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