Site icon Margaret Coombs

Felicitous Phrases

A page in which I collect metaphors, lines, sentences, and phrases that appeal to me. I’m mindful of copyright and try to include just a snippet of each.

Let's kill off sternness and play down wisdom; 
give us fathers of laughter and fathers who cry

Michael Kleber-Diggs. "Coniferous Fathers." Worldly Things. 

the universe murmurs with frog-echoes,
chanting and naming their incredible desires.

Martin Willitts, Jr. "How to Be Welcomed Into the Universe and How to Invite Others to Join." Atticus Review.  

"[P]oems in a foreign language have a prestige they do not enjoy in their own language, for one hears, one sees, each one of the words individually. We think of the beauty, of the power, or simply of the strangeness of them."

Jorge Luis Borges, quoted in From The Country of the Blind by Andrew Leland, reprinted in LitHub July 18, 2023. 

Till, wolfed almost to shreds,
I learned to make myself

unappetizing. Scaly as a dry bulb
thrown into a cellar

I used myself, let nothing use me.

Adrienne Rich, "Thirty-Three." Paris Review.

Dressed in stolen clothes she stands
Cast iron and frail
With her impossibly gentle hands
And her blood-red fingernails

Joni Mitchell, "Shades of Scarlett Conquering." In The Hissing of Summer Lawns.

A leafless crown, our floating
diadem of climactic dread.

Sandra Simonds, "Combustible Mood." In Poetry, June 2023.

Of waters stirred beneath lake ice, and birds,

As black as mourning shrouds, began to fly,
The forest stirring like the waters, wind
A whisper as the baby voiced a tiny cry
And shadowy trees began to sway and bend.

Thomas Davis, "In the Afternath." Mythos of the Door. Sturgeon Bay, Wis.: Four Windows Press, 2021.

How do we defeat the devil? We don't But we will name him in
the body of a woman again and again.

Nicole Cooley. "The People vs. Bridget Bishop, July 1999." The Afflicted Girls. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2004. 

The story of a river in America is always a story of destruction.  

Amorak Huey. O-WASH-TA-NONG, MEANING FAR-AWAY-WATER. Four Way Review (13 Aug 2021).  

I had other children, and they've all
had children too, I know I am
the luckiest of men--my wife, my sons--
but the tongue goes to where the tooth had been.

Ellen Bryant Voigt. Kyrie. 

But you
           Violeta of the Andes
Flower of the coastal cordillera
You are a never-ending spring
Of human life.

En cambio tú
..................... Violeta de los Andes
Flor de la cordillera de la costa
Eres un manantial inagotable
De vida humana.

Nicanor Parra, Defense of Violeta Parra. tr. by Anna Deeny. The Paris Review (Spring 2012). Defensa de Violeta Parra. Nicanor Parra Antologia.

As if the pedestrian software of my mun-
dane explorer could map as rounded colonies the terra incognita
of her undiscovered hemispheres.

Harryette Mullen, Fancy Cortex: reading Jayne Cortez. Sleeping with the Dictionary. 

My dreams were skim milk and albumin.
I lacked irrational joy, a lion
lying on my chest purring, the hawk's talons and cry,
the coarse glory of the daylily that every midsummer morning
raises a new trumpet, that withers with dusk.

Marge Piercy, The Homely War. Circles on the Water: Selected Poems. 

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