Fortress of Legos

"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world"

Atlantic Elegy

Julie Marie Wade

We see a little farther now and a little farther still

—C. D. Wright


I ask the rain to remit, but not because I am ungrateful
A raincheck for the rain—is such a thing possible?

In Florida, even the cold is warm by comparison
We sit at the ocean’s lip as it licks the sand from our toes

Consider instead—the terrifying beauty of alternative


I ask the sun to pumice our faces, blind us humble and good
Incumbent sun, so long accustomed to winning the stars’ wars

Consider although—like trying to whistle with a mouth full of Saltines

We only know what we know
We only see what we see


I ask the space to persist after the hyphen that separates
Birth from death, to leave the parenthesis like a gap tooth

Then to no one in particular, I say: What age is not a tender age?


This hapless haptic misses her Blackberry
Such tender buttons, were they not?
The tiny Underwood slick inside her pocket


I ask the lifeguard not to hang the purple flag
For jellyfish and sting rays and the floating terror

Imagine if that were your name!

Also answers to: bluebottle, Physalia physalis, man-of-war


Consider except—Luminara of a word—bag of sand with a light inside

Synonym for human perhaps?


I am not opposed to the idea of being lost—
like the red balloon, Mylar with a silver underside—
buoyed along these stubby waves

Consider forever—which is a trick command

A seagull tugs the string of the beached balloon
You see it more clearly now: a webbed design, the visage of Spiderman


When the rain comes, it is warm kisses, little white beads

Grown-ups stick their tongues out like children do
It’s not over till it’s over—and then, too soon

The thought of death makes us powerless.


The neighbor’s buddy watching my screen through the window

francine j. harris

Because the tube is turned to the window, the neighbor’s buddy coughs
a cough of pigeons. a hack of grackle. a bird out the window. It’s like

the neighbor’s buddy on my ledge, smoking. The neighbor’s chum in             the blinds,
the eyes that peer, the eyes that open. propped and sunglassed. a kind

of smoking blackbird, an inveterate

tombirder. His leather wings are splayed. his rock in the cold. He has             one foot on ice porch
and one foot wiggle. one foot rockerbird. a one-foot band. His cough is           the cough

of the myriad smoker, the murder of smoker. There is quiver of                       murder. His cough
is the cough of a white boy, northern. of a Michigan leather. of the                   white boy jacket,

his leather like hair. The air is gray like cig smoke. gray like ash.
gray with the onset of northern porchlike spring and its porchstep rain.         Wet

and snowy, the neighbor, his buddy in leather. like me, in leather. In a           wet snow,
rocking. in a porch band leather. leather in April. April wet and still,               one foot to the other.

There are a lot of reasons I love this poem, not least because it was inspired by Northern MI. The birds are people and people as birds, so well done.

I Shall not Care

Sara Teasdale

When I am dead and over me bright April
      Shakes out her rain-drenched hair,
Tho’ you should lean above me broken-hearted,
      I shall not care.
I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful
      When rain bends down the bough,
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted
      Than you are now.

What a glorious middle finger to the world this poem is.

The Sluice

Paul Celan

Over all this
grief of yours: no
second heaven


To a mouth
for which it was a thousandword
lost —
I lost a word
that was left to me:

I lost a word that sought me:

the sluice I had to go,
to salvage the word back into
and out of and across the salt flood:

This might be the last one. I won’t be sorry if it’s not though, these are a pretty incredible way to start the day. If you don’t know what any of the words in this poem mean, LOOK THEM UP. I included handy little hyperlinks if you’re too lazy to type the words into Google yourself. Knowing what those (and any) words mean (in every poem) is crucial to actually understanding the significance and depth of the poem.


Paul Celan

With all my thoughts I went
right out of the world: there you were,
you my gentle one, you my open one, and —
you took us in.

says it all died out for us
when our eye dimmed?
It all awoke, all started up.

Huge, a sun came drifting, bright
against it stood soul and soul, clear,
they forced a silence in its path.

your womb opened up, softly
a breath rose in the air
and what turned to cloud — wasn’t it,
wasn’t it a shape and of our making,
was it not
as good as a name?

Another Celan poem. The first and last stanza of this poem are everything I want.

Matière de Bretagne

Paul Celan

Gorselight, yellow, the slopes
fester heavenward, a thorn
woos the wound, bells are tolling
inland, it’s evening, nothingness
swells its seas to devotions,
the blood sail bears down on you.

Parched, the riverbed
silted behind you, its hour
choked by reeds, up above
near the star, the milky
channels gab in the mud, stone-mussels
tufted below gape into the blue, a bush
of transience, beauteous,
greets your memory.

(Did you know me,
hands? I walked
the forked path you pointed out, my mouth
spat its gravel, I walked, my time,
a wandering snow-wall, cast its shadow — did you know me?)

Hands, thorn
wooing the wound, bells tolling,
hands, nothingness, its seas,
hands, in gorselight, the
blood sail
bears down on you.

you teach
you teach your hands
you teach your hands you teach
you teach your hands
to sleep

I’m still on this kick. Sorry if you weren’t prepared. Read his work in quiet, with focus.


Paul Celan

No one kneads us again out of earth and clay,
no one incants our dust.
No one.

Blessèd art thou, No One.
In thy sight would
we bloom.
In thy

A Nothing
we were, are now, and ever
shall be, blooming:
the Nothing-, the

I’ve been making my way through his Selected Poems and Prose for far too long now, but if I don’t slow down, I miss so much. These poems are tremendous, in the smallest and awful way possible. Which is a reflection on his subject matter, NOT his work.

For Sale

Margo Taft Stever

My childhood house is stripped,
bared, open to the public.
The for-sale sign impales

the front pasture, grass
is cut and prim, no trimmings
left to save.

Women in sable parade
through halls and men in
tailored suits talk about

dimensions. They don’t know
lizards present themselves
on the basement stairs or worms

dapple pears in the orchard.
Doors of rabbit hutches
hang from hinges and rust

scratches on rust in wind, noise
unheard by workers who
remodel the old farmhouse

into an Italian villa painted peach.
Death can empty a house of shoes
worn and new, of children

who climbed the grandfather
trees, impressing outlines like fossils
littering the banks of the creek.

Entirely nostalgic, I’m in love with the enjambment in this poem.

Meditation for the Silence of Morning

Adam Clay

I wake myself imagining the shape
of the day and where I will find

myself within it. Language is not often
in that shape,

but sentences survive somehow
through the islands of dark matter,

the negative space often more important
than the positive.

Imagine finding you look at the world
completely different upon waking one day.

You do not know if this is permanent.
Anything can change, after all,

for how else would you find yourself
in this predicament or this opportunity,

depending on the frame? A single thought
can make loneliness seem frighteningly new.

We destroy the paths of rivers to make room for the sea.

My new favorite poem.


Carl Adamshick

My dream lives close to my lungs.
Sometimes I feel it as a pen
spilling ink in the dark purse
of my breathing. My body
lives here in Colorado,
in an apartment with a few plants.
I am what the experts refer to
as history, a small totality
making its way to the future.
In the evening, I inherit death
as an idea, as a subject I’ll be tested on.
Mid-afternoons, I take long walks.
I live by myself as the state lives
by itself in borders it had nothing
to do with. I, too, have a river.
If you ask, I’ll tell you all about the light.

Adamshick was striving for empathy in this poem, and he found it. This is a beautiful poem.