Grace Paley (poem & photograph).

HERE

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

Grace Paley by Sylvia Plachy
Photo of Grace Paley in Vermont, taken by Sylvia Plachy
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“To be of use” by Marge Piercy.

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

“How To Be a Poet” by Wendell Berry.

How To Be A Poet

i
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

— Wendell Berry

SPRINGPOEM

All of a sudden, the yellowing—

coltsfoot
dandelions
forsythia
daffodils

& the chickening—

the neighbor’s chalkboard sign reads
FREE ROOSTERS
the other neighbor’s pullets
test their babywings out front

& the neon-greening—

the leafing out
leaves like fingers spreading into hands
the hillsides like a fabric
of chlorophyll’s talents

& the perennials—

the miracle of having only
to plant something once
to receive its joys
each year

Taryn Day Daffodils in a Jar 2011
Daffodils in a Jar by Taryn Day

Poems: now available!

People always ask me if they can buy my book, and I’m always like, “Oh yeah, I have these beautiful books I made, I should definitely make them available online somewhere so you can get one.” But then I never do it!

Well, I did it.

Handmade chapbooks of poems are here.

Poetry broadsides are here.

(Email me if you want to barter for either. US dollars are nice to have, but so is other people’s art.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be going. I’m going to have a baby in about one minute, and there are a few more things that I should tend to before that arrival.

POEMS by Taylor Mardis Katz

Rural miracle (poem) (mine).

Driving through Vermont today
Monday::latemorning::pregnant
& the rural miracle
is 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” on the radio

mixed into another cut
from “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”
which I know all the words to::which I am trying
to do myself

Riches so far include
these leaves finally turning bright
homemade deli pickles in the basement
healthy body::& family::& friends

but otherwise financially [technically] speaking
riches do not abound
especially right now
[[I worry::I try not to worry::I worry about it]]

The baby bounces with me
in the truck which bounces
at speeds higher than 50
[something that needs fixing]

[[like the other car
which is also broken]] [dead battery]
Today I will be invited as a guest on a radio show
Today I will buy myself the purple asters I covet

I can’t get out of chairs easily::or gracefully
Even women help me now at stores
In stretchy black & sagegreen clothes
I hustle forward with this baby beneath my skin

Like 50 I have 21 questions [[about birth::& life]]
I try to breathe like the articles tell me to
I fail::I thrive::I fail again::I’m fueled
by gasoline & fresh-dug beets & beliefs I can’t explain

“Pregnancy is hands-free” (poem) (mine)

Pregnancy is hands-free

I’m growing a child while I sleep
I’m growing a child while I weed the lavender
I’m growing a child while I fill the ice cube trays
I’m growing a child while I wipe down the toilet
I’m growing a child while I organize headbands I never wear
I’m growing a child while I edit Spotify playlists
I’m growing a child while I throw out all my underwear with holes
I’m growing a child while I water the geraniums
I’m growing a child while I add more salt to the pesto
I’m growing a child while I bobby-pin my hair
I’m growing a child while I remove dirt from my fingernails

I’m growing a child while the maples slip into their best red outfits, while the mornings dampen with mist, while I pack cucumbers and hot peppers into jars, while I bag corn and blackberries and peppers for the freezer, while I simmer plum compote and pick the last batch of cosmos, while the cows enjoy their last spin around the paddocks, while I braid the garlic and wrap the yarrow in string, while summer unzips her skirt and throws it atop the yellowing milkweed, the New England asters, the spent blossoms of Queen Anne—