American Life in Poetry

American Life in Poetry: Column 264

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Wendy Videlock lives in western Colorado, where a person can stop to study what an owl has left behind without being run over by a taxi.

 

The Owl

Beneath her nest,
a shrew's head,
a finch's beak
and the bones
of a quail attest

the owl devours
the hour,
and disregards
the rest.

American Life in Poetry: Column 263

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Music lessons, well, maybe 80 out of every 100 of us had them, once, and a few of us went on to play our chosen instruments all our lives. But the rest of us? I still own a set of red John Thompson piano books that haven’t been opened since about 1950. Here Jill Bialosky, who lives in New York City, captures the atmosphere of one of those lessons.

 

Music Is Time

American Life in Poetry: Column 262

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

When we hear news of a flood, that news is mostly about the living, about the survivors. But at the edges of floods are the dead, too. Here Michael Chitwood, of North Carolina, looks at what’s floating out there on the margins.


The Coffins

American Life in Poetry: Column 261

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

All over this country, marriage counselors and therapists are right now speaking to couples about unspoken things. In this poem, Andrea Hollander Budy, an Arkansas poet, shows us one of those couples, suffering from things done and undone.

 

Betrayal

American Life in Poetry: Column 260

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

These days are brim full of bad news about our economy—businesses closing, people losing their houses, their jobs. If there’s any comfort in a situation like this, it’s in the fact that there’s a big community of sufferers. Here’s a poem by Dana Bisignani, who lives in Indiana, that describes what it feels like to sit through a bankruptcy hearing.


Bankruptcy Hearing

American Life in Poetry: Column 259

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Wisconsin writer Freya Manfred is not only a fine poet but the daughter of the late Frederick Manfred, a distinguished novelist of the American west. Here is a lovely snapshot of her father, whom I cherished among my good friends.


Green Pear Tree in September

American Life in Poetry: Column 258

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

This marks the fourth time we’ve published a poem by David Baker, one of my favorite writers. Baker lives in Granville, Ohio, and teaches at Denison University. He is also the poetry editor for the distinguished Kenyon Review.

Old Man Throwing a Ball

American Life in Poetry: Column 257

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Often when I dig some change out of my jeans pocket to pay somebody for something, the pennies and nickels are accompanied by a big gob of blue lint. So it’s no wonder that I was taken with this poem by a Massachusetts poet, Gary Metras, who isn’t embarrassed.

 

Lint

American Life in Poetry: Column 256


BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A poem is an experience like any other, and we can learn as much or more about, say, an apple from a poem about an apple as from the apple itself. Since I was a boy, I’ve been picking up things, but I’ve never found a turtle shell until I found one in this poem by Jeff Worley, who lives in Kentucky.

 

On Finding a Turtle Shell in Daniel Boone National Forest

American Life in Poetry: Column 255

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A honeymoon. How often does one happen according to the dreams that preceded it? In this poem, Wesley McNair, a poet from Maine, describes a first night of marriage in a tawdry place. But all’s well that ends well.

 

For My Wife