Poets Online Archive

It will happen that you won't see someone, or some place, or some thing for many years. And then you do.  How do you feel? Glad, wistful, sad, afraid...  Is it that you have changed, or have both of you?

I would certainly like to be recalled after years by someone I once knew as the "you" in  "After Years" by Ted Kooser.  What drew me to this poem was that he doesn't look at himself or the person, but rather at his reaction - and all in events so far away and so hard to put in words "as he stood on the great open dome of my heart with no one to tell" but his readers long after the moment.

The poem succeeds in his wish to "give people fresh ways to look at the world. I attempt in my poems to take ordinary things and look at them in a new light."

Select that person, place or thing that has been unseen for years and revisit it now.

Born in Ames, Iowa, in 1939, TED KOOSER is one of Nebraska's most highly regarded poets and the newest Poet Laureate (2004). He attended Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska. Kooser has written 10 collections of poetry, most recently Delights & Shadows, published in 2004. His collection, Sure Signs, received the Society of Midland Authors Prize for the best book of poetry by a Midwestern writer published in that year. His 2000 collection, Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison, won the 2001 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry.
He is the editor and publisher of Windflower Press, a small press specializing in contemporary poetry. He teaches as a Visiting Professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is former vice-president of Lincoln Benefit Life, an insurance company, and lives near the village of Garland.
Kooser said he has always been dedicated to writing poetry that people can understand.
" What I think poetry can do is give people fresh ways to look at the world," Kooser said. "I attempt in my poems to take ordinary things and look at them in a new light."


In years I have not trod the grass
That covers those abandoned here
The scent of incense lingers still
Amidst the glass of bottled beer.
The oaken door still bars my way
Now nailed shut with sheets of ply
The shattered face of saints and men
In coloured glass still seem to fly
The ancient yew, where once I lay
Still hangs it's ancient head
A remnant of the bygone days
When heart was raised above the head
And as the rain seeps through the tower
I think back to the Holy Hour.

RachelJayne Green


I turned to glimpse my past,
My yoga practicing past.
An unseen fall fractured a vertebra
Putting me in the hands of a blessed surgeon

Who pinned me together and sewed me up.
I had been sure that everything worked,
Maybe with a few aches,
But now I wear a collar to sleep and to stroll.

I wonder whether anything will work.
Glimpsing my past I cannot remember how I felt.

Ellen Kaplan


I have been here before, you know,
walked the land of the pharaohs,
bathed in their lily ponds,
gossiped at their rivers,
stone-rubbed my laundry there.
I had three round brown babies with eyes of blue.
I went back the other day.
No one knew.

I have been here before, you know,
walked streets of red cobble, sold apples and flowers,
had two round babies who I never knew.
I went back the other day looking for you.

I have been here before, you know,
rode in a carriage with my hair in a bun,
saw the forest fly by with my own two eyes,
cried for the baby who looked like you who I never knew,
who I never knew.
I went back the other day dressed in blue
looking for me looking for you.
I have been here before, you know.
No one knew.
No one new.



Sometimes I can still smell
His cologne
He always wore Polo
But he would tell me it was his
Natural Scent
He would take long showers
Because I wore Calvin Klein
And his wife could smell
The difference
He never liked my choice of
Or lipsticks
He wanted me to wear
Bright red gloss
And smell of Dial soap
I hate red lipstick
Makes me feel like a
Tramp---I prefer the purity of pink
And Dial
Makes me
In the end
He said I was
And demanding
And he needed someone
Who was less

I saw him shopping with his
Last week
She was buying
Estee Lauder lip gloss
#28 Claret Red
And walking behind
And I hid
So he wouldn’t see
My latest shade of

Marianne LaValle-Vincent


The present moment is unlike the memory of it.
Remembering is not the negative of forgetting.
Remembering is a form of forgetting.
- Milan Kundera

Each time I think of you
it is harder to focus
on your face.
Your hands are gone.
Your clothing moves
on its own, without
limbs. Your body yields
to my touch. I brush my
hand over your hair
and you are new born.
You are younger than
when I first met you.
You look at me a moment,
then turn in a swirl
of dark wind
and I catch myself
reaching into the air
and wondering why
I am here, what
I am doing, what
is that scent in the air,
on my hands, in this thought.

Ken Ronkowitz



You straightened yrself up
tall. Why, even hunched over
you were higher than anybody

in Amadorado. Word-
slinger, thumbs thru a belt loop
& of course the cigarette

you slammed the pickup
& drove off dusting landscape
to sing

the bear out of the woods.

I’ve heard the after-tones
of a lot of far-
off singing

& that bear chewed out
half yr lungs
& a lot of yr insides.

That long-tall outside
of yrs is curled up short

you suck oxygen like
the very breath of the muse.
Yr singing’s gone

so soft
it’s hard to hear
but I listen close.

Taylor Graham


You were the one
who said we should look
closely at a tree-trunk.
- for at least twenty-minutes -
no matter how passers-by

Your were the one
who recommended a spotless studio
- not even allowing footprints
to show you’d been there -
escaping through a ceiling trap-door
at the end of a working day.

You taught me of textures
I would never have seen.
And to disregard curious people
- no matter how they stared.
I painted their faces
against withering trees;
and you approved.

Why did you wear only black;
and why didn’t you show us YOUR work?
Did you choose to die
in your clean-swept studio?

Catherine M. LeGault


Crossing over a featureless ocean
I hang suspended, cold clouds
like soft white frosting
transport me from the metal airborne
pericarp to the warm kitchen confines
of a Dakota kitchen.

Saturday morning. Baking. Rolls
so enticing and accessible it would
seal the lips of a Jewish mother,
if she knew the secret.
Beyond cinnamon and sugar
rolled into soft, sticky,
erotic fantasies with naked fingers.
Intense oven aromas tempted
old bucks in the neighborhood,
unleashed vulgar desires
they could not express.
Even my childhood innocence did not
obscure the starving desire for her
hidden charms. It was stronger,
more decadent,
than hiding beneath her bed
Guilty. Exposed.
Craven hunger possessed us,
dirty old men and me.

I licked the frosting from the pan,
they sniffed the air,
licked their fingers,
devoured another morsel,
rose and returned to their work
Greasy and stinking in the heat of summer.

Alan R. Bender



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