February 14, 2017

Mark Strand


Not everyone knows what he shall sing at the end,
Watching the pier as the ship sails away, or what it will seem like
When he’s held by the sea’s roar, motionless, there at the end,
Or what he shall hope for once it is clear that he’ll never go back.

When the time has passed to prune the rose or caress the cat,
When the sunset torching the lawn and the full moon icing it down
No longer appear, not everyone knows what he’ll discover instead.
When the weight of the past leans against nothing, and the sky

Is no more than remembered light, and the stories of cirrus
And cumulus come to a close, and all the birds are suspended in flight,
Not everyone knows what is waiting for him, or what he shall sing
When the ship he is on slips into darkness, there at the end.

from Rattle #17, Summer 2002
Tribute to Pulitzer Prize Winners


For more on Mark Strand, visit his webpage.

January 10, 2017

Susan Firer


I found the blue jay on the driveway
under the pink drunk Czechoslovakian-
grandma-planted peonies which were
under the restrained Scotch pine.
The bird’s nape was wide open.
You could kaleidoscope-look
into its neck and see rubber bands
leading to its complex brain.
You could see everywhere
it had ever flown: chaparral, scrub-oak
woodlands, coniferous & oak forests. There
were nuts, & insects, & seeds, & amphibians,
& even a piece or two of snake.
There was a cache of foil-bright objects, &
sounds: zreeks & shook, shook, shook & all
the colors of sex and death. I bent to it,
picked it up and brought it to my heart
like the strange forest pioneer women who took
abandoned bear cubs to their bare breasts
and rock-nursed them in front
of cabin fires until the cubs could live
on their own. I have not often since
had such patience. But then with that
found jay I stroked its wingbars & flight
feathers; I memorized its eye-rings, & crown,
wing coverts, & eye-stripes. And with weeks
and water, food, and breath
I brought it back to flight. For that
short summer I loved it more than myself,
enough to let it go. For months it would not.
Every time I went outside, it flew streetlight
straight to my head or shoulder
where it easy perched. There are photos
of me teenaged giving it milk-blue
bowls of water and photos of me bikini sun-
bathing, the blue jay on my then-
tan, flat belly, the jay feeling deceivingly
light as the first intimate gift-flesh touch
of love, as the children who swell and fall
from our love-soaked bodies, deceiving
as the hollow-boned, song-filled birds
that daily blue-grass drop dream feather
trails throughout our skin-heavy days.

from Rattle #16, Winter 2001
Tribute to Boomer Girls


Susan Firer lives, writes, and works within ear’s distance of the western shore of Lake Michigan. (link)

January 7, 2017

Alexandra Grace Samuel (grade 2)


Lice is so miserable I’ve had it before.
It itches and itches and itches
like a dog scratching his fleas.
I hate live lice lying straight.
Die lice die.
I hate you bugs.
You are so creepy and brown.
Go down the drain,
then you will be gone forever and ever.
You look like brown rice and small potatoes.

from Rattle #9, Summer 1998
Tribute to Children

December 31, 2016

Joe Wendt (grade 5)


My face is like a pencil long and hard
My feet are like rotten onions
My hands are full of calluses from hard work
My kneecap is floating
My heart holds passion that is perfect in many ways
I live in a couch
And eat video games

from Rattle #9, Summer 1998
Tribute to Children

December 24, 2016

Ingrid Fox (grade 6)


This is what I’m thankful for:
Piggies, doggies, ceilings, floors,
Doctors, teachers, sisters, brothers,
Aunts and uncles, fathers, mothers
Girls and boys, chalk and boards,
Watches, feelings, leaves and more
Trees and water, food food food!
When everyone’s in a good mood
For homework (not!) and actors, too,
For ducks that quack and cows that moo
My house, my room, my own computer,
My nieces; they are even cuter!
For comics, music, writing, reading,
Bikes and trikes and mouth-closed eating
Dr. Seuss, good old Mark Twain,
The books they wrote, the sun and rain
For T.V., friends, for paper money,
Waffles, syrup, pancakes, honey
Fishies, sharkies, mousies, horsies,
Lalala’s and Memememe’s
Letters, numbers, airplanes, boats,
Castles, princes, queens and moats
Cops and dentists, cool nicknames,
Magic, sailors, people famous
Lots of love and lots of caring,
And most of all for LOTS OF SHARING! (with me!)
My health, my school, my house, my bed,
Christmas time and pencil lead
Of all the things I’m thankful for
The one I think I most adore
Is all the love I have received
From everyone that I have knore … uh, known

from Rattle #9, Summer 1998
Tribute to Children