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BREAKOUT POEM: The Hush of the Very Good

Photo by Jonathan Müller

After 12 rejection letters over 15 years, Poetry Magazine published Todd's poem "The Hush of the Very Good," and followed it up with 15 more poems over the course of the next several years.

The poem, inspired by seeing a couple on a Minneapolis street corner engaged in a kiss, captures Todd's use of sound and rhythm to convey sensuality and build tension.

It was this poem that moved author Sherman Alexie to introduce Todd to his future publisher, W. W. Norton & Co.

Click here to hear Todd read this poem.

The Hush of the Very Good

You can tell by how he lists

to let her

kiss him, that the getting, as he gets it,

is good.

It’s good in the sweetly salty,

deeply thirsty way that a sea-fogged

rain is good after a summer-long bout

of inland drought.

And you know it

when you see it, don’t you? How it

drenches what’s dry, how the having

of it quenches.

There is a grassy inlet

where your ocean meets your land, a slip

that needs a certain kind of vessel,


when that shapely skiff skims in at last,

trimmed bright, mast lightly flagging

left and right,

then the long, lush reeds

of your longings part, and soft against

the hull of that bent wood almost im-

perceptibly brushes a luscious hush

the heart heeds helplessly—

the hush

of the very good.

"The Hush of the Very Good" appears in Todd's first poetry collection, Yellowrocket (W. W. Norton & Co., 2008).

Poetry at its best is sensual, a simultaneous fulfillment of all our senses, from the way it sometimes seems to whisper in your ear, right down to the sculptural "feel" of its shape on the page. We forget that literature is in fact physical: the eye, the ear, the finger on the line, all of it intent on satisfaction.


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