|American Life in Poetry is edited by Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate, 2004-06. He offers these two poems:
Texas poet R.S. Gwynn is a master of the light touch. Here he picks up on Gerard Manley Hopkins' sonnet "Pied Beauty," which many of you will remember from school, and offers us a picnic instead of a sermon. I hope you enjoy the feast!
Glory be to God for breaded things--
Catfish, steak finger, pork chop, chicken thigh,
Sliced green tomatoes, pots full to the brim
With french fries, fritters, life-float onion rings,
Hushpuppies, okra golden to the eye,
That in all oils, corn or canola, swim
Toward mastication's maw (O molared mouth!);
Whatever browns, is dumped to drain and dry
On paper towels' sleek translucent scrim,
These greasy, battered bounties of the South:
Among young people, tattos are all the rage and, someday, dermatologists will grow rich as kings removing them from a lot of middle-aged people who have grown embarrassed by their colorful skins. I really like this poem by Sharmila Voorakkara of Ohio.
For the Tattooed Man
Because she broke your heart, "Shannon"'s a badge--
a seven-letter skidmark that scars up
across your chest, a flare of indelible script.
Between "Death or Glory", and "Mama", she rages,
scales the trellis of your rib cage;
her red hair swings down to bracket your ankles, whip
up the braid of your backbone, cuff your wrists. She keeps
you sleepless with her afterimage,
and each pinned and martyred limb aches for more.
Her memory wraps you like a vise.
How simple the pain that trails and graces
the length of your body. How it fans, blazes,
writes itself over in the blood's tightening sighs,
bruises into wisdom you have no name for.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2005 by R. S. Gwynn, whose most recent book of poetry is "No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000," Story Line Press, 2001. Poem reprinted from Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse, No. 50, Autumn, 2005, by permission of R. S. Gwynn. Poem copyright (c) 2005 by Sharmila Voorakkara, whose most recent book of poetry is "Fire Wheel," Univ. of Akron Press, 2003. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The foundation does not accept unsolicited manuscripts; the Joplin Independent does.