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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Writing powerful poems that matter

“I want to write poems that matter, that have an interesting point of view.” – Maxine Kumin

One-time Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Kumin was born in Philadelphia on June 6, 1925.   She said an “introspective” childhood led her to writing poetry early and it was a perfect fit for her life and the writing world where she did, indeed, write so many wonderful poems that matter before her death in 1914.          
                                 Among her many awards (far too many to list here) are the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize for Poetry, the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for the magnificent Up Country, and the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry,    For Saturday’s Poem, here is Kumin’s, 

                                                       In The Park
You have forty-nine days between
death and rebirth if you're a Buddhist.
Even the smallest soul could swim
the English Channel in that time
or climb, like a ten-month-old child,
every step of the Washington Monument
to travel across, up, down, over or through
- you won't know till you get there which to do.

He laid on me for a few seconds
said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell
about his skirmish with a grizzly bear
in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything.

I could feel his heart
beating against my heart.
Never mind lie and lay, the whole world
confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say
all forty-nine days flew by.

I was raised on the Old Testament.
In it God talks to Moses, Noah,
Samuel, and they answer.
People confer with angels. Certain
animals converse with humans.
It's a simple world, full of crossovers.
Heaven's an airy Somewhere, and God
has a nasty temper when provoked,
but if there's a Hell, little is made of it.
No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire,

and no choosing what to come back as.
When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down
on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark
each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.

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