Just another Medical Humanities Blog

Poems for December 2011

Posted by mcdoc on December 2, 2011

Steve Kowit
(1938 – )


This evening, the sturdy Levi’s
I wore every day for over a year
& which seemed to the end
in perfect condition,
suddenly tore.
How or why I don’t know,
but there it was: a big rip at the crotch.
A month ago my friend Nick
walked off a racquetball court,
got into his street clothes,
& halfway home collapsed & died.
Take heed, you who read this,
& drop to your knees now & again
like the poet Christopher Smart,
& kiss the earth & be joyful,
& make much of your time,
& be kindly to everyone,
even to those who do not deserve it.
For although you may not believe
it will happen,
you too will one day be gone,
I, whose Levi’s ripped at the crotch
for no reason,
assure you that such is the case.
Pass it on.

Walter McDonald
(1934 – )

A Brief, Familiar Story of Winter

Trees are telling the story of harvest
The wind is listening, murmuring oh
and dying. Leaves have only one month more

to listen. They glitter in the sun
flutter like friends in a parlor
fanning themselves and flushing.

The bark has heard it all before,
thick-skinned like a snake
that cannot shed. The taproots

hear in whispers, swelling
each time they hear the old, old story.
They shove into grains of sand

and take all they can give to heartwood.
Chilled zylem lifts the last fluid
upward from the tips of roots

like salmon leaping the rapids,
all branches waiting like bears,
leaves on all limbs trembling.


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