Apparently, it's poetry reading Friday. On Rush Hour in DC already posted my all time favorite poem, Ogden Nash's "The Tale of Custard the Dragon", so I won't reprint that here.

When I was a freshman in college, I was allowed to take any honors English course I wanted in lieu of freshman English. I was registering only a couple of weeks before the semester began and most of the "good" courses were taken, but I was desperate to find something that wouldn't require me to diagram sentences and study verb conjugation. I took the only one available; something I knew nothing about - Contemporary American Poetry - and discovered a life long love that I never thought I would have had before that moment: Wallace Stevens, William Stafford, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Robert Lowell, W. S. Merwin, Alan Ginsberg...

I can't remember the professor's name that I had for that class but if I could today, I would write him a letter and thank him for helping me to appreciate something that my people could never abide: poetry that thinks beyond the rhyme.

So, in celebration of the supernatural powers that animals have on special days that are half-way between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, here are my three favorite "adult" poems of all time. I learned to love them because of that professor and that course:

Keeping Things Whole
Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence of field.
This is
Always the case.
Where ever I am,
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Traveling Through the Dark
William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason -
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all - my only swerving -,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

William Stafford

There are songs too wide for sound. There are quiet
places where something stopped a long time
ago and the days began to open
their mouths toward nothing but the sky. We live
in place of the many who stir only
if we listen, only because the living
live and call out. I am ready
as all of us are who wake at night:
we become rooms for whatever almost
is. It speaks in us, trying. And even if
only by a note like this, we answer.