July 14, 2011

i. That summer of rain I was a seminarian and visited the Osborn State Correctional Facility. Metal gates opened, closed, like legs crossed and uncrossed. On the mental health ward, behind a small meshed window, a naked man, wrapped in a bed sheet, posed like Constantine crossing the Milvian Bridge. Men hummed in their cells, sticky, strong from barbells. The men had black, brown and white skin, many covered with intricate tattoos like road maps. One seminarian collapsed and was taken to the nurse’s office.

Memorial Day
June 09, 2011

Behind the banyan trees, the mansions. Behind the mansions, the             lagoon—. In the lagoon, a mooring of sailboats. Wind in the rigging. Hull-slap and groan.                                                                  Where is everybody? The sound of people playing in their pools—well ..., there Isn’t any; the streets  Are empty—, the moon, like a moon Jelly, beating its slow float in the not-  Quite-dark. In the gardens of the Moorings Country Club, The lights have come on, rice paper lanterns on which are  Printed cherry blossoms. O—this un- Starred sky.

May 11, 2011

The animals in Paul Muldoon’s poems do not tell us how we should act, but they do allow us to “glimpse the possibility of what we might become.” His n

April 26, 2011

Les Murray's latest book, the decidedly minor Taller When Prone, testifies to Murray’s full poetic recovery, and also to a kind of liberation from the

Vesper Sparrow
April 07, 2011

for Deborah Digges Said and done I’m choosing the redwing. The unwritten rule is the rule of familiars (familiar having a homely quality), those birds close by, the ones you take for granted, though seasonal: the mocker in the arbor picking at the grapes, the house wren flowering in the dogwood, the catbird mewling in and out of the hedge, the infinite warbler warbling all summer... But not the bird you feed all winter, the one who stays, like the sometime cardinal (too present, too colorful), who warms the snow at the window, who on the coldest day will sing, since singing, by itself, like be

Swiche Glaringe Eyen
April 07, 2011

Sheila Fisher is an academic, a professor of English literature, and her sparkling introduction to the Canterbury Tales and Chaucer is by far the best

Pieces Falling into Place
March 07, 2011

Robert Lowell once surmised that the publication of his friend Elizabeth Bishop’s letters would lead to her being recognized “as not only one of the b

For Clare
March 03, 2011

I saw a brown shape in the unmown grass, half-hidden in a tuft, and crouching down to get a closer look, I found a young rabbit, no bigger than my hand, trembling there in its makeshift nest.

In an Ambulance
March 03, 2011

When I want to think “Life can get no worse than this,” It is a lie. While I can’t begin to imagine a You Who Created This morning, through my small window I see each tree is filled with so much sun It becomes a sun itself. Leaf-light winces off the current of cars. I see my mother following behind Because she will not lose me in this traffic. Because she will not lose me. Though I let myself run lost. This poem originally ran in the March 24, 2011, issue of the magazine. For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.    

A Birthday Card for Richard Wilbur
March 01, 2011

Richard Wilbur, among our most distinguished living poets and a longtime contributor to this magazine, celebrates his ninetieth birthday on March 1 of this year.  As the snows of Wilbur’s western New England were slowly yielding to auguries of spring, I found myself thinking, on this portentous event, of a passage from his poem “The Event,” in which he tries to fix in words the elusive significance of a swirling flight of birds.  Let that be the image on this birthday card for Wilbur, with the first eight lines of the poem for inscribed text, culminating in a wondrous and multifaceted simile