Last month was national poetry month, and to honor the medium three published Ithacans sent in poems to the Ithaca Times to share with the community.
In my country if you wake up, snatched
from the dream half-done, you ring
the alarm, there’s a pull by every bed
(in my country) and soon, their cars
flashing green in the night, friends come,
for they know I would do it for them,
come to help me re-enter the dream.
They build the set — I sit — a bridge,
killing shadows under it, all these
they paint, high steps, a pub. From a truck
they roll out mirrors, chests, dress a boy
in Elizabethan street costume, teach him
to pour ale In the half-dark my friends
pat each other, practice their lines, and
whisper to me “tell us where to stand,
tell us what to say.” “You are the director,”
my friends say. It matters to them
that I dream, that I dream on in my country.
-Roald Hoffman is a published poet and author and a professor at Cornell University
But Here’s the Thing
I sometimes want to dumpster dive just to smell how bad things can get. I think pain could be my friend, if I let it. If I let it deflect the other. The other pain. The one that is unnameable. Deflection is what doctors call one pain replacing another, like those who have to cut themselves to keep from feeling the pain in their hearts. Or maybe it’s referred pain I’m thinking of, pain you feel in one part of your body caused by an injury to another. It’s like when you go for a job interview because someone has referred you to them and maybe they like you for that, but maybe they don’t. Maybe they’ve already chosen someone but have to interview you to appease the person who referred you to them, so you’re just taking up time in their day, the man with the round head and small eyes sipping on his fifth cup of him . He has to be there when he could be doing his crossword puzzle or playing footsies with Debbie in accounting. Who wants to be interviewed by someone who’d rather be playing footsies with Debbie in accounting? And you can bet all the dead leaves falling off the trees in fall she does n’t even like him—she thinks he’s a creep. It’s a slap in the face to both you and Debbie. But the truth is… I’ve always liked that phrase, but the truth is. Almost as much as but here’s the thing. When I hear someone say but here’s the thing it makes me think everything’s going to be all right, because they know what that thing is, whatever it is.
-Cory Brown teaches writing at Ithaca College and studied poetry writing at Cornell University
Beyond Modernity, We Are Warned
by placards in two languages that say
the same thing differently. in the yellow
wood where two roads diverge, we choose
both, not from arrogance but from
indecisiveness, which, like riding
two horses at one time, requires long
legs, strong thighs, and careless good
nature. The world flicks by, each leaf
magnified, as we sample this new bar
soap, that breakfast sandwich. closets in
two languages praise soft drinks and party
politics. The world flicks by and bites
of speech eludes their diagrams to hover
in the yellow wood. It is late and soon
the world will be different.
-Nancy Vieira Couto is a published poet and author