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180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day Paperback – March 29, 2005
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That hour, I was most myself. I had shrugged
my mother slowly off, I lay there
taking my first breaths, as if
the air of the room was blowing me
like a bubble. All I had to do
was go out along the line of my gaze and back,
out and back, on gravity’s silk, the
pressure of the air a caress, smelling on my
self her creamy blood. The air
was softly touching my skin and tongue,
entering me and drawing forth the little
sighs I did not know as mine.
I was not afraid. I lay in the quiet
and looked, and did the wordless thought,
my mind was getting its oxygen
direct, the rich mix by mouth.
I hated no one. I gazed and gazed,
and everything was interesting, I was
free, not yet in love, I did not
belong to anyone, I had drunk
no milk, yet—no one had
my heart. I was not very human. I did not
know there was anyone else. I lay
like a god, for an hour, then they came for me,
and took me to my mother.
I’m back again scrutinising the Milky Way
of your ultrasound, scanning the dark
matter, the nothingness, that now the heads say
is chockablock with quarks & squarks,
gravitons & gravitini, photons & photinos. Our sprout,
who art there inside the spacecraft
of your ma, the time capsule of this printout,
hurling & whirling towards us, it’s all daft
on this earth. Our alien who art in the heavens,
our Martian, our little green man, we’re anxious
to make contact, to ask divers questions
about the heavendom you hail from, to discuss
the whole shebang of the beginning&end,
the pre-big-bang untime before you forget the why
and lie of thy first place. And, our friend,
to say Welcome, that we mean no harm, we’d die
for you even, that we pray you’re not here
to subdue us, that we’d put away
our ray guns, missiles, attitude and share
our world with you, little big head, if only you stay.
Waking with Russell
Whatever the difference is, it all began
the day we woke up face-to-face like lovers
and his four-day-old smile dawned on him again,
possessed him, till it would not fall or waver;
and I pitched back not my old hard-pressed grin
but his own smile, or one I’d rediscovered.
Dear son, I was mezzo del’ cammin
and the true path was as lost to me as ever
when you cut in front and lit it as you ran.
See how the true gift never leaves the giver:
returned and redelivered, it rolled on
until the smile poured through us like a river.
How fine, I thought, this waking amongst men!
I kissed your mouth and pledged myself forever.
The Floating Rib
Because a woman had eaten something
when a man told her not to. Because the man
who told her not to had made her
from another man’s bones. That’s why
men badgered the heart-side of her chest,
knowing she could not give the bone back, knowing
she would always owe them that one bone.
And you could see how older girls who knew
their catechism armed themselves against it:
with the pike end of teasing combs
they scabbarded in pocketbooks that clashed
against the jumper’s nightwatch plaid.
In the girl’s bathroom, you watched them
wield the spike in dangerous proximity to their eyes,
shepherding the bangs through which they peered
like cheetahs in an upside-downward-growing grass.
Then they’d mouth the words to “Runaway”
while they ran white lipstick round their lips,
white to announce they had no blood
so any wound would leave no trace, as Eve’s
having nothing more to lose must have made
lll her fearless. What was weird was how soon
the ordinary days started running past them
like a river, how willingly they entered it
and how they rose up on the other side. Tamed,
or god no . . . your mother: ready to settle
with whoever found the bone under her blouse
and give it over, and make a life out of the getting
TO THE DUST OF THE ROAD
W. S. Merwin
And in the morning you are up again
with the way leading through you for a while
longer if the wind is motionless when
the cars reach where the asphalt ends a mile
or so below the main road and the wave
you rise into is different every time
and you are one with it until you have
made your way up to the top of your climb
and brightened in that moment of that day
and then you turn as when you rose before
in fire or wind from the ends of the earth
to pause here and you seem to drift away
on into nothing to lie down once more
until another breath brings you to birth
From the Inside Flap
Inspired by Billy Collins's poem-a-day program for American high schools that he began through the Library of Congress, the original "Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry was a gathering of clear, contemporary poems aimed at a wide audience. In "180 More, Collins continues his ambitious mission of exposing readers of all ages to the best of today's poetry. Here are another 180 hospitable, engaging, reader-friendly poems, offering surprise and delight in a wide range of literary voices-comic, melancholy, reflective, irreverent. If poetry is the original travel literature, this anthology contains 180 vehicles ready to carry you away to unexpected places.
With poems by
Carol Ann Duffy
W. S. Merwin
Naomi Shihab Nye
and many more
Top Customer Reviews
And as for reservations on language or subject matter, it is the imperative of poetry to wade fearlessly into both and reveal the power inherent in the skillful marriage of the unusual and the unexpected. Everyone thinks of these things -- regardless of polite or politically correct conventions -- it's someone's responsibility to speak of these things ... and that's what poets are for.
I have more poems ticked in the table of contents of this anthology than any other poetry book I've read -- and I read three or four of them a week (it's my not-so-secret perversion, if you will). There's so much to inspire here, so much to make one think. Billy Collins learned from what worked in the first volume -- a powerful experience in its own right -- and make the sequal doubly good. Hooray for him!
The Cowardice of Husbands by David Kirby is another favorite of mine. It is a poem about how some husbands hate to do some things with their wives like go to plays, operas, and sometimes even sit through poetry readings. This poem is a honest and truthful opinion about the relationship between men and women. Birthday Poem by Erin Murphy really sticks out too. It is about a woman trying to remember the last name of her friend who died of breast cancer. It is a very moving poem about about friendship and how much our friends mean to us.
I really enjoyed the poem Dorie Off To Atlanta by Mark Halliday. Reading this poem is like listening to a conversation between two girlfriends about a mutual friend they have dating a great guy. Valentine is a very clever poem by Carol Ann Duffy. It is a poem about how she feels how an onion would be a good gift to give someone for Valentine's Day. I liked the originality of these two poems very much.
Katia Kapovich's Painting A Room is a good example about how doing something so ordinary can be symbolic and meaningful. She dedicates this poem to her friend who paints her apartment in Russia before coming to America in 1989. She reflects on her memories of living in the apartment like her past romances, old jobs, and night phone calls. It is a very touching poem and one of my favorites.Read more ›
As someone developing my taste for poetry, I appreciate the survey of high-quality writing. A caution to teachers: there are several poems in this collection that contain an occasional expletive, or that dwell on a topic some communities might find objectionable.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
These poems are so clear and straight forward, and yet they have a real punch to them.Published 5 months ago by Colleen Jane milller
This book was extremely well written and it includes poems that aren't "classics" but they are good stillPublished 13 months ago by Matthew DiMasi
The book arrived promptly. It was in excellent condition. This is a must for anyone studying poetry - especially students of poetry.Published on May 13, 2014 by Elizabeth Vrenios