Category Archives: Favorite Poem

Tiana Corona: A favorite poem

A Better Tomorrow
Yvonne Warren

This poem is special to me because it reminds me how my family and loved ones have had such a positive impact on my life. Every time I read this poem I feel the passion and heart that Warren illustrates through words. Although I have never had a desire to write my own poems I thoroughly enjoy reading beautiful poems and appreciate the time and work put into them.

Tiana Corona
High School Student
San Jose



A Better Tomorrow

I never knew there would be a better tomorrow
But you’ve come into my life and taken away all my sorrow
My days of sadness are a thing of the past
Because I have found true love at last
My days of emptiness are gone for good
Because you fill a void in my heart that you should
You’ve opened a window
You’ve shown me the light
And my love for you will continue to burn bright.

Yvonne Warren


(Note from Poet Laureate: My bad to get this offering alphabetically out of order. I was looking at the “Y”. . .enjoy!)


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Vicki L. Harvey: A favorite poem

Sweet Darkness
David Whyte

Years ago a friend took me to a workshop with David Whyte. He was such an inspiration to me and it was in a time of my life when I was searching for deeper meaning and had a feeling of despair. I was staying in a life that made me feel very small.  He was one of many poets that have inspired me to write poetry. I love the way he reads his poetry…the way he repeats lines…it is hypnotic.

Vicki L. Harvey
Accounts Payable Specialist

Santa Clara


Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing,
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and
the sweet confinement of your
aloneness to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte

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Christine Richardson: A favorite poem

Here, Bullet
Brian Turner

So many poets, so many poems. It was hard to decide, like having to pick your favorite child. I finally chose this poem by poet-soldier Brian Turner because in 16 lines he speaks of a reality that occurred repeatedly in a decade of inexcusable tragedy, because like Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman, “Attention must be paid,” and because this is what poetry can do at its unflinching best: take you where you never want to go.

Christine Richardson
Poet, Retired Teacher
San Jose


Here, Bullet

If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valve, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

Brian Turner

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Dennis Noren: A favorite poem

Poem in October
Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas took a morning walk above a seaside town in his native Wales, tasting the first 30 years of his life.  I love the music and the play of sound that Thomas wove into the poem.  It seems to be discovery of how much he had carried with him from his youth.  He recognized the quiet power of nature, the changes he had experienced, and the mysteries that his mother showed him as a child.  The images are powerful – the rising, the growing distance of the town and harbor, the birdlife, the rain, the orchards.

Dennis Noren
Software Engineer
Board Member, Poetry Center San Jose
Campbell


Poem in October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
      And the mussel pooled and the heron
                  Priested shore
            The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
            Myself to set foot
                  That second
      In the still sleeping town and set forth.
      My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
      Above the farms and the white horses
                  And I rose
            In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
            Over the border
                  And the gates
      Of the town closed as the town awoke.
      A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
      Blackbirds and the sun of October
                  Summery
            On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
            To the rain wringing
                  Wind blow cold
      In the wood faraway under me. Continue reading

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Maria Judnick: A favorite poem

Ulysses
Alfred Lord Tennyson

I chose the final line of this poem as my “favorite quote” for my high school yearbook.  At the time, I was elated that the world of literature was slowly opening up to me through my AP English classes and felt a keen desire to “strive” for further knowledge as an English major in college (and later, as a graduate student).  Now, as a high school teacher who teaches “The Odyssey” to her own students, I’ve tried to keep that same one line motto in mind as I engage my students with their own discoveries about English.

Maria Judnick, 26
San Jose

Ulysses

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoyed
Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle —
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and through soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. Continue reading

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Sandip Bhattacharya: A favorite poem

Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Whenever some says Poetry, this is the first poem that springs to mind.  It is one of the poems that we had to memorize in school. There are certainly other poems that are richer in imagery or more sublime which I might count among my favorites, but this is one poem that immediately manages to evoke an era, tell a story and inspire, with its use of tight rhythmic language. Any time I read this poem, it takes me right back those classrooms – hot afternoons, studious kids bent over their desks, teachers droning on, and me slipping off quietly to fight the Battle of Balaclava.

Sandip Bhattacharya
San Jose

Charge of the Light Brigade

I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
   Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
   Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
   Rode the six hundred.
IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sab’ring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
   All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
   Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
   Not the six hundred.

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Kathleen Goldbach: A favorite poem

In Praise of My Sister
Wislawa Szymborska
translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

I always love poems that have bits and pieces of everyday life in them. This poem does, and it also has humor and generosity. I wish I could read and understand it in the original Polish, but I have to be content with the excellent translation. It makes me grateful that through such translations we can view the lives of people so far away and see that what is meaningful to others, as well as ourselves, are the differences we accept in each other and the small moments of grace that we find in each day.

Kathleen Goldbach
Music Teacher, 68
Campbell

In Praise of My Sister

My sister doesn’t write poems,
and it’s unlikely that she’ll suddenly start writing poems.
She takes after her mother, who didn’t write poems,
and also her father, who likewise didn’t write poems.
I feel very safe beneath my sister’s roof:
my sister’s husband would rather die than write poems.
And even though this is starting to sound as repetitive as Peter Piper,
the truth is, none of my relatives write poems.

My sister’s desk drawers don’t hold old poems,
and her handbag doesn’t hold new ones.
When my sister asks me over for lunch,
I know she doesn’t want to read me her poems.
Her soups are delicious without ulterior motives.
Her coffee doesn’t spill on manuscripts.

There are many families in which nobody writes poems,
but once it starts up it’s hard to quarantine.
Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations,
creating fatal whirlpools where family love may founder.

My sister has tackled oral prose with some success,
but her entire written opus consists of postcards from vacations
whose text is only the same promise every year:
when she gets back, she’ll have
so much
much
much to tell.

Wislawa Szymborska
1923-2012

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Katrina Swanson: A favorite poem

The Wordsworth Effect
Joyce Sutphen

I keep a text document on my computer of every poem that touches me at a that precise moment. I often go through and reread them, looking for inspiration or even a little autobiographical evidence. This poem never ceases to inspire me. It speaks to the moments when poetry is absolutely necessary and how the everyday, simple things are at the very heart of poetry.

Katrina Swanson
Student at San Jose State, 21
San Jose

The Wordsworth Effect

Is when you return to a place
and it’s not nearly as amazing
as you once thought it was,

or when you remember how you felt
about something (or someone) but you know
you’ll never feel that way again.

It’s when you notice someone has turned
down the volume, and you realize
it was you; when you have the

suspicion that you’ve met the enemy
and you are it, or when you get
your best ideas from your sister’s journal.

Is also-to be fair-the thing that enables
you to walk for miles and miles chanting to
yourself in iambic pentameter

and to travel through Europe with
only a clean shirt, a change of
underwear, a notebook and a pen.

And yes: is when you stretch out
on your couch and summon up ten thousand
daffodils, all dancing in the breeze.

Joyce Sutphen

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Tim Tomasi: A favorite poem

Full of Hope I Climbed the Day
St. John of the Cross (1542 – 1591)

When I heard this poem read by Werner Erhard, the founder of ‘est’ training, in 1978 at a seminar on Love, I was overwhelmed by the emotion of ‘love.’ At that time I was also hunting for love. Two years later I met my late partner Rudi who I knew immediately was my soul-mate. I had “caught my prey”… or did the prey catch me? Either way, I experienced the meaning of this poem. When Rudi and I took vows, he read this poem to me. Though St John spoke of spiritual love, Love and love, are they not the same?

Tim Tomasi
Retired Physician, age 69
San Jose

Full of Hope I Climbed the Day

Full of hope I climbed the day
while hunting the game of love,
and soared so high, high above
that I at last caught my prey.

In order to seize the game
— the divine love in the sky —
I had to fly so high, high
I floated unseen and became
lost in that dangerous day;
and so my flight fell short of
height — yet so high was my love
that I at last caught my prey.

Dazzled and stunned by light
as I rose nearer the sun,
my greatest conquest was won
in the very black of night.
Yet since love opened my way
I leapt dark, blindly above
and was so high, near my love,
that at last I caught my prey.

In this most exalted quest
the higher I began to soar
the lower I felt — more sore
and broken and depressed.
I said: None can seize the prey!
and groveled so low, so low
that high, higher did I go,
and at last I caught my prey.

By strange reckoning I saw
a thousand flights in one flight;
for hope of heavenly light
is achieved by hoping now.
I hoped only for this way
and was right to wait for love,
and climbed so high, high above
that at last I caught my prey.

St. John of the Cross (1542 – 1591)
English version by Willis Barnstone

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Josh Cembellin: A favorite poem

Oranges
by Gary Soto

Gary Soto’s “Oranges” is the epitome of what many writing instructors preach: “Show, don’t tell.”  In “Oranges” Soto captures the innocence of and nostalgia for childhood through evocative details, methodical rhythms, and simple yet pure language.  In two wonderfully crafted stanzas, Soto recreates the many emotions of young love.  The culminating metaphor of a fire burning in the child’s hands demonstrates the complexity of his desire–an uncontrollable feeling which he attempts to contain in the moment.

Josh Cembellin, age 28
Teacher
San Jose

Oranges

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted—
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all
About.

Outside,
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

Gary Soto

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