour —
Behold, 'tis that marvel, the birth of a day!

—A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

Poem of the Month: July 2003

apple tree And who shall say—
Whatever disenchantment follows—
That we ever forget magic,
Or that we can ever betray,
On this leaden earth,
The apple-tree, the singing,
And the gold?
—Thomas Wolfe

Poem of the Month: August 2003

Jack Do-Good-for-Nothing,
A Cursory Nursery Tale for Tot-Baiters





Once there was a kind-hearted lad named Jack Do-Good-for-Nothing, the only son
of a poor widow whom creditors did importune,

So he set out in the world to make his fortune.
His mother's blessing and a crust of bread was his only stake,
And pretty soon he saw a frog that was about to be devoured by a snake,
And he rescued the frog and drove the snake away,
And the frog vowed gratitude to its dying day,
And a little later on his walk,
Why, he saw a little red hen about to be carried off by a hawk,
And he rescued the little red hen and drove the hawk away,
And the little red hen vowed that whenever he was in trouble his kindness she would repay,
And he walked a few more country blocks,
And he saw a bunny rabbit about to be gobbled up by a fox,
And he rescued the bunny rabbit before the fox could fall upon it,
And the bunny rabbit thanked Jack and told him any time he needed help, just to call on it,
And after all this rescuing, Jack was huffing and puffing,
And a little farther on the snake and the hawk and the fox jumped him,
and out him they beat the stuffing,
They even stole his crust of bread and each ate a third of it,
And the frog and the little red hen and the bunny rabbit said they were very
sorry when they heard of it.
You see, Jack against a cardinal rule of conduct had been a transgressor:
Never befriend the oppressed unless you are prepared to take on the oppressor.
—Ogden Nash

Poem of the Month: September 2003

There's a Kid Inside
decorative line There's a kid inside,
And I have him with me always.
There's a kid inside
Walking down old high school hallways.
There's a kid inside
At a desk, at a dance, in the halls, in the showers...
There's a kid inside
To this very day

And he makes a try for the high pop fly
That I fumbled one September;
And he makes a fuss over some A-plus
That I shouldn't still remember;
And he goes along, getting hurt, getting mad,
Fighting fights that are over,
And unless I'm strong
All my senses are carried away.

I can feel my hand, my trembling hand,
On Michelle's angora sweater;
I can hear my band—that awful band—
Only now they sound much better
I can see that kid, the kid I used to be,
On the stage, on the field, on the lunchline,
I can feel him tugging at me:
Every time I think I don't care I blink

And he's there, he's there, he's there again,
Fighting ancient wrongs, humming old hit songs in my head
Singing, 'Come along, come along for the ride,'
To a time and place I could not forget if I tried.

And I never know when the breeze'll blow
With a rush of old sensations;
Why the kid should wake and my heart should ache
Every time I smell carnations.
Something rings a bell, any thing at all,
All it takes is the slam of a locker,
Or the switch from summer to fall:
A change of season seems hardly reason

But there he goes, he's there again,
Fighting ancient wrongs, humming old hit songs in my head
Singing, 'Come along, come along for the ride,'
To a time and place I could not forget if I tried.

He's there again.

—Craig Carnelia

Poem of the Month: October 2003

October Song
autumn leaves I'll sing you my October song, there is no song before it:
The words and tune are not my own, my joy and sorrow bore it.
Beside the sea, the brambly briar in the still of evening:
Birds fly out from behind the sun, and with them I'll be leaving

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground, they know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts in scarlet shadows lying.
When hunger calls my weary footsteps home, the morning follows after.
I swim the seas within my mind, the pine-trees laugh green laughter.

autumn leaves I used to search for happiness, and I used to follow pleasure,
But I found a door behind my mind, and that's the greatest treasure:
For rulers like to lay down laws, and rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains and God likes to forsake them.

I met a man whose name was Time. He said, I must be going;
But just how long ago that was I have no way of knowing.
Sometimes I could murder time, when my heart is aching,
But mostly I just like to stroll along the path that he is taking.

—Robin Williamson

Poem of the Month: November 2003

fireplace lighted fireplace
between each log
shifting darkness

   —Graham Nunn

Poem of the Month: December 2003

December Respite
(from "Song of the Storm King")
vancouver island Another slow day
For storm watching.
December on Vancouver Island
Generally consists of an unending stream
Of wave after wave
Of rainstorms
(Snow at elevations)
And wind
Attacking from Pacific Waters.

But this year
We have a young boy
Visiting us,
El Niño,
Maybe you have heard of him.
Last week he made
Life miserable
For "Sunny" California.
I should be storm watching
For they have suffered our rain
And we, stolen their sun.
vancouver island So,
When I took my seat
On the balcony bench
For work today,
All I saw was sun and blue skies
Not what a self-appointed
Watcher of Storms
Is supposed to see.
vancouver island But Hey!
In December on this Island
Any sun is a welcome respite
From the gloom of rain, rain, rain.
A clear blue winter sky
Is winning the Weather Lottery.

Protected there
As I was
From the hand of a cool wind,
I leaned back
Under the solar warmth
And closed my eyes.
vancouver island Though Christmas closes in,
No vision of sugar plums
Danced in my head,
But brilliant hues of red:
Alizarian crimson, scarlet lake,
Rose carmethene, cardinal
Vermillion, cerise,
Cherry, salmon,
Blazed within my eyes
As solar rays traversed
Blood-filled lids.

Tonight the rains
May return
But for a few hours
I was self-appointed
Watcher of Winter Sun.

   —Keith Heidorn

Poem of the Month: January 2004

Winter Rose
rose in frost The bush scrapes winter's song
Against my window and, intending
Nothing lonely, whispers of
Roses where now lies snow.

   —Dwain Wilder

Poem of the Month: February 2004

Winter Sunrise
cottonwood tree winter sunrise--
only pale green moss
on the cottonwoods

   —Billie Wilson

Poem of the Month: March 2004

Fast Break
   (In memory of Dennis Turner, 1946-1984)
basketball players A hook shot kisses the rim and
hangs there, helplessly, but doesn't drop

and for once our gangly starting center
boxes out his man and times his jump

perfectly, gathering the orange leather
from the air like a cherished possession

and spinning around to throw a strike
to the outlet who is already shoveling

an underhand pass toward the other guard
scissoring past a flat-footed defender

who looks stunned and nailed to the floor
in the wrong direction, turning to catch sight

of a high, gliding dribble and a man
letting the play develop in front of him

kara lawson in slow motion, almost exactly
like a coach's drawing on the backboard,

both forwards racing down the court
the way that forwards should, fanning out

and filling the lanes in tandem, moving
together as brothers passing the ball

between them without a dribble, without
a single bounce hitting the hardwood

Coco until the guard finally lunges out
and commits to the wrong man

while the power-forward explodes past them
in a fury, taking the ball into the air

by himself now and laying it gently
against the glass for a layup,

but losing his balance in the process
inexplicably falling, hitting the floor

with a wild, headlong motion
for the game he loved like a country

and swiveling back to see an orange blur
floating perfecting through the net.

   —Edward Hirsch
      from Wild Gratitude

Poem of the Month: April 2004

An April Rhyme Of June
new leaves Wind and shadow, wind and shadow
      Pass o'er uplands brown and bare;
Violets sleep in the sleeping meadow,
      Wings are still in the silent air;
      June, O June, art thou anywhere?

Sun and shower, sun and shower,
      Last year's nests in the voiceless trees,
Furrowed fields under skies that lower,
      Roadsides barren of bloom and bees--
      June, O June, art thou born of these?

Yet the presence of some new-comer
      Thrills us, a prescience of things to be;
After rain come the scents of summer;
      Silence even is prophecy.
      June, O June, does it tell of thee?

Lay your ear to the earth and listen!
      Hark! the hum of the hosts of spring;
Southward dimly their banners glisten,
      Nights the smoke of their camp-fires bring.
      June, thy soul is in everything!

            —Arthur Graves Canfield

Poem of the Month: May 2004

Beauteous May
wall and gate in spring Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flow'ry May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hail, beauteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

            —John Milton

Poem of the Month: June 2004

salvia Paula is digging and shaping the loam of a salvia,
      Scarlet Chinese talker of summer.
Two petals of crabapple blossom blow fallen in Paula's hair,
       And fluff of white from a cottonwood.

             —Carl Sandberg

Poem of the Month: July 2004

Halcyon July In Algoma
Isle Royale A month of such
cloudless blue days
was a celestial wound
an amber bowl of pectin
highlit with mazarine.
The clusters of offshore islands
interrupted this plain
like a frozen pod of granite dolphins,
their pink backs aligned
by a forgotten glacier.
             Cetaceans forever bound
             for the heart
             of the Wisconsin ice age.
And slowly, hypnotically
when the sun went nova each noon
a haunted stillness
enclosed our island. A
calm so lucid
that the flight of a single bird
through the resonant air
was a portentous event
of invidious design.

            —Christopher Dewdney

Poem of the Month: August 2004

August 1968
czech invasion The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

            —W.H. Auden

Poem of the Month: September 2004

The Day Is A Poem (September 19, 1939)
sunset This morning Hitler spoke in Danzig, we hear his voice.
A man of genius: that is, of amazing
Ability, courage, devotion, cored on a sick child's soul,
Heard clearly through the dog wrath, a sick child
Wailing in Danzig; invoking destruction and wailing at it.
Here, the day was extremely hot; about noon
A south wind like a blast from hell's mouth spilled a slight rain
On the parched land, and at five a light earthquake
Danced the house, no harm done. Tonight I have been amusing myself
Watching the blood-red moon droop slowly
Into the black sea through bursts of dry lightning and distant thunder.
Well: the day is a poem: but too much
Like one of Jeffers's, crusted with blood and barbaric omens,
Painful to excess, inhuman as a hawk's cry.

            —Robinson Jeffers

Poem of the Month: October 2004

Ariadne on Naxos
The threid that reeled him in has brocht
me oot — oot o' the nairra mask o' thirled
weys tae the clear licht o' day.

I spied him wi' the lassies, dandlin' them
on his knee, mou-mapplin' thir breists,
like the great bairn he is.
Braw suitor for the King's dochter!

But heroes ha'e thir uses. I 'ticed him
atween cauld stane wa's, doon an' doon
tae the centre o' my black dreid.

Derkness like midden reek, beast swite
an' bluid — ae stroke o' the bricht blade,
ae skirl tae split the wa's.
The beast wis deid.

aridne in naxos by henrietta rae Noo I sit here on Naxos, mangst myrtle
an' hinnied thyme, an' watch
his black sail slide awa doon
the sun's track tae the warld's end.

Barefit I'll gang my ain gait.
The hairst is come. Frae maumie vines
wild music springs an' I wid learn
a new daunce.

            —E M Buchanan

thirled - bound by obligation,
mou-mapplin' - mouth-nibbling,
skirl - cry, hairst - harvest, maumie - ripe

Poem of the Month: November 2004

Listen | 014
dog in snow I threw a snowball across the backyard.
My dog ran after it to bring it back.
It broke as it fell, scattering snow over snow.
She stood confused, seeing and smelling nothing.
She searched in widening circles until I called her.

She looked at me and said as clearly in silence
as if she had spoken,
I know it's here, I'll find it,
went back to the center and started the circles again.

I called her two more times before she came
slowly, stopping once to look back.

That was this morning. I'm sure that she's forgotten.
I've had some trouble putting it out of my mind.

            —Miller Williams

Poem of the Month: December 2004

Winter Solstice, Camelot Station
holly Camelot is served
By a sixteen-track stub terminal done in High Gothick Style,
The tracks covered by a single great barrel-vaulted glass roof framed upon iron,
At once looking back to the Romans and ahead to the Brunels.
Beneath its rotunda, just to the left of the ticket windows,
Is a mosaic floor depicting the Round Table
(Where all knights, regardless of their station of origin
Or class of accomodation, are equal),
And around it murals of knightly deeds in action
(Slaying dragons, righting wrongs, rescuing maidens tied to the tracks).
It is the only terminal, other than Gare d'Avalon in Pais,
To be hung with original tapestries,
And its lavatories rival those at Great Gate of Kiev Central.
During a peak season such as this, some eighty trains a day pass through,
Five times the frequency at the old Londinium Terminus,
Ten times the number the Druid towermen knew.
(The Official Court Christmas Card this year displays
A crisp black-and-white Charles Clegg photograph from the King's own collection,
Showing a woad-blued hogger at the throttle of "Old XCVII,"
The fast Mail overnight to Eboracum. Those were the days.)
The first of a line of wagons has arrived,
Spilling footmen and pages in Court livery,
And old thick Kay, stepping down from his Range Rover,
Tricked out in a bush coat from Swaine, Adeney, Brigg,
Leaning on his shooting stick as he marshalls his company,
Instructing the youngest how to behave in the station,
To help mature women that they may encounter,
Report pickpockets, gather up litter,
And of course no true Knight of the Table Round (even in training)
Would do a station porter out of Christmas tips.
He checks his list of arrival times, then his watch
(A moon-phase Breguet, gift from Merlin):
The seneschal is a practical man, who knows trains do run late,
And a stolid one, who sees no reason to be glad about it.
He dispatches pages to posts at the tracks,
Doling out pennies for platform tickets,
Then walks past the station buffet with a dyspeptic snort,
Goes into the bar, checks the time again, orders a pint.
The patrons half-turn--it's the fella from Camelot, innit?
And Kay chuckles soft to himself, and the Court buys a round.
He's barely halfway when a page tumbles in,
Seems the knights are arriving, on time after all,
So he tips the glass back (people stare as he guzzles),
Then plonks it down hard with five quid for the barman,
And strides for the doorway (half Falstaff, half Hotspur)
To summon his liveried army of lads.
holly Bors arrives behind steam, riding the cab of a heavy Mikado.
He shakes the driver's hand, swings down from the footplate,
And is like a locomotive himself, his breath clouding white,
Dark oil sheen on his black iron mail,
Sword on his hip swinging like siderods at speed.
He stamps back to the baggage car, slams mailed fist on steel door
With a clang like jousters colliding.
The handler opens up and goes to rouse another knight.
Old Pellinore has been dozing with his back against a crate,
A cubical chain-bound thing with FRAGILE tags and air holes,
BEAST, says the label, Questing, 1 the bill of lading.
The porters look doubtful but ease the thing down.
It grumbles. It shifts. Someone shouts, and they drop it.
It cracks like an egg. There is nothing within.
Elayne embraces Bors on the platform, a pelican on a rock,
Silently they watch as Pelly shifts the splinters,
Supposing aloud that Gutman and Cairo have swindled him.

A high-drivered engine in Northern Lines green
Draws in with a string of side-corridor coaches,
All honey-toned wood with stained glass on their windows.
Gareth steps down from a compartment, then Gaheris and Agravaine,
All warmly tucked up in Orkney sweaters;
Gawaine comes after in Shetland tweed.
Their Gladstones and steamers are neatly arranged,
With never a worry--their Mum does the packing.
A redcap brings forth a curious bundle, a rude shape in red paper--
The boys did that themselves, you see, and how does one wrap a unicorn's head?
They bustle down the platform, past a chap all in green,
He hasn't the look of a trainman, but only Gawaine turns to look at his eyes,
And sees written there Sir, I shall speak with you later.

holly Over on the first track, surrounded by reporters,
All glossy dark iron and brass-bound mystery,
The Direct-Orient Express, ferried in from Calais and Points East.
Palomides appears. Smelling of patchouli and Russian leather,
Dripping Soubranie ash on his astrakhan collar,
Worry darkening his dark face, though his damascene armor shows no tarnish,
He pushes past the press like a broad-hulled icebreaker.
Flashbulbs pop. Heads turn. There's a woman in Chanel black,
A glint of diamonds, liquid movements, liquid eyes.
The newshawks converge, but suddenly there appears
A sharp young man in a crisp blue suit
From the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits,
That elegant, comfortable, decorous, close-mouthed firm:
He's good at his job, and they get not so much as a snapshot.
Tomorrow's editions will ask who she was, and whom with....

Now here's a silver train, stainless steel, Vista-Domed,
White-lighted grails on the engine (running no extra sections),
The Logres Limited, extra fare, extra fine,
(Stops on signal at Carbonek to receive passengers only).
She glides to a Timken-borne halt (even her grease is clean),
Galahad already on the steps, flashing that winning smile,
Breeze mussing his golden hair, but not his Armani tailoring,
Just the sort of man you'd want finding your chalice.
He signs an autograph, he strikes a pose.
Someone says, loudly, "Gal! Who serves the Grail?"
He looks--no one he knows--and there's a silence,
A space in which he shifts like sun on water;
Look quick and you may see a different knight,
A knight who knows that meanings can be lies,
That things are done not knowing why they're done,
That bearings fail, and stainless steel corrodes.
A whistle blows. Snow shifts on the glass shed roof. That knight is gone.
This one remaining tosses his briefcase to one of Kay's pages,
And, golden, silken, careless, exits left.

holly Behind the carsheds, on the business car track, alongside the private varnish
Of dukes and smallholders, Persian potentates and Cathay princes
(James J. Hill is here, invited to bid on a tunnel through the Pennines)
Waits a sleek car in royal blue, ex-B&O, its trucks and fittings chromed,
A black-gloved hand gripping its silver platform rail;
Mordred and his car are both upholstered in blue velvet and black leather.
He prefers to fly, but the weather was against it.
His DC-9, with its video system and Quotron and waterbed, sits grounded at Gatwick.
The premature lines in his face are a map of a hostile country,
The redness in his eyes a reminder that hollyberries are poison.
He goes inside to put on a look acceptable for Christmas Court;
As he slams the door it rattles like strafing jets.

Outside the Station proper, in the snow,
On a through track that's used for milk and mail,
A wheezing saddle-tanker stops for breath;
A way-freight mixed, eight freight cars and caboose,
Two great ugly men on the back platform, talking with a third on the ballast.
One, the conductor, parcels out the last of the coffee;
They drink. A joke about grails. They laugh.
When it's gone, the trainman pretends to kick the big hobo off,
But the farewell hug spoils the act.
Now two men stand on the dirty snow,
The conductor waves a lantern and the train grinds on.
The ugly men start walking, the new arrival behind,
Singing "Wenceslas" off-key till the other says stop.
There are two horses waiting for them. Rather plain horses,
Considering. The men mount up.
By the roundhouse they pause,
And look at the locos, the water, the sand, and the coal,
They look for a long time at the turnable,
Until the one who is King says "It all seemed so simple, once,"
And the best knight in the world says "It is. We make it hard."
They ride on, toward Camelot by the service road.

holly The sun is winter-low. Kay's caravan is rolling.
He may not run a railroad, but he runs a tight ship:
By the time they unload in the Camelot courtyard,
The wassail will be hot and the goose will be crackling,
Banners snapping from the towers, fir logs on the fire, drawbridge down,
And all that sackbut and psaltery stuff.
Blanchefleur is taking the children caroling tonight,
Percivale will lose to Merlin at chess,
The young knights will dally and the damsels will dally back,
The old knights will play poker at a smaller Table Round.
And at the great glass station, motion goes on,
The extras, the milk trains, the varnish, the limiteds,
The Pindar of Wakefield, the Lady of the Lake,
The Broceliande Local, the Fast Flying Briton,
The nerves of the kingdom, the lines of exchange,
Running on schedule as the world ought,
Ticking like a hot-fired hand-stoked heart,
The metal expression of the breaking of boundaries,
The boilers that turn raw fire into power,
The driving rods that put the power to use,
The turning wheels that make all places equal,
The knowledge that the train may stop but the line goes on;
The train may stop
But the line goes on.

            —John Ford

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