Kay Ryan, “All You Did”

All You Did (from Poetry) Kay Ryan There doesn’t seem to be a crack. A higher pin cannot be set. Nor can you go back. You hadn’t even known the face was vertical. All you did was walk into a room. The tipping up from flat was gradual, you must assume. Comment: Ambition, guilt, and […]

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Kay Ryan, “Tenderness and Rot”

Tenderness and Rot (from Poetry) Kay Ryan Tenderness and rot share a border. And rot is an aggressive neighbor whose iridescence keeps creeping over. No lessons can be drawn from this however. One is not two countries. One is not meat corrupting. It is important to stay sweet and loving. Comment: 1. “One is not […]

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Kay Ryan, “Blandeur”

Blandeur (from Poetry) Kay Ryan If it please God, let less happen. Even out Earth’s rondure, flatten Eiger, blanden the Grand Canyon. Make valleys slightly higher, widen fissures to arable land, remand your terrible glaciers and silence their calving, halving or doubling all geographical features toward the mean. Unlean against our hearts. Withdraw your grandeur […]

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Kay Ryan, “Why We Must Struggle”

Why We Must Struggle (from Poetry) Kay Ryan If we have not struggled as hard as we can at our strongest how will we sense the shape of our losses or know what sustains us longest or name what change costs us saying how strange it is that one sector of the self can step […]

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Kay Ryan, “Insult”

Insult (from Persimmon Tree) Kay Ryan Insult is injury taken personally, saying, This is not a random fracture that would have happened to any leg out there; this was a conscious unkindness. We need insult to remind us that we aren’t always just hurt, that there are some sources — even in the self — […]

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Kay Ryan, “Blue China Doorknob”

Blue China Doorknob (from Poetry) Kay Ryan I was haunted by the image of a blue china doorknob. I never used the doorknob, or knew what it meant, yet somehow it started the current of images. – Robert Lowell Rooms may be using us. We may be the agents of doorknobs’ purposes, obeying imperatives china […]

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Kay Ryan, “Thin”

Thin (from Poetry) Kay Ryan How anything is known is so thin — a skin of ice over a pond only birds might confidently walk upon. A bird’s worth of weight or one bird-weight of Wordsworth. Comment: Control breath, focus. Only time to get more oxygen, avoid a blow, respond with training when possible. A […]

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Kay Ryan, “Backward Miracle”

Backward Miracle (from Poetry) Kay Ryan Every once in a while we need a backward miracle that will strip language, make it hold for a minute: just the vessel with the wine in it – a sacramental refusal to multiply, reclaiming the single loaf and the single fish thereby. Comment: Once, after a particularly bad […]

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