Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems of William Stafford by Kim Stafford, William Stafford

By Kim Stafford, William Stafford

"In our time there was no poet who revived human hearts and spirits extra convincingly than William Stafford." —Naomi Shihab Nye

Some time while the river is ice ask me
mistakes i've got made. inquire from me whether
what i've got performed is my life.
—from "Ask Me"

In occasion of the poet's centennial, Ask Me collects 100 of William Stafford's crucial poems. As a conscientious objector in the course of international struggle II, whereas assigned to Civilian Public carrier camps Stafford begun his day-by-day writing perform, a lifelong early-morning ritual of witness. His poetry finds the results of violence, the day-by-day necessity of ethical judgements, and the bounty of paintings. chosen and with a word by means of Kim Stafford, Ask Me provides the easiest from a profound and unique American voice.

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It took a wrecker to free the car again, to haul it off. Five wrecks, each time the last, we decided, but next day she was rational, clear eyed and sorry, and one of us buckled and the alliance broke. Now, how to take keys from Mama’s fist and expect kisses? We all swear fiercely in whispers we’ll take turns driving her gladly day or night, anywhere, always, but Mama, please, it’s time. [ 51 ] In Shallows of the Brazos We taught our children to swim, swing out on ropes and jump, trusting oak limbs to hold them and then let go, the Brazos muddy enough to walk on.

Who else detected melodies from bats, heard wings in that dimension, harmonics odd but clear as bird songs in his ears? Others would take the easy way someday and scribble the obvious, pretend raw dissonance is modern, and some rich emperor, tone deaf, would call that chaos opera. Anyone could hear staccato in the wings of hummingbirds, discern irregular cadence, eighth notes of bouncing butterflies. But musical bats? they’d say. My God! Mozart, you’re mad. [ 50 ] Taking the Keys from Mother She won’t let go, those keys are hers, paid for, the car her only way away.

My wife carves lamb and hands the platter to a double cousin who’s come back. I never met him in Saigon or later, until today. Like her brothers, her cousin is huge, ducks under the door frame, a giant by his mother and Sicilian wife. No wonder Ursula is tough, that our boys are bigger than me, our daughters beautiful and bold. Her cousin’s children play outside with ours, his eight adopted from different landscapes, some scarred with skin grafts. Some hobble on plastic legs, one without arms. Her cousin could grab my skull like a softball, man who digs up steel around the world, who hunts down bombs and mines, turns killing fields to farms.

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