Of Gratitude - You Can't Have it All

Another one of The Poetrycooker's all time favorites. It comes straight from the archives of The Academy of American Poets. This poem is from talented poet Barbara Ras, and it speaks to everything that is good, and breathtaking and bittersweet about life. You Can't Have It All is so simple -yet it possesses a world of people and things,  moments and meanings.  You It is at once a strikingly beautiful dreamscape and it's a tribute to realism. A very tender line from the poem even lends itself to the tirle of Ra's anthology Bite Every Sorrow!

You Can't Have It All
Barbara Ras
(Picture and poem curation by The Poetrycooker)

But you can have the fig tree and its fat leaves like clown hands
gloved with green. You can have the touch of a single eleven-year-old finger
 on your cheek, waking you at one a.m. to say the hamster is back.
You can have the purr of the cat and the soulful look
of the black dog, the look that says, If I could I would bite
every sorrow until it fled, and when it is August,
 you can have it August and abundantly so. You can have love,
 though often it will be mysterious, like the white foam
that bubbles up at the top of the bean pot over the red kidneys
until you realize foam's twin is blood.
DNA Marker - λ & λJ LadderDNA Marker - λ & λJ Ladder
You can have the skin at the center between a man's legs,
so solid, so doll-like. You can have the life of the mind,
glowing occasionally in priestly vestments, never admitting pettiness,
never stooping to bribe the sullen guard who'll tell you
all, roads narrow at the border
all roads narrow at the border.

You can speak a foreign language, sometimes,
and it can mean something. You can visit the marker on the grave
where your father wept openly. You can't bring back the dead,
but you can have the words forgive and forget hold hands
as if they meant to spend a lifetime together. And you can be grateful
for makeup, the way it kisses your face, half spice, half amnesia, grateful
for Mozart, his many notes racing one another towards joy, for towels
sucking up the drops on your clean skin, and for deeper thirsts,
A Moment: High speed portraiture.
for passion fruit, for saliva. You can have the dream,
the dream of Egypt, the horses of Egypt and you riding in the hot sand.
You can have your grandfather sitting on the side of your bed,
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at least for a while, you can have clouds and letters, the leaping
of distances, and Indian food with yellow sauce like sunrise.
You can't count on grace to pick you out of a crowd
but here is your friend to teach you how to high jump,
how to throw yourself over the bar, backwards,
until you learn about love, about sweet surrender,
and here are periwinkles, buses that kneel, farms in the mind
as real as Africa. And when adulthood fails you,
you can still summon the memory of the black swan on the pond
of your childhood, the rye bread with peanut butter and bananas
your grandmother gave you while the rest of the family slept.
child, family, grand moder, grandma, grandmother, iran
There is the voice you can still summon at will, like your mother's,
it will always whisper, you can't have it all,
but there is this.

National Poetry Month #11


  1. found your blog via pinterest. i pretty much love it.

  2. Thank you, the vigilantes -- I am so glad you connect with it. Your comment has made my day!


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