“Heavy” by Mary Oliver (repost)

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

— “Heavy” by Mary Oliver from Thirst. Originally posted here January 25, 2014.

“Poetry Punishes You for Your Absence” by Julianna Baggott

She’s not an easy lover who simply
tilts her head when you appear on the front stoop.

You hope the porch light will cast heavenly redemption
like a church-basement Christmas pageant.

No, there’s scowling, silence. And when finally
she takes you to the tub to wash away the world’s filth,

you’re always shocked, no matter how many times
you’ve strayed, that she doesn’t gently cup your head,

but dunks it, again and again,
a baptism that just won’t take.

“Poetry Punishes You for Your Absence” published in Compulsions of Silk Worms and Bees, (LSU Press) by Julianna Baggott. Copyright © 2007 by Julianna Baggott.

“A Sunset” by Ari Banias

I watch a woman take a photo
of a flowering tree with her phone.
A future where no one will look at it,
perpetual trembling which wasn’t
and isn’t. I have taken photos of a sunset.
In person, “wow” “beautiful”
but the picture can only be
as interesting as a word repeated until emptied.
I think I believe this.
Sunset the word holds more than a photo could.
Since it announces the sun then puts it away.
We went to the poppy preserve
where the poppies were few but generous clumps
of them grew right outside the fence
like a slightly cruel lesson.
I watched your face, just out of reach.
The flowers are diminished by the lens.
The woman tries and tries to make it right
bending her knees, tilting back.
I take a photo of a sunset, with flash.
I who think I have something
to learn from anything learned nothing from the streetlight
that shines obnoxiously into my bedroom.
This is my photo of a tree in bloom.
A thought unfolding
across somebody’s face.

Copyright © 2016 by Ari Banias. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets. Ari Banias is the author of Anybody (W. W. Norton, 2016). He lives in Berkeley, California.

“I was thinking about our insistence on capturing and memorializing the present as a refusal of the present. And I was thinking about the emphatic little cliché a nature photo so often is, a cliché I find hard to refuse.” —Ari Banias


“To the Student Who Asked Why He Earned a ‘C’ on an Essay about Love” by Clint Margrave

For my friends who enjoy listening to poems, especially for Jean and Michelle who hoped I would record some in my own voice. Assuming you don’t hate my voice, I will try to do more from time to time.


Because love has its own grammar,
its own sentences,
some that run-on too long,
others just fragments.
It uses a language
not always appropriate
or too informal,
and often lacks clarity.

Love is punctuated all wrong,
changes tenses abruptly,
relies heavily
on the first person,
can be redundant,
awkward,
full of unnecessary repetition.

Every word is compounded.
Every phrase, transitional.

Love doesn’t always know the difference
between lie and lay,
its introductions sometimes
lack a well-developed thesis,
its claims go unfounded,
its ad-hominem attacks
call in question
its authority.

With a style that’s inconsistent,
a voice either too critical
or too passive,
love is a rough draft
in constant need of revision,
whose conclusion
rarely gives any sense
of closure,
or reveals the lingering
possibilities of a topic
that always expects high praise,
and more often than not
fails to be anything
but average.

“To the Student Who Asked Why He Earned a ‘C’ on an Essay about Love” by Clint Margrave from Salute the Wreckage. © NYQ Books, 2016.


For Jean and others who may have had problems playing the audio file up top. This is it in another format:

Student earned c on love essay poem (audio link)