Featured Poem: August

August by Lizette Woodworth Reese

No wind, no bird. The river flames like brass.
On either side, smitten as with a spell
Of silence, brood the fields. In the deep grass,
Edging the dusty roads, lie as they fell
Handfuls of shriveled leaves from tree and bush.
But ’long the orchard fence and at the gate,
Thrusting their saffron torches through the hush,
Wild lilies blaze, and bees hum soon and late.
Rust-colored the tall straggling briar, not one
Rose left. The spider sets its loom up there
Close to the roots, and spins out in the sun
A silken web from twig to twig. The air
Is full of hot rank scents. Upon the hill
Drifts the noon’s single cloud, white, glaring, still.

 

via Poets.org

Featured Poem: The New Colossus

In celebration of the 4th of July, a poem about America:

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By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

via Poets.org

Featured Poem: Crosscurrent

By M.L. Smoker

The first harvest of wheat in flatlands
along the Milk startled me into thoughts of you
and this place we both remember and also forget as home.
Maybe it was the familiarity or maybe it was my own
need to ask if you have ever regretted leaving.
What bends, what gives?
And have you ever missed this wind?—it has now
grown warm with late summer, but soon
it will be as dangerous as the bobcat stalking calves
and pets just south of the river.
Men take out their dogs, a case of beer and wait
in their pickups for dawn, for a chance with their rifles.
They don’t understand that she isn’t going to make
any mistakes. With winter my need for an answer
grows more desperate and there are only four roads out.
One is the same cat hunters drive with mannish glory
and return along, gun still oil-shined and unshot.
Another goes deeper into Assiniboine territory:
This is the one I should talk myself into taking next.
I haven’t much traveled the third except to visit
a hospital where, after the first time,
my mother had refused chemotherapy.
And the last road you know as well as I do—
past the coral-painted Catholic church, its doors
long ago sealed shut to the mouth of Mission Canyon,
then south just a ways, to where the Rockies cut open
and forgive. There you and I are on the ascent.
After that, the arrival is what matters most.

Stranger Things Adapted For Fiction and Other Bookish News

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Enjoying this new series? I’ll be back next week with the latest rumblings in the literary world!

* Love the Netflix show Stranger Things? There’s a few books based on the hit show headed your way this fall. Check it out here.

* NPR reported that in the last half a decade, the number of U.S. adults who are reading poetry has nearly doubled. This doesn’t surprise me as my Featured Poems posts are usually well received! Read their report here.

* Check out these new releases by Simon Teen that are slated for release in Spring 2019.

* Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of their 10 best books of 2018.

* Buzzfeed created a list of 27 YA books to read beside the pool this summer.

Featured Poem: Losses

By Wesley McNair

It must be difficult for God, listening
to our voices come up through his floor
of cloud to tell Him what’s been taken away:
Lord, I’ve lost my dog, my period, my hair,
all my money. What can He say, given
we’re so incomplete we can’t stop being
surprised by our condition, while He
is completeness itself? Or is God more
like us, made in His image—shaking His head
because He can’t be expected to keep track
of which voice goes with what name and address,
He being just one God. Either way, we seem
to be left here to discover our losses, everything
from car keys to larger items we can’t search
our pockets for, destined to face them
on our own. Even though the dentist gives us
music to listen to and the assistant looks down
with her lovely smile, it’s still our tooth
he yanks out, leaving a soft spot we ponder
with our tongue for days. Left to ourselves,
we always go over and over what’s missing—
tooth, dog, money, self-control, and even losses
as troubling as the absence the widower can’t stop
reaching for on the other side of his bed a year
later. Then one odd afternoon, watching something
as common as the way light from the window
lingers over a vase on the table, or how the leaves
on his backyard tree change colors all at once
in a quick wind, he begins to feel a lightness,
as if all his loss has led to finding just this.
Only God knows where the feeling came from,
or maybe God’s not some knower off on a cloud,
but there in the eye, which tears up now
at the strangest moments, over the smallest things.

Featured Poem: Culture and the Universe

By Simon J. Ortiz

Two nights ago
in the canyon darkness,
only the half-moon and stars,
only mere men.
Prayer, faith, love,
existence.
                       We are measured
by vastness beyond ourselves.
Dark is light.
Stone is rising.
I don’t know
if humankind understands
culture: the act
of being human
is not easy knowledge.
With painted wooden sticks
and feathers, we journey
into the canyon toward stone,
a massive presence
in midwinter.
We stop.
                       Lean into me.
                       The universe
sings in quiet meditation.
We are wordless:
                       I am in you.
Without knowing why
culture needs our knowledge,
we are one self in the canyon.
                                                                    And the stone wall
I lean upon spins me
wordless and silent
to the reach of stars
and to the heavens within.
It’s not humankind after all
nor is it culture
that limits us.
It is the vastness
we do not enter.
It is the stars
we do not let own us.