April is National Poetry Month!
In honor of poetry month, Lafayette Librarians were asked to share some of their favorite poems. A few of their favorites can be found below, and you can view a larger list of poetry collections and anthologies available to check out through Lafayette’s libraries at this link. You can also view some of the collections on display in the Browsing section of Skillman Library through April.
Poet: Martín Espada
Title: Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989
Collection: Rebellion is the Circle of a lover’s Hand
No one asks
where I am from,
I must be
from the country of janitors,
I have always mopped this floor.
Honduras, you are a squatter’s camp
outside the city
of their understanding.
No one can speak
I host the fiesta
of the bathroom,
stirring the toilet
like a punchbowl.
The Spanish music of my name
when the guests complain
about toilet paper.
What they say
must be true:
I am smart,
but I have a bad attitude.
No one knows
that I quit tonight,
maybe the mop
will push on without me,
sniffing along the floor
like a crazy squid
with stringy gray tentacles.
They will call it Jorge.
Poet: Maggie Smith
Title: Rain, New Year’s Eve
The rain is a broken piano,
playing the same note over and over.
My five-year-old said that.
Already she knows loving the world
means loving the wobbles
you can’t shim, the creaks you can’t
oil silent—the jerry-rigged parts,
MacGyvered with twine and chewing gum.
Let me love the cold rain’s plinking.
Let me love the world the way I love
my young son, not only when
he cups my face in his sticky hands,
but when, roughhousing,
he accidentally splits my lip.
Let me love the world like a mother.
Let me be tender when it lets me down.
Let me listen to the rain’s one note
and hear a beginner’s song.
Poet: Ellen Bass
Collection: Like a Beggar (2014)
Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat—
the one you never really liked—will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up—drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice—one white, one black—scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.
Poet: Mary Oliver
Collection: Third: Poems (2006)
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.