Weekly Poems #1

 

1. NIGHT LETTER TO THE READER by Billy Collins

I get up from the tangled bed and go outside,
a bird leaving its nest,
a snail taking a holiday from its shell,

but only to stand on the lawn,
an ordinary insomniac
amid the growth systems of garden and woods.

If I were younger, I might be thinking
about something I heard at a party,
about an unusual car,

or the press of a Saturday night,
but as it is, I am simply conscious,
an animal in pajamas,

sensing only the pale humidity
of the night and the slight zephyrs
that stir the tops of trees.

The dog has followed me out
and stands a little ahead,
her nose lifted as if she were inhaling

the tall white flowers,
visible tonight in the darkened garden,
and there was something else I wanted to tell you,

something about the warm orange light,
in the windows of the house,
but now I am wondering if you are even listening

and why I bother to tell you these things
that will never make a difference,
flecks of ash, tiny chips of ice.

But this is all I want to do--
tell you that up in the woods
a few night birds were calling,

the grass was cold and wet on my bare feet,
and that at one point, the moon,
looking like the top of Shakespeare's

famous forehead,
appeared, quite unexpectedly,
illuminating a band of moving clouds.

 

2. THINGS ARE SUCH by Rumi

Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
or watching the rain, petting a dog,

or singing, just singing--could be doing as
much for this universe as anyone.

 

3. START CLOSE IN by David Whyte

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people's questions,
don't let them
smother something
simple.

To find
another's voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
listening
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don't follow
someone else's
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don't mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don't take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

 

4. THE JOURNEY by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried. 
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

 

5. THE TYPE by Sarah Kay

 

6. DETAIL OF THE WOODS by Richard Siken

I looked at all the trees and didn't know what to do.

A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn't be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon.

From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale.

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.

Your body told me in a dream it's never been afraid of anything.