* Kay Ryan chills on the friday influence

Say Uncle – Kay Ryan

Every day

you say,

Just one

more try.

Then another


day slips by.

You will

say ankle,

you will

say knuckle;

why won’t

you why

won’t you

say uncle?


This week on the Influence: Kay Ryan.

When I go back to this poem, I’m always taken in by the speed of it.  It is deceptive how short the poem is because of how much is in it – humor, rhyme, a certain emotional urgency that I can’t after years of reading the poem seem to find a source for.

It’s just there.

In the tight lines, in the way the word “irrecoverable” takes up its own line and damn you can feel the weight of loss in one word, one word long and wide like open arms.

When asked why she avoids the self-revealing emotions typically identified with contemporary poetry, she responded: If you put ice on your skin, your skin turns pink. Your body sends blood there. If you think about that in terms of writing, cool writing draws us, draws our heat. *

Words like ice.  Nice.

cubes…for now.


Here’s one more by Ryan:

Atlas – Kay Ryan

Extreme exertion

isolates a person

from help,

discovered Atlas.

Once a certain


ratio collapses,

there is so little

others can do:

they can’t

lend a hand

with Brazil

and not stand

on Peru.


Happy standing!



* great interview!  http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/5889/the-art-of-poetry-no-94-kay-ryan

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