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Poetry Friday: Landscape, chance and longing

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Poetry Friday
Do you have enough poetry in your life?
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In honor of National Poetry Month, The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, we will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press.

Today's selections come from Dana Gioia, William Brewer and Dawn Lundy Martin.

This week's poetry selections.
This week's poetry selections.
Courtesy of publishers

Rough Country

Give me a landscape made of obstacles,
of steep hills and jutting glacial rock,
where the low-running streams are quick to flood
the grassy fields and bottomlands.
                                                              A place
no engineers can master—where the roads
must twist like tendrils up the mountainside
on narrow cliffs where boulders block the way.

Where tall black trunks of lightning-scalded pine
push through the tangled woods to make a roost
for hawks and swarming crows.
              And sharp inclines
where twisting through the thorn-thick underbrush,
scratched and exhausted, one turns suddenly

to find an unexpected waterfall,
not half a mile from the nearest road,
a spot so hard to reach that no one comes—

a hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies
and nesting jays, a sign that there is still
one piece of property that won't be owned.

"Rough Country" from "99 Poems: New and Selected." Copyright © 2016 by Dana Gioia. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press.

Early Oxyana: An Anecdote

We were so hungry; Tom's hand
on the table looked like warm bread.
I crushed it with a hammer

then walked him to the ER to score pills.
Why'd you keep hitting, he asked.
I don't know. And I didn't. The nurse

asked what happened. Tails, I said.
Excuse me? He called tails, I said.
But it was heads. It's always heads.

"Early Oxyana: An Anecdote" from "I Know Your Kind." Copyright © 2017 by William Brewer. Used with the permission of Milkweed Editions.

 To sing the blue song of longing—

          its webbed feet along jungle floor. What of our mechanical arm,
our off-melody? Purpose in the gathering, I know, dear self. It rains
and we think, God, or we think Universe. I say, portent across the wind
When wind is wrought, whole song fallen from its lip, some black
unknown. What speech into hard god breath just as night park is godless? 
What of a silver cube in the mouth? This is our wandering. 

"To sing the blue song of longing—" from "Good Stock Strange Blood." Copyright © 2017 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.