...as Major says below. Sometimes the kids, especially if they're still in school, just want more time to read: today at the Beacon blog education writer Chris Mercagliano has more on that depressing NEA report about how much young people do and don't read. (I had something about Adrienne Rich at the Beacon blog myself last week; if you are a Rich fan, let me know what you think.)
And sometimes the kids, especially if they're, you know, grown-ups, or pretend to be grown-ups all day, and if (as I do) they write or teach for a living, want less chat about poems and more, you know, poems. Below the fold: a couple of poems from books a few years old, whose authors are by no means well-known (one is a domestic violence prevention worker in remote Native Alaska, the other late-career scholar of medieval manuscripts in Wales). Elsewhere I've tried to say why and how much I like them; today, I'm just going to offer the poems, along with a couple of phrases of gloss and assistance.


Here is the first, by the Welsh scholar Daniel Huws, from his short collected poems. The book and the poem have the same title, "The Quarry." You might want to know that gorse is a flowering shrub, common in Britain and Ireland; you might also keep in mind the double meanings of the title (places from which stones are cut; prey or goal in a chase):
The quietness,
They have all scattered
Into the maze of gorse
And slabs of rock,
In tattered jerseys
And faded frocks.
Ages ago,
And I still stand
Caught in the long afternoon
In the old quarry,
Face to the wall,
Counting to twenty.
And here, from an opposite extreme-- perhaps-- of wildness vs control, is one of my favorite poems by the Alaskan writer Tracy Philpot, from her second book, Distance from Birth. You might want to know that a speculum is a gynecological instrument with a mirror on one end, and also means "mirror" in Latin; the poem is called "Good/ Bad News from the Physical World":
outdoors is the sultry rain sucking his fingers
an emotion requiring an act outside the body
Evelyn reaches for anything to drink: body oil, rubbing alcohol,
bug lotion. A guy waits (in vain) for her outside. It looks like
he's standing in a hole but there is no hole. The skin teaches
love is a porous child
even if you're dead it'd be nice to be this
receptive
a doctor opens the speculum (deafness) and a woman for the first
time and out flies a moth raining blue dust
on the way home I am trying to prevent this-- torn raven wings
stick to the highway
luckily you are old, you may touch anyone/ everyone
the body is not supposed to be anything
except the final conduit
the power through

Originally Published: November 27th, 2007

Stephanie (also Steph; formerly Stephen) Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. She has published four collections of poems: Advice...