April Comes but Once a Year…

Shouldn’t we read poetry EVERY day? Yes, of course we should. But we get busy. We think we don’t like it, won’t understand a lick of it anyway, and feel superior about our own use of time that doesn’t include the frivolities of poetry.

The thing is, though, poetry can teach our hearts to yearn for more. More beauty. More love. More justice. More rhythm, more rhyme, more words that simply taste good on our tongues. And who doesn’t need more of these things?

But maybe, even though you don’t want to wretch at the thought of poetry, and even though you do indeed long for beauty on display in words on paper, you just don’t know how to find anything good. Well, that stops right here, right now. Today, (and I’m not foolin’ you) is the day of your bounteous good fortune. Because, dear readers, April is National Poetry Month. All month long (except for the week when I go on vacation and have better things to do than keep up a blog — you know, like swim in an ocean and read great books and slurp drinks from glasses topped with cute little umbrellas…) you can find great poetry right here. Maybe I’ll even write an ode to vacations when I return. After all, poetry is one of the common chapters of our lives.

Let’s start with Mary Oliver, whose way with words and image just slays me. I just happen to know one that features an ocean. And words. Words that will fill your heart with a longing for beauty.

I give you,


I go down to the edge of the sea.
How everything shines in the morning light!
The cusp of the whelk,
the broken cupboard of the clam,
the opened, blue mussels,
moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred—
and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split,
dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone.
It’s like a schoolhouse
of little words,
thousands of words.
First you figure out what each one means by itself,
the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop
       full of moonlight.
Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.

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