National Poetry Month!

The following are original poems that were submitted to the Waltham Public Library for National Poetry Month! They are all very beautiful and we hope that you will enjoy them.

The Place of Unknowing

How do you stay balanced in that place
between knowing and unknowing?
How do you find peace
when uncertainty surrounds you at every turn?
Every Bible character that I look at goes on this journey.
It’s not for the faint of heart,
but as I see it, it’s the only journey there is.
There is really only One Journey,
and that is our journey back home to the light;
to Eternal Love.
All else are pit stops;
road markers along the way.
Some are filled with joy
and others filled with sadness.
This is the human experience of duality
that so many try to escape from.
The pain of unknowing and uncertainty
can be too great to bear.

In the dark times in my own life,
as I look back,
I can see this question continually popping up:
What is emerging?
What is emerging in me?
Something old is passing away,
and in its place something new is seeking to be born.
While I am in the midst of it,
I can’t name it.
But that newness tastes like:
Deeper Peace,
Unshakable Joy,
Unconditional Love.

Most people see God as an external being
who Judges, rewards, and punishes.
But what if the divine is Peace itself,
beyond our intellectual understanding;
What if the Holy is Bliss,
in the form of complete joy?
What if the Sacred
is the Love we feel within and without,
because love is simply all there is?

On my best days, when I’m awake,
I can see the forest through the trees.
Other days, I feel lost,
searching, groping for guidance.
On those days, I look to the spiritual giants-
to the saints, the mystics, and seers of all religious traditions
who have reminded me of one thing-
don’t look only to the things that can be seen.

If my peace is dependent on externals,
then I will never be peaceful.
If my joy is possible only under special circumstances,
then it will remain elusive.
Instead, they remind me,
look to what cannot be seen-
to what is invisible yet eternal;
To what you can feel
but not touch.
This is what is most real.
This is what that question of emergence points to.
What is falling away,
and what is being born?
And so every day, my prayer is,
Lord, take all of me;
Take my memory,
my understanding,
my entire will.
They are yours.
My family, my community,
they are yours.
Nothing will stay the same because life is transient;
all things are impermanent.
In this ever-shifting world,
let us always have on the forefront of our minds
what does not change:
Love, peace, joy-
these are all simply words that point to Infinity,
which is the surest foundation we can build for our life,
our family, our communities, our world.

by Matthew Carriker
This original poem is by Matthew Carriker, Protestant Chaplain at Brandeis University

Sometimes the heart is full
Other moments the heart is full of 
Changes are delayed and time stands 
The pendulum will move
When the will of the mind begins to

Given the darkness of the full moon
And the darkness of the moonlit sky
Brace for the chains to break
The storm will blow away
The sun will shine again

Life is waiting for the new moment to begin

Sheryl Jean Arico
copyright 2008 Sheryl Jean Arico

Kentuckiana Postcards
to Josh Bloom
Hello from Nowhere in Particular,
and yet another town I fell in love with.
It's the usual: the Washeteria, Hubcaps Galore,
Little Chef Diner, not to mention Faith
Liquors. I'm so predictable. All the downtown
buildings need to do is raise their painted eyebrows
slightly or flash old-fashioned neon and I'm gone
(like making wedding plans on the first date). I browse
or next year's calendar ("they're in!") though it's July
and get my shoe size checked ("it changes year to year").
I must find out if they serve Jell-O
here (or it could never work). The theater
is closed, of course, though you can buy appliances
and furniture ("tent sale today!") and the jeweler's
still open. (But where can I get the fiancée
to buy them for?) Am I a fool or
what, to think love and towns like this should last
forever? One more walk by the river
and I know I must go, like the ghosts unkissed
in the balcony while the screen below flickers with lovers.
Yup, another place whose curlicues and neon
and blank marquee seduced me. (If I paid dues
at every Odd Fellows' I've photographed. . .)
But I worried that the waitress hated Jews
it took so long to get my order
(and she had tattoos) till I saw she was just
nervous. (Turns out she's very new here.)
One by one, the other diners confessed
to me how far away they've been from Indiana-
Boston, Seattle, thirteen years in New York-
in an ironic contest one trucker supplied
mileage for. Then each explained why he'd come back,
as if I'd somehow disapprove of that.
I, in turn, pretended I was from somewhere,
though after twenty years I still get called a "breezer."
I couldn't say, "I want to be a regular
in every town like this-each street seems so
evocative of all the lives I could have led-"
like the one where I run the public library,
the one in which my mother hadn't died,
and one in the last century, when I was
(can you imagine it?) the haberdasher's bride.
The life where I have children, the one
in which I'll never go abroad, and read
the Bible daily. The life where I work
at Little Chef and serve my other self the tea
(the four-refill limit would not apply to me),
the one in which instead of go, I'd stay.
 Jennifer Rose

from Hometown for an Hour, Ohio University Press (2006)Here are poems recommended by Waltham Public Library Staff and community members.  

 This poem is written by my father in his native language bengali. This is a translation by my friend, Kakoli Ray:
 Tomar shonge Dekha Hole (If I met you)
 By Sunil Gangopadhyay, translated by Kakoli Ray:
 If I met you.
 If I met you, I would have asked
 You have no love for humanity, yet why do you love the nation?
 What can the nation give you?
 Or, is the nation something God-like for you?
 If I met you, I would have asked
 If you were to martyr yourself what will it leave the nation?
 Is the nation the land of your birth, or the barbed boundary of the nation-state?
 Those that you hauled off the bus and murdered
 Should one suppose they have no nation?
 If I met you, I would have asked
 How did you infer that I am your enemy?
 And without even responding to my questions will you
 just point the gun at me?
 Such are the loveless who proclaim patriotism!
  Submitted by Shouvik Gangopadhyay
The following are poems by well known authors that were submitted by Waltham Public Library Staff and community members.

Undersong by Audre Lord

The Soul Of Rumi: A New Collection Of Ecstatic Poems

The Sonnets And Narrative Poems by William Shakespeare

Jimmy’s Blues And Other Poems by James Baldwin

Separation by W.S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me

Like thread through a needle.

Everything I do is stitched with its color. 

W. S. Merwin, “Separation” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993). Copyright © 1993 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.Source: The Second Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon

On The Way Out, Turn Off The Light: Poems by Marge Piercy

Poems April 2004

The well or the cup

by Kay Ryan

How can
you tell
at the start
what you
can give away
and what
you must hold
to your heart.
What is
the well

and what is
a cup. Some
people get
drunk up.

The New Criterion

Vol. 39, No. 8 / April 2021

Antonio Machado

“A Meditation”

Already the moon rises
over orange groves.
Venus shines in the sky
like a little glass bird.

Amber and beryl light
behind distant mountains
and over the oceans
a purple porcelain sky.

Night in the garden,
water in its fixtures—
the scent of jasmine,
nightingale of perfumes.

How it seems as if
the war were asleep
while Valencia’s flowers
drink the Guadalaviar.

Valencia of thin towers
and sweet nights. Valencia,
I will be with you even
when I cannot see you,
the fields grown in sand,
the seas receding to violet.

The Complete Collected Poems Of Maya Angelou

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