What's your favorite poem? Tell me why.
"Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye
dee3nahDeenah Vollmer
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I discovered this poem about a year ago and I've been reading it on the regular since. It's a good way for me to check in with where I'm at. It's about the other side of bleakness which is not quite hope, it's a bit darker, a bit more in the Camus camp of existentialism. About why we keep on going. "Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing." Truth! I heard Nye interviewed on Krista Tippett's podcast "On Being." She told the real-life backstory of this poem, about getting robbed of all their belongings while on a bus in Columbia during her honeymoon, and someone who was on the bus with them was killed. That's the Indian who lies dead on the side of the road. Kindness Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever. Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive. Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say It is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.
“For Desire,” by Kim Addonizio
ethanhawkeEthan Hawke
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“For Desire,” by Kim Addonizio. In truth, I like all poems that inspire women to be more interested in kissing. Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best; and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries, or cherries, the rich spurt in the back of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing. Give me the love who yanks open the door of his house and presses me to the wall in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I'm drenched and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload and begin their delicious diaspora through the cities and small towns of my body. To hell with the saints, with martyrs of my childhood meant to instruct me in the power of endurance and faith, to hell with the next world and its pallid angels swooning and sighing like Victorian girls. I want this world. I want to walk into the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along like I'm nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass, and I want to resist it. I want to go staggering and flailing my way through the bars and back rooms, through the gleaming hotels and weedy lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks where dogs are let off their leashes in spite of the signs, where they sniff each other and roll together in the grass, I want to lie down somewhere and suffer for love until it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again and put on that little black dress and wait for you, yes you, to come over here and get down on your knees and tell me just how fucking good I look - Kim Addonizio