Forum / Happy April 1st--30th

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 01, 06:06pm

    It's my favorite month of the year, National Poetry Month, and I disagree with Eliot's claim about April, even though itwas written in irony, but his Wasteland is one of my favorite poems of all.

    I don't have a favorite poem because that would be like choosing which appendage would be best to keep, but if pressed, I could come up with a top ten, ranging from Homer to Billy Collins.

    One of my top ten favorites for its staying power is Yeats' "The Second Coming." Unfortunately, its theme never seems to feel dated.

    Here it is:

    The Second Coming
    by W. B. Yeats

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    ...and here's an interactive link to the poem at The Academy of American Poets, poets.org:

    http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15527

    Post one of your top ten poems here. I'd love to know which poets have touched the most people.

    I hope all of you have a wonderful April, brimming with excellent words.

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    Dolemite
    Apr 01, 06:13pm

    In My Craft Or Sullen Art

    In my craft or sullen art
    Exercised in the still night
    When only the moon rages
    And the lovers lie abed
    With all their griefs in their arms,
    I labour by singing light
    Not for ambition or bread
    Or the strut and trade of charms
    On the ivory stages
    But for the common wages
    Of their most secret heart.

    Not for the proud man apart
    From the raging moon I write
    On these spindrift pages
    Nor for the towering dead
    With their nightingales and psalms
    But for the lovers, their arms
    Round the griefs of the ages,
    Who pay no praise or wages
    Nor heed my craft or art.

    --Dylan Thomas

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 01, 06:32pm

    Matt: I purchased a copy of Dylan Thomas' Collected Poems in 1971 when I was 15, and it has moved with me through six states and countless incarnations of what it meant to be Joan Reese. His beauty never dimmed, and his words never disappointed. Thanks.

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    Bill Yarrow
    Apr 01, 06:55pm

    TO ELSIE
    by William Carlos Williams

    The pure products of America
    go crazy—
    mountain folk from Kentucky

    or the ribbed north end of
    Jersey
    with its isolate lakes and

    valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
    old names
    and promiscuity between

    devil-may-care men who have taken
    to railroading
    out of sheer lust of adventure—

    and young slatterns, bathed
    in filth
    from Monday to Saturday

    to be tricked out that night
    with gauds
    from imaginations which have no

    peasant traditions to give them
    character
    but flutter and flaunt

    sheer rags—succumbing without
    emotion
    save numbed terror

    under some hedge of choke-cherry
    or viburnum—
    which they cannot express—

    Unless it be that marriage
    perhaps
    with a dash of Indian blood

    will throw up a girl so desolate
    so hemmed round
    with disease or murder

    that she'll be rescued by an
    agent—
    reared by the state and

    sent out at fifteen to work in
    some hard-pressed
    house in the suburbs—

    some doctor's family, some Elsie—
    voluptuous water
    expressing with broken

    brain the truth about us—
    her great
    ungainly hips and flopping breasts

    addressed to cheap
    jewelry
    and rich young men with fine eyes

    as if the earth under our feet
    were
    an excrement of some sky

    and we degraded prisoners
    destined
    to hunger until we eat filth

    while the imagination strains
    after deer
    going by fields of goldenrod in

    the stifling heat of September
    Somehow
    it seems to destroy us

    It is only in isolate flecks that
    something
    is given off

    No one
    to witness
    and adjust, no one to drive the car

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 01, 07:18pm

    Great, great forward tumbling motion, Bill. Wonderful poem. Haven't thought of this one in years. Thanks for posting it.

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    Sally Houtman
    Apr 01, 09:15pm

    Thanks, Joani, for this. For me, the collected works of Emily Dickenson were the 'what' I needed 'when' I needed it. Growing up in PA and surrounded by chaos, I discovered her poetry (or I'd like to think it discovered me)and, for the first time realized you could take pain, squeeze it, mold it, shape it into something meaningful and even beautiful. Words can do this. Seemed like the most beautiful revenge. This discovery, quite likely, saved my life. Thanks, Em. This one's for you.

    I Have Never Seen Volcanoes
    - by Emily Dickenson

    I have never seen "Volcanoes"—
    But, when Travellers tell
    How those old—phlegmatic mountains
    Usually so still—

    Bear within—appalling Ordnance,
    Fire, and smoke, and gun,
    Taking Villages for breakfast,
    And appalling Men—

    If the stillness is Volcanic
    In the human face
    When upon a pain Titanic
    Features keep their place—

    If at length the smouldering anguish
    Will not overcome—
    And the palpitating Vineyard
    In the dust, be thrown?

    If some loving Antiquary,
    On Resumption Morn,
    Will not cry with joy "Pompeii"!
    To the Hills return!

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 01, 09:24pm

    Joani, I know this is another favorite poem of yours, or at least I think it is? Most certainly one of mine- e.e. cummings' somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond:

    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 skillfully, 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

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 01, 11:21pm

    Love Emily, Sally--She and Whitman are the main branches of the American tree, and especially love this poem by e.e., Robert. It makes me wish I had known him. His memoir, The Enormous Room, is wondrously funny.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Apr 02, 01:02am

    In my top 3:

    “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” / James Wright

    Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
    Asleep on the black trunk,
    Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
    Down the ravine behind the empty house,
    The cowbells follow one another
    Into the distances of the afternoon.
    To my right,
    In a field of sunlight between two pines,
    The droppings of last year’s horses
    Blaze up into golden stones.
    I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
    A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
    I have wasted my life.

    #2: Emily Dickinson / #601, “A still – Volcano – Life”

    #1: Elizabeth Bishop / “Crusoe in England”

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    Darryl Price
    Apr 02, 01:13am

    Beneath My Hands by Leonard Cohen ("In my hands, your small breasts ...") from "The Spice-Box of Earth"

    Beneath my hands
    your small breasts
    are the upturned bellies
    of breathing fallen sparrows.
    Wherever you move
    I hear the sounds of closing wings
    of falling wings.
    I am speechless
    because you have fallen beside me
    because your eyelashes
    are the spines of tiny fragile animals.
    I dread the time
    when your mouth
    begins to call me hunter.
    When you call me close
    to tell me
    your body is not beautiful
    I want to summon
    the eyes and hidden mouths
    of stone and light and water
    to testify against you.
    I want them
    to surrender before you
    the trembling rhyme of your face
    from their deep caskets.
    When you call me close
    to tell me
    your body is not beautiful
    I want my body and my hands
    to be pools
    for your looking and laughing.
    LC

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 02, 01:14am

    Teach that one to my 1302 students, Sam. The ending is a conversation starter.

    One of my tops, probably three or four, is Bishop's "One Art," Sam. It and Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight" (two or three) are the two elegant poems that made me fall in love with form.

    One Art
    by Elizabeth Bishop

    The art of losing isn't hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn't hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn't hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

    --Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
    the art of losing's not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Apr 02, 01:20am

    You can never go wrong with Geography III, Joani. It's a perfect book.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 02, 01:25am

    DP: The last book of poetry I bought (besides my friends' books) was Cohen's. It is unique in a minimalist way. I liked many of his poems even though they felt phoned in over a static connection, and his drawings were very cool. Perhaps it was their utter strangeness and juxtaposition to my own aesthetic that intrigued me.

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 02, 01:36am

    Only the first day of NaPoMo and I am loving this thread already! Wheeee!

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    Gessy Alvarez
    Apr 02, 01:50am

    This poem never fails to inspire me...

    The Panther
    Rainer Maria Rilke

    His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
    has grown so weary that it cannot hold
    anything else. It seems to him there are
    a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

    As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
    the movement of his powerful soft strides
    is like a ritual dance around a center
    in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

    Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
    lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
    rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
    plunges into the heart and is gone.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 02, 02:11am

    When my students complain that they could NEVER memorize or recite a poem, I simply show them this and hope their chagrin and amazement will stop their whining:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVu4Me_n91Y

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    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Apr 02, 03:44am
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    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Apr 02, 03:48am

    Joani....damn. And I thought my son was a genius for memorizing the first couple of pages of The Lorax when he was three. Ha!

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    Darryl Price
    Apr 03, 03:18am

    WHAT I'M DOING HERE BY LEONARD COHEN

    I do not know if the world has lied
    I have lied
    I do not know if the world has conspired against love
    I have conspired against love
    The atmosphere of torture is no comfort
    I have tortured
    Even without the mushroom cloud
    still I would have hated
    Listen
    I would have done the same things
    even if there were no death
    I will not be held like a drunkard
    under the cold tap of facts
    I refuse the universal alibi

    Like an empty telephone booth passed at night
    and remembered
    like mirrors in a movie palace lobby consulted
    only on the way out
    like a nymphomaniac who binds a thousand
    into strange brotherhood
    I wait
    for each one of you to confess

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    Darryl Price
    Apr 03, 03:26am

    By the way, I love,and I mean LOVE, everything on tap here so far; one of my favorite poets, James Tate, is missing but I know someone will come up with him sooner or later. But, I mean Yeats and Dylan Thomas and Cummings and Emily and Rilke--these are all essential poets in my life.What about Neruda? What about W.S.Merwin? Robert Creeley? I'm only sticking to Leonard Cohen because no one else would probably include him in this company, but I will.Still if we're going to go hardcore--someone should bring in a little Shakespeare. And what about early Margaret Atwood? Just saying.

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    Dolemite
    Apr 03, 04:20am

    At the Fishhouses

    Although it is a cold evening,
    down by one of the fishhouses
    an old man sits netting,
    his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
    a dark purple-brown,
    and his shuttle worn and polished.
    The air smells so strong of codfish
    it makes one's nose run and one's eyes water.
    The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
    and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
    to storerooms in the gables
    for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
    All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
    swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
    is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
    the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
    among the wild jagged rocks,
    is of an apparent translucence
    like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
    growing on their shoreward walls.
    The big fish tubs are completely lined
    with layers of beautiful herring scales
    and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
    with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
    with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
    Up on the little slope behind the houses,
    set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
    is an ancient wooden capstan,
    cracked, with two long bleached handles
    and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
    where the ironwork has rusted.
    The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
    He was a friend of my grandfather.
    We talk of the decline in the population
    and of codfish and herring
    while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
    There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
    He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
    from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
    the blade of which is almost worn away.

    Down at the water's edge, at the place
    where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
    descending into the water, thin silver
    tree trunks are laid horizontally
    across the gray stones, down and down
    at intervals of four or five feet.

    Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
    element bearable to no mortal,
    to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
    I have seen here evening after evening.
    He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
    like me a believer in total immersion,
    so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
    I also sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
    He stood up in the water and regarded me
    steadily, moving his head a little.
    Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
    almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
    as if it were against his better judgment.
    Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
    the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
    the dignified tall firs begin.
    Bluish, associating with their shadows,
    a million Christmas trees stand
    waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended
    above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
    I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
    slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
    icily free above the stones,
    above the stones and then the world.
    If you should dip your hand in,
    your wrist would ache immediately,
    your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
    as if the water were a transmutation of fire
    that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
    If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
    then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
    It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
    dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
    drawn from the cold hard mouth
    of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
    forever, flowing and drawn, and since
    our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.
    Elizabeth Bishop

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    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Apr 03, 08:56am

    Darryl, I LOVE James Tate. I bought my first James Tate collection during a hurricane evacuation. Shroud of the Gnome.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 03, 12:22pm

    My favorite poet of all:

    La Figlia Che Piange
    by T.S. Eliot

    O quam te memorem virgo

    Stand on the highest pavement of the stair—
    Lean on a garden urn—
    Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair—
    Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise—
    Fling them to the ground and turn
    With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
    But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

    So I would have had him leave,
    So I would have had her stand and grieve,
    So he would have left
    As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
    As the mind deserts the body it has used.
    I should find
    Some way incomparably light and deft,
    Some way we both should understand,
    Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.

    She turned away, but with the autumn weather
    Compelled my imagination many days,
    Many days and many hours:
    Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
    And I wonder how they should have been together!
    I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
    Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
    The troubled midnight and the noon's repose.

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 03, 01:22pm

    Here is one of my favorite poetic moments in film: Alan Rickman (Jamie) and Juliet Stevenson (Nina) recite Pabole Neruda's "The Dead Woman." He in Spanish, she translates into English. Have tissue handy!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAS8LhgYp2M

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 04, 11:53am

    Another favorite I did not heed, alas:

    This Be the Verse

    By Philip Larkin

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Apr 04, 12:12pm

    William Stafford

    Report from a Far Place

    Making these word things to
    step on across the world, I
    could call them snowshoes.

    They creak, sag, bend, but
    hold, over the great deep cold,
    and they turn up at the toes.

    In war or city or camp
    they could save your life;
    you can muse them by the fire.

    Be careful, though: they
    burn, or don't burn, in their own
    strange way, when you say them.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Apr 04, 12:13pm

    Jane Hirshfield

    For What Binds Us

    There are names for what binds us:
    strong forces, weak forces.
    Look around, you can see them:
    the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
    nails rusting into the places they join,
    joints dovetailed on their own weight.
    The way things stay so solidly
    wherever they've been set down—
    and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

    And see how the flesh grows back
    across a wound, with a great vehemence,
    more strong
    than the simple, untested surface before.
    There's a name for it on horses,
    when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

    as all flesh,
    is proud of its wounds, wears them
    as honors given out after battle,
    small triumphs pinned to the chest—

    And when two people have loved each other
    see how it is like a
    scar between their bodies,
    stronger, darker, and proud;
    how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
    that nothing can tear or mend.

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 04, 01:38pm

    Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

    Sundays too my father got up early
    And put his clothes on in the blueback 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?

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 04, 03:07pm

    Sam--Thanks for the Stafford poem. I'd never read it.

    Susan: The pathos of the seemingly throw-away penultimate line followed by the reserved dignity of the final line gets me every time.

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 04, 04:30pm

    Joani: ditto for me. I die with this poem.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 05, 12:56pm

    It's not often I have the pleasure of reading a poem by someone I know and realizing that I am reading a profound work. My friend Shara McCallum writes such poems. She has three books available, and her latest is This Strange Land, published by Alice James Books. She has been asked to put together a book of selected poems for publication in the near future. Her success was hard won and deserved, and I hope I am introducing her to a wider audience. Here's a poem of Shara's that moved me:

    History is a Room

    The study of History is the study of Empire.
    —Niall Ferguson

    I cannot enter.

    To enter that room, I would need to be a man who makes History, not a girl to whom History happened.

    Mother to two daughters, I guard their lives with hope, a pinch of salt I throw over my shoulder.

    To enter that room, I would need to wield a gun.

    Here, I brandish weapons that serve an art my mother and grandmother knew: how to make of plantain and eggs a meal.

    To enter that room, I would need to live in the past, to understand how power is amassed, eclipsing the sun.

    Beneath my children's beds, I scatter grains of rice to keep duppy at bay.

    To enter that room, I would need to live in the present: This election. This war.

    Beneath my children's pillows, I place worry dolls to ensure their peaceful sleep.

    To enter that room, I would need to bridge the distance between my door and what lies beyond.

    Standing in my foyer at dusk, I ask the sea to fill the crevices of this house with its breath.

    History is recounted by the dead, returned from their graves to walk in shriveled skins.

    In our yard, I watch my daughters run with arms papering the wind.

    History is recounted by children in nursery rhymes, beauty masking its own violence.

    In my kitchen, I peel an orange, try to forget my thumb must wrest the pulp from its rind.

    History is recounted in The Book of Explanations: AK-47 begat UZI, which begat M-16 ... and all the days of their lives were long.

    Pausing at the sink, I think of how a pepper might be cut, blade handled so the knife becomes the fruit slit open, its seeds laid bare.

    History is recounted in The Book of Beginnings: the storey of a people born of forgetting.

    In our yard, I name the world for my children—praying mantis, robin's egg, maple leaf—words for lives they bring me in their palms.

    To enter that room, I would need to look into the mirror of language, see in collateral damage the faces of the dead.

    In our yard, I sow seeds, planting myself in this soil.

    To enter that room, I would need to uncover the pattern of a life woven onto some master loom.

    Here, I set the table, sweep the floor, make deals with the god of small things.

    To enter that room, I would need to be armed with the right question: is History the start of evening or dawn returning the swallow to the sky?

    Here, I light candles at nightfall, believe the match waits to be struck.

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 05, 03:19pm

    Marie Howe “The Boy” from What the Living Do

    My older brother is walking down the sidewalk into the suburban

    summer night:

    white T-shirt, blue jeans— to the field at the end of the street.



    Hangers Hideout the boys called it, an undeveloped plot, a pit

    overgrown

    with weeds, some old furniture thrown down there,



    and some metal hangers clinking in the trees like wind chimes.

    He’s running away from home because our father wants to cut his hair.



    And in two more days our father will convince me to go to him— you know
 where he is— and talk to him: No reprisals. He promised. A small parade

    of kids



    in feet pajamas will accompany me, their voices like the first peepers

    in spring.

    And my brother will walk ahead of us home, and my father



    will shave his head bald, and my brother will not speak to anyone the next
 month, not a word, not pass the milk, nothing.



    What happened in our house taught my brothers how to leave, how to walk
 down a sidewalk without looking back.



    I was the girl. What happened taught me to follow him, whoever he was.
    calling and calling his name.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 05, 03:32pm

    Great poem, Robert. I never read this one before. I love this thread--It's introducing me to excellence. Thanks!

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 06, 01:19pm

    Here's one by my first poetry professor Dick Allen. Since I sat in his classroom at The University of Bridgeport in 1977 he has gone on to become Connecticut's Poet Laureate and a grand old man in poetry circles. I still picture him in his brown suede jacket with the wishbone tear on its shoulder, flicking cigarette ashes into an ashtray perched on his desk in the classroom. Times were different then:

    If You Get There Before I Do
    by Dick Allen

    Air out the linens, unlatch the shutters on the eastern side,
    and maybe find that deck of Bicycle cards
    lost near the sofa. Or maybe walk around
    and look out the back windows first.
    I hear the view's magnificent: old silent pines
    leading down to the lakeside, layer upon layer
    of magnificent light. Should you be hungry,
    I'm sorry but there's no Chinese takeout,
    only a General Store. You passed it coming in,
    but you probably didn't notice its one weary gas pump
    along with all those Esso cans from decades ago.
    If you're somewhat confused, think Vermont,
    that state where people are folded into the mountains
    like berries in batter. . . . What I'd like when I get there
    is a few hundred years to sit around and concentrate
    on one thing at a time. I'd start with radiators
    and work my way up to Meister Eckhart,
    or why do so few people turn their lives around, so many
    take small steps into what they never do,
    the first weeks, the first lessons,
    until they choose something other,
    beginning and beginning their lives,
    so never knowing what it's like to risk
    last minute failure. . . .I'd save blue for last. Klein blue,
    or the blue of Crater Lake on an early June morning.
    That would take decades. . . .Don't forget
    to sway the fence gate back and forth a few times
    just for its creaky sound. When you swing in the tire swing
    make sure your socks are off. You've forgotten, I expect,
    the feeling of feet brushing the tops of sunflowers:
    In Vermont, I once met a ski bum on a summer break
    who had followed the snows for seven years and planned
    on at least seven more. We're here for the enjoyment of it, he said,
    to salaam into joy. . . .I expect you'll find
    Bibles scattered everywhere, or Talmuds, or Qur'ans,
    as well as little snippets of gospel music, chants,
    old Advent calendars with their paper doors still open.
    You might pay them some heed. Don't be alarmed
    when what's familiar starts fading, as gradually
    you lose your bearings,
    your body seems to turn opaque and then transparent,
    until finally it's invisible--what old age rehearses us for
    and vacations in the limbo of the Middle West.
    Take it easy, take it slow. When you think I'm on my way,
    the long middle passage done,
    fill the pantry with cereal, curry, and blue and white boxes of macaroni, place the
    checkerboard set, or chess if you insist,
    out on the flat-topped stump beneath the porch's shadow,
    pour some lemonade into the tallest glass you can find in the cupboard,
    then drum your fingers, practice lifting your eyebrows,
    until you tell them all--the skeptics, the bigots, blind neighbors,
    those damn-with-faint-praise critics on their hobbyhorses--
    that I'm allowed,
    and if there's a place for me that love has kept protected,
    I'll be coming, I'll be coming too.

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 12, 10:57pm

    I love that poem by Dick Allen, Joani! Here is one by a lesser known poet, James L. White whose collection, The Salt Ecstasies, was long out-of-print. But Graywolf Press has this series now where various editors can select an out-of-print book and have it re-published. So this came to me courtesy of Mark Doty.

    This poem is called Sleep, by James L. White:

    Let me sleep for us all
    further than our aging.
    To the elmed season,
    sun found and cradled
    within the browning shell.

    We'll sleep tonight
    who've tightened nerves into years
    with our faces of electricity.

    Let's sleep into a flesh fall nearly innocent
    where warmth is brought by skin and breath.
    We'll wrap our hair into the swirled white
    of hill line and fur.

    Traveler,
    gone too far,
    return and rest.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 12, 11:04pm

    This is lovely, Robert. Thank you for introducing me to White.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 12, 11:14pm

    Here's one by my friend John Oliver Simon for his friend, the poet Donald Schenker, who died from cancer. I "met" John years ago on a raucous poetry workshop board at AOL. We have kept in touch for over a decade. He will be celebrating his 70th birthday in May. John spent his youth hanging around with poets in Berkeley and San Francisco such as Gary Snyder, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and Lew Welch I want to think John is one of the best poets no one knows. This poem made me fall in love with his work:

    ALL OVER THE PLACE

    for Donald Schenker

    Don says there's poems all over the place
    it's practically embarrassing, and I nod
    without enthusiasm, driving into downtown
    Oakland thinking yeah, those two pigeons
    squatting on the blue-gray sign HOTEL MORO,
    how the part of it that's a poem could fall out
    between the word and the bird, or the word Moro
    all the way back to the reconquest of Spain
    and all the bloody hemisphere ending up
    on this block I don't care if I see again.

    Don says he could just stop anyone
    and look at them, they're all so deep
    and beautiful, and I say what's interesting
    is the stories they all carry around
    stranger than fiction, stronger than truth
    all these gente waiting to cross the street
    each one forgetting their great-grandparents
    each one forgetting to tell their children
    and I'm no novelist, I can't move a
    character across the room, much less two guys
    to lunch at a Vietnamese place on Webster.

    Over bowls of translucent noodles and odd meat
    Don says he always felt like the other poets
    were the big boys, and I see how the grand
    famous names of his peers, now pushing sixty
    have turned into the padded artifacts
    of their own careers, while Don's obscurity
    has kept him fresh and sweet, and Don says
    he loves his tumors, the big one that hurts
    in his left hip, the one that's hammering out
    among sparse hairs inside his baseball cap,
    and though it's his own death that gives him truth
    I'm stuck in my heart without any words
    while poems in Vietnamese are fluttering up
    from all the restaurant tables around us
    and escaping into so much empty light.

    Here's a link to an interview with John about his poetry, his teaching of poetry in the schools, and his journeys through South America, intent on the art of translation: http://www.thiszine.org/interviews/simon-interview-full

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    Linda Simoni-Wastila
    Apr 12, 11:35pm

    WHEN YOU BIT
    by Adam Fieled

    I knew every Dracula-like whim
    I felt every pulse of salt-water
    I screwed every screw into wood
    I was with you in Atlantis

    you were daft, exalted, pinkish
    you were drunk on Margaritas
    you were dark, pliant, rakish
    you were ready to be examined

    by my hands, twin detonators
    by my tongue, laid on a half-shell
    by my teeth, rabid officers
    by my torso, raw, wave-flecked

    this is not merely afterthought
    this is as first-time sparks

    ***
    I love the masculinity and sensuality of this poem by Adam Fieled. I carry a copy in my moleskine. He has a book of poems by the same name, and you can read this and four more poems from the collection here: http://the-otolith.blogspot.com/2008/02/adam-fieled-five-poems-from-when-you.html

    Peace...

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    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Apr 12, 11:54pm

    Wow, Linda. I love that poem.

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    Gessy Alvarez
    Apr 13, 07:26pm

    Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
    by Adrienne Rich

    Saw you walking barefoot
    taking a long look
    at the new moon's eyelid

    later spread
    sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
    asleep but not oblivious
    of the unslept unsleeping
    elsewhere

    Tonight I think
    no poetry
    will serve

    Syntax of rendition:

    verb pilots the plane
    adverb modifies action

    verb force-feeds noun
    submerges the subject
    noun is choking
    verb disgraced goes on doing

    now diagram the sentence

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    Sam Rasnake
    Apr 13, 08:12pm

    I Saw Myself
    by Lew Welch

    I saw myself
    a ring of bone
    in the clear stream
    of all of it

    and vowed
    always to be open to it
    that all of it
    might flow through

    and then heard
    “ring of bone” where
    ring is what a

    bell does

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    Jim V
    Apr 13, 08:56pm

    For the young who want to

    Talent is what they say
    you have after the novel
    is published and favorably
    reviewed. Beforehand what
    you have is a tedious
    delusion, a hobby like knitting.

    Work is what you have done
    after the play is produced
    and the audience claps.
    Before that friends keep asking
    when you are planning to go
    out and get a job.

    Genius is what they know you
    had after the third volume
    of remarkable poems. Earlier
    they accuse you of withdrawing,
    ask why you don't have a baby,
    call you a bum.

    The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
    take workshops with fancy names
    when all you can really
    learn is a few techniques,
    typing instructions and some-
    body else's mannerisms

    is that every artist lacks
    a license to hang on the wall
    like your optician, your vet
    proving you may be a clumsy sadist
    whose fillings fall into the stew
    but you're certified a dentist.

    The real writer is one
    who really writes. Talent
    is an invention like phlogiston
    after the fact of fire.
    Work is its own cure. You have to
    like it better than being loved.

    Marge Piercy

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 13, 09:55pm

    This poem came out in POETRY (November 2001).
    It was the "black issue" with the Brooklyn Bridge on its cover, the commemorative issue for the September 11 destruction of the World Trade Center.

    EXILE! EXILE! by Eavan Boland

    All night the room breathes out its grief.
    Exhales through surfaces. The sideboard.
    The curtains: the stale air stalled there.
    The kiln-fired claws of the china bird.

    This is the hour when every ornament
    unloads its atoms of pretense. Stone.
    Brass. Bronze. What they represent is
    set aside in the dark: they become again

    a spacious morning in the Comeraghs.
    An iron gate; a sudden downpour; a well in
    the corner of a farmyard; a pool of rain
    into which an Irish world has fallen.

    Out there the Americas stretch to the horizons.
    They burn in the cities and darken over wheat.
    They go to the edge, to the rock, to the coast,
    to where the moon abrades a shabby path eastward.

    O land of opportunity, you are
    not the suppers with meat, nor
    the curtains with lace nor the unheard of
    fire in the grate on summer afternoons, you are

    this room, this dish of fruit which
    has never seen its own earth. Or had rain
    fall on it all one night and the next. And has grown,
    in consequence, a fine, crazed skin of porcelain.

  • Night_chorus_book_cover.thumb
    Joani Reese
    Apr 13, 11:58pm

    Love all these poems, some familiar, some new to me. Why can't we celebrate poetry every day? Would it mean less somehow? No, it wouldn't. Those of us who write it try, in our hesitant and halting way, to keep the love of the art (and craft) alive. Thanks to those of you who keep posting these gems.

  • Mrsoftee1.thumb
    Jim V
    Apr 14, 08:47am

    Here's another for you, Joani. This might be my favorite poem. It has everything you want in a poem. It's clear, meaningful, and powerful. Only a master can write like this.

    Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In

    --Raymond Carver

    You simply go out and shut the door
    without thinking. And when you look back
    at what you’ve done
    it’s too late. If this sounds
    like the story of life, okay.

    It was raining. The neighbors who had
    a key were away. I tried and tried
    the lower windows. Stared
    inside at the sofa, plants, the table
    and chairs, the stereo set-up.
    My coffee cup and ashtray waited for me
    on the glass-topped table, and my heart
    went out to them. I said, Hello, friends,
    or something like that. After all,
    this wasn’t so bad.
    Worst things had happened. This
    was even a little funny. I found the ladder.
    Took that and leaned it against the house.
    Then climbed in the rain to the deck,
    swung myself over the railing
    and tried the door. Which was locked,
    of course. But I looked in just the same
    at my desk, some papers, and my chair.
    This was the window on the other side
    of the desk where I’d raise my eyes
    and stare out when I sat at that desk.
    This is not like downstairs, I thought.
    This is something else.

    And it was something to look in like that, unseen,
    from the deck. To be there, inside, and not be there.
    I don’t even think I can talk about it.
    I brought my face close to the glass
    and imagined myself inside,
    sitting at the desk. Looking up
    from my work now and again.
    Thinking about some other place
    and some other time.
    The people I had loved then.

    I stood there for a minute in the rain.
    Considering myself to be the luckiest of men.
    Even though a wave of grief passed through me.
    Even though I felt violently ashamed
    of the injury I’d done back then.
    I bashed that beautiful window.
    And stepped back in.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 14, 12:51pm

    Great poem, Jim. Bashed that beautiful window...

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 14, 06:04pm

    I love that poem, Jim! Haven't read it in years, thanks!

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    David Ackley
    Apr 16, 03:00pm

    STANDING AMID THE EXECRATIONS OF TIME

    ten years after Tiananmen

    Liu Xiabo

    1

    Ten years ago this day
    dawn, a bloody shirt
    sun, a torn calender
    all eyes upon
    this single page
    the world a single outraged stare
    time tolerates no naivete'
    the dead rage and howl
    till the earth's throat
    grows hoarse

    Gripping the prison bars
    this moment
    I must wail in grief
    for I fear the next
    so much I have no tears for it
    remembering them, the innocent dead,
    I must thrust a dagger calmly
    into my eyes
    must purchase with blindness
    clarity of the brain
    for that bone-devouring memory
    is best expressed by refusal

    2

    Ten years ago this day
    soldiers stand at attention
    poses dignified and correct, trained
    to uphold a hideous lie
    dawn is a crimson flag
    fluttering in the half-light
    people crane and stand on tiptoe
    curious, awed, earnest
    a young mother
    lifts her baby's hand
    to salute that sky-eclipsing lie

    And a white-haired mother
    kisses the image of her son
    delicately pries his fingers apart
    and washes the blood from his nails
    she can find no soil, not even a handful
    in which her son may rest
    she has no choice
    but to hang him on the wall

    Now she walks among unmarked graves
    hoping to expose the lie of a century
    from her sealed throat she exhumes
    the long-stifled name
    lets her freedom and dignity be
    a denunciation of amnesia
    police listen on the wiretap
    and dog her footsteps

    3

    The world's largest square
    has been given a new face

    When the peasant Liu Bang became
    Han Gaozu, founder of a dynasty
    he invented a tale about his mother and a dragon
    to inflate his family history
    this ancient pattern continues
    from the Ming tombs to the Memorial Hall
    butchers lie in state
    in resplendent underground palaces
    across millennia, tyrants and autocrats
    exchange tips of dagger technique
    while their entombed vassals
    offer obeisance

    In a few months time
    amid glorious pomp
    murder weapons will roll once again across this square
    and the corpse in the Hall
    and the butchers dreaming their imperial dreams
    will look on with approval
    while beneath the earth the Emperor of Qin
    reviews his clay troops

    Still that old ghost
    mulls his past glories
    while his heirs glut themselves
    upon his legacy
    with his blessing they wield scepters of bone
    and pray the next century
    will be even better

    Amid tanks and flowers
    salutes and daggers
    amid doves and bullets
    jackboots and expressionless faces
    a century concludes in blood-reek and darkness
    and a new era begins
    without a glimmer of life

    4

    Refuse to eat
    refuse to masturbate
    pick a book out of the ruins
    and admire the humility of the corpse
    in a mosquito's innards
    dreaming blood-dark dreams
    peer through the steel door's peephole
    and converse with vampires
    no need to be circumspect
    your stomach spasms
    will give you the courage of the dying
    retch out a curse
    for fifty years of glory
    there has never been a New China
    only a Party.

    Liu Xiabo, presently serving an eleven year sentence in a Chinese Prison for crimes of thought and word.

    The poem here was written when he served a previous sentence in a labor camp, June, 1999.

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    Bill Yarrow
    Apr 17, 06:17pm

    One of my favorite volumes of poetry EVER is Peter Handke's "The Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld." Essential reading as far as I am concerned.

    Here's one poem from the volume.

    "Changes during the Course of the Day"
    by Peter Handke

    As long as I am still alone, I am still alone.
    As long as I am still among acquaintances, I am still an acquaintance.
    But as soon as I am among strangers—

    As soon as I step out on the street— a pedestrian steps out on the street.
    As soon as I enter the subway— a subway rider enters the subway
    A soon as I enter the jewelry shop— a gentleman enters the jewelry shop.
    As soon as I push the shopping cart through the supermarket— a customer pushes the cart through the supermarket.
    As soon as I enter the department store— someone on a shopping spree enters the department store.

    Then I walk past some children— and the the children see an adult walking past. Then I enter the off-limits zone— and the guards see a trespasser enter the off-limits zone. Then I see children running away from me in the off-limits zone— and I become a guard whom the children flee because they are unauthorized persons in an off-limits zone.

    Then I sit in the waiting room as an applicant. Then I write my name on the back of the envelope as a sender. Then I fill out the lottery ticket as a winner.

    As soon as I am asked how one gets to Black Road— I become someone who knows his way around town.
    As soon as I see the incredible— I become a witness.
    As soon as I enter the church— I become a layman.
    As soon as I don’t ignore an accident— I become a busy-body.
    As soon as I don’t know how to get to Black Road— I am again someone who doesn’t know his way to Black Road.

    I have just consumed the meal— already I can say: We consumers!
    I have just had something stolen from me— already I can say: We proprietors!
    I have just placed the obituary— already I can say: We mourners!
    I have just begun to contemplate the universe— already I can say: We human beings!

    I read the novel in the mass publication— and become one among millions.
    I don’t fulfill my duties toward the authorities— and am no longer a dutiful citizen of the state.
    I don’t run away during the riot— and I’m an inciter of riots.
    I look up from the novel I’m reading and observe the beauty opposite me— and we become two among millions.

    Then someone does not leave the moving train— someone? — A traveler.
    Then someone speaks without an accent— someone? — A native.
    Then someone has a vis-à-vis— and becomes a vis-à-vis.
    Then someone no longer only plays by himself— and becomes an opponent.

    Then someone crawls out from under a thicket in the park and becomes a suspicious subject.
    Then someone who is being discussed becomes an object of discussion.
    Then someone is recognized on a photo— and becomes an X.
    Then someone takes a walk in the country— someone? A wanderer.

    And when the car makes a sudden stop in front of me— I become an obstacle.
    Then I am seen by a figure in the dark— and become a figure in the dark.
    And when I am then observed through binoculars— I am an object.
    Then someone stumbles over me— and I become a body.
    And when I am then stepped upon— I become something soft.
    Then I am wrapped up in something— and become a content.

    Then one notices that someone has run barefoot over the dirt road and that a right-hander has fired the shot and that someone whose blood group is O has lain there and that I, judging by the my shabby looks, must be a foreigner.

    As soon as someone challenges me then— the one who’s been challenged doesn’t stop when challenged.
    As soon as I am then far enough away from the observers— the object is nothing but a dot.
    As soon as I, as an observer, challenge someone— I give the one who has been challenged quite a fright.

    Then, finally, I meet an acquaintance— and two acquaintances meet.
    Then, finally, I am left alone— and a single person remains behind alone.
    Then, finally, I sit down next to someone in the grass— and am finally someone else.

    --From The Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld by Peter Handke, translated by Michael Roloff

  • Abczartgeeeeee.thumb
    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Apr 17, 06:32pm

    After years of reading and writing poetry I have finally found, via serendipity, the lines I want engraved on my tombstone. The poem is The Idea Of Order At Key West by Wallace Stevens:

    She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
    The water never formed to mind or voice,
    Like a body wholly body, fluttering
    Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
    Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
    That was not ours although we understood,
    Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

    The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
    The song and water were not medleyed sound
    Even if what she sang was what she heard,
    Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
    It may be that in all her phrases stirred
    The grinding water and the gasping wind;
    But it was she and not the sea we heard.

    For she was the maker of the song she sang.
    The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
    Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
    Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
    It was the spirit that we sought and knew
    That we should ask this often as she sang.
    If it was only the dark voice of the sea
    That rose, or even colored by many waves;
    If it was only the outer voice of sky
    And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
    However clear, it would have been deep air,
    The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
    Repeated in a summer without end
    And sound alone. But it was more than that,
    More even than her voice, and ours, among
    The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
    Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
    On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
    Of sky and sea.

    It was her voice that made
    The sky acutest at its vanishing.
    She measured to the hour its solitude.
    She was the single artificer of the world
    In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
    Whatever self it had, became the self
    That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
    As we beheld her striding there alone,
    Knew that there never was a world for her
    Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

    Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
    Why, when the singing ended and we turned
    Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
    The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
    As the night descended, tilting in the air,
    Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
    Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
    Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

    Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
    The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
    Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
    And of ourselves and of our origins,
    In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

    (I want these lines: And when she sang, the sea,
    Whatever self it had, became the self
    That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
    As we beheld her striding there alone,
    Knew that there never was a world for her
    Except the one she sang and, singing, made.)

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    Misti Rainwater-Lites
    Apr 18, 02:19pm

    not my favorite Plath (Fever 103 is my favorite) but I am feeling the fuck out of this one these days...

    Lesbos

    Viciousness in the kitchen!
    The potatoes hiss.
    It is all Hollywood, windowless,
    The fluorescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine,
    Coy paper strips for doors --
    Stage curtains, a widow's frizz.
    And I, love, am a pathological liar,
    And my child -- look at her, face down on the floor,
    Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear --
    Why she is schizophrenic,
    Her face is red and white, a panic,
    You have stuck her kittens outside your window
    In a sort of cement well
    Where they crap and puke and cry and she can't hear.
    You say you can't stand her,
    The bastard's a girl.
    You who have blown your tubes like a bad radio
    Clear of voices and history, the staticky
    Noise of the new.
    You say I should drown the kittens. Their smell!
    You say I should drown my girl.
    She'll cut her throat at ten if she's mad at two.
    The baby smiles, fat snail,
    From the polished lozenges of orange linoleum.
    You could eat him. He's a boy.
    You say your husband is just no good to you.
    His Jew-Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl.
    You have one baby, I have two.
    I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair.
    I should wear tiger pants, I should have an affair.
    We should meet in another life, we should meet in air,
    Me and you.

    Meanwhile there's a stink of fat and baby crap.
    I'm doped and thick from my last sleeping pill.
    The smog of cooking, the smog of hell
    Floats our heads, two venemous opposites,
    Our bones, our hair.
    I call you Orphan, orphan. You are ill.
    The sun gives you ulcers, the wind gives you T.B.
    Once you were beautiful.
    In New York, in Hollywood, the men said: 'Through?
    Gee baby, you are rare.'
    You acted, acted for the thrill.
    The impotent husband slumps out for a coffee.
    I try to keep him in,
    An old pole for the lightning,
    The acid baths, the skyfuls off of you.
    He lumps it down the plastic cobbled hill,
    Flogged trolley. The sparks are blue.
    The blue sparks spill,
    Splitting like quartz into a million bits.

    O jewel! O valuable!
    That night the moon
    Dragged its blood bag, sick
    Animal
    Up over the harbor lights.
    And then grew normal,
    Hard and apart and white.
    The scale-sheen on the sand scared me to death.
    We kept picking up handfuls, loving it,
    Working it like dough, a mulatto body,
    The silk grits.
    A dog picked up your doggy husband. He went on.

    Now I am silent, hate
    Up to my neck,
    Thick, thick.
    I do not speak.
    I am packing the hard potatoes like good clothes,
    I am packing the babies,
    I am packing the sick cats.
    O vase of acid,
    It is love you are full of. You know who you hate.
    He is hugging his ball and chain down by the gate
    That opens to the sea
    Where it drives in, white and black,
    Then spews it back.
    Every day you fill him with soul-stuff, like a pitcher.
    You are so exhausted.
    Your voice my ear-ring,
    Flapping and sucking, blood-loving bat.
    That is that. That is that.
    You peer from the door,
    Sad hag. 'Every woman's a whore.
    I can't communicate.'

    I see your cute décor
    Close on you like the fist of a baby
    Or an anemone, that sea
    Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac.
    I am still raw.
    I say I may be back.
    You know what lies are for.

    Even in your Zen heaven we shan't meet.

    (Sylvia Plath)

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 18, 05:10pm

    Loving all these offerings to the poetry gods. Thanks, all, for giving everyone else a little sugar.

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 19, 01:16am

    Fading Light by Robert Creeley

    Now one might catch it see it
    shift almost substantial blue
    white yellow light near roof's edge
    become intense definition think
    of the spinning world is it as
    ever this place of apparent life
    makes all sit patient hold on
    chute the sled plunges down ends
    down the hill beyond sight down
    into field's darkness as time for
    supper here left years behind waits
    patient in mind remembers the time.

    from "Just in Time: Poems 1984 - 1994"

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 19, 04:17pm

    Wendell Berry's 'SABBATHS 2001' was written in 8 parts. Here is part one of his masterpiece:

    SABBATHS 2001

    1

    He wakes in darkness. All around
    are sounds of stones shifting, locks
    unlocking. As if some one had lifted
    away a great weight, light
    falls on him. He has been asleep or simply
    gone. He has known a long suffering
    of himself, himself shapen by the pain
    of his wound of separation he now
    no longer minds, for the pain is only himself
    now, grown small, becomes a little growing
    longing joy. Something teaches him
    to rise, to stand and move out through
    the opening the light has made.
    He stands on the green hilltop amid
    the cedars, the skewed stones, the earth all
    opened doors. Half blind with light, he
    traces with a forefinger the moss-grown
    furrows of his name, hearing among the others
    one woman's cry. She is crying and laughing,
    her voice a stream of silver he seems to see:
    "Oh, William, honey, is it you? Oh!"

    Appeared in POETRY 90th Anniversary Issue
    Oct/Nov 2002

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 20, 03:43pm

    Wendell Berry
    Sabbaths

    II

    Surely it will be for this: the redbud
    pink, the wild plum white, yellow
    trout lilies in the morning light,
    the trees, the pastures turning green.
    On the river, quiet at daybreak,
    the reflections of the trees, as in
    another world, lie across
    from shore to shore. Yes, here
    is where they will come, the dead,
    when they rise from the grave.

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 21, 09:48pm

    Wendell Berry
    Sabbaths

    111

    White
    dogwood flowers
    afloat
    in leafing woods
    untrouble
    my mind.

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 22, 10:48pm

    Wendell Berry
    Sabbaths

    1V

    Ask the world to reveal its quietude-
    not the silence of machines when they are still,
    but the true quiet by which birdsongs,
    trees, bellworts, snails, clouds, storms
    become what they are, and are nothing else.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 23, 01:16am

    I love Wendell Berry, Susan. He is one writer who should never pass away. He's far too good a human being. Thanks for posting these. They're beautiful.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 23, 01:18am

    Home is so Sad

    by Philip Larkin

    Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
    Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
    As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
    Of anyone to please, it withers so,
    Having no heart to put aside the theft

    And turn again to what it started as,
    A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
    Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
    Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
    The music in the piano stool. That vase.

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    Sam Rasnake
    Apr 23, 03:14am

    Jane Mead

    "Passing a Truck Full of Chickens at Night on Highway Eighty"

    What struck me at first was their panic.

    Some were pulled by the wind from moving
    to the ends of the stacked cages,
    some had their heads blown through the bars —

    and could not get them in again.
    Some hung there like that — dead —
    their own feathers blowing, clotting

    in their faces. Then
    I saw the one that made me slow some —
    I lingered there beside her for five miles.

    She had pushed her head through the space
    between the bars — to get a better view.
    She had the look of a dog in the back

    of a pickup, that eager look of a dog
    who knows she’s being taken along.
    She craned her neck.

    She looked around, watched me, then
    strained to see over the car — strained
    to see what happened beyond.

    That is the chicken I want to be.

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    Gessy Alvarez
    Apr 23, 03:35am

    Constantly Risking Absurdity
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    Constantly risking absurdity
    and death
    whenever he performs
    above the heads
    of his audience
    the poet like an acrobat
    climbs on rime
    to a high wire of his own making
    and balancing on eyebeams
    above a sea of faces
    paces his way
    to the other side of the day
    performing entrachats
    and sleight-of-foot tricks
    and other high theatrics
    and all without mistaking
    any thing
    for what it may not be
    For he's the super realist
    who must perforce perceive
    taut truth
    before the taking of each stance or step
    in his supposed advance
    toward that still higher perch
    where Beauty stands and waits
    with gravity
    to start her death-defying leap
    And he
    a little charleychaplin man
    who may or may not catch
    her fair eternal form
    spreadeagled in the empty air
    of existence

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    Gone
    Apr 23, 08:24am

    take a look
    it's quite an eyeful

    over cambers topographic
    petrified yet reaching higher
    a secret world of integration
    glimpsed in flickering vaulted carmine
    a mansion built on one equation
    soaring with the feral flyer
    unconcealed and autographic

    a towering convex erection
    an obelisk of slant desire
    franked with an organic presence
    impressed upon a bowed horizon
    stippled with an oestral essence
    soaring with the feral flyer
    craving an astute connection

    journey through this curious aspect
    as variegated shades require
    singing steeples puzzling mazes
    touch the parabolic axis
    recognise the points he raises
    soaring with the feral flyer
    above the visionary prospect

    it's quite an eyeful
    take a look

    by jack semmens

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 23, 09:45pm

    This poem, "True Stories," by Margaret Atwood, has stayed so monumentally with me through all the years since college.

    True Stories by Margaret Atwood

    i.
    Don't ask for the true story;
    why do you need it?

    It's not what I set out with,
    or what I carry.

    What I'm sailing with,
    a knife, blue fire,

    luck, a few good words
    that still work and the tide.

    ii.
    The true story was lost
    on the way down to the beach, it's something

    I never had, that black tangle
    of branches in a shifting light,

    my blurred footprints
    filling with salt

    water, this handful
    of tiny bones, this owl's kill;

    a moon, crumpled papers, a coin,
    the glint of an old picnic,

    the hollows made by lovers
    in sand a hundred

    years ago: no clue

    iii.
    The true story lies
    among the other stories,

    a mess of colors, like jumbled clothing,
    thrown off or away,

    like hearts on marble, like syllables, like
    butchers' discards.

    The true story is vicious
    and multiple. and untrue

    after all. Why do you
    need it? Don't ever

    ask for the true story.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 23, 11:19pm

    Robert--This is a great one. I hate fiction writers who can write poetry seemingly so effortlessly. : )

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 24, 04:02pm

    Wendell Berry
    SABBBATHS 2001 (continued) (there are VIII in total)

    V

    A mind that has confronted ruin for years
    Is half or more a ruined mind. Nightmares
    Inhabit it, and daily evidence
    Of the clean country smeared for want of sense,
    Of freedom slack and dull among the free,
    Of faith subsumed in idiot luxury,
    And beauty beggared in the marketplace
    And clear-eyed wisdom bleary with dispraise.

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    Susan Tepper
    Apr 26, 04:11pm

    Wendell Berry
    SABBATHS 2001

    VI

    Sit and be still
    until in the time
    of no rain you hear
    beneath the dry wind's
    commotion in the trees
    the sound of flowing
    water among the rocks,
    a stream unheard before,
    and you are where
    breathing is prayer.

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 28, 07:17pm

    Both Sam's poem by Stafford and this Hayden poem are just perfect for this gloomy, chilly Saturday afternoon. Thanks, poets/friends! What an inspiring month it has been so far!

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 30, 02:59pm

    April 30, 2012

    Death Comes To Me Again, A Girl by Dorianne Laux

    Death comes to me again, a girl
    in a cotton slip, barefoot, giggling.
    It's not so terrible, she tells me,
    not like you think, all darkness
    and silence. There are windchimes
    and the smell of lemons, some days
    it rains, but more often the air is dry
    and sweet. I sit beneath the staircase
    built from hair and bone and listen
    to the voices of the living. I like it,
    she says, shaking the dust from her hair,
    especially when they fight, and when they sing.

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 30, 03:33pm

    A fitting final poem for National Poetry Month. Thanks to everyone who posted poems and commented here. It's been great. You are all marvelous, darlings! Off to eat some words....

    Eating Poetry
    Mark Strand

    I

    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.

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    Robert Vaughan
    Apr 30, 04:55pm

    I made a list of all the poems/poets collectively that we posted for the National Poetry Month 2012!!! Thanks, Joani, and everyone for making poetry so special!

    The Second Coming- W.B Yeats

    In My Craft or Sullen Art- Dylan Thomas
    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight- Dylan Thomas

    To Elsie- William Carlos Williams

    I Have Never Seen Volcanoes- Emily Dickenson

    somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond- e.e. cummings

    Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota- James Wright

    Crusoe in England- Elizabeth Bishop
    One Art- Elizabeth Bishop
    At the Fishhouses- Elizabeth Bishop

    Beneath my Hands- Leonard Cohen
    What I’m Doing Here- Leonard Cohen

    The Panther- Rainer Maria Rilke

    La Figlia Che Piange- T.S. Eliot

    The Dead Woman- Pablo Neruda

    This Be the Verse- Philip Larkin
    Home is so Sad- Philip Larkin

    Report from a Far Place- William Stafford

    For What Binds Us- Jane Hirshfield

    Those Winter Sundays- Robert Heyden

    History is a Room- Shara McCallum

    The Boy- Marie Howe

    If You Get There Before I Do- Dick Allen

    Sleep- James L. White

    All Over the Place (for Donald Schenker)- John Oliver Simon

    When You Bit- Adam Fieled

    Tonight No Poetry Will Serve- Adrienne Rich

    I Saw Myself- Lew Welch

    For the young who want to- Marge Piercy

    Exile! Exile!- Eavan Boland

    Locking Yourself Out, Then Trying to Get Back In- Raymond Carver

    Standing Amid the Execrations of Time: ten years after Tiananmen- Liu Xiabo

    Changes During the Course of the Day- Peter Handke

    The Idea of Order at Key West- Wallace Stevens

    Lesbos- Sylvia Plath

    Fading Light- Robert Creeley

    Sabbaths 2001: in 8 parts- Wendell Berry

    Passing a Truck Full of Chickens at Night on Highway Empty- Jane Mead

    Constantly Risking Absurdity- Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    take a look it’s quite an eyeful- Jack Semmens

    True Stories- Margaret Atwood

    Death Comes To Me Again, A Girl- Dorianne Laux

    Eating Poetry- Mark Strand

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    Joani Reese
    Apr 30, 05:02pm

    Thomas, Bishop, Cohen, and Larkin. Could the favorite works and poets be any more diverse? Love the choices here, and I love that so many people played NaPoMo Favorites. Thanks, Robert. You rock!

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