Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done

   But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

   Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

   On his face.  If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

   That couldn’t be done, and he did it!


Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

   At least no one ever has done it;”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat

   And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

   Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

   That couldn’t be done, and he did it.


There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

   There are thousands to prophesy failure,

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

   The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

   Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing

   That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.


                                 ~ Edgar Albert Guest


Posted in honor of my successful MFA thesis defense at Chapman University one year ago today and my new novel completion deadline of August 31, 2016.  I thought the thesis “couldn’t be done,” and I did it, so it’s time to “tackle the thing” again…


"The Matterhorn" by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

“The Matterhorn” by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

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In November

Outside the house the wind is howling

and the trees are creaking horribly.

This is an old story

with its old beginning,

as I lay me down to sleep.

But when I wake up, sunlight

has taken over the room.

You have already made the coffee

and the radio brings us music

from a confident age.  In the paper

bad news is set in distant places.

Whatever was bound to happen

in my story did not happen.

But I know there are rules that cannot be broken.

Perhaps a name was changed.

A small mistake.  Perhaps

a woman I do not know

is facing the day with the heavy heart

that, by all rights, should have been mine.


                                      ~ Lisel Mueller


Laurits Andersen Ring, 1898

Laurits Andersen Ring, 1898

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November for Beginners

Snow would be the easy

way out – that softening

sky like a sigh of relief

at finally being allowed

to yield.  No dice.

We stack twigs for burning

in glistening patches

but the rain won’t give.


So we wait, breeding

mood, making music

of decline.  We sit down

in the smell of the past

and rise in a light

that is already leaving.

We ache in secret,



a gloomy line

or two of German.

When spring comes

we promise to act

the fool.  Pour,

rain! Sail, wind,

with your cargo of zithers!


~ Rita Dove


Marcel Rieder (1862-1942)

Marcel Rieder (1862-1942)

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The seasons send their ruin as they go,

For in the spring the narciss shows its head

Nor withers till the rose has flamed to red,

And in the autumn purple violets blow,

And the slim crocus stirs the winter snow;

Wherefore yon leafless trees will bloom again

And this grey land grow green with summer rain

And send up cowslips for some boy to mow.


But what of life whose bitter hungry sea

Flows at our heels, and gloom of sunless night

Covers the days which never more return?

Ambition, love and all the thoughts that burn

We lose too soon, and only find delight

In withered husks of some dead memory.


                            ~ Oscar Wilde, born on this day in 1854


Oscar Wilde with "Poems" (Napoleon Sarony, New York, 1882)

Oscar Wilde with “Poems” (Napoleon Sarony, New York, 1882)

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A Letter in October

Dawn comes later and later now,

and I, who only a month ago

could sit with coffee every morning

watching the light walk down the hill

to the edge of the pond and place

a doe there, shyly drinking,


then see the light step out upon

the water, sowing reflections

to either side – a garden

of trees that grew as if by magic –

now see no more than my face,

mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,


startled by time. While I slept,

night in its thick winter jacket

bridled the doe with a twist

of wet leaves and led her away,

then brought its black horse with harness

that creaked like a cricket, and turned


the water garden under. I woke,

and at the waiting window found

the curtains open to my open face;

beyond me, darkness. And I,

who only wished to keep looking out,

must now keep looking in.


           ~ Ted Kooser


Photo by mattbuck

Photo by mattbuck

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In visions of the dark night

   I have dreamed of joy departed –

But a waking dream of life and light

   Hath left me broken-hearted.


Ah! what is not a dream by day

   To him whose eyes are cast

On things around him with a ray

   Turned back upon the past?


That holy dream – that holy dream,

   While all the world were chiding,

Hath cheered me as a lovely beam

   A lonely spirit guiding.


What though that light, thro’ storm and night,

   So trembled from afar –

What could there be more purely bright

   In Truth’s day star?


                        ~ Edgar Allan Poe, died on this day in 1849


John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858

John Anster Fitzgerald, 1858

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O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow,

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know;

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away;

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost –

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.


~ Robert Frost


"Autumn Colours at St. Hubertus Estate Winery" by Hirsch Hubert

“Autumn Colours at St. Hubertus Estate Winery” by Hirsch Hubert

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