“Sitting in the Cell Phone Waiting Lot at the San Francisco Airport, Awaiting My Father’s Arrival, I Write a Poem on the Day of Prince’s Death” by Dean Rader

Every streetlight is a slightly different hue
of white the squares like the blank faces of robots

offer the Hondas and Toyotas idling in the lot something
like hope and yet I am thinking of all of the people on the planes

landing and taking off the twin miracles of arrival and departure
each of them singing “Take Me With You” whether they know

the song or not they are all singing: the pilots the flight attendants
the air traffic controllers the baggage handlers the men and women

with those colored sticks that look like little light sabers
guiding the planes out to the runway where everyone on board leaves

everyone behind and lifts once more into darkness
which is to say that the dead are tired of all the dying and yet it seems

never to stop the most recent plane crash was only seven
days ago when a Sunbird Aviation plane slammed

into the ground just before landing killing all passengers
when I fly I often think about what people do or say

seconds before impact no doubt believing they will somehow
survive that this can’t possibly be the end not me not now not like this

but not my father who is I believe asleep on the plane as the complex physics
of lift keep his steel machine of 75 tons buoyant in the blackness below

God’s feet and even though my father has never heard a song by
Prince Rogers Nelson he finds himself mouthing I don’t care pretty baby

as the jet is slapped by turbulence and he begins to fear for the first
time on this journey but mostly because he starts to believe that flight

is a metaphor for life and that just like dancing or loving or even
riding in an elevator we never know what determines if we fall

Dean Rader’s Works & Days won the 2010 T.S. Eliot Prize. The Barnes & Noble Review named Landscape Portrait Figure Form a Best Poetry Book of the Year. Suture with Simone Muench (Black Lawrence Press) and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon) are forthcoming in 2017.

poem and bio via The Awl though I did add the links to Dean’s site and his books at Amazon.

“Take Me With U” performed by Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

“Spring” by Mary Oliver

In April the Morgan was bred. I was chased away.
I heard the cries of the horse where I waited,
And the laughter of the men.

Later the farmer who owned the stallion
Found me and said, “She’s done.
You tell your daddy he owes me fifty dollars.”

I rode her home at her leisure
And let her, wherever she wanted,
Tear with her huge teeth, roughly,

Blades from the fields of spring.

From New and Selected Poems, Volume OneBeacon Press.

“Poem” by Denis Johnson

Loving you is every bit as fine
as coming over a hill into the sun
at ninety miles an hour darling when
it’s dawn and you can hear the stars unlocking
themselves from the designs of God beneath
the disintegrating orchestra of my black
Chevrolet. The radio clings to an un-
identified station—somewhere a tango suffers,
and the dance floor burns around two lovers
whom nothing can touch—no, not even death!
Oh! the acceleration with which my heart does proceed,
reaching like stars almost but never quite
of light the speed of light the speed of light.

– Denis Johnson, “Poem,” from The Veil (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985)

“Grief” by Barbara Crooker

is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I’m not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I’m going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.
I don’t want it to grow up, go to school, get married.
It’s mine. Yes, the October sunlight wraps me
in its yellow shawl, and the air is sweet
as a golden Tokay. On the other side,
there are apples, grapes, walnuts,
and the rocks are warm from the sun.
But I’m going to stand here,
growing colder, until every inch
of my skin is numb. I can’t cross over.
Then you really will be gone.


Poem copyright ©2013 by Barbara Crooker, “Grief” (Gold, Cascade Books, 2013).

“Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux (repost)

(read by Christy)

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

~ Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men: Poems

originally posted: 8/30/2014