Ken Craft (6 Poems)

from the collection The Indifferent World Trigger This is where I held my breath— a stand of red pine, needles and snowdust scribed about my boot, cold crescent resisting a swollen finger itchy-numb with November. This is where a buck held its breath— mouth mid-meal amid the mast, a single line of berry drool spiking…

Philip Larkin (Forerunners)

Thanks to Daniel Paul Marshall for selecting the nine poems below from Philip Larkin, as well as for the following comments. Be sure to check out his blog for his own poetry, essays and photography, as well as another piece on Larkin. Larkin was a poet I knew more about than I had read. In…

Daniel Bennett (6 Poems)

Bermondsey Spaces By the corner forecourt of the Shell station the man eating ribs from a paper bag lets a crutch dangle on one elbow, as he picks his way through want and circumstance, under the gloaming, the overpass, beyond the river’s abstract mass. A light like fine quartz inside concrete ghosts our day. Low…

Early Ted Hughes (Forerunners)

Here are fourteen early poems from Ted Hughes, all of them from before the more well-known collections Wodwo and Crow. The powerful voices he gives to the animal and natural world, to history and mythology, to the experience of war, even to the theology of a sixteenth-century martyr burned at the stake, are well worth…

Robert Okaji (6 Poems)

As Blue Fades Which defines you best, a creaking lid or the light-turned flower? The coffee’s steam or smoke wafting from your hand. Your bowls color my shelves; I touch them daily. Sound fills their bodies with memory. The lighter’s click invokes your name. And the stepping stones to nowhere, your current address. If the…

Allen Ginsberg’s “Kaddish” (Forerunners)

While I’d like to say that after Four Quartets, I don’t know of another long poem from the last century that’s meant as much to me as Allen Ginsberg’s elegy for his mother, Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg, 1894-1956. But it’s so powerful that even describing it as a poem seems silly: it really doesn’t matter…

Tim Miller (Bog Poems)

LAST MEAL Their stomachs a bestiary only of grain during a time of feasting and boasting and meat, bellies a mush with the barely digested gruel of barley and rye and buttercup, goosefoot and hawksbeard, linseed and clover and knotweed, with spelt and yarrow all a last gnarl or bit of weight above the waist,…

Heaney’s Bog Poems (Forerunners)

Here’s Seamus Heaney, first talking about his poems on the bog bodies of Iron Age Europe, in Dennis O’Driscoll’s Stepping Stones, and then the bog poems themselves, spanning three of his collections: Wintering Out, North, and District and Circle. Also, since I hope to do a post on the bog bodies at some point, interested…

Virginia Slachman (Eden Park Meditation)

Eden Park Meditation i How odd that the days lengthen; the hours braced against a brittle sun that sears the lip of ice at the base of the black oak.                                          The ice and the sun are opaque and impenetrable, a sealed world. This world. The days don’t dwindle into twilight but linger so silently…

Prufrock & Other Observations (Forerunners)

A hundred years ago, in June of 1917, the small Egoist Press in Bloomsbury, London, issued a book of poems by the American expatriate, T. S. Eliot, Prufrock and Other Observations. Much like trying to read the Bible after a religious upbringing, it is almost impossible now to read especially the first four poems—“The Love…

Kitty Coles (6 Poems)

Black Moon Season for walking out into white frost under the black moon. Feeling the grass bend, the cold enfold flesh, the dark draw closer. Scenting the wet earth, lying fallow: ice has its own smell. Tasting night on the tongue, cobwebby, thin, and the mouth’s own heat. Watching the breath steam, cloudy, abundant, twining…

The Song of the Sea (Forerunners)

“The Song of the Sea,” which comprises Exodus 15:1-18 and tells of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt via the Red Sea, is one of the oldest parts of the Bible. Explaining the early form of Hebrew in which it was written, James Kugel notes that the Hebrew prefix ha- (a definite article corresponding to our…