Cracked Spines - It's National Poetry Month!

Anna Louise Neiger
April 27, 2022
What we're reading and loving (and reciting) during National Poetry Month here at Good & Gold.

It’s National Poetry Month and WE ARE HERE FOR IT! Gather round for Good & Gold’s favorite poets and poems, and check out our own attempts at group poetry while you’re at it 😉.

Morgan Parker

A poem we love:

If You Are Over Staying Woke

Hear Morgan read this poem here

Water the plants. Drink
plenty of water.
Don’t hear
the news. Get
bored. Complain
about the weather.
Keep a corkscrew
in your purse.
Swipe right
sometimes.
Don’t smile
unless you want
to. Sleep in.
Don’t see the news.
Remember what
the world is like
for white people.
Listen to
cricket songs.
Floss. Take pills.
Keep an
empty mind.
When you are
hungover
do not say
I’m never drinking
again. Be honest
when you’re up
to it. Otherwise
drink water
lie to your
self
turn off the news
burn the papers
skip the funerals
take pills
laugh at dumb shit
fuck people you
don’t care about
use the crockpot
use the juicer
use the smoothie maker
drink water
from the sky
don’t think
too much about the sky
don’t think about water
skip the funerals
close your eyes
whenever possible
When you toast
look everyone in the eyes
Never punctuate
the President
Write the news
Turn
into water
Water
the fire escape
Burn the paper
Crumble the letters
Instead of
hyacinths pick
hydrangeas
Water the hydrangeas
Wilt the news
White the hydrangeas
Drink the white
Waterfall the
cricket songs
Keep a song mind
Don’t smile
Don’t wilt
funeral
Funeral

Recommended collection: 

THERE ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THINGS THAN BEYONCE

Ocean Vuong

A poem we love:

Essay on Craft
Hear Ocean read this poem here.

Because the butterfly’s yellow wing
flickering in black mud
was a word
stranded by its language.
Because no one else
was coming — & I ran
out of reasons.
So I gathered fistfuls
of  ash, dark as ink,
hammered them
into marrow, into
a skull thick
enough to keep
the gentle curse
of  dreams. Yes, I aimed
for mercy — 
but came only close
as building a cage
around the heart. Shutters
over the eyes. Yes,
I gave it hands
despite knowing
that to stretch that clay slab
into five blades of light,
I would go
too far. Because I, too,
needed a place
to hold me. So I dipped
my fingers back
into the fire, pried open
the lower face
until the wound widened
into a throat,
until every leaf shook silver
with that god
-awful scream
& I was done.
& it was human.

Recommended collection:

NIGHT SKY WITH EXIT WOUNDS 

Natalie Diaz

A poem we love:

Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation

Hear (and see!) Natalie Diaz read this poem here.

Angels don’t come to the reservation.
Bats, maybe, or owls, boxy mottled things.
Coyotes, too. They all mean the same thing—
death. And death
eats angels, I guess, because I haven’t seen an angel
fly through this valley ever.
Gabriel? Never heard of him. Know a guy named Gabe though—
he came through here one powwow and stayed, typical
Indian. Sure he had wings,
jailbird that he was. He flies around in stolen cars. Wherever he stops,
kids grow like gourds from women’s bellies.
Like I said, no Indian I’ve ever heard of has ever been or seen an angel.
Maybe in a Christmas pageant or something—
Nazarene church holds one every December,
organized by Pastor John’s wife. It’s no wonder
Pastor John’s son is the angel—everyone knows angels are white.
Quit bothering with angels, I say. They’re no good for Indians.
Remember what happened last time
some white god came floating across the ocean?
Truth is, there may be angels, but if there are angels
up there, living on clouds or sitting on thrones across the sea wearing
velvet robes and golden rings, drinking whiskey from silver cups,
we’re better off if they stay rich and fat and ugly and
’xactly where they are—in their own distant heavens.
You better hope you never see angels on the rez. If you do, they’ll be marching you off to
Zion or Oklahoma, or some other hell they’ve mapped out for us.

Recommended collection:

WHEN MY BROTHER WAS AN AZTEC 

Lucille Clifton

A poem we love:

poem in praise of menstruation

Hear Lucille read this poem here

if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood red edge of the moon          if
 
there is a river 
more faithful than this 
returning each month 
to the same delta          if there 
  
is a river 
braver than this 
coming and coming in a surge 
of passion, of pain          if there is 
  
a river 
more ancient than this 
daughter of eve 
mother of cain and of abel          if there is in 
  
the universe such a river          if 
there is some where water 
more powerful than this wild 
water 
pray that it flows also 
through animals 
beautiful and faithful and ancient 
and female and brave   

Recommended collection: 

HOW TO CARRY WATER  

And finally, we've said it before and we'll say it again: MARY OLIVER!

A poem we love:

Night and the River
Hear Mary read this poem here.

I have seen the great feet
leaping into the river
and I have seen moonlight
milky along the long muzzle
and I have seen the body
of something scaled and wonderful
slumped in the sudden fire of it mouth,
and I could not tell which fit me
more comfortably, the power,
or the powerlessness:
neither would have me
entirely; I was divided,
consumed, by sympathy,
pity, admiration.
After a while it was done,
the fish had vanished, the bear
lumped away
to the green shore
and into the trees. And then there was only
this story.
It followed me home
and entered my house-
a difficult guest
with a single tune
which it hums all day and through the night-
slowly, or briskly,
it doesn't matter,
it sounds like a river leaping and falling; it sounds like a body
falling apart

Recommended collection:

TWELVE MOONS

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