Lit Instructor By William Stafford

Lit Instructor Day after day up there beating my wings with all the softness truth requires I feel them shrug whenever I pause: they class…

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After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent By William Stafford

After Arguing Against The Contention That Art Must Come From Discontent Whispering to each handhold, “I’ll be back,” I go up the cliff in the…

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Report To Crazy Horse By William Stafford

Report To Crazy Horse All the Sioux were defeated. Our clan got poor, but a few got richer. They fought two wars. I did not…

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Humanities Lecture By William Stafford

Humanities Lecture Aristotle was a little man with eyes like a lizard, and he found a streak down the midst of things, a smooth place…

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Assurance By William Stafford

Assurance You will never be alone, you hear so deep a sound when autumn comes. Yellow pulls across the hills and thrums, or the silence…

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Remembering Mountain Men By William Stafford

Remembering Mountain Men I put my foot in cold water and hold it there: early mornings they had to wade through broken ice to find…

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Hay-Cutters By William Stafford

Hay-Cutters Time tells them. They go along touching the grass, the feathery ends. When it feels just so, they start the mowing machine, leaving the…

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This Life By William Stafford

This Life With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach We would climb the highest dune, from there to gaze and come down: the ocean was…

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American Gothic By William Stafford

American Gothic If we see better through tiny, grim glasses, we like to wear tiny, grim glasses. Our parents willed us this view. It’s tundra?…

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The Well Rising By William Stafford

The Well Rising The well rising without sound, the spring on a hillside, the plowshare brimming through deep ground everywhere in the field— The sharp…

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Graydigger’s Home By William Stafford

Graydigger’s Home Paw marks near one burrow show Graydigger at home, I bend low, from down there swivel my head, grasstop level–the world goes on…

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When I Met My Muse By William Stafford

When I Met My Muse I glanced at her and took my glasses off–they were still singing. They buzzed like a locust on the coffee…

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An Oregon Message By William Stafford

An Oregon Message When we first moved here, pulled the trees in around us, curled our backs to the wind, no one had ever hit…

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Passing Remark By William Stafford

Passing Remark In scenery I like flat country. In life I don’t like much to happen. In personalities I like mild colorless people. And in…

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For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid By William Stafford

For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid There is a country to cross you will find in the corner of your eye, in the quick…

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Waking At 3 A.M. By William Stafford

Waking At 3 A.M. Even in the cave of the night when you wake and are free and lonely, neglected by others, discarded, loved only…

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Allegiances By William Stafford

Allegiances It is time for all the heroes to go home if they have any, time for all of us common ones to locate ourselves…

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Objector By William Stafford

Objector In line at lunch I cross my fork and spoon to ward off complicity–the ordered life our leaders have offered us. Thin as a…

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Bess By William Stafford

Bess Ours are the streets where Bess first met her cancer. She went to work every day past the secure houses. At her job in…

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Thinking For Berky By William Stafford

Thinking For Berky In the late night listening from bed I have joined the ambulance or the patrol screaming toward some drama, the kind of…

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Accountability By William Stafford

Accountability Cold nights outside the taverns in Wyoming pickups and big semis lounge idling, letting their haunches twitch now and then in gusts of powder…

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One Home By William Stafford

One Home Mine was a Midwest home—you can keep your world. Plain black hats rode the thoughts that made our code. We sang hymns in…

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At The Un-National Monument Along The Canadian Border By William Stafford

At The Un-National Monument Along The Canadian Border This is the field where the battle did not happen, where the unknown soldier did not die….

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Traveling Through The Dark By William Stafford

Traveling Through The Dark Traveling through the dark I found a deer dead on the edge of the Wilson River road. It is usually best…

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Across Kansas By William Stafford

Across Kansas My family slept those level miles but like a bell rung deep till dawn I drove down an aisle of sound, nothing real…

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Monuments For A Friendly Girl At A Tenth Grade Party By William Stafford

Monuments For A Friendly Girl At A Tenth Grade Party The only relics left are those long spangled seconds our school clock chipped out when…

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Bi-Focal By William Stafford

Bi-Focal Sometimes up out of this land a legend begins to move. Is it a coming near of something under love? Love is of the…

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Walking West By William Stafford

Walking West Anyone with quiet pace who walks a gray road in the West may hear a badger underground where in deep flint another time…

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A Ritual To Read To Each Other By William Stafford

A Ritual To Read To Each Other If you don’t know the kind of person I am and I don’t know the kind of person…

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Notice What This Poem Is Not Doing By William Stafford

Notice What This Poem Is Not Doing The light along the hills in the morning comes down slowly, naming the trees white, then coasting the…

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Atavism By William Stafford

Atavism 1 Sometimes in the open you look up where birds go by, or just nothing, and wait. A dim feeling comes you were like…

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The Light By The Barn By William Stafford

The Light By The Barn The light by the barn that shines all night pales at dawn when a little breeze comes. A little breeze…

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With Kit, Age 7, At The Beach By William Stafford

With Kit, Age 7, At The Beach We would climb the highest dune, from there to gaze and come down: the ocean was performing; we…

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Just Thinking By William Stafford

Just Thinking Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window. No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held for awhile. Some dove somewhere….

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At The Bomb Testing Site By William Stafford

At The Bomb Testing Site At noon in the desert a panting lizard waited for history, its elbows tense, watching the curve of a particular…

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Returned To Say By William Stafford

Returned To Say When I face north a lost Cree on some new shore puts a moccasin down, rock in the light and noon for…

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In The Deep Channel By William Stafford

In The Deep Channel Setting a trotline after sundown if we went far enough away in the night sometimes up out of deep water would…

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Ask Me By William Stafford

Ask Me Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life….

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Security By William Stafford

Security Tomorrow will have an island. Before night I always find it. Then on to the next island. These places hidden in the day separate…

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 A Ritual To Read To Each Other – William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am and I don’t know the kind of person you are a pattern that others made…

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The Gift

The Gift Time wants to show you a different country. It’s the one that your life conceals, the one waiting outside when curtains are drawn,…

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