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Wednesday, July 30, 2008 11:22 am

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

poemonpoems #2

I am reading david lehman's
daily mirror he writes a poem
a day or says he does the book
is kept in the outhouse I read
his daily output while I tend my
daily output it will take three-
hundred-sixty-five days to
finish the book unless I get
the trots but then there's
always the chance of consti-
pation to balance the ledger

© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

Poets are especially good at investing objects with meaning, or in drawing meaning from the things of this world. Here Patrick Phillips of Brooklyn, New York, does a masterful job of comparing a wrecked piano to his feelings.


Touched by your goodness, I am like

that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby

that someone had smashed and somehow

heaved through an open window.

And you might think by this I mean I'm broken

or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don't

know exactly what I am, any more

than the wreckage in the alley knows

it's a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.

Maybe I'm all that's left of what I was.

But touching me, I know, you are the good

breeze blowing across its rusted strings.

What would you call that feeling when the wood,

even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?

Poem copyright © 2008 by Patrick Phillips. Reprinted from his most recent book of poetry, Boy (University of Georgia Press, 2008). American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ted Kooser served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

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