I decided that the only books that I refer back to or re-read often enough to justify keeping them are:
-poetry books -dictionaries and other reference books -instructional books -collections of short stories -books I have yet to read -cookbooks
I love reading poetry although I don't do it all that often. I sometimes get really into it and read nothing but poetry for hours at a time, but not much aside from that. I recently discovered two poets whose work I like a lot: Sharon Olds and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Olds' poems are simple and easy to understand but she describes things beautifully. Ferlinghetti's are both serious and playful in a likable, non-gimmicky way. I like Yusef Komunyakaa a lot too but that's nothing new.
"At the Screen Door" by Yusef Komunyakaa
Just before sunlight Burns off morning fog. Is it her, while she know What I've seen & done, How my boots leave little grave-stone Shapes in the wet dirt, That I'm no longer light On my feet, there's a rock In my belly? It weighs As much as the story Paul told me, moving ahead Like it knows my heart. Is this the same story That sent him to a padded cell? After all the men he'd killed in Korea & on his first tour in Vietnam, Someone tracked him down. The Spec 4 he ordered Into a tunnel in Cu Chi Now waited for him behind The screen door, a sunset In his eyes, a dead man Wearing his teenage son's face. The scream that leaped Out of Paul's mouth Wasn't his, not this decorated Hero. The figure standing there Wasn't his son. Who is it Waiting for me, a tall shadow Unlit in the doorway, no more Than an outline of the past? I drop the duffel bag & run before I know it, Running toward her, the only one I couldn't have surprised, Who'd be here at daybreak Watching a new day stumble Through a whiplash of grass Like a man drunk on the rage Of being alive.
I stood on the porch tonight--which way do we face to talk to the dead? I thought of the new rose, and went out over the grey lawn--things really have no color at night. I descended the stone steps, as if to the place where one speaks to the dead. The rose stood half-uncurled, glowing white in the black air. Later I remembered your birthday. You would have been ninety and getting roses from me. Are the dead there if we do not speak to them? When I came to see you you were always sitting quietly in the chair, not knitting, because of the arthritis, not reading, because of the blindness, just sitting. I never knew how you did it or what you were thinking. Now I sometimes sit on the porch, waiting, trying to feel you there like the color of the flowers in the dark.
"The End" by Sharon Olds
We decided to have the abortion, became killers together. The period that came changed nothing. They were dead, that young couple who had been for life. As we talked of it in bed, the crash was not a surprise. We went to the window, looked at the crushed cars and the gleaming curved shears of glass as if we had done it. Cops pulled the bodies out bloody as births from the small, smoking aperture of the door, laid them on the hill, covered them with blankets that soaked through. Blood began to pour down my legs into my slippers. I stood where I was until they shot the bound form into the black hole of the ambulance and stood the other one up, a bandage covering its head, stained where the eyes had been. The next morning I had to kneel an hour on that floor, to clean up my blood, rubbing with wet cloths at those dark translucent spots, as one has to soak a long time to deglaze the pan when the feast is over.