Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughtful Thursday: A Small Needful Fact by Ross Gay

Thoughtful Thursdays are back! To the newcomers, on Thursdays GCP offers a poem, a song, a sampling of African American created or inspired culture to uplift your day, and share with your sons. Today’s offering comes courtesy of the wonderful journalist Michele Norris, who tweeted this poem out this morning. Given the beauty of the poem, and the times we live in, we just had to share it. “A Small Needful Fact”, by Ross Gay, focuses on an aspect of Eric Garner’s life not otherwise noted in the coverage of his death at the hands of NYC police.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Gay is the author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award and a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award; Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011); and Against Which (Cavankerry Press, 2006). He earned a BA from Lafayette College, an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD in English from Temple University. He teaches at Indiana University. Speaking about this poem during a PBS Newshour, Gay said, “What that poem, I think, is trying to do is to say, there’s this beautiful life, which is both the sorrow and the thing that needs to be loved”.

A Small Needful Fact

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

Ross Gay

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Thoughtful Thursday: Fun Poems For the Little Ones

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday brings you a few fun poems to read to share with your younger sons. Those of you who have Pizza Nights will especially enjoy “A Pizza The Size of the Sun”, where Jack Prelutsky imagines the best pizza ever. Ogden Nash tells the story of “Isabel”, a young lady who is not to be tangled with. And Langston Hughes explains “The Blues” to the youngest set. Enjoy.

A Pizza the Size of the Sun

I’m making a pizza the size of the sun,
a pizza that’s sure to weigh more than a ton,
a pizza too massive to pick up and toss,
a pizza resplendent with oceans of sauce.

I’m topping my pizza with mountains of cheese,
with acres of peppers, pimentos, and peas,
with mushrooms, tomatoes, and sausage galore,
with every last olive they had at the store.

My pizza is sure to be one of a kind,
my pizza will leave other pizzas behind,
my pizza will be a delectable treat
that all who love pizza are welcome to eat.

The oven is hot, I believe it will take
a year and a half for my pizza to bake.
I hardly can wait till my pizza is done,
my wonderful pizza the size of the sun.

Jack Prelutsky

 

Adventures Of Isabel

Isabel met an enormous bear,
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t care;
The bear was hungry, the bear was ravenous,
The bear’s big mouth was cruel and cavernous.
The bear said, Isabel, glad to meet you,
How do, Isabel, now I’ll eat you!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry.
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
Once in a night as black as pitch
Isabel met a wicked old witch.
the witch’s face was cross and wrinkled,
The witch’s gums with teeth were sprinkled.
Ho, ho, Isabel! the old witch crowed,
I’ll turn you into an ugly toad!
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry,
She showed no rage and she showed no rancor,
But she turned the witch into milk and drank her.
Isabel met a hideous giant,
Isabel continued self reliant.
The giant was hairy, the giant was horrid,
He had one eye in the middle of his forhead.
Good morning, Isabel, the giant said,
I’ll grind your bones to make my bread.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She nibled the zwieback that she always fed off,
And when it was gone, she cut the giant’s head off.
Isabel met a troublesome doctor,
He punched and he poked till he really shocked her.
The doctor’s talk was of coughs and chills
And the doctor’s satchel bulged with pills.
The doctor said unto Isabel,
Swallow this, it will make you well.
Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry,
Isabel didn’t scream or scurry.
She took those pills from the pill concocter,
And Isabel calmly cured the doctor.
Ogden Nash

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday brings you a few fun poems to read to share with your younger sons. Those of you who have Pizza Nights will especially enjoy “A Pizza The Size of the Sun”, where Jack Prelutsky imagines the best pizza ever. Ogden Nash tells the story of “Isabel”, a young lady who is not to be tangled with. And Langston Hughes explains “The Blues” to the youngest set. Enjoy.

The Blues

When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you’re in a hurry-
That’s the blues.

When you go to buy a candy bar
And you’ve lost the dime you had-
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere-
That’s the blues, too, and bad!

Langston Hughes

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Thoughtful Thursday: Never Forget. Talk to Your Sons About September 11

The young men and women entering college this year were in kindergarten on September 11, 2001. This means that many of our children have limited to no personal recollection of the horrific events of that day. One of the phrases most frequently quoted in reference to 9/11 is “Never Forget”. But how do we make sure our school aged sons (and our daughters) know about and remember the events of September 11th?

911memorial.org, the site of the 911 Memorial Museum and Sculpture in New York City, found here, has a lot of good tips and articles to help you talk with your children about the events of September 11. Of particular interest to parents should be the “Teach and Learn” section of the site. There you will find suggestions on how to talk to your children of varying ages about 9/11, lesson plans about the event designed for students in grades K-12, teaching guides, webcasts, and lots of other helpful materials.

Although the actual day has now passed, your sons may come home more curious about 9/11 after hearing about it in school. Take some time to check out this site, and spend some time this weekend chatting with them about what our nation endured. The older students may be particularly focused on this issue in view of the current ISIS threat. Be sure to take a look at the War/Terrorism materials on the National Association of School Psychologist website, found here, for help with managing your son’s questions and concerns about terrorism.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Poems Our Boys Should Know

The leisurely days of summer may give us more opportunities to read aloud with our sons and daughters. Today’s Thoughtful Thursday presents classic poems, good for our children to know and even be able to recite. This summer, why not incorporate some poetry discussion and memorization into your reading time with your son? Or challenge him to memorize one of these poems, and memorize one yourself as well? (Do you really know all of the words in all three stanzas of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice And Sing”?) There are a hodgepodge of poems here for a variety of age levels. Take a look, find some favorites, and enjoy.

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Days of the Month

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November;
February has twenty eight alone
All the rest have thirty-one
Except in Leap Year, that’s the time
When February’s Days are twenty-nine.

Mother Goose

The Blues

When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you’re in a hurry-
That’s the blues.

When you go to buy a candy bar
And you’ve lost the dime you had-
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere-
That’s the blues, too, and bad!

Langston Hughes

Jabberwocky

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carroll

Backward Bill

Backward Bill, Backward Bill,
He lives way up on Backward Hill,
Which is really a hole in the sandy ground
(But that’s a hill turned upside down).
Backward Bill’s got a backward shack
With a big front porch that’s built out back.
You walk through the window and look out the door
And the cellar is up on the very top floor.

Backward Bill he rides like the wind
Don’t know where he’s going but sees where he’s been.
His spurs they go “neigh” and his horse it goes “clang,”
And his six-gun goes “gnab,” it never goes “bang.”

Backward Bill’s got a backward pup,
They eat their supper when the sun comes up,
And he’s got a wife named Backward Lil,
“She’s my own true hate,” says Backward Bill.

Backward Bill wears his hat on his toes
And puts on his underwear over his clothes.
And come every payday he pays his boss,
And rides off a-smilin’ a-carryin’ his hoss.

Shel Silverstein

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

James Weldon Johnson

Summer means time away for GCP as well. We may not be posting as frequently over the next few weeks, but look for some exciting additions after Labor Day!!!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Hope

As each day seems to bring new stories of tragedies around the world, today’s Thoughtful Thursday offers us thoughts of hope. Enjoy.

“Hope” is the Thing with Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Emily Dickinson

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”
Alexandre Dumas

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
Dalai Lama XIV

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
Barack Obama

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Thoughtful Thursday: In Celebration of Women

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday celebrates women. Women of all ages. While we at GCP are generally focused on mothers, today we celebrate all women: Grandmothers, Mothers, Sisters, Aunts, Girlfriends. The village of women. Let these mighty words and the images they evoke lift you up and give you the strength and energy to do all that you want and need to be done. Enjoy.

Ego Tripping

I was born in the Congo
I walked to the Fertile Crescent and built
The sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
That only glows every one hundred years falls
Into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
Jesus
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean…I…can fly
like a bird in the sky…

Nikki Giovanni

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

I Am a Black Woman

I am a black woman
the music of my song
some sweet arpeggio of tears
is written in a minor key
and I
can be heard humming in the night
Can be heard
humming
in the night

I saw my mate leap screaming to the sea
and I/with these hands/cupped the lifebreath
from my issue in the canebrake
I lost Nat’s swinging body in a rain of tears
and heard my son scream all the way from Anzio
for Peace he never knew….I
learned Da Nang and Pork Chop Hill
in anguish
Now my nostrils know the gas
and these trigger tire/d fingers
seek the softness in my warrior’s beard

I am a black woman
tall as a cypress
strong
beyond all definition still
defying place
and time
and circumstance
assailed
impervious
indestructible
Look
on me and be
renewed

Mari Evans

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Thoughtful Thursday: On the Road

Greetings from France! GCP is on the road this week, with limited access to the blog, but we don’t want to miss the chance to share a Thoughtful Thursday. Today’s Thoughtful Thursday celebrates vacations, with poems from three very well-known American poets. From Robert Frost comes “The Road Less Traveled”, which we include here to reflect on the joys of following new paths. Robert Louis Stevenson commiserates with all of the young boys (and girls) who complain about having to go to bed while the sun is still up in the summertime, and Mark Twain offers a sweet lullaby for the end of a lovely summer day. Enjoy.

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Robert Louis Stevenson

Warm Summer Sun

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

Mark Twain

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Thoughtful Thursday: The Pleasures of Reading

Earlier this week the American Academy of Pediatrics announced a policy recommending that pediatricians tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth. In support of this new policy, today’s Thoughtful Thursday celebrates the pleasures of reading. Hope these poems inspire you to read with your sons (whatever their age). Enjoy.

There is no Frigate like a Book

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –

Emily Dickinson

Notes on the Art of Poetry

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,
such sandstorms and ice blasts of words,,,
such staggering peace, such enormous laughter,
such and so many blinding bright lights,, ,
splashing all over the pages
in a million bits and pieces
all of which were words, words, words,
and each of which were alive forever
in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

Dylan Thomas

Good Books

Good books are friendly things to own.
If you are busy they will wait.
They will not call you on the phone
Or wake you if the hour is late.
They stand together row by row,
Upon the low shelf or the high.
But if you’re lonesome this you know:
You have a friend or two nearby.

The fellowship of books is real.
They’re never noisy when you’re still.
They won’t disturb you at your meal.
They’ll comfort you when you are ill.
The lonesome hours they’ll always share.
When slighted they will not complain.
And though for them you’ve ceased to care
Your constant friends they’ll still remain.

Good books your faults will never see
Or tell about them round the town.
If you would have their company
You merely have to take them down.
They’ll help you pass the time away,
They’ll counsel give if that you need.
He has true friends for night and day
Who has a few good books to read.


Edgar Guest


Beware: Do Not Read This Poem

tonite, thriller was
about an old woman, so vain she
surrounded herself with
many mirrors
it got so bad that finally she
locked herself indoors & her
whole life became the
mirrors
one day the villagers broke
into her house, but she was too
swift for them. she disappeared
into a mirror
each tenant who bought the house
after that, lost a loved one to
the old woman in the mirror:
first a little girl
then a young woman
then the young woman’s husband
the hunger of this poem is legendary
it has taken in many victims
back off from this poem
it has drawn in your feet
back off from this poem
it has drawn in your legs

back off from thias poem
it is a greedy mirror
you are into this poem. from
the waist down
nobody can hear you can they?
this poem has had you up to here
belch
this poem aint got no manners
you cant call out from this poem
relax now & go with this poem
move & roll on to this poem
do not resist this poem
this poem has your eyes
this poem has his head
this poem has his arms
this poem has his fingers
this poem has his fingertips

this poem is the reader & the
reader the poem

statistic: the US bureau of missing persons re-
ports that in 1968 over 100,000 people
disappeared leaving no solid clues
nor trace only
a space in the lives of their friends

Ishmael Reed

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Thoughtful Thursday: Ruby Dee

Today’s Thoughtful Thursday pays tribute to the gifted and beautiful actress, writer and activist Ruby Dee (October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014).

images-2

Here are a few favorite Ruby Dee quotes. Enjoy.

• The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within — strength, courage, dignity.

• God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.

• The greatest gift is not being afraid to question.

• Classism and greed are making insignificant all the other kinds of isms.

• You just try to do everything that comes up. Get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, make the time. Then you look back and say, “Well, that was a neat piece of juggling there — school, marriage, babies, career.” The enthusiasms took me through the action, not the measuring of it or the reasonableness.

• That’s what being young is all about. You have the courage and the daring to think that you can make a difference. You’re not prone to measure your energies in time. You’re not likely to live by equations.

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Thoughtful Thursday: Father’s Day

With Father’s Day coming up on Sunday, today’s Thoughtful Thursday pays tribute to dads. In “Only a Dad” Edward Albert Guest pays tribute to all of the fathers who work hard to support the families who love them. Martin Espada describes witnessing his father’s bravery as a child in “The Sign in My Father’s Hands”. Li-Young Lee passes on a favorite lesson learned from his father. And we end with a classic ode to fathers everywhere, Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”.

Enjoy, and Happy Father’s Day to all of our GCP Dads!!!

Only a Dad

Only a dad, with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame,
To show how well he has played the game,
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come, and to hear his voice.

Only a dad, with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more.
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent, whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad, but he gives his all
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing, with courage stern and grim,
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen,
Only a dad, but the best of men.

Edgar Albert Guest

The Sign in My Father’s Hands

—for Frank Espada

The beer company
did not hire Blacks or Puerto Ricans,
so my father joined the picket line
at the Schaefer Beer Pavilion, New York World’s Fair,
amid the crowds glaring with canine hostility.
But the cops brandished nightsticks
and handcuffs to protect the beer,
and my father disappeared.

In 1964, I had never tasted beer,
and no one told me about the picket signs
torn in two by the cops of brewery.
I knew what dead was: dead was a cat
overrun with parasites and dumped
in the hallway incinerator.
I knew my father was dead.
I went mute and filmy-eyed, the slow boy
who did not hear the question in school.
I sat studying his framed photograph
like a mirror, my darker face.

Days later, he appeared in the doorway
grinning with his gilded tooth.
Not dead, though I would come to learn
that sometimes Puerto Ricans die
in jail, with bruises no one can explain
swelling their eyes shut.
I would learn too that “boycott”
is not a boy’s haircut,
that I could sketch a picket line
on the blank side of a leaflet.

That day my father returned
from the netherworld
easily as riding the elevator to apartment 14-F,
and the brewery cops could only watch
in drunken disappointment.
I searched my father’s hands
for a sign of the miracle.

Martín Espada

The Gift

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

Li-Young Lee

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden

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