a capping verse*

Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles by Billy Collins It seems these poets have nothing up their ample sleeves they turn over so many cards so early, telling us before the first line whether it is wet or dry, night or day, the season the man is standing in, even how much he has had to drink. Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow. Maybe if is snowing on a town with a beautiful name. “Viewing Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune on a Cloudy Afternoon” is one of Bun Tung Po’s. “Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea” is another one, or just “On a Boat, Awake at Night.” And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with “In a Boat on a Summer Evening I Hear the Cry of a Waterbird. It Was Very Sad and Seemed to be Saying My Woman is Cruel—Moved, I Wrote This Poem.” There is no iron turnstile to push against here as with the headings like ‘Vortex on a

On Hearing a Poem Recited, Not Read

by Christine Walker for Larry Robinson The poem flew at me Little darts, pricking my skin piercing my belly, my arms, my eyes Flew at me on swift, black wings trailing a smoky blur past my ears Flew all around me furious, then curiously quiet No words sounded like words read from a page They had been lifted the night before, years before Flipped up, one by one letter by letter let fall on the tongue and dissolved like melting snowflakes trickling down through the heart, into the belly to the toes, the fingertips Pulled back through the blood through the brain down into the back of the throat into the cheeks and spit out Little darts of words big wings of words charging the air all around me There were no words, only language Tongue moved by muscle and blood The poem entered me and exited leaving little points of pain and light soft feathery strokes on my skin and hair Leaving me empty of words

In the Cave of Sister Mary Kevin, Ursuline

by Ken Ireland She might have even been as Spartan as Father Ignatius if her taste had not run to plastered walls, a few modest chintz prints and poignant photos of helpless children. You could have fed a child in Haiti for that price, Sister. Alok asked me about priest-craft— appeasing hungry ghosts with big bellies, tight mouths, and one might presume assholes, not to mention pussies. Forgive me, Sister. The antidote contains no eyes, no ears, no tongue, no body, no mind, no assholes no thought, no perception, no old age, no ending of old age and death —and no sex. You know that practice, Sister. I knew, or at least said, more than I ought. Phil told me that the rite was no more than sleight of hand: chocolate, cardamom tea, ripe kiwis, none of it really satisfying or nourishing. Hungry ghosts think it’s dinner. Anything looks like dinner when you’re starving. Big bellies and big ears arise simultaneously – evidence, your pictures of starving children in the Sudan. Trick them. S

The Making of the Bear

By Ramon Gutherie Perhaps for fear of saying to oneself, — it is not good to plan such things too long. No question others had more craft than I. I had waited for the Old One to give the sign to one of us, half hoping still his choice might fall on me. But lately he had turned to graving stags and reindeer on bits of antler, art that for all his pains my clumsy fingers could never seem to master. In any case, his choice for cavern walls ran to pregnant cows, bison and ponies. That, and more and more he favored places not too hard to get at. "What's the harm in having good work seen?" Meanwhile the first full moon of spring was near. I can't say why I chose the cave I did. Passing that way one day, I'd seen it and taken it for a badger's hole until I saw an owl rise from it and listening close, caught the voices of water. I set out before dawn and took along well-scorched moss and tallow, stone lamp, firestick in a dee


by Robert Frost for my Dad In October of 1962 at Dartmouth College , I heard Frost read this poem from his first book, published in 1916. It was his last public appearance. O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all. The crows above the forest call; Tomorrow they may form and go. O hushed October morning mild, Begin the hours of this day slow. Make the day seem to us less brief. Hearts not averse to being beguiled, Beguile us in the way you know. Release one leaf at break of day. At noon release another leaf; One from our trees, one far away. Retard the sun with gentle mist; Enchant the land with amethyst. Slow, slow! For the grapes' sake, if they were all, Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, Whose clustered fruit must else be lost - For the grape' sake along the wall. from "Complete Poems of Robert Frost," 1916 Please cli


by Dan Berrigan For those who protest--you carry our hearts Dorothy Day, Servant of God Some stood up once and sat down. Some walked a mile and walked away. Some stood up twice and sat down. I’ve had it! they said. Some walked 2 miles and walked away. It’s too much! they cried. Some stood and stood and stood. They were taken for fools they were taken for being taken in. Some walked and walked and walked. They were asked, and why do you stand? Because of the heart, they said, and because of the children, and because of the bread. Because the cause is the heart’s beat and the children born, and the risen bread. On May 9 th of this year, Dan celebrated his 90th birthday. Please join us in sending Dan our best wishes and prayers; and for “all who brought faith, hope…to all from the inner and outer edges of our lives together." The picture is of his friend, Dorothy Day, Servant of God.

Who We Are

for the men and women who "occupy" Wall Street in protest By Don Foran If I could play that Dvorák, YoYo Ma, Excruciating sadness yoked to joy, I’d play it for all children of this raw And dangerous world, the ones who most annoy The very rich. I’d hold each note an hour And place my quaking finger on the fret Until my sweat ran free and sour; Till tears flowed too, both mine and ours. I’d let The world know that music with its charm Redeems, somehow, much pain and many long Long hidden wrongs, assuages grief and harm, And sounds, at last, a plaintive, hopeful song. Thus are we saved. You stir new mindfulness Of who we really are and whom we bless.