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Lyn Hejinian

Ponderable

About this Poem 

“‘Ponderable’ is an elegy from my collection titled The Unfollowing, forthcoming from Omnidawn in 2016. Noticing that it is a poem of fourteen lines, readers might speculate that it is a sonnet, but a proper sonnet is structured to facilitate logical thinking and that is precisely what is precluded when one is confronted by death: there is no coming to terms with it.”
Lyn Hejinian

Ponderable

Lyn Hejinian, 1941

The pine branches reach—the rain! the sun! the edge of the
        moving air! three goats!
Girls on razor scooters turn the corner and scoot
Autonomy actually shows, it shines amidst the stars of decision
I sacrifice hearing to writing, I return to the back of the train
Surrounded by nothing but tattered island nasturtia, the
        shoveler is prepared to exclaim, “Grief exterior, grief
        prison”
Beastly pine cones are falling from the sky
Down in the middle, and a soft wall, the midnight breeze
        billows
Check the role, the rock, the rule!
From cardboard pressed to ginger, water spilled on a list, salt
        sprinkled over…
Why so many references to dogs, purple, and bananas?
Then the carnival—it came up afterwards like a vermillion
        buttress to say of itself “it appears”
Wren in a ragged bee line, flora sleeping live
Yuki, Felicia, and Maxwell have between them $13.75, and they
        are hungry as they enter the small café, where they see a
        display of pies and decide to spend all their money on pie
        there and then—how much pie will each get to eat if
        each pie costs $5.25?
Invincible is my myopia, great is my waist, choral are my ideas,
        wingéd are my eyebrows, deep is my obscurity—who am I?

© 2015 Lyn Hejinian. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2015 by the Academy of American Poets.

© 2015 Lyn Hejinian. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 31, 2015 by the Academy of American Poets.

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Terrence Howard, Poetry & the Creative Mind, New York City, 2012
collection

Women Poets in History

A collection of essays and ephemera about several women poets whose lives and work have influenced American poetry.

poem

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
1978
Nan Knutsen's second graders at Falcon Heights Elementary School in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day
Alberto Ríos at the Southwestern Poetry Festival, New York Historical Society, 1991