Wednesday, December 7, 2011

wordy Wednesday: poem of the day

In my former life as an English teacher, I used to read a poem every day at the beginning of class (affectionately known as the "POD" by my students). I borrowed this idea from my amazing mentor when I was a student teacher, and she got it from Billy Collins, the former poet laureate who created the program Poetry 180. Once the bell rang, my class always knew that they should be in their seats, ready to listen to whatever strange or fanciful or sad or hilarious poem I happened to have picked for that day -- sometimes they loved them, sometimes they hated them, but it was a routine they could count on.

As it turns out, it was a routine I counted on, too. And now that I'm not teaching anymore, I really miss having a daily dose of poetry! So instead of sharing a book review with you today, I thought I'd pass along a poem. Just like in my classes, I won't do any analysis or commentary -- that part is up to you, if you choose to do it. This poem was a recent daily feature on Poetry Daily and happens to be based on a line from my favorite Shakespeare play. I picked it for other reasons too -- but that goes against my no commentary policy. :) Enjoy, and then back to your regularly scheduled programming!

Villanelle on a Line from Macbeth by Michael Davis
Stay, imperfect speaker, tell me more.
I don’t want the house, I want its ruins,
cracked panes, grandfather clock, paper-like door.

I want the vines that engulfed exterior walls,
petrified forests of books and manuscripts,
dust-filled afternoons that opened like doors

Onto Hesse’s wind-silvered fields, onto myths
surging up out of the earth. I want the man to say,
“Stay, imperfect speaker, tell me more,”

as he did at the end of every long conversation,
saying “imperfect” and meaning “unfinished,”
saying it always as I moved toward the door,

as I say it now, again and over and again,
I want the words to rebuild the house in shambles:
stay, imperfect speaker, tell me more.

I know: if I went back, there would be nothing
or worse: a new house, pristine, immaculate,
even the vine-filled library gone. I left and shut the door.
Imperfect memory, please, stay, tell me more.

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