By Robert Francis
By Robert Francis
By John Gould Irwin
Above the east horizon,
The great red flower of the dawn
Opens slowly, petal by petal;
The trees emerge from darkness
With ghostly silver leaves,
Now consciousness emerges
Reluctantly out of tides of sleep;
Finding with cold surprise
No strange new thing to match its dreams,
But merely the familiar shapes
Of bedpost, window-pane, and wall.
Within the city,
The streets which were the last to fall to sleep,
Hold yet stale fragments of the night.
Sleep oozes out of stagnant ash-barrels,
Sleep drowses over litter in the streets.
Sleep nods upon the milkcans by back doors.
And, in shut rooms,
Behind the lowered window-blinds,
Drawn white faces unwittingly flout the day.
But, at the edges of the city,
Sleep is already washed away;
Light filters through the moist green leaves,
It runs into the cups of flowers,
It leaps in sparks through drops of dew,
It whirls against the window-panes
With waking birds;
Blinds are rolled up and chimneys smoke,
Feet clatter past in silent paths,
And down white vanishing ways of steel,
A dozen railway trains converge
Upon night’s stronghold.
By Robert Hedin
So this is how it must’ve looked,
The gates to the garden
And both of them
Standing there in late afternoon light,
Looking back, the rain pelting
Down hard, the flowers
Closing their shutters,
The leaves already beginning to fall.
By Emma Gorenberg
The first skeleton drawn from the earth, they called beautiful. And
she was, to their particular vantage—they who knew bleach from
ocher, bone from rock from gully. It is three days before I see the
limb breaching, femur or humerus I’m unsure, another before I will
feel it with an outstretched hand, another and I will push some of its
loamy casing away, but go no further. A week and I cannot leave it.
The pottery that births around it is more beautiful, but the bone is
captivating, hypnotic with the absence of life. And I will distinguish
each bone from earth if there are more, just as we scour the body not
to know the buried, but to realize how we walk above.
Autopsy (3500 BCE)
By Joy Harjo
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
By Margaret Widdemer
When winter-time grows weary, I lift my eyes on high
And see the black trees standing, stripped clear against the sky;
They stand there very silent, with the cold flushed sky behind,
The little twigs flare beautiful and restful and kind;
Clear-cut and certain they rise, with summer past,
For all that trees can ever learn they know now, at last;
Slim and black and wonderful, with all unrest gone by,
The stripped tree-boughs comfort me, drawn clear against the sky.
By Rupi Kaur
From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.
Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.
I’ve seen Rupi Kaur’s poetry shared on Facebook and Instagram so I knew it was something I would like. I’d been wanting to get one of her poetry collections, but I’ve been on a book buying embargo (come to my house and you’ll understand). However, I received The Sun and Her Flowers as a gift from one of my bookclubs and immediately started reading it!
Kaur’s poetry is often criticized for not being “artful” enough for poetry, too cheesy, too simple, too Tumblr. But if you’re a regular reader of Isle of Books, you know that I love sharing poems similar to Kaur’s. I am a fan of more modern poetry, particularly those poems from Modernist and Language Poets. This was the kind of poetry I liked in my classes at college and it is the type of poetry that I also write when I’m struck with the urge to write a poem. I think of this poetry as being very accessible to the average reader. You don’t need to have had any instruction on how to read and interpret poems to enjoy poetry like Kaur’s. And that I think is why her poems are so popular with modern readers.
I liked that this collection was divided into sections that loosely interacted with a theme. Some poems were sad, some were empowering, some made you pause a moment, and others made you fold the page down to bookmark it and remember it. Overall, I think it was a good collection and the drawings were a great companion to the poems.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems from The Sun and Her Flowers:
i am of the earth
and to the earth I shall return once more
life and death are old friends
and i am the conversation between them
i am their late-night chatter
their laughter and tears
what is there to be afraid of
if i am the gift they give to each other
this place never belonged to me anyway
i have always been theirs
*I should also note that this collection is partially about Kaur’s rape and recovery from it. So if you’ve experienced sexual violence, some of the poems in The Sun and Her Flowers might be triggering.