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Someday When I'm Social Distancing

I once wrote a column with the prophetic title, "Someday When I'm Quarantined." In it, I vowed that if I were ever unable to leave my home for a few months, I'd finally do all of the things I don't...

 

American Life In Poetry

Jane Hirshfield, who lives in California, is one of our country's finest poets. I found this beautiful meditation in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books...

 

One Sock, Two Sock, Red Sock, Blue Sock

I have blue socks to wear with blue pants, gray socks to wear with gray pants and black socks to wear with red pants. Kidding. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. I was content with...

 

American Life in Poetry

I've mentioned the anthology, Local News: Poetry About Small Towns from MWPH Books, P.O. Box 8, in Fairwater, Wisconsin. Here's one of the many poems I've enjoyed, by Scott Wiggerman, who lives in...

 

A Bad Case of Friggatriskaidekaphobia

More than 17 million Americans suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia though they seldom admit it, mainly because they can't pronounce it. Loosely translated, friggatriskaidekaphobia means, "I'd like to...

 

American Life In Poetry

Lest we forget our vegetables, here's a poem by James Bertolino about one of our dearest and healthiest ones. The poet lives in Bellingham, Washington, and this is from his book, Every Wound Has A...

 

American Life In Poetry

That sage curse, "May you live in interesting times," has been upon us for the past few years, but here a Kentucky poet, Jonathan Greene, offers us some reassurance that there is order in the world....

 

American Life In Poetry

Robert Bly is one of the last living major American poets of his generation, and W.W. Norton recently published his Collected Poems. I and many other poets of the central states owe Bly, who grew up...

 

Ode to an Extra Day

You know that old poem? Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November; All the rest have thirty-one, Excepting February alone, And that has twenty-eight days clear And twenty-nine in each leap...

 

American Life In Poetry

This week's poem is one of my favorites and I can't explain why in the fifteen years I've been writing this column I've neglected until now to share it with you. Wendell Berry is one of our country's...

 

American Life In Poetry

Tolstoy said, "Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness." I found this poem by Dorianne Laux in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness...

 

Love, Honor...and Make You See Things My Way

This year, I'm going to give my Valentine the best gift of all: understanding. And by that I mean, his understanding of me. Instead of a card, I'm giving him this letter explaining why I do what I...

 

American Life In Poetry

Last week I said that I planned to publish two beautiful poems of grief and loss by David Baker, from his new and selected poems, Swift, published last year by W. W. Norton. This is the second of...

 

American Life In Poetry

This week and next I want to show you two beautiful poems of grief and loss by David Baker, from his new and selected poems, Swift, published in 2019 by W. W. Norton. Baker teaches at Denison...

 

Flaky Fables - Classmates

Do you often see people from your past, but you can’t remember their names? The old guy ahead of me in the grocery check-out looked about two coughing spells away from the Promised Land. I didn’t notice him until he tried to pay with a credit car...

 

American Life In Poetry

This is the sixth of Marge Saiser’s poems to appear in my column, and I’ve written elsewhere how much I admire her work. This poem is typical of her clear, accessible poetry of close observation. I am especially taken by her capture of the flash...

 

And the Winners for 2019...

It was the best of lists. It was the worst of lists. Also the most, least, biggest, smallest, flattest and roundest of lists. 'Tis the season when experts on everything roll out their report cards of...

 

American Life In Poetry

Poets Tom Montag and David Graham have just published a fine anthology, Local News: Poetry About Small Towns, from MWPH Books, P.O. Box 8, in Fairwater, Wisconsin. Here's one of the many poems I've en...

 

American Life In Poetry

There's a very fine book, Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, Connecticut, and I've found a number of poems for this column there....

 

American Life In Poetry

Alberto Rios is a highly acclaimed American poet who lives and teaches in Arizona. I found this poem of community and peace in Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, published by Grayson Books of West Hartford, Connecticut. The most...

 

Blue, Buffalo and 2020 Vision

Yes, I realize I'm very late getting my Christmas letter out, but there's a good reason for that: I'm late writing it. I hope you had a wonderful 2019. I started mine on the couch with my feet up....

 

American Life In Poetry

My mother's best friend, Ruth Stickfort Kregel, was "Aunt Sticky" to my sister and me, and today I feel like telling you a little about this woman we loved. This poem is from my new book, Kindest...

 

American Life In Poetry

I've been asked if I believe in ghosts, and my answer is, "Well, now, there's very little fun in NOT believing in ghosts." Here's a poem by Austin Smith, who lives in Illinois, about being encouraged...

 

Dorothy Wreaks Havoc on Thanksgiving and Not Just In Kansas

I was feeling pretty confident about cooking Thanksgiving dinner for eight guests until I saw the headline: Dorothy Could Make a Mess of Thanksgiving. Well dang. I've made a mess of Thanksgiving on...

 

American Life In Poetry

Here's a poem about something that each of us receives, though only once. If you didn't get yours written into a poem, you've got it put away somewhere. Wyatt Townley lives in Kansas, and "First...

 

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