In this poem, the poet interprets an ordinary scene in his own highly unique way. Few would see poetry in such an occurance. Poetry is truly a personal experience.
Here I am
on a subway station bench next to two teens, one pretty, one not: the pretty one keeps saying how much she’ll miss the unpretty one, kissing her cheeks, while the unpretty one looks down at her lap saying no you won’t no you won’t until the train comes and on goes the pretty one still smiling, twirling her red plastic clutch, singing goodbye I’ll call you, and the unpretty one just sits here like a stone, even after the train is gone, even after I write this down.
Anna Akhmatova is a poet who lived in Russia at the turn of the last century and led a life that was full of hardship and tragedy. Here is a poem that uses tight language and great imagery and reflects the difficult life that was hers. This poem was originally written in Russian but nothing seems lost in translation.
And the stone word fell On my still-living breast. Never mind, I was ready. I will manage somehow.
Today I have so much to do: I must kill memory once and for all, I must turn my soul to stone, I must learn to live again—
Unless . . . Summer's ardent rustling Is like a festival outside my window. For a long time I've foreseen this Brilliant day, deserted house.
I always wonder what creatures wander in the snow at night, too. The results always tell in the morning.
December Moon Before going to bed After a fall of snow I look out on the field Shining there in the moonlight So calm, untouched and white Snow silence fills my head After I leave the window. Hours later near dawn When I look down again The whole landscape has changed The perfect surface gone Criss-crossed and written on Where the wild creatures ranged While the moon rose and shone. Why did my dog not bark? Why did I hear no sound There on the snow-locked ground In the tumultuous dark? How much can come, how much can go When the December moon is bright, What worlds of play we'll never know Sleeping away the cold white night After a fall of snow.
Ted Kooser is one of my favorite poets. He is a master at extracting the extraordinary from out of the ordinary. He is a verbal artist, crafting still lifes and capturing gesture with words. Here, as in many great poems, Kooser takes two things, a spiral notebook and growing old, and blends them together into one theme and comes up with a masterful and lasting work of art.
A Spiral Notebook The bright wire rolls like a porpoise in and out of the calm blue sea of the cover, or perhaps like a sleeper twisting in and out of his dreams, for it could hold a record of dreams if you wanted to buy it for that though it seems to be meant for more serious work, with its college-ruled lines and its cover that states in emphatic white letters, 5 SUBJECT NOTEBOOK. It seems a part of growing old is no longer to have five subjects, each demanding an equal share of attention, set apart by brown cardboard dividers, but instead to stand in a drugstore and hang on to one subject a little too long, like this notebook you weigh in your hands, passing your fingers over its surfaces as if it were some kind of wonder.
Beautiful poetry happens when the poet takes two seemingly
unrelated events and intertwines them together such that we come to realize
indeed how similar each really is. This poem leaves us with that surprise, as the
poet masterfully weaves two unique incidents together.