William Stafford
Ask Me by William Stafford

Ask Me by William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask memistakes I have made. Ask me whetherwhat I have done is my life. Othershave come in their slow way intomy thought, and some have tried to ...

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Traveling Through The Dark by William Stafford

Traveling Through The Dark by William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deerdead on the edge of the Wilson River road.It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:that road is narrow; to swerve might make more ...

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A Ritual To Read To Each Other by William Stafford

A Ritual To Read To Each Other by William Stafford

If you don't know the kind of person I amand I don't know the kind of person you area pattern that others made may prevail in the worldand following the wrong god home we may miss ...

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Just Thinking by William Stafford

Just Thinking by William Stafford

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers heldfor awhile. Some dove somewhere.Been on probation most of my life. Andthe rest of my life ...

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Thinking For Berky by William Stafford

Thinking For Berky by William Stafford

In the late night listening from bedI have joined the ambulance or the patrolscreaming toward some drama, the kind of endthat Berky must have some day, if she isn't dead.The ...

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Lit Instructor by William Stafford

Lit Instructor by William Stafford

Day after day up there beating my wingswith all the softness truth requiresI feel them shrug whenever I pause:they class my voice among tentative things,And they credit fact, ...

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Hay-Cutters by William Stafford

Hay-Cutters by William Stafford

Time tells them. They go along touching the grass, the feathery ends. When it feels just so, they start the mowing machine, leaving the land its long windrows, and air strokes the ...

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

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

We would climb the highest dune,from there to gaze and come down:the ocean was performing; we contributed our climb.Waves leapfrogged and camestraight out of the storm.What should ...

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American Gothic by William Stafford

American Gothic by William Stafford

If we see better through tiny, grim glasses, we like to wear tiny, grim glasses. Our parents willed us this view. It's tundra? We love it. We travel our kind of Renaissance: ...

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This Life by William Stafford

This Life by William Stafford

With Kit, Age 7, at the BeachWe would climb the highest dune, from there to gaze and come down: the ocean was performing; we contributed our climb. Waves leapfrogged and came ...

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Graydigger’s Home by William Stafford

Graydigger’s Home by William Stafford

Paw marks near one burrow show Graydiggerat home, I bend low, from down there swivelmy head, grasstop level--the worldgoes on forever, the mountains a biggerburrow, their snow ...

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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 by William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,where the unknown soldier did not die.This is the field where grass joined hands,where no monument stands,and the only heroic ...

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The Light By The Barn by William Stafford

The Light By The Barn by William Stafford

The light by the barn that shines all nightpales at dawn when a little breeze comes.A little breeze comes breathing the fieldsfrom their sleep and waking the slow windmill.The ...

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Security by William Stafford

Security by William Stafford

Tomorrow will have an island. Before nightI always find it. Then on to the next island.These places hidden in the day separateand come forward if you beckon.But you have to know ...

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Waking At 3 A.M. by William Stafford

Waking At 3 A.M. by William Stafford

Even in the cave of the night when youwake and are free and lonely,neglected by others, discarded, loved onlyby what doesn't matter--even in thatbig room no one can see,you push ...

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When I Met My Muse by William Stafford

When I Met My Muse by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glassesoff--they were still singing. They buzzedlike a locust on the coffee table and thenceased. Her voice belled forth, and thesunlight bent. I felt ...

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At The Bomb Testing Site by William Stafford

At The Bomb Testing Site by William Stafford

At noon in the desert a panting lizard waited for history, its elbows tense, watching the curve of a particular road as if something might happen. It was looking at something ...

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Across Kansas by William Stafford

Across Kansas by William Stafford

My family slept those level milesbut like a bell rung deep till dawnI drove down an aisle of sound,nothing real but in the bell,past the town where I was born.Once you cross a ...

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Atavism by William Stafford

Atavism by William Stafford

1Sometimes in the open you look upwhere birds go by, or just nothing,and wait. A dim feeling comes you were like this once, there was air,and quiet; it was by a lake, ormaybe a ...

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Allegiances by William Stafford

Allegiances by William Stafford

It is time for all the heroes to go homeif they have any, time for all of us common onesto locate ourselves by the real thingswe live by.Far to the north, or indeed in any ...

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Objector by William Stafford

Objector by William Stafford

In line at lunch I cross my fork and spoonto ward off complicity--the ordered lifeour leaders have offered us. Thin as a knife,our chance to live depends on such a signwhile ...

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Returned To Say by William Stafford

Returned To Say by William Stafford

When I face north a lost Creeon some new shore puts a moccasin down,rock in the light and noon for seeing,he in a hurry and I beside himIt will be a long trip; he will be a new ...

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For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid by William Stafford

For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid by William Stafford

There is a country to cross you willfind in the corner of your eye, inthe quick slip of your foot--air fardown, a snap that might have caught.And maybe for you, for me, a high, ...

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Bess by William Stafford

Bess by William Stafford

Ours are the streets where Bess first met her cancer. She went to work every day past the secure houses. At her job in the library she arranged better and better flowers, and when ...

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Notice What This Poem Is Not Doing by William Stafford

Notice What This Poem Is Not Doing by William Stafford

The light along the hills in the morningcomes down slowly, naming the treeswhite, then coasting the ground for stones to nominate.Notice what this poem is not doing.A house, a ...

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Humanities Lecture by William Stafford

Humanities Lecture by William Stafford

Aristotle was a little man with eyes like a lizard, and he found a streak down the midst of things, a smooth place for his feet much more important than the carved handles on the ...

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Report To Crazy Horse by William Stafford

Report To Crazy Horse by William Stafford

All the Sioux were defeated. Our clan got poor, but a few got richer. They fought two wars. I did not take part. No one remembers your vision or even your real name. Now the ...

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The Well Rising by William Stafford

The Well Rising by William Stafford

The well rising without sound, the spring on a hillside, the plowshare brimming through deep ground everywhere in the field— The sharp swallows in their swerve flaring and ...

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Walking West by William Stafford

Walking West by William Stafford

Anyone with quiet pace who walks a gray road in the West may hear a badger underground where in deep flint another time is Caught by flint and held forever, the quiet pace of God ...

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Passing Remark by William Stafford

Passing Remark by William Stafford

In scenery I like flat country. In life I don’t like much to happen. In personalities I like mild colorless people. And in colors I prefer gray and brown. My wife, a vivid girl ...

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Assurance by William Stafford

Assurance by William Stafford

You will never be alone, you hear so deepa sound when autumn comes. Yellowpulls across the hills and thrums,or the silence after lightening before it saysits names- and then the ...

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Accountability by William Stafford

Accountability by William Stafford

Cold nights outside the taverns in Wyoming pickups and big semis lounge idling, letting their haunches twitch now and then in gusts of powder snow, their owners inside for hours, ...

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An Oregon Message by William Stafford

An Oregon Message by William Stafford

When we first moved here, pulled the trees in around us, curled our backs to the wind, no one had ever hit the moon—no one. Now our trees are safer than the stars, and only other ...

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In The Deep Channel by William Stafford

In The Deep Channel by William Stafford

Setting a trotline after sundown if we went far enough away in the night sometimes up out of deep water would come a secret-headed channel cat, Eyes that were still eyes in the ...

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Remembering Mountain Men by William Stafford

Remembering Mountain Men by William Stafford

I put my foot in cold waterand hold it there: early morningsthey had to wade through broken iceto find the traps in the deep channelwith their hands, drag up the chains andthe ...

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Bi-Focal by William Stafford

Bi-Focal by William Stafford

Sometimes up out of this land a legend begins to move. Is it a coming near of something under love? Love is of the earth only, the surface, a map of roads leading wherever go ...

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One Home by William Stafford

One Home by William Stafford

Mine was a Midwest home—you can keep your world. Plain black hats rode the thoughts that made our code. We sang hymns in the house; the roof was near God. The light bulb that hung ...

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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 by William Stafford

The only relics left are those long spangled seconds our school clock chipped out when you crossed the social hall and we found each other alive, by our glances never to accept ...

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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 by William Stafford

Whispering to each handhold, “I'll be back,” I go up the cliff in the dark. One place I loosen a rock and listen a long time till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush of the ...

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