Poetry of Love, Resistance, & Solidarity

Posts tagged ‘Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’

Prayer — By Izzy Wasserstein



A comfortable radical, an academic writing careful verse

in a warm office, what would I do

if fascists rose again, slaughterers with perfect death machines?

I cannot say.

There is no answering that day

until it comes, nor knowing what bells one will strike in warning,

what knotted words of compliance

slip too easily from the tongue.

I have no faith in my bravery, less than in the god revealed

only in silence. Oh, One Who Moves Behind the Facade,

the doors gaping to three-walled houses,

let the illusion-breakers not come for me.

But if they must, grant that I remember Garcia Lorca:

These fields will be strewn with bodies.

I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to Granada.




Show an affirming flame:

words renounced,

called back, called back,

as though they had not

echoed through the canyons

before they returned.

    And if my words

become ugly, if I recant

every last kind thought,

if the lines of my face

twist in cruelty,

may these soundings

outlast me.

~ Izzy Wasserstein

Izzy Wasserstein is the author of This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. Izzy teaches at Washburn University, runs long distances slowly, and shares a home with a cat and three dogs.

Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the author or editor of two dozen books, including the recent poetry collection Following the Curve, and collection of prose Everyday Magic: Fieldnotes on the Mundane and Miraculous. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she leads writing workshops widely, and loves watching the poetry of others rise and glow.


Rain by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

IMG_0864The wall of noise dissolves to rain,

a world held in place by a million falling threads.

In the balance, the fur on the coyote’s belly,

worn as leather but marked with a lifetime of fights,

and the lake hungry for new stories to swim with the old.

Lightning angles and wishbones, branches into branches

that mimic what grows or tunnels below.

Scenery unrolls quick-silver–expanses of land

or water, sky and darkness–in the flash that lights up

all the lines of roads and clouds, cedars and shorelines,

before sealing all back together in shifting hues of night.

What seems like the end, again a beginning.

What can’t be said, suddenly pouring down everywhere.

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, reprinted from Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image by Stephen Locke & Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the third poet laureate of Kansas, author of 19 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches.

Double Trouble for Poetry Month: During Poetry Month, we are featuring a poem weekly from each of Kansas’s poets laureate in addition to our weekly poems.

Prayer for the New Year by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Let the blankets hold the shapes of our sleepingIMG_0864

all the dreams long. Let the cat on the dog’s bed

move over enough for the dog. Let the snow,

gathered tight to the afternoon sky, relax its grip

and show us the white contours of the new world.

Let the last one to leave the room close the lights

and the first one to rise make the coffee.

Let the sorrow we carry unfurl enough to reveal

its story’s ending, whether that ending is upon us

or still to come. Let the windows hold the pink gold

of the just-rising sun and the infinite blue darkening

of the rising night. Let the flowers and stones

make their ways to the gravestones of those we love

who left but never left, no matter how tender

the pain of their imprint. Let the flowers and stones

we collect to carry in our pockets and books

remind us of all that cycles its beauty through

the gift of this life. Let the quietest clearing

in prairie or woods, party of one or crowd of crows

land us exactly where we are. Let the rain come

and our unexpected shimmeying and leaping

alone in the living room. As well, let come

the storm warnings with time enough to find

a basement, the silver light of the winter horizon,

the blue light of everyday, whether we can see it

or not. Let us remember that we are not

who we think we are but only and at last

canoes on the river of light and cooling water.

Let us paddle hard when the current switches,

and put down the paddle when the moon’s face

shines before us, below as above. Let us trust

that we will always be led where we need to go.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate, author or editor of 16 books, and founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. With Kelley Hunt, she offers Brave Voice writing and singing retreats and performance.

After the Storm, the Stars by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

rise from the Osage Orange, wheeling effortlessly overhead as if

nothing has changed. They shine awake in the fresh heart of the air,

cleansed free of all but wind without end, lashing leaf against leaf.


The rays of remnant clouds burn translucent, then invisible. Exposed dirt

ages in the wind. A slat from a child’s doll cradle grows into grass.

Paper from two towns away lifts to ferry important words nowhere.


The sky exhales, waits, drops to the disturbed ridge where flowers

rock upside, the rocks from elsewhere dream of the old days, and in the

off and on cadence of faraway trains, someone’s staccato cries into night


wrapped in shimmer and quiet. Tomorrow, not so far from here:

search dogs and careful lifting of sheetrock and broken furniture,

bulldozers, power saws, rented U-hauls to save, then clear, whatever’s left


Months ahead to measure what was lost, articulate the weather in numbers

and read the brail of the stories left behind. The new world not conjured

arrives here anyway, and over this sprawling tree of life, the stars.

 ~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-2013 Kansas Poet Laureate and author or editor of 16 books, including, more recently,  Needle in the Bone, and The Divorce Girl. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches, she offers community writing workshops widely.

150. To the Stars Through Difficulties: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

The river sings through rock and time as we sit at its bank.

Our truest wishes rise from underground tributaries composed

of old ocean, lost beloveds, bravest bones, clearest seeing.


What we know winters over into porous ground.

What we don’t know lands on high branches only the deer see.


We turn our faces faithfully toward moonlight and motion,

waiting for what comes next. A bluebird returns to the harmonics

of cedar and big bluestem. The night and temperature fall.


We remember that this world holds and holds us together

in the widening river of stars, above as below. No other way.

~ Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

1. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

No other way most of the time, and yet the light
unscrolling from the milky horizon conceals what will shine
above, around, below us just hours from now on the longest night.

Snow, ice, and rain: what melts or refreezes clings to branches
and grasses. Did you think it would be easy to step outside,
to get on with the day and the weather of a collapsed blizzard?

Not when a beloved watches his life narrow to breath. Not when
the car barely starts, the windshield won’t emerge from its ice,
or the dear ones long gone suddenly feel close as sleet turned to rain.

The veil lifted. On the bare branch, like an inverse star, one bluebird.
— Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

31. The Dreaming Land

I dream of spring, when the sky dampens

the seeds of gathering heat, the diving crow

aims toward what was just born, and

even the driveway gravel glitters in the stark

white light between storm and night.

I dream of the winter’s black-and-white landscape

scribbled green, punctured by the maroon tip of root

in a field cleaned black with fire while

the cottonwoods unfurl their pale green hearts.

This land dreams sky, a shifting infusion

of shadow on cloud, despite the unreliability

of rain or clarity. The deer dream fawns.

The fawns dream flight as they walk the through-line

of the horizon. The horizon never stops dreaming,

its sleep a progression of filtering color through space.

The dream always dreams possibility

juxtaposed against decay, lightning, first

redbud blossom or starling feather stuck on a rooftop.

The rooftop dreams, belly up, to the sky,

its dream a song of shelter and risk.

The sky dreams light rolling away from dark,

dark rolling away from light, expansive as sorrow

that permeates the porous souls of everything

from weather to the dog left alone in the living room

while I step outside into the dizzy of bird call,

flocks pouring down onto branches

swollen with the hard dreams of blossom.

— Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the poet laureate of Kansas, the author of eleven books, and the founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College, where she teaches. She makes her home just south of Lawrence, KS., and she’s one of the featured poets laureate taking part of Poet Laureati: A Convergence of U.S. Poets Laureate, taking place in Lawrence, KS. from March 13-14.

Tag Cloud