Lilacs out of the cold ground

April is National Poetry Month. I generally celebrate by reading the first few stanzas of “The Waste Land” and then forgetting about it, but this year I’m trying to incorporate a little more poetry reading into my day-to-day life.

As an English major in undergrad, I only took a two strictly poetry classes, though poetry analysis was scattered throughout many of my other survey courses. It’s not my favorite literary form to study – I’m more of a short story or novel kinda girl – but I appreciate that I learned enough to be able to enjoy formal analysis of poetry. Still, though, I usually gravitate toward poems that make me feel good because of the content or the wordplay.

April Is posts a poem a day this month. I don’t follow daily (except this year I am trying) but I do like to peruse the archives from time to time. I can almost always find something I like. Back in the day I was a big fan of the They Said LiveJournal, and I still reference its memories section sometimes.

Here’s an old favorite that always makes me smile:

“The Quiet World” by Jeffrey McDaniel

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.


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