University Poets Share Their Works

Thursday, April 26, 2012
Bookmark and Share

Two UNH poetry professors speak their words and let their words speak.

Mekeel McBride and David Rivard teach poetry in the undergraduate and graduate writing programs at UNH. They've each offered a poem here as well as audio recordings of themselves reading.

Your Words

Every time I went out in the rowboat
I took your books with me and after awhile
I began to feel like you were there, too, your words

a part of the motion that kept the boat moving.
Sometimes, I was the book. And the sky,
with its cloud museums, read me.

Sometimes one of your poems
became the boat. And you? You sat quietly
a notebook on your lap open to the same

two empty pages: a seabird resting
it's wide white wings. When I read your poems,
or when they were reading me, the water would clear

and I could see all the way to the bottom:
stones, a boot, glass shards lying everywhere
like pieces of a broken chandelier.

And though nothing can dislodge my worry
for the darkening world, nor undo what I've done
unwittingly or otherwise, to add to that dark,

still, I could feel how the sky, the water,
the boat, your words were all one beautiful blue thing,
breaking and shaping, making of time and distance

a map, a path for music to follow, a lazy nap
as the current rocked me softly, no effort needed
into the small green cove near home.

Mckeel McBride

Mekeel McBride
Professor of English

Professor McBride's most recent book of poetry is Dog Star Delicatessen: New and Selected Poems 1979–2006 (Carnegie Mellon University Press).

Listen to Mekeel McBride's reading of Your Words


I love you
I know as much as anything
for your courage
so companionably invisible
as it is
that it passes mostly
as simple
good sense. I don't mean you're
practical at all—god forbid—
only persistent
as far as dying brothers & cold calls
are concerned—not violent,
not weak, but like a lantern afloat on a wave
open if necessary
to sinking your light
offshore. Onshore
I am as you would know
strongly sometimes
impatient & inside a swarm of loud thoughts
self-absorbed & locked-up.
If you were to die
who would remove me
from those thoughts?
When you lean your forehead
against mine
what you hear inside there
are all those
sounds likely, vibrations
like windowpanes rattled by headland squalls
or bullet trains
late forever & loaded down
with passengers green
as hoodie-wearing witches.
I lean my forehead against
your forehead
gently knowing both
will shortly vanish.
"First of all," says
Virgil, "find
a protected place
for the bees
to make their
honey, a place that's
safe from wind."

David Rivard

David Rivard
Professor of English

"Forehead" first appeared in The American Poetry Review, 37:4, and is included in Professor Rivard's latest book of poetry, Otherwise, Elsewhere (Graywolf Press).

Listen to David Rivard's reading of Forehead

Originally published by:

The College Letter, Newsletter of the College of Liberal Arts