Tenderness and Rot

By Kay Ryan b. 1945 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   

It is important   
to stay sweet   
and loving.

Source: Poetry (January 2002).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2002 issue of Poetry magazine

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January 2002
 Kay  Ryan


Born in California in 1945 and acknowledged as one of the most original voices in the contemporary landscape, Kay Ryan is the author of several books of poetry, including Flamingo Watching (2006), The Niagara River (2005), and Say Uncle (2000). Her book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Ryan's tightly compressed, rhythmically dense poetry is often compared to that of Emily . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy


Poetic Terms Metaphor, Consonance, Epigram, Mixed

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