Waxing Poetic About Teachers

Ask most any adult, and he or she can tell you a story about a teacher. Sometimes it's the teacher who inspired them, whose class they loved to walk into each morning. Other times it's a teacher who, with one swift and devastating line, embarrassed, belittled, or destroyed a fragile kid. That, too, sticks for …

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“Undrinkable as a Glass of Scorpions”

Alcoholism, it would seem, is fertile ground for poetry. Only, like poetry, nothing's as simple as a notion stating it should be simple. Alcoholism is so... abstract. Nebulous, Incendiary. Sure, your poem could go under the influence and come up with some obvious concrete words, but what about not-so-obvious words like lamb, puddle, black cigar, …

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Of Little Goats and Alcoholics

Appropriately enough, Kaveh Akbar's collection, Portrait of the Alcoholic, is dedicated quite simply "for drunks." It's not surprising, then, that you get poems dealing with issues of addiction. One has the catchy title, "Besides, Little Goat, You Can't Just Go Asking for Mercy." Well, he could, but it would do him little good if he …

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When Wrong Place & Wrong Time Means Forever

Gun violence. Poetry. Yes, please, to some sanity. I just finished Joseph J. Ellis's new book, American Dialogue, where, among other interesting things, he traces the history of the Second Amendment, which was, according to the Founders, all about militias vs. individuals, not that this stops some people in modern-day from rewriting history. Ellis goes …

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Sometimes the “Enemy of the People” Is… the People

Election Eve Special: Poetry appears in many places---history, even. Is it not poetic justice, after all, that friends and frequent political jousters John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American independence? I am reading Joseph Ellis's bracing new book, American Dialogue: The Founders and Us, which has …

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Pain, Sickness, and the Desire To Be “Adamantly Elsewhere”

In honor of the passing of Tony Hoagland in October, I'm sharing "Arrows," with its allusion to Saint Sebastian and his arrow-ridden body. The arrows in Tony's case, of course, would be the cancer that eventually took him. But for others, the arrows could metaphorically equate to many things that torment us, body and soul, …

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