Some Poems from Kay Ryan

Last year when Fremont Place Books went out of business I bought a collection of Kay Ryan’s poems called The Best of It. She was the US Poet Laureate from 2008-2010, but I had never heard of her. I have really enjoyed reading her work and I am recommending it to the group and giving you a little taste here. If you would like to borrow my book I would be happy to loan it. This is a sampling of poems that speak to subjects we have been discussing in Foundation Year, including the nature of the year, the importance of the elements, the importance (form?) of empty space and silence, and the composition of the self.

If the Moon Happened Once

If the moon happened once

it wouldn’t matter much,

would it?

One evening’s ticket

punched with a

round or a crescent.

You could like it

or not like it,

as you chose.

It couldn’t alter

every time it rose;

it couldn’t do those

things with scarves

it does.

Sharks’ Teeth

Everything contains some

silence. Noise gets

its zest from the

small shark’s-tooth-

shaped fragments

of rest angled

in it. An hour

of city holds maybe

a minute of these

remnants of a time

when silence reigned,

compact and dangerous

as a shark. Sometimes

a bit of a tail

or fin can still

be sensed in parks.

Odd Blocks

Every Swiss-village

calendar instructs

as to how stone

gathers the landscape

around it, how



monuments to

randomness become

fixed points in

finding home.

Order is always

starting over.

And why not

also in self,

the odd blocks,

all lost and left,

become first facts

toward which later

a little town

looks back?

Sonnet to Spring

The brown, unpleasant,

aggressively ribbed and

unpliant leaves of the loquat,

shaped like bark canoes that

something squashed flat,

litter the spring cement.

A fat-cheeked whim of air-

a French vent or some similar affair-

with enough choices in the front yard

for a blossomy puff worth of Fragonard,

instead expends its single breath

beneath one leathery leaf of loquat

which flops over and again lies flat.

Spring is frivolous like that.

I hope that you enjoyed these. Please leave your own poetry recommendations in the comments.

Thank you!



2 thoughts on “Some Poems from Kay Ryan

  1. If anyone knows how to create line breaks without the empty space seen in this post please let me know. I’m not terribly computer literate, but I’m trying!

  2. Thanks, Nancy – lovely poems.
    Try this to avoid empty space btwn line breaks: hold down the shift key at the same time you press “enter.” Should do the trick.
    Neo-Luddites unite…. Cathy B

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