Fukushima – new poem card

From my on-going grief and fear about what Fukushima means for our oceans, our planet, all the animals and ecosystems with no power to stop human poison, came a poem trying to find words for the immensity of the grief. The poem is now available to purchase as a glossy poetry postcard using the link below.



I can’t hold this grief today
all containment shattered spilling pouring pluming out
currents of currents of eddies of currents of riptides of
fallout of rain acid of rain nuclear of rain that doesn’t fall Oh drought
of grief oh flood of grief oh wall of grief washing down mountains washing
away the house and the child and the barn and the henhouse leaving one
perfect egg unbroken but no hen
to warm it to life

That egg is my grief today
dying in its wholeness

Fukushima Poem Card


“deeper than dirt” by Rachel McKibbens, the best piece of writing you will read today, or maybe even this week or month

deeper than dirt
Rachel McKibbens

after the poet asked how I would bury my brother

Beyond the carrots and blind white worms, beyond
the yellowing bone orchards and corkscrew roots,
beyond the center of this churchless earth, beloved Peter,
my little sorcerer, brought up dirty & wrong, you deserve more
than to be smothered in mud. For all the gravel you were fed,
for every bruise and knot that named you, I must plant you
in a bed of blood-hot muscle, must deliver you into me,
so I may
carry you as the only mother you have ever known.

About This Poem

“Poets of witness navigate the world in such a peculiar way, seeking justice through writing; punishing and praising with language. This poem is entirely for my quiet brother who is blessed with the gift of withholding.”

–Rachel McKibbens

Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-A-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. Browse the Poem-A-Day Archive.

Into the Dark & Emptying Field

Into the Dark & Emptying Field

Copyright © 2013 by Rachel McKibbens. Used with permission of the author.

“Suddenly” Sharon Olds’ poem for Ruth Stone

Too many people close to me seem to be wrestling with grief right now, the horrible weight of the loss of it. So here is Sharon Olds’ poem about the death of poet Ruth Stone, which is about the loss but even more about the love and legacy and connection of poet to poet, woman to woman, body to body.

by Sharon Olds

(Ruth Stone, June 8, 1915 – November 19, 2011)

And suddenly, it’s today, it’s this morning
they are putting Ruth into the earth,
her breasts going down, under the hill,
like the moon and sun going down together.
O I know, it’s not Ruth—what was Ruth
went out, slowly, but this was her form,
beautiful and powerful
as the old, gorgeous goddesses who were
terrible, too, not telling a lie

for anyone—and she’d been left here so long, among
mortals, by her mate—who could not,
one hour, bear to go on being human.
And I’ve gone a little crazy myself
with her going, which seems to go against logic,
the way she has always been there, with her wonder, and her
generousness, her breasts like two
voluptuous external hearts.
I am so glad she kept them, all
her life, and she got to be buried in them—
she 96, and they
maybe 82, each, which is
164 years
of pleasure and longing. And think of all
the poets who have suckled at her riskiness, her
risque, her body politic, her
outlaw grace! What she came into this world with,
with a mew and cry, she gave us. In her red
sweater and her red hair and her raw
melodious Virginia crackle,
she emptied herself fully out
into her songs and our song-making,
we would not have made our songs without her.
O dear one, what is this? You are not a child,
though you dwindled, you have not retraced your path,
but continued to move straight forward to where
we will follow you, radiant mother. Red Rover,
cross over.

NaPoMo 19 – Forgetting

Forgetting how much life we have lived dead
we cry Oh Loss! Oh Loss! as if we’ve only now
noticed the bobbing of amputated desires decorating
the waves of the wakes we’ve left on our way

into the earth. Into the sky. Along the edge
that goes on being edge forever
unless you turn back.

Which would be a loss of future but
no greater than how going on regardlessly
is to be mired and lost in the swamp of the past.

If measured in atoms our lives stretch
nye on to infinite. In eons, a lifepan’s no more
than a moth’s: hatch, molt, mate, die.

But linearity is time’s best ruse. If we remember
how much live we’ve lived dead then death is
both after and before time then life
is what we’ve been losing all along
and death only how we return to
what we’ve always known.

NaPoMo – April 8, “Grace”

a re-imagining of a poem from last April.

for Alexine

Not divine, not rare, perhaps unexpected,
not unearned—our brightest courage

shone back at us. She learned to trust
by trusting this horse, hurtling together

over fences or walls or any obstacles.
When Rosie died, when she found

her own knees could not lift her
up from the rough floor, she found

hands, reaching for her. Friends
of Rosie, people who paused at the pasture

nearly every day, people
she’d never suspected now stopping

their cars, saying: I’m sorry, she was
so beautiful, my child loved her.

Grief thrusts a rigid basket
of bricks into our arms. Grace

stretches a stranger’s hand to pluck
some of them, to make bearable

the crippling bulk. Old wives tell
the truest tales—a shared load

is lighter, so light it shines,
a spring sun on an old mare,

now blind, who trusted this woman
once, to fly, and always, to find her way back.

on Adrienne

from Hugh MacDiarmid’s manifesto “The Kind of Poetry I Want,” quoted by Adrienne in her speech/essay “Poetry and Commitment.”

A poetry the quality of which
Is a stand made against intellectual apathy,
Its material founded, like Gray’s, on difficult knowledge
And its metres those of a poet
Who has studied Pindar and Welsh poetry,
But, more than that, its words coming from a mind
Which has experienced the sifted layers on layers
Of human lives—aware of the innumerable dead
And the innumerable to-be-born…

A speech, a poetry, to bring to bear upon life
The concentrated strength of all our being…

Poetry of such an integration as cannot be effected
Until a new and conscious organization of society
Generates a new view
Of the world as a whole…

—A learned poetry wholly free
of the brutal love of ignorance;
And the poetry of a poet with no use
For any of the simpler forms of personal success

March 28th 2012

If you really know me, you’ll know
that I could quite possibly sing sections of “Sources”
to that three-finger-picked high melody soaring up Foggy Mountain.

On days like this I know what Adrienne meant
by “split at the root,” I know, because she taught me to know,
that everything that lies stored in us
is the source of our strength and that
the horrible place that opens in our center
when we are so split
is where poetry
grows in that most uncomfortable
most quickening