This Morning

This Morning

By:  Michael Ryan

“Unlike too many poets who tumble into print at the first twitch of feeling, Michael Ryan takes time to listen to himself, and such listening contributes immeasurably to the subtlety of his address to the reader . . . [He] reminds us on every page that poems can be about lives, and about them in ways most urgent and delicate.” —William H. Pritchard, The Nation “The twin ancient powers of poetry are story and song,” Michael Ryan said in a recent interview. “I like a lot of both.” And both are here in This Morning in glorious abundance: graceful complex narratives and tight formal lyrics, edgy humor, affecting music, and insistent clarity always in the service of the heart. He can be deeply funny and extremely moving, often at the same time. No other living poet possesses Ryan’s range of tone and technique in rendering the great subjects of art and life: sex, mortality, loss, and love (both conjugal and paternal). Even his most apparently autobiographical writing penetrates to the universal subject within it. Like Dickinson in her poetry, his personal life interests him primarily as an instance of human life. His artistic discipline is thus a spiritual discipline, and the vital spirit infusing these poems rises from the depths of isolation transformed by the joy of loving other people persistently and generously. This Morning is the work of a contemporary American master.

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  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547684604

  • ISBN-10: 0547684606

  • Pages: 80

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 03/13/2012

  • Carton Quantity: 1

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is the author of four volumes of poetry, two memoirs, and a collection of essays. He is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of California, Irvine, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
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  • excerpts


    If in the men’s room of our favorite restaurant

    while blissfully pissing riserva spumante

    I punch the wall because I am so old,

    I promise not to punch too carelessly.

    Our friend Franco cooks all night and day

    to transform blood and bones to osso buco.

    He shouldn’t have to clean them off his wall

    or worry that a customer gone cuckoo

    has mushed his knuckles like a slugger

    whose steroid dosage needs a little tweaking.

    My life with you has been beyond beyond

    and there’s nothing beyond it I’m seeking.

    I just don’t want to leave it, and I am

    with every silken bite of tiramisu.

    I wouldn’t mind being dead

    if I could still be with you.



    Although he’s only seven, you can pick him out

    from other first-graders: he’s the one wearing

    a smirk that says, “What are you afraid of?”

    maybe also to himself, if he already suspects his fear

    won’t ever be crushed no matter what he does.

    But he’s got to try. He snatches spiders bare-fingered

    to wave in girls’ faces, bites a worm in half

    dangling the two ends from his mouth like fangs,

    somersault-dismounts from the jungle gym

    the other kids climb off of when he climbs on,

    and when he lands unhurt there’s that smirk again

    that mocks us for our cowardice.

    Don’t hate him for it. It is his only happiness.



    Where am I going? The grave.

    Who am I being? The slave.

    What am I leaving? The fun.

    Who will be grieving? No one.

    How can I touch you? No way.

    Will I ever reach you? Someday.

    Why do I need you? Ho ho.

    Where will I meet you? You know.



    What she couldn’t give me

    she gave me those long nights

    she sat up with me feverish

    and sweating in my sleep

    when I had no idea whatsoever

    what she had to do to suffer

    the pain her body dealt her

    to assuage the pain in mine.

    That was a noble privacy —

    her mothering as a practice of patience.

    How deeply it must have stretched her

    to watch me all night with her nerves

    crying for rest while my fever

    spiked under the washcloths

    she passed between my forehead

    and her dishpan filled with ice.

    That was a noble privacy.

    But even then there was so much

    unsayable between us,

    and why this was now looks so

    ludicrous in its old costume of shame

    that I wish not that she had just

    said it but that I hadn’t been

    so furious she couldn’t.



    The jolt that opened me to you

    and shook me to my toes

    needs no implanted seismograph

    to read how deep it goes

    because it’s still rattling me

    into this surprise

    that the real dream begins

    when I open my eyes

    to see you so improbably here

    and so entirely true

    with all our random ducks lined up

    for me to marry you

    quacking a glorious Gloria

    (transcribed into Duck)

    to sexy earthy unnerving love

    and astonishing good luck.


Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: eBook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547684604

  • ISBN-10: 0547684606

  • Pages: 80

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 03/13/2012

  • Carton Quantity: 1

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