poetry friday: “America, why are your libraries full of tears?”

November 11, 2016 @ 8:51 am | Filed under:

America this is quite serious.
America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct?
I’d better get right down to the job.
It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway.
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.

—from “America” by Allen Ginsberg

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

—from “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen

Why Poetry Is Viral in the Aftermath

And poetry keeps the intensity and the passion of a point of view, but in a forum where people aren’t hurting each other. It says, “Here’s what it’s like from my point of view.” All you have to do is listen to the poet.

And, in that, you don’t have to be anything other than what you are. The poem is a catalyst where you’re bringing two different kinds of people together. And at its best, when it works, there’s a kind of spark, and everyone comes away illuminated by what the spark has ignited.

Poems to visit today:

Differences of Opinion” by Wendy Cope

Tenacious” by Tanita Davis.

And here’s one from me.

by Melissa Wiley

I have quit romanticizing
small towns. Don’t tell me

somewhere Miss Daisy and the Colonel
sip sweet tea from green glasses.

Don’t say Dog Monday pats its patient
tail on the swept platform.

You know Doc Gibbs is no longer
in network. Behind trim doors fixed eyes

watch what all of us are watching.
Some of the mothers smoke still.

Their strong son the quarterback
snaps his frame: splayed limbs,

fanned hair, the blue dolphin vaulting
off the tanned swell. His swell friends

retweet. Here the wagons are circling.
There is plenty of posterboard.

Six fine pumpkins up the porch steps,
and artful corn husks: pin this. Touchdown

at Grover Cleveland High. Hear the roar
shivering the bruised leaves of the Bradford pears

on Elm Street above the patter of talk
radio. The limp girl among the red cups

under the butternut tree cannot
hear what they are saying in the cities.


This week’s Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Jama’s Alphabet Soup.

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12 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. jama says:

    Powerful and gut wrenching, Melissa. Thanks so much for your poem, the links, the quotes. This week only poetry will do.

  2. Ellie says:

    {{hugs}} and love in solidarity. Tears, too. Joy and hope and faith still present, yes, all that … and yet … I am afraid, too. It feels like being at war.

  3. Ellie says:

    PS the Atlantic link doesn’t work?

  4. tee+d says:

    That Wendy Cope. She’s amazing.

    Thanks for sharing these this week.

  5. Tabatha says:

    So true and well-said about poetry. I’m not surprised that you were moved to write a poem. Hugs to you.

  6. sarah says:

    Powerful poems, and I especially love yours, although it makes my heart ache and seriously I want to cry because you should be able to go on believing in Dog Friday but of course you can’t, at least not at this moment. Me neither. I want to follow the numbers that say responsibility really lies with the rich white folk, but my heart, its going on its own small dark way, and numbers don’t mean much to it right now.

    On a change of subject, have you ever thought of putting together a volume of poetry? You should.

    Hugs and love from across an ocean that feels very narrow these days.

  7. Kortney Garrison says:

    Oh, Leonard!

    This mother could use a cigarette.

  8. Jane @ Raincity Librarian says:

    Never is poetry more important than at times like now. Poetry gives us a voice, and outlet, a way to express ourselves when all we want to do is scream. Thank you for sharing these.

  9. Penny says:

    Phenomenal. Thank you.

  10. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    You are near the end of the roundup, and your post echoes so many others…but your poem. Oh, my. Your poem. I’m afraid of my own small town hometown and I’m afraid FOR them as well. Fall, indeed.

  11. Lindsey says:

    I couldn’t leave the small town I grew up in fast enough. I don’t see a point of reconciliation so I guess I’m glad urbanization is the trend globally. Your poem not only made me sad, it sure did remind me of my childhood hometown…