Pulitzer Poetry 100

Pulitzer Poetry 100

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You left North Haven, anchored in its rock, afloat in mystic blue...And now—you’ve left for good. You can’t derange or re-arrange, your poems again. (But the Sparrows can their song.) The words won’t change again. Sad friend, you cannot change.…

The Fulton St. Foodtown is playing Motown and I’m surprised at how quickly my daughter picks up the tune. And soon the two of us, plowing rows of goods steeped in fructose under light thick as corn oil, are singing Baby, I need your lovin’, unconscious of the lyrics’ foreboding. My happy child riding high in the shopping cart as if she’s cruising the polished aisles on a tractor laden with imperishable foodstuffs. Her cornball father enthusiastically prompting with spins and flourishes and the double-barrel fingers of the gunslinger’s pose...…

Bring only what you must carry—tome of memory, its random blank pages. On the dock where you board the boat for Ship Island, someone will take your picture: the photograph—who you were— will be waiting when you return.…

From Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning, please come flying. In a cloud of fiery pale chemicals, please come flying, to the rapid rolling of thousands of small blue drums descending out of the mackerel sky over the glittering grandstand of harbor-water, please come flying.…

Raise your eyes along the spires of Green-Wood Cemetery or stand on the ball fields of Brooklyn College in Hopperesque light. Quaker Parrots will appear to you like the visions of St. Francis, lift the snatches of sound woven to make their voices and call to you from their nests, a nation of cheer trumpets and conch shells, a frenzied population of twitching, toes. They seduce us not simply with their tropical verve...…

I returned to a country battlefield where colored troops fought and died— Port Hudson where their bodies swelled and blackened beneath the sun—unburied until earth’s green sheet pulled over them, unmarked by any headstones.…

In Worcester, Massachusetts, I went with Aunt Consuelo to keep her dentist’s appointment and sat and waited for her in the dentist’s waiting room. It was winter. It got dark early. The waiting room was full of grown-up people, arctics and overcoats, lamps and magazines.…

Note the confection of your body salt on the breeze, the corn- silk sky. Olmstead’s signature archways and meadows. Kite strings tensing the load of a saddle- backed wind. This is Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where limbs tickle and jounce as if ice cubes shiver along the shirtsleeves of evergreens. Pond water whispers, and the echoes of Yankee fifes linger in wind and in the shirring jazz hands of leaves, and those shirts, the skins, the human retinue converging on the uneven playing fields...…

Ahead of her, days of travel, one town after the next, and California—a word she can’t stop repeating. Over and over she will practice meeting her father, imagine how he must look, how different now from the one photo she has of him. She will look once more, pulling into the station at Los Angeles, and then again and again on the platform, no one like him in sight.…

The weather came over this low knoll, west to east, before there was a word for leaf-fall, before there were any leaves. Weathers will nuzzle and preen whatever earthwork we leave here. And we know now, don’t we, that we will be leaving, by fire or ice, our own or His, or at the very worst, nobody’s. May that be a long time off. Now, it is our hill for debating. The dome at the top of the hill, heavy with reference, is iron out of the soil, yearned up as if it were white stone, the way for a time our thought and rhetoric yearned upward. Here our surrogates sit. It is almost too much for them, some days, to make the world go around. They are urged to clean it, to sully it more grandly, To let…
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