American Life in Poetry: Clearly

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

James Crews, the author of this week’s poem, is the editor of a fine anthology from Green Writers Press called “Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection,” much needed in our troubled world.

Here, as I see it, he graciously pays his respects to William Carlos Williams, our great poet of the local and ordinary, who once wrote about the pleasure of eating all the plums his wife had left in the refrigerator.

His newest book is “Bluebird.”


To see clearly,
not needing a drink
or pill or puff
of any pipe
to know I’m alive.
To come home,
peel off sandals
and step onto
the cool tile floor
needing only
the rush of water
over strawberries
I picked myself
and then a knife
to trim the dusty
green heads
from each one,
to watch them
gleam cleanly
in a colander
in a patch of sun
near the sink.

American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by James Crews, "Clearly," from Bluebird, (Green Writers Press, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of James Crews and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.