A Group of Poets
What would you call it? Things change when named in abundance.
A flock of crows is not a flock; it’s a murder. Would many poets
be called a reading? A laughter? Maybe a medley. There’s Robert Hass,
namer of names, nodding off on his Berkeley desk by the Berkeley window.
Open in front of him is a book on botany, lush with painted foliage.
He presses his sleeping forehead against the page of azaleas,
which Naomi Shihab Nye must have used in a poem somewhere,
a poem about happiness. She must have shredded them into petals first,
for the magic to scatter further.
Thomas Merton, the opposite of Gerard Manley Hopkins, is finishing
the evening prayer. Frank O’Hara is dead, and he remains dead
even as his poems skip ahead of you on some New York city street;
they turn around and point laughingly at your shadow, of which
you are suddenly and inexplicably ashamed of.
Somewhere Mary Oliver is settling onto a hillside, not of azaleas,
and she will be intent on putting together image and idea. A medley,
I call them together, where there is much singing of separate voices,
one song floating above the startled beauty of things,
much like Stephen Dunn said it would.