Read a F*cking Book GIVEAWAY: Write Bloody Wants To Fill Your Heart With Poems

Hey word nerds, let’s end National Poetry Month with a bang! Celebrated poetry press Write Bloody, beacon of generosity and badassery that it is, wants to stuff two wonderful Autostraddle readers with poetry up to your shiny eyeballs.

Write Bloody is home to some of the most decorated performance poets in the scene today, and a bunch of those poets are badass queer ladies! The two winners of this prize pack will each get five books by Write Bloody authors:

The Madness Vase by Andrea Gibson

giveaway andrea gibson

Andrea Gibson has been making queer girls swoon for years, and her latest book reminds us, quite simply, that it will all be ok.

The Smell of Good Mud by Lauren Zuniga

giveaway lauren zuniga

Lauren Zuniga writes about community, family, identity, politics and the possibilities we hold in our hands. Her book feels like home.

Floating, Brilliant, Gone by Franny Choi

giveaway franny choi

Franny Choi has been tearing up poetry slams for years, and her debut book, released last month, brings her volatile, gorgeous work to the page.

After The Witch Hunt by Megan Falley

giveaway megan falley

Megan Falley is going to find the light, and she’s taking you with her.

Glitter In The Blood: A Writer’s Guide by Mindy Netifee

giveaway mindy

Many of us who love poetry also try to write it sometimes. But y’all, words are hard. This is perhaps the most accessible and enjoyable writer’s guide I’ve ever used. Learn to write amazing poems like Mindy’s with her relatable advice and unintimidating exercises.

The set will come in a fancy and stylish bag from Blue Q. ARE YOU ENTICED YET?! I thought so. To be eligible for the contest, all you have to do is tell us about your favorite poem in the comments by 5 p.m. PST on Wednesday April 30. We’ll select two commenters at random, and Write Bloody will send you all these kickass books directly to your doorstep! Bonus Xs and Os if your comment is also in the form of a poem. I am so excited for two of you to get all these books! Your brain and heart are going to turn into fiery angel cupcake dreams.

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Audrey is a Texan living in Managua, Nicaragua. She loves journalism, country dancing and talking to strangers. Follow her on Twitter @audreywhitetx.

Audrey has written 31 articles for us.

149 Comments

  1. Thumb up 4

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    Asking me to pick a favorite poem is like asking which of my limbs I would least like to lose. But here is a short poem I have always loved:

    Boo, Forever (Richard Brautigan)

    Spinning like a ghost
    on the bottom of a
    top,
    I’m haunted by all
    the space that I
    will live without
    you.

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    This is wonderful!

    My favorite is surprisingly easy (especially has a person who never has just *one* favorite). It’s Andrea Gibson’s Tadpoles, her two stanza piece in Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns.

    I have the illustration for the poem and two lines tattooed on my lower arm.

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    eek! i’ve been meaning to sign up for the past year, and this did it.

    here’s one recent favorite:

    From an Atlas of the Difficult World
    by Adrienne Rich

    I know you are reading this poem
    late, before leaving your office
    of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
    in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
    long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
    standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
    on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
    across the plains’ enormous spaces around you.
    I know you are reading this poem
    in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
    where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
    and the open valise speaks of flight
    but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
    as the underground train loses momentum and before running
    up the stairs
    toward a new kind of love
    your life has never allowed.
    I know you are reading this poem by the light
    of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
    while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
    I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
    of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
    I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
    in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
    count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
    you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
    lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
    because even the alphabet is precious.
    I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
    warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your hand
    because life is short and you too are thirsty.
    I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
    guessing at some words while others keep you reading
    and I want to know which words they are.
    I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
    between bitterness and hope
    turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
    I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
    left to read
    there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

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    “You Are The Party I Want To Go To” by Alex Dimitrov.

    Alex Dimitrov has been a kind of problematic poetic figure in the last few years (ie. that one time he ran that boys club poetry salon and then said it wasn’t a boys club even though it totally was). But this is still my favorite because it’s a love poem about best friends.

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    Wow! AMAZING GIVEAWAY!!!

    It’s hard to choose one favorite poem, but I love Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou. It’s great to repeat to myself when times are especially difficult, and I find it empowering. It helps me with my struggles with anxiety and depression. Plus, one of my best friends got my a copy of the Maya Angelou/Basquiat book recently, so it has an extra special place for me.

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    I love e.e. cummings’ anyone lived in a pretty how town.
    I found this poem in a book of required poems in fifth grade, when we were doing a poetry project, and I fell in love with his writing style. In a time of my life where I thought following the rules was the only way to succeed, his poems showed me that breaking the rules can be beautiful – and that most rules are stupid anyway. Who needs capital letters?
    Of course, last week I almost cried when I got caught skipping class… but I can dream, right?

  7. Thumb up 3

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    This is the best giveaway ever!

    My favorite poem was written by the French poet Paul Eluard. Unfortunately, the translation doesn’t do justice to the original (as always with poetry), so here are the two versions:

    -

    L’amoureuse

    Elle est debout sur mes paupières
    Et ses cheveux sont dans les miens,
    Elle a la forme de mes mains,
    Elle a la couleur de mes yeux,
    Elle s’engloutit dans mon ombre
    Comme une pierre sur le ciel.

    Elle a toujours les yeux ouverts
    Et ne me laisse pas dormir.
    Ses rêves en pleine lumière
    Font s’évaporer les soleils
    Me font rire, pleurer et rire,
    Parler sans avoir rien à dire.

    -

    The lover

    She is standing on my eyelids
    And her hair is in my hair,
    She has the shape of my hands,
    The colour of my eyes.
    She is absorbed in my shadow,
    Like a stone upon the sky.

    She keeps her eyes open
    And doesn’t let me sleep.
    Her dreams in broad daylight
    Make the suns evaporate,
    Make me laugh, weep and laugh,
    And speak without a thing to say.

  8. Thumb up 2

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    I first heard Andrew by Andrea Gibson at a student dance performance at my school. It was the first poem by AG that I’d ever heard and it shook me to my core. I went home and watched video after video of them performing, speaking words that I’d held inside and didn’t know. It was an especially hard time in my life, and her words helped save me.

    “And we held each other like I held these words
    For too many years on the tip of my tongue
    I am my mother’s daughter
    I am midnight’s sun
    You can find me on the moon
    Waxing and waning
    My heart full of petals
    Every single one begging
    Love me, love me, love me
    Whoever I am
    Whoever I become”

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    My sister handed me this poem for my birthday when I was 22. It gets better with age; hands down Nikki Giovanni’s Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

    I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
    I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

    I mean…I…can fly
    like a bird in the sky…

  10. Thumb up 2

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    AW HALE A FAV POEM! But this is only one, and maybe not my favorite, but it’s up there SO.

    For Mi Osita–Jewelle Gomez

    In sleep she arches a brow
    over her dark shadowed eye,
    causing ripples
    that move out from her center
    to encircle me.
    Light sneaks into our shuttered room.
    The scented air lingers on the copper of her skin
    and the coal black of her curls.
    Her sleeping hums in my ear
    closing out noise of the traffic below
    and Monday to come,
    harmonizing with the rustle of the sheet
    as she turns her back to me.
    An invitation I always recognize

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      Oh! I get to talk about it, too! Well, I’m into it because it details this obviously older relationship (these snitches live together so…) that still “causes ripples”. Just the warmth of the poem gets me goin’

      :’-)

  11. Thumb up 3

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    Finding oneself alone with language that pushes and pulls with an exactness of familiarity is why I am in love, deeply, with poetry.

    Blueberries
    by Minnie Bruce Pratt

    Love, I know you well: how you look, desiring,
    upper lip lengthened when you look at what you
    want: some wet fat blueberries heaped in bowls, or
    me, at times, wet too.

    10/9/1982

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    A Sad Child by Margaret Atwood: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-sad-child/

    Whenever I am going through a rough patch I read this poem.

    It reminds me that pain and sadness are universal human conditions, that external attempts to speed up or remedy your emotional journey are generally absurd, and that we’re all hurtling through the universe without an instruction manual so just lighten up a little and give yourself a break.

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    I don’t know if this will get me entered into the giveaway or not, but… I don’t really have a favorite poem. I can can name some whose words have stayed with me in spite of my feeling ambivilent toward them (I’m looking at you, Howl), but I haven’t been able to connect much with poetry as an adult.

    Perhaps this can be a chance to start?

    No poetry is
    among my favorite words;
    I just collect prose.

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    I <3 Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

    "the thing I came for:
    the wreck and not the story of the wreck
    the thing itself and not the myth
    the drowned face always staring
    toward the sun
    the evidence of damage
    worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
    the ribs of the disaster
    curving their assertion
    among the tentative haunters."

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    though simple and short
    my favorite poem weathers
    see, emily dickinson penned
    “hope” is the thing with feathers

    now it stands as my world view
    ’cause we are scared to fall
    but we are able to move buildings
    unless we don’t move at all

    so i say “we” are the things with feathers
    for capable we all are
    and i must perpetually remind my peers
    collectively our reach can be far.

  16. Thumb up 1

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    My favorite poet is neither gay nor a lady, (does that make me a bad gay lady?) but Felix Dennis rocks my world.
    i’m too lazy to type it out but here is my favorite poem of his, Sylva Anathema: http://www.felixdennis.com/poetry/sylva-anathema/
    He’s sarcastic and heartfelt and cutthroat and the tempo in poems like Why Do They Do It gives me ultimate nerdwood. ( http://www.felixdennis.com/poetry/why-do-they-do-it-3/ )

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    I’m Nobody! Who Are You? By: Emily Dickinson

    If you are too busy trying to be on everyone’s lips you miss to glory of being just yourself with others like you.

    It was a poem I found taped to the bottom of my bunk at camp when I was a preteen and it has stayed with me.

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    My favorite poetry tends to run older- when I first decided to start reading more poetry (as a 17y/o with a minimal social life but an intense interest in her AP english class does) I bought a giantass Harold Bloom compilation that ended in the 50′s. So I definitely need to catch up on more modern works but one of my current favorites is Eros Turannos by Edwin Arlington Robinson. The whole thing has such a powerful rhythm and aching sentiment to it, the last stanza especially:

    Meanwhile we do no harm, for they
    That with a god have striven,
    Not hearing much of what we say
    Take what the god has given.
    Though like waves breaking it may be,
    Or like a changed familiar tree,
    Or like a stairway to the sea
    Where down the blind are driven.

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/eros-turannos/

  19. Thumb up 1

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    Such a great giveaway!

    My favorite is “女人” or “Women” by Zhai Yongming, specifically the section called “Desire” (渴望).

    今晚所有的光只为你照亮

      今晚你是一小块殖民地
      久久停留,忧郁从你身体内
      渗出,帶著细腻的肉体

    Tonight every ray of light shines for you.

    Tonight you are a little colony
    Staying on, the sadness from your body
    Seeps out, in delicate water-droplets.

  20. Thumb up 3

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    A professor told me once that if you have poems memorized you’re never really alone. And so, my list of favorite memorized poems and where I like to recite them to myself:

    When I’m biking at night and feeling lonely: “The Rider” by Naomi Shihab Nye (http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/rider)

    When I ride past that funny overpass by the Charles River: “I Love You, Sweat Heart” by Thomas Lux (http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2003/04/25)

    When winter is way too fucking long: “The Woods and Pastures” by Wendell Berry (http://czwanzig.tumblr.com/post/4694871816/the-woods-and-pastures-are-joyous-in-their)

    When I get my period and all of a sudden everything makes sense: “If Your Uterus Runs on Birth-Control Standard Time…” by Mindy Nettifree (http://poetry.newgreyhair.com/post/46359656559/if-your-uterus-runs-on-birth-control-standard-time)

    Y’all there are so many more, too.

  21. Thumb up 1

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    It’s hard for me to choose a favorite poem, but recently I’ve been inspired by Lauren Zuniga’s “Happiness is a Hot Mess”:

    There are vegetables overflowing from every surface.
    Growing from pots, saved from dumpsters, crooked
    sculptures in bowls. The windows are open. Sampson
    and Delilah are necking, frenzied black fur and growl.

    Lemon Engine is learning the banjo. Cigarette perched
    on bottom lip. Clumsy claw hammer. Occasionally,
    she looks up to see if she is disturbing anyone. Even
    the ceramic owls are tapping their feet. The ants two-
    step along mean trails of cayenne. No one is going
    anywhere.

    The shower curtain keeps falling. The door is off its
    hinges. This house is not used to such warm sirens.
    Rising up smells like lavender oil and a pile of sweaty
    girls. I fell off my bike yesterday; I’ve been admiring
    the wound all morning.

    Abundance is a handmade grail, filled with mulberry
    mead. All these years, I had mistaken it for a clean
    house and full bank account. When it came, I didn’t
    even notice the casual spill. How it stained the linens.
    How it made every crevice glow so loud and sweet.

  22. Thumb up 1

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    I love that hilarious video of Andrea Gibson talking about Lauren Zuniga’s book, and biking to her house! Before I knew anything about either of them I thought the name of the video, which is “Andrea Gibson proposed to Lauren Zuniga,” was real. What a cool match those two would make. On second thought, maybe that would be too many feelings in one coupling, even for two queer ladies.

  23. Thumb up 1

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    this poem just hit me in the gut approximately five years ago. Incredibly morbid love poem, but somehow some days it doesn’t seem about the inevitability of death as much as the inevitability of life. Lacería, by Juana de Ibarbourou:

    No codicies mi boca. Mi boca es de ceniza
    y es un hueco sonido de campanas mi risa.

    No me oprimas las manos. Son de polvo mis manos,
    y al estrecharlas tocas comida de gusanos.

    No trences mis cabellos. Mis cabellos son tierra
    con la que han de nutrirse las plantas de la sierra.

    No acaricies mis senos. Son de greda los senos
    que te empeñas en ver como lirios morenos.

    ¿Y aún me quieres, amado? ¿Y aún mi cuerpo pretendes
    y, largas de deseo, las manos a mí tiendes?

    ¿Aún codicias, amado, la carne mentirosa
    que es ceniza y se cubre de apariencias de rosa?

    Bien, tómame. ¡Oh laceria!
    ¡Polvo que busca al polvo sin sentir su miseria!

  24. Thumb up 1

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    I have so many favorite poems that it’s difficult to narrow it down. However, something that has been stuck in my head lately is Adrienne Rich’s “Twenty One Love Poems” (FUN FACT: If you want to woo a lady, read all of these to her in a park. It worked for me, at least). It’s obviously too long to post all 21, but here’s the second one:

    I wake up in your bed. I know I have been dreaming.
    Much earlier, the alarm broke us from each other,
    You’ve been at your desk for hours. I know what I dreamed:
    our friend the poet comes into my room
    where I’ve been writing for days,
    drafts, carbons, poems are scattered everywhere,
    and I want to show her one poem
    which is the poem of my life. But I hesitate,
    and wake. You’ve kissed my hair
    to wake me. I dreamed you were a poem,
    I say, a poem I wanted to show someone…
    and I laugh and fall dreaming again
    of the desire to show you to everyone I love,
    to move openly together
    in the pull of gravity, which is not simple,
    which carries the feathered grass a long way down the upbreathing air.

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    Picking just one is so hard, but I love “San Sepolcro” by Jorie Graham, it speaks to my art historian heart.
    Also anything by Adrienne Rich, I am loving all the Rich love in the comments.
    Also nearly everything from Eduardo Corral’s “Slow Lightning.”

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    He’s an old, middle class white dude, but The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot was the first one to speak to me and leave me moved, when I was about 17.

    I read ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ at the same time. This line always made me take a breath and I think it’s pretty gay in hindsight:

    “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
    By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown”.

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    i like my body when it is with your body. it is so quite a new thing. muscles better and nerves more. i like your body. i like what it does, i like its hows. i like to feel the spine of your body and its bones and the trembling-firm-smoothness and which I will again and again kiss. i like kissing this and that of you, i like slowly stroking that shocking fuzz of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes over parting flesh . . . and eyes big love-crumbs and possibly i like the thrill of under me you so quite new

    - ee cummings

  28. Thumb up 2

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    My favorite poem is the The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Elliot.

    When I was in high school my english would give me books to read. After I read the books we would always talk about them together after school. One day he gave a a book of T.S. Elliot’s poetry and we sat down and read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. It was magical. Every time I read that poem I think of my English teacher and all the fun afternoons we spent together.

  29. Thumb up 0

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    It is so hard to pick just one favorite poem. One of my favorites is Many Loves by Allen Ginsberg. The poem is well written and sweet. Also it astounds me that Ginsberg was brave enough to publish it in 1956.

  30. Thumb up 3

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    Andrea Gibson’s “The Nutritionist” held my hand through months of suicidal depression while I was closeted.

    I felt like I came full circle when I was able to share this poem with one of my high school students who is battling depression. I hang a copy in my classroom as an offering of solidarity to everyone who needs it.

    “I have never met a heavy heart that wasn’t a phone booth with a red cape inside/ Some people will never understand the kind of superpower it takes for some people to just walk outside/”

  31. Thumb up 5

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    Up until THIS VERY INSTANT, I’d been one of those noiseless lurkers who quietly admires autostraddle from afar, but seeing as I’m ALSO a noiseless lurker who quietly admires spoken word poetry performed by Write Bloody poets on youtube (and saw Andrea Gibson live once!), this giveaway is too good to pass up.

    I am bad at favorites because I either have too many or none at all.

    I read and liked a lot of Elizabeth Bishop and John Ashbery in college, identified entirely too much for my liking with J. Alfred Prufrock, and have a strong appreciation for most of the Write Bloody crew, but the first poem that came to me when I read this post was one I stumbled upon when I was subscribed to Ted Kooser’s poetry column newsletter. I couldn’t even remember the author until I googled it just now, but apparently it’s Dale Ritterbusch.

    “There is this tea
    I have sometimes,
    Pan Long Ying Hao,
    so tightly curled
    it looks like tiny roots
    gnarled, a greenish-gray.
    When it steeps, it opens
    the way you woke this morning,
    stretching, your hands behind
    your head, back arched,
    toes pointing, a smile steeped
    in ceremony, a celebration,
    the reaching of your arms.”

    It’s simple, but I think that’s why I like it.

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    Trying to choose a favourite poem is like trying to pick a favourite breath of wind or beam of the sun. And to talk about a poem never does quite get to it does it? –the language i have lacks the sounds to describe the feelings that get all up inside.

    However, I am grateful to get to read through the comments to see all these wonderful words!

    The poem I share below was written hundreds of years ago i am told. And when I read it i am in the illuminated darkness, cool with a breeze and bathed in moonlight that stirs in a way we of the electric carscapes could never know. the feeling of filling with the cool soothing and stirring of moonlight. Where is nowhere? How does a thing, a sound an idea come out of it? And then nothing answers… and that thing inside me happens that my words cannot explain. Have you ever been in the full dark of night, with nothing but the moon to pour her light over you?

    All night I could not sleep
    because of the moonlight on my bed.
    I kept on hearing a voice calling:
    Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered “yes”

    by Zi Ye

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    My favorite poet is probably Edna St. Vincent Millay. I especially love her sonnet “Only until this cigarette is ended”

    Only until this cigarette is ended,
    A little moment at the end of all,
    While on the floor the quiet ashes fall,
    And in the firelight to a lance extended,
    Bizarrely with the jazzing music blended,
    The broken shadow dances on the wall,
    I will permit my memory to recall
    The vision of you, by all my dreams attended.
    And then adieu,–farewell!–the dream is done.
    Yours is a face of which I can forget
    The color and the features, every one,
    The words not ever, and the smiles not yet;
    But in your day this moment is the sun
    Upon a hill, after the sun has set.

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      I absolutely love Edna St. Vincent Millay! I became obsessed with her in middle or high school when I read a biography of her. I just spent a long time trying to pick my favorite poem of hers but I couldn’t do it.

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    I love different poems in different ways, but a favorite is Borderlands by Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Most parts of my life are lived on borders, and Anzaldúa really captures what that feels like in this poem. It’s the kind of poem that is so specific to her own experience that I find it all the more relatable.

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    Every piece I’ve read by Allison Benis White has been oddly heartbreaking and beautifully disturbing— I highly recommend her.
    I’ve been reading her debut collection, Self-Portrait with Crayon, which is comprised of poems that use Degas paintings as conceptual armature. I held my breath throughout the entirety of this poem:

    ‘Interior or The Rape’

    Without a choice but to couple, to be underneath. But this is an idea separate from the act. Her back is white and turned from who leans against the closed door. Hands in his pockets. Most desire is the opposite of what we have and identical to lack. Maybe to pull her satin blouse strap firmly off her shoulder. And to be seen in the lamp light as a ghost wishes to be seen once and consequently forever.

    I will not let you sleep follows the pattern of most affection. Even the woman who holds the wrists of another woman down on the sidewalk or the Polish girl who dragged me forward by my ponytail when I was nine. This is the feeling of a leash at the base of your neck. The circular crease the rubberband leaves in my hair when I take it down every night cannot be brushed out and wholly is the fear of being forgotten.

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    Movie

    BY EILEEN MYLES

    You’re like
    a little fruit
    you’re like
    a moon I want
    to hold
    I said lemon slope
    about your
    hip
    because it’s one
    of my words
    about you
    I whispered
    in bed
    this smoothing
    the fruit &
    then alone
    with my book
    but writing
    in it the pages
    wagging
    against my knuckles
    in the
    light like a
    sail.

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    The day I found out the father of a close friend died, I looked up his poetry (I had forgotten for a while he was a poet) and I found this on a website:

    “The good news is that I won’t be writing for too much longer. The bad news, that I leave you with a poem.

    zip #254 2011

    by the time I reach the gate post
    another leaf has fallen”

    That stayed with me. Even how he introduced it.

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    Snow and Dirty Rain by Richard Siken is one of my favorites because “we are all just trying to be holy” speaks to my bones and “we are all going forward. None of us are going back.” grounds me during flashbacks and other not great things.

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    My favorite poem? I don’t like making “favorite” choices, but the one that came to mind immediately was Invictus, by William Ernest Henley. Mainly because it was heavily featured in Annie on My Mind, but also because it gets stuck in my head every time I hear anything in iambic tetrameter.

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    My favorite poem? It took some thinking, but The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot – but not that part about “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” that everyone likes to quote. I like the last bit, at the end:

    I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

    I do not think that they will sing to me.

    I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
    Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
    When the wind blows the water white and black.
    We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
    By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
    Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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      Me too!! We are favourite poem buddies.

      Really interesting that there are loads of mentions for Prufrock. It seems like the alienation theme is something that strikes a chord with LGBT kids. All that “Do I dare?” and the feeling of being wrenched back to a difficult reality, maybe.

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    I’ve been reading for years and this is my first comment :) One of my favorite poems is Ada Limon’s “Sharks in the River.”

    http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/sharks-rivers

    I say something to God, but he’s not a living thing,
    so I say it to the river, I say,

    I want to walk through this doorway
    But without all those ghosts on the edge,
    I want them to stay here.
    I want them to go on without me.

    I want them to burn in the water.

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    I just saw Andrea Gibson and Lauren Zuniga perform last night in Burlington! It was magical and heartbreaking and uplifting and a million other feels all at once.

    One of my favorite poems is The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver

    (In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

    Someone I loved once gave me
    a box full of darkness.

    It took me years to understand
    that this, too, was a gift.

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    AS’s whole collection of articles for NPM is a wealth of riches. And the comments too; all the personal stories that straddlers share.

    One of my favorite poems, ‘Romantics’ by Lisel Mueller (excerpt):

    “forgetting how softly Eros walked
    in the nineteenth century, how a hand
    held overlong or a gaze anchored
    in someone’s eyes could unseat a heart,
    and nuances of address, not known
    in our egalitarian language
    could make the redolent air
    tremble and shimmer with the heat
    of possibility.”

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    These words will ignite us unite us untie us.

    One that nestles in my brain by Margaret Atwood is…

    Don’t ask for the true story;
    why do you need it?

    It’s not what I set out with
    or what I carry.

    What I’m sailing with,
    a knife, blue fire,

    luck, a few good words
    that still work, and the tide.

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    Awed by her splendor
    stars near the lovely
    moon cover their own
    bright faces
    when she
    is roundest and lights
    earth with her silver
    Sappho

    It just makes me really happy that I can totally relate to someone that died thousands of years ago.

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    This is rad! My favorite poem has to be A Dream within A Dream by Edgar Allen Poe.

    “Take this kiss upon the brow…”

    I love it so much I’ve committed it to memory.

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    my favorite poem right now is “on kindness” by aracelis girmay. it is comforting and wandering and perfect for right before bed, like a lullaby or a superfamiliar childhood story.

    the last stanza goes,
    “Perhaps this thing I am calling kindness
    is more simple than kindness, rather, recognition
    of the neighbor & the blue, shared earth
    & the common circumstance of being here:
    what remains living of the last
    two million, impossible years…”

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    It’s always difficult to choose a favorite poem. That’s like choosing my favorite cat. But it was gonna be a tossup between Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, and Audre won this one.

    A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL
    For those of us who live at the shoreline
    standing upon the constant edges of decision
    crucial and alone
    for those of us who cannot indulge
    the passing dreams of choice
    who love in doorways coming and going
    in the hours between dawns
    looking inward and outward
    at once before and after
    seeking a now that can breed
    futures
    like bread in our children’s mouths
    so their dreams will not reflect
    the death of ours:

    For those of us
    who were imprinted with fear
    like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
    learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
    for by this weapon
    this illusion of some safety to be found
    the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
    For all of us
    this instant and this triumph
    We were never meant to survive.

    And when the sun rises we are afraid
    it might not remain
    when the sun sets we are afraid
    it might not rise in the morning
    when our stomachs are full we are afraid
    of indigestion
    when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
    we may never eat again
    when we are loved we are afraid
    love will vanish
    when we are alone we are afraid
    love will never return
    and when we speak we are afraid
    our words will not be heard
    nor welcomed
    but when we are silent
    we are still afraid

    So it is better to speak
    remembering
    we were never meant to survive

    - Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn

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    <3 this, and also <3 the creation of an open Autostraddle thread on poems.

    Naomi Shihab Nye, "Kindness," READ IT.

    (It made me rediscover kindness
    as a thing I could love
    instead of a thing
    that could be used against me)

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    I recently wrote a paper on Adrienne Rich, so I’m going to have to join the ranks of the many who’ve commented before me picking one of hers! One of my favorites is the cryptic “Final Notations”:

    it will not be simple, it will not be long
    it will take little time, it will take all your thought

    it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath
    it will be short, it will not be simple

    it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart
    it will not be long, it will occupy your thought
    as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied
    it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple

    You are coming into us who cannot withstand you
    you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you
    you are taking parts of us into places never planned
    you are going far away with pieces of our lives

    it will be short, it will take all your breath
    it will not be simple, it will become your will

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    I have so many! One of my newest favourites is from Sarah Kay’s new book, No Matter the Wreckage, called Ghost Ship.

    “No matter your wreckage.
    There will be someone to find you beautiful, despite the cruddy metal. Your ruin is not to be hidden behind paint and canvas. Let them see the cracks. Someone will come to sing into these empty spaces.”

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    Walt Whitman, “To a Stranger.” The pronoun shifts fascinated me, as a child, and then resonated as I grew into myself. It’s the first poem that I ever memorized, and the first one I ever whispered to a girl in the night. Some days I’m wont to forget what I look like, and imagine that someday I’ll forget even my own name, but I can’t imagine these lines ever leaving me:

    Passing stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
    You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me, as of a dream,)
    I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
    All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
    You grew up with me, were a boy with me, or a girl with me,
    I ate with you, and slept with you—your body has become not yours only, nor left my body mine only,
    You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass—you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
    I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,
    I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
    I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

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    My favorite is probably the first part of Ash Wednesday by T.S. Eliot:

    “Because I do not hope to turn again
    Because I do not hope
    Because I do not hope to turn
    Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
    I no longer strive to strive towards such things
    (Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
    Why should I mourn
    The vanished power of the usual reign?

    Because I do not hope to know again
    The infirm glory of the positive hour
    Because I do not think
    Because I know I shall not know
    The one veritable transitory power
    Because I cannot drink
    There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

    Because I know that time is always time
    And place is always and only place
    And what is actual is actual only for one time
    And only for one place
    I rejoice that things are as they are and
    I renounce the blessed face
    And renounce the voice
    Because I cannot hope to turn again
    Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
    Upon which to rejoice

    And pray to God to have mercy upon us
    And pray that I may forget
    These matters that with myself I too much discuss
    Too much explain
    Because I do not hope to turn again
    Let these words answer
    For what is done, not to be done again
    May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

    Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
    But merely vans to beat the air
    The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
    Smaller and dryer than the will
    Teach us to care and not to care
    Teach us to sit still.

    Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
    Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”

    Or Resume by Dorothy Parker:

    “Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp;
    Guns aren’t lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.”

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    Just one? Well, since it is a Write Bloody giveaway, I’ll go with “I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out” by Andrea Gibson. It’s hard to pick a favorite among Andrea’s poems as well, but this one has saved me so many times, especially these lines:

    I said, “Tell me about the Big Bang.”
    The stars said, “It hurts to become.”

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    this is amazing!!!!!! (even if i don’t technically win, i’m still a winner since i got to read all these amazing poems that people have posted!)

    mine is probably a poem by william carlos williams:

    This is Just to Say

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    saving
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold

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    My heart is breaking so hard right now because yesterday I found out “how it ends” and I cannot handle this at all.

    This is how I felt until recently (and still do):

    Baby, I have no idea how this will end
    Maybe the equator will fall like a hula hoop from the earth’s hips
    And our mouths will freeze mid-kiss on our 80th anniversary
    Or maybe tomorrow, my absolute insanity
    Combined with the absolute obstacle course of your communication skills
    Will leave us
    Like a love letter
    In a landfill
    But whatever
    Whenever
    However this ends,
    I want you to know, that right now,
    I love you forever
    I love you for the hardest mile we walked together

    –Andrea Gibson, How it Ends

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    Favorite poem(s)? Anything and everything ever written by the magical fingers of Andrea Gibson. Especially “Blue Blanket” and “I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When the Power’s Out.”

    Also, Amal Kassir’s Poem for Syria. I can’t do it justice with a description. Just watch.

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    they told me to choose
    a favorite poem
    I
    do not think this is fair
    I have too many favorite poems
    to count.
    So I looked
    through my collection
    And came upon
    “To a Stranger”
    By Walt Whitman
    It isn’t contemporary like my
    usual favorites but
    at this moment in my life it seems to
    speak to me.

    “PASSING stranger! you do not know how longingly I look upon you,
    You must be he I was seeking, or she I was seeking, (it comes to me as of a dream,)
    I have somewhere surely lived a life of joy with you,
    All is recall’d as we flit by each other, fluid, affectionate, chaste, matured,
    You grew up with me, were a boy with me or a girl with me,
    I ate with you and slept with you, your body has become not yours only nor left my body mine only,
    You give me the pleasure of your eyes, face, flesh, as we pass, you take of my beard, breast, hands, in return,
    I am not to speak to you,
    I am to think of you when I sit alone or wake at night alone, I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
    I am to see to it that I do not lose you.”

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    I never think of favorites, but I always have to keep reading T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” especially for this moment:

    ‘You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
    ‘They called me the hyacinth girl.’
    - Yest when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
    You arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
    Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
    Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
    Looking into the heart of light, silence.

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    Suffice it to say that one of my favorite poems is “Reasons to Survive November” by Tony Hoagland and there are a lot of others but it’s the kind of day where the internet eating my comment has left me just totally defeated and unable to rewrite it.

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    Hands down a poem by Pablo Neruda :

    I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair

    I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
    Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
    Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me, all day
    I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

    I hunger for your sleek laugh,
    your hands the color of a savage harvest,
    hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
    I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

    I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
    the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
    I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

    and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
    hunting for you, for your hot heart,
    like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.

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    So many favorites, but this will likely always be The One…

    Late Night by Margaret Atwood

    Late night and rain wakes me, a downpour,
    wind thrashing in the leaves, huge
    ears, huge feathers,
    like some chased animal, a giant
    dog or wild boar. Thunder & shivering
    windows; from the tin roof
    the rush of water.

    I lie askew under the net,
    tangled in damp cloth, salt in my hair.
    When this clears there will be fireflies
    & stars, brighter than anywhere,
    which I could contemplate at times
    of panic. Lightyears, think of it.

    Screw poetry, it’s you I want,
    your taste, rain
    on you, mouth on your skin.

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    my favorite poem since high school:

    this is the garden:colours come and go; by e.e.cummings

    this is the garden:colours come and go,
    frail azures fluttering from night’s outer wing
    strong silent greens silently lingering,
    absolute lights like baths of golden snow.
    This is the garden:pursed lips do blow
    upon cool flutes within wide glooms,and sing
    (of harps celestial to the quivering string)
    invisible faces hauntingly and slow.

    This is the garden. Time shall surely reap
    and on Death’s blade lie many a flower curled,
    in other lands where other songs be sung;
    yet stand They here enraptured,as among
    the slow deep trees perpetual of sleep
    some silver-fingered fountain steals the world.

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    One of my favorite poets has always been e.e. cummings, the following being one of the top favorite poems of his. I think it’s pretty self explanatory :)

    i like my body when it is with your
    body. It is so quite new a thing.
    Muscles better and nerves more.
    i like your body. i like what it does,
    i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
    of your body and its bones, and the trembling
    -firm-smooth ness and which i will
    again and again and again
    kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
    i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
    of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
    over parting flesh … And eyes big love-crumbs,

    and possibly i like the thrill

    of under me you so quite new

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    My favorite poem is T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men.” It gives me chills every time I read it. :)

    Especially these lines:

    The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
    In this valley of dying stars
    In this hollow valley
    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

    In this last of meeting places
    We grope together
    And avoid speech
    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

    Sightless, unless
    The eyes reappear
    As the perpetual star
    Multifoliate rose
    Of death’s twilight kingdom
    The hope only
    Of empty men.

    Read the whole poem here:http://allpoetry.com/poem/8453753-The-Hollow-Men-by-T-S–Eliot

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    Manifesto:The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, by Wendell Berry. It was the first poem of his that I discovered, at I time that I was searching for how to define my personal manifesto. Especially these two stanzas:

    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.

    Say that the leaves are harvested
    when they have rotted into the mold.
    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.

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    I discovered Kim Addonizio when I was still a wee queerling, and her “First Poem for You” is still my favourite. Here’s to all the other tattooed queers loving tatted queers:

    I like to touch your tattoos in complete
    darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
    where they are, know by heart the neat
    lines of lightning pulsing just above
    your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
    swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
    twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you

    to me, taking you until we’re spent
    and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
    the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
    you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
    or turns to pain between us, they will still
    be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
    So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.

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    These comments are a treasure trove – so happy. One of my lifetime favorites:

    Strange Hurt by Langston Hughes

    In times of stormy weather
    She felt queer pain
    That said,
    “You’ll find rain better
    Than shelter from the rain.”

    Days filled with fiery sunshine
    Strange hurt she knew
    That made
    Her seek the burning sunlight
    Rather than the shade.

    In months of snowy winter
    When cozy houses hold,
    She’d break down doors
    To wander naked
    In the cold.

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    By Jack Gilbert.

    THE LORD SITS WITH ME OUT IN FRONT

    The Lord sits with me out in front watching
    a sweet darkness begin in the fields.
    We try to decide whether I am lonely.
    I tell about waking at four a.m. and thinking
    of what the man did to the daughter of Louise.
    And there being no moon when I went outside.
    He says maybe I am getting old.
    That being poor is taking too much out of me.
    I say I am fine. He asks for the Brahms.
    We sit and watch the sea fade. The tape finishes again
    and we sit on. Unable to find words.

    I have loved this poem for nearly 25 years. There is such a sadness and quietness to it.

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    My favorite poem is “The Nature of a Mirror” by Robert Penn Warren. I read it for the first time when I was seventeen and living in the middle of nowhere. It was the first Poem in his book Or Else and I felt things I’d never felt when I read it, like we were echoing each other. I can still recite it from memory.

    The sky has murder in the eye, and I
    Have murder in the heart, for I
    Am only human.
    We look at each other, the sky and I.
    We understand each other, for

    For the solstice of summer has sagged. I stand
    And wait. Virtue is rewarded, that
    Is the nightmare, and I must tell you

    That soon now, even before
    The change from Daylight Savings Time, the sun,
    Beyond the western ridge of black-burnt pine stubs like
    A snaggery of rotten shark teeth, sinks
    Lower, larger, more blank, and redder than
    A mother’s rage, as though
    F.D.R. had never run for office even, or the first vagina
    Had not had the texture of dream. Time

    Is the mirror into which you stare.

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    My favourite has to be one I came upon in teenage years when I started to know which road I was taking – and the road less travelled by has certainly & happily made all the difference

    The Road Not Taken
    BY ROBERT FROST

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth;

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same,

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

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    What a great giveaway!! This is my favorite:

    You’ve tried the rest.
    You’ve waited long enough.
    Everything catches up with you.
    And you’re too old,
    or too young.
    Or you don’t have the money
    or you don’t have the time.
    Maybe you’re shy, and maybe
    you’re just afraid.
    How often have you heard it,
    have you promised
    yourself you’d try
    something really different
    if you had the chance?
    Though you can’t help but wonder
    if all those people
    know what they’re doing, now
    you’re saying it with them:
    Eventually everything
    catches up with us,
    and it starts to show.
    We’ve waited all our lives, or as long
    as we can remember, whichever
    is long enough.

    ― Lawrence Raab, The Rest

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    A poem of warrior-like strength
    about a little green vegetable,
    a show of military might.
    They stand guard, unflinching,
    strong and bright.
    But only when its cracked open
    are you able to taste
    the tender heart
    and the sensitive flesh of
    Pablo Neruda’s Ode to the Artichoke.

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    I have a serious crush on Sarah Kay. And I have a serious love of spoken word. The passion it exudes is palpable. I love watching that passion unfold onstage, unhampered, raw and powerful. The words Sarah uses are large and juicy. This specific poem speaks to me about women’s perceived role within the patriarchal system in the larger sense.. as well as, on an individual level, being ‘everything’ or only a symbol to the person who should love you for the person you are.

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    When the newest woman priest came to the Episcopal Cathedral in Paris, she gave a lecture on the connection between poetry and spirituality. The four poems she shared were all wonderful, but I’ve never been able to get Czesław Miłosz’s poetry out of my head since, especially since he talked about unbelief.

    On Prayer
    Czesław Miłosz

    You ask me how to pray to someone who is not.
    All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge
    And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard,
    Above landscapes the color of ripe gold
    Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun.
    That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal
    Where everything is just the opposite and the word ‘is’
    Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned.
    Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately,
    Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh
    And knows that if there is no other shore
    We will walk that aerial bridge all the same.

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    Ohhhh how I want this. My favorite poem right now is “Fat Girl” by Megan Falley:

    Fat girl, fat jokes.
    Fat girl, skinny friends.
    Fat girl stand next to fatter people to look thin.
    Fat girl, fat camp, five years.
    (True)
    Fat girl lost 2 pounds and you didn’t notice.
    Fat girl love your garlic bread.
    Fat girl, vegan.
    Fat girl, but red velvet cupcake taste so delicious.
    (They do, try them)
    Fat girl, pretty face.
    Fat girl, Dean’s list.
    Fat girl want fries with that.
    Fat girl, don’t touch her stomach.
    Fat girl, turn the lights off.
    Fat girl, keep her t-shirt on.
    Fat girl not pregnant.
    Fat girl, food baby.
    Fat girl named her dog taco.
    Fat girl, bad bulimic.
    Fat girl, binge and no purge.
    Fat girl can’t even throw up right.
    Fat girl unbutton her pants at dinner.
    Fat girl heard, “nothing tastes as good a thin feels.”
    Fat girl certain spicy, crunchy tuna rolls taste better than being thin feels.
    Fat girl threw out her scale.
    Fat girl, you are what you eat.
    Fat girl, double stuffed Oreos.
    Fat girl got her father’s genes.
    Fat girl’s brother didn’t.
    Fat girl’s friends come over to stare her brother’s chiseled abdominals
    And ignore fat girl.
    Fat girl don’t hate her body.
    Fat girl hate the world.
    Fat girl, fat mouth.
    Fat girl, fatter fist.
    Fat girl, fuck you.
    Fat girl, heart so fat it needs it own zip code.
    Fat girl, heart so fat, it uses the equator as its belt.
    Fat girl, seafood diet: fat girl see food, fat girl eat it.
    Fat girl heard all the jokes.
    Fat girl finish the punch line before you do.
    Fat girl cry in private.
    Fat girl, thick skin.
    Fat girl, dance anyway.
    Fat girl, shirt off.
    Fat girl, lights on.
    Fat girl, lights on.

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    Feminist or Womanist -Staceyann Chin

    “I come in too many flavors for one fucking spoon”

    Just saw her read/read in front of her and had a mini-queer heart attack. If you haven’t seen her perform yet, you should.

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    I will embrace the nerd label. I am drooling over these books!!!

    favorite poem of all all all time is
    Notes to the Music, by Laura Solomon,

    especially, these lines:

    “In the unbuttoned beginning
    there was love and non-love.

    Later there were things like
    a sky that chirped

    and a blue-headed sea,
    a grain of sand that said

    think of the words of the poem
    as notes to the music”

    I love the other poems people are posting here.
    Yay for new words, new poems and new loves.

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    I’m not going to lie… I’ve only very recently gotten into poetry to save myself from, well, myself. So I’m fairly boring in that if I were to have to pick a favorite poem it would be one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I’m trying to expand my horizons – and I’ll definitely be adding these to the list!

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    this is the best thing. my favorite poem right now (changes frequently, currently in finals) is the shadow voice by margaret atwood.

    The Shadow Voice
    by Margaret Atwood

    My shadow said to me:
    what is the matter

    Isn’t the moon warm
    enough for you
    why do you need
    the blanket of another body

    Whose kiss is moss

    Around the picnic tables
    The bright pink hands held sandwiches
    crumbled by distance. Flies crawl
    over the sweet instant

    You know what is in these blankets

    The trees outside are bending with
    children shooting guns. Leave
    them alone. They are playing
    games of their own.

    I give water, I give clean crusts

    Aren’t there enough words
    flowing in your veins
    to keep you going.

    http://wireface.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-shadow-voice.html

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    so this is by no means my favorite poet of all time forever, but it’s the first one that came to mind, so. it’s called somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond by e.e. cummings and i have a lot of feelings about it and think it’s pretty much perfect:

    somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near

    your slightest look easily will unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

    or if your wish be to close me, i and
    my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;

    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
    compels me with the color of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing

    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens;only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

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    There are several poems that I would say are my favorites. Today I’ll go with Sylvia Plath’s “Fever 103,” especially these last 7 stanzas:

    I am too pure for you or anyone.
    Your body
    Hurts me as the world hurts God. I am a lantern——

    My head a moon
    Of Japanese paper, my gold beaten skin
    Infinitely delicate and infinitely expensive.

    Does not my heat astound you! And my light!
    All by myself I am a huge camellia
    Glowing and coming and going, flush on flush.

    I think I am going up,
    I think I may rise——
    The beads of hot metal fly, and I love, I

    Am a pure acetylene
    Virgin
    Attended by roses,

    By kisses, by cherubim,
    By whatever these pink things mean!
    Not you, nor him

    Nor him, nor him
    (My selves dissolving, old whore petticoats)——
    To Paradise.

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    Because I love you Last Night By E E Cummings
    He is such a fantastic writer
    he has captivated me since high school, and I have never found a poet who could describe the “cursive” ways of love quite as well.

    Bukowski is great for drunk nights. I love andrea gibson and buddy wakefield.
    I also like Leonard cohen.
    Poetry<3

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    all the best
    stanzas know,
    where my blood pools and
    aches under my skin.
    instead of pausing to
    kiss my bruises softly,
    they hit them; trip me over
    line breaks and
    draw me through commas like razors.
    they kiss my tears
    and don’t apologize.

    (sorry, my whole answer can’t be in poem format but that is generally why i like the ones that become favorites. they hurt with me in a way that feels good.)

    i am also biased by my relationships, and i know a lot of beautiful budding poet flowers out there so i’m going to go with one of my deviantart friends Masvida, who is just plain awesome and whom i love.

    a short part of their poem, memories…

    I cannot erase you,
    but they say that

    skin renews itself every seven years.

    In four years, my skin will no longer be
    the same skin you touched.
    I repeat this to myself
    too many times a day, and

    I still love

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    …finally got an account so I could comment on this! There are too many, but today I’m picking “Self Portrait” by Cynthia Cruz:

    Self Portrait

    I did not want my body
    Spackled in the world’s
    Black beads and broke
    Diamonds. What the world

    Wanted, I did not. Of the things
    It wanted. The body of Sunday
    Morning, the warm wine and
    The blood. The dripping fox

    Furs dragged through the black New
    York snow—the parked car, the pearls,
    To the first pew—the funders,
    The trustees, the bloat, the red weight of

    The world. Their faces. I wanted not
    That. I wanted Saint Francis, the love of
    His animals. The wolf, broken and bleeding—
    That was me.

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    My favorites change with the days, but this one has always stuck with me.
    It’s by the lovely Joy Harjo.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who were bodies of sand.
    She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
    She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
    She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
    She had horses who were fur and teeth.
    She had horses who were clay and would break.
    She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses with long, pointed breasts.
    She had horses with full, brown thighs.
    She had horses who laughed too much.
    She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
    She had horses who licked razor blades.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who danced in their mothers’ arms.
    She had horses who thought they were the sun and their bodies shone and burned
    like stars.
    She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
    She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet in stalls of their own
    making.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
    She had horses who cried in their beer.
    She had horses who spit at male queens who made them afraid of themselves.
    She had horses who said they weren’t afraid.
    She had horses who lied.
    She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped bare of their tongues.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who called themselves, “horse.”
    She had horses who called themselves, “spirit.” and kept their voices secret and to
    themselves.
    She had horses who had no names.
    She had horses who had books of names.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
    She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who carried knives to
    protect themselves from ghosts.
    She had horses who waited for destruction.
    She had horses who waited for resurrection.

    She had some horses.

    She had horses who got down on their knees for any savior.
    She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
    She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her bed at night and prayed
    as they raped her.

    She had some horses.

    She had some horses she loved.
    She had some horses she hated.

    These were the same horses.

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    I’m pumped. How could you have a body and be made of atoms and react any other way?

    Choosing is not something I do well, I have recently been joy-gasming to Ellen Bass, but I am going to have to choose Pitcher by Kay Ryan in this exact moment.

    Pitcher

    A pitcher molds
    the air in it, dividing
    from the air it holds. And
    should the pitcher
    vanish, something
    would take a minute
    to escape, a gradually
    diminishing integrity
    a thinning pitcherful
    of pitcher shape.

    This was the poem that inspired this line in a recent short story of mine, which has sort of been surging around in me, and thus is still on my mind, heart and lips.

    “The way the skin on Hera’s face moved made Selah feel empty, hallowed out like a jack-o-lantern, rid of all the goo and seeds of herself and ready to be a light-bucket for something new, a pumpkin-shaped vessel for sweet and new pumpkin-shaped air.”

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    My favorite poem is “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke.

    the first part goes:

    “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
    I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
    I learn by going where I have to go.”

    It reminds me that everything will end, and to enjoy the journey.
    I read it at my grandma’s funeral this past summer.

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    There are so many it’s hard to choose. “When Love Arrives” by Philip Kaye and Sarah Kay reminds the listener “you are beautiful” even when one doesn’t want to hear it. Aaaaand they’re both babes.
    And “Andrew” by our love Andrea perfectly describes wibbly-wobbly gender and sexual identity.
    So those. And a haiku:

    Andrea Gibson
    Will prob never be my wife
    But a girl can dream

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    ah, picking a favorite poem.
    this has always felt
    somewhat like
    picking a favorite limb
    or child
    or perhaps
    a favorite star.

    (poetry was my polaris
    when all else was dark.)

    i don’t know if i’d call this one my very favorite, but i’ve always loved tattered kaddish by adrienne rich.

    Taurean reaper of the wild apple field
    messenger from earthmire gleaning
    transcripts of fog
    in the nineteenth year and the eleventh month
    speak your tattered Kaddish for all suicides:

    Praise to life though it crumbled in like a tunnel
    on ones we knew and loved

    Praise to life though its windows blew shut
    on the breathing-room of ones we knew and loved

    Praise to life though ones we knew and loved
    loved it badly, too well, and not enough

    Praise to life though it tightened like a knot
    on the hearts of ones we thought we knew loved us

    Praise to life giving room and reason
    to ones we knew and loved who felt unpraisable

    Praise to them, how they loved it, when they could.

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    “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop, about loss.

    I read it first when I was thirteen, before I knew I was queer and before I knew Bishop was queer and I didn’t understand it at all but somehow it still perfectly described me. Six years and a senior thesis about her work later, it still does.

    One Art

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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    One of my favorite poems is by an amazing professor of mine, Aracelis Girmay. There’s this poem in her collection “Teeth” that just hits me all the time. It’s called “For Estefani Lora, Third Grade, Who Made Me a Card” also know (by me) as “loveisforeverybody.”

    It’s so beautiful, and dear, and playful. It’s just about love for love’s sake, in all forms, for all people. Y’all should check it out.

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    There is something about spoken poetry that grips not only my hears but my eyes and feelings as well. Hearing the author or someone passionate about reading a poem creates depth not understood or felt when simply read, therefore, along with the theme of the Madness Base which is one of the things that have kept me sane. The poem that comes to mind immediately when I think of poetry is “Swing Set by Andrea Gibson, praise it!

    Swing Set.

    “Are you a boy or a girl?”
    he asks, staring up at me in all three feet of his pudding face grandeur, and I say “Dylan,
    you’ve been in this class for three years and you still don’t know if I’m a boy or a girl?”
    “Uh-uh.”
    “Well, at this point, I don’t really think it matters, do you?”
    “Uhm, no.
    Can I have a push on the swing?”
    And this happens every day.
    It’s a tidal wave of kindergarten curiosity rushing straight for the rocks of me, whatever I am.

    In the class, when we discuss the Milky Way galaxy, the orbit of the Sun around the Earth or whatever.
    Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and kids, do you know that some of the stars we see when we look up in the sky are so far away, they’ve already burned out?
    What do you think of that?
    Timmy?
    “Uh my mom says that even though you got hairs that grow from your legs, and the hairs on your head grow short and poky, and that you smell really bad, like my dad, that you’re a girl.”
    “Thank you, Timmy.”
    And so it goes.

    On the playground, she peers up at me from behind her pink power puff sunglasses and then asks, “Do you have a boyfriend?”
    And I say no, and she says “Oh… do you have a girlfriend?”
    And I say “No, but if by some miracle, twenty years from now, I ever finally do, then I’ll definitely bring her by to meet you. How’s that?”
    “Okay. Can I have a push on the swing?”

    And that’s the thing.
    They don’t care.
    They don’t care. Us, on the other hand.
    My father sitting across the table at Christmas dinner, gritting his teeth over his still-full plate, his appetite raped away by the intrusion of my haircut,
    “What were you thinking? You used to be such a pretty girl!”
    Frat boys, drunken, screaming, leaning out of the windows of their daddys’ SUVs,
    “Hey! Are you a faggot or a dyke?”
    And I wonder what would happen if I met up with them in the middle of the night.

    Then of course there’s always the somehow not-quite-bright enough fluorescent light of the public restroom, “Sir! Sir, do you realize this is the ladies’ room?”
    “Yes, ma’am, I do,
    it’s just that I didn’t feel comfortable sticking this tampon up my penis in the men’s room.”

    But the best, the best is always the mother at the market, sticking up her nose while pushing aside her daughter’s wide eyes, whispering “Don’t stare, it’s rude.”
    And I want to say, “Listen, lady, the only rude thing I see is your paranoid parental hand pushing aside the best education on self that little girl’s ever gonna get,
    living with your Maybelline lipstick after hips and pedi kiwi, vanilla-smelling beauty;
    so why don’t you take your pinks and blues, your boy-girl rules and shove them in that car with your fucking issue of Cosmo,
    because tomorrow, I start my day with twenty-eight minds who know a hell of a lot more than you.
    And if I show up in a pink frilly dress, those kids won’t love me any more, or less.”

    “Hey, are you a boy or a — never mind, can I have a push on the swing?”
    And some day, y’all, when we grow up, it’s all gonna be that simple.

    I feel like this poem sums it up in one, just wish there was a bit more love in there, because that is what this place is all about.

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    I’ve really liked reading all the poems that everyone has shared. And I have a soft spot for sharing things with a community.
    That probably explains why one of my favorites poems is, “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

    After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.”

    Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.

    I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used – she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said, No, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.

    We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out, of course, they had ten shared friends. Then I thought, just for the heck of it, why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions.

    She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

    And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers — non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African-American, one Mexican-American — ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar, too.

    And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

    And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped — has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen, anywhere.

    Not everything is lost.

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    I know there are times
    when you will lay your head to rest
    and have a moment of brilliance
    that grows into a perfect order of words
    but you will fall asleep
    instead of painting it down on paper.
    When you wake up,
    you will have forgotten the idea completely
    and miss it like a front tooth
    but at least you know how to recognize moments of brilliance,
    because even at your worst
    you are fucking incredible.

    — Buddy Wakefield, from “The Information Man”

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    One of my very favorite poems is Andrea Gibson’s “I Sing The Body Electric; Especially When My Power Is Out.”

    This stanza rings most true for me:

    I said to the the sun
    “Tell me about the big bang”
    The sun said
    “it hurts to become.”

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    I love Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” especially read aloud!

    “Not words, not music or rhyme I want…not custom or lecture, not even the best, only the lull I like, the hum of your valued voice.”

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    ‘Sleeping’ by Andrea Gibson was the first slam poetry performance I had ever seen on youtube and it brought me to tears. I fell in love with the raw emotions she wrote with and wished that one day I could write something that visceral. It opened me up to the world of slam poetry on youtube and introduced me to so many amazing poets and I am so grateful for that.

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