what poetry I need today


as far as I remember, changed
in no detail, the moment
vivid, intact, having never been
exposed to light, so that I woke elated, at my age
hungry for life, utterly confident—
– from “Vita Nova,” Louise Glück

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

The puppy is in her sleeping place and I am in my morning room. The passion flower vine bursts open with a new face every daybreak. This morning I have thin decaf and an achy body that wants to move. This morning I am ready to go dancing. This morning I am ready to give everything up. It is late — the sun is already well up over the hills. The sourdough starter bubbles on the countertop, the birds push their morning songs into the traffic-clotted air. I am a tangle of nerve endings and possibility. Something inside me is ready to jump. I put dry fingers to the keyboard, then pull them away. The pen sits idly on the blank paper, ready for me to try another way. What majesty do we have to offer into the world? What sunlight can issue forth from us that can compare to the sharp dazzle of the hummingbird’s rubythroat flashing alongside the green knives of the firecracker lily? How can poetry find you if you’re not interested in sitting down? Give me a poetry with musculature, with tendon and bone. Give me a poetry that moves, a poetry that crowds itself all the way off the page. Give me a poetry willing to run alongside me, willing to catch up, willing to take my hand and pull me on when I’m tired, give me a poetry that can keep up. Give me a poetry that wants leaps in in the air, fissures morning, tears all the assumptions asunder. Give me a poetry that haggles the bees, that tempts the mockingbirds, that horns in on shame, that will whisper louder than the voices of loss clotting my eardrums. Give me a poetry that drapes itself about my shoulders, that pushes itself through my earlobes and elbows, that wants all of my attention. Give me a poetry that won’t be ignored. Give me a poetry that stands up on the table, kicks over the glasses of tea, steps in the butter and avocado with its dirty workboots, and takes all of our breath away. Give me a poetry that’s rude and demanding. Give me a poetry that breaks things, breaks in, sidles and insists, claims, orates, and relinquishes. Give me a poetry for today.

6 responses to “what poetry I need today

  1. Wonderful, Sivan — thank you so much for sharing these! I look forward to checking out the Saturday Poetry series!

  2. Sorry, the HTML got all messed up in my previous post. Here it is in low-tech English:

    I don’t know of a poetry that does all those things, but I do know of some poetry that does some of those things incredibly well, and may, in combination, meet all of the above:

    – Ocean Vuong (Burnings, NO, and any discreet poems you find on the internet)
    – Kate Durbin’s The Ravenous Audience
    – Ruth Forman’s Prayers Like Shoes
    – Danusha Laméris’ The Moons of August
    – Li-Young Lee’s Rose (an oldie but a goodie)

    You can find excerpts from all of these poets via the search bar at asitoughttobe.com, courtesy of the Saturday Poetry Series I edit. I’d love to have you as a reader!

    Sivan Butler-Rotholz
    Editor, Saturday Poetry Series
    As It Ought To Be

  3. I don’t know of a poetry that does all those things, but I do know of some poetry that does some of those things incredibly well, and may, in combination, meet all of the above:
    – Ocean Vuong (Burnings, , and any discreet poems you find on the internet)
    – Kate Durbin’s

    – Ruth Forman’s

    – Danusha Laméris’

    – Li-Young Lee’s
    (an oldie but a goodie)

  4. Beautiful, beautiful– thank you!

  5. I’m moved to offer this. Hoping it answers your call.

    Prayer

    In the early morning light
    of this day
    I sit
    and begin
    with hands tender and trembling
    extracting the tiny stones
    lodged deep beneath my skin
    seeds planted
    years ago and since
    the weight
    and time spent
    waiting to be extinguished
    on my knees
    in the dirt
    of what mattered most

    Standing
    a collection of these seeds
    held
    fingers curled
    reaching for soil
    a replanting of everything
    I can get my hands on

  6. Give me that poetry, too.