I was Asked to Make a List

86º ~ conditions near the same, cloud cover breaking up in the south

Earlier this week, some friends and I agreed to each make a packet containing approx. 10 poems that we love.  These are friends with whom I’ve talked of poetry casually, but they are not writers of poetry and so I do not know their aesthetic. 

Of course I had a terrible time creating my list, mostly in narrowing.  Eventually, I gave up and just went with the poems that floated most quickly to the top of my head.  I am sure there are others equally deserving.

Here’s my list (in no particular order) and an excerpt for each poem.

Traci Brimhall ~ “Aubade with a Broken Neck”

The first night you don’t come home
summer rains shake the clematis.
I bury the dead moth I found in our bed,
scratch up a rutabaga and eat it rough 

James Wright ~ “A Blessing”

Just off the highway
to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds
softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of
those two Indian ponies
Darken with

Li-Young Lee ~ “Persimmons”

he was going blind,
my father sat up all
one night   
waiting for a song,
a ghost.   

Elizabeth Bishop ~ “One Art”

Lose something every
day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys,
the hour badly spent.
The art of losing
isn’t hard to master.

Mary Oliver ~ “In Blackwater Woods”

Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,

Pablo Neruda ~ “Sonnet XVII” ~ trans. Stephen Mitchell

and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

Quan Barry ~ “Child of the Enemy”

from “IX. Napalm”

…….  Like all effective incendiaries,
I won’t only bloom where I’m planted.

Charles Wright ~ “1975”

Year of the Half-Hinged Mouth and the Hollow Bones,
Year of the Thorn,

Anne Sexton ~ “For My Lover, Returning to His Wife”

She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.

Maurice Manning ~ “Seven Chimeras”

The way Booth makes
an orchid:
combine one bluebird
with nine fencerow
pokeberries; crush
together and hang
thirty yards away in

Lucie Brock-Broido ~ “Also, None of Us Has Seen God”

Old as a prehistoric furrow horse abed in awe & sediment,

Curled on his runic side, in the shape of an O broken.

Well, there you go, I went to 11.

Posted by Sandy Longhorn


Great list, and fun idea. Makes me consider my own favorites.

Nothing could be more poetic than closing with a This Is Spinal Tap reference!

Sandy Longhorn

Thanks, Drew. The fun thing is that this list would surely change were I to do it again next week, next month, next year, as other poems floated to the surface.

Shawnte, EXACTLY!

Justin Hamm

It's like making a mix cd for your friends, only with poetry. I love it!

A wonderful list — many of my old favorites, as well, and a few new poems for me to find and read. It would be interesting to make this list every year and in several years see what your own personal "anthology" would look like.

Sandy Longhorn

Justin, ah, now to take it to the level of mix tape, I'll have to think more carefully about the order of the poems. Great metaphor.

Molly, cool idea!