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Valentine for Ernest Mann
You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter and say, "I’ll take two"
and expect it to handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like you spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here’s my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.
|From Here to There||17|
|The Attic and its Nails||18|
|Words When We Need Them||25|
|How Palestinians Keep Warm||26|
|White Hair Over the Rocky Mountains||29|
|Texas, The First Time||33|
|What She Was Doing at Home||34|
|Swimmer, Blessed Sea||35|
|The Man Whose Voice Has Been Taken From His Throat||38|
|Someone Is Standing On the Roof of the World||39|
|My Grandmother in the Stars||41|
|Living Where We Do||45|
|In That Time||48|
|Breaking the Fast||55|
|The Crossed-Out Word||63|
|Living with Mistakes||64|
|In the Public Schools||67|
|Problems with the Story||68|
|Valentine for Ernest Mann||70|
|What Is Supposed To Happen||72|
|What Brings Us Out||75|
|Lucia, Your Voice||77|
|What Happened in Madisonville||78|
|First Hawaiian Bank||80|
|"If God Won't Take Me, Why Won't the Devil?"||81|
|The Silence of Hutchinson, Kansas: A Letter from Texas||84|
|Lullaby For Regret||87|
|Love Letter, Hate Letter||90|
|Morning Paper, Society Page||93|
|Even at War||94|
|The Grieving Ring||95|
|For the 500th Dead Palestinian, Ibtisam Bozieh||97|
|Those Whom We Do Not Know||99|
|Inside the Riddle||102|
|Acknowledgements and Dedications||105|