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Best Famous Donald Hall Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Donald Hall poems. This is a select list of the best famous Donald Hall poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Donald Hall poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Donald Hall poems.

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by Donald Hall |

Villanelle

 Katie could put her feet behind her head
Or do a grand plié, position two,
Her suppleness magnificent in bed.
I strained my lower back, and Katie bled, Only a little, doing what we could do When Katie tucked her feet behind her head.
Her torso was a C-cup'd figurehead, Wearing below its navel a tattoo That writhed in suppleness upon the bed.
As love led on to love, love's goddess said, "No lovers ever fucked as fucked these two! Katie could put her feet behind her head!" When Katie came she never stopped.
Instead, She came, cried "God!," and came, this dancer who Brought ballerina suppleness to bed.
She curled her legs around my neck, which led To depths unplumbed by lovers hitherto.
Katie could tuck her feet behind her head And by her suppleness unmake the bed.


by Donald Hall |

Mount Kearsarge Shines

 Mount Kearsarge shines with ice; from hemlock branches 
snow slides onto snow; no stream, creek, or river 
budges but remains still.
Tonight we carry armloads of logs from woodshed to Glenwood and build up the fire that keeps the coldest night outside our windows.
Sit by the woodstove, Camilla, while I bring glasses of white, and we'll talk, passing the time, about weather without pretending that we can alter it: Storms stop when they stop, no sooner, leaving the birches glossy with ice and bent glittering to rimy ground.
We'll avoid the programmed weatherman grinning from the box, cheerful with tempest, and take the day as it comes, one day at a time, the way everyone says, These hours are the best because we hold them close in our uxorious nation.
Soon we'll walk -- when days turn fair and frost stays off -- over old roads, listening for peepers as spring comes on, never to miss the day's offering of pleasure for the government of two.


by Donald Hall |

The Alligator Bride

 The clock of my days winds down.
The cat eats sparrows outside my window.
Once, she brought me a small rabbit which we devoured together, under the Empire Table while the men shrieked repossessing the gold umbrella.
Now the beard on my clock turns white.
My cat stares into dark corners missing her gold umbrella.
She is in love with the Alligator Bride.
Ah, the tiny fine white teeth! The Bride, propped on her tail in white lace stares from the holes of her eyes.
Her stuck-open mouth laughs at minister and people.
On bare new wood fourteen tomatoes, a dozen ears of corn, six bottles of white wine, a melon, a cat, broccoli and the Alligator Bride.
The color of bubble gum, the consistency of petroleum jelly, wickedness oozes from the palm of my left hand.
My cat licks it.
I watch the Alligator Bride.
Big houses like shabby boulders hold themselves tight in gelatin.
I am unable to daydream.
The sky is a gun aimed at me.
I pull the trigger.
The skull of my promises leans in a black closet, gapes with its good mouth for a teat to suck.
A bird flies back and forth in my house that is covered by gelatin and the cat leaps at it missing.
Under the Empire Table the Alligator Bride lies in her bridal shroud.
My left hand leaks on the Chinese carpet.


by Donald Hall |

White Apples

 when my father had been dead a week
I woke with his voice in my ear 
I sat up in bed

and held my breath
and stared at the pale closed door

white apples and the taste of stone

if he called again
I would put on my coat and galoshes


by Donald Hall |

Sudden Things

 A storm was coming, that was why it was dark.
The wind was blowing the fronds of the palm trees off.
They were maples.
I looked out the window across the big lawn.
The house was huge, full of children and old people.
The lion was loose.
Either because of the wind, or by malevolent human energy, which is the same thing, the cage had come open.
Suppose a child walked outside! A child walked outside.
I knew that I must protect him from the lion.
I threw myself on top of the child.
The lion roared over me.
In the branches and the bushes there was suddenly a loud crackling.
The lion cringed.
I looked up and saw that the elephant was loose! The elephant was taller than the redwoods.
He was hairy like a mammoth.
His tusks trailed vines.
Parrots screeched around his head.
His eyes rolled crazily.
He trumpeted.
The ice-cap was breaking up! The lion backed off, whining.
The boy ran for the house.
I covered his retreat, locked all the doors and pulled the bars across them.
An old lady tried to open a door to get a better look.
I spoke sharply to her, she sat down grumbling and pulled a blanket over her knees.
Out of the window I saw zebras and rattlesnakes and wildebeests and cougars and woodchucks on the lawns and in the tennis courts.
I worried how, after the storm, we would put the animals back in their cages, and get to the mainland.


by Donald Hall |

Name of Horses

 All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding 
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul 
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer, 
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.
In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields, dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning; and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres, gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack, and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn, three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.
Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns.
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.
When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze, one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning, led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond, and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin, and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear, and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave, shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you, where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.
For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses, roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs, yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers: O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.


by Donald Hall |

Distressed Haiku

 In a week or ten days
the snow and ice
will melt from Cemetery Road.
I'm coming! Don't move! Once again it is April.
Today is the day we would have been married twenty-six years.
I finished with April halfway through March.
You think that their dying is the worst thing that could happen.
Then they stay dead.
Will Hall ever write lines that do anything but whine and complain? In April the blue mountain revises from white to green.
The Boston Red Sox win a hundred straight games.
The mouse rips the throat of the lion and the dead return.


by Donald Hall |

A Poet at Twenty

 Images leap with him from branch to branch.
His eyes brighten, his head cocks, he pauses under a green bough, alert.
And when I see him I want to hide him somewhere.
The other wood is past the hill.
But he will enter it, and find the particular maple.
He will walk through the door of the maple, and his arms will pull out of their sockets, and the blood will bubble from his mouth, his ears, his penis, and his nostrils.
His body will rot.
His body will dry in ropey tatters.
Maybe he will grow his body again, three years later.
Maybe he won't.
There is nothing to do, to keep this from happening.
It occurs to me that the greatest gentleness would put a bullet into his bright eye.
And when I look in his eye, it is not his eye that I see.


by Donald Hall |

Affirmation

 To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young, we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer pond, ignorant and content.
But a marriage, that began without harm, scatters into debris on the shore, and a friend from school drops cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us past middle age, our wife will die at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go.
All go.
The pretty lover who announces that she is temporary is temporary.
The bold woman, middle-aged against our old age, sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.


by Donald Hall |

An old life

 Snow fell in the night.
At five-fifteen I woke to a bluish mounded softness where the Honda was.
Cat fed and coffee made, I broomed snow off the car and drove to the Kearsarge Mini-Mart before Amy opened to yank my Globe out of the bundle.
Back, I set my cup of coffee beside Jane, still half-asleep, murmuring stuporous thanks in the aquamarine morning.
Then I sat in my blue chair with blueberry bagels and strong black coffee reading news, the obits, the comics, and the sports.
Carrying my cup twenty feet, I sat myself at the desk for this day's lifelong engagement with the one task and desire.