Because this little poem made me remember what “yearning” means

From the Telephone
Florence Ripley Mastin

Out of the dark cup
Your voice broke like a flower.
It trembled, swaying on its taut stem.
The caress in its touch
Made my eyes close.


Side note from official bio, but not “side” to me: When Florence Josephine Mastin was in her 20s and already a published poet, she decided to replace her girlish middle name with “Ripley.

Florence Ripley Mastin was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Piermont, New York. She earned a BA from Barnard College and spent many years teaching English at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. Mastin was a popular teacher, and her student Bernard Malamud described her classes as “unusually exciting.” Her collections of poetry include Green Leaves (1918), Cables of Cobweb (1935), Over the Tappan Zee (1962), and Flowers: A Birthday Book (1964). Her work was regularly published in journals such as Poetry and national periodicals such as the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune, among others. The New York State Commission on Historic Observances chose Mastin’s poem “Freedom’s Dream” for its Hudson-Champlain Celebration in 1959; the poem was also awarded the Freedom Foundation Medal. Mastin retired from teaching in 1952 and returned to Piermont, where she died in 1968.


NaPoWriMo Guest Dane Kuttler

2/30 April ’14
April 2, 2014 at 7:45pm

let’s build a monster trap.
you get the shovel, and I’ll
find the thinnest story you ever used
to get me to take you back,
and I will lay it over the skylight.

let’s leave a map nailed to the tree.
let’s write it on human skin.
let’s put a big juicy X next to the spot
you once told me I’d look better
without a mustache.

when we find it, squirming
within our reach, its tentacles and fur
and hands with too many fingers reaching up
through the vapor,
tell me

it’s my problem, now.

At the Touch of You

At the Touch of You
Witter Bynner

At the touch of you,
As if you were an archer with your swift hand at the bow,
The arrows of delight shot through my body.

You were spring,
And I the edge of a cliff,
And a shining waterfall rushed over me.

This poem came through my mailbox from Poem-a-day. And wow, is it ever lovely. Posting it here so I can keep coming back to it.

About This Poem

“At the Touch of You” was published in Witter Bynner’s collection Grenstone Poems; a sequence (Frederick A. Stokes, 1917).

#poetrylive “Journal Entry: Love”

from Laura Madeline Wiseman, Queen of the Platform, section I

Journal Entry: Love

You kissed me hard after you said the word. It floated
on the surface, on the lake—like a male swan, like an edge
walked to—it’s o a wedding ring, a life ring, thrown far
into the water, the second consonant vibrating, a ripple.

When you say do I, when you grab my hand
and pull me to you, when you recite “Song of Myself”
into my ear, pressing against me on the footpath
in a waltz under the moonlight and live oaks

after having five minutes of the word in my mouth
I laugh, throaty and effervescent,
all the while feeling the l down the length of my body
like a purring, a tuning fork, and that e
silent, soft, sliding off into breath.

Angelina Weld Grimké “El Beso”

Now I have to go order whatever of her work is still in print.

El Beso
Angelina Weld Grimké

Twilight‒and you
Quiet‒the stars;
Snare of the shine of your teeth,
Your provocative laughter,
The gloom of your hair;
Lure of you, eye and lip;
Yearning, yearning,
Languor, surrender;
Your mouth,
And madness, madness,
Tremulous, breathless, flaming,
The space of a sigh;
Then awakening‒remembrance,
Pain, regret‒your sobbing;
And again, quiet‒the stars,
Twilight‒and you.

Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880 – June 10, 1958) was an African-American journalist, teacher, playwright and poet who was part of the Harlem Renaissance; she was one of the first African-American women to have a play publicly performed.

“El Beso” was first published in 1909 and became Grimké’s first widely anthologized poem. This lyric meditation expresses a sense of isolation and desire.

NaPoMo 2013 – Words in My City / Reconciling

After feeling less than inspired to start NaPoMo’s Poem a Day Challenge, I saw a great post about creating poems by taking pictures of words in the world around us. (See: National Poetry Month Phone Poets Project)

Not quite up for that, I was struck by the idea of pulling words I see in my city and using them as writing prompts for poems. So here’s my first offering, from a sign at a church near my office.



The bowling ball has reconciled with the lane
and the pins but is not reconciled to
the sweating unwashed fingers

The pins will never reconcile with
the ball nor the bowler nor the
pinsetter. The lane knows it would be nothing
without the gutters and the gutters and the lane
are not reconciled to the invention of
the bumpers.

The balls and the pins and the lanes are reconciled
to or with the bowlers, depending.

The bowlers are in general reconciled to
the whim of the lanes and pins
but have not been reconciled with
each other since The Incident
when Mr. Last Year’s Champion grabbed
the ass of Mrs. Trying To Be This Year’s Champion, causing
her ball to be reconciled to the gutter.

After six months of silence between the men’s
and women’s league, silence that travels from
Waverly Bowl to home and back again, there is
some talk of making
peace but none yet
of a formal reconciliation.

But even this in its way will come. Like any
relationship that yearns to last longer
than anger, these combatants
will learn to make
peace with
reconciling with and without reconciling
to and next season the men’s
and women’s leagues will bowl on
different nights and in five years this
will be tradition and not evidence of how
life needs neither forgiveness nor
reconciliation and yet
goes on and goes on forgetting how good
either would feel.

but I need pleasure like I need air, now, when

Dadaism Versus Surrealism, by Romanian poet Angela Marinescu, translated by Martin Woodside in his anthology Of Gentle Wolves.

Dadaism Versus Surrealism

put your fingers between my legs
I can no longer stand the act of sex
which seems to me dadaist, whereas
fingers wander a precise surrealist
a collection agent what I hate the most
but I need pleasure like I need air, now, when
thrust on the peak of solitude
and all my generation stays in You

like a lead soldier on duty

I don’t know what else to do
but write slow and free
like the soft rain
of spring.

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.

NaPoMo April 6 – “Love Psalm”

Love Psalm

in the form of quassams, flung over
our prison walls, slingshots of sugar and
fertilizer, rockets whistling our tune,
carrying the words of our song:

          We will come back, we will come back
          We have not forgotten you, Mother, Land
          to whom we know we belong

And when they touch you, having burrowed through
the cement that pretends to be your tombstone, they deliver
our sweet kisses, our lips to yours sealing
our oath:

          We have not forgotten you, Mother, Land
          that rises to meet our lips
          that will never agree
          to be exiled from us

You open yourself to us
You will swallow these houses on the day we post notice
of the date of our return