Earlier this week, some friends and I agreed to each make a packet containing approx. 10 poems that we love. These are friends with whom I've talked of poetry casually, but they are not writers of poetry and so I do not know their aesthetic.
Of course I had a terrible time creating my list, mostly in narrowing. Eventually, I gave up and just went with the poems that floated most quickly to the top of my head. I am sure there are others equally deserving.
Here's my list (in no particular order) and an excerpt for each poem.
Traci Brimhall ~ "Aubade with a Broken Neck"
The first night you don't come home
summer rains shake the clematis.
I bury the dead moth I found in our bed,
scratch up a rutabaga and eat it rough
James Wright ~ "A Blessing"
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
Li-Young Lee ~ "Persimmons"
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Mary Oliver ~ "In Blackwater Woods"
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
Pablo Neruda ~ "Sonnet XVII" ~ trans. Stephen Mitchell
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
Quan Barry ~ "Child of the Enemy"
from "IX. Napalm"
....... Like all effective incendiaries,
I won’t only bloom where I’m planted.
Charles Wright ~ "1975"
Year of the Half-Hinged Mouth and the Hollow Bones,
Year of the Thorn,
Anne Sexton ~ "For My Lover, Returning to His Wife"
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.
Maurice Manning ~ "Seven Chimeras"
The way Booth makes an orchid:
combine one bluebird with nine fencerow
pokeberries; crush together and hang
thirty yards away in half-light.
Lucie Brock-Broido ~ "Also, None of Us Has Seen God"
Old as a prehistoric furrow horse abed in awe & sediment,
Curled on his runic side, in the shape of an O broken.
Well, there you go, I went to 11.