September 21, 2004

Poetry makes a comeback?

Poetry and what it can do for the human spirit has been underappreciated for some time. I'm certainly no expert but I'm married to an English grad student and have attended some local university readings and poetry slams and I can now certainly appreciate that poetry (like other good art forms) can make you feel things and see in new ways. It seems to be making a comeback. You would think that $100,000,000.00 could be put to good use in publicizing the importance of poetry. Recently, a new U.S. Poet Laureate was named, and he is from my home state. Poetry seems to be losing some of its "snobbish" image and is returning to the common person. If you have two eyes or two ears and the mind of a human being, you have what it takes to appreciate poetry - and probably even create some.

  • Westron wind, when wilt thou blow, Small rain down can rain. Christ, if my love were in my arms, And I in my bed again.
  • Calling bees to the thread, bees, your recommendations of contemporary poets (and perhaps an original line or two?) are needed at the thread. Me, I've long been partial to Billy Collins.
  • My humble opinion (as a former English lit major FWIW): Two of the best contemporary American poets-- one dead(Eigner), one living: Larry Eigner Michael Palmer
  • I can report from London that the live poetry scene is blossoming. Not only is loads of good work being done by an astonishing variety of artists, but the boundaries between poetry, performance and stand-up comedy are growing increasingly blurry - and not in the terribly wanky way it was blurring up until recently. Good fun. Poetry: no longer shit. Poetic film at eleven.
  • Poetry will never die as long as there are folk who enjoy and relish what words may be made to do. I'm partial to Charles Simic, and Kay Ryan. My personal taste runs to the compact, artfully stark work these two poets do so very well. By naming just those two, it feels like I'm somehow excluding the many, many excellent poets writing now --it's really difficult to single out any out as worthwhile or best, and anyhow, this is a matter of individual compatibility between reader and poet. If you like poetry, read it, listen to it, and eventually you decide what works or doesn't for you. The reader/listener always does half the work. More and more poems to be found online, it's wonderful.
  • I attended a poetry class where the prof passed out index cards and wanted us to put our name and the name(s) of our favorite poet(s) on the card. He thought I was being smart when I told him the card was too small. And this was a poetry teacher! *sighs
  • the mockingbird the mockingbird had been following the cat all summer mocking mocking mocking teasing and cocksure; the cat crawled under rockers on porches tail flashing and said something angry to the mockingbird which I didn't understand. yesterday the cat walked calmly up the driveway with the mockingbird alive in its mouth, wings fanned, beautiful wings fanned and flopping, feathers parted like a woman's legs, and the bird was no longer mocking, it was asking, it was praying but the cat striding down through centuries would not listen. I saw it crawl under a yellow car with the bird to bargain it to another place. summer was over. -Charles Bukowski
  • 1. After yesterday afternoon's blue clouds and white rain the mockingbird in the backyard untied the drops from leaves and twigs with a long singing -- A.R. Ammons, "After Yesterday" 2. ...Nothing lasts. There is a graveyard where everything I am talking about is, now... Nothing is so delicate or so finely hinged as the wings of the green moth against the lantern against its heat against the beak of the crow in the early morning.... --Mary Oliver, "Flare" 3. Above the bougainvillea, coming unstuck from the stuccoed urban maze, a mockingbird is doing the best he can to make something from the nothing that precedes him. The voice climbs, tumbles, and I wonder if he is riding or falling from the edge of his song, the song he doesn't own, just as the surfer's not master of the wave, no matter the moves.... --Terry Blackhawk, "On The Blackbird Singing In The Morning In The Barrio A Few Blocks From the Boardwalk On The Beach In Venice, California" I listened, marvelling, this spring as one of these mad birds sang for three hours with never a pause. That afternoon he chased off a pair of crows trying to cross the old orchard -- their mistake.
  • Some People Like Poetry Some people -- that means not everyone. Not even most of them, only a few. Not counting school, where you have to, and poets themselves, you might end up with something like two per thousand. Like -- but then you can like chicken noodle soup, or compliments, or the color blue, your old scarf. your own way, petting the dog. Poetry -- but what is poetry anyway? More than one rickety answer has tumbled since that question first was raised. But I just keep on not knowing, and I cling to that like a redemptive handrail. -- Wislawa Szymborska, "Some People Like Poetry", translated Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh
  • In vain, in vain - the all-composing hour Resistless falls: The Muse obeys the power. She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold Of Night primeval, and of Chaos old! Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay, And all its varying rainbows die away. Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires, The meteor drops, and in a flash expires. As one by one, at dread Medea's strain, The sickening stars fade off th' ethereal plain; As Argus' eyes by Hermes' wand oppressed, Closed one by one to everlasting rest; Thus at her felt approach, and secret might, Art after Art goes out, and all is Night. See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled, Mountains of Casuistry heaped o'er her head! Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before, Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more. Physic of Metaphysic begs defence, And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense ! See Mystery to Mathematics fly! In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die. Religion blushing veils her sacred fires, And unawares Morality expires. Nor public Flame, nor private , dares to shine; Nor human Spark is left, nor Glimpse divine ! Lo! thy dread Empire, Chaos! is restored; Light dies before thy uncreating word: Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall; And universal Darkness buries All. --from the Dunciad, by Alexander Pope.
  • I think continually of those who were truly great. Who, from the womb, remembered the soul's history Through corridors of light where the hours are suns Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition Was that their lips, still touched with fire, Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song. And who hoarded from the Spring branches The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms. What is precious, is never to forget The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light Nor its grave evening demand for love. Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother With noise and fog the flowering of the Spirit Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields See how these names are feted by the waving grass And by the streamers of white cloud And whispers of wind in the listening sky. The names of those who in their lives fought for life, Who wore at their hearts the fire's centre. Born of the sun they travelled a short while toward the sun And left the vivid air signed with their honour. --Stephen Spender
  • somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond any experience,your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose or if your wish be to close me,i and my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to percieve in this world equals the power of your intense fragility:whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries, rendering death and forever with its breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands -- e. e. cummings
  • Everyone is asleep There is nothing to come between the moon and me. -- Enomoto Seifu-Jo
  • Since bees mentioned cummings, I thought I'd post the reading I chose for my wedding: if everything happens that can't be done (and anything's righter than books could plan) the stupidest teacher will almost guess (with a run skip around we go yes) there's nothing as something as one one hasn't a why or because or although (and buds know better than books don't grow) one's anything old being everything new (with a what which around we go who) one's everyanything so so world is a leaf is a tree is a bough (and birds sing sweeter than books tell how) so here is away and so your is a my (with a down up around again fly) forever was never till now now i love you and you love me (and books are shutter than books can be) and deep in the high that does nothing but fall (with a shout each around we go all) there's somebody calling who's we we're everything brighter than even the sun (we're everything greater than books might mean) we're everyanything more than believe (with a spin leap alive we're alive) we're wonderful one times one -e.e. cummings
  • As the poets have mournfully sung, Death takes the innocent young, The rolling-in-money, The screamingly-funny, And those who are very well hung. -W. H. Auden
  • My favorite poem of all time...one of the classics (kinda long): Thomas Gray: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. ok..too long to post the entire thing here, can be found here
  • Ode to a Goldfish: Oh, Wet Pet Can't remember who it's by, somebody great, though...
  • This is the song everyone would like to learn: the song that is irresistible: the song that forces men to leap overboard in squadrons even though they see the beached skulls the song nobody knows because anyone who has heard it is dead, and the others can't remember. Shall I tell you the secret and if I do, will you get me out of this bird suit? I don't enjoy it here squatting on this island looking picturesque and mythical with these two feathery maniacs, I don't enjoy singing this trio, fatal and valuable. I will tell the secret to you, to you, only to you. Come closer. This song is a cry for help: Hekp me! Only you, only you can, you are unique at last. Also it is a boring song but it works every time. -- Margaret Atwood, "Siren Song"
  • My neigbour in the East has A grove of aspens. Tonight The rain sounds mournfully in Them. Alone, at my window, I cannot sleep. Autumn insects Swarm, attracted by my light. --Su Tung Po, "Rain in the Aspens"
  • Flowers bloom: no one to enjoy them with. Flowers fall: no one with whom to grieve. I wonder when love's longings stir us most -- when flowers bloom ir when flowers fall? -- Heueh T'ao, "Gazing at Spring"
  • World was in the face of the beloved --, but suddenly it poured out and was gone: world is outside, world cannot be grasped. Why didn't I, from the fall, beloved face as I raised it to my lips, why didn't I drink world, so near that I could almost taste it? Ah, I drank. Insatiably I drank. But I was filled up also, with too much world, and, drinking, I myself ran over. -- Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Neglected to add, trans. Stephen Mitchell
  • I love Rilke. Mrs. Tool had the following engraved inside my wedding ring: WITH ONLY THIS ONE DREAM -- YOU COME TOO.
  • ohh goody, more poetry coffee and good poetry with horses early in the morning--the best way to start the day The Dream Louise Bogan O God, in the dream the terrible horse began To paw at the air, and make for me with his blows. Fear kept for thirty-five years poured through his mane, And retribution equally old, or nearly, breathed through his nose. Coward complete, I lay and wept on the ground When some strong creature appeared, and leapt for the rein. Another woman, as I lay half in a swound, Leapt in the air, and clutched at the leather and chain. Give him, she said, something of yours as a charm. Throw him, she said, something you alone claim. No, no, I cried, he hates me; he's out for harm, And whether I yield or not, it is all the same. But, like a lion in a legend, when I flung the glove Pulled from my sweating, my cold right hand, The terrible beast, that no one may understand, Came to my side, and put down his head in love.
  • BlueHorse, ye got that just right!
  • *applauds*
  • This talk of horses in the morning put me in mind of this Ted Hughes poem I'm sure you all know: I climbed through woods in the hour-before-dawn dark. Evil air, a frost-making stillness, Not a leaf, not a bird,-- A world cast in frost. I came out above the wood Where my breath left tortuous statues in the iron light. But the valleys were draining the darkness Till the moorline--blackening dregs of the brightening grey-- Halved the sky ahead. And I saw the horses: Huge in the dense grey--ten together-- Megalith-still. They breathed, making no move, With draped manes and tilted hind-hooves, Making no sound. I passed: not one snorted or jerked its head. Grey silent fragments Of a grey silent world. I listened in emptiness on the moor-ridge. The curlew's tear turned its edge on the silence. Slowly detail leafed from the darkness. Then the sun Orange, red, red erupted Silently, and splitting to its core tore and flung cloud, Shook the gulf open, showed blue, And the big planets hanging--. I turned Stumbling in the fever of a dream, down towards The dark woods, from the kindling tops, And came to the horses. There, still they stood, But now steaming and glistening under the flow of light, Their draped stone manes, their tilted hind-hooves Stirring under a thaw while all around them The frost showed its fires. But still they made no sound. Not one snorted or stamped, Their hung heads patient as the horizons, High over valleys, in the red levelling rays-- In din of the crowded streets, going among the years, the faces, May I still meet my memory in so lonely a place Between the streams and the red clouds, hearing curlews, Hearing the horizons endure.
  • I haven't read that one before, so thanks, Abiezer_Coppe. I'm not as familiar with Hughes' work as I'd like to be.
  • Absolutely lovely, and one of my favorite, Abie. This Is A Poem I Wrote At Night, Before The Dawn Delmore Schwartz This is a poem I wrote before I died and was reborn: - After the years of the apples ripening and the eagles soaring, After the festival here the small flowers gleamed like the first stars, And the horses cantered and romped away like the experience of skill; mastered and serene Power, grasped and governed by reins, lightly held by knowing hands. The horses had cantered away, far enough away So that I saw the horses' heads farther and farther away And saw that they had reached the black horizon on the dusk of day And were or seemed black thunderheads, massy and ominous waves in the doomed sky: And it was then, for the first time, then that I said as I must always say All through living death of night: It is always darkness before delight! The long night is always the beginning of the vivid blossom of day. Another cup of coffee! More horse poems!
  • TH featured quite a bit in our school syllabus, and then some of the outfall of the Sylvia Plath controversy got to me a bit, plus he can seem forced at times, so it took me some time to truly appreciate Hughes' work fully. But there's so much of his work that really stays with you. I particulaly recall a fantatsic cycle of works inspired by his days as a sheep farmer in Devon, and one poem about a young man coming back from the war and failing to readjust. He definitely repays time spent with interest.
  • Unity The horse's mind Blends So swiftly Into the hay's mind. -- Fazil Husnu Daglarca
  • Nice, Bees. ice for the eagles Charles J. Bukowski I keep remembering the horses under the moon I keep remembering feeding the horses sugar white oblongs of sugar more like ice, and they had heads like eagles bald heads that could bite and did not. The horses were more real than my father more real than God and they could have stepped on my feet but they didn't they could have done all kinds of horrors but they didn't. I was almost 5 but I have not forgotten yet; o my god they were strong and good those red tongues slobbering out of their souls. From Run With the Hunted.
  • The Mist I turned back to see. but the man I passed was veiled in mist already. -- Shiki
  • Replica Only a single bird is singing. The air is cloning it. We hear through mirrors. -- Garcia Lorca
  • Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass. And the eyes of those two Indian ponies Darken with kindness. They have come gladly out of the willows To welcome my friend and me. We step over the barbed wire into the pasture Where they have been grazing all day, alone. They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness That we have come. They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. There is no loneliness like theirs. At home once more, They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, For she has walked over to me And nuzzled my left hand. She is black and white, Her mane falls wild on her forehead, And the lught breeze moves me to caress her long ear That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist. Suddenly I realize That if I stepped out of my body I would break Into blossom. -- James Wright, "A Blessing"
  • Yes, Bees, one of my favorites.
  • The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age, that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever. The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood, that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth into my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.... --Dylan Thomas, from "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"
  • I always loved that line in the final stanza of Fern Hill 'that time would take me/ Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand'. Anyway, here's Hallaig in the original Gaelic with Sorley MacLean's own transalation. He's just about my favoutite poet. Seumas Heaney also translated it, but not as well I think.
  • And now Bees has picked one of my favourites :) You have good aim!
  • Don't know if this has made it on MoFi yet, but Slate had a great piece about the poetry of Donald Rumsfeld. Here's a sample: Happenings You're going to be told lots of things. You get told things every day that don't happen. It doesn't seem to bother people, they don't— It's printed in the press. The world thinks all these things happen. They never happened. Everyone's so eager to get the story Before in fact the story's there That the world is constantly being fed Things that haven't happened. All I can tell you is, It hasn't happened. It's going to happen.
  • Adios, sun! I know for sure that you're the moon, but I won't tell nobody, sun. You sneak behind the curtain and cover your face with rice powder. By day, the farmhand's guitat, by night, Pierrot's mandolin. I should care! Your illusion, sun, is to make the garden turn Technicolor. Adios, sun! And don't forget who loves you: the snail, the little old lady on her balcony, & me ... spinning my heart like a ... top. -- Garcia Lorca
  • Horse By Moonlight A horse escaped from the circus and lodged in my daughter's eyes there he ran circles around the iris raising silver dust-clouds in the pupil and halting sometimes to drink from the holy water of the retina. Since then my daughter feels a longing for meadows of grass and green hills waiting for the moon to come and dry with its silk sleeves the sad water that wets her cheeks. -- Alberto Blanco, trans Jennifer Clenment
  • Wilderness Gothic Across Roblin Lake, two shores away, they are sheathing the church spire with new metal. Someone hangs in the sky over there from a piece of rope, hammering and fitting God's belly-scratcher, working his way up along the spire until there's nothing left to nail on--- Perhaps the workman's faith reaches beyond: touches intangibles, wrestles with Jacob, replacing rotten timber with pine thews, pounds hard in the blue cave of the sky, contends heroically with difficult problems of gravity, sky navigation and mythopeia, his volunteer time and labor donated to God, minus sick benefits of course on a non-union job--- Fields around are yellowing into harvest, nestling and fingerling are sky and water borne, death is yodeling quiet in green woodlots, and bodies of three young birds have disappeared in the sub-surface of the new county highway--- That picture is incomplete, part left out that might alter the whole Dürer landscape: gothic ancestors peer from medieval sky, dour faces trapped in photograph albums escaping to clop down iron roads with matched grays: work-sodden wives groping inside their flesh for what keeps moving and changing and flashing beyond and past the long frozen Victorian day. A sign of fire and brimstone? A two-headed calf born in the barn last night? A sharp female agony? An age and a faith moving into transition, the dinner cold and new-baked bread a failure, deep woods shiver and water drops hang pendant, double yolked eggs and the house creaks a little--- Something is about to happen. Leaves are still. Two shores away, a man hammering in the sky. Perhaps he will fall. - Al Purdy
  • Yummy, Islander. I've never read Purdy before. Me likes. Goody Bees! more horse images in poetry. The Horses of Achilles Constantine P. Cavafy When they saw Patroklos dead -so brave and strong, so young- the horses of Achilles began to weep; their immortal natures were outraged by this work of death they had to look at. They reared their heads, tossed their manes, beat the ground with their hooves, and mourned Patroklos, seeing him lifeless, destroyed, now mere flesh only, his spirit gone, defenceless, without breath, turned back from life to the great Nothingness. Zeus saw the tears of those immortal horses and felt sorry. "I shouldn't have acted so thoughtlessly at the wedding of Peleus," he said. "Better if we hadn't given you as a gift, my unhappy horses. What business did you have down there, among pathetic human beings, the toys of fate? You're free of death, you won't get old, yet ephemeral disasters torment you. Men have caught you in their misery." But it was for the eternal disaster of death that those two gallant horses shed their tears.
  • The Flaggy Shore (for Norah Nolan) Even before I've left, I long for this place. For hay brought in before the rain, its stooks like stanzas, for glossy cormorants that make metal eyes and divce like hooks, fastening the bodice of the folding tide which unravels in gardens of caraigin. I walk with the ladies who throw stones at the surge and their problems, don't answer the phone in the ringing kiosk. Look. In the clouds hang pewter promontories, long bays whose wind-indented silent coasts make me homesick for where I've not been. Quicksilver headlands shoot into the night till distance and the dying of day dull steel and vermillion to simple lead blown downward to the dark, then out of sight. -- Greneth Lewis
  • So much for the elves' wergild, the true governance      of England, the gaunt warrior-gospel armoured in      engraved stone. I wormed my way heavenward for      ages amid barbaric ivy, scrollwork of fern. Exile or pilgrim set me once more upon that ground:      my rich and desolate childhood. Dreamy, smug-faced,      sick on outings - I who was taken to be a king of      some kind, a prodigy, a maimed one. Geoffery Hill, from 'Mercian Hymns'
  • No Time She left me. What voice colder than the wind out of the grave said: 'It is over'? Impalpable, invisible, she comes to me still, as she would do, and I at my reading. There is a tremor of light, as of a bird crossing the sun's path, and I look up in recognition of a presence in absence. Not a word, not a sound, as she goes her way, but a scent lingering which is that of time immolating itself in love's fire R.S Thomas, from his 1995 collection 'No Truce with the Furies'. It's a poem for his late wife of some fifty years. I think the last line may rank with the most beautiful ever written in the English language.
  • Talking to Grief Ah grief I should not treat you like a homeless dog who comes to the back door for a crust, for a meatless bone. I should trust you. I should coax you into the house and give you your own corner, a worn mat to lie on, your own water dish. You think I don't know you've been living under my porch. You long for your real place to be readied before winter comes. You need your name, your collar and tag. You need the right to warn off intruders, to consider my house your own and me your person and yourself my own dog. --Denise Levertov
  • Though it be broken -- broken again -- still it's there: the moon on the water. -- Chosho, trans Harold Henderson
  • Madly Singing in the Mountains There is no one among men who has not a special failing: And my failing consists in writing verses. I have broken away from the thousand ties of life: But this infirmity will remain behind. Each time that I look at a fine landscape: Each time that I meet a loved friend, I raise my voice and recite a stanza of poetry And am glad as though a God had crossed my path. Ever since the day I was banished to Hsun-yang Half my time I have lived among the hills. And often, when I have finished a new poem, Alone I climb the road to the Eastern Rock. I lean my body on the banks of white stone: I pull down with my hands a green cassia branch. My mad singing startles the valleys and hills: The apes and birds all come to peep. Fearing tio become a laughingstock in the world, I choose a place that is unfrequented by men. -- Po Chu-i, trans Arthur Waley
  • Lovely bees! Arthur Waley is one of my heroes as a translator - he did excellent and challenging versions of Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) and what I hear is a great version of 'Journey to the West'. He was a professor at my university (SOAS in London), a friend of the 'Bloomsbury set' and by all accounts quite the 'character'. I have a collection of Bo Zhuyi's poems (as we pinyin educated types spell him these days). Maybe I'll have a stab at transalting something here, though ny classical Chinese is rather rusty.
  • Just realised that some of my comments on Mr Waley (the Zhuangzi bit) result from conflating him with Angus Graham who followed him at SOAS. Also Arthur was only an honorary lecturer. My memory is ridiculous! Correction just in case a passing Sinologist sees this and has me drummed out of the club.
  • Now I'll look forward to that, Abiezer_Coppe! Incidentally, transalting is one of the most serendipitous typos I've seen in ages -- and I plan to steal it.
  • Arghh! I do that all the time, which is very silly since it's my main living! I see what you mean about the serendipity though. An exchange of flavours?
  • Of asphodel, that greeny flower, I come, my sweet, to sing to you! My heart rouses thinking to bring you news of something that concerns you and concerns many men. Look at what passes for the new. You will not find it there but in despised poems. It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. Hear me out for I too am concerned and every man who wants to die at peace in his bed besides. excerpted from "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower" by William Carlos Williams
  • Sonnet All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now, and after this one just a dozen to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas, then only ten more left like rows of beans. How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan and insist the iambic bongos must be played and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines, one for every station of the cross. But hang on here wile we make the turn into the final six where all will be resolved, where longing and heartache will find an end, where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen, take off those crazy medieval tights, blow out the lights, and come at last to bed. - Billy Collins
  • Ah, bone, I do so love that first selection you give! Says it all right there of why I decided to try putting poems on monkeyfilter. Such a foolish critter I be, but it seems the world right now needs poetry. As it does all the arts which celebrate the quandries and confusions of the human heart.
  • Let us creep then, you and I, To where the woollens are spread out to dry Like salmon filleted upon a counter; Let us grope through these still unlaundered sheets, Past kilts adrip with all their pleats, Where winter moths aspire to light the last flickering candle Past dusty jars of pickles and preserves, To mateless socks that may outlast those condiments, Lie solo. And abandoned.
  • Bees, that is a bad take on a poem I don't really like all that well. But you're forgiven.
  • How 'bout in the style of Wally S.? Now there's a man who probably had garters on his socks. (and would shudder at the idea of green ones)
  • Bird It was passed from one bird to another, the whole gift of the day. The day went from flute to flute, went dressed in vegetation, in flights which opened a tunnel through the wind would pass to where birds were breaking open the dense blue air - and there, night came in. When I returned from so many journeys, I stayed suspended and green between sun and geography - I saw how wings worked, how perfumes are transmitted by feathery telegraph, and from above I saw the path, the springs and the roof tiles, the fishermen at their trades, the trousers of the foam; I saw it all from my green sky. I had no more alphabet than the swallows in their courses, the tiny, shining water of the small bird on fire which dances out of the pollen. Pablo Neruda
  • Agree with you, BlueHorse, and appreciate your comment; when something doesn't work I do like to get feedback on it. Not much of an Eliot fan -- I only seem to enjoy bits and pieces of his work.
  • Birth of the Foal As May was opening the rosebuds, elder and lilac beginning to bloom, It was time for the mare to foal. She'd rest herself, or hobble lazily after the boy who sang as he led her to pasture, wading through the meadowflowers. They wandered back at dusk, bone-tired, the moon perched on a blue shoulder of sky. Then the mare lay down, sweating and trembling, on her straw in the stable. The drowsy, heavy-bellied cows surrounded her, waiting, watching, sniffing. Later when even the hay slept and the dhaft of the Plough pointed south, the foal was born. Hours the mare spent licking the foal with its glue-blind eyes. And the foal slept at her side, a heap of feathers ripped from a bed. Straw never spread as soft as this. Milk or snow never slept like a foal. Dawn bounced up in a bright red hat, waved at the world and skipped away. Up staggered the foal. Its hooves were jelly-knots of foam. Then day sniffed with its blue nose through the open stable window, and found them -- the foal nuzzling its mother, velvet fumbling for her milk. Then all the trees were talking at once, chickens scrabbled in the yard, like golden flowers envy withered the last stars. -- Ferenc Juhasz, trans David Wevill
  • A man hired by John Smith and Co. Loudly declared that he'd tho. Men that he saw Dumping dirt near his door -- The drivers, therefore, didn't do.>/i> --Mark Twain
  • Bees, I do love you! More, please. FAITH Kay Frydenborg In jumping an obstacle, the horse, with his remarkable stereoscopic vision, cannot see what he must surmount at the moment he is upon it. This may seem no more problematic to him than the fact that he views two simultaneous alternate images on his left and his right, instead of one panoramic scene flowing together. Somehow his equine brain (which we call "limited") can process and accommodate both realities at once. Eons of seeing in his own way has taught him this. Instead of looking where he leaps, he memorizes in one glance the location and dimension of the barrier: its depth and height its whiteness or greenness or blueness (although we assume he is colorblind) its smooth, blocky symmetry or the spiky, irregular pine branches bunched at its base the likelihood of its causing him bodily harm or death (does he anticipate death? He has never told us.) He counts while moving toward the precise take-off point the number strides needed to reach it safely, automatically adjusting the length of his steps to fit. Whenever he leaves the earth, pushing off with his powerful haunches, lifting the swinging fulcrum of his shoulder, cracking his back in one smooth arc, he has no way of knowing whether he will ever touch land again. He has nothing to go on but faith. And yet he launches himself on the trajectory of his memory time and again because we ask it of him, even though he can clearly see, out of both eyes, there is an easier way around. 2. I have seen an adolescent thoroughbred galloping three-legged, lurching through the churning butts of the others, not even feeling the clods of mud flung into his eyes, his shattered leg dangling uselessly, while his desperate jockey tugs with puny arms at his mouth. He flings his whole being into a single conviction: that winning the race, crossing the finish line first, will end his pain. I have held the head of an old gelding, his lungs ossified by heaves their tiny sacs like hollow bones trapping the old air inside. I have stroked his neck and watch him labor to expel each diminished breath, while his frightened eyes fixed on mine with a certainty that I would cure him, even though I had nothing to offer but my tears. Yesterday we were trotting, my horse and I (he trots, I sit: we both know our jobs.) His toe caught the loose ash of the arena floor, and he dropped to his knees, while I tried to stay over his center, tried to help him to his feet. As the black grit rushed up into our faces, he scrambled to contain both my weight and his, the bones of his forelegs as fragile as birds' wings. After I rolled off his neck he waited for me to brush the ashes from mine. Then he offered his back to me again.
  • The Maltese Dog He came from Malta, and Eumelus says He had no better dog in all his days. He called him Bull: he went into the dark. Along those roads we cannot hear him bark. -- Tymnes, trans Edmund Blunden
  • Two poems: Kobayashi Issa, trans Robert Hass Hey, sparrow! out of the way, Horse is coming. Naked on a naked horse in pouring rain
  • The Pit Ponies They come like the ghosts of horses, shyly, To this summer field, this fresh green, Which scares them. They have been too long in the blind mine, Their hooves have trodden only stones And the soft, thick dust of fine coal. And they do not understand the grass. For over two years their sun Has shone from an electric bulb That has never set, and their walking Has been along the one, monotonous Track of the pulled coal trucks. They have bunched their muscles against The harness and pulled, and hauled But now they have come out of the underworld And are set down in the sun and real air Which are strange to them. They are humble And modest, their heads are downcast, they Do not expect to see very far. But one Is attempting a clumsy gallop. It is Something he could do when he was very young, When he was a little foal a long time ago And he could run fleetly on his long foal's legs And almost he can remember this. And look, One rolls on her back with joy in the clean grass! And they all, awkwardly and hesitantly, like Clumsy old men, begin to run, and the field Is full of happy thunder. They toss their heads, Their manes fly, they are galloping in freedom. The ponies have come aboveground, they are galloping! -- Leslie Norris
  • A sky. A field. A hedge flagrant with gorse. I'm trying to remember, as best I can, if I'm a man dreaming I'm a plowhorse or a great plowhorse dreaming I'm a man. -- Paul Muldoon, from "Horses"
  • When the unreal becomes real, the real becomes unreal, Story of the Stone, Cao Xue Qin
  • Reflected in the dragonfly's eye -- mountains. -- Issa
  • The Horse Fair Robin Becker My skirts would have been a great hindrance, making me conspicuous and perhaps calling forth unpleasant remarks. …Thus I was taken for a young lad, and unmolested.--Rosa Bonheur 1. Found out, identified astride the chestnut, head tilted in the manner of the rearing grey Percheron, you are Rosa Bonheur disguised as one of the handlers, cross-dressed in a blue smock, center of the painting. You are performing a fantasy of belonging to a genre-scene that admits none of your sex and now the art history that permitted you to remain invisible finds you androgynous where horses bristle at their restraining tack. 2. There is in every animal’s eye a dim image and gleam of humanity, a flash of strange light through which their life looks out and up to our great mystery of command over them.--Ruskin She would not see them as subservient. She painted the tarsal joint of the hind leg For forty years, perfecting its voluted spring. She knew the Arabian horse to be of porphyry, granite, and sandstone; she knew the English stallion Hobgoblin, veined with seawater. She knew anatomical science predicted movement; thus, in trousers and boots, throughout the slaughterhouses and stockyards and in livestock markets, a small woman with cropped hair passed. She knew the Belgian, her dense ossature, wattage of the livid eye, oscillation of gait, the withheld stampede gathering in the staunch shoulder for the haulage of artillery. She would not picture subservience.
  • Great Aso Horses are standing in rain. A herd of horses with one or two foals is standing in rain. In hushed silence rain is falling. The horses are eating grass With tails, and backs too, and manes too, completely soaking wet they are eating grass, eating grass. Some of them are standing with necks bowed over absent-mindedly and not eating grass. Rain is falling and falling in hushed silence. The mountain is sending up smoke. The peak of Nakadake is sending up dimly yellowish and deeply oppressive volcanic smoke, densely, densely. And rain clouds too all over the sky. Still they continue without ending. Horses are eating grass. On one of the hills of the Thousand-Mile-Shore-Of-Grass they are absorbedly eating blue-green grass. Eating. They are all standing there quietly. They are quietly gathered in one place forever, dripping and soaked with rain. If a hundred years go by in this single moment, there would be no wonder. Rain is falling. Rain is falling. In hushed silence rain is falling. -- Tatsuji Miyoshi
  • No need to cling to things -- floating frog. -- Joso
  • Wow, Bees. Fantastic. What wonderful images. Equestrian Statues Robert James Berry (West Malaysian Poet) The deep breathing grasslands Boundless as the act of time Are apricot-skied at sunset. As evening foals darkness, A sudden fury of scarlet horses Canter the horizon And the wind yearns To slit open the husk of night That is thick coir matting. In an unstarred dark Strong as the hook of the sea, Equestrian statues are Rearing stones on the threshold of sleep, Snorting monsters Pawing a forbidden territory Before our time, Playing the supernatural sky Like clamouring almighties Before becoming still Granite stallions drinking water As Aquarius rises.
  • We Have Not Long To Love We have not long to love. Light does not stay. The tender things are those we fold away. Coarse fabrics are the ones for common wear. In silence I have watched you comb your hair. Intimate the silence, dim and warm. I could, but did not, reach to touch your arm. I could, but do not, break that which is still. (Almost the faintest whisper would be shrill.) So moments pass as though they wished to stay. We have not long to love. A night. A day .... --Tennessee Williams
  • Moon, Flowers, Man I raise my cup and invite The moon to come down from the Sky. I hope she will accept Me. I raise my cup and ask The branches, heavy with flowers, To drink with me. I wish them Long life and promise never To pick them. In company With the moon and the flwoers, I get drunk, and none of us Ever worries about good Or bad. How many people Can comprehend our joy? I Have wine and moon and flowers. Who else do I want for drinking companions? -- Su Tung P'o, trans Kenneth Rexroth
  • It is spring once more in the Coast Range Warm, perfumed, under the Easter moon. The flowers are back in their places. The birds are back in their usual trees. The winter stars set in the ocean. The summer stars rise from the mountains. The air is filled with atoms of quicksilver. Resurrection envelops the earth. Goemetrical, blazing, deathless, Animals and men march through heaven, Pacing their secret ceremony. The Lion gives the moon to the Virgin. She stands at the crossroads of heaven, Holding the full moon in her right hand, A glittering wheat ear in her left. The climax of the rite of rebirth Has ascended from the underworld Is proclaimed in light from the zenith. In the underworld the sun swims Between the fish called Yes and No. -- Kenneth Rexroth
  • Perhaps some of our monkeys might like to submit work to the Guardian's Poetry Workshop?
  • I'm in need of a poetry fix. I'll share mine, if you'll share yours. (Bees, bring on the horses!) Names of Horses Donald Hall All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer, for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range. In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields, dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats. All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning; and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres, gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack, and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn, three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning. Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns. Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass. When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze, one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning, led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond, and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin, and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear, and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave, shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you, where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument. For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses, roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs, yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers: O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.
  • "How I Brought the Good News from Aix to Ghent (or Vice Versa)" by R.J. Yeatman and W.C. Sellar I sprang to the rollocks and Jorrocks and me, And I galloped, you galloped, he galloped, we galloped all three... Not a word to each other; we kept changing place Neck to neck, back to front, ear to ear, face to face; And we yelled once or twice, when we heard a clock chime, "Would you kindly oblige us, Is that the right time?" As I galloped, you galloped, he galloped, we galloped, they two shall have galloped, let us trot. I unsaddled the saddle, unbuckled the bit, Unshackled the bridle (the thing didn't fit) And ungalloped, ungalloped, ungalloped, ungalloped a bit. Then I cast off my bluff-coat, let my bowler hat fall, Took off both my boots and my trousers and all -- Drank off my stirrup-cup, felt a bit tight, And unbridled the saddle: it still wasn't right. Then all I remember is, things reeling round As I sat with my head twixt my ears on the ground -- For imagine my shame when they asked what I meant And I had to confess that I'd been, gone, and went And forgotten the news I was bringing to Ghent. Though I'd galloped and galloped and galloped and galloped and galloped And galloped and galloped and galloped. (Had I not would have been galloped?) Envoi So I sprang to a taxi and shouted, "To Aix!" And he blew on his horn and he threw off his brakes And all the way back till my money was spent We rattled and rattled and rattled and rattled and rattled -- And eventually sent a telegram. The origins of this fine parody lie with Robert Browning's "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix".
  • Ahh, I hadn't visited this tread in a while. The horse poetry has me by the emotions. Was going to ask, "What was the first poem that got you into verse?", but maybe later. Keep going, please.
  • Render, Render Thomas Lux Boil it down: feet, skin, gristle, bones, vertebrae, heart muscle, boil it down, skim, and boil again, dreams, history, add them and boil again, boil and skim in closed cauldrons, boil your horse, his hooves, the runned-over dog you loved, the girl by the pencil sharpener who looked at you, looked away, boil that for hours, render it down, take more from the top as more settles to the bottom, the heavier, the denser, throw in ache and sperm, and a bead of sweat that slid from your armpit to your waist as you sat stiff-backed before a test, turn up the fire, boil and skim, boil some more, add a fever and the virus that blinded an eye, now's the time to add guilt and fear, throw logs on the fire, coal, gasoline, throw two goldfish in the pot (their swim bladders used for "clearing"), boil and boil, render it down and distill, concentrate that for which there is no other use at all, boil it down, down, then stir it with rosewater, that which is now one dense, fatty, scented red essence which you smear on your lips and go forth to plant as many kisses upon the world as the world can bear!
  • Fiat Lux!
  • path, in my case, nursery thrymes were the primary source, I suppose. Older folk in my family were always reciting poetry, and everyone read it aloud -- I can't remember not knowing Young Lochinvar and such old favorites. Absorbed many pieces almost by osmosis before I ever learned to read on my own or started school.
  • BlueHorse, maybe ye should consider compliing a book of horse-poems.
  • Uh, Bees, it started as a small obsession to please myself, but now my hitherto unspoken wish is to publish an anthology of powerful and moving horse poetry--toward that end I've compiled over 600 poems, and still adding. Too bad I'm such an idjit about How To Do Teh Fublishing. Path: of course it started in the nursery -- First, there was the lullaby: Hush-a-bye don't you cry, Go to sleep-y, little baby. When you wake you shall have All the pretty little horses. Blacks and bays, dapple grays, Coach and six white horses. Hush-a-bye don't you cry, Go to sleep-y, little baby. Then we went to Mother Goose and trotting games: I had a little hobby-horse, And it was dapple gray; Its head was made of pea-straw, Its tail was made of hay. I sold it to an old woman For a copper groat; And I'll not sing my song again Without another coat. Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross, To see a fine lady upon a white horse; With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, She shall have music wherever she goes. For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. Bell horses, bell horses, What time of day? One o'clock, two o'clock, Time to away. Horsie, horsie, don't you stop, Just let your feet go clippety clop; Your tail goes swish, And the wheels go round— Giddyup, you're homeward bound! If I had a donkey That wouldn't go Do you think I'd beat him? Oh, no, no! I'd put him in a barn And give him some corn, The best little donkey That ever was born. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If turnips were watches, I would wear one by my side. And if “ifs” and “ands” Were pots and pans, There’d be no work for tinkers! I had a little pony, His name was Dapple-Gray, I lent him to a lady, To ride a mile away. She whipped him, she slashed him, She rode him through the mire; I would not lend my pony now For all the lady’s hire. Donkey, donkey, old and gray, Ope your mouth and gently bray; Lift your ears and blow your horn, To wake the world this sleepy morn. Jokeli, can you really ride Trot, trot, trot? Aye, over every green mountain side — Trot, trot, trot! Has your pony I pray had oats today? White horsie, click! White horsie, clack! You'll maybe throw Jokeli off your back! Trot, trot, jolt! The farmer has a colt, The colt he runs away, The farmer falls, hooray! Bump! Goes the farmer! Finally I memorized a "real" poem at age 5: The Huntsmen Walter De La Mare Three jolly gentlemen, In coats of red, Rode their horses Up to bed. Three jolly gentlemen Snored till morn, Their horses champing The golden corn. Three jolly gentlemen At break of day, Came clitter-clatter down the stairs And galloped away. I recited it repeatedly till threatened with a gag. Finally, I have to confess that Siv Cedering's fantastic prose poem, The Blue Horse is the source of my Monkey moniker. *blushes to be found out
  • BlueHorse, thinking ye might do worse than post a Curious, George about this anthology, since monkeys have considerable knowledge and experience
  • On A Parson Bit By His Horse The steed bit his master; How came this to pass? He heard the good pastor Cry, 'All flesh is grass!' -- Old Jingle
  • Sudden rain -- rows of horses, twitching rumps. -- Shiki
  • Bees, bees, bees We love bees. They don't make us sneeze. Unlike .... um .... nasty cheese! Bees, bees, bees, We love bees! *shame Forgive me, bees. I'll try again. jokes, poems & artwork Our best crop a short piece about Meriwether and the advise a wise older professor gave a young bee farmer ”The best fertilizer is always the imprint of the owner's feet." great-grandfather Thomas G. Hardie "A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay. A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon. But a swarm of bees in July isn't worth a fly." This is an old saying that describes the value of a honey bee swarm.When the queen in a colony of honey bees gets older and/or when a colony feels that it is getting too large a population,then around half of the bees will take off and swarm. Especially in the north,our yearly management includes thoughts of preparing the bees for the winter,and this saying notes that the earlier that a swarm is retrieved by the beekeeper,the more time the bees will have to raise a family and gather food for the upcoming winter. Bees, bees, bees We love bees. They don't make us sneeze. Unlike .... um .... nasty cheese! Bees, bees, bees, We love bees! -by Kate Wheeler and Liz Hart Awesome members of the most honorable weekend honey house crew 2001, holding a possibly untouchable record for a duo unloading tanks of cold raw honey week after week. Last Night by Antonio Machado Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt--marvelous error!-- that a spring was breaking out in my heart. I said: Along which secret aqueduct, Oh water, are you coming to me, water of a new life that I have never drunk? Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt--marvelous error!-- that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures. Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt--marvelous error!-- that a fiery sun was giving light inside my heart. It was fiery because I felt warmth as from a hearth and sun because it gave light and brought tears to my eyes. Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt--marvelous error!-- that it was God I had here inside my heart. *blows bees a kiss
  • arrrgh, I copy/pasted too much Forgive me, again
  • Fascinating ittle animals, bees --and that bee poem is delightful, thank you, BlyeHirse.
  • = BlueHorse Today I can't for bees, obviously.
  • =can't type for Ach! Got up lete and it's not all it's made out to bee, I think.
  • Leaving the House of a Friend Out comes the bee from deep among peony pistils -- oh, so reluctantly! -- Basho
  • Laving the House of a Friend Out comes the bee from deep among peony pistils -- oh, so reluctantly! -- Basho
  • Brassei Photograph IV: Horses of Apollo The horses of Apollo have galloped into the forest, left the statue where they were forced to stand all day with Apollo. They stomped and bit each other, impatient to gallop across the universe and pull the stubborn sun into night. Here in Paris it is cloudy all the time. Apollo is a lazy fuck who never spurs them on, so they canter under trees, eat horse chestnuts, whisper to each other in the manner of horses with no work to do. They sway in the wind and tell stories of how they fished Dawn from the sea and sprang Helios out of eclipse. But that was long ago in Delphi, before they had to be statues, when they were alive and everything depended on them. -- Susan Thomas
  • This whole thread is gonna get shut down if you two don't stop filling up your posting quotas, as soon as you can get then up here. Relax,already. I do agree, horselady, that it would be well worth the while to do a real compilation for publication. Photos or illustrations? Meanwhile, no one has mentioned my favourite writer(s), archie the cockroach and mehitabal, who said: i once heard the survivors of a colonly of ants that had been partially obliterated by a cow's foot seriously debating the intention of the gods towards their civilization
  • dx -Are there commenting quotas? And, yes there's been some discussion on MoFi of archie and mehitabel in the past, but my search didn't bring up anything serious. Thanks for the link.
  • No quotas, no quotas, A slip, a blip, to make a mistake, I shouldn't hesitate
  • oh list to the call of the springtime oh hark to suggestions of may awake for its birds on the wing time give ear for the meadows are gay which also applies to the tearooms the boulevards avenues streets the dear rooms and cheap rooms and free rooms for spring is a season of sweets oh god but i wish i were keats oh god but i wish i were keats.... -- Don Marquis, from "plaint of spring"
  • Thanks, Beez Love, BlyeHirse Dx: Of COURSE there's a quota. First Bees quota one poet, then I quota'nother. What else could you want? When are you going to quota poem?
  • *grabs throat, staggers backwards* Gahh! *clunk!*
  • I wish in the city of your heart you would let me be the street where you walk when you are most yourself. I imagine the houses: it has been raining, but the rain is done and the children kept home have begun opening their doors. -- Robley Wilson. "I wish in the city of your heart"
  • Let's take the duckweed way to clouds. -- Issa
  • The Horses Edwin Muir Barely a twelvemonth after The seven days war that put the world to sleep, Late in the evening the strange horses came. By then we had made our covenant with silence, But in the first few days it was so still We listened to our breathing and were afraid. On the second day The radios failed; we turned the knobs; no answer. On the third day a warship passed us, heading north, Dead bodies piled on the deck. On the sixth day A plane plunged over us into the sea. Thereafter Nothing. The radios dumb; And still they stand in corners of our kitchens, And stand, perhaps, turned on, in a million rooms All over the world. But now if they should speak, If on a sudden they should speak again, If on the stroke of noon a voice should speak, We would not listen, we would not let it bring That old bad world that swallowed its children quick At one great gulp. We would not have it again. Sometimes we think of the nations lying asleep, Curled blindly in impenetrable sorrow, And then the thought confounds us with its strangeness. The tractors lie about our fields; at evening They look like dank sea-monsters couched and waiting. We leave them where they are and let them rust: "They'll molder away and be like other loam." We make our oxen drag our rusty plows, Long laid aside. We have gone back Far past our fathers' land. And then, that evening Late in the summer the strange horses came. We heard a distant tapping on the road, A deepening drumming; it stopped, went on again And at the corner changed to hollow thunder. We saw the heads Like a wild wave charging and were afraid. We had sold our horses in our fathers' time To buy new tractors. Now they were strange to us As fabulous steeds set on an ancient shield. Or illustrations in a book of knights. We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited, Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent By an old command to find our whereabouts And that long-lost archaic companionship. In the first moment we had never a thought That they were creatures to be owned and used. Among them were some half a dozen colts Dropped in some wilderness of the broken world, Yet new as if they had come from their own Eden. Since then they have pulled our plows and borne our loads, But that free servitude still can pierce our hearts. Our life is changed; their coming our beginning.
  • A Swan Day, Obituary Day and Alle To remember now takes me longer; I forget who it was, if I ever knew, said, Animals are here to teach us compassion. Less than would fill my fist of feathers, the trim brown wren sits out, out sits the lightning and the lashing rain.
  • The Three Oddest Words When I pronounce the word Future, the first syllable already belongs tos the past. When I pronounce the word Silence, I destroy it. When I pronounce the word Nothing, I make something no nonbeing can hold. -- Wyslawa Szymborska
  • THE HIPPOPOTAMUS O. Nash (O.f Course) Behold the hippopotamus! We laugh at how he looks to us, And yet in moments dank and grim, I wonder how we look to him. Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus! We really look all right to us, As you no doubt delight the eye Of other hippopotami.
  • Rats! should have been on the silly poetry page
  • Where's the silly poetry page? I have a silly poem I'd like to share...
  • Moth: It's pretty silly over here
  • Robert Browning Childe Roland As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood. One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare, Stood stupefied, however he came there: Thrust out past service from the devil’s stud! Alive? He might be dead for aught I know. With that red gaunt colloped* neck a-strain. And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane: Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe; I never saw a brute I hated so; He must be wicked to deserve such pain. *ridged Excerpt: only mention of horse in poem
  • According to my old Funk and Wagnalls, collops refers to meat cut into chunks, as if for a stew: the horse's neck has been cut or hacked by something sharp.
  • Thankee kindly, GramMa!
  • Bees, I thought that was strange, but I copied it straight from the book. Makes more sense that way, doesn't it. Tsk, Tsk, if you can't believe what you read in print ....
  • My father was fond o' saying: THE BOOK IS WRONG! And he was often right. So I regard any text as a work in progress, no matter how venerated it is. Especially footnotes.
  • "The Fired Pot" by Anna Wickham In our town, people live in rows. The only irregular thing in a street is the steeple; And where that points to, God only knows, And not the poor disciplined people! And I have watched the women growing old, Passionate about pins, and pence, and soap, Till the heart within my wedded breast grew cold, And I lost hope. But a young soldier came to our town, He spoke his mind most candidly. He asked me quickly to lie down, And that was very good for me. For though I gave him no embrace— Remembering my duty— He altered the expression of my face, And gave me back my beauty. Poetry Daily's pick for today. I liked the steeple image.
  • Lightheartedly take from the palms of my hands A little sun, a little honey, As Persephone's bees commanded us. Not to be untied, the unmoored boat; Not to be heard, fur-shod shadows; Not to be silenced, life's thick terrors. Now we have only kisses, Bristly and crisp like bees, Which die as they fly from the hive. They rustle in transparent thickets of night, Their homeland thick forest of Taigetos, Their food -- honeysuckle, mint, and time. Lightheartedly take then my uncouth present: This simple necklace of dead, dried bees, Who once turned honey into sun. -- Osip Mandelstam, "Lightheartedly from the palms of my hands"
  • A Prayer That Will Be Answered Lord, let me suffer much and then die Let me walk through silence and leave nothing behind not even fear Make the world continue let the ocean kiss the sand just as before Let the grass stay green so that the frogs can hide in it so that someone can bury his face in it and sob out his love Make the day rise brightly as if there were no more pain And let my poem stand clear as a windowpane bumped by a bumblebee's head. -- Anna Kamienska
  • One reason I like opera Marge Piercy In movies, you can tell the heroine because she is blonder and thinner than her sidekick. The villainess is darkest. If a woman is fat, she is a joke and will probably die. In movies, the blondest are the best and in bleaching lies not only purity but victory. If two people are both extra pretty, they will end up in the final clinch. Only the flawless in face and body win. That is why I treat movies as less interesting than comic books. The camera is stupid. It sucks surfaces. Let's go to the opera instead. The heroine is fifty and weighs as much as a '65 Chevy with fins. She could crack your jaw in her fist. She can hit high C lying down. The tenor the women scream for wolfs down an eight course meal daily. He resembles a bull on hind legs. His thighs are the size of beer kegs. His chest is a redwood with hair. Their voices twine, golden serpents. Their voices rise like the best fireworks and hang and hang then drift slowly down descending in brilliant and still fiery sparks. The hippopotamus baritone (the villain) has a voice that could give you an orgasm right in your seat. His voice smokes with passion. He is hot as lava. He erupts nightly. The contralto is, however, svelte. She is supposed to be the soprano's mother, but is ten years younger, beautiful and Black. Nobody cares. She sings you into her womb where you rock. What you see is work like digging a ditch, hard physical labor. What you hear is magic as tricky as knife throwing. What you see is strength like any great athlete's. What you hear is still rendered precisely as the best Swiss watchmaker. The body is resonance. The body is the cello case. The body just is. The voice loud as hunger remagnetizes your bones.
  • A Very Valentine Very fine is my valentine. Very fine and very mine. Very mine is my valentine very mine and very fine. Very fine is my valentine and mine, very fine very mine and mine is my valentine. --Gertrade Stein
  • My Mother's Tango I see her windows open in the rain, laundry in the windows -- she rides a wild pony for my birthday, a white pony on the seventh floor. "And where will we keep it?" "On the balcony!" the pony neighing on the balcony for nine weeks. At the center of my life my mother dances, yes, here in childhood, my mother asks to describe the stages of my happiness -- she speaks of soups, she is of their telling: between the regiments of saucers and towels, she moves so fast -- she is motionless, opening and closing doors. But what was happiness? A pony on the balcony! My mother's past, a cloak she wore on her shoulder. I draw an axis through the afternoon to see her, sixty, courting a foreign language -- young, not young -- my mother gallops a pony on the seventh floor. She becomes a stranger and acts herself. opens what is shut, shuts what is open. -- Ilya Kaminsky
  • Thank you, Bees
  • When It Comes What does it all come down to when it comes? How do things end that have the grace to end? The Iliad stops with "Hector the breaker of horses"; The last word of Lord Jim is "butterflies". -- William Harmon
  • Listening To My Son's Heart It's a game we play. Well, as much a game as I can play with a one-year-old. It goes like this. When I come home from work, he's there, toddling around the kitchen, wide-eyed in his baby blue sleeping suit with the padded feet. When he sees me, he smiles, and I do too, and I imagine the sound, the thud thud thud if his tiny heart that I remember from the last time we played our game. I stoop down so my haunches almost touch the floor and open my arms for a hug. He walks over in his confident but uneasy way and we are eye to eye when he breaks into laughter, wraps his arms around my neck, and gently nibbles on my shoulder. I do the same, and it's then that I hear it, his heart much faster than mine. After a minute or so he turns around and walks out of my arms only to turn around again and walk back laughing, anticipating the hug and, I think, the repetition. And again I hear his heart, and again, momentarily, an uncanny mixture of joy and fear, happiness and anxiety overtakes me. It is, I know, my pleasure in his life, in his being here with us, and my fear for him, for the difficulties yet to come. But it is, also, a kind of self-pity; the comfort of remorse that comes from imagining pain juxtaposed against happiness, the permutations of the future against the immediacy of the present, the sound of his heart against the absence of it. -- Anthony Petrosky
  • The bee is drunk with honeyed dew In flowered colours a metallic dance A hitched stagger in shifting winds A flutter of smile in all that morass. Enterprises of hive now gone distant Structures and stimulations now left behind The queen and drones wishing gone astray For a sip of freedom and a new start. Aromatics grazed in a buzz of curse A soft cradled sun in a warm burst Rocking fragrance in the azured skies In liquefied reflections of droning surge. The Bee, Durlabh Singh
  • The dead bee lies on the window ledge, a relic, its amber-yellow body barred in black and its head tucked in, dust gathering on every follicle.... flies too, all sizes, lying on their sides as if asleep, just a quick nap and they'll be up and off about their business. Souls, we used to say: bees, butterflies, wasps, moths, all sorts of flies, the air crowded and loud with leftover angels -- but not the spider in its complex web, fallen from grace but walking on air, vigilant in ways that harden the heart, getting its appetite back. --from "Windowgrave" by Eamonn Grennan
  • 1. BlueHorse: The opera poem you posted is astounding. 2. Bees and MCT: Have either of you read David Young's translations of Rilke? I like Stephen Mitchell and all (his translation of the Tao Te Ching stays in my back pocket when I'm not loaning it out to someone), but Young's translation of the Sonnets to Orpheus is probably my all-time favorite volume of poetry. 3. Walt Whitman's advice: don't become a poet
  • bone, I have to laugh out loud everytime I read that poem, MP is great. Marge Piercy Toad dreams That afternoon the dream of the toads rang through the elms by Little River and affected the thoughts of men, though they were not conscious that they heard it.--Henry Thoreau The dream of toads: we rarely credit what we consider lesser life with emotions big as ours, but we are easily distracted, abstracted. People sit nibbling before television's flicker watching ghosts chase balls and each other while the skunk is out risking grisly death to cross the highway to mate; while the fox scales the wire fence where it knows the shotgun lurks to taste the sweet blood of a hen. Birds are greedy little bombs bursting to give voice to appetite. I had a cat who died of love. Dogs trail their masters across con- tinents. We are far too busy to be starkly simple in passion. We will never dream the intense wet spring lust of the toads.
  • bone, like Mitchel's translation a lot, but am not enthusiastic about Bly's, alas. Since you speak so highly of the David Young Orpheus I'm going to see if I can lay hands on a copy -- thank you. BlueHorse, Pierce is great fun! Do ye sippose lust alone could make a toad explode? -- this thread tells a strange tale.
  • Every morning you wait, clothes, over a chair, to fill yourself with my vanity, my love, my hope, my body. Barely risen from sleep, I relinquish the water, enter your sleeves, my legs look for the hollows of your legs, and so embraced by your infatigable faithfulness I rise, to tread the grass, entering poetry, consider through the windows the things, the men the women... I wonder if one day a bullet from the enemy will leave you stained with my blood and then you will die with me, or one day not quite so dramatic but simple, you will fall ill, clothes, with me, grow old with me, with my body and together we will enter the earth. Because of this each day I greet you with reverence and then you embrace me and I forget you, because we are one, and we will go on facing the wind, in the night, the streets or the fight, a single body, one day, one day, some day, still. -- from "Ode to Clothes", by Pablo Neruda
  • Little Foot by Stuart Dischell Under the bed I found your old sock Like a bird peeking out The sleeve of my shirt. I plucked it up. So sad, little foot, Now it's in the pocket Of my coat for luck. Later in the earth I'll feed its nest, Worms a plenty
  • Thief! Thief! Baggins! BlueHorse!
  • Bent under burdens which sometimes can be seen and sometimes can't, they trudge through mud or desert sands, hunched, hungry, silent men in heavy jackets, dressed for all four seasons, and women with crumpled faces, clutching something -- a child, the family lamp, the last loaf of bread? ... There's always a wagon or at least a wheelbarrow full of treasures (a quilt, a silver cup, the fading scent of home), a car out of gas marooned in a ditch, a horse (soon left behind), snow, a lot of snow, too much snow, too much sun, too much rain, and always that special slouch as if leaning toward another, better planet, with less ambituois generals, less snow, less wind, fewer cannons, less History (alas, there's no such planet, just that slouch). Shuffling their feet, they move slowly, very slowly, toward the country of nowhere, and the city of no one on the river of never. --Adam Zagajewsji, from "Refugees"
  • = Adam Zagajewsji
  • Ach! = Zagajewski
  • my jaw hurts just trying to think how to say that
  • cold rain -- in wet corners frogs riff
  • cold wet in frogs corners rain riff
  • To My Cat with an Eating Disorder Alice N. Persons You were thrown out of a moving vehicle on a dirt road in chilly winder downeast Maine, little fur scrap, and I hope you don't carry that memory with you, but the hunger, the deep fear that you'll never see food again is still there five years later when you are huge and sleek, a sumo Buddha of a cat. I've seen you, after a big meal, heave yourself from a sound sleep, pad into the kitchen, launch your bulk onto the counter, and check the food supply, then crouch there chewing and chewing, green eyes empty, concentrating on your burden, your compulsion, doggedly eating, whether you want to or not. There are stories about Holocaust or Depression survivors whose refrigerators and pantries are always full, just in case, how some of them still wake in the night and check their abundant supplies, run their hands over the packages, or eat without hunger, just because they can. Cat, I stand in the dark kitchen stroking your broad back, wishing I could banish the fears of one small, common creature, those bad dreams that awaken you, that hollow place in your memory which can never be filled.
  • ...and Lorca glides in from the porch shadows, not a drop of rain on him, not on his face, nor his delicate hands. He leaves no mud prints as he walks into our living room and sits on our worn chintz sofa. "What news have you of my father?" my father asks the poet. Lorca looks around, then lights a cigarillo; the incandescence of the match flame lights up his eyes. He exhales, then says, "He died thrown from his horse." "True," my father says and runs into another room. I approach slowly, driven by the smell of brilliantine on the poet's combed hair. "Tell me abouyt the duende, Senor Lorca." He smiles and aims a puff of smoke at me -- it makes my eyes water. "You think you have it, Nino?" he asks. "I don't know," I say. I need the trembling of this moment, then silence...."If you ever leave this forsaken country," he adds, "you will neither sing nor play music. But the duende will haunt you, like this memory of me, sitting here. Twenty-five years from today, you will live in Tallahasee, Florida, and it too will be raining. I will knock on your door, you will let me in, and I will come and sit on your couch. You will ask me what news have I of your father, and I will say: 'He is where you last left him, on a hospital bes, dead of a massive coronary.' You will say 'how useless'. I will say: 'Aprende, the guitars are weeping, hear them?' We will sit in silence and listen to the rain pour down on the earth. Poet in crinoline, you come from remote regions of sorrow and return to the labyrinth: love, crystal, stone, you vanish down the rivers of the earth to the sea. --from "Duende" by Virgil Suarez
  • leaving on a ten day trip I get back in bed for the warmth & to feel your leg against mine when the time comes how will I ever leave this world at once & without looking back? -- Diane di Prima, "Travel Song"
  • Day's End Oxen and sheep were brought back down Long ago, and bramble gates closed. Over Mountains and rivers, far from my old garden, A windswept moon rises into clear night. Springs trickle down dark cliffs, and autumn Dew fills ridgeline grasses. My hair seems Whiter in lamplight. The flame flickers Good fortune over and over -- and for what? Tu Fu
  • There it was, word for word, The poem that took the place of a mountain. He breathed in oxygen, Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table. It reminded him how he had needed A place to go to in his own direction, How he had recomposed the pines, Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds, For the outlook that would be right, Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion: The exact rock where his inexactness, Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged, Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea, Recognize his unique and solitary home. -- Wallace Stevens, "The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain"
  • Ah, yes, Wally taking a break from statistics. What an amazing man.
  • The Poetry Police Garth Madsen I've oxymoroned again. I hope no one has noticed. But sirens soar. It's the POETRY POLICE. Nervous, I attempt irony. They take my license and slam me against the wall. They raise their eyebrows at my spondees sneer at my anaphora check the tread on my alliteration "This metaphor isn't roadworthy," they tell me. "Too obscure." they caution me on the similes. All cliches, they say I should be grateful it's only a fine. They missed the tautology on the seventh line
  • That's great, BlueHorse, and a new one to me. thanks. To look at any thing, If you would know that thing, You must look at it long; To look look at this green and say, 'I have seen spring in these Woods," will not do -- you must Be the thing you see: You must be the dark snakes of Stems and ferny plumes of leaves, You must enter in To the snall silences between The leaves, You must take your time And touch the very peacce They issue from. -- Hohn Moffitt, "To Look at Any Thing"
  • Gentle Reader Late in the night when I should be asleep under the city stars in a small room I read a poet. A poet: not a versifier. Not a hot-shot ethic-monger, laying about him; not a diary of lying about in cruel cruel beds, crying. A poet, dangerous and steep. O God, it peels me, juices me like a press; this poetry drinks me, eats me, guts and marrow until I exist in jester's sorrow, until my juices feed a savage sight that runs along the lines, bright as beasts' eyes. The rubble splays to dust: city, book, bed, leaving my ear's lust saying like Molly, yes, yes, yes, O yes. -- Josephine Jacobsen
  • The Eclipse I stood out in the open cold To see the essence of the eclipse Which was its perfect darkness. I stood in the cold on the porch And could not think of anything so perfect As mans hope of light in the face of darkness. -- Richard Eberhart (1904-2005, RIP)
  • Turtle Kay Ryan Who would be a turtle who could help it? A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet, She can ill afford the chances she must take In rowing toward the grasses that she eats. Her track is graceless, like dragging A packing-case places, and almost any slope Defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical, She's often stuck up to the axle on her way To something edible. With everything optimal, She skirts the ditch which would convert Her shell into a serving dish. She lives Below luck-level, never imagining some lottery Will change her load of pottery to wings. Her only levity is patience, The sport of truly chastened things.
  • Snow Fence The red fence takes the cold trail north; no meat on its ribs, but neither has it much to carry. -- Ted Kooser
  • Errata Where it says snow read teeth-marks of a virgin Where it says knife read you passed through my bones like a police whistle Where it says table read horse Where it says horse read my migrant's bundle Apples are to remain apples Each time a hat appears think of Isaac Newton reading the Old Testament Remove all periods They are scars made by words I couldn't bring myself to say Put a finger over each sunrise it will blind you otherwise That damn ant is still stirring Will there be time left to list all errors to replace all hands guns owls plates all cigars ponds woods and reach that beer-bottle my greatest mistake the word I allowed to be written when I should have shouted her name -- Charles Simic
  • Lisel Mueller Not only the Eskimos We have only one noun but as many different kinds: the grainy snow of the Puritans and snow of soft, fat flakes, guerrilla snow, which comes in the night and changes the world by morning, rabbinical snow, a permanent skullcap on the highest mountains, snow that blows in like the Lone Ranger, riding hard from out of the West, surreal snow in the Dakotas, when you can't find your house, your street, though you are not in a dream or a science-fiction movie, snow that tastes good to the sun when it licks black tree limbs, leaving us only one white stripe, a replica of a skunk, unbelievable snows: the blizzard that strikes on the tenth of April, the false snow before Indian summer, the Big Snow on Mozart's birthday, when Chicago became the Elysian Fields and strangers spoke to each other, paper snow, cut and taped, to the inside of grade-school windows, in an old tale, the snow that covers a nest of strawberries, small hearts, ripe and sweet, the special snow that goes with Christmas, whether it falls or not, the Russian snow we remember along with the warmth and smell of furs, though we have never traveled to Russia or worn furs, Villon's snows of yesteryear, lost with ladies gone out like matches, the snow in Joyce's "The Dead," the silent, secret snow in a story by Conrad Aiken, which is the snow of first love, the snowfall between the child and the spacewoman on TV, snow as idea of whiteness, as in snowdrop, snow goose, snowball bush, the snow that puts stars in your hair, and your hair, which has turned to snow, the snow Elinor Wylie walked in in velvet shoes, the snow before her footprints and the snow after, the snow in the back of our heads, whiter than white, which has to do with childhood again each year.
  • Tattoo What once was meant to be a statement— a dripping dagger held in the fist of a shuddering heart—is now just a bruise on a bony old shoulder, the spot where vanity once punched him hard and the ache lingered on. He looks like someone you had to reckon with, strong as a stallion, fast and ornery, but on this chilly morning, as he walks between the tables at a yard sale with the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt rolled up to show us who he was, he is only another old man, picking up broken tools and putting them back, his heart gone soft and blue with stories. Ted Kooser from Delights & Shadows, Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA 2004
  • A Voice They mutilate, they torment each other with silences with words as if they had another life to live they do so as if they had forgotten that their bodies are inclined to death that the insides of men easily break down ruthless with other they are weaker than plants and animals they can be killed by a word by a smile by a look --Tadeusz Rozewicz
  • A.R. Ammons Shit List; Or, Omnium-gatherum Of Diversity Into Unity You'll rejoice at how many kinds of shit there are: gosling shit (which J. Williams said something was as green as), fish shit (the generality), trout shit, rainbow trout shit (for the nice), mullet shit, sand dab shit, casual sloth shit, elephant shit (awesome as process or payload), wildebeest shit, horse shit (a favorite), caterpillar shit (so many dark kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros shit, splashy jaybird shit, mockingbird shit (dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin shit that oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts, chicken shit and chicken mite shit, pelican shit, gannet shit (wholesome guano), fly shit (periodic), cockatoo shit, dog shit (past catalog or assimilation), cricket shit, elk (high plains) shit, and tiny scribbled little shrew shit, whale shit (what a sight, deep assumption), mandril shit (blazing blast off), weasel shit (wiles' waste), gazelle shit, magpie shit (total protein), tiger shit (too acid to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray shit, eerie shark shit, earthworm shit (a soilure), crab shit, wolf shit upon the germicidal ice, snake shit, giraffe shit that accelerates, secretary bird shit, turtle shit suspension invites, remora shit slightly in advance of the shark shit, hornet shit (difficult to assess), camel shit that slaps the ghastly dry siliceous, frog shit, beetle shit, bat shit (the marmoreal), contemptible cat shit, penguin shit, hermit crab shit, prairie hen shit, cougar shit, eagle shit (high totem stuff), buffalo shit (hardly less lofty), otter shit, beaver shit (from the animal of alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down cloaca—macaw shit, alligator shit (that floats the Nile along), louse shit, macaque, koala, and coati shit, antelope shit, chuck-will's-widow shit, alpaca shit (very high stuff), gooney bird shit, chigger shit, bull shit (the classic), caribou shit, rasbora, python, and razorbill shit, scorpion shit, man shit, laswing fly larva shit, chipmunk shit, other-worldly wallaby shit, gopher shit (or broke), platypus shit, aardvark shit, spider shit, kangaroo and peccary shit, guanaco shit, dolphin shit, aphid shit, baboon shit (that leopards induce), albatross shit, red-headed woodpecker (nine inches long) shit, tern shit, hedgehog shit, panda shit, seahorse shit, and the shit of the wasteful gallinule.
  • Topography After we flew across the country we got into bed, laid our bodies delicately together, like maps laid face to face, East to West, my San Francisco against your New York, your Fire Island against my Sonoma, my New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas burning against your Kansas your Kansas burning against my Kansas, your Eastern Standard Time pressing into my Pacific Time, my Mountain Time beating against your Central Time, your sun rising swiftly from the right my sun rising swiftly from the left your moon rising slowly from the left my moon rising slowly from the right until all four bodies of the sky burn above us, sealing us together, all our cities twin cities, all our states united, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. - Sharon Olds
  • This This that lies heavy and weighs down, that aches like ache and burns like a slap in the face, is a stone or an anchor. --Adam Zagajewski
  • Marianne Moore He Digesteth Harde Yron though the aepyornis or roc that lived in Madagascar, and the moa are extinct, the camel-sparrow, linked with them in size--the large sparrow Xenophon saw walking by a stream--was and is a symbol of justice. This bird watches his chicks with a maternal concentration-and he's been mothering the eggs at night six weeks--his legs their only weapon of defense. He is swifter than a horse; he has a foot hard as a hoof; the leopard is not more suspicious.How could he, prized for plumes and eggs and young used even as a riding-beast, respect men hiding actor-like in ostrich skins, with the right hand making the neck move as if alive and from a bag the left hand strewing grain, that ostriches might be decoyed and killed!Yes, this is he whose plume was anciently the plume of justice; he whose comic duckling head on its great neck revolves with compass-needle nervousness when he stands guard, in S-like foragings as he is preening the down on his leaden-skinned back. The egg piously shown as Leda's very own from which Castor and Pollux hatched, was an ostrich-egg.And what could have been more fit for the Chinese lawn it grazed on as a gift to an emperor who admired strange birds, than this one, who builds his mud-made nest in dust yet will wade in lake or sea till only the head shows. . . . . . . . Six hundred ostrich-brains served at one banquet, the ostrich-plume-tipped tent and desert spear, jewel- gorgeous ugly egg-shell goblets, eight pairs of ostriches in harness, dramatize a meaning always missed by the externalist. The power of the visible is the invisible; as even where no tree of freedom grows, so-called brute courage knows. Heroism is exhausting, yet it contradicts a greed that did not wisely spare the harmless solitaire or great auk in its grandeur; unsolicitude having swallowed up all giant birds but an alert gargantuan little-winged, magnificently speedy running-bird. This one remaining rebel is the sparrow-camel.
  • Keeping Things Whole In a field I am the absence of field. This is always the case. Wherever I am I am what is missing. When I walk I part the air and always this air moves in to fill the spaces where my body's been. We all have reasons for moving. I move to keep things whole. --Mark Strand
  • Silly Birds Baby birds leave the nest so easily! But it's hard as hell to get the shell off a wise old tortoise. --Hung-Chih Cheng-chueh, trans Sam Hamill
  • ... Nothing has changed. The body shudders as it shuddered before the founding of Rome and after, in the twentieth century before and after Christ. Tortures are as they were, it's just the earth that's grown smaller, and whatever happens seems right on the other side of the wall. Nothing has changed,, it's just that there are more people, besides the old offenses new ones have appeared, real, imaginary, temporary, and none, but the howl with which the body responds to them, was, is, and ever will be a howl of innocence aaccordsing to the time-honored scale and tonality. Nothing has changed. Maybe just the manners, ceremonials, dances. Yet the movement of the hands in protecting the head is the same. The body writhes, jerks, and tries to get away, its legs give out, it falls, the knees fly up, it turns blue, swells, salivates and bleeda. Nothing has changed. Except for thr course of boundaries, the line of forests, coasts, deserts and glaciers. Amid these landscapes traipses the soul, disappears, comes back, draws nearer, moves away, alien to itself, elusive, at times certain, at othet times uncertain of its own existence, while the body is and is and is and has no place of tis own. --Wislawa Szymborska, from "Tortures"
  • 36 Hours 36 hours in the mystery chair 36 hours in the quizzical glare of the naked lights and the visible hardware Another bloke is leaving in a wheelchair no joke, here comes the punchline lights out... sack time Steel shoes on the stone cold floor I hear the screws screaming in the corridor the bad news and the slammin' of the door the "what did I do's" and the "what am I here for's" shades of doubt fall deeper than the slag mine lights out... sack time Hard cheese and a chest complaint one man sneezes, another two faint sufferin' Jesus, this ain't my venue The man through the mesh says it's time to crash the creeping flesh of a nervous rash the last man to make a dash is on the menu Here's the boss with a mouthful of emeralds a Maltese cross and a pocket full of chemicals Jack Frost snappin' at the genitals wash my cosh it's a visit from the general rule out sub section nine lights out... sack time The killer gorilla with the perspex hat says I say so... and that's that take out the dog bring back the cat scrape out the cafeteria rats stab the rabbit feed the swine lights out... sack time Time flies ... slides down the wall part of me dies under my overalls I close my eyes and a woman calls from a nightmare The chronic breath of the dead collides with a rattle of the waste disposal slides no flowers for the man who dies in the bombscare he's in the frigidaire Freezing in these paper jeans standing stiff in a dead man's dream tobacco barons and the closet queen walk on the walls... wank in the beans shave... shit... a shower and a shoe shine that's it... sack time everybody looks like Ernest Borgnine That's it 36 hours on the battery farm a blindfold and a broken arm I got the cold shoulder sleepin' in the barn whose barn... what barn... their barn the old soldier and his old-world charm lift that weight, drag that woodbine lights out mate sackarooni time lights out... sack time John Cooper Clarke
  • The Mower The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found A hedgehog jammed up against the blades, Killed. It has been in the long grass. I had seen it before, and even fed it, once. Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world Unmendably. Burial was no help. Next morning I got up and it did not. The first day after a death, the new absence Is always the same; we should be careful Of each other, we should be kind While there is still time. --Philip Larkin
  • Be careful of words, even the miraculous ones. For the miraculous we do our best, sometimes they swarm like insects and leave not a sting but a kiss. They can be as good as fingers. They can be as trusty as the rock you stick your bottom on. But they can be both daisies and brusises. Yet I am in love with words. They are doves falling out of the ceiling.... Yet often they fail me. I have so much I want to say, so many stories, images, proverbs, etc. But the words aren't good enough. The wrong ones kiss me. Sometimes I fly like an eagle, but with the wings of a wren. But I try to take care and be gentle to them. Words and eggs must be handled with care. Once broken they are impossible things to repair. --Anne Sexton, from "Words"
  • Memories of Horses The lines in the hands of old people gradually curve over and will point soon toward earth. They take with them their secret language, cloud-words and wind-letters, all the signs the heart gathers up in the lean year. Sorrow bleaches out and turns to face the stars but memories of horses, women's feet, children flow from their old people's faces down to the grass kingdom. In huge trees we can often see images of the peace in the sides of animals, and the wind sketches in the grass, if you are happy, running children and horses. -- Rolf Jacobsen, trans. Robert Bly
  • We Are Many Of the many men whom I am, whom we are, I cannot settle on a single one. They are lost to me under the cover of clothing. They have departed for another city. When everything seems to be set to show me off as a man of intelligence, the fool I keep concealed in my person takes over my talk and occupies my mouth. On other occasions, I am dozing in the midst of people of some distinction, and when I summon my courageous self, a coward completely unknown to me swaddles my poor skeleton in a thousand tiny reservations. When a stately home bursts into flames, instead of the fireman I summon, an arsonist bursts on the scene, and he is I. There is nothing I can do. What must I do to single out myself? How can I put myself together? All the books I read lionize dazzling hero figures, always brimming with self-assurance. I die with envy of them; and in films where bullets fly on the wind, I am left in envy of the cowboys, left admiring even the horses. But when I call upon my dashing being, out comes the same old lazy self, and so I never know just who I am, nor how many I am, nor who we will be being. I would like to be able to touch a bell, and call up my real self, the truly me, because if really need my proper self, I must not allow myself to disappear. While I am writing, I am far away; and when I come back, I have already left. I should like to see if the same thing happens to other people as it does to me, to see if as many people are as I am, and if they seem the same way to themselves. When this problem has been thoroughly explored, I am going to school myself so well in things that, when I try to explain my problems, I shall speak, not of self, but of geography. -- Pablo Neruda, trans Alastair Reid
  • That Neruda got it penned right.
  • He sure did. Thank you, bees.
  • The Wrong Way Home by James Tate All night a door floated down the river. It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure from its former life, like the time the lovers leaned against it kissing for hours and whispering those famous words. Later, there were harsh words and a shoe was thrown and the door was slammed. Comings and goings by the thousands, the early mornings and late nights, years, years. O they've got big plans, they'll make a bundle. The door was an island that swayed in its sleep. The moon turned the doorknob just slightly, burned its fingers and ran, and still the door said nothing and slept. At least that's what they like to say, the little fishes and so on. Far away, a bell rang, and then a shot was fired.
  • A timely poem, StoryBored.
  • Epithalamion/Wedding Dawn For Nicholas and Elena Happy the man who is thirsty. And the moths, pilgrims to our screens. The father stands waist-deep in the water, waiting. Happy the man waiting. Who is not alone? Who does not slepp in the dark house of himself, without music? The world, a collapsed fire, shows only its smoke, and the smoke hides its hills, hides, too, the places where we are sleeping, the hand opened, the hand closed. Fragments, the lovers lie. And the question, saying: Who is broken? No one is broken, but the living are sleeping, like animals, like the dead. Tree dreams of the man he was, who walked by the shore, who followed the hill upward, who dragged his roots through the universe, who lay down to suffer there, and, loving the earth, left it exhausted, returned to it renewed. But the house is dark. The sky at such time has no light. Even the lines in the hand are a little desert without name, and silent. 2 Friends, in the hours before dawn, the day of your wedding. What will I tell you then? The solitude's thorn breaks into bloom now? I think it is so. I think that if we are scarred, light heals us now. We can be heard, making our difficult music. And for this the sun drags irself up from the dark parts of the world, again, again. The windows take on the peculiar fire of the living. The dog hoots like a wood-pigeon, he has his morning. 3 You must not be angry with this planet. For we are in a company whose music surpasses its pain. For I tell you, I sit in the dark, also, and the wedding light came onto my window, and the hills were cleared for me, and the field spread out in front of me, remarkable, like marble. And I thought, this is their day, how it breaks for them! O sir, the angel flies, even with bruises, O lady, a bird can wash himself anywhere. The dawn that came up the day of your wedding took me in its hand like the creature that I am; and I heard the dark that I came from whispering, "Be silent." And the dawn said, "Sing." And I found the best words I could find around me and came to your wedding. -- Micheal Dennis Browne
  • You will hear thunder and remember me You will hear thunder and remember me And think: she wanted storm. The rim Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson, And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire. That day in Mosacow, it will all come true, When, for the last time, I take my leave, And hasten to the heights that I have longed for, Leaving my shodow still to be with you. --Anna Akmatova, translator unknown
  • Northern Lights We watched the islands from the waterfront as though they held a clue to what was next. The wind built up in gusts to match our hearts and blew the cafe chairs into the water. Police in boats fished out the furniture with poles, making us laugh amid the chuckles rolled through us like the whale's back rolls through water, like the islands stretch through the north seas. I have stolen some of the light which drenches you this midnight to wish you all the islands in the world and every one a different kind of peace. -- Jo Shapcott
  • amid = until
  • "What Happened When Bobby Jack Cockrum Tried To Bring Home A Pit Bulldog or What His Daddy Said To Him that Day" by David Lee Son let me tell you the story of the man who saved a baby grizzly bear from a forest fire and brought it home nursed it fed it kept it like his own And how the last thing that man ever learned on earth when it grown up and he tried to keep it out of the hog pen one morning was the lesson of what a grizzly bear is at last And it had a final exam he couldn't help but pass
  • The Blue Bowl Jane Kenyon Like primitives we buried the cat with his bowl. Bare-handed we scraped sand and gravel back into the hole. They fell with a hiss and thud on his side, on his long red fur, the white feathers between his toes, and his long, not to say aquiline, nose. We stood and brushed each other off. There are sorrows keener than these. Silent the rest of the day, we worked, ate, stared, and slept. It stormed all night; now it clears, and a robin burbles from a dripping bush like the neighbor who means well but always says the wrong thing
  • The lone wild goose doesn't peck or drink just flies and cries out, seeking its flock. Who cares for this tiny piece of shadow lost in ten thousand layered clouds? Does he see them where vision ends? Does he hear them through his deep sorrow? The wild ravens have no feelings. They just caw raucoudsly, flapping, flapping. -- Du Fu, "A Lone Goose", trans unknown
  • Hey Bluey, here at last is a poem I thought of about horses for you and reflects my knowledge of same. *clears throat* This is a poem about the horse It is very short of course.
  • *clasps hands, shreaks, jumps up and down, hugs monitor* wOw! For me, StoryBored, thank you! And it rhymes, too! *intends to chant poem over and over in high little voice to drive non-horsie people in her life mad*
  • *blush* Wow this poetry is easy *furrows brow* *begins epic work on bees*
  • Out of Shot and Höfn "From A Shiver by Seamus Heaney, [to be] published by Clutag Press in a limited edition of 300 copies."
  • Charles Bukowski poetry readings poetry readings have to be some of the saddest damned things ever, the gathering of the clansmen and clanladies, week after week, month after month, year after year, getting old together, reading on to tiny gatherings, still hoping their genius will be discovered, making tapes together, discs together, sweating for applause they read basically to and for each other, they can't find a New York publisher or one within miles, but they read on and on in the poetry holes of America, never daunted, never considering the possibility that their talent might be thin, almost invisible, they read on and on before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands, their wives, their friends, the other poets and the handful of idiots who have wandered in from nowhere. I am ashamed for them, I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other, I am ashamed for their lisping egos, their lack of guts. if these are our creators, please, please give me something else: a drunken plumber at a bowling alley, a prelim boy in a four rounder, a jock guiding his horse through along the rail, a bartender on last call, a waitress pouring me a coffee, a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway, a dog munching a dry bone, an elephant's fart in a circus tent, a 6 p.m. freeway crush, the mailman telling a dirty joke anything anything but these.
  • Watched a recorded Bukowski reading at the Ridge Theatre, Vancouver that took place at the Western Front (also Vancouver) in 1976. Amazing. The old school audience (on film) was retarded. The Bluebird is my favorite.
  • let us roister with the oyster! stop your yawning! nibble me! just be claws to grip me nip me as we cling beneath the sea o scuttle low and bring me sing me past the depths to heights with thee
  • bees are an insect that can often make honey unless they bumble
  • Playin' Bees Some bees are more equal (to the task) than others. An acute bee is less than a right bee. But an obtuse bee is greater than a right bee. One beeline can connect any two bees. Any two bees that equal a right bee are complimentary. Any two bees that fail to equal a right bee are damnably rude. Two bee or not two bee is always in question. Bees flying in parallel beelines will never arrive at the same hive. Never, ever.
  • "Breaking the silence Of an ancient pond, A frog jumped into water — A deep resonance." -Basho I used to have that one on the wall in perfect view for whenever I had to sit on the pot, it was so apropos.
  • InsolentChimp, my impression at this point is that you are hostile and/or embittered. And no wonder if this remarkably execrable translation is the best you have of Basho's work. Reading something this bad with any frequency can have a deleterious effect on even the best and wittiest. I suggest ye cast the thing away before it does further harm to your aesthetic sensibility.
  • hehehe. 1b From moon wreathed bamboo grove, cuckoo song. 2b Summer grasses all that remains of soldiers dreams. 3b Not one traveller braves this road - autumn night. 4b Clouds - a chance to dodge moonviewing. 5b Orchid breathing incense into butterfly wings. 6b Spring - through morning mist what mountains there? 7b Autumns end how does my neighbour live? 8b Old pond leap - splash a frog.
  • Facing Snow Battles, sobbing, many new ghosts. Just an old man, I sadly chant poems. Into the thin evening, wild clouds dip. On swirling wind, fast dancing snow. A ladle idles by a drained cask of green wine. Last embers redden in ther empty stove. No news, the provinces are cut off. With one finger I write in the air, sorrow. -- Du Fu
  • Letter From A Reader Too much about death, too many shadows. Write about life, an average day, the yearning for order. Take the school bell as your model of moderation, even scholarship. Too much death, too much dark radiance. Take a look, crowds packed in cramped stadiums sing hymns of hatred. Too much music, too little harmony, peace, reason. Write about those moments whwn friendship's footbridges seem more enduring than despair. Write about love, long evenings, the dawn, the trees, about the endless patience of the light. -- Adam Zagajewski
  • Oh Earth, Wait for Me Return me, oh sun, to my wild destiny, rain of the ancient wood, bring me back the aroma and the swords that fall from the sky, the solitary peace of pasture and rock, the damp in the river margins, the smell of the birch tree, the wind alive like a heart beating in the crowded restlessness of towering araucaria. Earth, give me back your gifts, the towers of silence which rose from the solemnity of their roots. I want to go back to being what I have not been, and learn to go back from such deeps that amongst all natural things I could live or not live; it does not matter to be one stone more, the dark stone, the pure stone which the river bears away. -- Pablo Neruda
  • And no wonder if this remarkably execrable translation is the best you have of Basho's work. Reading something this bad with any frequency can have a deleterious effect on even the best and wittiest. I suggest ye cast the thing away before it does further harm to your aesthetic sensibility. Naw, bees, it was just a long gone poop joke. I hate reading translations, especially of poetry, but my meagre skills in languages other than English prevent me from that. I get frustrated with reading things such as Rilke and Basho that I have to read several translations along with commentary on the languages and culture in order to get the gist of it. Mishima, Saramago et al are hard to accept for their own aesthetic when I read the translations. May as well have fun with it. But just so you know, I didn't credit it to Basho when I hung it on the wall of the poo factory. dirty old business if you have to flush it twice use the aerosol
  • I am relieved, InsolentChimp! ;] On a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes 'Twas on a lofty vase's side, Where China's gayest art had dyed The azure flowers that blow; Demurest of the tabby kind, The pensive Selina, reclined, Gazed in the lake below. Her conscious tail her joy declared: The fair round face, the snowy beard, The velvet of her paws, Her coat that with the tortoise vies, Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes; She saw, and purr'd applause. Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide Two angel forms were seen to glide, The Genii of the stream: Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue Through richest purple, to the view Betray'd a golden gleam. The hapless Nymph with wonder saw: A whisker first, and then a claw, With many an ardent wish, She stretch'd, in vain, to reach the prize. What female heart can gold despise? What Cat's averse to fish? Presumptuous maid! with looks intent Again she stretch'd, again she bent, Nor knew the gulf between: (Malignant Fate sat by and smiled). The slippery verge her feet beguiled, Shw tumbled headlong in! Eight times emerging from the flood She mew'd to every watery god Some speedy aid to send. No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd: Nor cruel Tom nor Susan heard. A favourite has no friend! From hence, ye Beauties, undeceived, Know one false step is ne'er retrieved, And be with caution bold. Not all that tempts your wandering eyes And heedless hearts, is lawful prize; Nor all that glisters, gold.
  • The Winter Palace Most people know more as they get older: I give all that the cold shoulder. I spent my second quarter-century Losing what I had at university And refusing to take in what had happened since. Now I know none of the names in the public prints, And am starting to give offense by forgetting faces And swearing I've never been in certain places. It will be worth it, if in the end I manage To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage. Then there will be nothing I know. My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow. -- Philip Larkin
  • Fairy Tales You believed in your own story, then climbed inside it -- A turquoise flower. You gazed past ailing trees, past crumbling walls and rusty railings. Your least gesture beckoned a constellation of wild vetch, grasshoppers, and stars to sweep you into immaculate distances. The heart may be tiny but the world's enormous. And the people in turn believe -- in pine trees after rain, ten thousand tiny suns, a mulberry branch bent over water like a fishing-rod, a cloud tangled in the tail of a kite. Shaking off dust, in silver voices ten thousand memories sing from your dream. The world may be tiny but the heart's enormous. -- Shu Ting, trans Donald Finkel
  • Seven-Sided Poem When I was born, one of the crooked angels who live in shadow, said: Carlos, go on! Be gauche in life. The houses watch the men, Men who run after women. If the afternoons had been blue, there might have been less desire. The trolley goes by full of legs: white legs, black legs, yellow legs. My God, why all the legs? my heart asks. But my eyes ask nothing at all. The man behind the moustache is serious, simple, and strong. He hardly ever speaks. He has a few, choice friends, the man behind the spectavles and the moustache. My God, why hast Thou forsaken me if Thou knew'st I was not God, if Thou knew'st that I was weak? Universe, vast universe, if I had been named Eugene that would not be what I mean but it would go into verse faster. Universe, vast universe, my heart is vaster. I oughtn't to tell you, but this moon and this brandy play the devil with one's emotions. -- Carlos Drummond de Andrade, trams Elizabeth Bishop
  • Stone and Light The stone doesn't repel the light, The stone doesn't absorb the light. On the stone sits a deerfly, The light is radiant in its downy hair. The light just now arrived on earth. -- Shuntaro Tanikawa, trans Harold Wright
  • The Discarded Horse Hitoshi Anzai What on earth is it, going from where to where, that is passing around through here I wonder? The same as a wounded god, a single abandoned military horse. Shining more than death, alone more than liberty, and at the same time like peacefulness without a helper, is the field of snow where he temporarily wanders about with hardly his own lean shadow to feed on. Presently one cry is neighed-out toward the distance and collapsing from the knees he has tumbled down. The Asian snow, the heavenly evening!
  • Fingers probe The desert of a face Diviners Tear detectors Below the surface They plough their furrows Their hives Their palaces Passions dissolve there Rages also Nothing glistens Under the arcadea No trade On the docks Without a harbour A single Boat Heads out to sea -- Claire Malroux, "Fingers probe", trans Marilyn Hacker
  • The contemporary tendency in poetry is to eschew repetition, but poetry would be poorer without it. Here, timely changes, from a Victorian's standpoint: Ring Out, Wild Bells Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky The flying cloud, the frosty light; The year is dying in the night, Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go, Ring out the false, ring in the true. Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more, Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind. Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the noblest modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws. Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the times, Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in. Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good. Ring out the old shapes of foul disease, Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace. Ring in the valiant man and free, The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be. -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • White Towels I have been studying the difference between solitude and loneliness, telling the story of my life to the clean white towels taken warm from the dryer. I carry them through the house as though they were my children asleep in my arms. -- Richard Jones
  • Immigrant Talk with Picture Ripped from Porno Magazine It's Sunday, Mary Lou, most terrible day of the week when even empty bottles look happy keeping company with the spiders under my bed. They know nothing about my loneliness shaped by wet pillows and crumpled sheets, nothing about the emptiness that attacks me while watching night programs on TV with one hand on a lottery ticket and another on the glass. It's Sunday, Mary Lou, and I'm already tired talking with ancestors hidden in the basket of my dirty work clothes. She's fake, they tell me every time I kiss your photo. As if I don't know it. Your long blond hair is not the same color as your pubic bush which obediently lies under somebody's hand. Like a lamb. And your big breasts don't seem like the place where some baby can get some sleep with a drop of milk between its lips. Even your phone number printed at the bottom of your widely spread legs is a fake. Or belongs to someone I didn't need to call. My neighbor's wife, the house next to mine, seems happy walking with her kids on Sunday evening --she can be seen in the red light district every night. Even the tiny woman next door, holding hands with her boyfriend who just got out of jail says "Hello" on Sunday. And I pretend not to know she's wearing a big hat just to cover the dark bruises under her eyes. Even my landlady's dog, fifth in the last year, walks lamely before licking my hand. On Sunday. But my ancestors don't want to see that scene and dive into the pockets of my work clothes. It's Sunday, Mary Lou, lonely Sunday when life seems different and my loneliness has the shape of an empty bottle keeping company with spiders and crumpled lottery tickets under my bed. It's Sunday, Mary Lou, and nobody sees the moment when I put your photo back in my wallet to keep company with the picture of my darling who once promised to wait for me until I come back. Nobody can see my pale eyes watching two pale photos not able to tell which one is my darling and which one is you, Mary Lou. It's Sunday. Loney Sunday. -Goran Simic
  • Requiem Today is the perfect day The sky just so clouds moving fast Drops of water on leaves of Russian sage Dog sitting her chin on crossed paws Light streams through branches of locust tree I sit just so at the small table ... Everything is perfect just like this you would have said -- Abigail Gramig
  • A Martian sends a Postcard home Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings and some are treasured for their markings - they cause the eyes to melt or the body to shriek without pain. I have never seen one fly, but sometimes they perch on the hand. Mist is when the sky is tired of flight and rests its soft machine on ground: then the world is dim and bookish like engravings under some tissue paper. Rain is when the earth is television. It has the property of making colours darker. Model T is a room with the lock inside - a key is turned to free the world For movement, so quick there is a film to watch for anything missed. But time is tied to the wrist or kept in a box, ticking with impatience. In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps, that snores when you pick it up. If the ghost cries, they carry it to their lips and soothe it to sleep with sounds. And yet, they wake it up deliberately, by tickling with a finger. Only the young are allowed to suffer openly. Adults go to a punishment room with water but nothing to eat. They lock the door and suffer the noises alone. No one is exempt and everyone's pain has a different smell. At night, when all the colours die, they hide in pairs and read about themselves - in colour, with their eyelids shut. -- Craig Raine
  • without a thought the neighbour's back yard turns green -- William J. Higginson
  • I meant to post this a few days ago, since it would have been more appropriate, but you know how it is... A propos of the Tennyson poem that bees posted above, it is a New Year's tradition in Sweden to broadcast a recital of a Swedish translation of "Ring out, wild bells" just before midnight strikes. No one is really sure how an English poem came to be such a symbol of Swedish-ness, but the translation, by Edvard Fredin, is so loose as to practically be a different poem - the wild bells have become just the one not-wild bell, for example, and the piece has a completely different meter. Also interestingly, as noted in this Wikipedia article (in Swedish), the turns of phrase that have the most resounding impact on the Swedish ear are creative embellishments on behalf of the translator... I have to admit that I like the translated version better than the original. The first couple of verses, re-translated un-poetically back into English, go like this: Ring, bell, ring in the grim new year's night to the northern lights in the sky and the ground's snow the old year lies down to die... Ring the death knell over land and water! Ring in the new and ring out the old in the year's first, trembling minute. Ring the power of lies out over the boundaries of the world and ring in the truth to us who fumble. (The Swedish version is also a bit of an excercise in proper recitation for anyone saying it out loud: get the pauses wrong in the first line and it sounds like you're saying "Doorbell ring" as opposed to "Ring, bell, ring", which has significantly less emotional resonance...)
  • Doorbell doth ring! Mothninja doth bring arctickled air through wintry long nights -- a welcome bell chimes these changing times, hope for a brighter year under cool northern lights!
  • (((! Doorbell doth ring! For the bees, and the spring breezes that blow -- a new day's begun! A welcome bell chimes these changing times, as hope starts to grow 'neath the warm southern sun.
  • The Loon on Oak-Head Pond cries for three days, in the gray mist. cries for the north it hopes it can find. plunges and comes up with a slapping pickerel blinks its red eye. cries again. you come every afternoon, and wait to hear it. you sit a long time, quiet, under the thick pines, in the silence that follows. as though it were your own twilight. as though it were your own vanishing song. -- Mary Oliver
  • Things There are worse things than having behaved foolishly in public. there are worse things than these miniature betrayals, committed or endured or suspected; there are worse things than not being able to sleep for thinking about them. It is 5 a.m. All the worse things come stalking in and stand icily about the bed looking worse and worse and worse. Fleur Adcock
  • Twp Monkeys By Brueghel I keep dreaming of my graduation exam: in a window sit two chained monkeys, beyond the window floats the sky, and the sea splashes. I am taking an exam on the history of mankind: I stammer and flounder. One monkey, eyes fixed upon me, listens ironically, the other seems to be dozing -- and when silence follows a question, he prompts me with a soft jingling of the chain. -- Wislawa Szymborska, trans Magnus Kryski
  • 211th Chorus (from Mexico City Blues) The wheel of the quivering meat conception Turns in the void expelling human beings, Pigs, turtles, frogs, insects, nits, Mice, lice, lizards, rats, roan Racinghorses, poxy bubolic pigtics, Horrible, unnameable lice of vultures, Murderous attacking dog-armies Of Africa, Rhinos roaming in the jungle, Vast boars and huge gigantic bull Elephants, rams, eagles, condors, Pones and Porcupines and Pills- All the endless conception of living beings Gnashing everywhere in Consciousness Throughout the ten directions of space Occupying all the quarters in & out, From super-microscopic no-bug To huge Galaxy Lightyear Bowell Illuminating the sky of one Mind- Poor! I wish I was free of that slaving meat wheel and safe in heaven dead -Jack Kerouac
  • I didn't know this before but the Big Dipper is a roller coaster. But I'm posting this mostly because it is a cool song and it has a hidden segue. Big Dipper Cigarette and carrot juice And get yourself a new tattoo for those sleeveless days of June I'm sitting on the Cafe Xeno's steps with a book I haven't started yet watching all the girls walk by Could I take you out I'll be yours without a doubt on that big dipper And if the sound of this it frightens you we could play it real cool and act somewhat indifferent And hey June why did you have to come, why did you have to come around so soon I wasn't ready for all this nature The terrible green green grass, and violent blooms of flowered dresses and afternoons that make me sleepy But we could wait awhile before we push that dull turnstile into the passage The thousands they had tread and others sometimes fled before the turn came And we could wait our lives before a chance arrives before the passage From the top you can see Monterey or think about San Jose though I know it's not that pleasant And hey Jim Kerouac brother of the famous Jack or so he likes to say "lucky bastard" He's sitting on the cafe Xeno's steps with a girl I'm not over yet watching all the world go by Boy you are looking bad Did I make you feel that sad I'm honestly flattered But if she asks me out I'll be hers without a doubt on that big dipper Cigarettes and carrot juice and get yourself a new tattoo for those sleeveless days of June I'm sitting on the cafe Xeno's steps I haven't got the courage yet, I haven't got the courage yet, I haven't got the courage yet -- Cracker
  • Seems this week is haunted by pones,InsolentChimp. ;]
  • Indigestible!
  • *eructates*
  • Telegraph Wires Take telegraph wires, a lonely moor, And fit them together. The thing comes alive in your ear. Towns whisper to towns over the heather. But the wires cannot hide from the weather. So oddly, so daintily made It is picked up and played. Such unearthly airs The ear hears, and withers! In the revolving ballroom of space Bowed over the moor, a bright face Draws out of telegraph wires the tones That empty human bones. Ted Hughes
  • The Railway Children When we climbed the slopes of the cutting We were eye-level with the white cups Of the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires. Like lovely freehand they curved for miles East and miles west beyond us, sagging Under their burden of swallows. We were small and thought we knew nothing Worth knowing. We thought words travelled the wires In the shiny pouches of raindrops, Each one seeded full with the light Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves So infinitesimally scaled We could stream through the eye of a needle. - Seamus Heaney
  • I Had Been Chained and Padlocked I had been chained and padlocked and snapped to the clothesline because I called my brother a son of a bitch. Then let's see how much you enjoy being one of my puppies, mother said, and by evening, when father came home from work, I was barking almost deliciously through the savage salt in my tears. Beneath the clothesline I had worn a path, having been tempted at either end by cars and cats and other dogs and curious children, one of whom I had bitten. Father tossed me a bone, said he'd see by Christ how long I could live in a doghouse before I changed my little tune. I hung on, and then some, inhaling the hair and the clusters and the bad breath of the dog that had sacrificed his home: until in the middle of the third night I called out to return. In front of Franklin's crib I swallowed a growl to say I'd never say it again. And I curled my fists that night like Franklin's, asleep in the bother and the wonder of a small skin. -William Kloefkorn
  • Writing on Not Writing I can feel my ship about to come in. A white ship in a snowstorm moving in. The ship is made of gulls huddled together in the shape of a ship. When it arrives, they will fly out into the storm, leaving a space inside it clear as reason. I can tell there's going to be a blizzard of being somewhere else any minute because of time's noise eating itself up that is the noise of listening that looks like a seething, florid whiteout of wings. -- Jack Myers
  • Where'd all these birds come from?
  • The Sex of Money You walk into the white field, squat between rows of frozen cabbages, almost happy he is gone. You spread the money all around you on the ground, remembering how it felt when he put it in your hands. -Susan Musgrave
  • JACK Maxine Kumin How pleasant the yellow butter melting on white kernels, the meniscus of red wine that coats the insides of our goblets where we sit with sturdy friends as old as we are after shucking the garden’s last Silver Queen and setting husks and stalks aside for the horses the last two of our lives, still noble to look upon: our first foal, now a bossy mare of 28 which calibrates to 84 in people years and my chestnut gelding, not exactly a youngster at 22. Every year, the end of summer lazy and golden, invites grief and regret: suddenly it’s 1980, winter batters us, winds strike like cruelty out of Dickens. Somehow we have seven horses for six stalls. One of them, a big-nosed roan gelding, calm as a president’s portrait lives in the rectangle that leads to the stalls. We call it the motel lobby. Wise old campaigner, he dunks his hay in the water bucket to soften it, then visits the others who hang their heads over their Dutch doors. Sometimes he sprawls out flat to nap in his commodious quarters. That spring, in the bustle of grooming and riding and shoeing, I remember I let him go to a neighbor I thought was a friend, and the following fall she sold him down the river. I meant to but never did go looking for him, to buy him back and now my old guilt is flooding this twilit table my guilt is ghosting the candles that pale us to skeletons the ones we must all become in an as yet unspecified order. Oh Jack, tethered in what rough stall alone did you remember that one good winter? Bees, surely you are familiar with Maxine Kumin's writing/driving?
  • Yes, she's another fine poet. Four white feet and a white nose; cut off his head and feed him to the crows. -- English traditional Detestable, and false, Figure some slackard of a stablehand came up with that one in the old days.
  • One white foot. buy him. Two white feet, try him. Three white feet, watch him as he goes. Four white feet, feed him to the crows. Although, my Bees, I do prefer a black-footed horse in solid bay or grey--prefer them without the chrome. And you and I must have a much-awaited chat about those Lusitanos
  • Read your version before, BlueHorse, but gave one I learned as a boy, which seems to have lost all the fine gradations. Bad news for American Saddlehorses, Clydesdales etc.
  • So curious as to why four white feet is considered bad?
  • Ah, StoryBored, 'tis because white feet are thought to be softer and to wear faster or to be more likely to throw a shoe. Additionally white feet are supposed to crumble, splay, or chip out more and to be more susceptable to thrush (hoof rot.) The old saying is No foot, No horse. IMHO, they do wear faster if you ride a barefooted horse, and if I have to have white feet on a horse, I'd prefer them on the rear. But a good foot is a good foot, and I've not had problems holding shoes on any white-footed horses that I've had.
  • Nor have I. Far as I can tell, the foot-thing is a crock, and the only reason for disdaining such lack of pigment is that, in an animal kept stabled in a box stall on dirty bedding or where peat moss was the bedding, stable-stains are much more obvious on white. In the old days, considerations such as this, where some owners were inclined to value appearance over performance, grey and roan were sometimes preferred since their already multi-cooured coats did not reveal sweat so dramatically, nor the salt flakes etc left in the coats of the ill-groomed. Black coats and darker solid coloirs were said to show sweat the most, but the fact is, it will surfacve on any coat-colour, and the interpretation is up to the individual as to which is what. Ye can still call up some hot discussions re some of these old-time notions in most any groups of the horse-addled.
  • That's neat! Thanks for filling me in youse guys. I've ridden three times in my life and enjoyed it. I should probably get back into it.
  • Bees is absolutely right. Get two horsepeople in a room, and you'll have three different arguments going. DON'T for the love of all that's holy, ever, EVER, attend a meeting of a horse club.
  • Here's one of Merwin's early ones: The River of Bees In a dream I returned to the river of bees Five orange trees by the bridge and Beside two mills my house Into whose courtyard a blind man followed The goats and stood singing Of what was older Soon it will be fifteen years He is old he will have fallen into his eyes I took my eyes A long way to the calendars Room after room asking how shall I live One of the ends is made of streets One man processions carry through it Empty bottles their Image of hope It was offered to me by name Once once and once In the same city I was born Asking what shall I say He will have fallen into his mouth Men think they are better than grass I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay He is old he is not real nothing is real Nor the noise of death drawing water We are the echo of the futire On the door it says what to do to survive But we were not born to survivce Only to live -- W.S. Merwin
  • The sensitive may wish to skip this one: Barn Fire It starts, somehow, in the hot damp and soon the hot bales throb in the hayloft. The tails of mice quake in the dust, the bins of grain, the mangers stuffed, with clover, the barrels of oats shivering individually in their pale husks -- animate and inanimate: they know with the first whiff in the dark. And we knew, or should have: that day the calendar refused its nail in the wall and the crab apples hurling themselves to the ground...Only moments and the flames like a blue fist curl all around the black. There is some small blazing from the calves and the cows' nostrils flare only once more, or twice; above the dead dry metal troughs....No more fat tongues worrying the salt licks, no more heady smells of deep green from silos rising now like huge twin chimneys above all this. With the lofts full there is no stopping nor even getting close: it will rage until dawn and beyond -- and the horses, because they know they are safe there, the horses run back into the barn. -- Thomas Luc
  • - Thomas Lus.
  • Thank you, Bees. What is it about horses especially that make images and metaphor surrounding them so exquisitely powerful? Barbed Wire Henry Taylor One summer afternoon when nothing much was happening, they were standing around a tractor beside the barn while a horse in the field poked his head between two strands of the barbed-wire fence to get at the grass along the lane, when it happened—something they passed around the wood stove late at night for years, but never could explain—someone may have dropped a wrench into the toolbox or made a sudden move, or merely thought what might happen if the horse got scared, and then he did get scared, jumped sideways and ran down the fence line, leaving chunks of his throat skin and hair on every barb for ten feet before he pulled free and ran a short way into the field, stopped and planted his hoofs wide apart like a sawhorse, hung his head down as if to watch his blood running out, almost as if he were about to speak to them, who almost thought he could regret that he no longer had the strength to stand, then shuddered to his knees, fell on his side, and gave up breathing while the dripping wire hummed like a bowstring in the splintered air. Bees, Taylor is another fantastic poet/rider as I'm sure you know. Who else is missing?
  • ! = Thomas Lux! this silly geezer... doesn't know where the keys are Certainly, in any consideration of poets, BlueHorse, I think it'd be easier to find, right up till the 1920s or so, poets who hadn't ridden/driven a horse. Only in the last century has that (?possibly) changed.
  • After all, Pegasus has a time-honoured affinity for poets.
  • There are no true cavaliers, bees?
  • In the spirit of the Communications Decency Act anniversary, I present Mr. Wilde: from The Ballad of Reading Gaol: V. ... Each narrow cell in which we dwell Is a foul and dark latrine, And the fetid breath of living Death Chokes up each grated screen, And all, but Lust, is turned to dust In Humanity's machine. ... -Oscar Wilde
  • Their sight grows dark. Their minds are bent. Some have too long in cubicles been pent.
  • Bees--for Bees Bees Moore Moran The hive whines in the oak above the pool, A rotted enclave yet a natural home For these small gatherers. First light, they ly, Some favoring alyssum, others mums, A few charmed by an open Pepsi can Left near a lawn chair by my tanning daughter. Toward noon, in quiet shallows, I see them Slowing, circling. freighted with heat and hoard; Some, visibly spent, totter to water's edge And tumble in, wings crying urgent signals— Two, three, at a time I fish them from Bright pulsing circles of would-be demise. They do me no harm for by now they know The clumsy hulk attending them is friendly; They wait to be redeemed, set on the deck, Dazed, upright and happy for another day. And yet they drop in numbers far too great To save them all. The dying, without further Protest, wait numb and motionless to pass Back into nature. Such is an aging fancy, Guileless enough to solemnize these passings. The bee man wants the hive; he plans at dusk To call on the queen—get her take on moving To solid, more considered royal turf.
  • That's one I haven't seen before, BlueHorse. All bees in truth are royalty -- the workers are all daughters of a queen, albeit sterile ones. And every drone's a prince. If I say so myself. ;]] /bees: terrible, conceited critters
  • **sees Bees with nose in air, scratches him under upraised chin**
  • *bee side himself*
  • A Gift of Great Value Oh that horse I see so high where the world shrinks into its relationships, my moter sees as well as I. She was born, but I bore with her. The horse was a mighty occaision! The intensity of its feet! The height of its immense body! Now then in wonder at evening, at the last small entrance of the night, my mother calls it, and I call it my father. With angry face, with no rights, with impetuosity and sterile vision -- and a great wind we ride. -- Robert Creeley
  • Birth of a Nation debuts 91 years ago today. I, Too, Sing America I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed-- I, too, am America. -Langston Hughes
  • It always amazes me that true poetry speaks as clearly now as it did when it was written. Ageless.
  • The Muse is a Little Girl The muse is a little girl, impossibly polite. She arrives when you're talking or walking away from your car. She's barefoot, she stands next to you, mute; she taps your sleeve, not even on your skin, just touches the cloth of your plaid shirt, touches it twice. She feels with her index finger the texture and you keep talking, or you don't. She will wait one minute. She is not hungry or unhappy or poor. She goes somewhere else unless you turn to look at her and write it down. I'm kidding. She's a horse you want to ride, she's a tall horse, she's heavy, as if she could bear armor. You can't catch her with apples. I don't know how you get on. I remember my cold fingers in the black mane. - Marjorie Saiser  
  • Percussion, Salt and Honey Percussion, salt and honey, A quivering in the thighs; He shakes me all over again, Eros who cannot be thrown, Who stalks on all fours Like a beast. -- Sappho, trans Guy Davenport
  • You stole the words from my lips, BlueHorse!
  • Grrrr! (for the Sappho poem)
  • Percussion, Salt and Honey that's a poem about a drummer in a restaurant.
  • Heh...just an intimate dinner for two...
  • tiptoes away sadly, not wanting to break up intimate dinner
  • She-Who-Must-Be-Aubade Sappho -- paired with Hesperus, stays not a shade, and is not far who's yet the darling of the Muses; despite the darts of death and Eros she still sings of the evening star [Since this is February, thought love's favorite merits mention.}
  • A translation of the poem referred to above is here.
  • ...But what am I? An infant crying in the night, an infant crying for the light, and with no language but a cry. /Tennyson, if I remember correctly.
  • Ye do, dxlifer. From "In Memoriam" which seems too long to put here, except perhaps in chunks. He's an eminently quotable poet, Tennyson, and by Margot Ascot's account a spell-binding reader/reciter of his own work. Heard an early recording of him doing "The Charge of the Light Brigade", but I understand the original recording had been damaged by poor storage. Some poets read well, and some are atrocious readers; Tennyson, despite all, I think falls into the former category. "In Memoriam" is also the source for: 'Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.
  • On either side the river lie Long fields of barley and of rye That clothe the wold and meet the sky And through the field the road runs by To many-towered Camelot And up and down the people go Gazing where the lilies blow Round an island there below The island of Shalott Good times.
  • Come into the garden, Maud, For the black bat, Night, has flown, Come into the garden, Maud, I am there at the gate alone; And the woodbine spices are wreathed abroad, And the musk of the roses blown. For the breeze of morning moves, And the planet of Love is on high, Beginning to fade in the light that she loves In a bed of daffodil sky, To faint in the light of the sun she loves, To faint in his light, and to die. This feast of olfactory treats! In glorious technicolour! It gets me every time. And the sound effects! This poem is so lush, so vigorous, I almost drown. Something like being tossed and pummeled in white water rapids each time I read or hear it. He, with really astonishing ease, varies and weaves those flowing rhythms so -- keeps me completely immersed all the way to the concluding crescendo: She is coming, my own, my sweet; Were it ever so airy a tread, My heart would hear her and beat, Were it earth in an earthy bed; My duast would hear her and heat, Had I lain for a century dead; Would start and trtemble under her feet, And blossom in purple and red. Whee! Whoosh and over the top I go! It's so period, but I love this, I crave being swept away like this -- o wot is wrong with me? I am a bee without shame, made drunk just on Tennyson's incredibe word-weaving.
  • Loreena McKennitt made a lovely song of "The Lady of Shallot'. Video here of her performing it for the Queen (who seems rather unimpressed)
  • Feb. 14th ain't a month, bees... I always thought there was a more somber and reverent theme to February - at least for the U.S. The Woodman and the Money Hunter Throughout our rambles much we find; The bee trees burst with honey; Wild birds we tame of every kind, At once they seem to be resign'd; I know but one that lags behind, There's nothing lags but money. The woods afford us much supply, The opossum, coon, and coney; They all are tame and venture nigh, Regardless of the public eye, I know but one among them shy, There's nothing shy but money. And she lies in the bankrupt shade; The cunning fox is funny; When thus the public debts are paid, Deceitful cash is not afraid, Where funds are hid for private trade, There's nothing paid but money. Then let us roam the woods along, And drive the coon and coney; Our lead is good, our powder strong, To shoot the pigeons as they throng, But sing no more the idle song, Nor prowl the chase for money. -George Moses Horton
  • The US dollar has long years to go before it outlasts Sappho. ;]
  • whoa, i don't know anything about Tennyson. Looks like i should go read some. Thanks for that you guys. That's some beautiful words.
  • The Loreena McKennitt song is, in fact, called 'The Lady of Shalott' and does not refer in any way to the small but tasty onion-like comestible. *sigh*
  • *considers taking a leek instead*
  • Great, Bees is turning this into a recipe thread. Very well. ODE TO CONGER CHOWDER, or ODA AL CALDILLO DE CONGRIO Pablo Neruda In the storm-tossed Chilean sea lives the rosy conger, giant eel of snowy flesh. And in Chilean stewpots, along the coast, was born the chowder, thick and succulent, a boon to man. You bring the Conger, skinned, to the kitchen (its mottled skin slips off like a glove, leaving the grape of the sea exposed to the world), naked, the tender eel glistens, prepared to serve our appetites. Now you take garlic, first, caress that precious ivory, smell its irate fragrance, then blend the minced garlic with onion and tomato until the onion is the color of gold. Meanwhile steam our regal ocean prawns, and when they are tender, when the savor is set in a sauce combining the liquors of the ocean and the clear water released from the light of the onion, then you add the eel that it may be immersed in glory, that it may steep in the oils of the pot, shrink and be saturated. Now all that remains is to drop a dollop of cream into the concoction, a heavy rose, then slowly deliver the treasure to the flame, until in the chowder are warmed the essences of Chile, and to the table come, newly wed the savors of land and sea, that in this dish you may know heaven.
  • Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry. from Eating Poetry by Mark Strand
  • Recipe For a Hippotamus Sandwich A hippo sandwich is easy to make. All you do is simply take One slice of bread, One slice of cake, Some mayonnause, One onion ring, One hippopotamus, One piece of string, A dash of pepper -- That ought to do it. And now comes the problem... Biting into it. -- Shel Silverstein
  • Ok, bees, here's one for your February and the USA's. Gray I have a friend who is turning gray, not just her hair, and I do not know why this is so. Is it a lack of vitamin E pantothenic acid, or B-12? Or is it from being frantic and alone? 'How long does it take you to love someone?' I ask her. 'A hot second,' she replies. 'And how long do you love them?' 'Oh, anywhere up to several months.' 'And how long does it take you to get over loving them?' 'Three weeks,' she said, 'tops.' Did I mention I am also turning gray? It is because I *adore* this woman who thinks of love in this way. -Alice Walker
  • Indeed, that would be one way to do it, InsolentChimp.
  • Recipe for Bouillabaisse Joseph Mery Before your epic starts, turn to and cook A savant stock, the Preface to your book. And what a stock! To baby fish and "fry" Of scores of kinds...that morning's catch...apply The slow, distilling heat of embers clear And precious, spicy gravy will appear. Steep in this sauce, with fine discrimination, The this-and-that designed for titillation, Manilla pepper, saffron, and bouquet! Of fennel, with a crackling leaf of bay, Salt, friend of man, and urchins from their bed In warm Arenc, well-flavored and well fed. When this great brew blows bubbles, sheds its skins, And all is nicely done, your ode begins. One thing is sure...this fine Phocaean dish Is not the same without one master fish, The vulgar hogfish, scorpion of the seas, Which lonely on ts grill, could never please The crudest tastes. Yet in a bouillabaisse It has no peer, and nothing can replace Its subtle odors. If, indeed, they fail, No other art of cunning will prevail; Hogfish alone, from chinks in shifting sand Where bays and myrtles fringe the tenuous land Or from some shadowed shelf of thymy cliff, Provide such wafts for avid guests to sniff. Next come such fish as choose a deeper stream And hug the reefs: fine mullet, gilthead, bream, Saint Peter's fish. embalmers of the stew (Such game, in fact, as greedy perch pursue). And last, the gurnard, with Booptic eyes, And some the ichthyologists despise, Grand fish which Neptune, under flaming sky, Chooses with table-forks, lays trident by. You heedless trippers, do not judge the case From any one-and-tuppenny bouillabaisse. Go to the Chateau-Vert. Say: "Something nice. I'm not a haggler...never mind the price. Dispatch your diver, let him burrow well Around those rocks of heady ocean smell, From Greece and Rome "thys" and "parangry" borrow, And skip the cost. We'll talk of that tomorrow."
  • Wow. Any poem that mentions both ichthyology AND Neptune is OK by me! Of course I'll gladly give the rule I makes beat biscuit by, But that don't guarantee you'll make That bread the same as I. 'Cause cookin's like religion is: Some's elected and some ain't, An' rules don't no more make a cook Then sermons make a saint. =Miss Howard Weeden
  • I've just had an awful thought. Does The Monster both post poetry AND cook in in the same Underpants?
  • ]Untitled] Mountain stars eyes in the open do -- Cid Corman
  • The Monster both post poetry AND cook in in the same Underpants? You'd rather I cooked with NO underpants?
  • Under One Small Star My apologies to chance for calling it necessity. My apologies to necessity if I'm mistaken, after all. Please don't be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due. May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade. My apologies to time for all the world I overlook each second. My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first. Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home. Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger. I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths. I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at five a.m. Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time. Pardon me, deserts, that I don't rush to you bearing a spoonful of water. And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage, your gaze always fixed on the same point in space, forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed. My apologies to the felled tree for the table's our legs. My apologies to great questions for small answers. Truth, please don't pay me much attention. Dignity please be magnanimous. Bear with me, o mystery of existence, as I pluck the occaisional thread from your train. Soul, don't take offense that I've only got you now and then. My apologies to everyone that I can't be everywhere at once. My apologies to everyone that I can't be each woman and each man. I know that I won't be justified as long as I live, since I myself stand in my own way. Don't bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words, then labor heavily so that they may seem light. -- Wislasa Szymborska
  • **reminds self never to accept a dinner invitation to T.U.Monster's house**
  • I Just Read a Shwackload of Horseshit, no offense, Blue Poets say: "it's theraputic" but I don't see any books underwritten by bedlam poets say: "it's just for fun" but I've seen fists and faces fall when the thumbs turn down, hell poets say: "it's a creative release" but I seen one girl smashing plates to make a point get lost (I went to get a stiff drink at that point) poets say a lot of stuff and see, none of it is true roses aren't always red and violets are violet
  • Poem To Be Read at 3 a.m. Excepting the diner In the outskirts, The town of Ladora At 3 a.m. Was dark but For my headlights And up in One second-story room A single light Where someone Was sick or Perhaps reading As I drove past At seventy Not thinking. The poem Is for whoever Had the light on. -- Donald Justice
  • Thanks, bees ;).
  • ;]. Variations on the word sleep I would like to watch you sleeping, which may not happen. I would like to watch you, sleeping. I would like to sleep with you, to enter your sleep as its smooth dark wave slides over my head and walk with you through that lucent wavering forest of bluegreen leaves with its watery sun & three moons towards the cave where you must descend, towarda your worst fear I would like to give you the silver branch, the small white flower, the one word that will protect you from the grief at the center of your dream, from the grief at the center. I would like to follow you up the long stairway again & become the boat that would row you back carefully, a flame in two cupped hands to where your body lies beside me, and you enter it as easily as breathing is I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed & that necessary. -- Margaret Atwood
  • Ooh! Is that the same Margaret Atwood of "Handmaid's Tale" fame?
  • Yes. Ms. Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist; she first became widely known for her poetry. Frogs Frogs sit more solid than anything sits. In mid-leap they are parachutists falling in a free fall. They die on roads with arms across their chests and heads high. I love frogs that sit like Buddha, that fall without parachutes, that die like Italian tenors. Above all, I love them because, pursued in water, they never panic so much that they fail to make stylish triangles with their ballet dancer's legs. -- Norman MacCaig Love Is Not All Love is not all; it is not meat nor drink Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain, Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink And rise and sink and rise and sink again. Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; Yet many a man is making friends with death Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. It well may be that in a difficult hour, Pinned down by need and moaning for releaae Or nagged by want past resolution's power, I might be driven to sell your love for peace, Or trade the memory of this night for food. It may well be. I do not think I would. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay Poem Lana Turner has collapsed! I was trotting along and suddenly it started raining and snowing and you said it was hailing but hailing hits you on the head hard so it was really snowing and raining and I was in such a hurry to meet you but the traffic was acting exactly like the sky and suddenly I see a headline LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED! There is no snow in Hollywood There is no rain in California I have been to lots of parties and acted perfectly disgraceful but I never actually collapsed oh Lana Turner we love you get up -- Frank O'Hara
  • Oh, gosh, you reminded me of one of Margaret Atwood poems that just made me wince the first time I heard it ...just a wee short verse. You Fit Into Me Margaret Atwood You fit into me like a hook into an eye A fish hook An open eye
  • Ouch! GramMaaaa!
  • Carrefour O you, Who came upon me once Stretched under apple trees just after bathing Why did you not strangle me before sleeping Rather than fill me with the wild honey of your words And leave me to the mercy of the forest bees? -- Amy Lowell Beginning The moon drops one or two feathers into the fields. The dark wheat listens. Be still. Now. There they are, the moon's young, trying Their wings. Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone Wholly, into the air. I stand by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe Or move. I listen. The wheat leans back toward its own darkness, And I lean toward mine. -- James Wright When the heart When the heart Is cut or cracked or broken Do not clutch it Let the wound lie open Let the wind From the good old sea blow in To bathe the wound with salt And let it sting Let a stray dog lick it Let a bird lean in the hole and sing A simple song like a tiny bell And let it ring -- Michael Leunig
  • Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux. Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read to the end just to find out who killed the cook. Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark, in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication. Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot, the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones that crimped your toes, don't regret those. Not the nights you called god names and cursed your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch, chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness. You were meant to inhale those smoky nights over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches. You've walked those streets a thousand times and still you end up here. Regret none of it, not one of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing, when the lights from the carnival rides were the only stars you believed in, loving them for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved. You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake, ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation. Relax. Don't bother remembering any of it. Let's stop here, under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
  • The Potato Manifesto How long has our kind been marginalized Ostracized at supermarkets With a dismissive wave of hand As poor folks' food My origins are humble But like me the Truffle also comes from the ground. I'm the butt of jokes, derided, Likened to lazy sit-abouts -- "couch potatoes." My skin devoured with beer by potbellied men of no distinction. So I issue a call to you, many-eyed brethren Fellows discontents and maltreated Amer-potatoes to migrate to Russia where, blanded together, we will be appreciated in fine-aged vodka. -- Cynthia Hwang
  • *sigh* =blended
  • blanded works too.
  • Mmmm, potato booze...
  • POTATO SOUP Twyla Hansen In the early years she helped her mother plant peels, carry the dishpan out to the garden, digging holes. What you eat is what you plant, her mother always said, that edible tuber common as dirt, a near-daily staple. One grandmother left potato country long ago for this one, another immigrated for the promise of more potato land. As she learned to cook, she began peeling alone at the sink, sticking a spare slice on her tongue, smell of starch lingering on her fingers. Mashed, fried, baked on Sundays for hours, regular as pulsating winds over the plains. Soon graduating to French fries in sizzling grease, to fermented spirits of the potato. Beginning with a certain look in an eye, relying on folklore, that time of the month safe if planted at night under the expansive and unblinking moon. Grabbling into the soil around roots to steal an eager potato or two. She's fond of the skin color, the flesh, textures, exotic flavors. Moving on to potato-salad years, quick-boiled varieties from the hot tub. Decades here and gone; potato-love constant. By now she's concluded it's best on gradual simmer, consolation accompanying maturity. In the afternoon she sautés onion and butter, stirs in flour and milk, chops celery, carrot, adds chicken stock. She thinks of the hour when they'll be eating, into twilight, of the long night ahead in front of the fire. Should she throw in something extra, for tang, for play-- a measure of chardonnay? All her life, she thinks, it has come down to this, bringing the bottle up slow to meet her lips.
  • Wow, Horse! That's bloody brilliant. How did she reach inside my head?
  • Scary how poets can do that, innit?
  • I just loves the potatoes
  • Decades here and gone; potato-love constant. By now she's concluded it goes beyond the culinary. In the afternoon she fashions nose and eyes, adds in brows and mouth, sculpts ears, lips, adds fluffy hair. She thinks of the hour when they'll be eating together, in the twilight, the long nights in front of the fire. Should she throw in something extra, for tang, for play -- a wisp of a mustache? All her life she thinks, it has come down to this, bringing his starchy countenance up slow to meet her lips.
  • Heh! Seeing Red You always seem to get it all wrong about me. Just like back in the days when you thought you'd up and die if you chomped me down, so you ate my leaves instead and wound up dead. Now you think it's okay to keep me from dying, so you actually poison me through irradiation. Where's your imagination? Where's the spirit of the Aztecs, who grew me to death, named me tamatl and loved me for the very fruity berry that I am? From Plato to NATO, the vegetable consciousness of western Civilization mineralizes its own pockets; oilcloth pockets so you can steal soup. That growers in this nation would stoop to chemotherapy to give me greater so-called shelf- life may hold the answer to cancer, but it doesn't do a thing for me. I like to salt and spice your mouth up, then seed it all red with zesty juice and yellow-green afterthoughts like the bright ting-a-ling of love. You hear what I'm saying? You hear what I'm telling you? Rather than right those ancient wrong notions, you've motioned them on. Like edible street gangsters now, rain or shine, we don't die; we multiply. Tell Henry Heinz we tumourless tomatoes constantly see the best minds of our generation goosed, juiced, and pissed. -- Al Young
  • I saw the best produce of my generation destroyed by genetic modification, starving hysterical seedless, dragging themselves through the factory farms at dawn looking for an angry fix, potatoheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the organic dynamo in the farm machinery of night, who hybrid and tatters and hollow-hulled and vitamin-enriched sat up pollinating in the supernatural darkness of irrigation ditches floating across the tops of gardens contemplating salsa, who bared their pulp to Heaven under the combine and saw Beatrix-Potterian scarecrows staggering on granary roofs illuminated who passed through processing plants with radiant green stens hallucinating Kansas and pest-resistant tragedy among the scholars of ornamental horticulture, who were expelled from the cabbage patches for blighted & publishing obscene odes on the ridges of the pumpkin, who cowered in unpeeled kitchens in aluminum foil, burning their rinds in toaster ovens and listening to the loud refrigerator through the colander...
  • )))!!! Me, I only saw the best rinds of my generation, but I'm telling ye, though they were strange, they had a peel!
  • Ode on Pumpkin Ridge Headless horsemen vainly blunder and bump into each other In search of an orange toupee that will fit.
  • OH, YOUZ GUYS!!
  • if the shiz knits...
  • Red Onions, Cherries, Boiling Potatoes, Milk -- Here is a soul, accepting nothing. Obstinate as a small child refusing tapioca, peaches, toast. The cheeks are streaked, but dry. The mouth is firmly closed in both directions. Ask, if you like, if it is merely sulking, or holding out for better. The soup grows cold in the question. The ice cream pools in its dish. Not this is all it knows. Not this. As certain cut flowerts refuse to drink in the vase. And the heart, from its great distance, watches, helpless. -- Jane Hirshfield
  • Hirshfield is good. Me likes! Childhood, Horses, Rain Jane Hirshfield Again rain: and the world like a fish held under running water while the knife-blade smooths the skin of scales. Its twin eyes open, watching not-death, not-life. we shed our wild selves like this, fearlessly, as water sheds its smoothness under wind, and the image breaks, the white house, the apple tree, the horses quivering with late summer flies as they graze, the hundred wings brushing the lake of their backs. Or the dog, who, seeing I will not open the door, lies down at last to sleep: how, in her dream, she chases down birds and barks softly. How later the door will open, and she in all her black and white ecstasy will burst through to the scent of damp earth, return shaking rain from her like seeds to the kitchen floor. It is late and the dishes are finished, put away. I towel her dry, she offers her feet up easily, as a horse from long practice eases the farrier’s work: stands patiently at the hiss of hot iron dipped briefly into a pail, cooled now and shaped to this one curve of hoof, pared not quite to the quick; and the swift blows with their stopped-bell ring. As we learn to stand, for this world. from Of Gravity & Angels
  • For Horses, Horseflies We know nothing about the lives of others. Under the surface what strange desires, what rages, weaknesses, fears. Sometimes it breaks into the daily paper and we shake our heads in wonder "Who would behave in such a way?" we ask. Unspoken the thought, "Let me not be tested." Unspoken the thought, "Let me not be known." Under the surface, something that whispers, "Anything can be done." For horses, horseflies. For humans, shame. -- Jane Hirshfield
  • What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, I have forgotten, and what arms have lain Under my head till morning, but the rain Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh Upon the glass and listen for reply, And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain For unremembered lads that not again Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree, Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, Yet knows its boughs more silent than before. I cannot say what loves have come and gone; I only know that summer sang in me A little while, that in me sings no more. -- Edna St Vincent Millay
  • Through a Glass, Darkly Through the travail of the ages, Midst the pomp and toil of war, Have I fought and strove and perished Countless times upon this star. In the form of many people In all panoplies of time Have I seen the luring vision Of the Victory Maid, sublime. I have battled for fresh mammoth, I have warred for pastures new, I have listed to the whispers When the race trek instinct grew. I have known the call to battle In each changeless changing shape From the high souled voice of conscience To the beastly lust for rape. I have sinned and I have suffered, Played the hero and the knave; Fought for belly, shame, or country, And for each have found a grave. I cannot name my battles For the visions are not clear, Yet, I see the twisted faces And I feel the rending spear. Perhaps I stabbed our Savior In His sacred helpless side. Yet, I've called His name in blessing When after times I died. In the dimness of the shadows Where we hairy heathens warred, I can taste in thought the lifeblood; We used teeth before the sword. While in later clearer vision I can sense the coppery sweat, Feel the pikes grow wet and slippery When our Phalanx, Cyrus met. Hear the rattle of the harness Where the Persian darts bounced clear, See their chariots wheel in panic From the Hoplite's leveled spear. See the goal grow monthly longer, Reaching for the walls of Tyre. Hear the crash of tons of granite, Smell the quenchless eastern fire. Still more clearly as a Roman, Can I see the Legion close, As our third rank moved in forward And the short sword found our foes. Once again I feel the anguish Of that blistering treeless plain When the Parthian showered death bolts, And our discipline was in vain. I remember all the suffering Of those arrows in my neck. Yet, I stabbed a grinning savage As I died upon my back. Once again I smell the heat sparks When my flemish plate gave way And the lance ripped through my entrails As on Crecy's field I lay. In the windless, blinding stillness Of the glittering tropic sea I can see the bubbles rising Where we set the captives free. Midst the spume of half a tempest I have heard the bulwarks go When the crashing, point blank round shot Sent destruction to our foe. I have fought with gun and cutlass On the red and slippery deck With all Hell aflame within me And a rope around my neck. And still later as a General Have I galloped with Murat When we laughed at death and numbers Trusting in the Emperor's Star. Till at last our star faded, And we shouted to our doom Where the sunken road of Ohein Closed us in it's quivering gloom. So but now with Tanks a'clatter Have I waddled on the foe Belching death at twenty paces, By the star shell's ghastly glow. So as through a glass, and darkly The age long strife I see Where I fought in many guises, Many names, -- but always me. And I see not in my blindness What the objects were I wrought, But as God rules o'er our bickerings It was through His will I fought. So forever in the future, Shall I battle as of yore, Dying to be born a fighter, But to die again, once more. -George Smith Patton
  • Patton shows a touch of humour there(?)in: ...but now with Tanks a-clatter have i waddled on the foe... gives me a whole new mental image of the general. ;]
  • Ha, ha! I first imagined tanks travelling, teetering over pocked terrain, but now that you said that I had to think... I see those riding pants with the flared out thighs... and the football helmet and racing stripes... while he shuffles duck-like over the dead. A pox on the noisy house of your imagination, sir!
  • Concrete Seascape oceanoceanoceanoceanocean oceanoceanoceanoceanocean oceanoceanoceanoceanocean oceanoceanoceanoceanocean oceanoceanoceanoceanocean -- William Harmon
  • The Wreck But what lovers we were, what lovers, even when it was all over -- the bull-black, deadweight wines we swung towards each other rang and rang the bells of blood, our own great hearts. We slung the drunk boat out of port and watched our sober unreal life unmoor, a continent of grief; the condlelight strange on our faces like tiny silent blazes and corruscations of its wars. We blew them out and took the stairs into the night for the night's work, stripped off in the timbered dark, gently hooked each other on, like aqualungs, and thundered down to mine our lovely secret wreck. We surfaced later, breathless, back to back, and made our way alone up the mined beach of the dawn. -- Don Patterson
  • On Rainy Mornings the Mules Salvatore M. Buttaci Did I mention how in the long ago These Sicilian streets were cobblestoned-- All of them!-- high concrete steps to break The steepness of my ancestors' trudging walks? On rainy mornings the farmers would plead With their mules to cautiously step up or down From stone to stone, front legs first, then back, But those dumb beasts were petrified of falling. Perhaps they were not so dumb, for they recalled How, in the past, mules, even horses had stumbled. Fractured limbs had earned them two shots to the head, So while farmers with bent backs tested footholds, Their eyes riveted on the wet cobblestones, The mules chomped at the bit, displayed defiance in screeching brays loud enough to coax the rooster to re-announce the morning. Farmers pulled the slippery wet ropes And cursed the rain, the mules, cursed all creation So vehemently it was hard to tell Beast from man, bray from say, until the showers Stopped, the sun began, and all made peace.
  • History On a gray evening Of a gray century, I ate an apple While no one was looking. A small, sour apple The color of woodfire, Which I first wiped On my sleeve. They I stretched my legs As far as they'd go, Said to myself Why not close my eyes now Before the Late World News and Weather. -- Charles Simic
  • The poem below was generated by entering Lewis Carrol's poem Jabberwocky from Alice through the Looking Glass into an Apple Newton. (C) 1993 Robert McNally. Tablespoons Teas Willis, and the sticky tours Did gym and Gibbs in the wake. All mimes were the borrowers, And the moderate Belgrade. "Beware the tablespoon my son, The teeth that bite, the Claus that catch. Beware the Subjects bird, and shred The serious Bandwidth!" He took his Verbal sword in hand: Long time the monitors fog he sought, So rested he by the Tumbled tree, And stood a while in thought. And as in selfish thought he stood, The tablespoon, with eyes of Flame, Came stifling through the trigger wood, And troubled as it came! One, two! One, two! And through and though, The Verbal blade went thicker shade. He left it dead, and with its head, He went gambling back. "And host Thai slash the tablespoon? Come to my arms my bearish boy. Oh various day! Cartoon! Cathay!" He charted in his joy. Teas Willis, and the sticky tours Did gym and Gibbs in the wake. All mimes were the borrowers, And the moderate Belgrade.
  • Ah, Pete, John Lennon would be proud of that one!
  • Agreed, TUM. bees, never seen a poet named Simic I didn't like!
  • In wole hearted agreement, InsolentChimp!
  • = whole (grummumble curse!)
  • [Caution: the Sensitive may wish to skip this one] unclassical symphony the cat murdered in the middle of the street tire-crushed now it is nothing and neither are we as we look away. -- Charles Bukowski
  • "Honey" by Robert Morgan Only calmness will reassure the bees to let you rob their hoard. Any sweat of fear provokes them. Approach with confidence, and from the side, not shading their entrance. And hush smoke gently from the spout of the pot of rags, for sparks will anger them. If you go near bees every day they will know you. And never jerk or turn so quick you excite them. If weeds are trimmed around the hive, they have access and feel free. When they taste your smoke they fill themselves with honey and are laden and lazy as you lift the lid to let in daylight. No bee full of sweetness wants to sting. Resist greed. With its top off you touch the fat gold frames, each cell a hex perfect as a snowflake, a sealed relic of sun and time and roots of many acres fixed in crystal-tight arrays, in rows and lattices of sweeter latin from scattered prose of meadows, woods.
  • :)
  • Hysteria As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checkered cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: 'If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden...' I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end. -- T.S. Eliot
  • Awesome.
  • Ha! Here's another entrant for a mad teaparty.. Werewolf Lemonade It's the humidity. The heat. The way night drips over the end of day slow and mysterious; how darkness pools in coagulations across a wounded lawn, under tired trees that thirst deeply into graves of those who have died from it. I take a long, iced drink of moonlight with lemon. The glass sweats. Glistens. Blood rises. It's a certain kind of moon, a certain sort of weed blooming small white moths that float around the old gypsy woman and Lon Chaney, Jr. A meeting is called to decide the fate of mankind. Lemonade is served with bitter cookies. Reflections of canines glint off the polished table. Everyone has a lie to tell or a once-upon-a-time. Sweat slips into the wounds and burns like crazy. The slightest of tongues, a long, continuous howl. -- Stephen R. Roberts
  • Machu Picchu   -in the Peruvian Andes Like being surrounded by menacing picture postcards standing on end an overwhelmingness of stone a thunder in the vision -ghosts of Incas so absent here and I so aware of them their absence a negative-plus -and next morning the neighbouring mountain Birney once climbed completely mist-obscured and perhaps he is still climbing from his Toronto hospital room and if I yell “Hi Earle” I’ll hear his Andean bellow “Come on up Al” -only one thing to do in a place like thunder and lightning stand and rejoice that you’re alive in the mountains for as long as may be and to have all these things fizz in your head like cheap booze is using up all your quota of inexhaustible delight -that life should bring such gifts and wrap them in clouds and stars -Al Purdy
  • Know that I am living proof that it ain't easy to exhaust that quota! Badwater, Death Valley I am sleepy from too much color, too subtle, too shifting, too bright, from the ghosts of all who crawled into this destroyed valley a century before, a moment before, so many feet below that level of the rolling sea, oh God, what were they thinking, moving headlong into this basin of bones? -- Lonnie Hull Dupont
  • I loved the werewolf one bees - thanks! MonkeyFilter: a long, iced drink of moonlight with lemon
  • Yeah, bees, I really liked the counterpoint of "...using up all..." and "...inexhaustible..." And ☾☾☾ for the speed in organizing that mad tea party!
  • I'm in the business of translating what cannot be translated: being and its silence. -- Charles Simic, in a notebook
  • I'm in the business of translating what cannot be translated: being and its silence. -- Charles Simic, in a notebook
  • Very nice, you Monkeys!
  • Sweet honey sucking bees, why do you still surfeit on roses, pinks and violets, As if the choicest nectar lay in them Where with you store your curious cabinets? Ah, make your flight to Melisuavia's lips. There, there may you revel in ambrosian cheer, Where smiling roses and sweet lillies sit, Keeping their springtide graces all the year, Yet, sweet, take heed, all sweets are hard to get Sting not her soft lips, O, beware of that, For if one flaming dart come from her eye, Was never dart so sharp, ah, then you die. --Jan Everaerts 1511-1536
  • Australia 1970 Die, wild country, like the eaglehawk, dangerous till the last breath's gone, clawing and striking. Die cursing your captor through a raging eye. Die like the tigersnake that hisses such pure hatred from its pain as fits the killer's dreams with fear like suicide's invading stain. Suffer, wild country, like the ironwood that gaps the dozer-blade. I see your living soil ebb with the tree to naked poverty. Die like the soldier-ant mindless and faithful to your million years. Though we corrupt you with our torturing mind, stay obstinate; stay blind. For we are conquorers and self-poisoners more than scorpion or snake and dying of the venoms that we make even while you die of us. I praise the scoring drought, the flying dust, the dying creek, the furious animal, that they oppose us still; that we are ruined by the thing we kill. -- Judith Wright
  • The Underpants Monster will steal all your shorts and scrawl them all over with stories of sorts and when they're returned with a faint whiff of oranges you'll scratch your head why I wrote oranges I did boranges?bajeezus?whatermelon? hmm... ok: and when they come back all covered in food arranged into letters in such fine attitude declaring the lifestyle of Mumbley John and the pair of steel boxers he mumbled upon or how Buffalo Jill made buffalo dill fried in a pan in a thong made of twill what was I saying? o, getting back to that when you get them undies back that the monster once gat why dontcha think twice about sending them to the cleaner and just put em in a frame like a fine schnitzel weiner
  • 8-D
  • This is kinda long and emotionally visceral but it's worth it. (Originally appearing on The Roots album Things Fall Apart, 1999) Return to Innocence Lost Muffled sound of fist on flesh Blows to chest No breath Air gasps You ain't nothing but white trash, bitch! With each hit, each kick, each...broken rib Crack, Crack! Bones are crying Mommy's crying and bleeding And pleading And then... Daddy wants to fuck Dick hard, swelled with power rush And as if all that wasn't enough Mommy's seven months heavy with birth As...Daddy grunts and cursed drunk nothings in her bloodied ear First...lullaby First...Son...will...ever...hear And never forget Mommy almost bled to death when she have him...finally She'd already lost...three Uterus-bruised, shredded, and weak From being daily beat And Friday nights were the worse and... Daddy never came with flowers Instead he spent hours at some corner spot With some bar pop named Cookie Putting his thing down Soiling Mommy's sheets with... Sweet...talk shit, Cookie's cheap lipstick, Hair grease, sperm, and jezebel juice To hell with the good news that... He was a father for the first time His thirst for wine and women Clouded his vision... No warm welcome for mother and son Just... The rank smell of ass-crack, funk, and cum But Mommy's prayerful strength-her best defense She...burned the dirty linens Made a fresh bed Laid sleeping First Son down And never made a sound As she purged her scourge With birth-blood and quiet tears Watching as her fears and love and sacrifice Lie there in his soft skin and new life Breathing, dreaming, fresh from God's eye Mommy's little survivor Like...her Mommy called crazy and scorned 'Cuz she two more born One boy soon after The girl much later and... Although they were both sung the same lullabies of hate Her...First Son, the first one Whose...womb-world was profaned Came of age playing street games With Stewie, Rezzie, and Little Brother 'Till his heart start to wither In pain and shame Blamed Mom for the wrong she let Daddy do to her And him... Let...sins of the Father cause his Innocence to wander Found out amongst thieves Chose to squander his dreams Stopped believing in himself Become prodigal with his life Make impossible shit right with... Gang-ties, crime, lies Erase wise, woeful words of Mother Replaced them with absurdities of others Who had also lost their way Played a different kind of street game now First Son plunged deep Speak street-family vows Espouse no causes but his own See, he couldn't protect Mommy's neck from Daddy's grasp Or...protect Mommy's ass from Daddy's wrath Couldn't shield her ears from... Daddy's foul-mouthed, liquor-breath jeers His only defense-served be confidence Brown bottles housed his swift descent Phones called cops on block frequent for his shenanigans Now...Daddy and him twins in addiction Driven to false-hearted heavens and friends By liquefied demons Had become what he despised from Conception 'til End Destined for a demise Survived nine lives of staying high Conning, jewelry-pawning, arrests, theft Womanizing...only for money, never for sex Bullet in chest, baseball bat to the head Left for dead So, eyes wide and glassy Speech...slowed and slurred Lips twitched with caked-up codeine candy And mouth corners one December 24th Mr. Hide and False Friend Took final ride to suburban supplier Shots were fired by the gray man With shaky hand But not shaky enough to miss... Hit...Lost Boy in back So-called Friend runs for door Leaves First Son blood-born Lying alone in blood on cold floor Death was the cause of... Returning to Innocence Lost... Baby 'Sis awake for dawn on Christmas morn To Mommy's sobs and shakes Daddy's silhouettes of regret All past, omitted, and absolved by lost As they clung to each other Knowing... --Ursula Rucker
  • A Zoological Romance, Inspired By An Unusual Flow of Animal Spirits No sweeter girl ewe ever gnu Than Betty Marten's daughter Sue. With sable hare, small tapir waist, And lips you'd gopher miles to taste; Bright, lambent eyes, like the gazelle, Sheep pertly brought to bear as well; Ape pretty lass, it was avowed, Of whom her marmot to be proud; Deer girl! I loved her as my life, And vowed to heifer for my wife. Alas! A sailor on the sly Had cast on her his wether eye -- He'd dog her footsteps everywhere, Anteater in the easy chair. He'd setter round, this sailor chap, And pointer out upon the map The spot where once a cruiser bore Him captive to a foreign shore. The cruel captain far outdid The yaks and crimes of Robert Kidd. He oft would whale Jack with the cat, And say, "My buck, doe you like that? What makes you stag around so, say! The catamounts to something, hey?" Then he would seal it with an oath And say, "You are a lazy sloth! I'll starve you down, my sailor fine, Until for beef and porcupine!" And, fairly hoarse with fiendish laughter, Would say, "Henceforth, mind what giraffe ter!" In short, the many risks he ran Might well a llama braver man. Then he was wrecked and castor shore While feebly clinging to anoa; Hyena cleft among the rocks He crept, sans shoes and minus ox; And when he fain would goat to bed, He had to lion leaves instead. Then Sue would say, with troubled face, "How koodoo live in such a place?" And straightway into tears would melt, And say, "How badger must have felt!" While he, the brute, woodchuck her chin And say, "Aye-aye, my lass!" and grin. Excuse these steers....It's over now; There's naught like grief the hart can cow. Jackass'd her to be his, and she -- She gave Jackal, and jilted me. And now, alas! the little minks Is bound to him with Hymen's lynx. -- Charles Follen Adams
  • Exploring the Dark Content This dream is not a map. A poem is not the territory. The dreamer reclines in a barbershop carpeted with Afro turf. In the dark some soul yells. It hurts to walk barefoot on cowrie shells. -- Harryette Mullen
  • Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he'd call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?
  • In Praise Of Feeling Bad About Yourself The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn't know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they'd claim their hands were clean. A jackal doesn't understand remorse. Lions and lice don't waver in their course. Why should they, when they know they're right? Thpough hearts of killer whales may weight a ton, in every other way they're light. On this third planet of the sun among the signs of bestiality a clear conscience is Number One. -- Wistawa Szymborska
  • Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird Wallace Stevens I Among twenty snowy mountains, The only moving thing Was the eye of the blackbird. II I was of three minds, Like a tree In which there are three blackbirds. III The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime. IV A man and a woman Are one. A man and a woman and a blackbird Are one. V I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after. VI Icicles filled the long window With barbaric glass. The shadow of the blackbird Crossed it, to and fro. The mood Traced in the shadow An indecipherable cause. VII O thin men of Haddam, Why do you imagine golden birds? Do you not see how the blackbird Walks around the feet Of the women about you? VIII I know noble accents And lucid, inescapable rhythms; But I know, too, That the blackbird is involved In what I know. IX When the blackbird flew out of sight, It marked the edge Of one of many circles. X At the sight of blackbirds Flying in a green light, Even the bawds of euphony Would cry out sharply. XI He rode over Connecticut In a glass coach. Once, a fear pierced him, In that he mistook The shadow of his equipage For blackbirds. XII The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying. XIII It was evening all afternoon. It was snowing And it was going to snow. The blackbird sat In the cedar-limbs.
  • A poem is a large or small machine made of words. -- William Carlos Williams
  • It's been a while since I've seen "Those Winter Sundays," bees, ☽☽☽! It's forcing me to type this one out... (Yeah, I know, more Eliot...) Preludes I The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o'clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat On broken blinds and chimney-pots, And at the corner of the street A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. And then the lighting of the lamps. II The morning comes to conciousness Of faint stale smells of beer From the sawdust-trampled street With all its muddy feet that press To early coffee-stands. With the other masquerades That time resumes, One thinks of all the hands That are raising dingy shades In a thousand furnished rooms. III You tossed a blanket from the bed, You lay upon your back and waited; You dozed, and watched the night revealing The thousand sordid images Of which your soul was constituted; They flickered against the ceiling. And when all the world came back And the light crept up the between the shutters And you heard the sparrows in the gutters, You had such a vision on the street As the street hardly understands; Sitting along the bed's edge, where You curled the papers from your hair, Or clasped the yellow soles of feet In the palms of both soiled hands. IV His soul stretched tight across the skies That fade behind a city block, Or trampled by insistent feet At four and five and six o'clock; And short square fingers stuffing pipes, And evening newspapers, and eyes Assured of certain certainties, The conscience of a blackened street Impatient to assume the world. I am moved by fancies that are curled Around these images, and cling; The notion of some infinitely gentle Infinitely suffering thing. Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; The worlds revolve like ancient women Gathering fuel in vacant lots. --T.S. Eliot (And over my shoulder, the morning comes to conciousness.)
  • Last Lines I have put on a grotesque mask to write these lines. I sit staring at myself in a mirror propped on my desk. I hold up my head like one of those Chinese lanterns hollowed out of a pumpkin, swinging from a broom. I peer through the eye-holes into that little lighted room where a candle burns, making me feel drowsy. I must try not to spill the flame wobbling in its pool of wax. It sheds no light on the scene, only shadows flickering up the walls. In the narrow slit of my mouth my tongue appears, darting back and forth behind the bars of my teeth. I incline my head, to try and catch what I am saying. No sound emerges, only the coming and going of my breath.
  • Ach! The poem above is by Hugo Williams, and the title is "Last Poem".
  • Fibonacci sequence as poetic structure it looks interesting if kinda geeky but then what the hell do i know?
  • 1-1-2-3-5-8 two thin guys sit on a bench in starched white collars they listen to Eddie Cantor ... clothed white rabbit with his watch jumps into the hole murmuring madly: how time flies Think a sequence of such stanzas might be more effective than a single one. Not really much to my taste, on first impression. Already feel an urge to break up at least the 8-syllabled line and to quit dithering so much in too-slow openings -- breaking this form would soon prove irrestible to me, I suspect it might be useful only occaisionally.
  • well, that's math for ya bees. Good for nothin' I say. Besides, what is the real reason for form in poetry other than as a learning device?
  • fib on a cheese sea quince of silly bulls makes five an otter ate silly bulls, six.
  • 1/1/2/3/5/8/13/21 This form is a haven for wild-eyed math poets But I - none too soon, I tell you Will eschew with thunderous force the chains of meter, And common sense for that is the nature of those who dare to chainsaw down the tallest verbs. I dunno bees - a fun post or two but not very satisfying.
  • i>))) to islander!!! A fibboneyparted, back-to-back one: bah! hum! buggy ridin' with papa is boring -- eight syllables keeps us snoring like the proverbial grampas we pity the hoss that can't yawn but has to trot on 'n' on pete -- thinking now this form's been pushed about as far as I care to push it. ;]
  • Bees: Yet I am in love with words. Saxon "Permanently" Kenneth One day the Nouns were clustered in the street. An Adjective walked by, with her dark beauty. The Nouns were struck, moved, changed. The next day a Verb drove up, and created the Sentence. Each Sentence says one thing—for example, "Although it was a dark rainy day when the Adjective walked by, I shall remember the pure and sweet expression on her face until the day I perish from the green, effective earth." Or, "Will you please close the window, Andrew?" Or, for example, "Thank you, the pink pot of flowers on the window sill has changed color recently to a light yellow, due to the heat from the boiler factory which exists nearby." In the springtime the Sentences and the Nouns lay silently on the grass. A lonely Conjunction here and there would call, "And! But!" But the Adjective did not emerge. As the Adjective is lost in the sentence, So I am lost in your eyes, ears, nose, and throat— You have enchanted me with a single kiss Which can never be undone Until the destruction of language.
  • *applause* ...although the poet obviously got lost in the end with that mushy stuff.
  • Never look a GrandHorse in the mouth, SB. ☽☽☽ GramMa!
  • You better watch it, you young Chimpersnapper! I'm watching you. Always watching...
  • That's a new one to me -- thanks, BlueHorse.
  • For my friend, Wacky: Haiku by José Juan Tablada (1871-1945) Translated from the Spanish by Rigoberto González Las abejas Sin cesar gotea miel el colmenar cada gota es una abeja... Bees The beehive drips its honey ceaselessly, each drop a single bee...
  • That poem's about plumbing problems
  • Just recently discovered this Robert Morgan feller, and I can't get enough! The Grain of Sound A banjo maker in the mountains, when looking out for wood to carve an instrument, will walk among the trees and knock on trunks. He'll hit the bark and listen for a note. A hickory makes the brightest sound; the poplar has a mellow ease. But only straightest grain will keep the purity of tone, the sought -- for depth that makes the licks sparkle. A banjo has a shining shiver. Its twangs will glitter like the light on splashing water. But the face of banjo is a drum of hide of cow, or cat, or even skunk. The hide will magnify the note, the sad of honest pain, the chill blood song, lament, confession, haunt, as tree will sing again from root and vein and sap and twig in wind and cat will moan as hand plucks nerve, picks bone and cell and gut and pricks the heart as blood will answer blood and love begins to knock along the grain.
  • The Seven Ages In my first dream the world appeared the salt, the bitter, the forbidden, the sweet In my second I descended I was human, I couldn't just see a thing beast that I am I had to touch, to contain it I hid in the groves, I worked in the fields until the fields were bare -- time that will never come again -- the dry wheat bound, caskets of figs and olives I even loved a few times in my disgusting human way and like everyone I called that accomplishment erotic freedom, absurd as it seems The wheat gathered and stored, the last fruit dried: time that is hoarded, that is never used, does it also end? In my first dream the world appeared the sweet, the forbidden but there was no garden, only raw elements I was human: I had to beg to descend the salt, the bitter, the demanding, the preemptive And like everyone, I took, I was taken I dreamed I was betrayed Earth was given to me in a dream In a dream I possessed it -- Louise Gluck
  • Ta, Underpants Monster and beeswacky!
  • On the Borders We're driving across tableland somewhere in the world; it is almost bare of trees. Upland near void of features always moves me, but not to thought; it lets me rest from thinking. I feel no need to interpret it as if it were art. Too much of poetry is criticism now. That hawk, clinging to the eaves of the wind, beating its third wing, its tail isn't mine to sell. And here is more like the space that needs to exist aound an image. This cloud-roof country reminds me of the character of people who first encountered roses in soap. -- Les Murray
  • That hawk, clinging to the eaves of the wind .... Marvelous image!
  • This cloud-roof country reminds me of the character of people who first encountered roses in soap. How do ya'll interpret this last line?
  • bland?
  • Perhaps, being an Aussie, Murray is referring to the indigenous people of the outback, where roses are not a native plant species. *smacks petebest*
  • "roses in soap" is obviously a typo. It should be "rope on a soap". A reference to indigenous twine and cleaning.
  • Actually, it's a viral ad-poem for Snakes on a Plane.
  • *owwww*
  • Roses in soup are mighty tasty. But yeah, I see it as a description of seeing/smelling something in person for the first time, when you've seen/smelled the fake one many times before. I'd seen pictures of the desert, but the real thing still moved me intensely.
  • What would I do without what would I do without this world faceless incurious where to be lasts but an instant where every instant spills in the void the ignorance of having been without this wave where in the end body and shadow together are engulfed what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die the pantings the frenzies towards succour towards love without this sky that soars above its ballust dust what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before peering out of my deadlight looking for another wandering like me eddying far from all the living in a convulsive space among the voices voiceless that throng my hiddenness -- Samuel Beckett
  • petebest, here's another new form: Four lines, three lines, and two lines make the total poem have three stanzas of free verse. In the 1st stanza, some subject is introduced, in the 2nd stanza some tension or opposition is set forth, which the 3rd stanza resolves. a door slams an engine chokes and falls silent a dog barks ripples slide across a Great Lake not one gets stopped at the border
  • An old-fashioned piece, this, which contains its own music, and was written by a committed poet ... that is, he wrote this while in the local asylum. Summer Come we to the summer, to the summer we will come, For the woods are full of bluebells and the hedges full of bloom, And the crow is on the oak a-building of her nest, And love is burning diamonds in my true love's breast; She sits beneath the whitethorn a-plaiting of her hair, And I will to my true lover with a fond request repair; I will look upon her face, I will in her beauty rest, And lay my aching weariness upon her lovely breast. The clock-a-clay is creeping on the open bloom of May, The merry bee is trampling the pinky threads all day, And the chaffinch it is brooding on its grey mossy nest In the whitethorn bush where I will lean upon my lover's breast; I'll lean upon her breast and I'll whisper in her ear That I cannot get a wink o'sleep for thinking of my dear; I hunger at my meat and I daily fade away Like the hedge rose that is broken in the heat of the day. -- John Clare
  • Poets and madmen, Bees--sometimes there's little difference.
  • How cavalier.
  • Better than a Roundhead, I'd say -- though who knows in what time frames poor Clare managed to lose himself?
  • Man Writes Poem Jay Leeming This just in a man has begun writing a poem in a small room in Brooklyn. His curtains are apparently blowing in the breeze. We go now to our man Harry on the scene, what's the story down there Harry? "Well Chuck he has begun the second stanza and seems to be doing fine, he's using a blue pen, most poets these days use blue or black ink so blue is a fine choice. His curtains are indeed blowing in a breeze of some kind and what's more his radiator is 'whistling' somewhat. No metaphors have been written yet, but I'm sure he's rummaging around down there in the tin cans of his soul and will turn up something for us soon. Hang on—just breaking news here Chuck, there are 'birds singing' outside his window, and a car with a bad muffler has just gone by. Yes ... definitely a confirmation on the singing birds." Excuse me Harry but the poem seems to be taking on a very auditory quality at this point wouldn't you say? "Yes Chuck, you're right, but after years of experience I would hesitate to predict exactly where this poem is going to go. Why I remember being on the scene with Frost in '47, and with Stevens in '53, and if there's one thing about poems these days it's that hang on, something's happening here, he's just compared the curtains to his mother, and he's described the radiator as 'Roaring deep with the red walrus of History.' Now that's a key line, especially appearing here, somewhat late in the poem, when all of the similes are about to go home. In fact he seems a bit knocked out with the effort of writing that line, and who wouldn't be? Looks like ... yes, he's put down his pen and has gone to brush his teeth. Back to you Chuck." Well thanks Harry. Wow, the life of the artist. That's it for now, but we'll keep you informed of more details as they arise. I lubs me some Writer's Almanac in the mornin'!
  • I see your Leeming and raise you a Koertge! Fault In the airport bar, I tell my mother not to worry. No one ever tripped and fell into the San Andreas Fault. But as she dabs at her dry eyes, I remember those old movies where the earth does open. There's always one blonde entomologist, four deceitful explorers, and a pilot who's good-looking but not smart enough to take off his leather jacket in the jungle. Still, he and Dr. Cutie Bug are the only ones who survive the spectacular quake because they spent their time making plans to go back to the Mid-West and live near his parents while the others wanted to steal the gold and ivory then move to Los Angeles where they would rarely call their mothers and almost never fly home and when they did for only a few days at a time. --Ron Koertge
  • Why I Take Good Care of my Macintosh Because it broods under its hood like a perched falcon, Because it jumps like a skittish horse and sometimes throws me Because it is poky when cold Because plastic is a sad, strong material that is charming to rodents Because it is flighty Because my mind flies into it through my fingers Because it leaps forward and backward, is an endless sniffer and searcher, Because its keys click like hail on a boulder And it winks when it goes out, And puts word-heaps in hoards for me, dozens of pockets of gold under boulders in streambeds, identical seedpods strong on a vine, or it stores bins of bolts, And I lose them and find them, Because whole words of writing can be boldly layed out and then highlighted and vanish in a flash at "delete" so it teaches of impermanence and pain, And because my computer and me are both brief in this world, both foolish, and we have earthly fates, Because I have let it move in with me right inside the tent And it goes out with me every morning We fill up our baskets, get back home, Feel rich, relax, I throw it a scrap and it hums. -- Gary Snyder
  • That puts me in mind of "Jubilate Agno!"
  • A person has to be Smart to see it, Monster, but yes, of course it would.
  • Good ol' Japhy Ryder...
  • ... see what you done done to me ...
  • Yes, TUM, yes! Three goodies in a row--ding ding ding *jumps up and down as bells go off
  • How to Speak Poetry Take the word butterfly. To use this word it is not necessary to make the voice weigh less than an ounce or equip it with small dusty wings. It is not necessary to invent a sunny day or a field of daffodils. It is not necessary to be in lobe, or to be in love with butterflies. The word butterfly is not a real butterfly. There is the word and there is the butterfly. If you confuse the two items people have the right to laugh at you. Do not make so much of the word. Are you trying to suggest that you love butterflies more perfectly than anyone else, or really understand their nature? The word butterfly is merely data. Ut is not an opportunity for you to hover, soar, befriend flowers, symbolize beauty and frailty, or in any way impersonate a butterfly. Do not act out words. Never act out words. Never try to leave the floor when you talk about flying. Never close your eyes and jerk your head to the side when you talk about death. Do not fix your burning eyes on me when you speak about love pur your hand in your pocket or under your dress and play with yourself. If ambition and the hunger for applause have driven you to speak about love you should learn how to do it without disgracing yourself or the material.   What is the expression which the age demands? The age demands no expression whatever. We have seen photographs of bereaved Asian mothers. We are not interested in the agony of your fumbled organs. There is nothing you can show on your face that can match the horror of this time. Do not even try. You will only hold yourself up to the scorn of those who have felt things deeply. We have seen newsreels of humans in the extremities of pain and dislocation. Everyone knows you are eating well and are even being paid to stand up there. You are playing to people who have experienced a catastrophe. Thsi should make you very quiet. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Everyone knows you are in pain. You cannot tell the audience everything you know about love in every line of love you speak. Step aside and they will know what you know because they know it already. You have nothing to teach them. You are not more beautiful than they are. You are not wiser. Do not shout at them. Do not force a dry entry. That is bad sex. If you show the lines of your genitals, then deliver what you promise. And remember that people do not really want an acrobat in bed. What is our need? To be close to the natural man, to be close to the natural woman. Do not pretend that you are a beloved singer with a vast loyal audience which has followed the ups and downs of your life to this very moment. The bombs, flame-throwers, and all the shit have destroyed more than just the trees and villages. They have also destroyed the stage. Did you think that your profession would escape the general destruction? There is no more stage. There are no more footlighrs. You are among the people. Then be modest. Speak the words, convey the data, step aside. Be by yourself. Be in your own room. Do not put yourself on. [CONTINUED]
  •   This is an interior landcape. It is inside. It is private. Respect the privacy of the material. These pieces were written in silence. The courage of the play is to speak them. The discipline of the play is not to violate them. Let the audience feel your love of privacy even though there is no privacy. Be good whores. The poem is not a slogan. It cannot advertise you. It cannot promote your reputation for sensitivity. You are not a stud. You are not a killer lady. All this junk about the gangsters of love. You are students of discipline. Do not act out the words. The words die when you act them out, they wither, and we are left with nothing but your ambition.   Speak the words with the exact precision with which you would check out a laundry list. Do not become emotional about the lace blouse. Do not get a hard on when you say panties. Do not get all shivery just because of the towel. The sheets should not provoke a dreamy expression about the eyes. There is no need to weep into the handkercheif. The socks are not there to remind you of strange and distant voyages. It is just your laundry. It is just your clothes. Don't peep through them. Just wear them.   The poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country. If you declaim it and blow it up with noble intentions then you are no better than the politicians whom you despise. You are just someone waving a flag and making the cheapest appeal to emotional patriotism. Think of the words as science, not the National Geographic Society. These people know all the risks of mountain climbing. They honor you by taking this for granted. If you rub their faces in it that is an insult to their hospitality. Tell them about the height of the mountain, the equipment you used, be specific about the surfaces and the time it took to scale it. Do not work the audience for gasps and sighs. If you are worthy of gasps and sighs it will not be from your appreciation of the event but from theirs. It will be in the statistics and not the trembling of the voice or the cutting of the air with your hands. It will be in teh data and the quiet organization of your presence.   Avoid the flourish. Do not be afraid to be weak. Do not be ashamed to be tired. You look good when you're tired. You look like you could go on forever. Now come into my arms. You are the image of my beauty. -Leonard Cohen
  • Inscription To write a poem is to attempt a minor magic. The instrument of that magic, language, is mysterious enough. We know nothing of its origin. We know only that it divides into diverse lexicons and that each one of them com- prises an indefinite and changing vocabulary and an undefined number of syntactic possibilities. With those evasive elements I have formed this book. (In the poem, the cadence and atmosphere of a word can weigh more than its meaning.) This book is yours, Maria Kodama. Must I say to you that this inscrip- tion includes twilights, the deer of Nara, night that is alone and populated mornings, shared islands, seas, deserts, and gardens, what forgetting loses and memory transforms, the high-pitched voice of the muezzein, the death of Hawkwood, some books and engravings? We can give what we have given. We can only give what is already the other's. In this book are things that were always yours. How mysterious a dedication is, a surrender of symbols! -- Jorge Luis Borges, trans W.B.
  • San Francisco Blues 42nd Chorus I'd better be a poet Or lay down dead. Little boys are angels Crying in the street Wear funny hats Wait for green lights  Carry bust out tubes   Around their necks   And roam the railyards   Of the great cities    Looking for locomotives   Full of shit    Run down to the waterfront    And dream of Cathay    Hook spars with Gulls     Of athavoid thought. -Jack Kerouac
  • If the opening were forever pierced by the opened, nothing would remain in the end but the same, fanning out till night strikes, declares that enough is enough. If someone should choose his death: whose chosen one is he, through whom does he shudder hither? Love dons her black cap and kills. Even an onion surrenders all in the end. Just as a chair, in spite of everything, everywhere and nowhere, wishes only to sit in for itself. -- Hans Favery, from Eighteen Poems, trans Francis R Jones
  • Winter 4 He is thinking of the end of Oedipus, not the beginning, not the part where Oedipus chooses by giving the answer to the beast at the Gate of Thebes. No, it is the end he likes. The part just after he puts out his eyes and stands, suddenly in that certain darkness, decided. It is not a story of winter but of the sun, the ceaseless perfection of the desert in Africa. How different it would be had it taken place here, he thinks. Herre the critical moment would be putting the eyes back in their sockets, that first shock exactly the same as in the other story only the beginning would have to be different, all the roles reversed. -Patrick Lane
  • Birds Appearing in a Dream One had feathers like a blood-streaked koi, another a tail of color-coded wires. One was a blackbird stretching orchid wings, another a flicker with a wounded head. All flew likes leaves fluttering to escape, bright, circulating in burning air, and all returned when the air cleared. One was a kingfisher trapped in its bower, deep in the ground, miles from water. Everything is real and everything isn't. Some had names and some didn't. Named and nameless shapes of birds at night my hand can touch your feathers and then I wipe the vernix from your wings, you who have made bright things from shadows, you who have crossed the distances to roost in me. -- Michael Collier
  • The optimist's bluebird!
  • Caution for the sensitive reader: in the following, a scene of mayhem and carnage is presented. Bird Crashing Into Window In cartoons they do it and then get up, a carousel of stars, asterisks, and question marks trapped in a caption bubble above a dizzy, flattened head that pops back into shape. But this one collapsed in its skirt of red feathers and now its head hangs like a closed hinge and its beak, a yellow dart, is stuck to the gray porch floor and seems transformed forever -- a broken gadget, a heavy shuttlecock -- and yet it's not all dead. The breast palpitates, the bent legs scrabble, and its eye, the one that can't turn away, fish-egg black, stares and blinks. Behind me, sitting in a chair, his head resting on a pillow,a friend recites Lycidas to prove it's not the tumor or the treatment that's wasted what his memory captured years ago in school. Never mind he drops more than a line or two. It's not a lean and flashy song he sings, though that's what he'd prefer -- his hair wispy, his head misshapen. Beyond the window, the wind shakes down the dogwood petals, beetles drown in sap, and bees paint themselves with pollen. "Get up! Fly away! my caption urges. "Get up, if you can!" -- Michael Collier
  • somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond any experience,your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look will easily unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility:whose texture compels me with the color of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands --E. E. Cummings Maybe not "modern," depending on your definition, but one of my favorite poems ever. Yeah, I'm a softie. And no, I didn't mistake it. He capitalized his initials. Look it up.
  • This one's for the missing monk. Bees' Wings This washed-out morning, April rain descants, Weeps over gravity, the broken bones Of gravel and graveyards, and Cora puts Away gold dandelions to sugar And skew into gold wine, then discloses That Pablo gutted his engine last night Speeding to Beulah Beach under a moon As pocked and yellowed as aged newsprint. Now, Othello, famed guitarist, heated By rain-clear rum, voices transparent notes Of sad, anonymous heroes who hooked Mackerel and slept in love-pried-open thighs And gave out booze in vain crusades to end Twenty centuries of Christianity.  His voice is simple, sung air: without notes, There's nothing. His unknown, imminent death (the feel of iambs ending as trochees In a slow, decasyllabic death-waltz; His vertebrae trellised on his stripped spine Like a xylophone or keyboard of nerves) Will also be nothing: the sun pours gold Upon Shelley, his sis', light as bees' wings, Who roams a garden sprung from rotten wood And words, picking green nouns and fresh, bright verbs, For there's nothing I will not force language To do to make us one - whether water Hurts like whiskey or the sun burns like oil Or love declines to weathered names on stone. -George Elliot Clarke
  • No flowers, no bees; No bees, no flowers. -Mike Garofalo
  • The murmuring of Bees, has ceased But murmuring of some Posterior, prophetic, Has simultaneous come. The lower metres of the Year When Nature's laugh is done The Revelations of the Book Whose Genesis was June. Appropriate Creatures to her change The Typic Mother sends As Accent fades to interval With separating Friends Till what we speculate, has been And thoughts we will not show More intimate with us become Than Persons, that we know. - Emily Dickinson
  • Oh, how Dickinson leads on to more Dickinson... To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,— One clover, and a bee, And revery. The revery alone will do If Bees are few.
  • Good 'un, Chimp!
  • A clever bee?
  • No flowers. No Bees. No smiles.
  • Little Birds The bees are the most wonderful of the flowers feet so deep in electric soil. There's no buzz louder than the hours of such a bee's recoil. There was a window into which the garden apes could spy and the finest of the little birds would jest, and drip a golden melody with every baroque sleeve monkey-mouths would fall - not one could leave, even in the apery the bird's song sung There are no flowers like the bee and none yet stretch so high to graze the very breath of stars with a humming-bird call and though the sky may be for miles none else can float so tall So mark each photon's windowpane has the song been sung here yet? And yards away the great apes play in hopes of honeyed lines
  • )))!, InsolentChimp!
  • Holy beeswacky, Insolent Chimp. Good stuff, with honey dripping richly. The bee flies the light fantastic, Flower to flower, spreading the Gift of new life and sweet endings. The bee's knees pack golden dust Into a suitcase we can't carry. I hear the bee buzz, and stand Quite still while it samples my scent, And then goes off to taste the flowers In the garden which I tend. And,I stand, fixed by the pleasure Of a bee's curiosity.
  • *bee-dazzled* *bee-dazed*
  • Tears of joy.
  • Let's all fly the light fantastic with our Bee!
  • bees is back! bees is back! That's the best news I've gotten in months! *jumps up and down from pure joy*
  • Wow, Chimp & Path, that's some fancy scribblin' there! Banananananas all 'round!
  • 'Tis true, we have some excellent poets in this monkeyhouse.
  • buzzzzzzzzzzz!
  • We only stand as tall as the bees knees.
  • So very happy to see your name attached to Mofi again, bees. So very happy! /drunk - did I spell "very" right?
  • Desolation Blues 1ST CHORUS I stand on my head on Desolation Peak And see that the world is hanging Into an ocean of endless space The mountains dripping rock by rock Like bubbles in the void And tending where they want— That at night the shooting stars Are swimming up to meet us Yearning from the bottom black  But never make it alas—  That we walk around clung  To earth  Like beetles with big brains Ignorant of where we are, how, What, & upsidedown like fools,  Talking of governments & history, —But Mount Hozomeen The most beautiful mountain I ever seen, Does nothing but sit & be a mountain, A mess of double pointed rock Hanging pouring into space  O frightful silent endless space —Everything goes to the head  Of the hanging bubble, with men  The juice is in the head—  So mountain peaks are points  Of rocky liquid yearning —Jack Kerouac
  • That's some hangover! My commiserations to ye, InsolentChimp.
  • the con job the ground war began today at dawn in a desert land far from here the U.S. ground troops were largely made up of Blacks, Mexicans and poor whites most of whom had joined the military because it was the only job they could find. the ground war began today at dawn in a desert land far from here and the Blacks, Mexicans and poor whites were sent there to fight and win as on tv and on the radio the fat white rich newscasters first told us all about it and then the fat rich white analysts told us why again and again and again on almost every tv and radio station almost every minute day and night because the Blacks, Mexicans and poor whites were sent there to fight and win at dawn in a desert land far enough away from here. -- Charles Bukowski
  • Before the Law Before the law stands a gate keeper. To this gate keeper there comes a man from the country who asks for admittance to the Law. But the gate keeper says that he cannot grant admittance at the moment. The man thinks it over and asks if he will be allowed in later. "It is possible," says the gate keeper, "but not at the moment." Since the gate stands open as usual, and the gate keeper steps to one side, the man can stoop to peer through the gateway into the interior. Seeing this, the gate keeper laughs and says: "If you like, just try to go in despite my veto. But be warned: I am powerful. And I am the meekest of the gate keepers. From hall to hall there is one gate keeper after another, each more powerful than the last. The third gate keeper is already so terrible that even I cannot bear to look at him." These are difficulties the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone, but as he now takes a closer look at the gate keeper in his fur coat, with his big sharp nose and long thin, black Tartar beard, he decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter. The gate keeper gives him a stool and lets him sit down at one side of the door. There he sits for days and even years. He makes many attempts to be admitted, and wearies the gate keeper by his importunity. The gate keeper frequently has little interviews with him, asking him questions about his home and many other things, but the questions are put indifferently, patronizingly, and always finish with the statement that he cannot be let in yet. The man, who has furnished himself with many things for his journey, sacrifices all he has, however valuable, to the gate keeper. The gate keeper accepts everything, but always with the remark: "I am only taking it to keep you from thinking you have omitted anything." During these many years the man fixes his attention almost continuously on the gate keeper. He forgets the other gate keepers, and this first one seems to him the sole obstacle preventing access to the Law. He curses his bad luck, in his early years boldly and loudly; later, as he grows old, he only grumbles to himself. He becomes childish, and since in his year long contemplation of the gate keeper he has come to know even the fleas in his fur collar, he begs the fleas to help him and to change the gate keeper's mind. At length his eyesight begins to fail, and he does not know whether the world is darker or whether his eyes are only deceiving him. Yet in his darkness he is now aware of a radiance that streams inextinguishable from the gateway of the Law. Now he nears the end of his life. Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to a point, a question he has not yet asked the gate keeper. He waves him nearer since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The gate keeper has to bend low toward him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man's disadvantage. "What do you want to know now?" asks the gate keeper; "you are insatiable." "Everyone strives to reach the Law," says the man, "so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admittance?" The gate keeper recognizes the man has reached his end, and, to let his failing senses catch the words, roars in his ear: "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. And now, I am going to shut it." —Franz Kafka
  • Facing Snow and Writing What My Heart Embraces At Mount Ssu-ming in the cold in the snow, half a lifetime's bitter chanting. Beard hairs are easy to pluck out one by one: a poem's words are hard to put together. Pure vanity to vent the heart and spleen; words and theories, sometimers, aren't enough. Loneliness, loneliness my everyday affair. The soughing winds pass on the night bell sound. --An Ching, trans J.P.S. A recent translation. And here's a poem, not too recent, either: Dedications I know you are reading this poem late, before leaving your office of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven across the plains' enormous spaces around you. I know you are reading this poem in a room where too much has happened for you to bear where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed and the open valise speaks of flight but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem as the underground train loses momentum and before running up the stairs towards a new kind of love your life has never allowed. I know you are reading this poem by the light of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide while you wait for the newscast from the intifada. I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers. I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out, count themselves out, at too early an age. I know you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on because even the alphabet is precious. I know you are reading thios poem as you pace beside the stove warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your hand because life is short and you too are thirsty. I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language guessing at somne words while others keep you reading and I want to know which words they are. I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn between bitterness and hope turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse. I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else left to read there where you have landed, stripped as you are. -- Adrienne Rich
  • ☽☽☽ for the Dedications, me likey! I also learned a new word - soughing..! Four in Hand In front, four horses' nodding heads; Beside me, a girl's two blonde braids; Behind us, the groom, with self-important airs; By the wheels, the sound of barking. In the villages, the contentment of a becalmed life; In the fields, busy harrows and plows; All of this illuminated by the sun So brightly, so brightly. —Detlev von Lilencron, trans. Stanley Appelbaum
  • To Eros I caught you by the neck on the shore of the sea, while you shot arrows from your quiver to wound me and on the ground I saw your flowered crown. I disemboweled your stomach like a doll's and examined your deceitful wheels, and deeply hidden in your golden pulleys I found a trapdoor that said: sex. On the beach I held you, now a sad heap, up to the sun, accomplice of your deeds, before a chorus of frightened sirens. Your deceitful godmother, the moon was climbing through the crest of the dawn, and I threw you into the mouth of the waves. --Alfonsina Storni, trans Kay Short
  • Time and again I have to love you for you are what is so utterly strange to me, almost as strange to me as my being's core, which is a wingbeat still lasting long after the memory of my name has evaporated. Sometimes, once I become aware of myself and our house starts to rustle and I am tempted to call out your name, I find you in my head again, as if I had not meant to caress you, caress you so. --Hans Favery, from Eighteen Poems, trans Francis R. Jones
  • Heron Rises From The Dark, Summer Pond So heavy is the long-necked, long-bodied heron, always it is a surprise when her smoke-colored wings open and she turns from the thick water, from the black sticks of the summer pond, and slowly rises into the air and is gone. Then, not for the first or the last time, I take the deep breath of happiness, and I think how unlikely it is that death is a hole in the ground, how improbable that ascension is not possible, though everything seems so inert, so nailed back into itself-- the muskrat and his lumpy lodge, the turtle, the fallen gate. And especially it is wonderful that the summers are long and the ponds so dark and so many, and therefore it isn't a miracle but the common thing, this decision, this trailing of the long legs in the water, this opening up of the heavy body into a new life: see how the sudden gray-blue sheets of her wings strive toward the wind; see how the clasp of nothing takes her in. - Mary Oliver
  • the little horse is newlY Born)he knows nothing and feels everything,all around whom is perfectly a strange ness Of sun light and of fragrance and of Singing)is ev erywhere(a welcom ing dream:is amazing) a worlD.and in this world lies:smoothbeautifuL ly folded:a(brea thing and a gro Wing)silence,who is:somE oNe. -- E.E. Cummings, "the little horse is newlY"
  • Thank you, Bees!!
  • Hard not to read Du Fu, or Tu Fu, and realize how often he mentions birds. Sometimes a bird becomesthe subject of a poem, sometimes birds are mentioned as part of natural phenomena: The Parrot The parrot sits Upon his perch, Wrapped in gloomy thought, And dreams Of his distant home. His wings of brightest blue Are clipped; From his red beak Come words of wisdom. Will they never, never Unlatch his cage, And set him free once more? Impatient, in anger, He claws and tears at his perch, To which he has clung So long. Will the world of men Not pity him, And the freedom he has lost? Of what use to him in prison Is his coat of wondrous hue? -- Tu Fu, trans Henry H. Hart Broken Lines River so blue the birds seem to whiten, On the green mountainside flowers almost flame. Sppring is dying, yet again. Will I ever go home? -- Du Fu, translator unknown A Painted Falcon Wind and frost swirl from white silk: a painting of a great black hawk, shoulders braced as he hunts hares, glancing sidelong with a barbarian glare. Grasp the gleaming leash and collar, whistle him down from his bar, and he'll strike common birds, spattering the plain with feathers and blood. -- Du Fu, tranlator unknown
  • SQUAAAAAAKK!!
  • A Lone Goose The lone wild goose doesn't peck or drink, just flies and cries out, seeking its flock. Who cares for this tiny piece of shadow lost in ten thousand layered clouds? Does he see them where vision ends? Does he hear them through his deep sorrow? The wild ravens have no feelings. They just caw raucously, flapping, flapping. -- Du Fu, translator unknown
  • The Pelican's beak Make it hard for it to speak.
  • Heh! And the more so because fish are stuffed in its jaws. With its pouch filled so tight the bird flaps long and hard to achieve a short flight.
  • The Watcher The light enters and I remember who I am; he is there. He begins by telling me his name which (it should now be clear) is mine. I revert to the servitude which has lasted more then seven times ten years. He saddles me with his rememberings. He saddles me with the miseries of every day, the human condition. I am his old nurse; he requires me to wash his feet. He spies on me in mirrors, in mahagony, in shop windows. One or another woman has rejected him, and I must share his anguish. He dictates to me now this poem, which I do not like. He insists I apprentice myself tentatively to the stubborn Anglo-Saxon. He has won me over to the hero-worship of dead soldiers, people with whom I could scarcely exchange a single word. On the last flight of stairs, I feel him at my side. He is in my footsteps, in my voice. Down to the last detail, I abhor him. I am gratified to remark that he can hardly see. I am in a circular shell and the infinite wall is closing in. Neither of the two deceives the other, but we both lie. We know each other too well, inseparable brother. You drink the water from my cup and you wolf down my bread. The door to suicide is open, but theologians assert that, in the subsequent shadows of the other kingdom, there will I be, waiting for myself. -- Jorge Luis Borges, trans A.B.
  • An Abandoned Garden Robert Crawford By August I noticed the lack of care, And now in September I feel the despair. The rusting tools, the vanished rows, Reveal an all to brief affair, The hopeful beginning has come to a close As a meeting place for sinister crows And devious weeds planning for when They’ll make this a plot where anything goes. What kind of errant husbandman Would let it fall to field again? I think I know, I’ve met a fe2w: A fine egalitarian. The type of man, a touch askew, Who holds the universal view, “To everything, a heart be true.” But saves desertion just for you.
  • Unde Malum Where does evil come from? It comes from man, always from man only from man -- Tadeusz Rosewics Alas, dear Tadeusz, good nature and wicked man are romantic inventions you show us this way the depth of your optomism so let man exterminate his own species the innocent sunrise will illuminate a liberated fauna and flora where oak forests reclaim the postindustrial wasteland and the blood of a deer torn asunder by a pack of wolves is not seen by anyone a hawk falls upon a hare without witness evil disappears from the world and consciousness with it Of course, dear Tadeusz, evil (and good) comes from man. -- Czeslaw Milosz
  • To My Daughters, Asleep Surrounded by trees I cannot name that fill with birds I cannot tell apart I see my children growing away from me; the hinges of the heart are broken. Is it too late to start, too late to learn all the words for love before they wake? -- Robin Robertson
  • Anyone named "Robin Robertson" has no choice but to become a poet.
  • Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost Easily one of my favourite poems. Easily.
  • Very nice touch of Der Frostlemeister there!
  • Hi, Kaeldra! Fine choice. Bow A white dew points the lawn; I draw to full stretch, blind-sighting in the dark along the memory of your body. Now there are no half-measures -- the flight is loosed, the flesh invites the storm; I will drive into your heart up to the feathers. -- Robin Robertson
  • From the link via Sir Bees, versedaily, Poem against Poem Copyright © 2006 George Moore All rights reserved from Meridian Ah, now it comes to me, late in life. After years of fabrication, the death of the word, the birth of words, a circular cist or grave. Digging up the skeletons to replace them with names. After all this time no time remains, and so it rises against an immanence, the ubiety of sky. Now I can get back to living. Thank you. Goodbye. can someone explain what it's doing? I like it and there were two words I looked up because I didn't know them but I'm not sure if he's talking about death or some other loss/renewal/inspiration - ?
  • OK, I'll bite. Don't laugh at me. Late in life...with age comes wisdom Fabrication--building up as well as the thought of lying? Fabricate with words? death/birth cycle/circle To me the use of death of the word implies some sort of dying doctrine or changing dogmatic way of looking at things, whereas saying the birth of words suggests dialogue, or perhaps communication. Poets birth words. Here's the idea of a circle again--one that ends with death. Grave has the meaning of burial as well as serious--these are serious words. cist: A wicker receptacle used in ancient Rome for carrying sacred utensils in a procession. Perhaps the sacred utensils are the words, and the receptacle is the author? Utensils are used to fashion something--words fashioning/defining a life? Looking at a personal history? Procession, again with the idea of aging or moving toward death, or the actual funeral procession. Skeletons are about as anonymous as you can get--perhaps he's finally recognizing people? Developing relationships, or "fleshing out."(thus being able to use words and connect?) All this time...again the idea of aging, no time remains=death. immanent: 1. Existing or remaining within; inherent 2. Restricted entirely to the mind; subjective. ubiety: The condition of being located in a particular place. Seems like the whole poem turns on this juxtaposition of words--they're not quite opposites, yet they play meanings off each other. The sky is endless with no particular locus, so is unrestricted. Ubiety of sky seems to be an oxymoron, or that he's trying to pinpoint an idea so huge that it can't be located or defined. Immanent meaning inherient suggests death in all living things, and there is the subjective view that we all share in looking at our own lives/pasts/behaviors/words. The word plays off the meaning of imminant, or impending, soon to come. It is key--what's he talking about? His life, or the meaning of Life? There's gratitude non-specifically given as to the universe, or time, or the process of age. Or perhaps to the reader or a deity. The idea of "Now I can get back to living" suggests that there were other things that occupied the poet that he now feels were not the correct things to pursue. The Good Bye is also non-specific and not directed. Good Bye to the world, good bye to who he was, good bye to the reader, good bye to the universe--again with the implication of death. Whew! Somebody else take it away...
  • Perhaps the poem describes a feeling of not un-welcomed apostasy and a newly found sense of freedom or inspiration - 'the death of "the word" - of God?, a release from religious strictures and a birth of understanding emerging from the tomb that holds old beliefs. Naming skeletons, maybe a release from history (personal or otherwise), coming to terms with the past. He rises above an immanence, perhaps rising above himself. It, his spirit, his nirvana, his revelation, the remainder of is his life, is suddenly unencumbered. Goodbye - God be with ye. Sounds quite hopeful to me, but I dunno.
  • God of the Jellyfish The god of the jellyfish must be a luminous, translucent bowl the size of a big top, drifting upside down in an unbounded sea. Surely, this god, hung with streamers and oral arms, ruffled and lacy as thousands of wedding gowns and Victorian bodices, created all the jellyfish of Earth. Male and female, god created them in god's own image; the cross jellies and the crystal jellies, the sea nettle and the golden lion's mane, the sea wasp and the the Portuguese man-of-war -- and gave them nerve nets instead of brains to ensure their humility, put statoliths like tiny pearls in their sensory pits to give them balance, and placed spines on their nematocysts so they could capture food and would sting and burn any living thing that would harm them. And the god of the jellyfish gave them ocelli that shine like the eyes on a butterfly wing when they turn toward the light, and now their god watches over them with god's own great ocellus as they swirl and dive in glistening cathedrals, and does not expect worship or even praise: the iridescence of their umbrellas will suffice. -- Lucille Lang Day
  • Thanks GramMa & islander - I got similar things from it although I didn't see the religious angle (unless it was an agnostic one - speaking of, Ubiety of sky is totally my new sock puppet name) I like the Zen koan effect of poems and this one certainly has it, I just wondered if I was missing the forehead-smackingly obvious.
  • Immanence offers some informative links. ubiety refers to a partular location, whereas ubiquity refers to a condition of being in several or all places at once. Suspect poets may be predisposed to prefer transcendence, petes; it's the pegasus thing.
  • Ah, Islander, nice take! Bees, thanks for the linkies. I lubs dis kinda thang.
  • Trumpeter Swan He takes a run at it: heaving himself up off the lake, wingbeats echoing, the wheeze of each pull pulling him free. The sky is empty; every stretch of water flaunts its flight. You can learn how to fly, see all the edges soften and blur, but you can't hold on to the height you find, you can never be taught how to fall. -- Robin Robertson
  • Forgetfulness The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of, as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones. Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag, and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay. Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen. It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle. No wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart. --Billy Collins
  • We in the grappling nights, we fall from nearness to nearness; and where the woman in love sweetly thaws, we are a plunging stone. —Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Edward Snow
  • As for us, the Ancients, we are content with the bee, to pretend to nothing of our own beyond our wings and our voice: that is to say, our flights and our language. For the rest, whatever we have got has been by infinite labour and search, and ranging through every corner of nature; the difference is, that, instead of dirt and poison, we have rather chosen to till our hives with honey and wax; thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light. -Jonathan Swift
  • Bees after Virgil That the bees were born in the corpse of the injured animal. That the bees came forth out of the corrupted flesh. That a small room was chosen, made narrow just for this and the animal was led beneath the low roof and cramped walls and that the four winds came through the four windows and that the morning fell upon the small and heavy head, its horns curving out from the whorled medallion of the forehead. That the hot nostrils and the breathing mouth were stopped and the flesh was beaten, pounded to a pulp, beneath the unbroken hide. He lies on his side on the broken apple-boughs. He lies on a bed of fragrant thyme and the cassia is laid in sprays about him and the sweetness of the fields surrounds him. Do this when the west wind blows. Do this when the meadows are alive with poppies. Do this when the swallow hangs her pendulous nest and the dew is warm and the days grow long. And all the living fluids will swirl within the hide, and the bones will dissolve like bread in water. and a being will be born, and another, and then a thousand and a thousand thousand swarming without limbs or form. And that the wings will grow from atoms. and that the stirring wings will find their way into the air. And that a thousand stirring wings will come forth into the day like a storm of arrows made of wind and light. And the flesh will fall back into the earth, and the horror into sweetness, and the dark into the sun, and the bees thus born. -- Susan Stewart
  • Following on the Nature thread, and the time of season: In the Middle of August The dead heat rises for weeks, Unwanted, unasked for, but suddenly Like the answer to a question, A real summer shower breaks loose In the middle of August. So think Of trumpets and cymbals, a young girl In a sparkling tinsel suit leading A parade down Fifth Avenue, all The high school drummers in the city Banging away at once. Think of Bottles shattering against a warehouse, Or a bowl of apricots spilling From a tenth-floor window: the bright Rat-a-tat-tat on the hot pavement, The squeal of adults scurrying For cover like happy children. Down the bar, someone says it's like The night she fell asleep standing In the bathroom of a dank tavern And woke up shivering in an orchard Of lemon trees at dawn, surprised by the sudden omnipotence of yellows. Someone else says it's like spinning A huge wheel and winning at roulette, Or drawing four aces and thinking: "It's true, it's finally happening." Look, I'm not saying that the pretty Girl in the fairy tale really does Let down her golden hair for all The poor kids in the neighborhood-- Though maybe she does. But still I am saying that a simple cloud Bursts over the city in mid-August And suddenly, in your lifetime, Everyone believes in his own luck. --Edward Hirsch
  • That one got me, StoryBored. Thanks for that.
  • Valentine Not a red rose or a satin heart. I give you an onion. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. It promises light like the careful undressing of love. Here. It will blind you with tears like a lover. It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief. I am trying to be truthful. Not a cute card nor a kissogram. I give you an onion. Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful as we are, for as long as we are. Take it. Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring, if you like. Lethal. Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife. -- Carol Ann Duffy
  • How shall I begin my song? How shall I begin my song In the blue night that is settling? In the great night my heart will go out, Toward me the darkness comes rattling. In the great night my heart will go out. Brown owls come here in the blue evening, They are hooting about, They are shaking their wings and hooting. Black Butte is far, Below it I had my dawn. I could see the daylight coming back for me. The morning star is up. I cross the mountains into the the light of the sea. -- Owl woman, trans Frances Densmore
  • The Clause This entity I call my mind, this hive of restlessness, this wedge of want my mind calls self, this self which doubts so much and which keeps reaching, keeps referring, keeps aspiring, longing, towards some state from which ambiguity would be banished, uncertainty expunged; this implement my mind and self imagine they might make together, which would have everything accessible to it, all our doings and undoings all at once before it, so it would have at last the right to bless, or blame, for without everything before you, all at once, how bless, how blame? this capacity imagination, self and mind conceive might be the "soul," which would be able to regard such matters as creation and destruction, origin and extinction, of species, peoples, even families, even mine, of equal consequence, and might finally solve the quandary of this thing of being, and this other thing of not; these layers, these divisions, these meanings or the lack thereof, these fissures and abysses beside which I stumble, over which I reel: is the place, the space, they constitute, which I never satisfactorily experience but from which the fear I might be torn away appalls me, me, or what might most be me? Even mine, I say, as if I might ever believe such a thing; bless and blame, I say, as though I could ever not. This ramshackle, this unwieldy, this jerry-built assemblage, this unfelt always felt disarray: is this the sum of me, is this where I'm meant to end, exactly where I started out? --C.K. Williams
  • The Workman's Friend When things go wrong and will not come right, Though you do the best you can, When life looks black as the hour of night - A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN. When money's tight and hard to get And your horse has also ran, When all you have is a heap of debt - A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN. When health is bad and your heart feels strange, And your face is pale and wan, When doctors say you need a change, A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN. When food is scarce and your larder bare And no rashers grease your pan, When hunger grows as your meals are rare - A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN. In time of trouble and lousy strife, You have still got a darlint plan You still can turn to a brighter life - A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN. -- Flann O'Brien
  • In the Microscope Here too are the dreaming landscapes, lunar, derelict. Here too are the masses, tillers of the soil. And cells, fighters who lay down their lives for a song. Here too are cemeteries, fame and snow. And I hear the murmuring, the revolt of immense estates. -- Miroslav Holub
  • In Fear of Harvests James Wright It has happened Before: nearby, The nostrils of slow horses Breathe evenly, And the brown bees drag their high garlands, Heavily, Toward hives of snow. ...
  • Bedtime story The apple, the lips, the drops of blood, the thorn, the bloom in the young girl's cheeks. A rosy warmth, you feel the heart, the rocking motion, blanket's weight. This is the start of a small dream, lazy campfire, gypsy's song, this is the song of the peddler's wagon, peek of stocking, lusty daughter. This is desire lapping the edge, dark red flowers, smell of smoke. These are the songs of the drunken men, eating sausages made from blood. This is you in your father's arms. Are you dreaming now? Are you dreaming yet? There's darkness ahead, shadowy wolves, their jaundiced eyes, their long slick tongues. Can you hear the bells, do you feel the pull? The night air chills, you reach for fire. You see the daughter sent to the stream, buckets swinging back and forth. This is a dream. The start of a dream. Who is the girl? The wolves advance. -- Deborah Bogen
  • Workers (foragers) After this seven- months slumber, honey-stupored & warm, we unfold our wings, shake off the hive, set out for buckwheat & the low flowers of spring. We work ourselves ragged, each day going out, to come back heavy with nectar & pollen. Seconds collapse. In seven weeks we fall, dried-out husks, ravaged lace. Long winter, we huddled for warmth, our bodies the lamp, honey the fuel that kept us. -- Nick Flynn
  • Mourning Doves Stop that bobbing and cooing; pay some attention to what you are doing! Surely, in the long, dovetailed history of the family there must have been one, male or female, who saw the logic behind a well-sculpted nest, who argued for a safer location, a protected eave or shrub. Anything would be better than this flattened mat of grass and twigs balanced on a branch of aging spruce, a nest so carelessly constructed that it will shatter with the first heavy rain, or break under the weight of its own children. Fledglings don't leave this nest as often as the nest leaves them, dumping them out, ready or not, a species so unconcerned with its own preservation that one could doubt Darwin's theory, or any theory that allows a nest so hastily done that eggs may roll away before hatching, unless Mourning Doves, iridescent in their dusty gray, so constant with their tender song, are such common currency, that Nature can afford this laissez faire. She shrugs her round shoulders and simply doesn't care. -- Cathryn Essinger
  • Honey Child There was one man left in town able to call you scavenger, high yellow, or the macaroon woman. There was one man at your birthday party who rode into Alabama on a wild horse and placed a bullet on his tongue drank blue tequila until the worm settled in his throat and he bellowed your name. Was this the one man who foretold your two brown daughters and a son drove the automobile without a floorboard into the green mountains like a helmsman tossed into fog and ruin? This man meant what he said: built a stone house out of water took a rainbow into his mouth and from the Petrified :Forest pulled the arrowhead that circled the earth tore the ground and landed at your feet. This was the same man who wed his science to your volcanic eyes read death poems in broad daylight boiled red clay and raw honey until the smoke signals spelled out your name and nearly placed your heart into his hands. -- Charles Fort
  • Magic, mecurious! October Those fallen leaves, pale supplicants, have much to teach us of surrender, how, wrapped in autumn's incense they unfurl their flags to the wind Every year I want to kneel in damp soil and say farewell to blessed things: the swift geese as they shout each to each above the treetops, the white nicotinia at my door, still releasing its fragrance against the chill of evening, the memory of a much-loved hand the last day I held it There was early morning light rich as silk, the flash of late fireflies amidst the cedar, cows' tails whisking in the amber fields, the chiaroscuro of a moth's wing Goodbye, brief lives, ablaze with tenderness; today the glory of the leaves is enough, for I am learning anew to release all I cannot hold, these moments of luminous grace saying Here and here is beauty, here grief: this is the way to come home -- Carolyn Smart
  • What a fine piece, homunculus! I don't normally ponder the biographical particulars of a poet, but I do wonder how he came to go over there - how old he was, and whether others in his family had served in the military. A sad truth is no poet ever needs to go to war to know this. Although many have done so, one always hopes a new generation won't have to.
  • There's more about the author in this article.
  • Them Again from Chinese Apples I don't have to call them, I never know when they'll buzz, the pests, then they can't stop talking, like taxi static on the phone behind whatever living voice I'm trying to hear. And now they're back. A headset twitters near the famed Korean who rides our bus repeating "Remember me, remember me to everybody" that streams into wingbeats when blackbirds slap trees then pretend to leave. I never know where they'll be, my skittish talky dead, in dozens sung by girls skipping rope, Mama told Papa don't be so bad, or deer bounding down court, Get back, pick him up! They talk their talk and claim me: my father who hardly spoke at all; a brain-fevered friend cussing Jesus in tall cotton; another who lived to quarrel and still can't shut up, like fanatical mosquitoes, ladybugs clogging the screen, or gossipy mob of moths stuck to the underside of our incomplete existence, batting their opaque wings at our brief blackbird world, so much noise and so it goes when this big-nosed redhead, before getting on, sucks and dumps his smoke, jet-trailing through the door— he hacks and he hawks and he sets them loose again to crowd me, saying the same senseless things they say.W. S. DiPiero
  • Crazy, man. Crazy.
  • The pages clock has not heard the buzz for long the time before this since was.
  • Every time I see this thread, or the Maine bears one, or any bee one, on the sidebar, I get all hopeful. Again.
  • No more flowers, no more trees, No more singing birds, Such is the burden of the bees, Like pollen: fertile words.
  • The Woman Who Collects Noah's Arks Has them in every room of her house, wall hangings, statues, paintings, quilts and blankets, ark lampshades, mobiles, Christmas tree ornaments, t-shirts, sweaters, necklaces, books, comics, a creamer, a sugar bowl, candles, napkins, tea-towels and tea-tray, nightgown, pillow, lamp. Animals two-by-two in plaster, wood, fabric, oil paint, copper, glass, plastic, paper, tinfoil, leather, mother-of-pearl, styrofoam, clay, steel, rubber, wax, soap. Why I cannot ask, though I would like to know, the answer has to be simply because. Because at night when she lies with her husband in bed, the house rocks out into the bay, the one that cuts in here to the flatlands at the center of Texas. Because the whole wood structure drifts off, out under the stars, beyond the last lights, the two of them pitching and rolling as it all heads seaward. Because they hear trumpets and bellows from the farther rooms. Because the sky blackens, but morning finds them always safe on the raindrenched land, bird on the windowsill.
  • Very nice, mecurious. These days when I hear 'the ark' I think about a comment from Joseph Campbell that fish were the only animals not on the ark.
  • Wow, that's great! Did you really write that? I'm wearing my denim shirt with the embroidered Ark and animals on it today. It fools the Xtians into allowing me to pass.
  • Lower the Standard: That's My Motto Lower the standard: that's my motto. Somebody is always putting the food out of reach. We're tired of falling off ladders. Who says a cihld can't paint? A pro is somebody who does it for money. Lower the standards. Let's all play poetry. Down with ideals, flags, convention buttons, morals, the scrambled eggs on the admiral's hat. I'm talking sense. Lower the standrads. Sabotage the stylistic approach. Let weeds grow in the subdivision. Putty up the incisions in the library facade, those names that frighten grade-school teachers, those names whose U's are cut like V's. Burn the Syntopicon and The Harvard Classics. Lower the standards on classics, battleships, Russian ballet, national anthems (but they're low enough). Break through to the bottom. Be natural as an American abroad who knows no language, not even American. Keelhaul the poets in the vestry chairs. Renovate the Abbey of cold-storage dreamers. Get off the Culture Wagon. Learn how to walk the way you want. Slump your shoulders, stick your belly out, arms all over the table. How many generations will this take? Don't think about it, just make a start. (You have made a start.) Don't break anything you can step around, but don't pick it up . The law of gravity is the law of art. You first, poetry second, the good, the beautiful, the true come last. As the lad said: we must love one another or die. -- Karl Shapiro
  • Oo, nice shirt, granma!
  • Thanks, SB! Fantastic poem. I've not heard that before. WE NEEDS MOR POMES!
  • Yer right! This week has been a washout for me workwise so putting up some Pomes is my penance. More to come.
  • Horse Poetica by Matthew Thorburn The one I rode in on. That mud-colored nag. When he blinks his black eye bigger than my fist, his eyelid's an upside-down pocket. And the scrape, the spark of horseshoes on dry riverbed rocks—every sound has a silence tied to its tail. Or else it gets penned up in the mighty barrel staves of his ribs. Oh, but staves? That makes me hear music. That tinny harmonica, that tuneless squeezebox, the song we ought to know better by now, but still follow for days down a path that's only a path because we belive it is. Now where'd our giddy up and go go? My horse can't canter. I hop along. We've been outfoxed. Farmed out and fenced in. If we were given a chance, then given a second chance, we'd both choose a paddle and a boat and float. Soggy but saddle-less. We'd both need new names. Then new shoes. Meanwhile, we hang a left at the one-armed cactus. There's another life after this one, but it's just as dusty. Meanwhile, we're caught in a crowd of cows and cowhands. But they part for us, they part like the Red Sea of beef. Then they get going. Then I get the bit between his teeth. Then he bites. Boy, could we use a minor catastrophe or two. Let lightning like a lasso streak straight at us.
  • Nice! Thank you GramMa. "tuneless squeezebox" that's awesome.
  • I'm sorry. I forgot to add the author of the poem The Woman Who Collects Noah's Arks, Texas poet Janet McCann. I regret the unintentional inference that the work was mine. I wish!
  • The Potato Eaters Sometimes, the naked taste of potato reminds me of being poor. The first bites are gratitude, the rest, contented boredom. The little kitchen still flickers like a candle-lit room in a folktale. Never again was my father so angry, my mother so still as she set the table, or I so much at home. --Leonard Nathan
  • Jeepers, i just read that very poem today, mecurious.
  • The Colonel What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them- selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground. -- Carolyn Forche
  • Sunday evening after supper here's a little bit of world-weariness, with optimistic fringe. Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg You might come here Sunday on a whim. Say your life broke down. The last good kiss you had was years ago. You walk these streets laid out by the insane, past hotels that didn't last, bars that did, the tortured try of local drivers to accelerate their lives. Only churches are kept up. The jail turned 70 this year. The only prisoner is always in, not knowing what he's done. The principal supporting business now is rage. Hatred of the various grays the mountain sends, hatred of the mill, The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls who leave each year for Butte. One good restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out. The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines, a dance floor built on springs -- all memory resolves itself in gaze, in panoramic green you know the cattle eat or two stacks high above the town, two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse for fifty years that won't fall finally down. Isn't this your life? That ancient kiss still burning out your eyes? Isn't this defeat so accurate, the church bell simply seems a pure announcement: ring and no one comes? Don't empty houses ring? Are magnesium and scorn sufficient to support a town, not just Philipsburg, but towns of towering blondes, good jazz and booze the world will never let you have until the town you came from dies inside? Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty when the jail was built, still laughs, although his lips collapse. Someday soon, he says, I'll go to sleep and not wake up. You tell him no. You're talking to yourself. The car that brought you here still runs. The money you buy lunch with, no matter where it's mined, is silver and the girl who serves your food is slender and her red hair lights the wall. --Richard Hugo
  • Damn fine post about Sorley MacLean on MeFi posted by some giezer.
  • Is that our Abigiezer?
  • I garnered a small but select response, I like to think. Because I'm delusional. But the post was Sorley needed, I felt.
  • My Physics Teacher He tried to convince us, but his billiard ball Fell faster than his pingpong ball and thumped To the floor first, in spite of Galileo. The rainbows from his prism skidded off-screen Before we could tell an infra from an ulta. His hand-cranked generator refused to spit Sparks and settled for smoke. The dangling pith Ignored the attractions of his amber wand. No matter how much static he rubbed and dubbed From the seat of his pants, and the housebrick He lowered into a tub of water weighed (Eureka!) more than the overflow. He believed in a World of Laws, where problems had answers, Where tangible objects and intangible forces Acting thereon could be lettered, numbered and crammed Through our tough skulls for lifetimes of homework. But his only uncontestable demonstration Came with our last class; he broke his chalk On a formula, stooped to catch it, knocked his forehead On the eraser-gutter, staggered slewfoot, and stuck One foot forever into the wastebasket. --David Wagoner
  • Wagoner rocks!! *sighs I've missed this thread. Appeal to the Grammarians We, the naturally hopeful, Need a simple sign For the myriad ways we're capsized. We who love precise language Need a finer way to convey Disappointment and perplexity. For speechlessness and all its inflections, For up-ended expectations, For every time we're ambushed By trivial or stupefying irony, For pure incredulity, we need The inverted exclamation point. For the dropped smile, the limp handshake, For whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift Or taken the first sip of a flat beer, Or felt love or pond ice Give way underfoot, we deserve it. We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot, The child whose ball doesn't bounce back, The flat tire at journey's outset, The odyssey that ends up in Weehawken. But mainly because I need it—here and now As I sit outside the Caffe Reggio Staring at my espresso and cannoli After this middle-aged couple Came strolling by and he suddenly Veered and sneezed all over my table And she said to him, "See, that's why I don't like to eat outside." Paul Violi
  • That's a keeper, Granma! I'd never heard of Wagoner until i ran across that poem by accident. And now this Violi fellow needs looking into....
  • The Meat Thieves Susan Wicks Drivers wanted. Thieves and alcoholics need not apply. JOB AD IN A BUTCHER'S WINDOW And yet we're good with meat. Our agile fingers know how to pick a crusted lock. Corn-fed chickens wait quartered in the cold safe in a fur of breath. Under our coats we hide small finds — an ear, a stiffened wing, a wishbone; rabbits' kidneys slide their satin eyes into our pockets where the fluff congeals. We can tiptoe through blood and leave no footprints: friends will testify we were far from this square of sawdust, far from ourselves. When we first saw meat swing from your hook our hands started to shake as we reached for the bottle. Now we stroke apart the cutlets on their spine of bone. The marbled fat is cool, the suet clean as candles; mince curls like hair from the greased machine. And each discarded heart is a maze of hidden chambers, every valve gasps open. In a gold wave the sawdust swells underfoot: all we can take is ours and the getaway car waiting, packed tight from roof to floor with perishable goods. We'll part the air in a screech of burnt rubber. While you turn in your sheet we'll stitch up your town with a zigzag of tail-lights, hooting and whooping at a job well done. Story: now your turn! Jump in, Monkeys
  • *cues duelling banjos music* -- Collage of Echoes I have no promises to keep Nor miles to go before I sleep1, For miles of years I have made promises and (mostly) kept them. It's time I slept. Now I lay me down to sleep2 With no promises to keep. My sleaves are ravelled3 I have travelled4. --Isabella Gardner 1 Robert Frost – “Stopping by Woods on a Snow Evening” 2 Child’s rhyme 3 Macbeth, 2.2.37 4 Keats, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”
  • The Elephant Is Slow To Mate Hilda Doolittle The elephant, the huge old beast, is slow to mate; he finds a female, they show no haste they wait for the sympathy in their vast shy hearts slowly, slowly to rouse as they loiter along the river-beds and drink and browse and dash in panic through the brake of forest with the herd, and sleep in massive silence, and wake together, without a word. So slowly the great hot elephant hearts grow full of desire, and the great beasts mate in secret at last, hiding their fire. Oldest they are and the wisest of beasts so they know at last how to wait for the loneliest of feasts for the full repast. They do not snatch, they do not tear; their massive blood moves as the moon-tides, near, more near till they touch in flood.
  • The Dance In Breughel's great picture, The Kermess, the dancers go round, they go round and around, the squeal and the blare and the tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles tipping their bellies (round as the thick- sided glasses whose wash they impound) their hips and their bellies off balance to turn them. Kicking and rolling about the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those shanks must be sound to bear up under such rollicking measures, prance as they dance in Breughel's great picture, The Kermess. William Carlos Williams
  • Ode to the Midwest by Kevin Young The country I come from Is called the Midwest —Bob Dylan I want to be doused in cheese & fried. I want to wander the aisles, my heart's supermarket stocked high as cholesterol. I want to die wearing a sweatsuit— I want to live forever in a Christmas sweater, a teddy bear nursing off the front. I want to write a check in the express lane. I want to scrape my driveway clean myself, early, before anyone's awake— that'll put em to shame— I want to see what the sun sees before it tells the snow to go. I want to be the only black person I know. I want to throw out my back & not complain about it. I wanta drive two blocks. Why walk— I want love, n stuff— I want to cut my sutures myself. I want to jog down to the river & make it my bed— I want to walk its muddy banks & make me a withdrawal. I tried jumping in, found it frozen— I'll go home, I guess, to my rooms where the moon changes & shines like television. Heee!
  • Drucker's Mule Barn Jeffrey Franklin There they are, standing in the boxy stalls, there's Jake, beard-stubble dun, one ear turreted straight back, chewing in slow motion, and there's Boxer with a blue hoof cocked as you walk gingerly behind, and then Manchu— "yellow-slant-eyed-wicked-bastard," Uncle Don hisses at him—almost invisible in the sun-spatter of hay-light through the slats, and there at the end, The Reverend, as Rodney dubbed him, by turns solemn and ecclesiastical with wrath, shiny black as a cheap Sunday suit. I don't know how to get back there now, though curls of dust from our passing still settle down through the hushed air on the old turnpike. The poplars, pin oaks, and shagbark hickories that yellow the roof of the road's tunnel in fall rustle green still with invisible passings. But there it is, I swear to God, at the dogleg where the creek bends behind, up ahead on the left, that gray hulk of timber and tin with the doors swung wide, Uncle Don and Rodney out front in their washed-out Pointer Brand overalls, passing the black twist of Black Mariah. They still know how to talk to a mule the way a mule needs to be talked to when it baulks, when it hesitates between narcolepsy and the urge to crush you utterly, when it cogitates the somber truths. I need those somber truths now, and narry a mule around. Not infrequently I need the instruction of one who knows how to grind resentment into patience. I need to pace myself, I need some mule time, I need the bitter consolation and the succor of sweet hay, dusk, fly-buzz, slant sun. That's why when someone I don't know and don't want to know rings my phone I sometimes pick it up and say, "Drucker's Mule Barn." For all I know a Goddamn interstate's been laid smack on top of that turnpike, barn, mules, creek, and trees just a foiled layer of sediment in a fossil's seam, and no one there, when the non-existent phone begins inaudibly to ring and ring and ring, to answer.
  • Child Developement Billy Collins As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs and sauntered off the beaches into forests working up some irregular verbs for their first conversation, so three-year-old children enter the phase of name-calling. Every day a new one arrives and is added to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead, You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor (a kind of Navaho ring to that one) they yell from knee level, their little mugs flushed with challenge. Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack. They are just tormenting their fellow squirts or going after the attention of the giants way up there with their cocktails and bad breath talking baritone nonsense to other giants, waiting to call them names after thanking them for the lovely party and hearing the door close. The mature save their hothead invective for things: an errant hammer, tire chains, or receding trains missed by seconds, though they know in their adult hearts, even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed for his appalling behavior, that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids, their wives are Dopey Dopeheads and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants.
  • Need. More. Poems. Harvesting the Cows Ellen Bryant Voigt Stringy, skittery, thistle-burred, rib-etched, they're like a pack of wolves lacking a sheep but also lacking the speed, the teeth, the wits— they're heifers culled from the herd, not worth the cost of feeding and breeding and milking, let loose on a hill one-third rock, one-third blackberry bramble. And now, the scrub stung black by hard frost, here come the young farmer and his father, one earnest, one wizened, wind-whipped, sun-whipped, who make at the gate, from strewn boards and boughs, a pen, and park at its near end the compact silver trailer, designed for two horses— it waits at the mouth of the rutted tractor-trail descending through trees, an artificial gulley. Up goes Junior, hooting, driving them down. So much bigger than wolves, these sixteen cows: head to flank or flank to scrawny flank, they can't turn around; but what they know is no: some splash over the walls of the small corral, one, wall-eyed, giddy, smashes away the warped plank that's propped on the far side, crashing across alders and wet windfall in a plausible though explosive dance, which prompts another to aim herself at the same hole, too late: the planks back up, she's turned to the clump and soon swimming among them, their white necks extended like the necks of hissing geese, but so much bigger than geese. When the younger man wraps one neck in his arms, the cow rears up and he goes down, plaid wool in shit-slicked mud; so then the elder takes her by the nose— I mean, he puts two fingers and a thumb inside the nostrils, pulls her into the trailer. The rest shy and bunch away from the gate; a tail lifts for a stream of piss; one beast mounts another—panic that looks erotic— and the herdsmen try guile, a pail of grain kept low, which keeps the head of the lead cow low as though resigned, ready for the gallows. The silver loaf opens, swallows them in, two by two by two, and takes them away. Hams need to be smoked, turkeys to be dressed out here in Arcadia, where a fine cold spit needles the air, and the birch and beech let go at last their last tattered golden rags.
  • oop, haven't popped in, in a while. Islander, that's one of my fave Billy Collins'; Granma, that's the first pome i ever seen about cows. Here's one: Naming of Parts – Henry Reed To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday, We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning, We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day, To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens, And to-day we have naming of parts. This is the lower sling swivel. And this Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see, When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel, Which in your case you have not got. The branches Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures, Which in our case we have not got. This is the safety-catch, which is always released With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see Any of them using their finger. And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers: They call it easing the Spring. They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt, And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance, Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards, For to-day we have naming of parts.
  • Ummmm!
  • Story: one of my favorites--the imagery and play on words is yummy 'Nother poem about cows, just for you! Freeing the Dead Cow in River Eric Torgersen In the daydream poem-to-be that surfaced once years ago it would have been a woman, her last slow float down the river in the final grip and current of her one life story, and I, on the bank, would have sighted her and dreamed her a song, perhaps her first, perhaps only her last; I'd have thought for us all, then chosen the wisest nothing, let her go on alone, as she seemed to know how to. This thing snagged here instead, the ineluctable cow conferred by the only and endless world-- just a distended black-and-white hump above water, far too much like a hugely pregnant belly; the rest furred brown, as if she'd been long on her way. I let her be for a week; she was getting nowhere till I gave her a first timid push with the end of a garden rake. I wound up good and wet in that bad Ganges, fell in, at first, for trying too hard to stay dry, then waded in with the rake to muscle the bulk of her free and nudge her out like a tug to the channel. Her head rose out of the water once, pale and rancorless; then she found the current and it took her and I who'd freed her turned to my next labor. Well, it could have been worse: I never saw a purple cow...
  • Moo! Ok, here's another one which explains quite well why poetry does and does not work. THE VOICE YOU HEAR WHEN YOU READ SILENTLY is not silent, it is a speaking- out-loud voice in your head; it is spoken, a voice is saying it as you read. It's the writer's words, of course, in a literary sense his or her "voice" but the sound of that voice is the sound of your voice. Not the sound your friends know or the sound of a tape played back but your voice caught in the dark cathedral of your skull, your voice heard by an internal ear informed by internal abstracts and what you know by feeling, having felt. It is your voice saying, for example, the word barn that the writer wrote but the barn you say is a barn you know or knew. The voice in your head, speaking as you read, never says anything neutrally- some people hated the barn they knew, some people love the barn they know so you hear the word loaded and a sensory constellation is lit: horse-gnawed stalls, hayloft, black heat tape wrapping a water pipe, a slippery spilled chirr of oats from a split sack, the bony, filthy haunches of cows... And barn is only a noun- no verb or subject has entered into the sentence yet! The voice you hear when you read to yourself is the clearest voice: you speak it speaking to you. ~~-Thomas Lux p.s. note cows snuck into pome at last moment
  • Lovely, StoryBored!
  • Thank ye kindly, Granma. Another pome for all child-at-heart monkeys before lights out on Sunday, i got six minutes to go before the midnite hour, when i have to be in bed else i turn into a pumkin. Where Children Live -- by Naomi Shihab Nye Homes where children live exude a pleasant rumpledness, like a bed made by a child, or a yard littered with balloons. To be a child again one would need to shed details till the heart found itself dressed in the coat with a hood. Now the heart has taken on gloves and mufflers, the heart never goes outside to find something to "do". And the house takes on a new face, dignified. No lost shoes blooming under bushes. No chipped trucks in the drive. Grown-ups like swings, leafy plants, slow-motion back and forth. While the yard of a child is strewn with the corpses of bottle-rockers and whistles, anything whizzing and spectacular, brilliantly short-lived. Trees in children's yards speak in clearer tongues. Ants have more hope. Squirrels dance as well as hide. The fence has a reason to be there, so children can go in and out. Even when the children are at school, the yards glow With the leftovers of their affection, The roots of the tiniest grasses curl toward one another Like secret smiles.
  • This is a found poem, by me. A Poem, Found in the Amazon.com Reader Reviews for the Oster BPST02-B Professional Series Blender, Black This blender isn't for everyone, this is a very serious blender, for serious users. Blends ice like there is no tomorrow, I mean no chunks what-so-ever. What a nice blender. I wanted a powerful blender. WOW, I didn't know blenders came this powerful. BEST BLENDER EVER. One speed is plenty, it's a blender not a bicycle. A No Nonsense Blender It's almost as if an airplane is taking off in your kitchen. you will NOT be able to hold a conversation But it's over in seconds, so it doesn't matter. It's Everything it's said to be No fru-fru/bling. No gadgetry or multi-mode/40-button fake quality. No pastel plastics. Just the best blending on earth. Owned for a flawless month now. I've tried blending almost everything but granite. I've nicknamed mine "Heraclitus" because it causes everything I feed it to flow and become.
  • *applause*
  • Paradise Arthur Smith I used to live there. Every morning The downtown streets were cobbled with gold, honey Flowed—all that stuff. I'm not kidding. Summers Lasted a lifetime, broken by Christmas And New Year's. Mornings were like waking to someone's scent You hadn't yet met and married for life, Though I didn't know that then—the night-cooled Muskmelons rolling belly up to the stars, And by late afternoon the dusk-colored Dust of apricots on everything. From that earth, my body Assembled itself, and when the veil dropped, I tried to say what I saw. The light winds Around me died, the sheers of summer wavered As though all of it were mirage. Cantaloupes, Grapes, clusters of ruby flames like champagne, Though I didn't know that then— Nectarines like morphine—didn't know that either. Oranges, almonds, rainbows, Tangs—rolling in all year long, that bounty. You tell people that, over and over, And it's really crazy, they won't believe you. All that sugar coaxed out of clay, and you Can't even give it away—and each dawn More is just piled on. I took in as much As I could, like larder, and walked away.
  • End of Summer Just an uncommon lull in the traffic so you hear some guy in an apron, sleeves rolled up, with his brusque sweep brusque sweep of the sidewalk, and the slap shut of a too thin rental van, and I told him no a gust has snatched from a conversation and brought to you, loud. It would be so different if any of these were missing is the feeling you always have on the first day of autumn, no, the first day you think of autumn, when somehow the sun singling out high windows, a waiter settling a billow of white cloth with glasses and silver, and the sparrows shattering to nowhere are the Summer waving that here is where it turns and will no longer be walking with you, traveller, who now leave all of this behind, carrying only what it has made of you. Already the crowds seem darker and more hurried and the slang grows stranger and stranger, and you do not understand what you love, Yet here, rounding a corner in mild sunset, is the world again, wide-eyed as a child holding up a toy even you can fix. How light your step down the narrowing avenue to the cross streets, October, small November, barely legible December. --James Richardson
  • Guilty secret note to poem posters: Ever get the temptation to alter the words of a poem? I confess I sometimes think about the slight tweak. I'm just a peasant blowing my nose loudly in the church of genius...but ...but... what if, for example in the poem above, the line "...shattering to nowhere are the Summer" was "...shattering to nowhere *is* the summer"?
  • Masterful Gabriel Spera Though it's a city job, Carlos isn't wearing his orange vest and yellow hardhat, but clomps around in tan ranchero hat and washed-out denim shirt. The foreman warns him once again, as he must, and Carlos swears he won't forget again tomorrow. He straps himself in to the motor grader, skims a glove across the fat black knobs, and eases forth with a mule-driver's patience, leveling truck-dumped piles of raw fill smoother than the sea of Cortez. Maybe it's a gift, such effortless grace, such seamless union of man and machine, and maybe it's a sign how every morning, punctual as the lunch truck with its shave-and-a-haircut horn, he kills the engine, clambers down, struts up close to a massive chevron-treaded tire and just starts peeing, as though the whole site weren't naked as a soccer field, boxed along three sides by green glass towers. Not that it matters— the soil he darkens will be asphalted over soon enough, and even now, here comes the water-tank truck, spewing like a fire plug wrenched open in the mid-city heat. Small hot-pink pennants still mark the heavy conduit we sank just yesterday, and we've got planks on edge, framing where the walkway's going to be. The cement mixer inches up, its great drum putting like a clock hand teasing toward the hour. And Hector levers the crusty sluice above the ready beds, the newsprint-colored mortar plopping like horseshit to the ground. And Manny makes quick work of it, his trowel and squeegee broom drawing it so tight, a dropped dime would roll to a standing stop and never topple over. There is a thin line between miracle and mastery. Even Carlos stands, hat off with the rest of us, nodding as with subtle understanding.
  • I got dusty reading that.
  • Dirge 1-2-3 was the number he played but today the number came 3-2-1; bought his Carbide at 30 but it went to 29; had the favorite at Bowie but the track was slow-- O, executive type, would you like to drive a floating power, knee action, silk-upholstered six? Wed a Hollywood star? Shoot the course in 58? Draw to the ace, king, jack? O, fellow with a will who won't take no, watch out for three cigarettes on the same, single match; O democratic voter born in August under Mars, beware of liquidated rails-- Denouement to denouement, he took a personal pride in the certain, certain way he lived his own, private life, but nevertheless, they shut off his gas; nevertheless, the bank foreclosed; nevertheless, the landlord called; nevertheless, the radio broke, And twelve o'clock arrived just once too often, just the same he wore one gray tweed suit, bought one straw hat, drank one straight Scotch, walked one short step, took one long look, drew one deep breath, just one too many, And wow he died as wow he lived, going whop to the office and blooie home to sleep and biff got married and bam had children and oof got fired, zowie did he live and zowie did he die, With who the hell are you at the corner of his casket, and where the hell are we going on the right hand silver knob, and who the hell cares walking second from the end with an American Beauty wreath from why the hell not. Very much missed by the circulation staff of the New York Evening Post; deeply, deeply mourned by the B.M.T., Wham, Mr Roosevelt; pow, Sears Roebuck; awk, big dipper; bop, summer rain; bong, Mr., bong, Mr., bong, Mr., bong. --Kenneth Fearing
  • good one SB, thanks
  • Nice. Love a poet that can juggle the words.
  • Ye can smell the wet cement in that last one, GramMa. StoryBored, to me it seemed as if the sparrows were shattering off, taking flight...
  • Pete, Granma: You're welcome! Islander: you're right, how did i miss that?
  • On Birds and Bugs by Bai Juyi (772-846) trans. Geoffrey Waters Mites fight bloody battles for nests on a mosquito's eyelash; Tiny kingdoms are at war over lands on a snail's horn. If we looked down across our own world from highest heaven, We would see heroes fighting to the death for a speck of dust.
  • On a Sonnet Leah Goldberg Happily happiness doesn't know justice It comes when it wants and it wants unjustly Time for you to withdraw into the rustle of black silk attire rather than to dress up in smiles But is it your fault that like rain it caught you on the road by surprise that you didn't have time to cover your silver head And now you stand like a lonely tree open to all the winds and birds And now you shine like a lake and whether you want to or not you reflect the sky
  • Ars Metaphysica Bill Rasmovicz Your head is a landscape revised by culm and tire smoke, you stare through the window as though words will appear, heraldic and from nowhere. Light as a paper bag, you amble about town waiting for the wind to take hold. You profess the body is a cello, and the moon the eye by which you see. You maintain your ancestors were barbarians, that the tongue can out-leverage a crowbar. You ascertain the weather with a fork and an empty bottle of port. Moths sleep under the mattresses of your eyelids. You testify to wolves inhabiting your bones at night. You claim the dead speak through you. Crows circle your house like tiny hurricanes. Saplings take root in your gutters. Your own voice frightens you. You're a liar, a thief. You're vain. You believe you can extract silence from a stone. You contend the friction between pen and paper creates light. You believe the darkness is larger than any space can hold.
  • *applause*...reminds me a little of: He who is brave in daring will be killed, He who is brave in not daring will survive, One of these two courses is beneficial, The other is harmful. Who knows the reason for heaven's dislikes? The Way of Heaven does not war yet is good at conquering, does not speak yet is good at answering, is not summoned yet comes of itself, is relaxed yet good at making plans. Heaven's net is vast; Though its meshes are wide, nothing escapes. Tao Te Ching - Lao Tse, Chapter 73.
  • Islander: that speck of dust poem is a keeper.
  • Oh, Story, I like that! I'll have to look into Lao Tse... 57. Conquer with Inaction Do not control the people with laws, Nor violence nor espionage, But conquer them with inaction. For: The more morals and taboos there are, The more cruelty afflicts people; The more guns and knives there are, The more factions divide people; The more arts and skills there are, The more change obsoletes people; The more laws and taxes there are, The more theft corrupts people. Yet take no action, and the people nurture each other; Make no laws, and the people deal fairly with each other; Own no interest, and the people cooperate with each other; Express no desire, and the people harmonize with each other. Man, this is some good stuff. I owe you big time, my friend!
  • Ode on Dictionaries Barbara Hamby A-bomb is how it begins, with a big bang on page one, a calculator of sorts whose centrifuge begets bedouin, bamboozle, breakdance, and berserk, one of my mother's favorite words, hard-knock clerk of clichés that she is, at the moment going ape the current rave in the fundamentalist landscape disguised as her brain, a rococo lexicon of Deuteronomy, Job, gossip, spritz, and neo-con ephemera all wrapped up in a pop burrito of movie star shenanigans, like a stray Cheeto found in my pocket the day after I finish the bag, tastier than any oyster and champagne fueled fugue gastronomique I have been pursuing in France for the past four months. This 82-year-old's rants have taken their place with the dictionary I bought in the fourth grade, with so many gorgeous words I thought I'd never plumb its depths. Right the first time, little girl, yet here I am still at it, trolling for pearls, Japanese words vying with Bantu in a goulash I eat daily, sometimes gagging, sometimes with relish, kleptomaniac in the five-and-dime of language, slipping words in my pockets like a non-smudge lipstick that smears with the first kiss. I'm the demented lady with sixteen cats. Sure, the house stinks, but those damned mice have skedaddled, though I kind of miss them, their cute little faces, the whiskers, those adorable gray suits. No, all beasts are welcome in my menagerie, ark of inconsolable barks and meows, sharp-toothed shark OED of the deep ocean, sweet compendium of candy bars—Butterfingers, Mounds, and M&Ms— packed next to tripe and gizzards, the trim and tackle of butchers and bakers, the painter's brush and spackle, quarks and black holes of physicists' theory. I'm building my own book as a mason makes a wall or a gelding runs round the track—brick by brick, step by step, word by word, jonquil by gerrymander, syllabub by greensward, swordplay by snapdragon, a never ending parade of clowns and funambulists in my own mouth, homemade treasure chest of tongue and teeth, the brain's roustabout, rough unfurler of tents and trapezes, off-the-cuff unruly troublemaker in the high church museum of the world. O mouth—boondoggle, auditorium, viper, gulag, gumbo pot on a steamy August afternoon—what have you not given me? How I must wear on you, my Samuel Johnson in a frock coat, lexicographer of silly thoughts, billy goat, X-rated pornographic smut factory, scarfer of snacks, prissy smirker, late-night barfly; you are the megaphone by which I bewitch the world or not, as the case may be. O chittering squirrel, Ziploc sandwich bag, sound off, shut up, gather your words into bouquets, folios, flocks of black and flaming birds.
  • I just watched a DVD of an event last year in Dublin to mark the anniversary of Flann O'Brien's death. It's okayish, with David Kelly and Tommy Tiernan among others. However, to my mind, it's not a patch on Eamonn Morrissey's monologues on The Brother and the taxidermist story. Anyway, if you'd like to see the DVD I mentioned, e-mail is in the profile. Ordinarily, I'd just give an amazon link, but I can't find the reference in this case. Why post in this thread? Because the beesmeister posted the plain man's ong here.
  • Oo, just got my hi-speed Net access back and now catching up on pomes. Granma, that Ode is a delight. Roryk, A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN!
  • More on the Ode, there be riches here... A is abacus (= "a calculator of sorts") B is bummer (= hardknock word) C is creationism (= the current rave in the fundamentalist landscape) ....
  • For you, SB! Abandoned Farmhouse Ted Kooser He was a big man, says the size of his shoes on a pile of broken dishes by the house; a tall man too, says the length of the bed in an ustairs room; and a good, God-fearing man, says the Bible with a broken back on the floor below the window, dusty with sun; but not a man for farming, say the fields cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn. A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves covered with oilcloth,and they had a child, says the sandbox made from a tractor tire. Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole. And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames. It was lonely here, says the narrow country road. Something went wrong, says the empty house in the weed chocked yard. Stones in the fields say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste. And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard like branches after a storm – a rubber cow, a rusty tractor with a broken plow, a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.
  • Gee, that is a good one. Thanks Granma! I miss the pomes.
  • Your turn, SB
  • The War Prayer “O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle –be Thou near them! With them –in spirit—we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen” --Mark Twain.
  • Fuckin' A, men Hi StoryBored!
  • Too damn bad that prayer can't be said before every press conference Bush holds concerning this f@#*in' war!!
  • The Prose Poem Campbell McGrath The Ecco Press On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk's descent from the lightning-struck tree. You've passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?
  • Heya islander, how goes!? Granma, thanks for that. I like the question at the end.
  • Here's another: Iowa & Other Accidents There was snow that afternoon covering the road which twisted toward the secret of water, the mysterious surge of sludge & loam, the living Mississippi, unlike the rest of the Midwest, drawing itself through landscape. There was an appointment you were keeping in Moline: a cheap hotel, booze, a little blow. On the Lower East Side, a woman spills her martini, makes a gesture like erasure, or regret. It was almost Christmas. In the rear view suddenly, the car you will always describe as oncoming must have slipped into a skid and now, rising up over the bank, it startles you—that reflection. In Moline the maid corners the bed, straightens the clean line of sheet. Almost Christmas. On the road, swirls of snow. On the road the car hovering behind you, a witness, unfortunate & so unlike the audience permitted the distance of fictions, the artifice of plot. And worse, of course, the law of cause & effect: I looked up, it started to fall. You must attach subject to verb, must say I saw, and did, in your rear view, the car you’d thought nothing of, the gray sedan lifting slowly from the common snow, turning, and the accident always there, about to happen. -- Kate Northrop
  • What the Horses See at Night Robin Robertson When the day-birds have settled in their creaking trees, the doors of the forest open for the flitting drift of deer among the bright croziers of new ferns and the legible stars; foxes stream from the earth; a tawny owl sweeps the long meadow. In a slink of river-light, the mink's face is already slippery with yolk, and the bay's tiny islands are drops of solder under a drogue moon. The sea's a heavy sleeper, dreaming in and out with a catch in each breath, and is not disturbed by that plowt - the first in a play of herring, a shoal silvering open the sheeted back skin of the sea. Through the starting rain, the moon skirrs across the sky dragging torn shreds of cloud behind. The fox's call is red and ribboned in the snow's white shadow. The horses watch the sea climb and climb and walk towards them on the hill, hear the vole crying under the alder, our children breathing slowly in their beds.
  • Wow, islander, thank you!!! I didn't have this poem in my collection of horse poetry, and I've put together three notebooks containing over 800 poems. Here's one backatcha: Horse By Moonlight Alberto Blanco, trans Jennifer Clenment A horse escaped from the circus and lodged in my daughter's eyes there he ran circles around the iris raising silver dust-clouds in the pupil and halting sometimes to drink from the holy water of the retina. Since then my daughter feels a longing for meadows of grass and green hills waiting for the moon to come and dry with its silk sleeves the sad water that wets her cheeks.
  • The Student Theme Ronald Wallace The adjectives all ganged up on the nouns, insistent, loud, demanding, inexact, their Latinate constructions flashing. The pronouns lost their referents: They were dangling, lacked the stamina to follow the prepositions' lead in, on, into, to, toward, for, or from. They were beset by passive voices and dead metaphors, conjunctions shouting But! or And! The active verbs were all routinely modified by adverbs, that endlessly and colorlessly ran into trouble with the participles sitting on the margins knitting their brows like gerunds (dangling was their problem, too). The author was nowhere to be seen; was off somewhere.
  • The metaphors stood silent as tombstones While the similes said like yeah, And the hysteron proteron, read then written.
  • !!
  • Listen Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water looking out in different directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you looking up from tables we are saying thank you in a culture up to its chin in shame living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the back door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks that use us we are saying thank you with the animals dying around us our lost feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us like the earth we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is --W.S. Merwin
  • One of my fave poets. Thank you for posting, StoryBored.
  • You're welcome! I stumbled on it by accident in an anthology and was struck by it. I don't know anything at all about him. Are there any other poems that you'd recommend by him?
  • One of my favourite poems by Merwin, and indeed by any poet, is Words from a totem animal, too long to post here in its entirety, but can be found here. It inspired me to start the novel that I'm hoping to finish at some point ;) Other online anthologies here, here and here
  • Oooooooh, mothninja! You rock! I've been wanting to explore more Merwin... W.S. Merwin: The Horse. In a dead tree there is the ghost of a horse no horse was ever seen near the tree but the tree was born of a mare it rolled with long legs in rustling meadows it pricked its ears it reared and tossed its head and suddenly stood still beginning to remember as its leaves fell from Merwin's, "The Compass Flower." Another of my favs is Philip Levine The Horse for Ichiro Kawamoto, humanitarian, electrician, & survivor of Hiroshima They spoke of the horse alive without skin, naked, hairless, without eyes and ears, searching for the stableboy’s caress. Shoot it, someone said, but they let him go on colliding with tattered walls, butting his long skull to pulp, finding no path where iron fences corkscrewed in the street and bicycles turned like question marks. Some fled and some sat down. The river burned all that day and into the night, the stones sighed a moment and were still, and the shadow of a man’s hand entered a leaf. The white horse never returned, and later they found the stable boy, his back crushed by a hoof, his mouth opened around a cry that no one heard. They spoke of the horse again and again; their mouths opened like the gills of a fish caught above water. Mountain flowers burst from the red clay walls, and they said a new life was here. Raw grass sprouted from the cobbles like hair from a deafened ear. The horse would never return. There had been no horse. I could tell from the way they walked testing the ground for some cold that the rage had gone out of their bones in one mad dance.
  • Notice This evening, the sturdy Levi's I wore every day for over a year & which seemed to the end in perfect condition, suddenly tore. How or why I don't know, but there it was: a big rip at the crotch. A month ago my friend Nick walked off a racquetball court, showered, got into this street clothes, & halfway home collapsed & died. Take heed, you who read this, & drop to your knees now & again like the poet Christopher Smart, & kiss the earth & be joyful, & make much of your time, & be kindly to everyone, even to those who do not deserve it. For although you may not believe it will happen, you too will one day be gone, I, whose Levi's ripped at the crotch for no reason, assure you that such is the case. Pass it on. --Steve Kowit
  • *stands up to applaud*
  • That was fabulous. And slightly heartwrenching.
  • Waiting to Cut the Hay Erica Funkhouser In the toolshed the best thing is the heart-shaped seat of the tractor. You don't have to know anything to sit in it. You don't have to squeeze out the choke and pump the gas pedal before you can go anywhere. You don't have to steer the front wheel around like the neck of a stubborn horse in order to get out to the fields. You don't have to look through the rusted floorboards to see that the timothy is ripe and that all the hayfields tilt toward the toolshed. Even the stones beneath the fields lean this way. And here comes the far pasture, with its sumac and cow parsley and sway-backed fence, and here's the road to the river, and now the river itself, the shy wood duck flapping up from the reeds, the bullfrogs frog-kicking into black water, and the yellow perch swirling like our own galaxy until they're right here above the clutch where you can lower your toes in among them.
  • It's National Poetry Month. So write/read some national poetry.
  • "heart-shaped seat" - that's nice image.
  • The Mower Philip Larkin The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found A hedgehog jammed up against the blades, Killed. It had been in the long grass. I had seen it before, and even fed it, once. Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world Unmendably. Burial was no help: Next morning I got up and it did not. The first day after a death, the new absence Is always the same; we should be careful Of each other, we should be kind While there is still time. celleebrate national poetree month!!
  • Across The Road - Anne Harré The woman across the road lives alone, directly next to a man who also lives alone. Between them are twelve maybe fourteen inches (centimetres ineffectual, tip-toeing) of brick, half an inch (each side) of gib-board, a feathering of wall-paper, a smear of paint. The house exactly mirrors itself, like the weather-vane couple, wooden predictors swinging each one in and out. She, off to work, he, drunkenly forgetting medication, taking an axe to her fence.
  • What a great way to start a Friday!
  • That's great, Ed. I've never heard of - Anne Harré. I guess I better get with it and look her up!
  • To Help the Monkey Cross the River which he must cross, by swimming, for fruits and nuts, to help him I sit with my rifle on a platform high in a tree, same side of the river as the hungry monkey. How does this assist him? When he swims for it I look first upriver: predators move faster with the current than against it. If a crocodile is aimed from upriver to eat the monkey and an anaconda from downriver burns with the same ambition, I do the math, algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey, croc- and snake-speed, and if, if it looks as though the anaconda or the croc will reach the monkey before he attains the river’s far bank, I raise my rifle and fire one, two, three, even four times into the river just behind the monkey to hurry him up a little. Shoot the snake, the crocodile? They’re just doing their jobs, but the monkey, the monkey has little hands like a child’s, and the smart ones, in a cage, can be taught to smile. --Thomas Lux
  • Jane Duran Chimeras What if the ship were put together with safety pins, newspaper, cotton, paste and sawdust? Or what if there was nothing to it? What if the deck never happened, the ochres and reds I remember giving the lie, and at night no beguiling surfaces, railings, rain? And what if that port, the one that was or might have been – the open promenade, laughter, palm trees, crates of coffee, papayas, the sky almost a royal blue, were just my love telling tales, being there, colouring in all the lavish and lost places?
  • Salut Islander! Lift Your Right Arm Lift your right arm, she said. I lifted my right arm. Lift your left arm, she said. I lifted my left arm. Both of my arms were up. Put down your right arm, she said. I put it down. Put down your left arm, she said. I did. Lift your right arm, she said. I obeyed. Put down your right arm. I did. Lift your left arm. I lifted it. Put down your left arm. I did. Silence. I stood there, both arms down, waiting for her next command. After a while I got impatient and said, what next. Now it's your turn to give the orders, she said. All right, I said. Tell me to lift my right arm. --Peter Cherches
  • Planting the Alder Seamus Heaney For the bark, dulled argent, roundly wrapped And pigeon-collared. For the splitter-splatter, guttering Rain-flirt leaves. For the sub and clot of the first green cones, Smelted ermerald, chrlorophyll. For the scut and scat of the cones in winter, So rattle-skinned, so fossil-brittle. For the alder-wood, flame-red when torn Branch from branch But mostly for the swinging locks of yellow catkins, Plant it, plant it, Streel-head in the rain. streel-head?
  • mmmmm, lovely poems you guyz The world needs more trees. Tree ~ Jane Hirshfield ~ It is foolish to let a young redwood grow next to a house. Even in this one lifetime, you will have to choose. That great calm being, this clutter of soup pots and books -- Already the first branch-tips brush at the window. Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.
  • Robinson Jeffers Hurt Hawks The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder, The wing trails like a banner in defeat, No more to use the sky forever but live with famine And pain a few days: cat nor coyote Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons. He stands under the oak-bush and waits The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it. He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse. The curs of the day come and torment him At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head, The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes. The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant. You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him; Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him; Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him. II I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great redtail Had nothing left but unable misery From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved. We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom, He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death, Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old Implacable arrogance. I gave him the lead gift in the twilight. What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.
  • PABLO NERUDA I HAVE A CRAZY Crazy love of things. I like pliers, and scissors. I love cups rings and bowls - not to speak, of course, of hats. I love all thing, not just the grandest, also the infinite ly small- thimbles, spurs, plates, and flower vases. Oh yes.
  • LOST IN POEM-LIGHT Lynne Thompson "there is a secret happiness in seeing the world by poem-light" Jane Hirshfield The old friends don't drop by anymore-- not since the day I passed round odes as hors d'oeurves, poured sestinas on the rocks. They sadly shake their heads & whisper: "When did she disappear into that shimmer of poem-light?" Even when the random invitation issues, my hosts all quake with fear that I'll corner the guest of honor chanting ghazals for an hour or terrorize their children with tropes and terza rima. My family's worried, too; I hear that they are planning to lock me up with my pantoums and to shun me for my sonnets but I'm planning a poetic escape to States where poems gallop naked astride a naked horse, to pledge allegiance to a Country where Wild's the language that's spoken every day.
  • A 2-fer!! Needs more poems around here.
  • How funny, Gramma, I was just coming here to post some Neruda.... *proclaims today NerudaDay* Ode to My Socks, by Pablo Neruda, trans. Robert Bly Mara Mori brought me a pair of socks which she knitted herself with her sheepherder's hands, two socks as soft as rabbits. I slipped my feet into them as if they were two cases knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin, Violent socks, my feet were two fish made of wool, two long sharks sea blue, shot through by one golden thread, two immense blackbirds, two cannons, my feet were honored in this way by these heavenly socks. They were so handsome for the first time my feet seemed to me unacceptable like two decrepit firemen, firemen unworthy of that woven fire, of those glowing socks. Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation to save them somewhere as schoolboys keep fireflies, as learned men collect sacred texts, I resisted the mad impulse to put them in a golden cage and each day give them birdseed and pieces of pink melon. Like explorers in the jungle who hand over the very rare green deer to the spit and eat it with remorse, I stretched out my feet and pulled on the magnificent socks and then my shoes. The moral of my ode is this: beauty is twice beauty and what is good is doubly good when it is a matter of two socks made of wool in winter.
  • I always make sure the socks match the pantoumes.
  • Oy, mothie, great minds must think alike. ;) Or you were having a poem withdrawal like I was. More Neruda: Fleas interest me so much Fleas interest me so much that I let them bite me for hours. They are perfect, ancient, Sanskrit, machines that admit of no appeal. They do not bite to eat, they bite only to jump; they are the dancers of the celestial sphere, delicate acrobats in the softest and most profound circus; let them gallop on my skin, divulge their emotions, amuse themselves with my blood, but someone should introduce them to me. I want to know them closely, I want to know what to rely on.
  • Litany You are the bread and the knife, The crystal goblet and the wine... -Jacques Crickillon You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. You are the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun. You are the white apron of the baker, and the marsh birds suddenly in flight. However, you are not the wind in the orchard, the plums on the counter, or the house of cards. And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air. It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge, maybe even the pigeon on the general's head, but you are not even close to being the field of cornflowers at dusk. And a quick look in the mirror will show that you are neither the boots in the corner nor the boat asleep in its boathouse. It might interest you to know, speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, that I am the sound of rain on the roof. I also happen to be the shooting star, the evening paper blowing down an alley and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table. I am also the moon in the trees and the blind woman's tea cup. But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife. You are still the bread and the knife. You will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine. --Billy Collins
  • Billy Collins always comes through. Cat, Failing by Robin Robertson A figment, a thumbed maquette of a cat, some ditched plaything, something brought in from outside: his white fur stiff and grey, coming apart at the seams. I study the muzzle of perished rubber, one ear eaten away, his sour body lumped like a bean-bag leaking thinly into a grim towel. I sit and watch the light degrade in his eyes. He tries and fails to climb to his chair, shirks in one corner of the kitchen, cowed, denatured, ceasing to be anything like a cat, and there's a new look in those eyes that refuse to meet mine and it's the shame of  being found out.  Just that. And with that loss of face his face, I see, has turned human.
  • Underwear I didn’t get much sleep last night thinking about underwear Have you ever stopped to consider underwear in the abstract When you really dig into it some shocking problems are raised Underwear is something we all have to deal with Everyone wears some kind of underwear The Pope wears underwear I hope The Governor of Louisiana wears underwear I saw him on TV He must have had tight underwear He squirmed a lot Underwear can really get you in a bind You have seen the underwear ads for men and women so alike but so different Women’s underwear holds things up Men’s underwear holds things down Underwear is one thing men and women have in common Underwear is all we have between us You have seen the three-color pictures with crotches encircled to show the areas of extra strength and three-way stretch promising full freedom of action Don’t be deceived It’s all based on the two-party system which doesn’t allow much freedom of choice the way things are set up America in its Underwear struggles thru the night Underwear controls everything in the end Take foundation garments for instance They are really fascist forms of underground government making people believe something but the truth telling you what you can or can’t do Did you ever try to get around a girdle Perhaps Non-Violent Action is the only answer Did Gandhi wear a girdle? Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle? Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep? And that spot she was always rubbing— Was it really in her underwear? Modern anglosaxon ladies must have huge guilt complexes always washing and washing and washing Out damned spot Underwear with spots very suspicious Underwear with bulges very shocking Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom Someone has escaped his Underwear May be naked somewhere Help! But don’t worry Everybody’s still hung up in it There won’t be no real revolution And poetry still the underwear of the soul And underwear still covering a multitude of faults in the geological sense— strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks! If I were you I’d keep aside an oversize pair of winter underwear Do not go naked into that good night And in the meantime keep calm and warm and dry No use stirring ourselves up prematurely ‘over Nothing’ Move forward with dignity hand in vest Don’t get emotional And death shall have no dominion There’s plenty of time my darling Are we not still young and easy Don’t shout. --Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • *stands and applauds StoryBored! To continue with our theme for the evening: Frugal Poem: Flour Sack Underwear When I was a Maiden fair, Mama made our underwear. With five tots & Pa's poor pay, How could she buy us lingerie? Monograms & fancy stitches were not on OUR flour sack britches. Panty waists that stood the test With Gold Medal on the Chest. Little pants the best of all With a scene I still recall: Harvesters were gleaning wheat Right across the little seat. Tougher than a grizzly bear Was our flour sack underwear. Plain or fancy, three feet wide, stronger than a hippos hide. Through the years each Jill & Jack Wore this sturdy garb of sack. Waste not, want not, we soon learned, Penny saved, a penny earned. Bedspreads, curtains, tea towels, too. Tablecloths to name a few. But the best beyond compare was our Flour Sack Underwear! ~Author Unknown As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed As soon as Fred gets out of bed, his underwear goes on his head. His mother laughs, "Don't put it there, a head's no place for underwear!" But near his ears, above his brains, is where Fred's underwear remains. At night when Fred goes back to bed, he deftly plucks it off his head. His mother switches off the light and softly croons, "Good night! Good night!" And then, for reasons no one knows, Fred's underwear goes on his toes. Jack Prelutsky
  • Bees and Morning Glories by John Ciardi Morning glories, pale as a mist drying, fade from the heat of the day, but already hunchback bees in pirate pants and with peg-leg hooks have found and are boarding them. This could do for the sack of the imaginary fleet. The raiders loot the galleons even as they one by one vanish and leave still real only what has been snatched out of the spell. I’ve never seen bees more purposeful except when the hive is threatened. They know the good of it must be grabbed and hauled before the whole feast wisps off. They swarm in light and, fast, dive in, then drone out, slow, their pantaloons heavy with gold and sunlight. The line of them, like thin smoke, wafts over the hedge. And back again to find the fleet gone. Well, they got this day’s good of it. Off they cruise to what stays open longer. Nothing green gives honey. And by now you’d have to look twice to see more than green where all those white sails trembled when the world was misty and open and the prize was there to be taken.
  • their pantaloons heavy with gold and sunlight. Lovely!
  • Our ancestors wore flour-sack pantaloons.
  • A couple from William Stafford.. Looking for Gold A flavor like wild honey begins when you cross the river. On a sandbar sunlight stretches out its limbs, or is it a sycamore, so brazen, so clean and so bold? You forget about gold. You stare—and a flavor is rising all the time from the trees. Back from the river, over by a thick forest, you feel the tide of wild honey flooding your plans, flooding the hours till they waver forward looking back. They can’t return; that river divides more than two sides of your life. The only way is farther, breathing that country, becoming wise in its flavor, a native of the sun Allegiances It is time for all the heroes to go home if they have any, time for all of us common ones to locate ourselves by the real things we live by. Far to the north, or indeed in any direction, strange mountains and creatures have always lurked- elves, goblins, trolls, and spiders:-we encounter them in dread and wonder, But once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall, a season changes, and we come back, changed but safe, quiet, grateful. Suppose an insane wind holds all the hills while strange beliefs whine at the traveler's ears, we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love where we are, sturdy for common things.
  • Poetry Comes from Our Tree-Climbing Ancestors, Neuroscientist Says Of course! The Monkey is Reaching The monkey is reaching For the moon in the water. Until death overtakes him He’ll never give up. If he’d let go the branch and Disappear in the deep pool, The whole world would shine With dazzling pureness. - Hakuin
  • A Poem About Monkeys for Chloe How they're noisy, how they're swinging, how the zoo is a wild place, a place of innovation. The howler, the gorilla, the capuchin: they're all monkeys. Your eyes see only posture, hair, faces like playful children. In Curious George the adventure is madcap, that crazy George loose in the modernity we call home. It's wacky is what it is, how we lose each other, how we reconnect. And, you, at this high end of evolution, with your adult vocabulary, your soulfulness, your own sense of adventure, you're a monkey yourself. We all are, and that's a secret. We're all a little wild still, a little too loud, but we've learned to walk upright, right or wrong, and we've learned we need the other monkeys, in this untamed place, our lives. Corey Mesler
  • *applause* That could be the MonkeyFilter Anthem.
  • oooooook eeeee oook oook ook OOOOOOOK!!! OOOOK!
  • Hmmm, that sounds familiar...maybe if you whistle a few bars.....
  • Mr. Mesler. The. Gorilla. Is. An. Ape.
  • TUM: It's a po-em. Liberties are permitted. "Nonsense Song" by Anonymous It was midnight on the ocean; Not a street car was in sight. The sun was shining brightly, And it rained all day that night. 'Twas a summer's night in winter And the rain was snowing fast. A barefoot boy with shoes on Stood sitting on the grass. The rain was pouring down, The moon was shining bright, And everything that you could see Was hidden out of sight. It was evening and the rising sun Was setting in the West. The little fishes in the trees Were huddled in their nest. While the organ peeled potatoes, Lard was rendered by the choir. While the sexton rang the dish rag, Someone set the church on fire. "Holy Smoke," the preacher shouted, And in the rush he lost his hair. Now his head resembles heaven, For there is no parting there. I saw a great, big, tiny house Ten thousand miles away. And to my view 'twas out of sight Last night, the other day. The walls projected inward, The front door round the back. Alone it stood between two more. The walls were whitewashed black. So there!
  • Permitted, yes. Pass unnoted, never!
  • Dutch Much of life is Dutch one-digit operations in which legions of big robust people crouch behind badly cracked dike systems attached by the thumbs their wide balloon-pantsed rumps up-ended to the northern sun while, back in town, little black-suspendered tulip magnates stride around. --Kay Ryan Posted as a comment on the nuttiness in today's economy and also to mark the appointment of Kay Ryan as the newest American poet laureate!
  • I LOLed at that one!!!!! More Ryan.... Bestiary A bestiary catalogs bests. The mediocres both higher and lower are suppressed in favor of the singularly savage or clever, the spectacularly pincered, the archest of the arch deceivers who press their advantage without quarter even after they’ve won as of course they would. Best is not to be confused with good— a different creature altogether, and treated of in the goodiary— a text alas lost now for centuries. “I realized that whatever we do or don’t do, we’re utterly exposed.” Kudos to Ryan.
  • Yay! That's a new one for me. Thanks Granma!
  • From Li Kan speaks beneath the tree by Harry Martinson, trans. Stephen Klass Waves from all upheavals turn swiftly old and paths from all upheavals soon become highroads. What is left is a longing for something not the wheel of appetites or revenges. Man is best when he wishes good he cannot do and stops breeding evil he finds easier to do. He will still have a direction. It will have no end in view. It is free from unsparing endeavor.
  • So a Ballerina Walks into a Biker Bar Suzanne Parker Her tutu is luminescent, a white net catching the darkness with her powers to spin. Digs jerks his chin, nudges the closest stool mate, Five bucks she trips on a peanut and so we recognize beauty. The bet: A single arabesque in a biker bar. First, the rise to relevé. Then the arch, pulls up, waits for the weight of her entire body to balance in its cup. Slowly, she raises one leg. Like scissors, they separate, ankle high. Flirting, she raises a leg knee high. Finally, her body tips at waist high, bowing to physics, to the bar, to the men now frozen, bets laid. Then, it's the rush, the flight, the sweep downward toward the earth and teasing with the hand's stroke, the leg raised now, a clock striking twelve, an arrow shot, the finality of one straight line. But, she's not done. To succeed, she cannot wobble must stick it, sweat it, points of pain radiating upwards as one slender ankle shakes through two whole beats of Lynard Skynard, trembles as the smoke shifts, the tracks change, the long silence before the next song. Then, the quad shivers, a fast descent, the grimy floor. So, a ballerina walks into a biker bar. She leaves, a little unsteady in her toe shoes, stinking of cigarettes, beer, bills stuffed in her tutu.
  • All Shall Be Restored by Kay Ryan The grains shall be collected from the thousand shores to which they found their way, and the boulder restored, and the boulder itself replaced in the cliff, and likewise the cliff shall rise or subside until the plate of earth is without fissure. Restoration knows no half measure. It will not stop when the treasured and lost bronze horse remounts the steps. Even this horse will founder backward to coin, cannon, and domestic pots, which themselves shall bubble and drain back to green veins in stone. And every word written shall lift off letter by letter, the backward text read ever briefer, ever more antic in its effort to insist that nothing shall be lost.
  • Nice, SB
  • Teaching the Ape to Write Poems by James Tate They didn't have much trouble teaching the ape to write poems: first they strapped him into the chair, then tied the pencil around his hand (the paper had already been nailed down). Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder and whispered into his ear: "You look like a god sitting there. Why don't you try writing something?"
  • Poetry bailout! via le bleu
  • Hee Hee. Read it on the blue. Glad you posted here, islander. It's a good'un.
  • The Family Monkey Russell Edson We bought an electric monkey, experimenting rather recklessly with funds carefully gathered since grandfather's time for the purchase of a steam monkey. We had either, by this time, the choice of an electric or gas monkey. The steam monkey is no longer being made, said the monkey merchant. But the family always planned on a steam monkey. Well, said the monkey merchant, just as the wind-up monkey gave way to the steam monkey, the steam monkey has given way to the gas and electric monkeys. Is that like the grandfather clock being replaced by the grandchild clock? Sort of, said the monkey merchant. So we bought the electric monkey, and plugged its umbilical cord into the wall. The smoke coming out of its fur told us something was wrong. We had electrocuted the family monkey. ACCK!!!
  • Postscript Seamus Heaney And some time make the time to drive out west Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore, In September or October, when the wind And the light are working off each other So that the ocean on one side is wild With foam and glitter, and inland among the stones The surface of the slate-grey lake is lit By the earthed lighting of a flock of swans, Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white, Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads Tucked or cresting or busy underwater. Unless you think you'll park and capture it More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there, A hurry through which known and strange things pass As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.
  • Meltdown Nick Bruno He stepped past the police cordon, put on the mandatory surgical gloves, pulled out his notepad and pen and considered why, they had asked a poet to visit the scene of a crime. The force of the explosion had strewn about human parts. The cadaver's pride was on the commode. His vanity hung by the mirror. The libido sat exposed on the loveseat. Gobbets of guilt, were hidden in denial behind the door. But most telling, his stupidity was splattered on the wall behind the writing desk in particles of dura mater and blood. And there in front of the corpse was the culprit: a journal of love poems in the victim's handwriting.
  • Dracula’s Housecat —Anna George Meek More lithe I am, and living, than he who also hunts by night. We whisper the fields where titmice quiver; we sip black water from the kills. I leap the grass blades, the air unsheathed, moon the shape of my eye. He's quick for a little bat, but I feast first: mortality coils in my haunches. I eat and bare my belly in bloodroot to tease the lean eagles who desire me. And still, the bat is suckling his corpse. I would rip off his wings and roll his soul immortally between my paws, but he alone lets me in before dawn to climb the castle drapes. Later, I rapture in sunlight while he sleeps in his box—which I have only once misused. I love my warm body thrumming. I love my delicious short life.
  • Want more poems!
  • A BEDTIME STORY Once upon a time, an old Japanese legend goes as told by Papa, an old woman traveled through many small villages seeking refuge for the night. Each door opened a sliver in answer to her knock then closed. Unable to walk any further she wearily climbed a hill found a clearing and there lay down to rest a few moments to catch her breath. The village town below lay asleep except for a few starlike lights. Suddenly the clouds opened and a full moon came into view over the town. The old woman sat up turned toward the village town and in supplication called out Thank you people of the village, If it had not been for your kindness in refusing me a bed for the night these humble eyes would never have seen this memorable sight. Papa paused, I waited. In the comfort of our hilltop home in Seattle overlooking the valley, I shouted “That’s the end?’’ --by Mitsuye Yamada
  • That's great!!
  • I like it too! Now for a Christmassy pome The Fourth Wise Man The fourth wise man disliked travel. If you walk, there's the gravel. If you ride, there's the camel's attitude. He far preferred to be inside in solitude to contemplate the star that had been getting so much larger and more prolate lately - stretching vertically (like the souls of martyrs) toward the poles (or like the yawns of babies). --Kay Ryan
  • Loves ya, Story! Back atcha: Winter Song Maggie Nelson Solitude is a gift Say it to yourself under a canopy of phony stars Think of Lily in her old season, living with three pale cats Her mind a lavender wash Think of the man floating spray mums at the feet of the colossus before a day spent staring at the wall On the great ceiling of plates and grates, a single leaf scrapes by as the clear poison singes its path from nostril to deep brain The winter is not too sad, say it then sing it from your new pod, your new fig made of glass
  • Thanks for that one, Granma! Woo! there's pleasures in these treasures. The ending '...a new fig made of glass' made me think of this one I came across just the other day: Charles on Fire Another evening we sprawled about discussing Appearances. And it was the consensus That while uncommon physical good looks Continued to launch one, as before, in life (Among its vaporous eddies and false claims), Still, as one of us said into his beard, "Without your intellectual and spiritual Values, man, you are sunk." No one but squared The shoulders of their own unlovliness. Long-suffering Charles, having cooked and served the meal, Now brought out little tumblers finely etched He filled with amber liquor and then passed. "Say," said the same young man, "in Paris, France, They do it this way"--bounding to his feet And touching a lit match to our host's full glass. A blue flame, gentle, beautiful, came, went Above the surface. In a hush that fell We heard the vessel crack. The contents drained As who should step down from a crystal coach. Steward of spirits, Charles's glistening hand All at once gloved itself in eeriness. The moment passed. He made two quick sweeps and Was flesh again. "It couldn't matter less," He said, but with a shocked, unconscious glance Into the mirror. Finding nothing changed, He filled a fresh glass and sank down among us. --James Merrill
  • Whoa! Merrill never disappoints. Any other pome luvers out there with a good one?
  • I have a sudden urge to turn December into poem-a-day month. The God Who Loves You It must be troubling for the god who loves you To ponder how much happier you’d be today Had you been able to glimpse your many futures. It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings Driving home from the office, content with your week— Three fine houses sold to deserving families— Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened Had you gone to your second choice for college, Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted Whose ardent opinions on painting and music Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion. A life thirty points above the life you’re living On any scale of satisfaction. And every point A thorn in the side of the god who loves you. You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments So she can save her empathy for the children. And would you want this god to compare your wife With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus? It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight Than the conversation you’re used to. And think how this loving god would feel Knowing that the man next in line for your wife Would have pleased her more than you ever will Even on your best days, when you really try. Can you sleep at night believing a god like that Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is And what could have been will remain alive for him Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill Running out in the snow for the morning paper, Losing eleven years that the god who loves you Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend No closer than the actual friend you made at college, The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight And write him about the life you can talk about With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed, Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen. --Carl Dennis
  • Well, the poem-a-day urge died a quick death. Okay, how about a poem a week instead. Ethics In ethics class so many years ago our teacher asked this question every fall: if there were a fire in a museum which would you save, a Rembrandt painting or an old woman who hadn’t many years left anyhow? Restless on hard chairs caring little for pictures or old age we’d opt one year for life, the next for art and always half-heartedly. Sometimes the woman borrowed my grandmother’s face leaving her usual kitchen to wander some drafty, half-imagined museum. One year, feeling clever, I replied why not let the woman decide herself? Linda, the teacher would report, eschews the burdens of responsibility. This fall in a real museum I stand before a real Rembrandt, old woman, or nearly so, myself. The colors within this frame are darker than autumn, darker even than winter—the browns of earth, though earth’s most radiant elements burn through the canvas. I know now that woman and painting and season are almost one and all beyond saving by children. --Linda Pastan
  • I really like that ending. Sorry, Story, I had foot surgery last Monday and have been too drugged up to successfully recognize what a poem looks like. My turn/offering: Fire Should Be Measured by What Didn't Burn Passion is inferred by what isn't said. Absence will be valued by the one who notices first. Pleasure can be ranked by all other thoughts kept out. Fatigue is always spoken in a narrow range of voice. Wars are justified by the troops who didn't die. Progress is best measured when sleep shuts out the rain. Fidelity is most natural when the ear believes in pressure. Hunger is most keen when the menu spreads like ice. Will takes up its post when the mind is bent on territory. Resolve will turn to weeping when the curtain falls at last. Lapis cracks but slowly as pearls are ground to dust. Medicine's no specific unless the alternative is rust. Sacrifice can have no meaning if the witness turns away. The field is only battle when the mess hall shuts its doors. Wind brings down the enterprise, no matter our delight. The crowd moves toward the exit when the puppet master speaks. We put our shoes on standing if our beds are board and brick. We search the web for meaning if our dinner table's bleak. A life's measured value is who didn't come to call. Noise can best be noted by the silence afterward. Death can have no meaning. That's what we learned in school. Your going into silence is the thing we can't endure. Whatever comes will come. Leaves are flying in the cold. The flocks about their maps. The cord wood in the frame. We've made the best we can of the absence and the void. The furniture of living's exquisite. Believe it. Say no more. Keep all the curtains open. In the window flies the snow. Hilda Raz
  • OMG! The mare's thrown a shoe! (Hope you're feeling better, GramMa)
  • Some really gorgeous stuff here recently, thank you all for sharing! Eeeep hope you're ok, GramMa! *hugs*
  • Hope you's back on your feet, GranMa! That Raz pome is terrific. (I've not heard of her).
  • Love dances with yellow-haired April; it is nature's good, sweet season, and in the swelling shadows enfolding dew and musk are langorous bird songs yet unheard. Clear, sweet, graceful waters pour into the musk-scented abyss, taking its musk and leaving its freshness, all revealing the wealth of their source to the sun, darting here, there, like nightingales. So too life gushes forth on earth, and sky and wave. But on the waters of the lake, white and still, still as far as the eye can see and clear to the depths, the butterfly which makes its fragrant bed within the heart of the wild lily, sports with its small strange shadow. "Lovely dreamer, tell me what you have seen this night?" "A night full of wonder, a night sown with magic! No movement on earth or skies or seas, not even as much as the bee makes near the tiny flower. Around something motionless, whitening in the lake, only the full moon moved and a graceful girl rises clothed in its light." -"Temptation" by Dionysios Solomos translated by Rae Dalven
  • Christophine, that's just beautiful. And how lovely to see you back here!
  • Loverly pome, Christophine! Glad you're back.
  • Three pomes in two days! It's a movement!
  • Searching I recall someone once admitting that all he remembered of Anna Karenina was something about a picnic basket, and now, after consuming a book devoted to the subject of Barcelona— its people, its history, its complex architecture— all I remember is the mention of an albino gorilla, the inhabitant of a park where the Citadel of the Bourbons once stood. The sheer paleness of him looms over all the notable names and dates as the evening strollers stop before him and point to show their children. These locals called him Snowflake, and here he has been mentioned again in print in the hope of keeping his pallid flame alive and helping him, despite his name, to endure in this poem, where he has found another cage. Oh, Snowflake, I had no interest in the capital of Catalonia— its people, its history, its complex architecture— no, you were the reason I kept my light on late into the night, turning all those pages, searching for you everywhere. - Billy Collins
  • that's a new Collins' one for me. Good stuff, Islander!
  • "Riding Westward" By Carl Phillips Any sunset, look at him: standing there, like between his legs there's a horse somehow, on either side of it a saddlebag of loss, a pack of sorrow, and him Kid Compromise his very own shoot-'em-up tilt to the brim of his hat self, smirk to match, all-for-love-if-it's-gotta-come-to-that half swagger, half unintentional, I think, sashay. The silver spurs at his ankles where maybe the wings would be, if the gods still existed, catch the light, lose it, as he stands in place, scraping the dirt with his boots: lines, circles that stop short, shapes that mean nothing— no bull, not like that, but scraping shyly, like a man who's forgotten that part of himself, keeps forgetting, because what the fuck? As he takes his hat off; as he lifts his head up like if right now he could be any animal he'd choose coyote; as all the usual sunset colors break over his face, he starts up singing again, same as every night, same song: loneliness by starlight, miles to go, lay me down by the cool etc.—that kind of song, the kind you'll have heard before, sure, somewhere, but where was that, the singer turning this and that way, as if watching the song itself— —the words to the song—leave him, as he lets each go, the wind carrying most of it, some of the words, falling, settling into instead that larger darkness, where the smaller darknesses that our lives were lie softly down.
  • The Prediction by Mark Strand That night the moon drifted over the pond, turning the water to milk, and under the boughs of the trees, the blue trees, a young woman walked, and for an instant the future came to her: rain falling on her husband’s grave, rain falling on the lawns of her children, her own mouth filling with cold air, strangers moving into her house, a man in her room writing a poem, the moon drifting into it, a woman strolling under its trees, thinking of death, thinking of him thinking of her, and the wind rising and taking the moon and leaving the paper dark.
  • Ain't a poem but 'tis close, what the heck.
  • Ontology and the Platypus Kathy Fagan So which mammalian fuck-up list produced the platypus, produced the bird-billed, flat-foot, erstwhile beavers dressed like ducks for Halloween? Crepuscular and nipple-less, they suckle hatchlings in the changeling dusk— Diaphanously the god-swan boned a married chick and she begot two eggs, neither good. The launching of a thousand ships ensued. Homer never saw a platypus, though in his dreams he may have heard them growl, a noise between a gurgle and a hiss. The males are venomous. A plural form of platypus does not exist.
  • Love the poem, BlueHorse! My high school English teacher and I used to debate whether "platypuses" or "platypi" was correct. I favored the latter. According to MS Word spell-check, though, *she* was right. :D <--Is it a smiley, or a platypus emoticon? You decide!
  • Three thumbs up for the platypussian pome!
  • Fair and Unfair The beautiful is fair. The just is fair. Yet one is commonplace and one is rare, One everywhere, one scarcely anywhere. So fair unfair a world. Had we the wit To use the surplus for the deficit, We'd make a fairer fairer world of it. --Robert Francis
  • The Platypus Speaks Sandra Beasley As far as the duck-billed platypus goes, I'd like to point out there's no other kind of platypus. You don't say horse-hooved deer or moth-winged butterfly. A beast should be her own best description. I deserve that, having survived a hundred thousand years of You would make a fine-looking hat. Years take their toll—the right ovary that goes on the fritz every time, flat feet, and that tangled mess of our sex: ten different kinds of X, Y, and yeah, blind dates tend to be a disaster. We're not sluts like the deer; it's June through October only, my dear. Then we build deeper burrows for the year, each dirt plug a form of daycare. To be a mom must suck, or so the saying goes, except we've got no teats—only a kind of belly-gulley, where milk pools so that the platypups can lap it up. Take that, Disney. Bambi's mom was never a deer daiquiri. Takes a particular kind of woman to do that for seven years, twins every time, while the deadbeat dad goes back to his bachelor pad. He must be so satisfied—lazy as a queen bee— stroking his only weapons, hind spurs that barnacled to his ankles. Out he goes with enough venom to kill angry deer, but would he save me from hunters? No.Years teach me not to expect a card, a kind Mother's Day word, or flowers of any kind. There's no alimony in the wild, beware. Even minor developments take years. But evolution's crawl has its perks: that way I track electric waves, swift as deer, swiveling to go as the hot shrimp goes, each soul-spark a kind of beacon. If that makes me the bad guy, Disney, be a dear: wait a thousand years, then see how it goes.
  • Old Man Platypus Banjo Patterson Far from the trouble and toil of town, Where the reed beds sweep and shiver, Look at a fragment of velvet brown -- Old Man Platypus drifting down, Drifting along the river. And he plays and dives in the river bends In a style that is most elusive; With few relations and fewer friends, For Old Man Platypus descends From a family most exclusive. He shares his burrow beneath the bank With his wife and his son and daughter At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank; And the bubbles show where our hero sank To its entrance under water. Safe in their burrow below the falls They live in a world of wonder, Where no one visits and no one calls, They sleep like little brown billiard balls With their beaks tucked neatly under. And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl As he goes on his journey lonely; For he's no relation to fish nor fowl, Nor to bird nor beast, nor to horned owl; In fact, he's the one and only!
  • *slaps duckbill shut repeatedly*
  • The Dead Fleda Brown The dead are disorderly. If they rot, worms; if cremated, a waste of smoke. Maybe rot is better. For where does fire-energy go? I see energy transferred to worms and so on. But fire speeds up molecules, then they slow down. Worms can sometimes turn into winged things. Good grief, I'm here on the dock thinking how best to be dead! A dead fish lies on the lake bottom, white-belly up, quickly absorbed into the under- world. The day's getting warmer. The day depends upon the release of energy from the dead, whatever has turned itself over to this rising. Triple layers: earth, water, air—transversed only by those who've taken the plunge, so to speak. I'm caught, my foot in the bear-trap of living. Mother's grave is sinking, the cheap casket. We've betrayed her once again. I feel her feeling, the suffering she feels in there, the dirt, the disorder. She'll never be smoke; she's heavier, sadder. I don't want to talk about this. People who talk about abstractions are like jet-trails that gradually disperse. Others rot. They are loved by worms. Sad as it is, it's more exacting. There are bones, fingernails, hair, and then the bones go, and the hair looks like dirt. The dirt is happy and the body is happy to be opened, after a lifetime of nail biting. It loves the way the air filters through, like carbonation. It feels that it cannot feel. The not-feeling is like not-being, only more so: it is being all the way through, nothing to get in the way Here come four ducklings, there used to be five, still downy, with their mother. I imagine the fifth one, the quick turtle's jaw, the bloop under, the mother's wild circling, then all settling, easy. The rest want me to feed them. They bob in a nice neat row.
  • Sunlit Morning Mary Montague A sunlit September morning. Bright balsam-light planing through poles of Sitka spruce, ambering under a honeycombed canopy to tan the leaflitter, its shag of needles, shale of beech. Now a sound, soft shush like finest rain, a light spray through the trees; but there is no rain, no wind. I look up through the rough furze of spruce to see a definite motion, a purposeful swing. The cause imprints momentarily against pale yellow glare as it scuttles along a branch: a lithe weasel-like body with a brush of tail that's thinned by the combing of light. It headlongs up the trunk, then trapezes across to the next tree and is followed by another, then another. The trees' pine-green plumage swishes and sweeps as three red squirrels make a vertical slalom to ford the air. I curdle with pleasure: a remnant of ancient fauna survives in a hybrid plantation. The lead squirrel descends to the floor, glances back: pixie head, monocular gaze holding me briefly as its forelegs splay beyond the hunch of back, the feather of tail. I flick for the others and when I look again the squirrel is gone. They are all gone. The woods are silent.
  • That last one sounds like home, GramMa.
  • She tells her love while half asleep, In the dark hours, With half words whispered low; As earth stirs in her winter sleep And puts out grass and flowers Despite the snow, Despite the falling snow. Robert Graves
  • Cemetery Moles Robert Wrigley Most are not blind, but still, might the concrete burial vaults be perceived before a tunnel comes to such a sudden, hard naught? Though I notice their mounds mostly down here with the old stones, last row— those graves that are not only vaultless but with a wooden casket, too. And the stories from the sexton? A filled tooth on a hill whitely shining, and a mole in a trap one early June, around its neck a wedding ring.
  • For the Birds Ciaran Berry Something has pried open the body of this hare, unpicked a seam from between the stilled hindlegs to the middle of the slackened, gray belly. Now the two sides of the wound part slowly, like a mouth widening as it comes on the right word, or that neat tear in the half-obscured lower thigh at the center of the theater in Eakins's The Gross Clinic where, as I remember it, the owl-eyed surgeon seems so unmoved by the thick, scarlet globules that glisten like cheap lipstick on his thumb and the anguish a mother buries in her dress sleeve as he explains precisely how he will poke a scalpel into tendon, muscle, bone, to remove the latest clot of gangrene from the left leg of her son who might, if all goes well, last out the year. Two assistants hold the patient down, while a third and fourth, with their crude tools, keep open the incision and stare deep into the mysteries of the flesh, as eager for their time with the body as the petrels, kittiwakes, black-headed gulls, that tend the hare's remains up here in the near- heaven of the dunes, all neck and beak and skirl as they uncoil the intestines turn by turn, divide liver from lung, pick out the heart, squabble over the kidneys. Hauling away whatever they can use, they rise through marram grass, through shifts of sand, and disappear, leaving me here to understand a little more what the dead mean to the living, why every St. Stephen's Day of that decade we lived on the outskirts of town the same three freckled cousins, wearing straw hats and masks, would bring to our front door a single wren. One of them played a tin whistle, his mud-scabbed fingers missing every third note, another grinned as he held up their find in a jam jar, while the third, his voice not yet broken, sang a song about that king of birds "caught in the furze," that ball of roan and gray feathers punished because its ancestor had once exposed the patron saint of stone masons to those who pursued him simply by singing from the wall the soon-to-be-martyr had crouched behind. Like the saint, the bird would suffer a harsh end—not stoned and left out for the hooded crows, but stolen from its hiding place deep in the undergrowth, fated to expire behind that wall of glass, which must have seemed invisible at first, when the boy's cupped hands opened and the bird dropped down into its cage. Half-starved as they stood there in old men's clothes, those boys were also part of the cycle, and would soon become their fathers so their fathers could be earth, the oldest one driving a tractor back and forth from the church, the one who sang hanging dead rooks up in the fields to save the grain, while the youngest boy, the one who held the bird, inherited the title of village drunk and cleared his mother's house of possessions to quench a thirst that would land him face up in the ditch, eyes glazed with a thin layer of ice, dead as the hare struck down here in the dunes where, cold and prone, the pistons of its legs proved no more than flesh and bone, it lies empty as those blue tits Keats shot to clear the air a few days after his brother coughed up phlegm flecked with blood for the last time. Keats, who was months away from his nightingale and further still from Rome. Yet as he lowered the gun to watch each ruffle of feathers fall to earth, he felt sure the same blackness that had claimed poor Tom was sprouting in his lungs and would blossom, that his remains would mean no more than a dropped apple to the worms the graveyard birds would yank out of the earth and swallow whole, that he and each of us would end up as coiled muscle in the wings of house sparrows, a dull throb in the robin's fragile heart, dissonance in the hoarse throat of a thrush. *********** It gets awfully lonely in here...
  • You probably know this one already, Granma, but it was the first that came to mind on reading yours. Question Body my house my horse my hound what will I do when you are fallen Where will I sleep How will I ride What will I hunt Where can I go without my mount all eager and quick How will I know in thicket ahead is danger or treasure when Body my good bright dog is dead How will it be to lie in the sky without roof or door and wind for an eye With cloud for shift how will I hide? --May Swenson Pomes say no to the lonelies!
  • In My Mother's Drawer Richard Terrill Lint roller Packer decal a bag of tops for lost pens. Two opened rolls of peppermint BreathSavers, "Works even after the mint is gone." 4-in-1 screwdriver/bottle opener for donors to the VFW ("Goodluck," says the many-leaved clover on its face.) Hand mirror from a long-merged building and loan. Mentholatum stick best if used before. . . . Everything is half gone, still good, worth saving. Like the newspaper clippings: Ghandi's Seven Sins Dear Abby from a May 31st ("Work as if your life was in peril. It really is."), Cousin Ralph's obituary, time of visitation underlined in black. And typed out on a scrap cut to fit these words: 1 box golden raisins Gin—pour over to cover Let stand (about one week) until liquor disappears. EAT ONLY 9 RAISINS A DAY Results in less than a month.
  • Visits to St. Elizabeths by Elizabeth Bishop This is the house of Bedlam. This is the man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is the time of the tragic man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is a wristwatch telling the time of the talkative man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is a sailor wearing the watch that tells the time of the honored man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is the roadstead all of board reached by the sailor wearing the watch that tells the time of the old, brave man that lies in the house of Bedlam. These are the years and the walls of the ward, the winds and clouds of the sea of board sailed by the sailor wearing the watch that tells the time of the cranky man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is a Jew in a newspaper hat that dances weeping down the ward over the creaking sea of board beyond the sailor winding his watch that tells the time of the cruel man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is a world of books gone flat. This is a Jew in a newspaper hat that dances weeping down the ward over the creaking sea of board of the batty sailor that winds his watch that tells the time of the busy man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is a boy that pats the floor to see if the world is there, is flat, for the widowed Jew in the newspaper hat that dances weeping down the ward waltzing the length of a weaving board by the silent sailor that hears his watch that ticks the time of the tedious man that lies in the house of Bedlam. These are the years and the walls and the door that shut on a boy that pats the floor to feel if the world is there and flat. This is a Jew in a newspaper hat that dances joyfully down the ward into the parting seas of board past the staring sailor that shakes his watch that tells the time of the poet, the man that lies in the house of Bedlam. This is the soldier home from the war. These are the years and the walls and the door that shut on a boy that pats the floor to see if the world is round or flat. This is a Jew in a newspaper hat that dances carefully down the ward, walking the plank of a coffin board with the crazy sailor that shows his watch that tells the time of the wretched man that lies in the house of Bedlam.
  • Nice, Story. I hadn't seen that one before.
  • Thanks Granma! Good to hear a voice now and again. I fear the worst, our declining monkeydom... Song For The Last Act Now that I have your face by heart, I look Less at its features than its darkening frame Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame, Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook. Beyond, a garden, There, in insolent ease The lead and marble figures watch the show Of yet another summer loath to go Although the scythes hang in the apple trees. Now that I have your face by heart, I look. Now that I have your voice by heart, I read In the black chords upon a dulling page Music that is not meant for music's cage, Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed. The staves are shuttled over with a stark Unprinted silence. In a double dream I must spell out the storm, the running stream. The beat's too swift. The notes shift in the dark. Now that I have your voice by heart, I read. Now that I have your heart by heart, I see The wharves with their great ships and architraves; The rigging and the cargo and the slaves On a strange beach under a broken sky. O not departure, but a voyage done! The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun. Now that I have your heart by heart, I see. - Louise Bogan
  • A sadly autumnal note there, StoryBored. Perhaps the onset of spring will raise the spirits of we northern monkeys.
  • Having dug around a bit, it seems to me that poor old Louise wasn't the most chipper of poets at the best of times, was she?
  • Islander, good to hear from ya! Louise had some challenges and she dealt it out in her poems. Here's another with a tinge of teh creepy: EVENING IN THE SANITARIUM The free evening fades, outside the windows fastened with decorative iron grilles. The lamps are lighted; the shades drawn; the nurses are watching a little. It is the hour of the complicated knitting on the safe bone needles; of the games of anagrams and bridge; The deadly game of chess; the book held up like a mask. The period of the wildest weeping, the fiercest delusion, is over. The women rest their tired half-healed hearts; they are almost well. Some of them will stay almost well always: the blunt-faced woman whose thinking dissolved Under academic discipline; the manic-depressive girl Now leveling off; one paranoiac afflicted with jealousy, Another with persecution. Some alleviation has been possible. O fortunate bride, who never again will become elated after childbirth! O lucky older wife, who has been cured of feeling unwanted! To the suburban railway station you will return, return, To meet forever Jim home on the 5:35. You will be again as normal and selfish and heartless as anybody else. There is life left: the piano says it with its octave smile. The soft carpets pad the thump and splinter of the suicide to be. Everything will be splendid: the grandmother will not drink habitually. The fruit salad will bloom on the plate like a bouquet And the garden produce the blue-ribbon aquilegia. The cats will be glad; the fathers feel justified; the mothers relieved. The sons and husbands will no longer need to pay the bills. Childhoods will be put away, the obscene nightmare abated. At the ends of the corridors the baths are running. Mrs. C. again feels the shadow of the obsessive idea. Miss R. looks at the mantel-piece, which must mean something.
  • To Help the Monkey Cross the River, Thomas Lux which he must cross, by swimming, for fruits and nuts, to help him I sit with my rifle on a platform high in a tree, same side of the river as the hungry monkey. How does this assist him? When he swims for it I look first upriver: predators move faster with the current than against it. If a crocodile is aimed from upriver to eat the monkey and an anaconda from downriver burns with the same ambition, I do the math, algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey, croc- and snake-speed, and if, if it looks as though the anaconda or the croc will reach the monkey before he attains the river’s far bank, I raise my rifle and fire one, two, three, even four times into the river just behind the monkey to hurry him up a little. Shoot the snake, the crocodile? They’re just doing their jobs, but the monkey, the monkey has little hands like a child’s, and the smart ones, in a cage, can be taught to smile.
  • THE COLD Kenneth Sherman In this country the cold drives people inside. Their houses swallow them. The furnace churns and they sit in the warm belly of the great house bear, filled with a private odor. When they venture out they wear hats or ear muffs and resemble ridiculous animals. They flap their arms to keep warm like people-sized birds. In summer they emerge but you can see the winter has not left them. You see it in their faces, their movements, in the way they greet one another, tentatively, as if there may not be another summer and winter will last and last like a condition that is chronic. But they don't walk to the clinic. They accept it the way their ancestors once accepted God - without singing, without celebration and in August, in the wilderness, they stare in amazement at the profusion of green and accept the naked silence as a hymn.
  • Lovely Seamus Heaney post over on the Blue, btw.
  • Thanks, islander.
  • Dorothy Livesay: “Other” 1. Men prefer an island With its beginning ended: Undertone of waves Trees overbended. Men prefer a road Circling, shell-like Convex and fossiled Forever winding inward. Men prefer a woman Limpid in a sunlight Held as a shell On a sheltering island . . . Men prefer an island. 2. But I am a mainland O I range From upper country to the inner core: From sageland, brushland, marshland To the sea's floor. Show me an orchard where I have not slept, A hollow where I have not wrapped The sage about me, and above, the still Stars clustering Over the ponderosa pine, the cactus hill. Tell me a time, I have not loved, A mountain left unclimbed: A prarie field Where I have not furrowed my tongue, Nourished it out of the mind's dark places; Planted with tears unwept And harvested as friends, as faces. O find me a dead-end road I have not trodden A logging road that leads the heart away Into the secret evergreen of cedar roots Beyond the sun's farthest ray— Then, in a clearing's sudden dazzle, There is no road; no end; no puzzle. But do not show me! For I know The country I caress: A place where none shall trespass None possess: A mainland mastered From its inaccess. ——— Men prefer an island. via
  • Lines Draw a line. Write a line. There. Stay in line, hold the line, a glance between the lines is fine but don't turn corners, cross, cut in, go over or out, between two points of no return's a line of flight, between two points of view's a line of vision. But a line of thought is rarely straight, an open line's no party line, however fine your point. A line of fire communicates, but drop your weapons and drop your line, consider the shortest distance from x to y, let x be me, let y be you. --Martha Collins
  • Nice! This post is my 'go to' reference when I need a poem about a specific subject for school. Always good stuff. Hawk by Daniel Waters All eyes are fearful of the spotted hawk, whose dappled wingspread opens to a phrase that only victims gaping in the gaze of Death Occurring can recite. To stalk; to plunge; to harvest; the denial-squawk of dying's struggle; these are but a day's rebuke to hunger for the hawk, whose glazed accord with Death admits no show of shock. Death's users know it is not theirs to own, nor can they fathom all it means to die— for young to know a different Death from old. But when the spotted hawk's last flight is flown, he too becomes a novice, fear-struck by the certain plummet once these feathers fold. Derivative, but I like it.
  • MICHELANGELO: TO GIOVANNI DA PISTOIA WHEN THE AUTHOR WAS PAINTING THE VAULT OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL—1509 by Michelangelo Buonarotti translated by Gail Mazur I've already grown a goiter from this torture, hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy (or anywhere else where the stagnant water's poison). My stomach's squashed under my chin, my beard's pointing at heaven, my brain's crushed in a casket, my breast twists like a harpy's. My brush, above me all the time, dribbles paint so my face makes a fine floor for droppings! My haunches are grinding into my guts, my poor ass strains to work as a counterweight, every gesture I make is blind and aimless. My skin hangs loose below me, my spine's all knotted from folding over itself. I'm bent taut as a Syrian bow. Because I'm stuck like this, my thoughts are crazy, perfidious tripe: anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe. My painting is dead. Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor. I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.
  • Shut yer complainin' gob Mickey, you'll never amount ta anythin'!
  • two months without one pome. me sad. Numbers I like the generosity of numbers. The way, for example, they are willing to count anything or anyone: two pickles, one door to the room, eight dancers dressed as swans. I like the domesticity of addition-- add two cups of milk and stir-- the sense of plenty: six plums on the ground, three more falling from the tree. And multiplication's school of fish times fish, whose silver bodies breed beneath the shadow of a boat. Even subtraction is never loss, just addition somewhere else: five sparrows take away two, the two in someone else's garden now. There's an amplitude to long division, as it opens Chinese take-out box by paper box, inside every folded cookie a new fortune. And I never fail to be surprised by the gift of an odd remainder, footloose at the end: forty-seven divided by eleven equals four, with three remaining. Three boys beyond their mothers' call, two Italians off to the sea, one sock that isn't anywhere you look. --Mary Cornish
  • Thanks StoryBored! Aye, we've been neglectful. Blame it summer, perhaps.
  • The River on the Terrace Time after time, the river of light Flows down the broad steps of the terrace Between the white walls and blue shutters And under the carob and grapevine, coming on In slow gold blinks, in indigo and rust, Minting coins to sink among the shadows It discards as it conceives them, Folding clean sheets out of nothing, Wheeling then pausing minutely as if On the unbroken skin of itself. Its depth is the authority it wields To hold us to this wager, sliding past our feet Over the plain of cracked paving-stones, Onwards to the terrace-end, then out and down Into the burning mezzogiorno air. The river sinks into the rock. It never was, Until a breeze comes up the valley And the water re-awakes. Again we watch, Like travellers halted at a ford, Beside this force that seems to be anxiety. What is it like, what is it like, Unpassing epoch-afternoon, dry bed Through which the river fades, then flows? Like love, and like anxiety, like this. --Sean O'Brien
  • wonderful metaphors in the Cornish poem... fish times fish, chinese take-out boxes The O'Brian poem makes me want to float the Boise River and just get away from the daily reality. Story, meesa sad too, when there no pomes. Fortunately, we have islander, so we're not totally alone in da post We Regret to Inform You George Witte Economies of scale dictate specific fates, a calculus where greater good enables one unhappy outcome at a time (others' grief negating yours). We can't account for every life. Advertising's down, the papers allocate obituaries to lives and deaths deemed newsworthy. The worm's devoured to feed the flock; objectives require sacrifice, loss is cross-collateralized against the term of patient gain, the upside's ultimate return. Whoever dies obliges us to justify with other names that name beneath the photograph so no one's left anonymous, alone in suffering, but shares the common decencies: a call, green wreath or funeral bouquet, official letter of regret and gratitude for service done— so many waiting to be mailed while urgent matters intervene— condolences expressed above our signature facsimile.
  • Yay, a summer pome handful! Bless y'all and so good ta hear from you. George Witte is new for me, and so is the O'Brien fellow. Mockingbird Nothing whole is so bold, we sense. Nothing not cracked is so exact and of a piece. He's the distempered emperor of parts, the king of patch, the master of pastiche, who so hashes other birds' laments, so minces their capriccios, that the dazzle of dispatch displaces the originals. As though brio really does beat feeling, the way two aces beat three hearts when it's cards you're dealing. -– Kay Ryan
  • Oh, yes! I like that. Hhmmm, my turn. *rubs hands together, begins search*
  • Thing Rae Armantrout We love our cat for her self regard is assiduous and bland, for she sits in the small patch of sun on our rug and licks her claws from all angles and it is far superior to "balanced reporting" though, of course, it is also the very same thing.
  • Midsummer by Louise Glück On nights like this we used to swim in the quarry, the boys making up games requiring them to tear off  the girls’ clothes and the girls cooperating, because they had new bodies since last summer and they wanted to exhibit them, the brave ones leaping off  the high rocks — bodies crowding the water. The nights were humid, still. The stone was cool and wet, marble for  graveyards, for buildings that we never saw, buildings in cities far away. On cloudy nights, you were blind. Those nights the rocks were dangerous, but in another way it was all dangerous, that was what we were after. The summer started. Then the boys and girls began to pair off but always there were a few left at the end — sometimes they’d keep watch, sometimes they’d pretend to go off  with each other like the rest, but what could they do there, in the woods? No one wanted to be them. But they’d show up anyway, as though some night their luck would change, fate would be a different fate. At the beginning and at the end, though, we were all together. After the evening chores, after the smaller children were in bed, then we were free. Nobody said anything, but we knew the nights we’d meet and the nights we wouldn’t. Once or twice, at the end of summer, we could see a baby was going to come out of all that kissing. And for those two, it was terrible, as terrible as being alone. The game was over. We’d sit on the rocks smoking cigarettes, worrying about the ones who weren’t there. And then finally walk home through the fields, because there was always work the next day. And the next day, we were kids again, sitting on the front steps in the morning, eating a peach.  Just that, but it seemed an honor to have a mouth. And then going to work, which meant helping out in the fields. One boy worked for an old lady, building shelves. The house was very old, maybe built when the mountain was built. And then the day faded. We were dreaming, waiting for night. Standing at the front door at twilight, watching the shadows lengthen. And a voice in the kitchen was always complaining about the heat, wanting the heat to break. Then the heat broke, the night was clear. And you thought of  the boy or girl you’d be meeting later. And you thought of  walking into the woods and lying down, practicing all those things you were learning in the water. And though sometimes you couldn’t see the person you were with, there was no substitute for that person. The summer night glowed; in the field, fireflies were glinting. And for those who understood such things, the stars were sending messages: You will leave the village where you were born and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful, but always you will mourn something you left behind, even though you can’t say what it was, and eventually you will return to seek it.
  • Unit of Measure Sandra Beasley All can be measured by the standard of the capybara. Everyone is lesser than or greater than the capybara. Everything is taller or shorter than the capybara. Everything is mistaken for a Brazilian dance craze more or less frequently than the capybara. Everyone eats greater or fewer watermelons than the capybara. Everyone eats more or less bark. Everyone barks more than or less than the capybara, who also whistles, clicks, grunts, and emits what is known as his alarm squeal. Everyone is more or less alarmed than a capybara, who—because his back legs are longer than his front legs—feels like he is going downhill at all times. Everyone is more or less a master of grasses than the capybara. Or going by the scientific name, more or less Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris— or, going by the Greek translation, more or less water hog. Everyone is more or less of a fish than the capybara, defined as the outermost realm of fishdom by the 16th-century Catholic Church. Everyone is eaten more or less often for Lent than the capybara. Shredded, spiced, and served over plantains, everything tastes more or less like pork than the capybara. Before you decide that you are greater than or lesser than a capybara, consider that while the Brazilian capybara breeds only once a year, the Venezuelan variety mates continuously. Consider the last time you mated continuously. Consider the year of your childhood when you had exactly as many teeth as the capybara— twenty—and all yours fell out, and all his kept growing. Consider how his skin stretches in only one direction. Accept that you are stretchier than the capybara. Accept that you have foolishly distributed your eyes, ears, and nostrils all over your face. Accept that now you will never be able to sleep underwater. Accept that the fish will never gather to your capybara body offering their soft, finned love. One of us, they say, one of us, but they will not say it to you.
  • A hoot and a half! *applause for the capybara*
  • @islander: You will leave the village where you were born and in another country you’ll become very rich, very powerful Please be more specific with regard to date, time, etc. :)
  • I seem to have misplaced my timetable, SB. But I'm sure it's any day now.
  • *packs bags* *waits by the door*
  • Coda: Leaving the House Tom Pow Whenever we left the house for any time, Mum liked to leave a little washing on the line — a tea towel say or a dish clout, just to make people think we were merely out. Curtains she left half closed, with blinds half down: let the unsuspecting who called around find us half open, half shut — screening the brightest streaks of light or keeping a grey day at bay. But of course anyone who peeked would know no one could possibly be living there — each surface so carefully scoured, the smallest cloth folded by the sink. Leave it as you'd wish to return to it was Mum's motto. But Dad scolded her in her absence as he packed and re-packed the car. 'How your mother thinks all this'll fit ...' Dad lacked the patient arts. And it's an in- complete art, the art of leaving a house. I hear my own wife start — 'What's keeping you?' while I roam round our house, twitching at the curtains, leaving something always undone
  • Road Report Driving west through sandstone’s red arenas, a rodeo of slow erosion cleaves these plains, these ravaged cliffs. This is cowboy country. Desolate. Dull. Except on weekends, when cafes bloom like cactus after drought. My rented Mustang bucks the wind—I’m strapped up, wide-eyed, busting speed with both heels, a sure grip on the wheel. Black clouds maneuver in the distance, but I don’t care. Mileage is my obsession. I’m always racing off, passing through, as though the present were a dying town I’d rather flee. What matters is the future, its glittering Hotel. Clouds loom closer, big as Brahmas in the heavy air. The radio crackles like a shattered rib. I’m in the chute. I check the gas and set my jaw. I’m almost there. --Kurt Brown
  • Yeeee Haw!
  • Cat's Dream by Pablo Neruda How neatly a cat sleeps, Sleeps with its paws and its posture, Sleeps with its wicked claws, And with its unfeeling blood, Sleeps with ALL the rings a series Of burnt circles which have formed The odd geology of its sand-colored tail. I should like to sleep like a cat, With all the fur of time, With a tongue rough as flint, With the dry sex of fire and After speaking to no one, Stretch myself over the world, Over roofs and landscapes, With a passionate desire To hunt the rats in my dreams. I have seen how the cat asleep Would undulate, how the night flowed Through it like dark water and at times, It was going to fall or possibly Plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts. Sometimes it grew so much in sleep Like a tiger's great-grandfather, And would leap in the darkness over Rooftops, clouds and volcanoes. Sleep, sleep cat of the night with Episcopal ceremony and your stone-carved moustache. Take care of all our dreams Control the obscurity Of our slumbering prowess With your relentless HEART And the great ruff of your tail.
  • Thanks BH. Only Neruda could give such a fierce picture of a sleeping cat.
  • Breakage by Mary Oliver I go down to the edge of the sea. How everything shines in the morning light! The cusp of the whelk, the broken cupboard of the clam, the opened, blue mussels, moon snails, pale pink and barnacle scarred— and nothing at all whole or shut, but tattered, split, dropped by the gulls onto the gray rocks and all the moisture gone. It's like a schoolhouse of little words, thousands of words. First you figure out what each one means by itself, the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop full of moonlight. Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.
  • Lovely, islander! I can hear echos of GMH Pied Beauty in the phrasing and rhythm of this.
  • Oh why not post it... Pied Beauty Gerard Manley Hopkins GLORY be to God for dappled things— For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.
  • Today They Will Show Me the Homunculus Dean Young I knew it was on the other side of the door gurgling like a leak, still mushy and wrinkled and pupating, pumping lymph into its wings. They'd given me one of its blankies to try to get me used to it but I didn't want to be superceded and destroyed. I didn't want to use such grandiose words, I knew I had a small place in the leaf litter processing leaf litter but I didn't want its spit on my idols. Whenever they lectured me about trying to try my quills would stand up so they'd point to the chain attached to the wash line outside, churned up mud beneath, an empty bleach jug to play with. Had they forgotten how crazy with happiness they were when I nose-bounced the orange ball, when I brought home papers stickered with stars, how I got promoted at the pyramid? Since the arrival of the homunculus they couldn't sleep, they'd neglect to light the incense in the shrine, he hadn't mounted her for weeks, they'd forgotten my birthday, their eight eyes grown cloudy, their bridal webs weighed down with dust. Soon I too will be weighed down with dust in an ordinary way, at a chair that's comfortable but too low, even the napkin folded under the table leg not stopping the wobbling. Or trotting by the paralyzed fireman's house with the pinwheels in the kale garden or the house of the disgraced politician with the blinds never closed or the graveyard where the children play tag and my rudimentary heart will give out and I know the homunculus will be there, adjusting the oxygen mask then deciding to turn off the machines, pressing my paws and skull into the tar-pit for preservation, swearing to remember, swearing there will never be another like me, making sure.
  • Fox masks, wolf masks, I try them on as if I were a savage. Long ago I realized from scratchings traced on cave walls or from dim ethnologies, from collections hidden in musty storerooms or museum basements, from phrenological attempts to see the beast in man, how much of beast persisted. Here was I cursed by these foxes and their kin the wolves to see them everywhere. If my one-time friend the artist showed me a picture painted of a closed garden there was sure to be a fox who peered from among the flowers, a fox even the artist had not seen. I have been cursed for that as well, the artist crying he had not seen the fox, he had not painted it, but there it was among the innocent flowers hiding or among trees or hidden in a wheat field’s tawny light. Once seen, the artist could not unsee it though his brush was clean of all intent; the creature grew just from my trembling fingertip until by no subterfuge of the imagination could we ignore it and forget. For reasons plain my friend chose to go elsewhere with his canvases. Why blame him? The faces sprang from some uncanny pleasurable perception. I saw them in the boles of ancient trees, in shadows dancing upon walls I am at last aware that there exists changelings born from a fourth dimension lurking somewhere about and I am one of these. I see our blighted formalized pollution-filled landscape of old cans, bottles, and oil drums, as if it held ghostly potentials: that the smiling fox who was lives in the shrubbery, that the buffalo wolf still howls upon the snowy hilltop summoning a nonexistent pack for hunting lost among old skulls the prairie grasses cover. My childhood was preoccupied with dreams of how to free all animals immured in shabby local zoos, in boxes foul, in crates from which the heaven sweeping hawks still scanned their wide dominions helplessly. So is it now. The fox, the wolf, the coyote the last contenders against traps and poison hold with grim teeth slowly retreating into waste lands where only coyotes run. I am born of these, their changeling. Who first rocked my cradle or what wild thing left me upon my parents’ doorstep is a mystery although through this means I can see faces where faces are not and I know a nature still as time is still beyond the reach of man. You may search scarp and butte, read Indian pictographs on up-reared mesas, but you will not find or trace more of me than is found in two poised ears behind my mother’s picture or on some rain-lashed night a voice that barks brief syllables may be at last my own. from Notes of an Alchemist by Loren Eiseley via , via
  • Mmmm, lovely poem. It lifts my heart to see a coyote, and foxes are so rare and special around here that after seeing one the joy lasts for days.
  • Riding Lesson I learned two things from an early riding teacher. He held a nervous filly in one hand and gestured with the other, saying "Listen. Keep one leg on one side, the other leg on the other side, and your mind in the middle." He turned and mounted. She took two steps, then left the ground, I thought for good. But she came down hard, humped her back, swallowed her neck, and threw her rider as you'd throw a rock. He rose, brushed his pants and caught his breath, and said, "See that's the way to do it. When you see they're gonna throw you, get off." --Henry Taylor So, Granma are those quotes real or are they original from Taylor?
  • Oft attributed to Taylor, however he's seeped in the old traditions, from whence this wisdom has been handed down for lo, many the bruised generations.
  • The Little Dog Upstairs That Never Quits Barking has suddenly quit. And in the quiet I wait for him to resume, imagining him (for I have seen him—his tight white curls, his anxious, mashed-in face) staring into space, too sorrowful now even to cry out, settling with a sigh in the leopard armchair, facing the wooden indifference of the door. Poetry after all is a form of barking. Yap, yap, yap, someone please come back. Take me outside to piddle among the flower stalks. Cradle me in the arms of your strange tall species, grant me a biscuit shaped like a bone. . . . And now I, too, fall silent. The clock in the kitchen keeps clicking away saying Love me to the skillet and saucepans, the wire rack of dishes, cans of soup and beans, O bowl of sugar, O dispenser of salt. Kim Addonizio
  • Persimmons In sixth grade Mrs. Walker slapped the back of my head and made me stand in the corner for not knowing the difference between persimmon and precision. How to choose persimmons. This is precision. Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted. Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one will be fragrant. How to eat: put the knife away, lay down newspaper. Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat. Chew the skin, suck it, and swallow. Now, eat the meat of the fruit, so sweet, all of it, to the heart. Donna undresses, her stomach is white. In the yard, dewy and shivering with crickets, we lie naked, face-up, face-down. I teach her Chinese. Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten. Naked: I’ve forgotten. Ni, wo: you and me. I part her legs, remember to tell her she is beautiful as the moon. Other words that got me into trouble were fight and fright, wren and yarn. Fight was what I did when I was frightened, Fright was what I felt when I was fighting. Wrens are small, plain birds, yarn is what one knits with. Wrens are soft as yarn. My mother made birds out of yarn. I loved to watch her tie the stuff; a bird, a rabbit, a wee man. Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class and cut it up so everyone could taste a Chinese apple. Knowing it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat but watched the other faces. My mother said every persimmon has a sun inside, something golden, glowing, warm as my face. Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper, forgotten and not yet ripe. I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill, where each morning a cardinal sang, The sun, the sun. Finally understanding he was going blind, my father sat up all one night waiting for a song, a ghost. I gave him the persimmons, swelled, heavy as sadness, and sweet as love. This year, in the muddy lighting of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking for something I lost. My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs, black cane between his knees, hand over hand, gripping the handle. He’s so happy that I’ve come home. I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question. All gone, he answers. Under some blankets, I find a box. Inside the box I find three scrolls. I sit beside him and untie three paintings by my father: Hibiscus leaf and a white flower. Two cats preening. Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth. He raises both hands to touch the cloth, asks, Which is this? This is persimmons, Father. Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk, the strength, the tense precision in the wrist. I painted them hundreds of times eyes closed. These I painted blind. Some things never leave a person: scent of the hair of one you love, the texture of persimmons, in your palm, the ripe weight. - Li-Young Lee
  • Love it, mothy.
  • I don't believe I've ever tasted a persimmon... Thanks, mothninja.
  • Beautiful. Thanks.
  • Lovely, lovely poem, mothy. What is it about persimmons that inspires? Mu Ch'i's Persimmons Gary Snyder There is no remedy for satisfying hunger other than a painted rice cake. —Dōgen, November, 1242. On a back wall down the hall lit by a side glass door is the scroll of Mu Ch’i’s great sumi painting, “Persimmons” The wind-weights hanging from the axles hold it still. The best in the world, I say, of persimmons. Perfect statement of emptiness no other than form the twig and the stalk still on, the way they sell them in the market even now. The original’s in Kyoto at a lovely Rinzai temple where they show it once a year this one’s a perfect copy from Benrido I chose the mounting elements myself with the advice of the mounter I hang it every fall. And now, to these overripe persimmons from Mike and Barbara’s orchard. Napkin in hand, I bend over the sink suck the sweet orange goop that’s how I like it gripping a little twig those painted persimmons sure cure hunger
  • Aye, persimmons! especially the fuyu ones. Essential monkey fare. YUM.
  • Story, I'm glad you like them. Have two! Haiku by Issa Nice: wild persimmons... And notice how the mother Eats the bitter parts Persimmons by Li-Young Lee In sixth grade Mrs. Walker slapped the back of my head and made me stand in the corner for not knowing the difference between persimmon and precision. How to choose persimmons. This is precision. Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted. Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one will be fragrant. How to eat: put the knife away, lay down newspaper. Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat. Chew the skin, suck it, and swallow. Now, eat the meat of the fruit, so sweet, all of it, to the heart. Donna undresses, her stomach is white. In the yard, dewy and shivering with crickets, we lie naked, face-up, face-down. I teach her Chinese. Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten. Naked: I’ve forgotten. Ni, wo: you and me. I part her legs, remember to tell her she is beautiful as the moon. Other words that got me into trouble were fight and fright, wren and yarn. Fight was what I did when I was frightened, Fright was what I felt when I was fighting. Wrens are small, plain birds, yarn is what one knits with. Wrens are soft as yarn. My mother made birds out of yarn. I loved to watch her tie the stuff; a bird, a rabbit, a wee man. Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class and cut it up so everyone could taste a Chinese apple. Knowing it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat but watched the other faces. My mother said every persimmon has a sun inside, something golden, glowing, warm as my face. Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper, forgotten and not yet ripe. I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill, where each morning a cardinal sang, The sun, the sun. Finally understanding he was going blind, my father sat up all one night waiting for a song, a ghost. I gave him the persimmons, swelled, heavy as sadness, and sweet as love. This year, in the muddy lighting of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking for something I lost. My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs, black cane between his knees, hand over hand, gripping the handle. He’s so happy that I’ve come home. I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question. All gone, he answers. Under some blankets, I find a box. Inside the box I find three scrolls. I sit beside him and untie three paintings by my father: Hibiscus leaf and a white flower. Two cats preening. Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth. He raises both hands to touch the cloth, asks, Which is this? This is persimmons, Father. Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk, the strength, the tense precision in the wrist. I painted them hundreds of times eyes closed. These I painted blind. Some things never leave a person: scent of the hair of one you love, the texture of persimmons, in your palm, the ripe weight.
  • Keeping with the tree-borne comestible theme... Ode To a Chestnut on the Ground Pablo Neruda From bristly foliage you fell complete, polished wood, gleaming mahogany, as perfect as a violin newly born of the treetops, that falling offers its sealed-in gifts, the hidden sweetness that grew in secret amid birds and leaves, a model of form, kin to wood and flour, an oval instrument that holds within it intact delight, an edible rose. In the heights you abandoned the sea-urchin burr that parted its spines in the light of the chestnut tree; through that slit you glimpsed the world, birds bursting with syllables, starry dew below, the heads of boys and girls, grasses stirring restlessly, smoke rising, rising. You made your decision, chestnut, and leaped to earth, burnished and ready, firm and smooth as the small breasts of the islands of America. You fell, you struck the ground, but nothing happened, the grass still stirred, the old chestnut sighed with the mouths of a forest of trees, a red leaf of autumn fell, resolutely, the hours marched on across the earth. Because you are only a seed, chestnut tree, autumn, earth, water, heights, silence prepared the germ, the floury density, the maternal eyelids that buried will again open toward the heights the simple majesty of foliage, the dark damp plan of new roots, the ancient but new dimensions of another chestnut tree in the earth.
  • Holidays are comin' and the cold weather makes my bones ache, therefore, I bring you: User's Guide to Physical Debilitation Paul Guest Should the painful condition of irreversible paralysis last longer than forever or at least until your death by bowling ball or illegal lawn dart or the culture of death, which really has it out for whoever has seen better days but still enjoys bruising marathons of bird watching, you, or your beleaguered caregiver stirring dark witch's brews of resentment inside what had been her happy life, should turn to page seven where you can learn, assuming higher cognitive functions were not pureed by your selfish misfortune, how to leave the house for the first time in two years. An important first step, with apologies for the thoughtlessly thoughtless metaphor. When not an outright impossibility or form of neurological science fiction, sexual congress will either be with tourists in the kingdom of your tragedy, performing an act of sadistic charity; with the curious, for whom you will be beguilingly blank canvas; or with someone blindly feeling their way through an extended power outage caused by summer storms you once thought romantic. Page twelve instructs you how best to be inspiring to Magnus next door as he throws old Volkswagens into orbit above Alberta. And to Betty in her dark charm confiding a misery, whatever it is, that to her seems equivalent to yours. The curl of her hair that her finger knows better and beyond what you will, even in the hypothesis of heaven when you sleep. This guide is intended to prepare you for falling down and declaring détente with gravity, else you reach the inevitable end of scaring small children by your presence alone. Someone once said of crushing helplessness: it is a good idea to avoid that. We agree with that wisdom but gleaming motorcycles are hard to turn down or safely stop at speeds which melt aluminum. Of special note are sections regarding faith healing, self-loathing, abstract hobbies like theoretical spelunking and extreme atrophy, and what to say to loved ones who won't stop shrieking at Christmas dinner. New to this edition is an index of important terms such as catheter, pain, blackout, pathological deltoid obsession, escort service, magnetic resonance imaging, loss of friends due to superstitious fear, and, of course, amputation above the knee due to pernicious gangrene. It is our hope that this guide will be a valuable resource during this long stretch of boredom and dread and that it may be of some help, however small, to cope with your new life and the gradual, bittersweet loss of every God damned thing you ever loved.
  • Curiosity Alastair Reid may have killed the cat; more likely the cat was just unlucky, or else curious to see what death was like, having no cause to go on licking paws, or fathering litter on litter of kittens, predictably. Nevertheless, to be curious is dangerous enough. To distrust what is always said, what seems to ask odd questions, interfere in dreams, leave home, smell rats, have hunches do not endear cats to those doggy circles where well-smelt baskets, suitable wives, good lunches are the order of things, and where prevails much wagging of incurious heads and tails. Face it. Curiosity will not cause us to die-- only lack of it will. Never to want to see the other side of the hill or that improbable country where living is an idyll (although a probable hell) would kill us all. Only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all. Dogs say cats love too much, are irresponsible, are changeable, marry too many wives, desert their children, chill all dinner tables with tales of their nine lives. Well, they are lucky. Let them be nine-lived and contradictory, curious enough to change, prepared to pay the cat price, which is to die and die again and again, each time with no less pain. A cat minority of one is all that can be counted on to tell the truth. And what cats have to tell on each return from hell is this: that dying is what the living do, that dying is what the loving do, and that dead dogs are those who do not know that dying is what, to live, each has to do
  • Time for something lighter: At The Zoo There's turtles I'm certain are dead, cos they don't move a muscle all day And a parrot that's very embarassed, by the things they've taught him to say There's forty-four species of antelope, and twenty-two kinds of g-nu But I was thirty-six kinds of bored, thanks, when I went down to the zoo There's a stinking wallaby cage, that the wallabies want to escape from There's a worn-out log of wood, that the gibbons walk up and down on The panthers are pacing their cages, but they'd rather be chasing you - So I flipped the bird at the zookeeper, when I went down to the zoo There's a panda who's name is Amanda - whose brilliant idea was that? There's a bear with big bald patches, and a sort of retarded cat And you can't throw pooh at the monkeys - but they can throw pooh at you So I played games on my mobile, when i went down to the zoo There's that dumbass stupid zoo song, that everyone has to sing And I can't believe what Dad said, when the gibbon was pulling its thing And I'd boycott the place in a second, if there was anything else to do So me and my mate smoke weed by the gate, when I go down to the zoo. Jon Bridges (NZ Listener Magazine Nov 2009) After AA Milne
  • I LOLed till it hurt!!!
  • Waiting for the Barbarians What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum? The barbarians are due here today. Why isn't anything going on in the senate? Why are the senators sitting there without legislating? Because the barbarians are coming today. What's the point of senators making laws now? Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating. Why did our emperor get up so early, and why is he sitting enthroned at the city's main gate, in state, wearing the crown? Because the barbarians are coming today and the emperor's waiting to receive their leader. He's even got a scroll to give him, loaded with titles, with imposing names. Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas? Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts, rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds? Why are they carrying elegant canes beautifully worked in silver and gold? Because the barbarians are coming today and things like that dazzle the barbarians. Why don't our distinguished orators turn up as usual to make their speeches, say what they have to say? Because the barbarians are coming today and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking. Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion? (How serious people's faces have become.) Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly, everyone going home lost in thought? Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven't come. And some of our men just in from the border say there are no barbarians any longer. Now what's going to happen to us without barbarians? Those people were a kind of solution. --by C. P. Cavafy Translated by Edmund Keeley
  • Ooooooh SB, thank you. Good to have a new poem on a snowy afternoon. I love Cavafy and hadn't read that one. Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas? Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts, rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds? Why are they carrying elegant canes beautifully worked in silver and gold? Our politicians are the barbarians. They have come about by our voting them into office.
  • The Distances Henry Rago This house, pitched now The dark wide stretch Of plains and ocean To these hills over The night-filled river, Billows with night, Swells with the rooms Of sleeping children, pulls Slowly from this bed, Slowly returns, pulls and holds, Is held where we Lock all distances! Ah, how the distances Spiral from that Secrecy: Room, Rooms, roof Spun to the huge Midnight, and into The rings and rings of stars.
  • Since it's a snowy, icky day, and I can't go out to play, here's two more: Hedgehog by Paul Muldoon The snail moves like a Hovercraft, held up by a Rubber cushion of itself, Sharing its secret With the hedgehog. The hedgehog Shares its secret with no one. We say, Hedgehog, come out Of yourself and we will love you. We mean no harm. We want Only to listen to what You have to say. We want Your answers to our questions. The hedgehog gives nothing Away, keeping itself to itself. We wonder what a hedgehog Has to hide, why it so distrusts. We forget the god under this crown of thorns. We forget that never again will a god trust in the world. Half a hedgehog by Miroslav Holub The rear half had been run over, leaving the head and thorax and the front legs of the hedgehog shape. A scream from a cramped-open jaw. The scream of the mute is more horrible than the silence after a flood, when even black swans float belly upwards. And even if some hedgehog doctor were to be found in a hollow trunk or under the leaves in a beechwood there’d be no hope for that mere half on Road E12. In the name of logic, in the name of the theory of pain, in the name of the hedgehog god the father, the son and the holy ghost amen, in the name of games and unripe raspberries, in the name of tumbling streams of love ever different and ever bloody, in the name of the roots which overgrow the heads of aborted foetuses, in the name of satanic beauty, in the name of skin bearing human likeness, in the name of all halves and double helices, of purines and pyrimidines we tried to run over the hedgehog’s head with the front wheel. And it was like guiding a lunar module from a planetary distance, from a control centre seized by cataleptic sleep. And the mission failed. I got out and found a heavy piece of brick. Half the hedgehog continued screaming. And now the scream turned into speech, prepared by the vaults of our tombs: Then death will come and it will have your eyes.
  • That last one was scary, scary, Granma! Now i'm going to have to leave the light on.
  • It's the cajoles (aka huevos) that really matter!
  • What He Thought by Heather McHugh For Fabbio Doplicher We were supposed to do a job in Italy and, full of our feeling for ourselves (our sense of being Poets from America) we went from Rome to Fano, met the Mayor, mulled a couple matters over. The Italian literati seemed bewildered by the language of America: they asked us what does "flat drink" mean? and the mysterious "cheap date" (no explanation lessened this one's mystery). Among Italian writers we could recognize our counterparts: the academic, the apologist, the arrogant, the amorous, the brazen and the glib. And there was one administrator (The Conservative), in suit of regulation gray, who like a good tour guide with measured pace and uninflected tone narrated sights and histories the hired van hauled us past. Of all he was most politic-- and least poetic-- so it seemed. Our last few days in Rome I found a book of poems this unprepossessing one had written: it was there in the pensione room (a room he'd recommended) where it must have been abandoned by the German visitor (was there a bus of them?) to whom he had inscribed and dated it a month before. I couldn't read Italian either, so I put the book back in the wardrobe's dark. We last Americans were due to leave tomorrow. For our parting evening then our host chose something in a family restaurant, and there we sat and chatted, sat and chewed, till, sensible it was our last big chance to be Poetic, make our mark, one of us asked "What's poetry? Is it the fruits and vegetables and marketplace at Campo dei Fiori or the statue there?" Because I was the glib one, I identified the answer instantly, I didn't have to think-- "The truth is both, it's both!" I blurted out. But that was easy. That was easiest to say. What followed taught me something about difficulty, for our underestimated host spoke out all of a sudden, with a rising passion, and he said: The statue represents Giordano Bruno, brought to be burned in the public square because of his offence against authority, which was to say the Church. His crime was his belief the universe does not revolve around the human being: God is no fixed point or central government but rather is poured in waves, through all things: all things move. "If God is not the soul itself, he is the soul OF THE SOUL of the world." Such was his heresy. The day they brought him forth to die they feared he might incite the crowd (the man was famous for his eloquence). And so his captors placed upon his face an iron mask in which he could not speak. That is how they burned him. That is how he died, without a word, in front of everyone. And poetry-- (we'd all put down our forks by now, to listen to the man in gray; he went on softly)-- poetry is what he thought, but did not say.
  • To Help the Monkey Cross the River which he must cross, by swimming, for fruits and nuts, to help him I sit with my rifle on a platform high in a tree, same side of the river as the hungry monkey. How does this assist him? When he swims for it I look first upriver: predators move faster with the current than against it. If a crocodile is aimed from upriver to eat the monkey and an anaconda from downriver burns with the same ambition, I do the math, algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey, croc- and snake-speed, and if, if it looks as though the anaconda or the croc will reach the monkey before he attains the river’s far bank, I raise my rifle and fire one, two, three, even four times into the river just behind the monkey to hurry him up a little. Shoot the snake, the crocodile? They’re just doing their jobs, but the monkey, the monkey has little hands like a child’s, and the smart ones, in a cage, can be taught to smile. by Thomas Lux
  • Lament of the Old Pole As gray as an old wooden telegraph pole, I am now Growing gnarled. I am beginning to crack, and I am Getting deaf. I no longer hear the beatific sound In myself that, as if with love, makes even concrete hum. It was the music of the wind, in chords long and severe, And like its accurate and pure tuning fork, I chimed. And wasn't it also sometimes the music of the spheres, The night beneath the plectrum of the moon, and the untamed Longing of the stars?—But is it truly music? When all That is detonates, explodes, and improvises its jazz Across the supernova, the aphasiac black hole, The nebulous cluster where love is born of excess gas? So when I had a good ear, what was I able to hear Ascending in my fibers, up out of the embanked earth? What melody was it, monotonous but still sincere, And like the one the grass whispers, no longer to be heard? But stop for a moment anyway, you bastard drivers, Always hurrying; for one second, rest your hand on my shaft And then one cheek on the spot where the still-smooth wood quivers: See, I remain on the lookout (even if I am deaf) For the space where my swaying, still-flexible wire Is measuring a mountain, weighing a bird or a cloud. I'm going to be rooted for the long run in the quiet, But might perhaps be green again at the next flowering. Jacques Réda / translated from the French by Andrew Shields
  • Two old poles were walking down the street When one says to the other, I think we should form our own splinter group.
  • *mutters* woodenhead post-er
  • A Picture of the House at Beit Jala He has to return to shut that window, it isn't entirely clear whether this is what he must do, things are no longer clear since he lost them, and it seems a hole somewhere within him has opened up Filling in the cracks has exhausted him mending the fences wiping the glass cleaning the edges and watching the dust that seems, since he lost them, to lure his memories into hoax and ruse. From here his childhood appears as if it were a trick! Inspecting the doors has fully exhausted him the window latches the condition of the plants and wiping the dust that has not ceased flowing into the rooms, on the beds, sheets, pots and on the picture frames on the walls Since he lost them he stays with friends who become fewer sleeps in their beds that become narrower while the dust gnaws at his memories "there" ... he must return to shut that window the upper story window which he often forgets at the end of the stairway that leads to the roof Since he lost them he aimlessly walks and the day's small purposes are also no longer clear. Ghassan Zaqtan translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah
  • 42 for Lorna Goodison This prose has the gait of a mule urged up a mountain road, a slope with wild strawberries; yes, strawberries grow there, and pines also flourish; native trees from abroad, and coffee-bush shining in the crisp blue air fanning the thighs of the mountains. Pernicious ginger startles around corners and crushed lime leaves its memory on thumb and third finger, each page has a freshness of girlhood's time, when, by a meagre brook the white scream of an egret beats with the same rhythm as crows circling invisible carrion in their wide dream; commas sprout like thorn-bush alongside this curved prose descending into some village named Harvey River whose fences are Protestant. A fine Presbyterian drizzle blesses each pen with its wooden steeple over baking zinc roofs. Adjectives are modestly raised in this terrain, this side-saddle prose on its way to the dressmaker passes small fretwork balconies, drying clothes in a yard fragrant as Monday; this prose has the sudden smell of a gust of slanted rain on scorching asphalt from the hazed hills of Jamaica. -Derek Walcott
  • Oh yay Derek Walcott! And gosh, GramMa, that one really made me tear up. Wonderful stuffs, thank you both.
  • Nice, islander. I don't think I've read Walcott before. Name doesn't stick in my memory. Will have to google... HEY! Mothninja, get back here! Where's your poem??
  • Oo sorry! Didn't have any particular poem inspiring me to share at the time of posting... Philosophy If I should labor through daylight and dark, Consecrate, valorous, serious, true, Then on the world I may blazon my mark; And what if I don't, and what if I do? -- Dorothy Parker
  • Wild Gratitude Edward Hirsch Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey, And put my fingers into her clean cat's mouth, And rubbed her swollen belly that will never know kittens, And watched her wriggle onto her side, pawing the air, And listened to her solemn little squeals of delight, I was thinking about the poet, Christopher Smart, Who wanted to kneel down and pray without ceasing In every one ofthe splintered London streets, And was locked away in the madhouse at St. Luke's With his sad religious mania, and his wild gratitude, And his grave prayers for the other lunatics, And his great love for his speckled cat, Jeoffry. All day today—August 13, 1983—I remembered how Christopher Smart blessed this same day in August, 1759, For its calm bravery and ordinary good conscience. This was the day that he blessed the Postmaster General "And all conveyancers of letters" for their warm humanity, And the gardeners for their private benevolence And intricate knowledge of the language of flowers, And the milkmen for their universal human kindness. This morning I understood that he loved to hear— As I have heard—the soft clink of milk bottles On the rickety stairs in the early morning, And how terrible it must have seemed When even this small pleasure was denied him. But it wasn't until tonight when I knelt down And slipped my hand into Zooey's waggling mouth That I remembered how he'd called Jeoffry "the servant Of the Living God duly and daily serving Him," And for the first time understood what it meant. Because it wasn't until I saw my own cat Whine and roll over on her fluffy back That I realized how gratefully he had watched Jeoffry fetch and carry his wooden cork Across the grass in the wet garden, patiently Jumping over a high stick, calmly sharpening His claws on the woodpile, rubbing his nose Against the nose of another cat, stretching, or Slowly stalking his traditional enemy, the mouse, A rodent, "a creature of great personal valour," And then dallying so much that his enemy escaped. And only then did I understand It is Jeoffry—and every creature like him— Who can teach us how to praise—purring In their own language, Wreathing themselves in the living fire.
  • Hey, that's my friend Zeb! He said it was a really amazing experience. The lighthouse keeper told him that in the olden days before the Shipping Forecast on the radio, sailors used to determine their position by the taste of the water. Magical. Do tune in to listen to Zeb if you get a chance, he has the most beautiful voice and is a great journalist. The Shipping Forecast has a liturgical poetry to it, one that many many British people know by heart. I find its rhythm comforting, and the images it evokes inspiring; many's the time I've fallen asleep listening to it. Brilliant lateral-thinking post, islander, thank you!
  • British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy reads her new poem Silver Lining, inspired by the volcanic ash cloud hanging over Europe.
  • ...the hush and shush of ash... Absolutely lovely, mothy. Thank you. The Hammock Knot Keith Ratzlaff I went at it first with my teeth the way a squirrel would, the second time with two sets of pliers the way a mechanic would, and now I’m thinking about the knife as a samurai or chef would— or Alexander the Great— the way a field hand would walking beans, or a man with a machete in a canebrake, or a surgeon, a hunter gutting a deer, a farmer with twine gone haywire in the baler. But it’s November, and the air itself is dangerous enough, full of maple samurais twirling like axes, like the blades of the mower I’ll use next spring to level them. I’ll miss a few on purpose—under the pines, behind the garage—because everything deserves a chance to come almost to nothing. I’d kept the hammock hanging out of hope for a warm October, which I got, and the slow, suspended joy of poems read with my back just off the ground, and a blue sky whenever my eyes slipped off the page— which was most of the time. All that while the knot held me up with the kind of joy only knots have, which is friction stopped and clenched and wound around itself, so later, in middle November, I would stoop and finally grab it in my teeth. I’m kidding about the knife. I’m no hero. How could I be with the apple gone bare, with the lilac buds fooled by the last autumn warmth, with the buckthorn’s yellow blown down the alley, across the school parking lot, out into the cornfields where the leaves are obliterated? Who could do anything but gnaw at the ropes— what from the kitchen window must have looked like a kiss, a hard one with the passion of ropes coming together, my lips mashed against my teeth? Who could deny it was a kiss when the knot was the last thing, the only thing I own, holding on?
  • RIP Peter Porter This page insists that I explain myself This page insists that I explain myself my poems are over-structured, I am told but I’m only making good use of my brain the letters I send you never say what I want to say, but does it matter since I write to you concerning me I let these poems fill-in the proper forms space is tight, rectangles for iambs, occasionally trochees keeping rhythm steady on its feet but somebody says to be serious is the way to control your poems – Frost, Edward Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, Graves – always out there on the track audiences cheering them on forever the loneliness of the long-dictioned rhymer dining out with novelists and critics – consider what happens when our words become professional – literature forgets it’s feudal, its narrow kingdom of palaces and prayer-wheels
  • Animal Planet Jim Natal This is the hour of hyenas. the hour of crows descending, filling the trees and scaring away the songbirds. This is the hour of the weasels, of rampant viruses, of lap dogs that bite your ankle as you walk away. Now the baboons are on the loose, seizing rocks and sticks, and the wrestling bears have mauled their trainers. Zoo elephants crush keepers underfoot; Seigfried and Roy have canceled tonight's performance. It's the wrong day to wear your pet python around your neck or to feed the piranhas by hand. Even the dolphins are in an ugly mood—they really do have teeth in those beaks. Lemurs and sloths are speeding up, sharpening their long climbing nails. Prehensile tails braid tightly across the globe. Railroad bridges, undermined by moles, collapse. The lemmings turn back at the lip of the cliff, and beavers chew pines to block back roads. Flocks of gulls loiter on airport runways while winged tornadoes of flies, mosquitoes, wasps, and bees writhe through heavy air. Listen: locusts are humming something uber alles. And from the way they're waddling, the marsupials are packing heat in their pouches. Ibis is no walk in the woods anymore. Picnic in the park. Hike through the bush. It's a jungle out there. Just ask the wolves, the lice, sharks, raptors, scorpions, lizards, and voles. Is it time, Mr. Darwin? Is it time?
  • Mr. Darwin, I trust, would say yes.
  • Oo, just catching up on all the scrumptious pomes i've missed. Here's a weird one for Mum's Day. Tomatoes A woman travels to Brazil for plastic surgery and a face-lift. She is sixty and has the usual desire to stay pretty. Once she is healed, she takes her new face out on the streets of Rio. A young man with a gun wants her money. Bang, she’s dead. The body is shipped back to New York, but in the morgue there is a mix-up. The son is sent for. He is told that his mother is one of these ten different women. Each has been shot. Such is modern life. He studies them all but can’t find her. With her new face, she has become a stranger. Maybe it’s this one, maybe it’s that one. He looks at their breasts. Which ones nursed him? He presses their hands to his cheek. Which ones consoled him? He even tries climbing onto their laps to see which feels most familiar but the coroner stops him. Well, says the coroner, which is your mother? They all are, says the young man, let me take them as a package. The coroner hesitates, then agrees. Actually, it solved a lot of problems. The young man has the ten women shipped home, then cremates them all together. You’ve seen how some people have a little urn on the mantel? This man has a huge silver garbage can. In the spring, he drags the garbage can out to the garden and begins working the teeth, the ash, the bits of bone into the soil. Then he plants tomatoes. His mother loved tomatoes. They grow straight from seed, so fast and big that the young man is amazed. He takes the first ten into the kitchen. In their roundness, he sees his mother’s breasts. In their smoothness he finds the consoling touch of her hands. Mother, mother, he cries, and flings himself on the tomatoes. Forget about the knife, the fork, the pinch of salt. Try to imagine the filial starvation, think of his ravenous kisses. --Stephen Dobyns,
  • Fern Hill, by Dylan Thomas Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green, The night above the dingle starry, Time let me hail and climb Golden in the heyday of his eyes, And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves Trail with daisies and barley Down the rivers of the windfall light. And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home, In the sun that is young once only, Time let me play and be Golden in the mercy of his means, And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold, And the sabbath rang slowly In the pebbles of the holy streams. All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air And playing, lovely and watery And fire green as grass. And nightly under the simple stars As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away, All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars Flying with the ricks, and the horses Flashing into the dark. And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it, was all Shining, it was Adam and maiden, The sky gathered again And the sun grew round that very day. So it must have been after the birth of the simple light In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm Out of the whinnying green stable On to the fields of praise. And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long, In the sun born over and over, I ran my heedless ways, My wishes raced through the house high hay And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs Before the children green and golden Follow him out of grace, Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand, In the moon that is always rising, Nor that riding to sleep I should hear him fly with the high fields And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land. Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, Time held me green and dying Though I sang in my chains like the sea.
  • Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin: A Message to Po Chu-I
  • Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know. So, friends, every day do something that won't compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed. Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion -- put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth? Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection. -- Wendell Berry
  • (My sequoia never did grow.)
  • Nice one, mothy! One suspects that a certain beekeeping monkey would have appreciated Mr. Berry...
  • Yes, islander. Yes, I think he would have. *sighs* My favorite Wendell: What We Need Is Here Geese appear high over us, pass, and the sky closes. Abandon, as in love or sleep, holds them to their way, clear in the ancient faith: what we need is here. And we pray, not for new earth or heaven, but to be quiet in heart, and in eye, clear. What we need is here. Wendell Barry
  • Beer Lee Upton Like the life of the mind, beer pushes suds. It spins a halo—so happy to see us— and begins its frothy ascension of luxury cream, Venus lifting the foam mattress. And then, like a little Niagara, beer comes to a decision— you can’t say you weren’t warned— and overwhelms the glass. Frothy eel pit, ancestral tonic. Mopping the foam from the table: it’s like wiping spray from a trough while panning for gold. Or sopping up, with a cocktail napkin, an evaporating mermaid. And then, returning to the glass, we lift a torch doused in the surf of time. This is our brew against subtlety. Even its fluff thickens eyelids, puts us on a low, low setting, and hauls the perfumed barge of sleep in its wake. Then, in a flourish, beer signs its name with the legend: You there, you with your throat in a lather, I am dread’s quencher, anxiety’s antidote, guilt’s blotter. You. You’ve had enough existence for one day.
  • The Lost Brother Stanley Moss I knew that tree was my lost brother when I heard he was cut down at four thousand eight hundred sixty-two years; I knew we had the same mother. His death pained me. I made up a story. I realized, when I saw his photograph, he was an evergreen, a bristlecone like me who had lived from an early age with a certain amount of dieback, at impossible locations, at elevations over 10,000 feet in extreme weather. His company: other conifers, the rosy finch, the rock wren, the raven and clouds, blue and silver insects that fed mostly off each other. Some years bighorn sheep visited in summer— he was entertained by red bats, black-tailed jackrabbits, horned lizards, the creatures old and young he sheltered. Beside him in the shade, pink mountain pennyroyal— to his south, white angelica. I am prepared to live as long as he did (it would please our mother), live with clouds and those I love suffering with God. Sooner or later, some bag of wind will cut me down.
  • As a windbag myself, I feel a bit like the bad guy here.
  • Why, you hardly ever say anything, StoryBored. So good to hear from you!
  • The Homecoming All the great voyagers return Homeward as on an arc of thought; Home like a ruby beacon burns As they crest wind, scale wave, soar air; All the great voyagers return, Though we who wait never have done Fearing the piteous accidents, The coral reef sharp as the bones It has betrayed, fate’s cormorant Unleashed, whose diving’s never done. Even the voyager of mind May fail beneath behemoth’s weight; Oh, the world’s bawdy carcass blinds All but the boldest, rots the sails And swamps the voyaging of the mind. But all the great voyagers return Home like the hunter, like the hare To its burrow; below, earth’s axle turns To speed their coming, the following fair Winds bless their voyage, blow their safe return. by Barbara Howes
  • Excellent choice, islander :)
  • Why should we two ever want to part? Just as the leaf of water rhubarb lives floating on the water we live as the great one and little one. As the owl opens his eyes all night to the moon, we live as the great one and little one. This love between us goes back to the first humans; it cannot be annihilated. Here is Kabir's idea: what is inside me moves inside you. --Kabir, trans. by Robert Bly hopes the italics thingy works this time, been so long since he tried writing in HTMLish
  • Ah, lovely Bees. Description of a Badly Drawn Horse Daniel Johnson The horse's head looks more like the butt end of an oar, squared off and wooden the way an animal's is not. Its mane is mangy; the mouth toothy; one white eye is wild. The legs tangle at wrong angles and the body seems short. This was a horse to shoot, but I sharpened my pencil instead, and returned to my seat. Astride the beast, with hands like clouds and checkered shirt, is a boy—not whipping his horse, battering its belly with shiny spurs, or scouting the dusty plains and bluffs for a good leap-off place. He's smiling terribly.
  • Mountain Cottage In the water, horse hooves trample the evening glow as my drunken sleeves catch wind and falling flowers. River kids peek out their door. How did they know? I guess the magpies' song reached the mountain cottage before me. -- Liu Yin
  • Will preface this by saying of the Chinese poet Lu Ji -- he is thought to have lived 261-303. (In China. Far, far from the Greeks and Greek notions of Pegasus and poets.) Anyhow, Lu Ji wrote The Art of Writing. A couple of excerpts from it: 1. The Impulse The poet stands between heaven and earth and watches the dark mystery. To nourish myself I read the classics. I sigh as the four seasons spin by and the swarm of living things kindles many thoughts.... 2. Meditation At first I close my eyes. I hear nothing. In interior space I search everywhere. My spirit gallops to the earth's eight borders and wings to the top of the sky. Soon, misty and brightening like the sun about to dawn, ideas coalesce and images ignite images. When I drink the wine of words and chew flowers from the Six Books, I swim freely in the celestial river and dive into the sea's abyss. Sometimes words come hard, they resist me till I pluck them from deep water like hooked fish; sometimes they are birds soaring out of a cloud that fall right into place, shot through with arrows, and I harvest lines neglected for a hundred generations, rhymes unheard for a thousand years....
  • Fine and fascinating link, islander! Thanks.
  • Today is National Poetry Day in the UK.
  • A Poem About Monkeys for Chloe How they're noisy, how they're swinging, how the zoo is a wild place, a place of innovation. The howler, the gorilla, the capuchin: they're all monkeys. Your eyes see only posture, hair, faces like playful children. In Curious George the adventure is madcap, that crazy George loose in the modernity we call home. It's wacky is what it is, how we lose each other, how we reconnect. And, you, at this high end of evolution, with your adult vocabulary, your soulfulness, your own sense of adventure, you're a monkey yourself. We all are, and that's a secret. We're all a little wild still, a little too loud, but we've learned to walk upright, right or wrong, and we've learned we need the other monkeys, in this untamed place, our lives. --Corey Mesler
  • Now that there is a guy who knows his monkeys.
  • Now there is a woman who knows her wetlands. ;] Water Study Boats mean we exist. Water is everything. May it break on soil sculpt perfect specks. Turn this place jade as leaves. Break over stones smooth palms no rough work only paper. Colorless salt knows color cerulean rising in rays. Shells are the truth. Listen carefully close to the ear there are bones everywhere. --Myronn Hardy
  • ...I advance as long as forever is. --Dylan Thomas
  • An Iris Murdoch Reader Everyone knows something. No one knows everything. Most know less than they think. As in life, there is much confusion, especially about love. The girl in the basement kitchen, grown disenchanted with the scholar who is confused about the shape of his career, considers entering a nunnery in Argentina. Her mother has encountered a man she has not seen in twenty years. Someone is writing a book; someone is hiding a crime; someone is about to suffer near-death by almost-drowning. The narrator's cousin doesn't know how to answer her mentor's letter, isn't aware she might be the heroine of this particular tale. Everyone has forgotten something— is this the moral?—with marvelous consequences. There are self-delusions and glimpses of God in surprising guises. Children are always arriving home or going away to school. In twos or threes lovers or ex-lovers or would-be lovers take cliff-top walks, receive invitations to dinner parties given by former friends or present rivals, send and perceive mixed signals. A dog follows someone home. People live in a succession of weathers, patterns of drizzle or downpour or blazing sunshine. It is difficult to see clearly. Some thing is lost; something is foreign. Somewhere a swimmer is diving into the sea, the sea. --John Drexel
  • Bait Goat Kay Ryan There is a distance where magnets pull, we feel, having held them back. Likewise there is a distance where words attract. Set one out like a bait goat and wait and seven others will approach. But watch out: roving packs can pull your word away. You find your stake yanked and some rough bunch to thank.
  • There were horses in all our days. An open white page in any book was a lean white horse looking out, and a swollen door stuttering at night was the breath and stamp of a horse nearby. Boys ran like horses and our hidden eyes in the oak trees wore their depth of amber. Even the mountain swung its back low between peaks and moved into the plain of darkness like a horse coming home. Those days we brushed each other's hair like the manes of horses and with their kindness gave each other kingly gifts. We stood skin to skin in the rain. We swept away the gathering flies. --Annie Lighthart, "There Were Horses"
  • Nice Bees. Another for the collection. Barbed Wire by Ralph Burns Two or more strands twisted together, Oxides and baser salts, admixture Of carbon, metal of lash and scourge, Strung like a virus, barbed intervals, Stapled by hand to bois d'arc poles, Woven by machine, "devil's rope" Of vast interior plains, Of meadows bruised by their own Amplitude, barbed wire of a thousand Different kinds, undulating loops, Half round and square--Reynold's Web, Preston's Braid, Meriwether's Cold- Weather Wire, Shellaberger's Long Zigzag, Walking Wire, Curtis's Ladder, Visible Lace, Arch and Leaf, Descending Beads, Staple Barb, Open Diamond Point, Sproul's Twins, Elsey's Ribbon, Brink's Buckle, Ellwood's Star, Flute and Rib, Spool and Spurs, Joined Saucers, Tie through Eye, Body Grip, Blake's Knee Grip, Underwood's Tack-- Unloved, unloving; that to name these Does no political good, but as precision Is polemical, against vague statement And circular evasion, as the sharp angle of sun And crossed wires together body forth a spark, It is some kind--cold, unmusical, utterly itself, Keeping cattle in, or the enemies of sheep Out.
  • Ach! must admit I detest barbed wire. Every true poet is a monster. He destroys people and their speech. His singing elevates a technique that wipes out the earth so we are not eaten by worms. The drunk sells his coat. The thief sells his mother. Only the poet sells his soul to separate it from the body that he loves. --Tomaz Salamun, "Folksong", trans. Charles Simic
  • Talking To Little Birdies Charles Simic Not a peep out of you now After the bedlam early this morning. Are you begging pardon of me Hidden up there among the leaves, Or are your brains momentarily overtaxed? You savvy a few things I don't: The overlooked sunflower seed worth a holler; The traffic of cats in the yard; Strangers leaving the widow's house, Tieless and wearing crooked grins. Or have you got wind of the world's news? Some new horror I haven't heard about yet? Which one of you was so bold as to warn me, Our sweet setup is in danger? Kids are playing soldiers down the road, Pointing their rifles and playing dead. Little birdies, are you sneaking wary looks In the thick foliage as you hear me say this?
  • "Adlestrop" by Edward Thomas (1878-1917) Yes, I remember Adlestrop— The name, because one afternoon Of heat the express-train drew up there Unwontedly. It was late June. The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat. No one left and no one came On the bare platform. What I saw Was Adlestrop—only the name And willows, willow-herb, and grass, And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry, No whit less still and lonely fair Than the high cloudlets in the sky. And for that minute a blackbird sang Close by, and round him, mistier, Farther and farther, all the birds Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
  • Thomas died in WWI, in 1917, in Flanders. The Owl Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved; Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof. Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest, Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I. All of the night was barred out except An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry Shaken out long and clear upon the hill, No merry note, nor cause of merriment, But one telling me plain what I escaped And others could not, that night, as in I went. And salted was my food, and my repose, Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice Speaking for all who lay under the stars, Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice. --Edward Thomas
  • A Barred Owlby Richard Wilbur Richard Wilbur The warping night air having brought the boom Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room, We tell the wakened child that all she heard Was an odd question from a forest bird, Asking of us, if rightly listened to, “Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?” Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear, Can also thus domesticate a fear, And send a small child back to sleep at night Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.
  • Bluebird there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you. there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he's in there. there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? you want to blow my book sales in Europe? there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody's asleep. I say, I know that you're there, so don't be sad. then I put him back, but he's singing a little in there, I haven't quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it's nice enough to make a man weep, but I don't weep, do you? --Charles Bukowski
  • Bukowski's so strange.
  • Aye, well, many poets are. I suspect it comes from the outsider-looking-in attitude so many poets have.
  • Autumn Grasses by Margaret Gibson In fields of bush clover and hay-scent grass the autumn moon takes refuge The cricket's song is gold Zeshin's loneliness taught him this Who is coming? What will come to pass, and pass? Neither bruise nor sweetness nor cool air not-knowing knows the way And the moon? Who among us does not wander, and flare and bow to the ground? Who does not savor, and stand open if only in secret taking heart in the ripening of the moon? (Shibata Zeshin, Autumn Grasses, two-panel screen)
  • Keeping Things Whole In a field I am the absence of field. This is always the case. Wherever I am I am what is missing. When I walk I part the air and always the air moves in to fill the spaces where my body's been. We all have reasons for moving. I move to keep things whole. --Mark Strand
  • What do these mutts barking in unison Up and down our road Have on their minds tonight? A burglar slipping through an open window? A couple of kids making out in a parked car? Perhaps it's the silence that bugs them? The empty road at this hour of night. You'd think their owners Would let them in by now-but no! They must be worrying too What's out there in the dark? A bear going through a trash can? A suicide swaying from a branch? A star, for some unknown reason, Calling it quits after millions of years And falling out of the sky? --Charles Simic, "Musing the Obscure"
  • Eating Poetry Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry. The librarian does not believe what she sees. Her eyes are sad and she walks with her hands in her dress. The poems are gone. The light is dim. The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up. Their eyeballs roll, their blond legs burn like brush. The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep. She does not understand. When I get on my knees and lick her hand, she screams. I am a new man. I snarl at her and bark. I romp with joy in the bookish dark. --Mark Strand
  • Library Albert Goldbarth This book saved my life. This book takes place on one of the two small tagalong moons of Mars. This book requests its author's absolution, centuries after his death. This book required two of the sultan's largest royal elephants to bear it; this other book fit in a gourd. This book reveals The Secret Name of God, and so its author is on a death list. This is the book I lifted high over my head, intending to smash a roach in my girlfriend's bedroom; instead, my back unsprung, and I toppled painfully into her bed, where I stayed motionless for eight days. This is a "book." That is, an audio cassette. This other "book" is a screen and a microchip. This other "book," the sky. In chapter three of this book, a woman tries explaining her husband's tragically humiliating death to their daughter: reading it is like walking through a wall of setting cement. This book taught me everything about sex. This book is plagiarized. This book is transparent; this book is a codex in Aztec; this book, written by a prisoner, in dung; the wind is turning the leaves of this book: a hill-top olive as thick as a Russian novel. This book is a vivisected frog, and ova its text. This book was dictated by Al-Méllikah, the Planetary Spirit of the Seventh Realm, to his intermediary on Earth (the Nineteenth Realm), who published it, first in mimeograph, and many editions later in gold- stamped leather. This book taught me everything wrong about sex. This book poured its colors into my childhood so strongly, they remain a dye in my imagination today. This book is by a poet who makes me sick. This is the first book in the world. This is a photograph from Viet Nam, titled "Buddhist nuns copying scholarly Buddhist texts in the pagoda." This book smells like salami. This book is continued in volume two. He was driving — evidently by some elusive, interior radar, since he was busy reading a book propped on the steering wheel. This book picks on men. This is the split Red Sea: two heavy pages. In this book I underlined deimos, cabochon, pelagic, hegira. I wanted to use them. This book poured its bile into my childhood. This book defames women. This book was smuggled into the country one page at a time, in tiny pill containers, in hatbands, in the cracks of asses; sixty people risked their lives repeatedly over this one book. This book is nuts!!! This book cost more than a seven-story chalet in the Tall Oaks subdivision. This book — I don't remember. This book is a hoax, and a damnable lie. This chapbook was set in type and printed by hand, by Larry Levis's then- wife, the poet Marcia Southwick, in 1975. It's 1997 now and Larry's dead — too early, way too early — and this elliptical, heartbreaking poem (which is, in part, exactly about too early death) keeps speaking to me from its teal-green cover: the way they say the nails and the hair continue to grow in the grave. This book is two wings and a thorax the size of a sunflower seed. This book gave me a hard-on. This book is somewhere under those other books way over there. ---con't---
  • Library ---con't--- This book deflected a bullet. This book provided a vow I took. If they knew you owned this book, they'd come and get you; it wouldn't be pretty. This book is a mask: its author isn't anything like it. This book is by William Matthews, a wonderful poet, who died today, age 55. Now Larry Levis has someone he can talk to. This book is an "airplane book" (but not about airplanes; mean to be read on an airplane; also, available every three steps in the airport). What does it mean, to "bust" a "block"? This is the book I pretended to read one day in the Perry-Castañeda Library browsing room, but really I was rapt in covert appreciation of someone in a slinky skirt that clung like kitchen plasticwrap. She squiggled near, and pointed to the book. "It's upside-down," she said. For the rest of the afternoon I was so flustered, that when I finally left the library... this is the book, with its strip of magnetic-code tape, that I absentmindedly walked with through the security arch on the first day of its installation, becoming the first (though unintentional) lightfingered lifter of books to trigger the Perry-Castañeda alarm, which hadn't been fine-tuned as yet, and sounded even louder than the sirens I remember from grade school air raid drills, when the principal had us duck beneath our desks and cover our heads — as if gabled — with a book. The chemical formulae for photosynthesis: this book taught me that. And this book taught me what a "merkin" is. The cover of this book is fashioned from the tanned skin of a favorite slave. This book is inside a computer now. This "book" is made of knotted string; and this, of stone; and this, the gut of a sheep. This book existed in a dream of mine, and only there. This book is a talk-show paperback with shiny gold raised lettering on the cover. (Needless to say, not one by me.) This is a book of prohibitions; this other, a book of rowdy license. They serve equally to focus the prevalent chaos of our lives. This book is guarded around the clock by men in navy serge and golden braiding, carrying very capable guns. This is the book that destroyed a marriage. Take it, burn it, before it costs us more. This book is an intercom for God. This book I slammed against a wall. My niece wrote this book in crayon and glitter. This is the book (in a later paperback version) by which they recognized the sea-bleached, battered, and otherwise-unidentifiable body of Shelley. Shit: I forgot to send in the card, and now the Book Club has billed me twice for Synopses of 400 Little-Known Operas. This book is filled with sheep and rabbits, calmly promenading in their tartan vests and bowties, with their clay pipes, in their Easter Sunday salad-like hats. The hills are gently rounded. The sun is a clear firm yolk. The world will never be this sweetly welcoming again. This book is studded with gems that have the liquid depth of aperitifs. This book, 1,000 Wild Nights, is actually wired to give an electr/ YOWCH! This book I stole from Cornell University's Olin Library in the spring of 1976. Presumably, its meter's still running. Presumably, it still longs for its Dewey'd place in the dim-lit stacks. ---con't---
  • Library---con't--- This book has a bookplate reminding me, in Latin, to use my scant time well. It's the last day of the semester. My students are waiting to sell their textbooks back to the campus store, like crazed racehorses barely restrained at the starting gate. This book caused a howl / a stir / a ruckus / an uproar. This book became a movie; they quickly raised the cover price. This book is the Key to the Mysteries. This book has a bookplate: a man and a woman have pretzeled themselves into one lubricious shape. This book came apart in my hands. This book is austere; it's like holding a block of dry ice. This Bible is in Swahili. This book contains seemingly endless pages of calculus — it may as well be in Swahili. This is the book I pretended to read while Ellen's lushly naked body darkened into sleep beside me. And this is the book I pretended to read in a waiting room, once, as a cardiac specialist razored into my father's chest. And THIS book I pretended having read once, when I interviewed for a teaching position: "Oh yes," I said, "of course," and spewed a stream of my justly famous golden bullshit into the conference room. This book was signed by the author fifteen minutes before she died. This is Erhard Ratdolf's edition of Johann Regiomontanus's astronomical and astrological calendar (1476) — it contains "the first true title-page." She snatched this book from a garbage can, just as Time was about to swallow it out of the visible world irrevocably. To this day, her grandchildren read it. This book: braille. This one: handmade paper, with threads of the poet's own bathrobe as part of the book's rag content. This one: the cover is hollowed glass, with a goldfish swimming around the title. This is my MFA thesis. Its title is Goldbarth's MFA Thesis. This is the cookbook used by Madame Curie. It still faintly glows, seven decades later. This book is the shame of an entire nation. This book is one of fourteen matching volumes, like a dress parade. This is the book I'm writing now. It's my best! (But where should I send it?) This book doesn't do anyth / oh wow, check THIS out! This is the book I bought for my nephew, 101 Small Physics Experiments. Later he exchanged it for The Book of Twerps and Other Pukey Things, and who could blame him? This book is completely marred by the handiwork of the Druckfehlerteufel — "the imp who supplies the misprints." This book has a kind of aurora-like glory radiating from it. There should be versions of uranium detectors that register glory-units from books. We argued over this book in the days of the divorce. I kept it, she kept the stained glass window from Mike and Mimi. Yes, he was supposed to be on the 7:05 to Amsterdam. But he stayed at home, to finish this whodunit. And so he didn't crash. This book has a browned corsage pressed in it. I picked up both for a dime at the Goodwill. "A diet of berries, vinegar, and goat's milk" will eventually not only cure your cancer, but will allow a man to become impregnated (diagrams explain this) — also, there's serious philosophy about Jews who control "the World Order," in this book. ---con't--
  • Library---con't--- This book reads from right to left. This book comes with a small wooden top attached by a saffron ribbon. This book makes the sound of a lion, a train, or a cuckoo clock, depending on where you press its cover. I've always admired this title from 1481: The Myrrour of the Worlde. This book is from the 1950s; the jacket says it's "a doozie." This book is by me. I found it squealing piteously, poor piglet, in the back of a remainders bin. I took it home and nursed it. This book let me adventure with the Interplanetary Police. I threw myself, an aspirant, against the difficult theories this book propounded, until my spirit was bruised. I wasn't any smarter — just bruised. This book is magic. There's more inside it than outside. This is the copy of the Iliad that Alexander the Great took with him, always, on his expeditions — "in," Thoreau says, "a precious casket." Help! (thump) I've been stuck in this book all week and I don't know how to get out! (thump) This is the book of poetry I read from at my wedding to Morgan. We were divorced. The book (Fred Chappell's River) is still on my shelf, like an admonishment. This book is stapled (they're rusted by now); this book, bound in buttery leather; this book's pages are chemically-treated leaves; this book, the size of a peanut, is still complete with indicia and an illustrated colophon page. So tell me: out of what grim institution for the taste-deprived and the sensibility-challenged do they find the cover artists for these books? This book I tried to carry balanced on my head with seven others. This book I actually licked. This book — remember? I carved a large hole in its pages, a "how-to magazine for boys" said this would be a foolproof place to hide my secret treasures. Then I remembered I didn't have any secret treasures worth hiding. Plus, I was down one book. This book is nothing but jackal crap; unfortunately, its royalties have paid for two Rolls-Royces and a mansion in the south of France. This book is said to have floated off the altar of the church, across the village square, and into the hut of a peasant woman in painful labor. This is what he was reading when he died. The jacket copy says it's "a real page-turner — you can't put it down!" I'm going to assume he's in another world now, completing the story. This book hangs by a string in an outhouse, and every day it gets thinner. This book teaches you how to knit a carrying case for your rosary; this one, how to build a small but lethal incendiary device. This book has pop-up pages with moveable parts, intended to look like the factory room where pop-up books with moveable parts are made. If you don't return that book I loaned you, I'm going to smash your face. This book says the famously saintly woman was really a ringtailed trash- mouth dirty-down bitch queen. Everyone's reading it! There are stains in this book that carry a narrative greater than its text. The Case of _______. How to _______. Books books books. I know great petulant stormy swatches and peaceful lulls of this book by heart. I was so excited, so jazzed up! — but shortly thereafter they found me asleep, over pages six and seven of this soporific book. (I won't say by who.) And on her way back to her seat, she fell (the multiple sclerosis) and refused all offered assistance. Instead, she used her book she'd been reading from, as a prop, and worked herself pridefully back up to a standing position. ---con't---
  • Library---con't--- They gave me this book for free at the airport. Its cover features an Indian god with the massive head of an elephant, as brightly blue as a druid, flinging flowers into the air and looking unsurpassably wise. My parents found this book in my bottom drawer, and spanked the living hell into my butt. This book of yours, you tell me, was optioned by Hollywood for eighty- five impossibajillion dollars? Oh. Congratulations. They lowered the esteemed and highly-published professor into his grave. A lot of silent weeping. A lot of elegiac rhetoric. And one man shaking his head in the chill December wind dumbfoundedly, who said, "And he perished anyway." Although my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. Hurd, always said "Whenever you open a book, remember: that author lives again." After this book, there was no turning back. Around 1000 A.D., when the Magyars were being converted over to Christianity, Magyar children were forced to attend school for the first time in their cultural history: "therefore the Magyar word konyv means tears as well as book." This book, from when I was five, its fuzzy ducklings, and my mother's voice in the living room of the second-story apartment over the butcher shop on Division Street.... I'm fifty now. I've sought out, and I own now, one near-mint and two loose, yellowing copies that mean to me as much as the decorated gold masks and the torsos of marble meant to the excavators of Troy. This book is done. This book gave me a paper cut. This book set its mouth on my heart, and sucked a mottled tangle of blood to the surface. I open this book and smoke pours out, I open this book and a bad sleet slices my face, I open this book: brass knuckles, I open this book: the spiky scent of curry, I open this book and hands grab forcefully onto my hair as if in violent sex, I open this book: the wingbeat of a seraph, I open this book: the edgy cat-pain wailing of the damned thrusts up in a column as sturdy around as a giant redwood, I open this book: the travel of light, I open this book and it's as damp as a wound, I open this book and I fall inside it farther than any physics, stickier than the jelly we scrape from cracked bones, cleaner than what we tell our children in the dark when they're afraid to close their eyes at night. And this book can't be written yet: its author isn't born yet. This book is going to save the world. ---end---
  • Whew! That Albert, he's good, but he kinda wrote a book there.
  • I like 'em succinct.
  • It's a fun poem, though. Kinda like spending an afternoon wandering in the library!
  • Write as you will In whatever style you like Too much blood has run under the bridge To go on believing That only one road is right. In poetry everything is permitted. With only this condition of course, You have to improve the blank page. --Nicanor Parra, "Young Poets", trans Miller Williams Given a choice, I prefer a poem be less discursive, more to the point, in general less autobiographical and more lyric than narrative. But what suits me may not suit the next fellow. There's no right or wrong to it, just a question of each person's personal taste.
  • To Whom It May Concern I was run over by the truth one day. Ever since the accident I've walked this way So stick my legs in plaster Tell me lies about Vietnam. Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain, Couldn't find myself so I went back to sleep again So fill my ears with silver Stick my legs in plaster Tell me lies about Vietnam. Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames. Made a marble phone book and I carved out all the names So coat my eyes with butter Fill my ears with silver Stick my legs in plaster Tell me lies about Vietnam. I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains. They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains So stuff my nose with garlic Coat my eyes with butter Fill my ears with silver Stick my legs in plaster Tell me lies about Vietnam. Where were you at the time of the crime? Down by the Cenotaph drinking slime So chain my tongue with whisky Stuff my nose with garlic Coat my eyes with butter Fill my ears with silver Stick my legs in plaster Tell me lies about Vietnam. You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out, You take the human being and you twist it all about So scrub my skin with women Chain my tongue with whisky Stuff my nose with garlic Coat my eyes with butter Fill my ears with silver Stick my legs in plaster Tell me lies about Vietnam. --Adrian Mitchell
  • How It Happens The sky said I am watching to see what you can make out of nothing I was looking up and I said I thought you were supposed to be doing that the sky said Many are clinging to that I am giving you a chance I was looking up and I said I am the only chance I have then the sky did not answer and here we are with our names for the days the vast days that do not listen to us --W.S. Merwin
  • The Horse of Your Heart When you've ridden a four-year-old half of the day And, foam to the fetlock, they lead him away, With a sigh of contentment you watch him depart While you tighten the girths on the horse of your heart. There is something between you that both understand As it thrills an old message from bit-bar to hand. As he changes his feet in that plunge of desire To the thud of his hoofs all your courage takes fire. When an afternoon fox is away, when begins The rush down the headland that edges the whins, When you challenge the Field, making sure of a start, Would you ask any horse but this horse of your heart? There's the rasping big double a green one would shirk, But the old fellow knows it as part of his work; He has shortened his stride, he has measured the task, He is up, on, and over as clean as you'd ask. There's the water before you-no novice's test, But a jump to try deeply the boldest and best; Just a tug at the leather, a lift of the ear, And the old horse is over it-twenty foot clear. There is four foot of wall and a take-off in plough, And you're glad you are riding no tenderfoot now But a seasoned campaigner, a master of art, The perfect performer-the horse of your heart. For here's where the raw one will falter and baulk, And here's where the tyro is pulled to a walk, But the horse of your heart never dwells or demurs And is over the top to a touch of the spurs. To you who ride young ones half-schooled and half-broke, What joy to find freedom a while from your yoke! What bliss to be launched with the luck of the start On the old one, the proved one, the horse of your heart ! --William Henry Ogilvie
  • How to Like It These are the first days of fall. The wind at evening smells of roads still to be traveled, while the sound of leaves blowing across the lawns is like an unsettled feeling in the blood, the desire to get in a car and just keep driving. A man and a dog descend their front steps. The dog says, Let's go downtown and get crazy drunk. Let's tip over all the trash cans we can find. This is how dogs deal with the prospect of change. But in his sense of the season, the man is struck by the oppressiveness of his past, how his memories which were shifting and fluid have grown more solid until it seems he can see remembered faces caught up among the dark places in the trees. The dog says, Let's pick up some girls and just rip off their clothes. Let's dig holes everywhere. Above his house, the man notices wisps of cloud crossing the face of the moon. Like in a movie, he says to himself, a movie about a person leaving on a journey. He looks down the street to the hills outside of town and finds the cut where the road heads north. He thinks of driving on that road and the dusty smell of the car heater, which hasn't been used since last winter. The dog says, Let's go down to the diner and sniff people's legs. Let's stuff ourselves on burgers. In the man's mind, the road is empty and dark. Pine trees press down to the edge of the shoulder, where the eyes of animals, fixed in his headlights, shine like small cautions against the night. Sometimes a passing truck makes his whole car shake. The dog says, Let's go to sleep. Let's lie down by the fire and put our tails over our noses. But the man wants to drive all night, crossing one state line after another, and never stop until the sun creeps into his rearview mirror. Then he'll pull over and rest awhile before starting again, and at dusk he'll crest a hill and there, filling a valley, will be the lights of a city entirely new to him. But the dog says, Let's just go back inside. Let's not do anything tonight. So they walk back up the sidewalk to the front steps. How is it possible to want so many things and still want nothing? The man wants to sleep and wants to hit his head again and again against a wall. Why is it all so difficult? But the dog says, Let's go make a sandwich. Let's make the tallest sandwich anyone's ever seen. And that's what they do and that's where the man's wife finds him, staring into the refrigerator as if into the place where the answers are kept— the ones telling why you get up in the morning and how it is possible to sleep at night, answers to what comes next and how to like it. --Stephen Dobyns
  • That's just how I feel today, islander! nasty dreary weather and a cold in the chest--blarg! (bees, one of my favorite poems)
  • For Granma... The Horse - Fiona Farrell Imagine a horse. A dapple grey standing in a field. Eyes closed. Its lashes demure, its pink nostrils flaring on warm air. One foot on point like a dancer resting. The very image of motion stilled. No jump no dumbledum. The horse dozes by a fence and you, a small child, spread on its back. Bare legs straddle its warm coat. Bare arms about the neck of the beast. This beast who lets you lie upon his back, legs straddled in the sun. And then there comes a cloud, a cloud of flies no bigger than a needle's point, all prick and agitation. They land upon the horse's coat. His skin quiver. Not all over. Just in that place where the flies nick. Skin quivers under bare leg. He stamps one hoof. Quiver and stamp. Quiver and stamp on a blue day and you small, straddled across the back of a big beast. And that is how the earth is. I believe this is an allusion to the recent happenings in Canterbury.
  • Mmmmmm, wonderful, Ed! This one gets saved in my personal 'book.' And one back atcha, since we haven't been posting the pomes lately. Horse and Rider Melissa Range Sing unto the Lord a drift of a song, a song that goes before the Law: make of your voice a shaft of flame shifting into cloud and back again, a rift in a wave, a crack in a wheel, a road in the midst of the sea; make of your voice a staff turned snake turned brass turned tambourine. Sing of swift colts bolting from their mares onto the plains of tender sand, bolts of dyed silk rippling as they unfurl— cedar, sable, silver, sunset, snow. Sing of the vacant stables, the casks of grain; of the rakes and forks that lean against the stalls; of the stable-boys—all younger sons— whose charges charge away. Sing of helmets hailed upon the fields, gold flax and barley rotting in the bud; of the bare-headed boys who urge their chariots on with surging throats: O sing of their black hair. Sing of the groomed hooves and flanks and haunches brushed blinding in the glare, jolting the riders they bear—all younger sons— until the sand tenders itself unto the sea. Sing this day of the gift of the Lord: the genesis of a song so old it has no attribution; of a tongue's first poetry—the gleaming shard which broke from prose, from simple speech, the jagged line which founded epic, identity, belief. Sing of defeat, for without defeat, how could we sing? Sing of swords, shields, chariots, sifting down beneath the tangling reeds. Sing of the clear dry heavens, the mottled sea— cedar, sable, silver, sunset, snow. Sing unto the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously; He has slaughtered whom He has slaughtered; He has shown Himself worthy of all our noise: He has rid the earth of a few more horses, a few more boys.
  • "Place" W.S. Merwin On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree what for not for the fruit the tree that bears the fruit is not the one that was planted I want the tree that stands in the earth for the first time with the sun already going down and the water touching its roots in the earth full of the dead and the clouds passing one by one over its leaves Oh my bees... One for you.
  • Questions About Angels by Billy Collins Of all the questions you might want to ask about angels, the only one you ever hear is how many can dance on the head of a pin. No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge. Do they fly through God's body and come out singing? Do they swing like children from the hinges of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards? Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors? What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes, their diet of unfiltered divine light? What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall these tall presences can look over and see hell? If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole in a river and would the hole float along endlessly filled with the silent letters of every angelic word? If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume the appearance of the regular mailman and whistle up the driveway reading the postcards? No, the medieval theologians control the court. The only question you ever hear is about the little dance floor on the head of a pin where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly. It is designed to make us think in millions, billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one: one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet, a small jazz combo working in the background. She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over to glance at his watch because she has been dancing forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.
  • Very nice, StoryB. Angels and saints... The Beginnings of Idleness in Assisi Mary Ruefle Mark how curious it is with him: he would walk for days in the same field, wearing no more than a robe, stooping now and then for a sprig of woodruff. His passion was to be stung by a bee, his body releasing its secret purpose into the body of the bee, that he might be done with it once and for all. It took his breath away, and forever after he stood there lonely as a finger: whatever touched or hoped to touch, whatever tried to count the features of his profile found only a thumbnail sketch. Like this little tiger lily, his new stance we never understood with any human certainty. Indeed, we ceased to believe in it. Either he is letting go all the animals at once from his bosom, or welcoming them one by one into his arms: the birds at his feet do not hold his kindness against him, chattering to one another that one day he will come to his senses, and sitting down, the whole beautiful and weighted world will settle in his lap like the statue of a cat.
  • Are saints so because they do it only? Or are they only flat-out Holy? The Vatican may soon decide On Monkey-Angel Filter's side.
  • Nice to hear from you, Granma! September, The First Day Of School My child and I hold hands on the way to school, And when I leave him at the first-grade door He cries a little but is brave; he does Let go. My selfish tears remind me how I cried before that door a life ago. I may have had a hard time letting go. Each fall the children must endure together What every child also endures alone: Learning the alphabet, the integers, Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff So arbitrary, so peremptory, That worlds invisible and visible Bow down before it, as in Joseph's dream The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down Before the dreaming of a little boy. That dream got him such hatred of his brothers As cost the greater part of life to mend, And yet great kindness came of it in the end. II A school is where they grind the grain of thought, And grind the children who must mind the thought. It may be those two grindings are but one, As from the alphabet come Shakespeare's Plays, As from the integers comes Euler's Law, As from the whole, inseperably, the lives, The shrunken lives that have not been set free By law or by poetic phantasy. But may they be. My child has disappeared Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live To see his coming forth, a life away, I know my hope, but do not know its form Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds Among his teachers have a care of him More than his father could. How that will look I do not know, I do not need to know. Even our tears belong to ritual. But may great kindness come of it in the end. --Howard Nemerov
  • For Granma, because it's been a while: Nefarious paw-thick with mud, recovers his home under the shed, dresses in a lick, meditates the wind rising; his goal, that chamber of food: clean ughs of the fleshy zingle their female sips the juice from. Knows Family, skipped that, yowls he scorned it. Though in his claws there is a craving to feel stroked?, forget it, this is Nefarious. Back again, the usual bag torn out by an invading hunger. CC gone, covering the floor walnut shells, morsels of plastic, a top of beetroot he saw pressed to the side, guessed was something to hide a tooth in. But they ate it ail, skinny indoor pussies who now kneel about the kitchen, pawing through rubbish. Uncovering in chewed foam the notes of a serial killer 1 can smell your latest work, I know about a carcass puzzling your pan. My guts slap loud as the night hail. - RICHARD REEVE
  • Child Development As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs and sauntered off the beaches into forests working up some irregular verbs for their first conversation, so three-year-old children enter the phase of name-calling. Every day a new one arrives and is added to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead, You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor (a kind of Navaho ring to that one) they yell from knee level, their little mugs flushed with challenge. Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack. They are just tormenting their fellow squirts or going after the attention of the giants way up there with their cocktails and bad breath talking baritone nonsense to other giants, waiting to call them names after thanking them for the lovely party and hearing the door close. The mature save their hothead invective for things: an errant hammer, tire chains, or receding trains missed by seconds, though they know in their adult hearts, even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed for his appalling behavior, that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids, their wives are Dopey Dopeheads and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants. Billy Collins
  • *Essentially* a great reference here, homster :)
  • a warning to lovers

    don’t say your lover’s name aloud

    if you do people will hear in your voice the taste of their body the scent of their sweat the heat of your bodies meeting

    they will hear in your voice the bite of your fingers into flesh the sound of your name cried out the way you look at each other naked

    bite your tongue and hold their name in your mouth

    • Paula Harris
  • Nice!
    Forgetfulness - Billy Collins
    The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,
    as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
    Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag, and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
    something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
    Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
    It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
    No wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
  • No more BOLD
    You have been told...
  • That Didn't Work It begins to irk.