Tag Archives: april

April 28, 2014


It’s national poetry month, and we’re running out of month! I regret not taking a moment to celebrate our month sooner. We’ve been down this road before, with our TS Eliots and our Geoffrey Chaucers and our nature poetry and our Edmund Spensers and our Pieces of April. But as I browsed poems via a word search today, I read all — or, too be fair, parts of all — these nature poems that really didn’t speak to me. You know the ones: a litany of flora and fauna blooming before the poet’s eyes, all described in either microscopic detail or with their scientific names. Blech, blecchh, and double-bleccchhh. Give me skyscrapers, cell phones, and dog poop. Wait, there is such a poem? God bless you, Alicia Ostriker (b. 1937), and dog bless your recent spring poem that touched my spiny, pessimistic heart. I also want to say that while her poem employs the pathetic fallacy, I like her pathetic fallacy way more than I like any other nature poem’s pathetic fallacy.
Somehow I know we’ve read work by this poet before, but I can’t seem to find her in the archives. She’s a New Yorker who decided to go to college in Boston, and grad school in Madison, WI. The awards and teaching posts are almost too numerous to mention, but she’s now retired from her professorship at Rutgers. As to the form of today’s poem, you may be elucidated by her own thoughts on coming to free verse: “All poets have their chosen ancestors and affinities. As an American poet I see myself in the line of Whitman, Williams, and Ginsberg, those great enablers of the inclusive democratic impulse, the corollary of which is formal openness. As a student I wrote in traditional closed forms, as did they—before they discovered the joy and meaning of open forms. To write in open forms is to improvise.” Enjoy April, for now. -ed.
The optimists among us
taking heart because it is spring
skip along
attending their meetings
signing their e-mail petitions
marching with their satiric signs
singing their we shall overcome songs
posting their pungent twitters and blogs
believing in a better world
for no good reason
I envy them
said the old woman

The seasons go round they
go round and around
said the tulip
dancing among her friends
in their brown bed in the sun
in the April breeze
under a maple canopy
that was also dancing
only with greater motions
casting greater shadows
and the grass
hardly stirring

What a concerto
of good stinks said the dog
trotting along Riverside Drive
in the early spring afternoon
sniffing this way and that
how gratifying the cellos of the river
the tubas of the traffic
the trombones
of the leafing elms with the legato
of my rivals’ piss at their feet
and the leftover meat and grease
singing along in all the wastebaskets