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PQ Poem

For James Wright

You write about shyness the shyness of daylight along the Ohio River like a girl brushing her hair in a boarding house looking for privacy— in one of your poems morning arrives naked uncomfortable shivering in the valley offering only a glimpse of herself to ironworkers electricians millwrights carpenters for the first time like a …

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Avalon Creek

Slung over one sturdy branch hung low but high enough Swing that rode June skies for months that flung us up and out Above cool awnings shaded trees swing that bent the back of oaks Thick rope wound tight knotted twine stolen from Clarence Weingartner’s barn Strung by brothers sworn enemies awful boys Frayed ends …

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Sleeping Apart

Sometimes he decides to sleep in the spare room & there is a part of me glad. He wants the TV on I don’t. We both snore & bother each other with it. He says I steal covers, I say he moves past middle if I get up for the bathroom In summer, there are …

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Zen or the Art of Trying Harder

When the yoga instructor tells me to relax, she uses the word Vinyasa, and that almost helps, as I unfold the jigsaw puzzle of my body, the old house of my bones, creaking. But it’s ok, because this is gentle yoga, meditation for the inflexible. And I know this act has something to do with …

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Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)

When I was 18 years old and knew next to nothing about poetry besides Bill Wordsworth and Ed Poe, my composition teacher passed a photocopy of one of your poems out to our class and it changed my life. I knew I hadn’t ever read a poem quite like it before. It seemed like everywhere …

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I Knew I Wasn’t Poor

I knew I wasn’t poor, because I had a choice: buy tampons or birth control pills. I shoplifted. When I opened the oven door, splitting the closet-sized kitchen in half, my only plan was heat. The ice smooth on the inside of the windows, the no money to pay the bill. I knew I wasn’t …

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Home Movies

i. That severe unspoken savor she’d bring with her To the table, family gatherings after grace, Your plate filled, as always, With whatever had passed through her hands— The aunt who’d married wearing weeds, A black-clad Bride of Christ. Mantle, habit, scapular, guimpe . . . No wonder we called them penguins. In school they …

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