Birthday Poems - Poems For Birthday - For A Thirteenth Birthday

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For A Thirteenth Birthday - Poem by Lisel Mueller

You have read War and Peace.
Now here is Sister Carrie,
not up to Tolstoy; still
it will second the real world:
predictable planes and levels,
pavement that holds you,
stairs that lift you,
ice that trips you,
nights that begin after sunset,
four lunar phases,
a finite house.

I give you Dreiser
although (or because)
I am no longer sure.
Lately I have been walking into glass doors.
Through the car windows, curbs disappear.
On the highway, wrong turnoffs become irresistible,
someone else is controlling the wheel.
Sleepless nights pile up like a police record;
all my friends are getting divorced.
Language, my old comrade, deserts me;
words are misused or forgotten,
consonants fight each other
between my upper and lower teeth.
I write "fiend" for "friend"
and "word" for "world",
remember comes out with an "m" missing.

I used to be able to find my way in the dark,
sure of the furniture,
but the town I lived in for years
has pulled up its streets in my absence,
disguised its buildings behind my back.
My neighbor at dinner glances
at his cuffs, his palms;
he has memorized certain phrases,
but does not speak my language.
Suddenly I am aware
no one at the table does.

And so I give you Dreiser,
his measure of certainty:
a table that's oak all the way through,
real and fragrant flowers,
skirts from sheep and silkworms,
no unknown fibers;
a language as plain as money,
a workable means of exchange;
a world whose very meanness is solid,
mud into mortar, and you are sure
of what will injure you.

I give you names like nails,
walls that withstand your pounding,
doors that are hard to open,
but once they are open, admit you
into rooms that breathe pure sun.
I give you trees that lose their leaves,
as you knew they would,
and then come green again.
I give you
fruit preceded by flowers,
Venus supreme in the sky,
the miracle of always
landing on your feet,
even though the earth
rotates on its axis.

Start out with that, at least.

Comments about For A Thirteenth Birthday by Lisel Mueller

  • Rookie - 63 Points Colleen Courtney (5/17/2014 5:27:00 PM)

    A nicely written and interesting poem. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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Poems About Birthday

  1. 1. A Birthday Poem , Ted Kooser
  2. 2. A Birthday , Christina Georgina Rossetti
  3. 3. Poem On His Birthday , Dylan Thomas
  4. 4. Ninetieth Birthday , Ronald Stuart Thomas
  5. 5. Poem For My 43rd Birthday , Charles Bukowski
  6. 6. A Prayer For A Mother's Birthday , Henry Van Dyke
  7. 7. Birthday, Birthday, Happy Birthday , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  8. 8. Happy Birthday , Sylvia Chidi
  9. 9. A Birthday , Aleister Crowley
  10. 10. The Birthday Card , Ernestine Northover
  11. 11. A Birthday Candle , Donald Justice
  12. 12. Ninon De Lenclos, On Her Last Birthday , Dorothy Parker
  13. 13. For K.R. On Her Sixtieth Birthday , Richard Wilbur
  14. 14. - (Birthday Poem #5) To A Libra , Ronberge (anno primo)
  15. 15. Stella's Birthday March 13, 1727 , Jonathan Swift
  16. 16. - (Birthday Poem #4) For A Virgo , Ronberge (anno primo)
  17. 17. To The Memory Of Mrs. Lefroy Who Died De.. , Jane Austen
  18. 18. A Birthday Song. To S. G. , Sidney Lanier
  19. 19. - (Birthday Poem #3) For A Leo , Ronberge (anno primo)
  20. 20. Birthday , Robert William Service
  21. 21. - (Birthday Poem #1) For Someone .. , Ronberge (anno primo)
  22. 22. ! A Birthday Celebration , Michael Shepherd
  23. 23. For A Thirteenth Birthday , Lisel Mueller
  24. 24. On His Eightieth Birthday , Walter Savage Landor
  25. 25. A Ninth Birthday , Algernon Charles Swinburne
  26. 26. Birthday , Yevgeny Yevtushenko
  27. 27. (dodgy Dave Tale) Happy Birthday , JoJo Bean
  28. 28. The Celebration Of Jesus' Birthday , Helen Click Roberts
  29. 29. A Strictly Not A Poem Birthday Greeting .. , Alison Cassidy
  30. 30. A Happy Birthday Sonnet For Jerry , Alison Cassidy
  31. 31. On My Birthday, July 21 , Matthew Prior
  32. 32. A Birthday Gift , Robert Fuller Murray
  33. 33. Birthday - Birthday Appreciation , Shashidhar Kumar
  34. 34. The Birthday Wall (Children) , C.J. Heck
  35. 35. A Birthday Poem , john tiong chunghoo
  36. 36. Nursery Rhyme For A Twenty-First Birthday , Arthur Seymour John Tessimond
  37. 37. A Birthday Poem For Keppel , Alison Cassidy
  38. 38. February 21 - Whose Birthday Today? , Michael Shepherd
  39. 39. Song Composed For Washington's Birthday , Henry Timrod
  40. 40. Happy Birthday Dad , Jim Milks
  41. 41. A Birthday Night Out , Alison Cassidy
  42. 42. Happy 10th Birthday Samia , Seema Chowdhury
  43. 43. Happy 37th Birthday Sunny , Seema Chowdhury
  44. 44. I Know She'Ll Be Alright (For Chelsey's .. , Mary Nagy
  45. 45. Birthday Wishes To A Physician , Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer
  46. 46. My Daughter On Her Thirtieth Birthday , Alison Cassidy
  47. 47. Happy Birthday, My Dear Wife! , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  48. 48. A Limerick To Esther Leclerc On Her Birt.. , Chuck Audette
  49. 49. An Ode To Anna Russell, On Her Birthday , Chuck Audette
  50. 50. Happy Birthday Dad , Arfa Karim
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