Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
This Morning Hardcover – March 13, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
About the Author
Michael Ryan is the author of four volumes of poetry, two memoirs, and a collection of essays. He is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of California, Irvine, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
If in the men’s room of our favorite restaurant
while blissfully pissing riserva spumante
I punch the wall because I am so old,
I promise not to punch too carelessly.
Our friend Franco cooks all night and day
to transform blood and bones to osso buco.
He shouldn’t have to clean them off his wall
or worry that a customer gone cuckoo
has mushed his knuckles like a slugger
whose steroid dosage needs a little tweaking.
My life with you has been beyond beyond
and there’s nothing beyond it I’m seeking.
I just don’t want to leave it, and I am
with every silken bite of tiramisu.
I wouldn’t mind being dead
if I could still be with you.
Although he’s only seven, you can pick him out
from other first-graders: he’s the one wearing
a smirk that says, “What are you afraid of?”
maybe also to himself, if he already suspects his fear
won’t ever be crushed no matter what he does.
But he’s got to try. He snatches spiders bare-fingered
to wave in girls’ faces, bites a worm in half
dangling the two ends from his mouth like fangs,
somersault-dismounts from the jungle gym
the other kids climb off of when he climbs on,
and when he lands unhurt there’s that smirk again
that mocks us for our cowardice.
Don’t hate him for it. It is his only happiness.
Where am I going? The grave.
Who am I being? The slave.
What am I leaving? The fun.
Who will be grieving? No one.
How can I touch you? No way.
Will I ever reach you? Someday.
Why do I need you? Ho ho.
Where will I meet you? You know.
MY YOUNG MOTHER
What she couldn’t give me
she gave me those long nights
she sat up with me feverish
and sweating in my sleep
when I had no idea whatsoever
what she had to do to suffer
the pain her body dealt her
to assuage the pain in mine.
That was a noble privacy —
her mothering as a practice of patience.
How deeply it must have stretched her
to watch me all night with her nerves
crying for rest while my fever
spiked under the washcloths
she passed between my forehead
and her dishpan filled with ice.
That was a noble privacy.
But even then there was so much
unsayable between us,
and why this was now looks so
ludicrous in its old costume of shame
that I wish not that she had just
said it but that I hadn’t been
so furious she couldn’t.
The jolt that opened me to you
and shook me to my toes
needs no implanted seismograph
to read how deep it goes
because it’s still rattling me
into this surprise
that the real dream begins
when I open my eyes
to see you so improbably here
and so entirely true
with all our random ducks lined up
for me to marry you
quacking a glorious Gloria
(transcribed into Duck)
to sexy earthy unnerving love
and astonishing good luck.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The thing with poetry is that it's truly a personal experience. One reader may connect with a certain turn of phrase whereas another might consider it trite. And when I read poetry, I try to rate it on its own merits rather than saying one poet or poem is like another, so it might help to know what I look for in poetry.
I prefer poetry that has a steady underlying and unmistakable heartbeat, not necessarily achieved through lyricism, but through syntactical choices. This draws me into the poem. That is where some of Ryan's poems lost me--they had what I'd call chronic cardiac arrhythmia. In some instances it worked for the poem--this slight devation in rhythm--to bring attention to a particular point or theme. But it didn't work in others.
Issues of rhythm aside, I also enjoy lyricism and wordplay. Ryan was masterful at painting a scene and a moment with broad brush strokes as in 'Melanoma Clinic Infusion Center Waiting Area' and 'Here I Am'. A few of his poems were thought-provoking like 'In the Mirror' and clever like 'Mug' and poingnant like 'My Young Mother'. Though a few other poems did graze the surface of gratuitous vulgarity (which is where I say that people either annoyed by or who would rather avoid profanity should skip this collection).Read more ›
'live your values' said a voice
that wasn't a voice at all.
although I heard it on the phone
when I picked up the phone to call
my mother, who died
six months ago.
What was I thinking of?
she's dead. I touched her hands
(a knuckle, really - and very lightly)
as she lay in the silk-lined box.
couldn't kiss her sunken face goodbye
as others were able to.
After I knelt near her a while,
there was nothing else to do
because she needed nothing form me.
How can a life be 'done'?
Done also what life was to her
alone, which no one
else can comprehend,
even (or especially) her son.
Is this why I forgot she's dead
and picked up the phone
to punch in her number
believing she'd answer,
and my brain said what she'd say
to me? Is she not done with me?
This is a formidable piece and a meditation on mortality which I will certainly never forget. Though I admittedly prefer poetry from the aether as they say, I will be on the lookout for what Michael Ryan does in the future.
On attribute of his that is particularly unique and refreshing is his ability to take a subject that is loaded with historic response and switch the emphasis so that the reader takes a different journey with him. For example, in his poem DACHAU we feel ready to revisit the horrors of the camps, but instead the port simply walks though the little village where the inhabitants are more engaged with life as it is now. He inserts the following: 'It means humans can do anything/to one another and go on living' and then he reflects on reading about Iraq and Guantánamo tortures and his subtle point is made.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Michael Ryan is a perfect example of someone who can write a beautiful poem on any subject from the most mundane to a topic as serious as aging and mortality. Read morePublished on April 30, 2013 by Foster Corbin
Another ho-hum dime-a-dozen example of the sort of verse being cranked out by college teachers today in order to get published in the right places. Read morePublished on October 20, 2012 by Jon Corelis
When I read Ryan's poem "The Dog," in the American Poetry Review, I wanted to read more of Ryan's work. Read morePublished on September 25, 2012 by choiceweb0pen0
Michael Ryan's poems focus or recognizable portions of life, from experiences with children to the everyday struggles of middle age. Read morePublished on April 27, 2012 by Russ Mayes
This is the type of poetry that anyone can enjoy. Mr. Ryan's work is simple but not simplistic. Even his seemingly basic poem's can be read either in a simple way or in a way... Read morePublished on March 3, 2012 by K. Cade
Poet Michael Ryan is director of the MFA program in poetry at the University of California and author of five books of poems and a collection of essays. Read morePublished on March 2, 2012 by Glynn Young
Michael Ryan is a much-praised, much-honored poet, and indeed most of the poems in "This Morning" are eminently praiseworthy. Read morePublished on February 18, 2012 by Miles D. Moore
When I first read the poems in this collection, I found a handful I really liked. Those were the poems that took on weightier subjects (like ageing and love). Read morePublished on February 7, 2012 by G. Dawson
Michael Ryan is a mediocre poet. His language is plain and lacking in magic or beauty. His rhyming poems are awkward and unmusical. His topics are often mundane and uninspired. Read morePublished on January 29, 2012 by David Saemann