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BC: BY: Rachel Reeves

FC: Poetry Anthology

1: Counting the Days Before the clock falls back, the dry leaves drop, the snow geese inscribe their crooked check marks across the blue air dipping southward from Alberta; before the martins and meadowlarks move their flocks where snow won't fall or chill glaze their water where it pools; before the drab-clad hunters hide in blinds, waiting in the shallows, amid reeds and rushes, for the weary, unwary waterfowl, the gunners pause in the woods, listening for brown-flanked deer who listen, too, heads raised. Before this all happens, the corn comes in, the second hay, fat-bellied squash and pumpkins; the last tomatoes ripen on windowsills, the fruit is canned, ladled from deep pots that rattle on burners, steaming under soft light; the children know their way to school, have less daylight for play, more leaves of homework, their parents slumping at last, worn, worried, into beds on which the quilts are back. While it is afl happening, the letters come, the telegrams, the sons and daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, who will not return alive, who will come in boxes, with drooping flags and ribbons, the husks and chaff that clasp their stifled grains: this harvest of sorrow, of hollow at the heart that refutes the warm and yellow sunlight. -Stephen C. Behrendt Texas Review

2: Summer Is Sweet and Long Summer is sweet and long, the evening a jingling bicycle bell: Here I come. It is hours yet till dark. It is decades since the last occupation and along the avenue people in the cafés are laughing. There is almost nothing to mourn; the weatherman calls for blue skies and the puffiest white clouds soften the pointiest steeples on the starch Hapsburg monoliths. Evening clanging her bell, dahlias and freesia in the basket that were handpicked this morning by the Roma grandmother and sold in Astoria station for next to nothing. She brought them in her plaid-sided cart. Under the lenient sun, a church has begun to chime the later o'clocks, as if the clerics in their heavy cassocks wished to join in the revelry, because even studious clerics revel sometimes, and do so by ringing. -Geri Doran Southern Review

3: One Summer It is hard now to believe that we really went back that time years ago to the small town a mile square along the beach and a little more than a century old where I had been taken when I was a child and nothing seemed to have changed not the porches along the quiet streets nor the faces on the rockers nor the sea smell from the boardwalk at the end of the block nor the smells from the cafeteria in a house like the others along the same sidewalk nor the hush of the pebbled streets without cars nor the names of the same few hotels nor the immense clapboard auditorium to which my mother had taken me to a performance of Aida and you and I walked those streets in a late youth of our own and along the boardwalk toward music we heard from the old carousel -W. S. Merwin

4: Summer And it grows, the vain summer, even for us with our bright green sins: behold the dry guest, the wind, as it stirs up quarrels among magnolia boughs and plays its serene tune on the prows of all the leaves — and then is gone, leaving the leaves still there, the tree still green, but breaking the heart of the air. -Carlo Betocchi Poetry

5: Summer Day When I consider the soul, I am watching an open heart surgery on television. The surgeons, I am sure of this, are not wearing hospital masks. Indeed, they wear wet, black handkerchiefs, casually tied. You can plainly see the intake and outtake of their breathing. Further, they are turned and looking out the window. The scraping of one cloud across a gorgeous Summer sky, a tiny rip appearing, a few inches, unmistakable. -Leonard Gontarek American Poetry Review

6: Spring Larvae harden into adults, into the complexity of distinct anatomy— windowed wings, legs like stitches—tossing off the sodden blanket of the soft body, their innocence lisping over the pig, oomphs and fizzes forming a transcript of triumphs, but what does it mean to win, out here? Spring’s raffle: who will live, who’ll become distressed and wish for a place to climb in. I’m watching the air fill with the born-again, resting on the corpse of the rotted oak. Tomorrow I’ll drag it, chain-sawed to thick tablets, into the woods. No tragedy to watch it go. The insects have broken from that burrow into warm air. Snow has melted from bark and pooled. With nowhere to turn. -Paula Bohince Nation

7: In Spring Rain The sodden graves, below their dark puddles. Feel gratitude. When it clears, a naked moon Sings like a girl. Rocks, where they jut, ghsten. This patient circling, this great vaporous wheel. This tedium, the ghostly self obscenely Thmsting, in April, its numerous sensitive fingers. Wet, pulpy, hopeful. All the while, grey verticals Blindly drop to the earth, and the sky effaces Itself, for as long as the baby's birth requires. You go for walks in the rain. It does not matter That you shiver and make fists deep in your pockets, That your face is wet. You cross a flooded street. And the freshness insinuates, despite the batteries; Of your resistance, which easily It penetrates, seeping, in gusts, like a mild kiss. -Alicia Ostriker Midwest Quarterly

8: Poem for Spring The dog and I walk our road toward dusk noses clutching wood smoke, like incense, to our scarred hearts. These days we must live with the faith of the red tail believing geese inking the sky will wing north with the greening bringing birth and sweet death in the grass. Weeks stiU we must tread this cold Eucharist of loam, our tongues swollen, panting for drink. And some days, harder still this seems, sometimes the downward spiral, sometimes the swift descent. But then, a new cardinal singing out his lust in the full bloom of a redbud can rend my heart. Days like that, I vow to stay. -William Sheldon Midwest Quarterly

9: Spring First comes the phlox, in a glorious schmear of purple butter across wide lawns, in bar ditches; along lower hides of back pastures; soon coral quinces; poxes of daffodils; all things bulbous-greenous will follow . . . but the purple comes first Across wide lawns and wider plains, we drive to Alpine; stop for a better view; I step back into you like two stuck pages in a book. Ponies kick up their heels at the first purple clouds of spring, spryed by mere possibilities of rain I step back into you; two stuck pages in an old linen book. Wrap your arms around me now, for even rain we cannot know; spry ponies buck at over-stuffed, piñata clouds; hooves in schmears of purple Wrapped together, we stand on these plains, between a beginning and an end, but we can only know this moment; only know what came first; pony hooves bridge the earth to the sky; buck at bolts of taffy lightning; scatter bouquets of purple phlox at our feet. -Karla K. Morton Texas Review

10: Welcoming Spring Out of the shadows, the birches nibble low to the ground in search of sunlight. The white moth, hinged to a four-leafed clover, raises its tiny flag of surrender. The pink waterfalls and canopies of the cherry trees flume their petals. I have caught these things for you, as a composition righting itself to the mind of its frame. -Judith Harris Southern Review

11: Dog Weather Earlier, everyone was in knee boots, collars up. The paperboy's papers came apart in the wind. Now, almost nothing human moving. Just a black squirrel fidgeting like Bogart in The Caine Mutiny. My breath chalks the window, gives me away to myself. I like the intelligibility of old songs. I prefer yesterday. Cars pass, the asphalt's on its back smudged with skid. It's potholed and cracked; it's no damn good. Anyone out without the excuse of a dog should be handcuffed and searched for loneliness. My hair is thinning. I feel like tossing the wind a stick. The promised snow has arrived, heavy, wet. I remember the blizzard of... People I don't want to be speak like that. I close my eyes and one of my many unborn sons makes a snowball and lofts it at an unborn friend. They've sent me an AARP card. I'm on their list. I can be discounted now almost anywhere. -Stephen Dunn Southern Review

12: Cities Without Winter Few there believe in the dead, so quickly subsumed like the night rains no one has seen that dry as soon as they have fallen. We go there to forget our dying, sleep open-eyed in a catatonia of sun. Migratory birds never leave though northern flocks arrive smelling of frost and a pursuing stillness no one will name. Even for the willing, it isn’t enough to lie down in those streets: one must wait days to be cold, weeks to resemble a corpse and be prodded by a child dawdling near the curb until her mother yanks her away. Yet we long for change, and when nothing gives way we raze last year’s office towers as one mows a field. Hedges bloom beyond the capacity of bees. The old crumple into crickets, peaches go to paste in their mouths. They forget how good it is to be erased from the solar register, found absent at dawn, knowing time through its end and the return to green. -Joshua Coben Texas Review

13: Lines for Winter Poor muse, north wind, or any god who blusters bleak across the lake and sows the earth earth-deep with ice. A hoar of fur stung across the vines: here the leaves in full flush, here abandoned to four and farther winds. Bless us, any god who crabs the apples and seeds the leaf and needle evergreen. What whispered catastrophe, winter. What a long night, beyond the lamplight, the windows and the frost-ferned glass. Bless the traveler and the hearth he travels to. Bless our rough hands, wind-scabbed lips, bless this our miscreant psalm. -Dave Lucas Poetry

14: Almost an End of Winter Poem Near the end the snow grew grayer. No longer curling its lips in cold drifts. No longer giving white slaps to the earth. As its grips on the south sides of ditches receded, quonsets of beer cans grew larger, and there were kicks in the wombs of the seeds. And among those of us who shuddered, the rhythms of our breathing changed. As we applauded the pluck of the ditches and the little game waves of the weeds. -Don Welch Midwest Quarterly

15: WINTER SOLSTICE Go you gently into this good night Into the dark of open loving arms Earth Mother holding all In warm embrace. All creatures sleep and wake and sleep Enjoying rest from daylight's busyness. Relax, renew your tired self. Restore you soul. And this remember all the year The mountain needs the valley To appear So high. And so go gently into this good night This warm embrace Below the winter white. - Michael Sheffield American Poetry Review

16: Day in Autumn After the summer's yield. Lord, it is time to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials and in the pastures let the rough winds fiy. As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness. Direct on them two days of warmer light to hale them golden toward their term, and harry the last few drops of sweetness through the wine. Whoever's homeless now, will build no shelter; who lives alone will live indefinitely so, waking up to read a little, draft long letters, and, along the city's avenues, fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen. -Rainer Maria Rilke Poetry

17: A Smaller Sun of Autumn The birds merge, close ranks above as summer slips out the side door. The trees resign themselves to a surgical fall. They undergo the small, slow incisions as the knife moves coolly, nibbling a path, back and forth over the bright twigs. So it is, when grace enters the room on quiet feet. She dresses the wounds, pours spoonfuls of her essence, very like ineffable lightness, some say. And grace urges. Drink. It's good for you. And the children wave, drive off to the chosen college below a smaller sun of autumn, and the trees stand elegant in their skins, not separate ever, nor outside the symmetry of life, of time, and the passing of time. -Cindy Beebe Southern Review

18: Late Autumn Air The woods are making music of the wind. It is a simple song played in the old style, based on melodies of dying light and lyrics giving voice to winters kin. In early darkness you can hear the cold chorus of a long year's welcome end, bright as the first star above the coastal range. It reminds you peace is gone from the land though the land is growing still. So is hope. Nothing is as familiar or strange as this sense of loss as the season stands on its edge. Then one gold leaf crests the slope of the hill and rises on an updraft, soaring a moment before the wind shifts. You can see the leaf's heart holds red and green as well. Such color is a kind of laugh, an echo of delight scored to the drift of this wind and the fading of this scene. -Floyd Skloot Southern Review

19: Autumn, no Answer "It's not ideal, or even fair, come to think of it, but that's the way it is," someone says, a tug on the sleeve or a hand across the shoulder, which normally I'd accept, but right now, it feels cold as I don't know what, because I've asked what I know I can't. Phone lines slash wind, and the wind screeches from wounds, that is to say, I'm in pain, that is to say, last night it took more than an hour to arrive home, only a half dozen miles--I kept braking, mistaking scattering leaves in headlights for large animals crossing the road. -Herman Fong Massachusetts Review

20: Tin Drumming Autumn loves to insinuate with the stuck wheel and mud sucking up your leather boot. The scent of snow implies the story of ash, tumble of spent shells. Easy to foretell this bleak unfolding if you are scary little Oskar with his drum and glass-shattering scream. If not, and you have a little night vision, imagine porcupines and digger bees, imagine winter is for dreamers, and drums are meant for waking them. -Sarah Gorham Southern Review

21: Two Rains The dog came in and shook off water in every direction. A chaotic rainstorm, walking on four big paws. The outside rain fell straight, in parallel lines from a child's drawing. Windless, blunt, and cold, that orderly rain, like a fate left uninterrupted by late love. -Jane Hirshfield Kenyon Review

22: Rain on the Roof It rains on the roof of the church, fat drops splat against zinc like overripe plums. In the Luxembourg yesterday, chestnuts in bud. Sticky white clots fisting from sepals. Here, workmen single file across the roof The north tower sheathed in scaffolding. I can tell time by the manikin who scales the toy-yellow crane at eight. He enters the cab, the arm starts to tick. If my thoughts had paws, they would make strange tracks in the snow. Mother, alone now. And who's to forgive? We hide our feelings till we have no feelings to speak of "Don't dramatize," I tut my loves— What is the ineradicable root of lovel Rain gurgles in the gutters. A childhood sound. At twelve o'clock, the crane stops. Egg yolk against whites: sky blue-rinsed. It soothes me like a hand on my brow. -Beverley Bie Brahic Southern Review

23: Complaint of the Rain in English Down the silt-stained velvet of a swan's long neck, raindrops roll. Between the great white wings, they pool. You've seen it, too, as you scurry by: you want to cup and carry it off, but your human hands are full of boles. I rumple the river into raw silk, and yet you want to be anywhere but here. Where is the nearest desert? At the heart of a droplet, I bring you a grain of sand from the Sahara, if you will just look up. But you hunch in the doorway of an English church. Though it's locked, I've wormed my way in without a key: frescoes peel from walls in my presence but—wet rat shaking on the steps, trying to make yourself smaller— you don't bend on drenched knee to me. Under a leaky canopy of leaves, collar turned up, chin against chest— how clumsily you swim the thick wet air, though you're mostly water. I dampen the bare skin at the nape of your neck. You don't love me, but the roses do. From thorn to thorn, I lick my way. -Debora Greger Kenyon Review

24: Rain Rain again, cold hard rain preparing for us a table set with one empty plate, a glass brimming with icy water. Without their portion of sun, shadows too give up their thin claim to life, their old mime of dancing, of desire. I close the shades and try to live by artificial light— fluorescent wince, the jaundiced tinge of old bulbs. But the sound of rain beats like a heart galloping towards some final destination— the kind of sound percussions make— cymbals and drums— just before the last chord ushers the audience to silence. - Linda Pastan Great River Review

25: The World Ends in Rain not in radiant light, or the low focus of flowers and grass in the wind. A steady downpour, sky heaving parts to match my own, counterpart of cold tears and everything turning to mud. Soft darkness hiding the whole world, no flame and smash to mark desire. A girl in a yellow coat struggles with a black balloon, and around her the wind soughs and the heavens weep as she turns a comer onto a street that leads only to another street, and is lost from view. White and black moths spin along lamps listening for what comes next: a new place in the artificial light and all we have in this room of heavy, failing glister closing in upon itself, protecting what is felt and is no longer there. -Tracy Sitterly Great River Review

26: Spring and Fall To a Young Child Margaret, are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving Leaves, like the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Ah! as the heart grows older It will come to such sights colder By and by, nor spare a sigh Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you will weep and know why. Now no matter, child, the name: Sorrow's springs are the same. Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed What heart heard of, ghost guessed: It is the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for. -Gerard Manly Hopkins An Intro to Poetry-p.428

27: TO AUTUMN Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells. Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers: And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep Steady thy laden head across a brook; Or by a cyder-press, with patient look, Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue; Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. - John Keats An Intro to Poetry-p.434

28: Spring and All By the road to the contagious hospital under the surge of the blue mottled clouds driven from the northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the waste of broad, muddy fields brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen patches of standing water the scattering of tall trees All along the road the reddish purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy stuff of bushes and small trees with dead, brown leaves under them leafless vines— Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches— They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind— Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined— It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf But now the stark dignity of entrance—Still, the profound change has come upon them: rooted they grip down and begin to awaken -William Carlos William An Intro to Poetry-p.471

29: The Snow Man One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to think Of any misery in the sound of the wind, In the sound of a few leaves, Which is the sound of the land Full of the same wind That is blowing in the same bare place For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is. -Wallace Stevens An Intro to Poetry-p.236

30: Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now, of my threescore years and ten, Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more. And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow. -A. E. Housman An Intro to Poetry-p.430

31: The Wind The wind stood up and gave a shout. He whistled on his fingers and Kicked the withered leaves about And thumped the branches with his hand And said that he'd kill and kill, And so he will and so he will. - James Stephens An Intro to Poetry-p.113

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