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About this Poem 
“Regarding this poem, I have very little to say. I tend to forget my poems as soon as they are written, but I am very happy while writing them. I do love how things we saw many, many years ago can suddenly crop up in a poem we wrote yesterday, and that happened here. I was once in the house of a clock-repairer and asked him how he could sleep with all that ticking—there were hundreds of working clocks on the walls—and he told me he was so used to it he had no problem at all. Me, I bury my alarm clock every night, as I cannot bear to hear the ticking!”
—Mary Ruefle
 

I Cannot Be Quiet an Hour

I begin
to talk to violets.
Tears fall into my soup
and I drink them. 
Sooner or later
everyone donates something. 
I carry wood, stone, and 
hay in my head. 
The eyes of the violets
grow very wide. 
At the end of the day
I reglue the broken foot
of the china shepherd
who has put up with me.
Next door, in the house
of the clock-repairer,
a hundred clocks tick
at once. He and his wife
go about their business
sleeping peacefully at night.

Copyright © 2018 by Mary Ruefle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Mary Ruefle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle

The poet Mary Ruefle is the author of many books of poetry, including My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016) and Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013).

by this poet

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From this day forward all plants
except the lemon tree
will be banished from my poems

From this day forward I am wedded to the sky

All clouds shall be banished
and my memory of them vanish
like memory itself

Not even a lime shall sneak in

Animals shall exit my poems

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Beloved, men in thick green coats came crunching
through the snow, the insignia on their shoulders
of uncertain origin, a country I could not be sure of,
a salute so terrifying I heard myself lying to avoid
arrest, and was arrested along with Jocko, whose tear
had snapped off, a
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I have always been vulnerable when confronted with Christmas decorations, and I am sitting in my living room staring at them. The lights on the tree are blinking on and off and I’m mesmerized. I have never been to a hypnotist but maybe mesmerization is the last state you enter before