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142nd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 142nd Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2012 Fearless Poetry Reading Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please visit the stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour from April 2011 and beginning again in April 2012.

Today’s poems is from Li-Young Lee

Black Petal

I never claimed night fathered me.
that was my dead brother talking in his sleep.
I keep him under my pillow, a dear wish
that colors my laughing and crying.

I never said the wind, remembering nothing,
leaves so many rooms unaccounted for,
continual farewell must ransom
the unmistakable fragrance
our human days afford.

It was my brother, little candle in the pulpit,
reading out loud to all of earth
from the book of night.

He died too young to learn his name.
Now he answers to Vacant Boat,
Burning Wing, My Black Petal.

Ask him who his mother is. He'll declare the birds
have eaten the path home, but each of us
joins night's ongoing story
wherever night overtakes him,
the heart astonished to find belonging
and thanks answering thanks. 

Ask if he's hungry or thirsty,
he'll say he's the bread come to pass
and draw you a map
to the twelve secret hips of honey.

Does someone want to know the way to spring?
He'll remind you
the flower was never meant to survive
the fruit's triumph.

He says an apple's most secret cargo
is the enduring odor of a human childhood,
our mother's linen pressed and stored, our father's voice
walking through the rooms.

He says he's forgiven our sister
for playing dead and making him cry
those afternoons we were left alone in the house.

And when clocks frighten me with their long hair,
and when I spy the wind's numerous hands
in the orchard unfastening
first the petals from the buds,
then the perfume from the flesh,

my dead brother ministers to me. His voice
weighs nothing
but the far years between
stars in their massive dying,

and I grow quiet hearing
how many of both of our tomorrows
lie waiting inside it to be born.

What do you think?

  • In a perfect world there is a poet like this on every corner, whispering to themselves, and then proceeding to jot down a few notes around the thought. Black Petal takes us on a slow and effervescent ride through a small place in time, revealing details from one stanza into another.
    There is this wonderful feeling (although the content is dark, explaining parts of his brothers death) that I feel a kind of euphoria, whispering the poem as I read. After reading I was inspired again: to read, to write and love poems.

    • I’m glad that this has again inspired you.

  • I love the language and imagery in this poem. There’s some sadness, some mystery. Definitely a poem I want to spend more time with.

  • “I never claimed night fathered me.” just gets me so curious…and then my attention is even further piqued with “that was my dead brother talking in his sleep.
    I keep him under my pillow, a dear wish” There is some secret here…dark and mysterious like the coming of each spring from deep death and bareness. I like the turns of phrase here….and despite the darkness, there is hope: ” grow quiet hearing
    how many of both of our tomorrows
    lie waiting inside it to be born.”

  • Bookipede

    A poem about death
    Flowing back and forth
    Between sadness and hope

    There is some comfort
    In the shared experienced:

    “but each of us
    joins night’s ongoing story
    wherever night overtakes him,
    the heart astonished to find belonging
    and thanks answering thanks.”

  • Beth Hoffman

    This is one of those poems that on one level leaves me baffled and undettled, and on the other draws me in .

    This passage is my favorite:

    my dead brother ministers to me. His voice
    weighs nothing
    but the far years between
    stars in their massive dying,