On the Second May’s (and a Tiny Bit of June’s) Poems

My friend the poet Michael Macklin died this month.  I had read a poem of his to the students one Monday, and over the following weekend, Michael took a group of his students to Bread Loaf, where he passed away in his sleep.  To everyone in the Maine poetry community–and beyond–this was a profound shock.  I read another of his poems to the kids the following week, and told them about our friendship.  Then I broke down and cried.  Can poems make you cry?  Of course they can.  Especially if they are the products of a great soul.  I shall miss Michael.


I shall also miss this year’s students.  Many of them began the year poetry-resistant; some of them still carried that resistance like a cross at the end of the year.  All right, then, what’s the poem today?–with a major sigh.  Still, I won some others over.  Like the tough girl in seventh period, with all her tattoos:  I like it when you read those poems.  She liked it, perhaps, because she was one of those people I actively searched out pieces for, and I would tell the class:  this one is for her, because she brought up this or that idea in conversation the other day.  I won the varsity pitcher in fifth period over when I read baseball poems:  People write baseball poems?  So.  The battle continues.

I’ve ended with Taylor Mali again this year, because it seems an appropriate valediction.  For the first time every, I received an ovation for reading a poem in class (!).  The boy from first period, wearing the sunglasses and sporting the cut-of shirt sleeves told me that “Siver-Lined Heart” was the best poem he’d ever heard.

May 1, Tuesday: Patrick Kavanagh, “After May” (suggested by the poet Jenny Doughty)

May 2, Wednesday: Andrea Hollander Budy, “What It Is”

May 3, Thursday: Joyce Kilmer, “Trees

May 4, Friday: Paul Lawrence Dunbar, “We Wear the Mask

May 7, Monday: Naomi Shihab Nye, “Full Day

May 8, Tuesday: Emily Dickenson, “Hope is the thing with feathers

May 9, Wednesday: Andrea Hollander Budy, “What I Need It For”

May 10, Thursday: Shara McCallum, “The Art Room

May 11, Friday: Jeffrey Harrison, “Rilke’s Fear of Dogs

May 14, Monday: Michael Macklin, “Grace”

May 15, Tuesday: Carl Sandburg, “Grass

May 16, Wednesday: Philip Larkin, “Days”

May 17, Thursday: Kathleen Flenniken, “Natural History

May 18, Friday: Jack Lent, “The Poem When It Comes” (a baseball poem!)

May 21, Monday: Robert Frost, “The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

May 22, Tuesday: Michael Macklin, “Overhanging Branches”

May 23, Wednesday: Cynthia Kramen, “Summer Night Poem 8”

May 24, Thursday: Jane Kenyon, “Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

May 25, Friday: Theodore Roethke, “In a Dark Time

May 29, Tuesday: Robert Creeley, “When I Think

May 30, Wednesday: Mark Turcotte, “Chippewa Hitchhike”

May 31, Thursday: Ellen Rachlin, “Night Swim”

June 1, Friday:  Taylor Mali, “Silver-Lined Heart”

Over and out, until next fall.

1 Comment

  1. Jenny Doughty

    I love that Taylor Mali poem!


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