Pulitzer Poetry 100

Pulitzer Poetry 100

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...like Joanna saying Mother, we’re Afro-Americans now! What did she know about Africa? Were there lakes like this one with a rowboat pushed under the pier? Or Thomas’ Great Mississippi with its sullen silks? (There was the Nile but the Nile belonged to God.) Where she came from was the past, 12 miles into town where nobody had locked their back door, and Goodyear hadn’t begun to dream of a park under the company symbol, a white foot sprouting two small wings.…


There in Key West, the singer lies asleep, perhaps under a fan, after playing late at the café. They kept her playing and singing by the edge of the warm gulf (after she’d watched the sun drop into it, staying to cup Hesperus in her small hands against the wind that rises suddenly then, Until his flame caught) – they wouldn’t let her stop at one o’clock. Now the current runs past the island very fast as if in panic. But the trees flower calmly in the heat outside her house.…


sea-lions and birds, sun through fog flaps up and lolling, looks you dead in the eye. sun haze; a long tanker riding light and high.…


If the parrots followed Geronimo from Guadaloupe in a dream could we imagine that frantic air now where Route 66 Casino rises on red pylons that hold up the skittering dice and the breeze of the shuffle as we drive into the wager and stakes of High Limits, the wheels of fortune spinning, the cash-out buttons popping, simulacra of feathers, silver, beads, the blur of pots in the rearview mirror.…


Where the two rivers come together – one cold, one desert-warm – the party beached the raft to swim. A blue aileron, looking new, lay on the bank and Dennis put his shirt and bluejeans in it, out of the wind that had blown his hat away. Across the canyon, silver in the sun, the fuselage glinted. The wreck was ten years old, two liners that had come together in broad day, dropping their metal feathers and two tribes of travelers who settled then where the wind told them to settle.…


In 1965 my parents broke two laws of Mississippi; they went to Ohio to marry, returned to Mississippi. They crossed the river into Cincinnati, a city whose name begins with a sound like sin, the sound of wrong—mis in Mississippi.…


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.…

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