Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet and professor Marjorie Maddox. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Marjorie and each other, and write your own poems along the way.
Listen. You’re breathing
again. The wind flip-flopped past
your chin, leapt off your tongue,
dove head-first toward the lungs
that heaved with the breeze.
This in-and-out is pretty easy
once you have the will.
Oxygen ought to be illegal,
it flies your insides so high
and spins the sky in your eyes.
Look, the horizon is even
and waiting; it’s time
to get living again.
1. How would the poem’s effect potentially be different if the poet had used different punctuation and an alternate line break in lines 1-2? For example, what if the poem had begun like this:
Listen, you’re breathing again.
The wind flip-flopped past
2. Do you think the “in-and-out” deserves further reflection, or is it just a phrase to pass by in the poem?
3. Who, in the poem, thinks should oxygen be illegal? Why do you suppose that is?