Photograph of the Girl

The girl sits on the hard ground,
the dry pan of Russia, in the drought
of 1921, stunned,
eyes closed, mouth open,
raw hot wind blowing
sand in her face. Hunger and puberty are
taking her together. She leans on a sack,
layers of clothes fluttering in the heat,
the new radius of her arm curved.
She cannot be not beautiful, but she is
starving. Each day she grows thinner, and her bones
grow longer, porous. The caption says
she is going to starve to death that winter
with millions of others. Deep in her body
the ovaries let out her first eggs,
golden as drops of grain.

-Sharon Olds (1942-)

Sonnet XVIII - 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance of nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

-William Shakespeare(1564-1616)

Inspiration from the Alchemist

The desert ate you my dear
Wind shaped horizons and prickly plants dot the stretching landscape
Wide and long and far as the eye can see
Empty earth beaten by the most relentless hands of the sun
Reminds me that you are not there.
On your bike you rode away
Searching for dreams and adventures and women and dances under the moon
But I see the desert
Before skyscrapers and track communities and irrigation took it away
And at least now, the view expands further into the sky
Where I look out for your return
Whether or not I fall in love in again with someone new
Even though I fear you will too
Or that the years will be so many
I will pray to the desert
Patiently wait
That the dry and absent air will carry you back to my open arms.
For both you and the sand have taught me a great lesson
Cherish every drop.
Your memories will be like morning dew that sustains the cacti
And I will walk alone along the edges of ancient river beds
that whisper to me
How time has turned seas to dust and dust to seas.

-Quinn Riddle (1980-)

Michiko Dead

He manages like somebody carrying a box
that is too heavy, first with his arms
underneath. When their strength gives out,
he moves the hands forward, hooking them
on the corners, pulling the weight against
his chest. He moves his thumbs slightly
when fingers begin to tire, and it makes
different muscles take over. Afterward,
he carries it on his shoulder, until the blood
drains out of the arm that is stretched up
to steady the box and the arm goes numb. But now
the man can hold underneath again, so that
he can go on without ever putting the box down.

-Jack Gilbert(1925-)

To Science

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

-Edgar Allan Poe(1809-1849)


As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of theirs in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

After Tempest

Shell-less, on your slimey trail,
In mornless dawn, I meet you, snail:
Sans house, sans home, sans bivouac,
No arc of wonder spans your back.

Here, on time’s storm-shattered shelf,
Slug, you meet your crawling self,
Reaching towards eternity
All-unavailing antennae!

-Percy MacKaye(1875-1956)

Mezzo Cammin

Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,--
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,--
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)