Our National Poetry Month waltz down poetry shelves everywhere has moved from Facebook to here! Let’s re-cap where we’ve been so far in our tour de lettres. Watch as the masters close out poems with the infamous last stanza. Its the most difficult thing; really, its harder than building rockets.
Last stanza of “The Tennis Court Oath” by John Ashbery:
to one in yon house
The doctor and Philip had come over the road
Turning in toward the corner of the wall his hat on
reading it carelessly as if to tell you your fears were justified
the blood shifted you know those walls
wind off the earth had made him shrink
undeniably an oboe now the young
were there there was candy
to decide the sharp edge of the garment
like a particular cry not intervening called the dog “he’s coming! he’s coming” with an emotion felt it sink into peace
there was no turning back but the end was in sight
he chose this moment to ask her in detail about her family and the others
The person. pleaded—“have more of these
not stripes on the tunic—or the porch chairs
will teach you about men—what it means”
to be one in a million pink stripe
and now could go away the three approached the doghouse
the reef. Your daughter’s
dream of my son understand prejudice
darkness in the hole
the patient finished
They could all go home now the hole was dark
lilacs blowing across his face glad he brought you
The last stanza of “The Man-Moth” by Elizabeth Bishop:
If you catch him,
hold up a flashlight to his eye. It’s all dark pupil,
an entire night itself, whose haired horizon tightens
as he stares back, and closes up the eye. Then from the lids
one tear, his only possession, like the bee’s sting, slips.
Slyly he palms it, and if you’re not paying attention
he’ll swallow it. However, if you watch, he’ll hand it over,
cool as from underground springs and pure enough to drink.
Last stanza of “it was a dream” by Lucille Clifton:
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This. This. This.
Last stanza of “Dark Ceiling” by Edward Dorn:
drifts in from the morning fertilizer factory
and men there return lamely
to work, their disputes not settled.
Last stanza of “City of Glass” by Martin Espada:
In Chile, a river of glass bubbled, cooled,
hardened, and rose in sheets, only to crash and rise again.
One day, years later, the soldiers wheeled around
to find themselves in a city of glass.
Their rifles turned to carnival glass;
bullets dissolved, glittering, in their hands.
From the poet’s zoo they heard monkeys cry;
from the poet’s observatory they heard
poem after poem like a call to prayer.
The general’s tongue burned with slivers
invisible to the eye. The general’s tongue
was the color of cranberry glass.
Last stanza of “To the Oracle at Delphi” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti:
Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden,
Come out of your cave at last
And speak to us in the poet’s voice
the voice of the fourth person singular
the voice of the inscrutable future
the voice of the people mixed
with a wild soft laughter—
And give us new dreams to dream,
Give us new myths to live by!
Last stanza of “Sula / Be Soft Under Rock” by Rachel Eliza Griffiths:
Stiff robins beyond
that boarded window
in the bedroom. Twilight singed
a bowl of oranges
in her grandmother’s mind.
Softer tongues of
acid licking her. Love can kill
the flesh it craves.
Last stanza of “By Halves” by Fanny Howe
Then the angel informs me, always,
with a pleasure I can’t imitate
and eyes ringed with pain
that we are only halfway
on our way to such a communion
And we’ve arrived at I, as in the Lyric I and the Whitmanian-ly multitudinous and Dickinsonian-ly micro I! There are two poets on our poetry shelf who have a last name that begins with I. Both are close friends of the store. Let’s read a poem from each. Here is the first, from Tony Iantosca.
Last stanza (last six lines) of “The Country” by Tonya Ingram:
head heavy as an anchor
that was spared into an ocean
by a God
who set apart
sleep as redemption
for a sinner