Good Poems by Garrison VariousGood Poems by Garrison Various

Good Poems

byGarrison VariousEditorGarrison Keillor

Paperback | August 26, 2003

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America's beloved author, humorist, and storyteller offers a selection of meaningful and enjoyable poems

Every day people tune in to The Writer's Almanac on public radio and hear Garrison Keillor read them a poem. And here, for the first time, is an anthology of poems from the show, chosen by Keillor for their wit, their frankness, their passion, their "utter clarity in the face of everything else a person has to deal with at 7 a.m."

Good Poems includes verse about lovers, children, failure, everyday life, death, and transcendance. It features the work of classic poets, such as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Robert Frost, as well as the work of contemporary greats such as Howard Nemerov, Charles Bukowski, Donald Hall, Billy Collins, Robert Bly, and Sharon Olds. It's a book of poems for anybody who loves poetry whether they know it or not.
Garrison Keillor, author of nearly a dozen books, is founder and host of the acclaimed radio show A Prairie Home Companion and the daily program The Writer's Almanac. He is also a regular contributor to Time magazine.
Title:Good PoemsFormat:PaperbackPublished:August 26, 2003Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142003441

ISBN - 13:9780142003442

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Read from the Book

Poem in ThanksThomas LuxLord Whoever, thank you for this airI'm about to in- and exhale, this hutchin the woods, the wood for fire,the light-both lamp and the natural stuffof leaf-back, fern, and wing.For the piano, the shovelfor ashes, the moth-gnawedblankets, the stone-cold waterstone-cold: thank you.Thank you, Lord, coming forto carry me here-where I'll gnashit out, Lord, where I'll calmand work, Lord, thank youfor the goddamn birds singing!How Many NightsGalway KinnellHow many nightshave I lain in terror,O Creator Spirit, Maker of night and day,only to walk outthe next morning over the frozen worldhearing under the creaking of snowfaint, peaceful breaths...snake,bear, earthworm, ant...and above mea wild crow crying 'yaw yaw yaw'from a branch nothing cried from ever in my life.Welcome MorningAnne SextonThere is joyin all:in the hair I brush each morning,in the Cannon towel, newly washed,that I rub my body with each morning,in the chapel of eggs I cookeach morning,in the outcry from the kettlethat heats my coffeeeach morning,in the spoon and the chairthat cry "hello there, Anne"each morning,in the godhead of the tablethat I set my silver, plate, cup uponeach morning.All this is God,right here in my pea-green houseeach morningand I mean,though often forget,to give thanks,to faint down by the kitchen tablein a prayer of rejoicingas the holy birds at the kitchen windowpeck into their marriage of seeds.So while I think of it,let me paint a thank-you on my palmfor this God, this laughter of the morning,lest it go unspoken.The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,dies young.Psalm 23from The Bay Psalm BookThe Lord to me a shepherd is,want therefore shall not I:He in the folds of tender grass,doth cause me down to lie:To waters calm me gently leadsrestore my soul doth he:He doth in paths of righteousnessfor his name's sake lead me.Yea, though in valley of death's shadeI walk, none ill I'll fear:Because thou art with me, thy rod,and staff my comfort are.For me a table thou hast spread,in presence of my foes:Thou dost anoint my head with oil;my cup it overflows.Goodness and mercy surely shallall my days follow me:And in the Lord's house I shall dwellso long as days shall be.At LeastRaymond CarverI want to get up early one more morning,before sunrise. Before the birds, even.I want to throw cold water on my faceand be at my work tablewhen the sky lightens and smokebegins to rise from the chimneysof the other houses.I want to see the waves breakon this rocky beach, not just hear thembreak as I did all night in my sleep.I want to see again the shipsthat pass through the Strait from everyseafaring country in the world-old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,and the swift new cargo vesselspainted every color under the sunthat cut the water as they pass.I want to keep an eye out for them.And for the little boat that pliesthe water between the shipsand the pilot station near the lighthouse.I want to see them take a man off the shipand put another up on board.I want to spend the day watching this happenand reach my own conclusions.I hate to seem greedy-I have so muchto be thankful for already.But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.And go to my place with some coffee and wait.Just wait, to see what's going to happen.Address to the LordJohn Berryman1Master of beauty, craftsman of the snowflake,inimitable contriver,endower of Earth so gorgeous & different from the boring Moon,thank you for such as it is my gift.I have made up a morning prayer to youcontaining with precision everything that most matters.'According to Thy will' the thing begins.It took me off & on two days. It does not aim at eloquence.You have come to my rescue again & againin my impassable, sometimes despairing years.You have allowed my brilliant friends to destroy themselvesand I am still here, severely damaged, but functioning.Unknowable, as I am unknown to my guinea pigs:How can I 'love' you?I only as far as gratitude & aweconfidently & absolutely go.I have no idea whether we live again.It doesn't seem likelyfrom either the scientific or the philosophical point of viewbut certainly all things are possible to you,and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter andto Paulas I believe I sit in this blue chair.Only that may have been a special caseto establish their initiatory faith.Whatever your end may be, accept my amazement.May I stand until death forever at attentionfor any your least instruction or enlightenment.I even feel sure you will assist me again, Master of insight & beauty.Philip ApplemanO Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie,gimme a break before I die:grant me wisdom, will, & wit,purity, probity, pluck, & grit.Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind,gimme great abs & a steel-trap mind,and forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice-these little blessings would sufficeto beget an earthly paradise:make the bad people good-and the good people nice;and before our world goes over the brink,teach the believers how to think.

Table of Contents

Good Poems


1. O Lord
Poem in Thanks—Thomas Lux
How Many Nights—Galway Kinnel
Welcome Morning—Anne Sexton
Psalm 23—from The Bay Psalm Book
At Least—Raymond Carver
Address to the Lord—John Berryman
O Karma, Dharma, pudding and pie—Philip Appleman
Psalm—Reed Whittemore
Psalm 121—Michael Wigglesworth
When one has lived a long time alone—Galway Kinnell
Home on the Range—Anonymous
What I Want Is—C. G. Hanzlicek

2. A Day
Summer Morning—Charles Simic
Otherwise—Jane Kenyon
Poem About Morning—William Meredith
Living—Denise Levertov
Another Spring—Kenneth Rexroth
Morning Person—Vassar Miller
Routine—Arthur Guiterman
The Life of a Day—Tom Hennen
For My Son, Noah, Ten Years Old—Robert Bly
I've known a Heaven, like a Tent—Emily Dickinson
Letter to N.Y.—Elizabeth Bishop
Dilemna—David Budbill
from Song of Myself—Walt Whitman
New Yorkers—Edward Field
Soaking Up Sun—Tom Hennen
Late Hours—Lisel Mueller

3. Music
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey—Hayden Carruth
Mehitabel's Song—Don Marquis
Nightclub—Billy Collins
Alley Violinist—Robert Lax
Cradle Song—Jim Schley
Her Door—Mary Leader
The Pupil—Donald Justice
Piano—D. H. Lawrence
Insrument of Choice—Robert Phillips
Homage: Doo-Wop—Joseph Stroud
The Persistence of Song—Howard Moss
Ooly Pop a Cow—David Huddle
Elevator Music—Henry Taylor
The Grain of Sound—Robert Morgan
I Will Make You Brooches—Robert Louis Stevenson
The Dance—C. K. Williams
The Investment—Robert Frost
The Dumka—B. H. Fairchild
The Green Street Mortuary Marching Band—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

4. Scenes
Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.—Donald Justice
The Swimming Pool—Thomas Lux
Dostoevsky—Charles Bukowski
After a Movie—Henry Taylor
Summer Storm—Dana Gioia
Woolworth's—Mark Irwin
Worked Late on a Tuesday Night—Deborah Garrison
The Farmhouse—Reed Whittemore
wrist-wrestling father—Orval Lund
Yorkshiremen in Pub Gardens—Gavin Ewart
Noah—Roy Daniells

5. Lovers
A Red, Red Rose—Robert Burns
When I Heard at the Close of Day—Walt Whitman
First Love—John Clare
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven—W. B. Yeats
Sonnet—C. B. Trail
Politics—W. B. Yeats
Magellan Street, 1974—Maxine Kumin
Animals—Frank O'Hara
Lending Out Books—Hal Sirowitz
The Changed Man—Robert Phillips
The Constant North—J. F. Hendry
On the Strength of All Conviction and the Stamina of Love—Jennifer Michael Hecht
The Loft—Richard Jones
This Is Just to Say—William Carlos Williams
This Is Just to Say—Erica-Lynn Gambino
Venetian Air—Thomas Moore
Summer Morning—Louis Simpson
Comin thro' the Rye—Robert Burns
Topograhy—Sharon Olds
Saturday Morning—Hugo Williams
Flight—Louis Jenkins
At Twenty-Three Weeks She Can No Longer See Anything South of Her Belly—Thom Ward
For the Life of Him and Her—Reed Whittemore
Romantics—Lisel Mueller
Down in the Valley—Anonymous
The Middle Years—Walter McDonald
Winter Winds Cold and Blea...—John Clare
since feeling is first—e. e. cummings
Vergissmeinnicht—Keith Douglas
Sonnet XLIII What lips my lips have kissed—Edna St. Vincent Millay
After the Argument—Stephen Dunn
The Orange—Wendy Cope
Susquehanna—Liz Rosenberg
Farm Wife—R. S. Thomas
After Forty Years of Marriage, She Tries a New Recipe for Hamburger Hot Dish—Leo Dangel
Those Who Love—Sara Teasdale
Quietly—Kenneth Rexroth
For C.W.B.—Elizabeth Bishop
Shorelines—Howard Moss
Prayer for a Marriage—Steve Scafidi
The Master Speed—Robert Frost
Bonnard's Nudes—Raymond Carver

6. Day's Work
Happiness—Raymond Carver
Hoeing—John Updike
Some Details of Hebridean House Construction—Thomas A. Clark
Relations—Philip Booth
What I Learned from My Mother—Julia Kasdorf
To be of use—Marge Piercy
No Tool or Rope or Pail—Bob Arnold
Ox Cart Man—Donald Hall
Girl on a Tractor—Joyce Sutphen
Soybeans—Thomas Alan Orr
Landing Pattern—Philip Appleman
Mae West—Edward Field
Hay for the Horses—Gary Snyder

7. Sons and Daughters
Masterworks of Ming—Kay Ryan
Bess—Linda Pastan
A Little Tooth—Thomas Lux
Sonnet XXXVII—William Shakespeare
Egg—C. G. Hanzlicek
Rolls-Royce Dreams—Ginger Andrews
My Life Before I Knew It—Lawrence Raab
After Work—Richard Jones
I Stop Writing the Poem—Tess Gallagher
Franklin Hyde—Hilaire Belloc
Manners—Elizabeth Bishop
September, the First Day of School—Howard Nemerov
First Lesson—Philip Booth
Childhood—Barbara Ras
Waving Good-Bye—Gerald Stern
Family Reunion—Maxine Kumin

8. Language
A Primer of the Daily Round—Howard Nemerov
The Possessive Case—Lisel Mueller
The Icelandic Language—Bill Holm
The Fantastic Names of Jazz—Hayden Carruth
Ode to the Medieval Poets—W. H. Auden
Sweater Weather—Sharon Bryan

9. A Good Life
We grow accustomed to the Dark—Emily Dickinson
A Ritual to Read to Each Other—William Stafford
Courage—Anne Sexton
Sometimes—Sheenagh Pugh
Leisure—W. H. Davies
the way it is now—Charles Bukowski
A Secret Life—Stephen Dunn
Lost—David Wagoner
Sonnet XXV—William Shakespeare
The Eel in the Cave—Robert Bly
Wild Geese—Mary Oliver
From the Manifesto of the Selfish—Stephen Dunn
Hope—Lisel Mueller
The Three Goals—David Budbill
Vermeer—Howard Nemerov
Repression—C. K. Williams
Weather—Linda Pastan
Moderation Is Not a Negation of Intensity, But Helps Avoid Monotony—John Tagliabue
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—Emily Dickinson
The Props assist the House...—Emily Dickinson

10. Beasts
Little Citizen, Little Survivor—Hayden Carruth
Her First Calf—Wendell Berry
Bats—Randall Jarrell
Riding Lesson—Henry Taylor
Walking the Dog—Howard Nemerov
The Excrement Poem—Maxine Kumin
Stanza IV from Coming of Age—Ursula Leguin
Destruction—Joanne Kyger
How to See Deer—Philip Booth
Dog's Death—John Updike
Names of Horses—Donald Hall
Bison Crossing Near Mt. Rushmore—May Swenson

11. Failure
Success is counted sweetest...—Emily Dickinson
Solitude—Ella Wheeler Wilcox
The first time I remember—Wendell Berry
Our Lady of the Snows—Robert Hass
The British Museum Reading Room—Louis MacNeice
The Bare Arms of Trees—John Tagliabue
The Sailor—Geof Hewitt
A Place for Everything—Louis Jenkins
The Feast—Robert Hass
Nobody Knows You—Jimmie Cox
the last song—Charles Bukowski

12. Complaint
The Forsaken Wife—Elizabeth Thomas
Confession—Stephen Dobyns
Living in the Body—Joyce Sutphen
Tired As I Can Be—Bessie Jackson
The Iceberg Theory—Gerald Locklin
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front—Wendell Berry
A Bookmark—Tom Disch
poetry readings—Charles Bukowski
Publication—is the Auction...—Emily Dickinson

13. Trips
Once in the 40s—William Stafford
lines from Moby Dick—Herman Melville
Rain Travel—W. S. Merwin
where we are—Gerald Locklin
Excelsior—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On a Tree Fallen Across the Road—Robert Frost
A Walk Along the Old Tracks—Robert Kinsley
Passengers—Billy Collins
The Walloping Window-Blind—Charles Edward Carryl
The Vacation—Wendell Berry
Directions—Joseph Stroud
Postscript—Seamus Heaney
Night Journey—Theodore Roethke
Waiting—Raymond Carver

14. Snow
New Hampshire—Howard Moss
To fight aloud...—Emily Dickinson
December Moon—May Sarton
Year's End— Richard Wilbur
The Snow Man—Wallace Stevens
January—Baron Wormser
in celebration of surviving—Chuck Miller
Her Long Illness—Donal Hall
Requiescat—Oscar Wilde
The Sixth of January—David Budbill
Not Only the Eskimos—Lisel Mueller
Boy at the Window—Richard Wilbur
Winter Poem
—Frederick Morgan
Lester Tells of Wanda and the Big Snow—Paul Zimmer
Old Boards—Robert Bly
March Blizzard—John Tagliabue

15. Yellow
Elvis Kissed Me—T. S. Kerrigan
Stepping Out of Poetry—Gerald Stern
I shall keep singing!—Emily Dickinson
Song to Onions—Roy Blount, Jr.
O Luxury—Guy W. Longchamps
Coming—Kenneth Rexroth
A Light Left On—May Sarton
The Yellow Slicker—Stuart Dischell
First Kiss—April Lindner
The Music One Looks Back On—Stephen Dobyns

16. Lives
In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus One Day—X. J. Kennedy
Who's Who—W. H. Auden
The Portrait—Stanley Kunitz
Parable of the Four-Poster—Erica Jong
Ed—Louis Simpson
Memory—Hayden Carruth
Lazy—David Lee
Testimonial—Harry Newman, Jr.
Cathedral Builders—John Ormond
The Village Burglar—Anonymous
The Scandal—Robert Bly
At Last the Secret Is Out—W. H. Auden
Night Light—Kate Barnes
Sir Patrick Spens—Anonymous

17. Elders
I Go Back to May 1937—Sharon Olds
Those Winter Sundays—Robert Hayden
The Old Liberators—Robert Hedin
To My Mother—Wendell Berry
Working in the Rain—Robert Morgan
Birthday Card to My Mother—Philip Appleman
Yesterday—W. S. Merwin
No Map—Stephen Dobyns
My Mother—Robert Mezey
When My Dead Father Called—Robert Bly
August Third—May Sarton
Terminus—Ralph Waldo Emerson

18. The End
Authorship—James B(al) Naylor
Young and Old—Charles Kingsley
Shifting the Sun—Diana Der-Hovanessian
My Dad's Wallet—Raymond Carver
When I Am Asked—Lisel Mueller
Dirge Without Music—Edna St. Vicent Millay
My mother said...—Donald Hall
Departures—Linda Pastan
As Befits a Man—Langston Hughes
Sunt Leones—Stevie Smith
Perfection Wasted—John Updike
Eleanor's Letters—Donald Hall
Death and the Turtle—May Sarton
Four Poems in One—Anne Porter
Titanic—David R. Slavitt
The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna—Charles Wolfe
Kaddish—David Ignatow
Twilight: After Haying—Jane Kenyon
For the Anniversary of My Death—W. S. Merwin
from The Old Italians Dying—Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Street Ballad—George Barker
Let Evening Come—Jane Kenyon

19. The Resurrection
Forty-Five—Hayden Carruth
A Blessing—James Wright
Holy Thursday—William Blake
lines from Walden—Henry David Thoreau
The Peace of Wild Things—Wendell Berry
From Blossoms—Li-Young Lee
The First Green of Spring—David Budhill
Here—Grace Paley
The Lives of the Heart—Jane Hirshfield
Spring—Gerard Manley Hopkins
Fishing in the Keep of Silence—Linda Gregg

Name Index
Title Index

Editorial Reviews

"A pretty dandy candy jar. The range of poets is wide, the tone is unpretentious, and the poems are all . . . good." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"These are poems to live in comfort with all one's life." (Booklist)

"[Keillor is] Will Rogers with grammar lessons, Aesop with no ax to grind, the common man's MoliFre." (The Houston Chronicle)