Birthday Poems - Poems For Birthday - For A Thirteenth Birthday

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For A Thirteenth Birthday - Poem by Lisel Mueller

You have read War and Peace.
Now here is Sister Carrie,
not up to Tolstoy; still
it will second the real world:
predictable planes and levels,
pavement that holds you,
stairs that lift you,
ice that trips you,
nights that begin after sunset,
four lunar phases,
a finite house.

I give you Dreiser
although (or because)
I am no longer sure.
Lately I have been walking into glass doors.
Through the car windows, curbs disappear.
On the highway, wrong turnoffs become irresistible,
someone else is controlling the wheel.
Sleepless nights pile up like a police record;
all my friends are getting divorced.
Language, my old comrade, deserts me;
words are misused or forgotten,
consonants fight each other
between my upper and lower teeth.
I write "fiend" for "friend"
and "word" for "world",
remember comes out with an "m" missing.

I used to be able to find my way in the dark,
sure of the furniture,
but the town I lived in for years
has pulled up its streets in my absence,
disguised its buildings behind my back.
My neighbor at dinner glances
at his cuffs, his palms;
he has memorized certain phrases,
but does not speak my language.
Suddenly I am aware
no one at the table does.

And so I give you Dreiser,
his measure of certainty:
a table that's oak all the way through,
real and fragrant flowers,
skirts from sheep and silkworms,
no unknown fibers;
a language as plain as money,
a workable means of exchange;
a world whose very meanness is solid,
mud into mortar, and you are sure
of what will injure you.

I give you names like nails,
walls that withstand your pounding,
doors that are hard to open,
but once they are open, admit you
into rooms that breathe pure sun.
I give you trees that lose their leaves,
as you knew they would,
and then come green again.
I give you
fruit preceded by flowers,
Venus supreme in the sky,
the miracle of always
landing on your feet,
even though the earth
rotates on its axis.

Start out with that, at least.


Comments about For A Thirteenth Birthday by Lisel Mueller

  • Rookie - 63 Points Colleen Courtney (5/17/2014 5:27:00 PM)

    A nicely written and interesting poem. (Report) Reply

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Poems About Birthday

  1. 1. A Birthday , Christina Georgina Rossetti
  2. 2. Poem On His Birthday , Dylan Thomas
  3. 3. A Birthday Poem , Ted Kooser
  4. 4. A Prayer For A Mother's Birthday , Henry Van Dyke
  5. 5. Happy Birthday , Sylvia Chidi
  6. 6. Birthday, Birthday, Happy Birthday , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  7. 7. For K.R. On Her Sixtieth Birthday , Richard Wilbur
  8. 8. Poem For My 43rd Birthday , Charles Bukowski
  9. 9. Best Birthday Haiku- Birthday Cake , john tiong chunghoo
  10. 10. Ninetieth Birthday , Ronald Stuart Thomas
  11. 11. Birthday , Robert William Service
  12. 12. Birthday Wishes For A Grieving Wife , Jonathan Goldman a.k.a JGthe ..
  13. 13. Happy Birthday Papa... , Ravi Sathasivam
  14. 14. A Birthday , Aleister Crowley
  15. 15. A Birthday Candle , Donald Justice
  16. 16. To The Memory Of Mrs. Lefroy Who Died De.. , Jane Austen
  17. 17. Birthday Wishes For My Step-Daughter , Jonathan Goldman a.k.a JGthe ..
  18. 18. For My Sister On Her 16th Birthday , Charlie F. Kane
  19. 19. Happy Birthday, Birthday Happy , Ray Hansell
  20. 20. Birthday , Yevgeny Yevtushenko
  21. 21. Happy Birthday, My Dear Wife! , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  22. 22. Stella's Birthday March 13, 1727 , Jonathan Swift
  23. 23. Ninon De Lenclos, On Her Last Birthday , Dorothy Parker
  24. 24. On My Birthday, July 21 , Matthew Prior
  25. 25. For A Thirteenth Birthday , Lisel Mueller
  26. 26. Sonnet: “happy Birthday, Dear Father-In-.. , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  27. 27. A Ninth Birthday , Algernon Charles Swinburne
  28. 28. ! A Birthday Celebration , Michael Shepherd
  29. 29. Happy Birthday Ez , David Harris
  30. 30. Five Decades (Birthday Birthday Birth.. , Udiah (witness to Yah)
  31. 31. Your Milestone Birthday , Jonathan Goldman a.k.a JGthe ..
  32. 32. Happy Birthday..... , Ravi Sathasivam
  33. 33. Its My Birthday , Cecelia Weir
  34. 34. Happy Birthday Son (Feb 19-2nd Bday) , MELVIN BANGGOLLAY
  35. 35. Sonnet: Happy Birthday, Dear , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  36. 36. A Birthday Song. To S. G. , Sidney Lanier
  37. 37. The Birthday Card , Ernestine Northover
  38. 38. Happy Birthday To My Favourite Pilot , Herbert Nehrlich
  39. 39. Happy 37th Birthday Sunny , Seema Chowdhury
  40. 40. Happy Birthday To Me! , Marilyn Lott
  41. 41. Happy Birthday, My Twin , Barbara Haskell
  42. 42. Happy Birthday (Wish You Were Here) , Charlie F. Kane
  43. 43. God Bless You On Your Birthday! , Denis Martindale
  44. 44. To My Loving Mum On Her 86th Birthday , Dr. A.Celestine Raj Manohar ..
  45. 45. I Know She'Ll Be Alright (For Chelsey's .. , Mary Nagy
  46. 46. Matts Birthday , Erin Hanson
  47. 47. Happy Birthday, Wendy! , Herbert Nehrlich
  48. 48. My Daughter On Her Thirtieth Birthday , Alison Cassidy
  49. 49. February 21 - Whose Birthday Today? , Michael Shepherd
  50. 50. For Betty On Her 90th Birthday , Francis Duggan
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