Pulitzer Poetry 100

Pulitzer Poetry 100

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Out on the high "bird islands," Ciboux and Hertford, the razorbill auks and the silly-looking puffins all stand with their backs to the mainland in solemn, uneven lines along the cliff's brown grass-frayed edge, while the few sheep pastured there go "Baaa, baaa." (Sometimes, frightened by aeroplanes, they stampede and fall over into the sea or onto the rocks.)…


...We’ve troubled the stones to stand up here in attitudes of serenity, our guesses at un-trouble, what that must be like. (These are short whiles, To a stone’s way of thinking.) Meanwhile, Munch and Noguchi and a long deposit of the sweetest troublers required this reckless glacier, these knives of stone, these pink prows, and among them, safe hogans of white space.…


All the grave markers, all the crude headstones— water-lost. Now fish dart among their bones, and we listen for what the waves intone. Only the fort remains, near forty feet high, round, unfinished, half open to the sky, the elements—wind, rain—God’s deliberate eye.…


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.…

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