When Great Trees Fall – Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

Maya Angelou

Stories of law violations are weighed on a different set of scales in the Black mind than in the white. Petty crimes embarrass the community and many people wistfully wonder why Negroes don’t rob more banks, embezzle more funds and employ graft in the unions…. This … appeals particularly to one who is unable to compete legally with his fellow citizens.”

Maya Angelou

Strictly speaking, one cannot legislate love, but what one can do is legislate fairness and justice. If legislation does not prohibit our living side by side, sooner or later your child will fall on the pavement and I’ll be the one to pick her up. Or one of my children will not be able to get into the house and you’ll have to say, “Stop here until your mom comes here.” Legislation affords us the chance to see if we might love each other.”

Maya Angelou

The white American man makes the white American woman maybe not superfluous but just a little kind of decoration. Not really important to turning around the wheels of the state. Well the black American woman has never been able to feel that way. No black American man at any time in our history in the United States has been able to feel that he didn’t need that black woman right against him, shoulder to shoulder—in that cotton field, on the auction block, in the ghetto, wherever.”

Smart – Shel Silverstein

My dad gave me one dollar bill
‘Cause I’m his smartest son,
And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
‘Cause two is more then one!
And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes– I guess he didn’t know
That three is more than two!
Just then, along came old blind Bates
And just ’cause he can’t see
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And four is more than three!
And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!
And I went and showed my dad,
And he got red in the cheeks
And closed his eyes and shook his head–
Too proud of me to speak!

Dirty Face – Shel Silverstein

Where did you get such a dirty face,
My darling dirty-faced child?
I got it from crawling along in the dirt
And biting two buttons off Jeremy’s shirt.
I got it from chewing the roots of a rose
And digging for clams in the yard with my nose.
I got it from peeking into a dark cave
And painting myself like a Navajo brave.
I got it from playing with coal in the bin
And signing my name in cement with my chin.
I got if from rolling around on the rug
And giving the horrible dog a big hug.
I got it from finding a lost silver mine
And eating sweet blackberries right off the vine.
I got it from ice cream and wrestling and tears
And from having more fun than you’ve had in years.

Love Poem – Louise Gluck

There is always something to be made of pain.
Your mother knits.
She turns out scarves in every shade of red.
They were for Christmas, and they kept you warm
while she married over and over, taking you
along. How could it work,
when all those years she stored her widowed heart
as though the dead come back.
No wonder you are the way you are,
afraid of blood, your women
like one brick wall after another.

Happiness – Louise Gluck

A man and a woman lie on a white bed.
It is morning. I think
Soon they will waken.
On the bedside table is a vase
of lilies; sunlight
pools in their throats.
I watch him turn to her
as though to speak her name
but silently, deep in her mouth–
At the window ledge,
once, twice,
a bird calls.
And then she stirs; her body
fills with his breath.

I open my eyes; you are watching me.
Almost over this room
the sun is gliding.
Look at your face, you say,
holding your own close to me
to make a mirror.
How calm you are. And the burning wheel
passes gently over us.

The Pond – Louise Gluck

Night covers the pond with its wing.
Under the ringed moon I can make out
your face swimming among minnows and the small
echoing stars. In the night air
the surface of the pond is metal.

Within, your eyes are open. They contain
a memory I recognize, as though
we had been children together. Our ponies
grazed on the hill, they were gray
with white markings. Now they graze
with the dead who wait
like children under their granite breastplates,
lucid and helpless:

The hills are far away. They rise up
blacker than childhood.
What do you think of, lying so quietly
by the water? When you look that way I want
to touch you, but do not, seeing
as in another life we were of the same blood.

Henry David Thoreau

The fable, which is naturally and truly composed, so as to satisfy the imagination, ere it addresses the understanding, beautiful though strange as a wild-flower, is to the wise man an apothegm, and admits of his most generous interpretation.

Rainy Night – Dorothy Parker

Ghosts of all my lovely sins,
Who attend too well my pillow,
Gay the wanton rain begins;
Hide the limp and tearful willow.

Turn aside your eyes and ears,
Trail away your robes of sorrow,
You shall have my further years-
You shall walk with me tomorrow.

I am sister to the rain;
Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at the windowpane,
Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

I have lived with shades, a shade;
I am hung with graveyard flowers.
Let me be tonight arrayed
In the silver of the showers.

Every fragile thing shall rust;
When another April passes
I may be a furry dust,
Sifting through the brittle grasses.

All sweet sins shall be forgot;
Who will live to tell their siring?
Hear me now, nor let me rot
Wistful still, and still aspiring.

Ghosts of dear temptations, heed;
I am frail, be you forgiving.
See you not that I have need
To be living with the living?

Sail, tonight, the Styx’s breast;
Glide among the dim processions
Of the exquisite unblest,
Spirits of my shared transgressions,

Roam with young Persephone.
Plucking poppies for your slumber . . .
With the morrow, there shall be
One more wraith among your number.

A Certain Lady – Dorothy Parker

Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head,
And drink your rushing words with eager lips,
And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red,
And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips.
When you rehearse your list of loves to me,
Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed.
And you laugh back, nor can you ever see
The thousand little deaths my heart has died.
And you believe, so well I know my part,
That I am gay as morning, light as snow,
And all the straining things within my heart
You’ll never know.

Oh, I can laugh and listen, when we meet,
And you bring tales of fresh adventurings, —
Of ladies delicately indiscreet,
Of lingering hands, and gently whispered things.
And you are pleased with me, and strive anew
To sing me sagas of your late delights.
Thus do you want me — marveling, gay, and true,
Nor do you see my staring eyes of nights.
And when, in search of novelty, you stray,
Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go ….
And what goes on, my love, while you’re away,
You’ll never know.

The Forest Reverie – Edgar Allan Poe

Tis said that when
The hands of men
Tamed this primeval wood,
And hoary trees with groans of woe,
Like warriors by an unknown foe,
Were in their strength subdued,
The virgin Earth Gave instant birth
To springs that ne’er did flow
That in the sun Did rivulets run,
And all around rare flowers did blow
The wild rose pale Perfumed the gale
And the queenly lily adown the dale
(Whom the sun and the dew
And the winds did woo),
With the gourd and the grape luxuriant grew.

So when in tears
The love of years
Is wasted like the snow,
And the fine fibrils of its life
By the rude wrong of instant strife
Are broken at a blow
Within the heart
Do springs upstart
Of which it doth now know,
And strange, sweet dreams,
Like silent streams
That from new fountains overflow,
With the earlier tide
Of rivers glide
Deep in the heart whose hope has died–
Quenching the fires its ashes hide,–
Its ashes, whence will spring and grow
Sweet flowers, ere long,
The rare and radiant flowers of song!

A Dream Within A Dream – Edgar Allan Poe

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Vegetables – Shel Silverstein

Eat a tomato and you’ll turn red
(I don’t think that’s really so);
Eat a carrot and you’ll turn orange
(Still and all, you never know);
Eat some spinach and you’ll turn green
(I’m not saying that it’s true
But that’s what I heard, and so
I thought I’d pass it on to you).

Body And Soul – Zachary Zuccaro

Witness all the beings who trivialize life
reduce their gift to perceptual concern
over insignificant frivalities.
Worried about their bodies and possessions
while neglecting their immortal soul.
Seeking power over mere molehills
while burying their true potential power;
attempting to gain unimportant knowledge
while ignoring buried treasures of wisdom.
Bodies controlling their lives
as they completely forget their true selves.

The soul is separate from the body,
no only are they separate – they are enemies.
What the soul needs the body protests,
what the body desire the soul detests.
Why should this opposition occur,
why should their desires not concur?
Well the soul and body have different needs
and to serve the one means to neglect the other.
Pain and hunger, thirst and knowledge
these are of the body
but joy and sorrow, anger and guilt,
love and wisdom are of the soul.
To search for food, to strive for wealth,
to benefit our bodies
means to feel envy and greed and to corrupt our souls,
but to give to the poor, and to fast and pray
feeds our souls but corrupts our bodies.

The Sum – Paul Laurence Dunbar

A little dreaming by the way,
A little toiling day by day;
A little pain, a little strife,
A little joy,–and that is life.

A little short-lived summer’s morn,
When joy seems all so newly born,
When one day’s sky is blue above,
And one bird sings,–and that is love.

A little sickening of the years,
The tribute of a few hot tears
Two folded hands, the failing breath,
And peace at last,–and that is death.

Just dreaming, loving, dying so,
The actors in the drama go–
A flitting picture on a wall,
Love, Death, the themes; but is that all? 

The Song – Paul Laurence Dunbar

MY soul, lost in the music’s mist,
Roamed, rapt, ‘neath skies of amethyst,
The cheerless streets grew summer meads,
The Son of Phœbus spurred his steeds,
And, wand’ring down the mazy tune,
December lost its way in June,
While from a verdant vale I heard
The piping of a love-lorn bird.
A something in the tender strain
Revived an old, long-conquered pain, 
And as in depths of many seas,
My heart was drowned in memories.
The tears came welling to my eyes,
Nor could I ask it otherwise;
For, oh! a sweetness seems to last
Amid the dregs of sorrows past.
It stirred a chord that here of late
I’d grown to think could not vibrate.
It brought me back the trust of youth,
The world again was joy and truth.
And Avice, blooming like a bride,
Once more stood trusting at my side.
But still, with bosom desolate,
The ‘lorn bird sang to find his mate.
Then there are trees, and lights and stars,
The silv’ry tinkle of guitars;
And throbs again as throbbed that waltz,
Before I knew that hearts were false.
Then like a cold wave on a shore,
Comes silence and she sings no more.
I wake, I breathe, I think again,
And walk the sordid ways of men. 

The Dance – Paul Laurence Dunbar

Heel and toe, heel and toe,
That is the song we sing;
Turn to your partner and curtsey low,
Balance and forward and swing.
Corners are draughty and meadows are white,
This is the game for a winter’s night.

Hands around, hands around,
Trip it, and not too slow;
Clear is the fiddle and sweet its sound,
Keep the girls’ cheeks aglow.
Still let your movements be dainty and light,
This is the game for a winter’s night.

Back to back, back to back,
Turn to your place again;
Never let lightness nor nimbleness lack,
Either in maidens or men.
Time hasteth ever, beware of its flight,
Oh, what a game for a winter’s night!

Slower now, slower now,
Softer the music sighs;
Look, there are beads on your partner’s brow
Though there be light in her eyes.
Lead her away and her grace requite,
So goes the game on a winter’s night. 

A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty

Unwillingly Miranda wakes,
Feels the sun with terror,
One unwilling step she takes,
Shuddering to the mirror.

Miranda in Miranda’s sight
Is old and gray and dirty;
Twenty-nine she was last night;
This morning she is thirty.

Shining like the morning star,
Like the twilight shining,
Haunted by a calendar,
Miranda is a-pining.

Silly girl, silver girl,
Draw the mirror toward you;
Time who makes the years to whirl
Adorned as he adored you.

Time is timelessness for you;
Calendars for the human;
What’s a year, or thirty, to
Loveliness made woman?

Oh, Night will not see thirty again,
Yet soft her wing, Miranda;
Pick up your glass and tell me, then–
How old is Spring, Miranda?

Poem – Always Marry An April Girl

Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true —
I love April, I love you.

Poem – The Pauper Witch of Grafton

NOW that they’ve got it settled whose I be,
I’m going to tell them something they won’t like:
They’ve got it settled wrong, and I can prove it.
Flattered I must be to have two towns fighting
To make a present of me to each other.
They don’t dispose me, either one of them,
To spare them any trouble. Double trouble’s
Always the witch’s motto anyway.
I’ll double theirs for both of them- you watch me.
They’ll find they’ve got the whole thing to do over,
That is, if facts is what they want to go by.
They set a lot (now don’t they?) by a record
Of Arthur Amy’s having once been up
For Hog Reeve in March Meeting here in Warren.
I could have told them any time this twelvemonth
The Arthur Amy I was married to
Couldn’t have been the one they say was up
In Warren at March Meeting for the reason
He wa’n’t but fifteen at the time they say.
The Arthur Amy I was married to
voted the only times he ever voted,
Which wasn’t many, in the town of Wentworth.
One of the times was when ’twas in the warrant
To see if the town wanted to take over
The tote road to our clearing where we lived.
I’ll tell you who’d remember- Heman Lapish.
Their Arthur Amy was the father of mine.
So now they’ve dragged it through the law courts once
I guess they’d better drag it through again.
Wentworth and Warren’s both good towns to live in,
Only I happen to prefer to live
In Wentworth from now on; and when all’s said,
Right’s right, and the temptation to do right
When I can hurt someone by doing it
Has always been too much for me, it has.
I know of some folks that’d be set up
At having in their town a noted witch:
But most would have to think of the expense
That even I would be. They ought to know
That as a witch I’d often milk a bat
And that’d be enough to last for days.
It’d make my position stronger, I think,
If I was to consent to give some sign
To make it surer that I was a witch?
It wa’n’t no sign, I s’pose, when Mallice Huse
Said that I took him out in his old age
And rode all over everything on him
Until I’d had him worn to skin and bones,
And if I’d left him hitched unblanketed
In front of one Town Hall, I’d left him hitched
In front of every one in Grafton County.
Some cried shame on me not to blanket him,
The poor old man. It would have been all right
If some one hadn’t said to gnaw the posts
He stood beside and leave his trade mark on them,
So they could recognize them. Not a post
That they could hear tell of was scarified.
They made him keep on gnawing till he whined.
Then that same smarty someone said to look-
He’d bet Huse was a cribber and had gnawed
The crib he slept in- and as sure’s you’re born
They found he’d gnawed the four posts of his bed,
All four of them to splinters. What did that prove?
Not that he hadn’t gnawed the hitching posts
He said he had besides. Because a horse
Gnaws in the stable ain’t no proof to me
He don’t gnaw trees and posts and fences too.
But everybody took it for proof.
I was a strapping girl of twenty then.
The smarty someone who spoiled everything
Was Arthur Amy. You know who he was.
That was the way he started courting me.
He never said much after we were married,
But I mistrusted he was none too proud
Of having interfered in the Huse business.
I guess he found he got more out of me
By having me a witch. Or something happened
To turn him round. He got to saying things
To undo what he’d done and make it right,
Like, ‘No, she ain’t come back from kiting yet.
Last night was one of her nights out. She’s kiting.
She thinks when the wind makes a night of it
She might as well herself.’ But he liked best
To let on he was plagued to death with me:
If anyone had seen me coming home
Over the ridgepole, ‘stride of a broomstick,
As often as he had in the tail of the night,
He guessed they’d know what he had to put up with.
Well, I showed Arthur Amy signs enough
Off from the house as far as we could keep
And from barn smells you can’t wash out of ploughed ground
With all the rain and snow of seven years;
And I don’t mean just skulls of Roger’s Rangers
On Moosilauke, but woman signs to man,
Only bewitched so I would last him longer.
Up where the trees grow short, the mosses tall,
I made him gather me wet snow berries
On slippery rocks beside a waterfall.
I made him do it for me in the dark.
And he liked everything I made him do.
I hope if he is where he sees me now
He’s so far off he can’t see what I’ve come to.
You can come down from everything to nothing.
All is, if I’d a-known when I was young
And full of it, that this would be the end,
It doesn’t seem as if I’d had the courage
To make so free and kick up in folks’ faces.
I might have, but it doesn’t seem as if.

Poem – The Line Gang

Here come the line-gang pioneering by,
They throw a forest down less cut than broken.
They plant dead trees for living, and the dead
They string together with a living thread.
They string an instrument against the sky
Wherein words whether beaten out or spoken
Will run as hushed as when they were a thought
But in no hush they string it: they go past
With shouts afar to pull the cable taught,
To hold it hard until they make it fast,
To ease away — they have it. With a laugh,
An oath of towns that set the wild at naught
They bring the telephone and telegraph.

Poem – The Objection To Being Stepped On

At the end of the row
I stepped on the toe
Of an unemployed hoe.
It rose in offense
And struck me a blow
In the seat of my sense.
It wasn’t to blame
But I called it a name.
And I must say it dealt
Me a blow that I felt
Like a malice prepense.
You may call me a fool,
But was there a rule
The weapon should be
Turned into a tool?
And what do we see?
The first tool I step on
Turned into a weapon.

Poem – Sitting by a Bush in Broad Sunlight

When I spread out my hand here today,
I catch no more than a ray
To feel of between thumb and fingers;
No lasting effect of it lingers.

There was one time and only the one
When dust really took in the sun;
And from that one intake of fire
All creatures still warmly suspire.

And if men have watched a long time
And never seen sun-smitten slime
Again come to life and crawl off,
We not be too ready to scoff.

God once declared he was true
And then took the veil and withdrew,
And remember how final a hush
Then descended of old on the bush.

God once spoke to people by name.
The sun once imparted its flame.
One impulse persists as our breath;
The other persists as our faith.

Poem – Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter

The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.

In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.

No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.

From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.

A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.

Poem – The Demiurge’s Laugh

It was far in the sameness of the wood;
I was running with joy on the Demon’s trail,
Though I knew what I hunted was no true god.
It was just as the light was beginning to fail
That I suddenly heard—all I needed to hear:
It has lasted me many and many a year.

The sound was behind me instead of before,
A sleepy sound, but mocking half,
As of one who utterly couldn’t care.
The Demon arose from his wallow to laugh,
Brushing the dirt from his eye as he went;
And well I knew what the Demon meant.

I shall not forget how his laugh rang out.
I felt as a fool to have been so caught,
And checked my steps to make pretence
It was something among the leaves I sought
(Though doubtful whether he stayed to see).
Thereafter I sat me against a tree.

Poem – In Hardwood Groves

The same leaves over and over again!
They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove.

Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.

They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is way in ours.

Poem – Once By The Pacific

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God’s last Put out the light was spoken.

Poem – Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.” I could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Poem – October

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if the were all,
Whose elaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the all.

poem – the poor house

Hope went by and Peace went by
And would not enter in;
Youth went by and Health wnt by
And Love that is their kin.

Those within the house shed tears
On their bitter bread;
Some were old and some were mad,
And some were sick a-bed.

Gray Death saw the wretched house
And even he passed by–
“They have never lived,” he said,
“They can wait to die.”

poem – the giver

You bound strong sandals on my feet,
You gave me bread and wine,
And sent me under sun and stars,
For all the world was mine.

Oh, take the sandals off my feet,
You know not what you do;
For all my world is in your arms,
My sun and stars are you.

poem – the cloud

am a cloud in the heaven’s height,
The stars are lit for my delight,
Tireless and changeful, swift and free,
I cast my shadow on hill and sea–
But why do the pines on the mountain’s crest
Call to me always, “Rest, rest”?

I throw my mantle over the moon
And I blind the sun on his throne at noon,
Nothing can tame me, nothing can bind,
I am a child of the heartless wind–
But oh the pines on the mountain’s crest
Whispering always, “Rest, rest.”

poem – the tree

OH to be free of myself,
With nothing left to remember,
To have my heart as bare
As a tree in December;
Resting, as a tree rests
After its leaves are gone,
Waiting no more for a rain at night
Nor for the red at dawn;
But still, oh so still
While the winds come and go,
With no more fear of the hard frost
Or the bright burden of snow;
Page 136
And heedless, heedless
If anyone pass and see
On the white page of the sky
Its thin black tracery.

poem – after death

OH to be free of myself,
With nothing left to remember,
To have my heart as bare
As a tree in December;
Resting, as a tree rests
After its leaves are gone,
Waiting no more for a rain at night
Nor for the red at dawn;
But still, oh so still
While the winds come and go,
With no more fear of the hard frost
Or the bright burden of snow;
Page 136
And heedless, heedless
If anyone pass and see
On the white page of the sky
Its thin black tracery.

poem – to rose

Rose, when I remember you,
Little lady, scarcely two,
I am suddenly aware
Of the angels in the air.
All your softly gracious ways
Make an island in my days
Where my thoughts fly back to be
Sheltered from too strong a sea.
All your luminous delight
Shines before me in the night
When I grope for sleep and find
Only shadows in my mind.

Rose, when I remember you,
White and glowing, pink and new,
With so swift a sense of fun
Altho’ life has just begun;
With so sure a pride of place
In your very infant face,
I should like to make a prayer
To the angels in the air:
“If an angel ever brings
Me a baby in her wings,
Please be certain that it grows
Very, very much like Rose.”

poem – alone

I am alone, in spite of love,
In spite of all I take and give—
In spite of all your tenderness,
Sometimes I am not glad to live.

I am alone, as though I stood
On the highest peak of the tired gray world,
About me only swirling snow,
Above me, endless space unfurled;

With earth hidden and heaven hidden,
And only my own spirit’s pride
To keep me from the peace of those
Who are not lonely, having died.

poem – after love

There is no magic any more,
We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea –
There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
For all its peace.

poem – the wine

I CANNOT die, who drank delight
From the cup of the crescent moon,
And hungrily as men eat bread,
Loved the scented nights of June.
The rest may die—but is there not
Some shining strange escape for me
Who sought in Beauty the bright wine
Of immortality?

poem – a golden day

I Found you and I lost you,
All on a gleaming day.
The day was filled with sunshine,
And the land was full of May.

A golden bird was singing
Its melody divine,
I found you and I loved you,
And all the world was mine.

I found you and I lost you,
All on a golden day,
But when I dream of you, dear,
It is always brimming May.

poem – morning

The mist has left the greening plain,
The dew-drops shine like fairy rain,
The coquette rose awakes again
Her lovely self adorning.

The Wind is hiding in the trees,
A sighing, soothing, laughing tease,
Until the rose says “Kiss me, please,”
‘Tis morning, ’tis morning.

With staff in hand and careless-free,
The wanderer fares right jauntily,
For towns and houses are, thinks he,
For scorning, for scorning.
My soul is swift upon the wing,
And in its deeps a song I bring;
Come, Love, and we together sing,
“‘Tis morning, ’tis morning.”

Poem – Kosmos

WHO includes diversity, and is Nature,
Who is the amplitude of the earth, and the coarseness and sexuality
of the earth, and the great charity of the earth, and the
equilibrium also,
Who has not look’d forth from the windows, the eyes, for nothing, or
whose brain held audience with messengers for nothing;
Who contains believers and disbelievers–Who is the most majestic
lover;
Who holds duly his or her triune proportion of realism, spiritualism,
and of the aesthetic, or intellectual,
Who, having consider’d the Body, finds all its organs and parts good;
Who, out of the theory of the earth, and of his or her body,
understands by subtle analogies all other theories,
The theory of a city, a poem, and of the large politics of These
States;
Who believes not only in our globe, with its sun and moon, but in
other globes, with their suns and moons;
Who, constructing the house of himself or herself, not for a day, but
for all time, sees races, eras, dates, generations, 10
The past, the future, dwelling there, like space, inseparable
together.

Poem – Behavior

BEHAVIOR–fresh, native, copious, each one for himself or herself,
Nature and the Soul expressed–America and freedom expressed–In it
the finest art,
In it pride, cleanliness, sympathy, to have their chance,
In it physique, intellect, faith–in it just as much as to manage an
army or a city, or to write a book–perhaps more,
The youth, the laboring person, the poor person, rivalling all the
rest–perhaps outdoing the rest,
The effects of the universe no greater than its;
For there is nothing in the whole universe that can be more effective
than a man’s or woman’s daily behavior can be,
In any position, in any one of These States.

Poem – Faces

SAUNTERING the pavement, or riding the country by-road–lo! such
faces!
Faces of friendship, precision, caution, suavity, ideality;
The spiritual, prescient face–the always welcome, common, benevolent
face,
The face of the singing of music–the grand faces of natural lawyers
and judges, broad at the back-top;
The faces of hunters and fishers, bulged at the brows–the shaved
blanch’d faces of orthodox citizens;
The pure, extravagant, yearning, questioning artist’s face;
The ugly face of some beautiful Soul, the handsome detested or
despised face;
The sacred faces of infants, the illuminated face of the mother of
many children;
The face of an amour, the face of veneration;
The face as of a dream, the face of an immobile rock; 10
The face withdrawn of its good and bad, a castrated face;
A wild hawk, his wings clipp’d by the clipper;
A stallion that yielded at last to the thongs and knife of the
gelder.

Sauntering the pavement, thus, or crossing the ceaseless ferry,
faces, and faces, and faces:
I see them, and complain not, and am content with all.

Do you suppose I could be content with all, if I thought them their
own finale?

This now is too lamentable a face for a man;
Some abject louse, asking leave to be–cringing for it;
Some milk-nosed maggot, blessing what lets it wrig to its hole.

This face is a dog’s snout, sniffing for garbage; 20
Snakes nest in that mouth–I hear the sibilant threat.

This face is a haze more chill than the arctic sea;
Its sleepy and wobbling icebergs crunch as they go.

This is a face of bitter herbs–this an emetic–they need no label;
And more of the drug-shelf, laudanum, caoutchouc, or hog’s-lard.

This face is an epilepsy, its wordless tongue gives out the unearthly
cry,
Its veins down the neck distended, its eyes roll till they show
nothing but their whites,
Its teeth grit, the palms of the hands are cut by the turn’d-in
nails,
The man falls struggling and foaming to the ground while he
speculates well.

This face is bitten by vermin and worms, 30
And this is some murderer’s knife, with a half-pull’d scabbard.

This face owes to the sexton his dismalest fee;
An unceasing death-bell tolls there.

Those then are really men–the bosses and tufts of the great round
globe!

Features of my equals, would you trick me with your creas’d and
cadaverous march?
Well, you cannot trick me.

I see your rounded, never-erased flow;
I see neath the rims of your haggard and mean disguises.

Splay and twist as you like–poke with the tangling fores of fishes
or rats;
You’ll be unmuzzled, you certainly will. 40

I saw the face of the most smear’d and slobbering idiot they had at
the asylum;
And I knew for my consolation what they knew not;
I knew of the agents that emptied and broke my brother,
The same wait to clear the rubbish from the fallen tenement;
And I shall look again in a score or two of ages,
And I shall meet the real landlord, perfect and unharm’d, every inch
as good as myself.

The Lord advances, and yet advances;
Always the shadow in front–always the reach’d hand bringing up the
laggards.

Out of this face emerge banners and horses–O superb! I see what is
coming;
I see the high pioneer-caps–I see the staves of runners clearing the
way, 50
I hear victorious drums.

This face is a life-boat;
This is the face commanding and bearded, it asks no odds of the rest;
This face is flavor’d fruit, ready for eating;
This face of a healthy honest boy is the programme of all good.

These faces bear testimony, slumbering or awake;
They show their descent from the Master himself.

Off the word I have spoken, I except not one–red, white, black, are
all deific;
In each house is the ovum–it comes forth after a thousand years.

Spots or cracks at the windows do not disturb me; 60
Tall and sufficient stand behind, and make signs to me;
I read the promise, and patiently wait.

This is a full-grown lily’s face,
She speaks to the limber-hipp’d man near the garden pickets,
Come here, she blushingly cries–Come nigh to me, limber-hipp’d man,
Stand at my side till I lean as high as I can upon you,
Fill me with albescent honey, bend down to me,
Rub to me with your chafing beard, rub to my breast and shoulders.

The old face of the mother of many children!
Whist! I am fully content. 70

Lull’d and late is the smoke of the First-day morning,
It hangs low over the rows of trees by the fences,
It hangs thin by the sassafras, the wild-cherry, and the cat-brier
under them.

I saw the rich ladies in full dress at the soiree,
I heard what the singers were singing so long,
Heard who sprang in crimson youth from the white froth and the water-
blue,

Behold a woman!
She looks out from her quaker cap–her face is clearer and more
beautiful than the sky.

She sits in an arm-chair, under the shaded porch of the farmhouse,
The sun just shines on her old white head. 80

Her ample gown is of cream-hued linen,
Her grandsons raised the flax, and her granddaughters spun it with
the distaff and the wheel.

The melodious character of the earth,
The finish beyond which philosophy cannot go, and does not wish to
go,
The justified mother of men.

Poem – Dropping The Euphemism

He has five children, I’m papa
to a hundred pencils.
I bought the chair he sat in

from a book of chairs,
staplers and spikes
that let me play Vlad the Impaler

with invading memos. When I said
I have to lay you off
a parallel universe was born

in his face, one where flesh
is a loose shirt
taken to the river and beaten

against rocks. Just
by opening my mouth I destroyed
his faith he’s a man

who can think honey-glazed ham
and act out the thought
with plastic or bills. We sat.

I stared at my hands, he stared
at the wall staring at my hands.
I said other things

about the excellent work he’d done
and the cycles of business
which are like

the roller-coaster thoughts
of an oscilloscope. All this time
I saw the eyes of his wife

which had always been brown
like almonds but were now brown
like the crust of bread. We walked

to the door, I shook his hand,
felt the bones pretending
to be strong. On his way home

there was a happy song
because de Sade invented radio,
the window was open, he saw

delphinium but couldn’t remember
the name. I can only guess.
Maybe at each exit

that could have led his body
to Tempe, to Mars, he was tempted
to forget his basketball team

of sons, or that he ever liked
helping his wife clean carrots,
the silver sink turning orange.

Running’s natural to most animals
who aren’t part
of a lecture series on Nature’s

Dead Ends. When I told him,
I saw he was looking for a place
in his brain to hide

his brain. I tried that later
with beer, it worked until I stood
at the toilet to make my little

waterfall, and thought of him
pushing back from a bar
to go make the same noise.

Poem – A Shopkeeper’s Story

I sell one bristle brushes. People
seeking two bristle brushes I send
to the guy on Amsterdam, who’s in a rush.

I may have one customer a year
for my one bristle brushes, a one-eyed
lover of tanagers, she may have

one dollar to spend in the moment
light’s neither day’s or night’s,
but one’s where infinity begins. Whoever

she is, she’s always painting barbules,
I’m always thinking, no one will notice
that they notice this, that her tanagers

move, that everything’s alive. We talk
care and feeding of the one
bristle brush. Care exists. I thrive.

Poem – Toward Accuracy

We’re high enough that what I call fog might be cloud.
Not Everest high, or Chomuolungma, “Mother Goddess
of the World.” If we named things what they are,
our sentences would be monsoons, long rains of sound.
Morning is “the time I suspect I am a horse,” dusk
“the light which treats our shadows like taffy.”
The number of times my name changes in a day,
from “looking at the world with eyes of wood rasps”
to “feathers have replaced my bones,” rules out
the wearing of name tags: I wear a chalk board,
thesaurus, that book of whispers, of meaning sex.
“There’s a woman who smokes a cigarette
now and then, who picks tobacco off her tongue
as something moves along the fault line
of the horizon, knees pulled to her chest,
her breath wearing a dress of smoke”
is one way I think of you when I think of you.
And when I think of you, “wants to be a candle”
isn’t romantic but accurate, wicked light
leans in, away, writhes to get out of, to leap harder
into what it is.

Poem – Unmediated Experience

She does this thing. Our seventeen-
year-old dog. Our mostly deaf dog.
Our mostly dead dog, statistically
speaking. When I crouch.
When I put my mouth to her ear
and shout her name. She walks away.
Walks toward the nothing of speech.
She even trots down the drive, ears up,
as if my voice is coming home.
It’s like watching a child
believe in Christmas, right
before you burn the tree down.
Every time I do it, I think, this time
she’ll turn to me. This time
she’ll put voice to face. This time,
I’ll be absolved of decay.
Which is like being a child
who believes in Christmas
as the tree burns, as the drapes catch,
as Santa lights a smoke
with his blowtorch and asks, want one?

Poem – A Private Public Space

You can’t trust lesbians. You invite them

to your party and they don’t come,
they’re too busy tending vaginal
flowers, hating football, walking their golden
and chocolate labs. X gave me a poem

in which she was in love with a woman
and the church but the church
couldn’t accept four breasts in one bed.
When I asked if our coworkers knew,

she dropped her head and I said nothing
for years until this morning I realized
no one reads poems: my secrets and hers
are safe in verse. I knew she’d have enjoyed

the Beaujolais and I want to meet Dianne,
Mona Lisa, Betty, Alice,
the name’s been changed
to protect women who can’t stand in a room
holding hands because you can’t trust
heterosexuals to love love, however
it comes. So I recorded

the party for her, for them, the mic
a bit away from the action
to catch the feel of waves touching shore
and letting go, the wash of moods
across the hours of drink and yes, some grapes
were thrown and I breathed
the quickening revelation
of a cigarette, someone said “I gave up
underwear for Lent” and I hope

they play the tape while making love.
As if finally the world’s made happy
by who they are, laughing with, not at
the nipple lick clit kiss hug
in bed and after, the on and on
of meals and moons and bills
and burning days of pretending
they don’t exist. “Who’s she? Just

a friend.” And oceans are merely dew
upon the land.

Poem – Go Greyhound

A few hours after Des Moines
the toilet overflowed.
This wasn’t the adventure it sounds.

I sat with a man whose tattoos
weighed more than I did.
He played Hendrix on mouth guitar.
His Electric Ladyland lips
weren’t fast enough
and if pitch and melody
are the rudiments of music,
this was just
memory, a body nostalgic
for the touch of adored sound.

Hope’s a smaller thing on a bus.

You hope a forgotten smoke consorts
with lint in the pocket of last
resort to be upwind
of the human condition, that the baby
sleeps
and when this never happens,
that she cries
with the lullaby meter of the sea.

We were swallowed by rhythm.
The ultra blond
who removed her wig and applied
fresh loops of duct tape
to her skull,
her companion who held a mirror
and popped his dentures
in and out of place,
the boy who cut stuffing
from the seat where his mother
should have been—
there was a little more sleep
in our thoughts,
it was easier to yield.

To what, exactly—
the suspicion that what we watch
watches back,
cornfields that stare at our hands,
downtowns
that hold us in their windows
through the night?

Or faith, strange to feel
in that zoo of manners.

I had drool on my shirt and breath
of the undead, a guy
dropped empty Buds on the floor
like gravity was born
to provide this service,
we were white and black trash
who’d come
in an outhouse on wheels and still

some had grown—
in touching the spirited shirts
on clotheslines,
after watching a sky of starlings
flow like cursive
over wheat—back into creatures
capable of a wish.

As we entered Arizona
I thought I smelled the ocean,
liked the lie of this
and closed my eyes
as shadows
puppeted against my lids.

We brought our failures with us,
their taste, their smell.
But the kid
who threw up in the back
pushed to the window anyway,
opened it
and let the wind clean his face,
screamed something
I couldn’t make out
but agreed with
in shape, a sound I recognized
as everything I’d come so far
to give away.

Poem – Prodigal

You could drive out of this country
and attack the world with your ambition,
invent wonder plasmas,
become an artist of the provocative gesture,
the suggestive nod, you could leave
wanting the world and return
carrying it, a noisy bundle
of steam and libido, a ball of fire
balanced on your tongue,
you might reclaim Main Street in a limo
longer than a sermon, wave at our red faces
while remembering that you were born
a clod hopper, a farmer’s kid,
and get over that hump once and for all
by telling A Great Man’s stories—
the dirty jokes of dictators, tidbits
of presidential hygiene, insights
into the psychotropic qualities of power
and the American tradition of kissing
moneyed ass. Your uncle would still
call you Roy Boy, pheasants
sun themselves beside the tracks,
waiting for the dew to burn off
before their first flight, and corn
grow so high that if you stood
in the field you’d disappear, the fact
aiming your eyes down the road.

Poem – An Old Story

It’s hard being in love
with fireflies. I have to do
all the pots and pans.
When asked to parties
they always wear the same
color dress. I work days,
they punch in at dusk.
With the radio and a beer
I sit up doing bills,
jealous of men who’ve fallen
for the homebody stars.
When things are bad
they shake their asses
all over town, when good
my lips glow.

Poem – Learning to Swim

At forty-eight, to be given water,
which is most of the world, given life
in water, which is most of me, given ease,

which is most of what I lack, here, where walls
don’t part to my hands, is to be born
as of three weeks ago. Taking nothing

from you, mother, or you, sky, or you,
mountain, that you wouldn’t take
if offered by the sea, any sea, or river,

any river, or the pool, beside which
a woman sits who would save me
if I needed saving, in a red suit, as if flame

is the color of emergency, as I do,
need saving, from solid things,
most of all, their dissolve.

Poem – Her My Body

about the left nipple
of the woman in the bathroom.

She is drying her hair, the woman
whose left nipple is sore.
We looked this evening
for diagonal cuts
or discoloration
or bite marks from small insects
that may be in our bed.

It is a good bed, a faithful bed.
A bed that won’t be hurt
by the consideration we gave
to the possibility of small
though disproportionately
strong insects in our bed.

The blow-dryer sounds like a jet
taking off. The first time
I flew to Brussels, people began
the journey happy but ended
with drool on their shirts.

She is drying her hair
though she has never been to Brussels.
Drying her hair
though she could be petting a dog.
Drying her hair
while having red thoughts
about what the pain in her nipple means.

I would not dry my hair
in such a moment but I am bald.
The body of the woman
has many ways to cease
being the body of the woman.

I have one way
to be happy
and she is that way.

I would like to fly with her to Brussels.
We would not be put off by the drool.
This is what happens when people sleep.
We would buy postcards of the little boy
who saved Brussels when he peed on a fire.
We would be romantic in public places.

For the moment
these desires can best be furthered
by petting a dog.

I’m also working on this theory.
That sometimes a part of the body
just hurts.
That the purpose of prayer
is to make the part of the body
that sometimes just hurts
the little toe or appendix.

Something vestigial or redundant.
Something that can be jettisoned.
I have no reason
to use the word cancer
while petting a dog.

Here is a piece of a second
during which a jet is not flying
nor is it on the ground.

I’m working on a theory
that no one can die
inside that piece of a second.

If you are comforted
by this thought you are welcome
to keep it.

Poem – Consolation

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hill towns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

Poem – Neither Snow

When all of a sudden the city air filled with snow,
the distinguishable flakes
blowing sideways,
looked like krill
fleeing the maw of an advancing whale.

At least they looked that way to me
from the taxi window,
and since I happened to be sitting
that fading Sunday afternoon
in the very center of the universe,
who was in a better position
to say what looked like what,
which thing resembled some other?

Yes, it was a run of white plankton
borne down the Avenue of the Americas
in the stream of the wind,
phosphorescent against the weighty buildings.

Which made the taxi itself,
yellow and slow-moving,
a kind of undersea creature,
I thought as I wiped the fog from the glass,

and me one of its protruding eyes,
an eye on a stem
swiveling this way and that
monitoring one side of its world,
observing tons of water
tons of people
colored signs and lights
and now a wildly blowing race of snow.

Poem – Embrace

You know the parlor trick.
wrap your arms around your own body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you
her hands grasping your shirt
her fingernails teasing your neck
from the front it is another story
you never looked so alone
your crossed elbows and screwy grin
you could be waiting for a tailor
to fit you with a straight jacket
one that would hold you really tight.

Poem – Candle Hat

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
“Come in, ” he would say, “I was just painting myself,”
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

Poem – Madmen

They say you can jinx a poem
if you talk about it before it is done.
If you let it out too early, they warn,
your poem will fly away,
and this time they are absolutely right.

Take the night I mentioned to you
I wanted to write about the madmen,
as the newspapers so blithely call them,
who attack art, not in reviews,
but with breadknives and hammers
in the quiet museums of Prague and Amsterdam.

Actually, they are the real artists,
you said, spinning the ice in your glass.
The screwdriver is their brush.
The real vandals are the restorers,
you went on, slowly turning me upside-down,
the ones in the white doctor’s smocks
who close the wound in the landscape,
and thus ruin the true art of the mad.

I watched my poem fly down to the front
of the bar and hover there
until the next customer walked in–
then I watched it fly out the open door into the night
and sail away, I could only imagine,
over the dark tenements of the city.

All I had wished to say
was that art was also short,
as a razor can teach with a slash or two,
that it only seems long compared to life,
but that night, I drove home alone
with nothing swinging in the cage of my heart
except the faint hope that I might
catch a glimpse of the thing
in the fan of my headlights,
maybe perched on a road sign or a street lamp,
poor unwritten bird, its wings folded,
staring down at me with tiny illuminated eyes.

Poem – The Iron Bridge

I am standing on a disused iron bridge
that was erected in 1902,
according to the iron plaque bolted into a beam,
the year my mother turned one.
Imagine–a mother in her infancy,
and she was a Canadian infant at that,
one of the great infants of the province of Ontario.

But here I am leaning on the rusted railing
looking at the water below,
which is flat and reflective this morning,
sky-blue and streaked with high clouds,
and the more I look at the water,
which is like a talking picture,
the more I think of 1902
when workmen in shirts and caps
riveted this iron bridge together
across a thin channel joining two lakes
where wildflowers blow along the shore now
and pairs of swans float in the leafy coves.

1902–my mother was so tiny
she could have fit into one of those oval
baskets for holding apples,
which her mother could have lined with a soft cloth
and placed on the kitchen table
so she could keep an eye on infant Katherine
while she scrubbed potatoes or shelled a bag of peas,

the way I am keeping an eye on that cormorant
who just broke the glassy surface
and is moving away from me and the iron bridge,
swiveling his curious head,
slipping out to where the sun rakes the water
and filters through the trees that crowd the shore.

And now he dives,
disappears below the surface,
and while I wait for him to pop up,
I picture him flying underwater with his strange wings,

as I picture you, my tiny mother,
who disappeared last year,
flying somewhere with your strange wings,
your wide eyes, and your heavy wet dress,
kicking deeper down into a lake
with no end or name, some boundless province of water.

Poem – The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.

In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name —

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.

Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner —

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O’Connor.

When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.

Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.

In the evening — weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds —

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.

Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in a green field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

Poem – Night Golf

I remember the night I discovered,
lying in bed in the dark,
that a few imagined holes of golf
worked much better than a thousand sheep,

that the local links,
not the cloudy pasture with its easy fence,
was the greener path to sleep.

How soothing to stroll the shadowy fairways,
to skirt the moon-blanched bunkers
and hear the night owl in the woods.

Who cared about the score
when the club swung with the ease of air
and I glided from shot to shot
over the mown and rolling ground,
alone and drowsy with my weightless bag?

Eighteen small cups punched into the

bristling grass,
eighteen flags limp on their sticks
in the silent, windless dark,

but in the bedroom with its luminous clock
and propped-open windows,
I got only as far as the seventh hole
before I drifted easily away –

the difficult seventh, ‘The Tester’ they called it,
where, just as on the earlier holes,
I tapped in, dreamily, for birdie.

Poem – Silence

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

Poem – Dearth Demise

Satiety help me I have inhabit
of this world. Extant upon its designs
to be more aimlessly fluttering at
the window, to shadow all the patterns

it offers each sun. In frames far as eye
I draw my words towards a juggler’s shards
as if our fallings-down our deaths occurred
but did not involve a lot of colloquialized

arm movements, the body language throws. Thus
the shape of your silence when it speaks me
is different than mine in saying you,

though both of them resemble that spasm hymned as
repose lifepause a happen of sorts the way
the horizon’s a long way without meaning to.

Poem – The Patriots

at the edge of the city in
the garbage dump where the
trucks never stop unloading
a crazy congregation stumbles
from trashmound to trashheap
they smash their fists down on
whatever’s intact they tear
to bits the pitifew items
that have remained whole they
rip everything old clothes
papers cans bones to nothing
with their glazed teeth
the enlightened the faithful
every few meters one of them
falls and is torn to shreds by
the others at the edge of
the city where there’s a line
waiting to join

Poem – The Misunderstanding

I’m charmed yet chagrined by this misunderstanding–
As when, after a riot, my city’s smashed-in stores appear all
Boarded up, billboarded over, with ads for wind-insurance.
Similarly, swimmingly, I miss the point. You too?

And my misunderstanding doesn’t stop there, it grows–soon
I can’t see why that sudden influx of fugitives,
All the world’s escapees, rubbing themselves lasciviously against the
Berlin Wall.
They stick like placards to it. Like napalm. Like ads for–

And me, I haven’t even bought my biodegradable genitalia yet!
No. I was born slow, but picking up speed I run through
Our burnt-out streets, screaming, refusing to buy a house.
Finally, exasperated, the misunderstanding overtakes me, snatches
up

Handcuffs. So now here I am, found with all you others
Impatiently craning, in this queue that rumors out of sight up ahead
somewhere,
Clutching our cash eager to purchase whatever it is, nervous
As if bombs were about to practice land-reform upon our bodies,

Redistribution of eyes, toes, arms, here we stand. Then, some new
Age starts.

Poem – Face in the Window

I am a modest house, a house solely
notable for the fact I lived here once.
Its brass plaque depicts an oxygen eye
in which two pupils of hydrogen dance.

Downstairs is where I lit fires whose insights
with approach-velocity froze me, then
singed off into flame. This always happened when
I came close to a truth. Months passed. Years. Nights.

Shall I accommodate myself again,
a humble aquarium of lordly
thumbs, some fin de species? Of course each word

the blackout-moth mutters to my keyboard
shows the snowiest letter on this page is “I”—

Poem – Space

From the trees the leaves came down
until we joined hands with a wand
and that act enabled them
somehow then to reach the ground

where they scuttered round our feet
urging the latter to unite
with a baton as if that act
together with the hands can clasp

a dowsing-stick cut from the same
branch from which we launched
converging on gravity’s purge-point

at which point we merged to remove
all consonants from our star-maps.
The infinite consists of vowels alone.

Poem – Story of Or

To pose nakedness is
To refute it. A pose
Is a clothes. Like
Stanzaic arrangements of

The word which should
Ideally, be in pain against
Its w and its d. No slack
Is why such heaves of or

To denude itself could
Make us exude gold, yet when
Was that ever opposite enough

What scream or epigram
This sperm has come
To measure our mouths for.

Poem – Housewife

Some women marry houses.
It’s another kind of skin; it has a heart,
a mouth, a liver and bowel movements.
The walls are permanent and pink.
See how she sits on her knees all day,
faithfully washing herself down.
Men enter by force, drawn back like Jonah
into their fleshy mothers.
A woman is her mother.
That’s the main thing.

Poem – Menstruation At Forty

 

I was thinking of a son.
The womb is not a clock
nor a bell tolling,
but in the eleventh month of its life
I feel the November
of the body as well as of the calendar.
In two days it will be my birthday
and as always the earth is done with its harvest.
This time I hunt for death,
the night I lean toward,
the night I want.
Well then—
speak of it!
It was in the womb all along.

I was thinking of a son …
You! The never acquired,
the never seeded or unfastened,
you of the genitals I feared,
the stalk and the puppy’s breath.
Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)
Can you be the man your fathers are—
the leg muscles from Michelangelo,
hands from Yugoslavia
somewhere the peasant, Slavic and determined,
somewhere the survivor bulging with life—
and could it still be possible,
all this with Susan’s eyes?

All this without you—
two days gone in blood.
I myself will die without baptism,
a third daughter they didn’t bother.
My death will come on my name day.
What’s wrong with the name day?
It’s only an angel of the sun.
Woman,
weaving a web over your own,
a thin and tangled poison.
Scorpio,
bad spider—
die!

My death from the wrists,
two name tags,
blood worn like a corsage
to bloom
one on the left and one on the right—
It’s a warm room,
the place of the blood.
Leave the door open on its hinges!

Two days for your death
and two days until mine.

Love! That red disease—
year after year, David, you would make me wild!
David! Susan! David! David!
full and disheveled, hissing into the night,
never growing old,
waiting always for you on the porch …
year after year,
my carrot, my cabbage,
I would have possessed you before all women,
calling your name,
calling you mine.

Poem – Mother and Daughter

Linda, you are leaving
your old body now,
It lies flat, an old butterfly,
all arm, all leg, all wing,
loose as an old dress.
I reach out toward it but
my fingers turn to cankers
and I am motherwarm and used,
just as your childhood is used.
Question you about this
and you hold up pearls.
Question you about this
and you pass by armies.
Question you about this –
you with your big clock going,
its hands wider than jackstraws –
and you’ll sew up a continent.
Now that you are eighteen
I give you my booty, my spoils,
my Mother & Co. and my ailments.
Question you about this
and you’ll not know the answer –
the muzzle at the oxygen,
the tubes, the pathways,
the war and the war’s vomit.
Keep on, keep on, keep on,
carrying keepsakes to the boys,
carrying powders to the boys,
carrying, my Linda, blood to
the bloodletter.
Linda, you are leaving
your old body now.
You’ve picked my pocket clean
and you’ve racked up all my
poker chips and left me empty
and, as the river between us
narrows, you do calisthenics,
that womanly leggy semaphore.
Question you about this
and you will sew me a shroud
and hold up Monday’s broiler
and thumb out the chicken gut.
Question you about this
and you will see my death
drooling at these gray lips
while you, my burglar, will eat
fruit and pass the time of day.

Poem – The Gold Key

The speaker in this case
is a middle-aged witch, me-
tangled on my two great arms,
my face in a book
and my mouth wide,
ready to tell you a story or two.
I have come to remind you,
all of you:
Alice, Samuel, Kurt, Eleanor,
Jane, Brian, Maryel,
all of you draw near.
Alice,
at fifty-six do you remember?
Do you remember when you
were read to as a child?
Samuel,
at twenty-two have you forgotten?
Forgotten the ten P.M. dreams
where the wicked king
went up in smoke?
Are you comatose?
Are you undersea?
Attention,
my dears,
let me present to you this boy.
He is sixteen and he wants some answers.
He is each of us.
I mean you.
I mean me.
It is not enough to read Hesse
and drink clam chowder
we must have the answers.
The boy has found a gold key
and he is looking for what it will open.
This boy!
Upon finding a string
he would look for a harp.
Therefore he holds the key tightly.
Its secrets whimper
like a dog in heat.
He turns the key.
Presto!
It opens this book of odd tales
which transform the Brothers Grimm.
Transform?
As if an enlarged paper clip
could be a piece of sculpture.
(And it could.)

Poem – Ghosts

Some ghosts are women,
neither abstract nor pale,
their breasts as limp as killed fish.
Not witches, but ghosts
who come, moving their useless arms
like forsaken servants.

Not all ghosts are women,
I have seen others;
fat, white-bellied men,
wearing their genitals like old rags.
Not devils, but ghosts.
This one thumps barefoot, lurching
above my bed.

But that isn’t all.
Some ghosts are children.
Not angels, but ghosts;
curling like pink tea cups
on any pillow, or kicking,
showing their innocent bottoms, wailing
for Lucifer.

Poem – Earthworm

Slim inquirer, while the old fathers sleep
you are reworking their soil, you have
a grocery store there down under the earth
and it is well stocked with broken wine bottles,
old cigars, old door knobs and earth,
that great brown flour that you kiss each day.
There are dark stars in the cool evening and
you fondle them like killer birds’ beaks.
But what I want to know is why when small boys
dig you up for curiosity and cut you in half
why each half lives and crawls away as if whole.
Have you no beginning and end? Which heart is
the real one? Which eye the seer? Why
is it in the infinite plan that you would
be severed and rise from the dead like a gargoyle
with two heads?

Poem – Room of my Life

Here,
in the room of my life
the objects keep changing.
Ashtrays to cry into,
the suffering brother of the wood walls,
the forty-eight keys of the typewriter
each an eyeball that is never shut,
the books, each a contestant in a beauty contest,
the black chair, a dog coffin made of Naugahyde,
the sockets on the wall
waiting like a cave of bees,
the gold rug
a conversation of heels and toes,
the fireplace
a knife waiting for someone to pick it up,
the sofa, exhausted with the exertion of a whore,
the phone
two flowers taking root in its crotch,
the doors
opening and closing like sea clams,
the lights
poking at me,
lighting up both the soil and the laugh.
The windows,
the starving windows
that drive the trees like nails into my heart.
Each day I feed the world out there
although birds explode
right and left.
I feed the world in here too,
offering the desk puppy biscuits.
However, nothing is just what it seems to be.
My objects dream and wear new costumes,
compelled to, it seems, by all the words in my hands
and the sea that bangs in my throat.

Poem – Flee on your Donkey

Because there was no other place
to flee to,
I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
came back last night at midnight,
arriving in the thick June night
without luggage or defenses,
giving up my car keys and my cash,
keeping only a pack of Salem cigarettes
the way a child holds on to a toy.
I signed myself in where a stranger
puts the inked-in X’s—
for this is a mental hospital,
not a child’s game.

Today an intern knocks my knees,
testing for reflexes.
Once I would have winked and begged for dope.
Today I am terribly patient.
Today crows play black-jack
on the stethoscope.

Everyone has left me
except my muse,
that good nurse.
She stays in my hand,
a mild white mouse.

The curtains, lazy and delicate,
billow and flutter and drop
like the Victorian skirts
of my two maiden aunts
who kept an antique shop.

Hornets have been sent.
They cluster like floral arrangements on the screen.
Hornets, dragging their thin stingers,
hover outside, all knowing,
hissing: the hornet knows.
I heard it as a child
but what was it that he meant?
The hornet knows!
What happened to Jack and Doc and Reggy?
Who remembers what lurks in the heart of man?
What did The Green Hornet mean, he knows?
Or have I got it wrong?
Is it The Shadow who had seen
me from my bedside radio?

Now it’s Dinn, Dinn, Dinn!
while the ladies in the next room argue
and pick their teeth.
Upstairs a girl curls like a snail;
in another room someone tries to eat a shoe;
meanwhile an adolescent pads up and down
the hall in his white tennis socks.
A new doctor makes rounds
advertising tranquilizers, insulin, or shock
to the uninitiated.

Six years of such small preoccupations!
Six years of shuttling in and out of this place!
O my hunger! My hunger!
I could have gone around the world twice
or had new children – all boys.
It was a long trip with little days in it
and no new places.

In here,
it’s the same old crowd,
the same ruined scene.
The alcoholic arrives with his gold clubs.
The suicide arrives with extra pills sewn
into the lining of her dress.
The permanent guests have done nothing new.
Their faces are still small
like babies with jaundice.

Meanwhile,
they carried out my mother,
wrapped like somebody’s doll, in sheets,
bandaged her jaw and stuffed up her holes.
My father, too. He went out on the rotten blood
he used up on other women in the Middle West.
He went out, a cured old alcoholic
on crooked feet and useless hands.
He went out calling for his father
who died all by himself long ago –
that fat banker who got locked up,
his genes suspended like dollars,
wrapped up in his secret,
tied up securely in a straitjacket.

But you, my doctor, my enthusiast,
were better than Christ;
you promised me another world
to tell me who
I was.

I spent most of my time,
a stranger,
damned and in trance—that little hut,
that naked blue-veined place,
my eyes shut on the confusing office,
eyes circling into my childhood,
eyes newly cut.
Years of hints
strung out—a serialized case history—
thirty-three years of the same dull incest
that sustained us both.
You, my bachelor analyst,
who sat on Marlborough Street,
sharing your office with your mother
and giving up cigarettes each New Year,
were the new God,
the manager of the Gideon Bible.

I was your third-grader
with a blue star on my forehead.
In trance I could be any age,
voice, gesture—all turned backward
like a drugstore clock.
Awake, I memorized dreams.
Dreams came into the ring
like third string fighters,
each one a bad bet
who might win
because there was no other.

I stared at them,
concentrating on the abyss
the way one looks down into a rock quarry,
uncountable miles down,
my hands swinging down like hooks
to pull dreams up out of their cage.
O my hunger! My hunger!

Once, outside your office,
I collapsed in the old-fashioned swoon
between the illegally parked cars.
I threw myself down,
pretending dead for eight hours.
I thought I had died
into a snowstorm.
Above my head
chains cracked along like teeth
digging their way through the snowy street.
I lay there
like an overcoat
that someone had thrown away.
You carried me back in,
awkwardly, tenderly,
with help of the red-haired secretary
who was built like a lifeguard.
My shoes,
I remember,
were lost in the snowbank
as if I planned never to walk again.

That was the winter
that my mother died,
half mad on morphine,
blown up, at last,
like a pregnant pig.
I was her dreamy evil eye.
In fact,
I carried a knife in my pocketbook—
my husband’s good L. L. Bean hunting knife.
I wasn’t sure if I should slash a tire
or scrape the guts out of some dream.

You taught me
to believe in dreams;
thus I was the dredger.
I held them like an old woman with arthritic fingers,
carefully straining the water out—
sweet dark playthings,
and above all, mysterious
until they grew mournful and weak.
O my hunger! My hunger!
I was the one
who opened the warm eyelid
like a surgeon
and brought forth young girls
to grunt like fish.

I told you,
I said—
but I was lying—
that the knife was for my mother . . .
and then I delivered her.

The curtains flutter out
and slump against the bars.
They are my two thin ladies
named Blanche and Rose.
The grounds outside
are pruned like an estate at Newport.
Far off, in the field,
something yellow grows.

Was it last month or last year
that the ambulance ran like a hearse
with its siren blowing on suicide—
Dinn, dinn, dinn!—
a noon whistle that kept insisting on life
all the way through the traffic lights?

I have come back
but disorder is not what it was.
I have lost the trick of it!
The innocence of it!
That fellow-patient in his stovepipe hat
with his fiery joke, his manic smile—
even he seems blurred, small and pale.
I have come back,
recommitted,
fastened to the wall like a bathroom plunger,
held like a prisoner
who was so poor
he fell in love with jail.

I stand at this old window
complaining of the soup,
examining the grounds,
allowing myself the wasted life.
Soon I will raise my face for a white flag,
and when God enters the fort,
I won’t spit or gag on his finger.
I will eat it like a white flower.
Is this the old trick, the wasting away,
the skull that waits for its dose
of electric power?

This is madness
but a kind of hunger.
What good are my questions
in this hierarchy of death
where the earth and the stones go
Dinn! Dinn! Dinn!
It is hardly a feast.
It is my stomach that makes me suffer.

Turn, my hungers!
For once make a deliberate decision.
There are brains that rot here
like black bananas.
Hearts have grown as flat as dinner plates.

Anne, Anne,
flee on your donkey,
flee this sad hotel,
ride out on some hairy beast,
gallop backward pressing
your buttocks to his withers,
sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
Ride out
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That’s what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it—
the fool’s disease.

Poem – The Civil War

I am torn in two
but I will conquer myself.
I will dig up the pride.
I will take scissors
and cut out the beggar.
I will take a crowbar
and pry out the broken
pieces of God in me.
Just like a jigsaw puzzle,
I will put Him together again
with the patience of a chess player.

How many pieces?

It feels like thousands,
God dressed up like a whore
in a slime of green algae.
God dressed up like an old man
staggering out of His shoes.
God dressed up like a child,
all naked,
even without skin,
soft as an avocado when you peel it.
And others, others, others.

But I will conquer them all
and build a whole nation of God
in me – but united,
build a new soul,
dress it with skin
and then put on my shirt
and sing an anthem,
a song of myself.

Poem – Flashbacks 

All it takes is Laura Riding’s riding-
crop across my butt, and I’m off:

Git-up horsie she cries astride me as
I crash sweetly onto the carpet.

Boredom what an esthetic,

cleansing the days-

I laud the vintage of my toothpick.
Small-husband to the floor,

my foot stoops in dance,

in courtship intervals.
Putting their clothes on afterwards

the lovers are surprised

at how empty

the buttonholes seem. 

Poem – Feeding The Sun

One day we notice that the sun
needs feeding. Immediately

a crash program begins: we fill rockets

with wheat, smoke-rings, razorblades, then, 

after long aiming

–they’re off. Hulls specially alloyed

so as not to melt before the stuff 

gets delivered we pour cattle rivers windmills,

aborigines etcet into the sun which

however, grows stubbornly

smaller, paler. Finally

of course we run out of things to feed the thing,

start shipping ourselves. By now

all the planets-moons-asteroids and

so on have been shoveled in though they’re

not doing much good it’s

still looking pretty weak, heck, nothing helps!

Now the last few of us left lift off.

The trip seems forever but then, touchdown.

Just before entering we wonder,

will we be enough. There’s

a last-second doubt in our minds: can we,

can this final sacrifice, our broughten crumb,

satiate

it–will a glutteral belch burst out then at last,–

and will that Big Burp be seen by far-off telescopes,

interpreted as a nova

by those other galaxies,

those further stars which have always seemed even more 

starving 

than ours? 

Poem – Compact Dusk

Here at the height of the day night change
The color of the sky is uncertain,

The sky depending in which direction

One’s eye strains, each of its swatches a strange 
Hue which dies too soon and which makes this hour

Linger in the mind transient as a life,

Whose names once known remain another

Posied-up portrait on our palette knife. 
Until even I wonder if one tint

Ever survives the harm of seeming unique

(Evening’s intrigue, time’s singularity.) 
Study for its trace, its placemap, I see

— Redundant as a stopsign in italic—

The face on which my profile leaves no print. 

Poem – Stress Therapy

Time, time, time, time, the clock
vaccinates us.

and then even that lacks

prophylaxis. 
Ticktock-pockmarked, stricken

by such strokes, we

get sick of prescriptions

which work solely 
on the body.

Systole diastole–

It is by its very 
intermittency

that the heart knows

itself to be an I. 

Poem – Monopoly

Finally the day dawned when a monopoly owned everything in theworld

So it went looking for its stockholders to celebrate

But they were all owned by it they were all dead they were

someplace

Their photographs hung in elevators which went up and down up and

down carrying nobody

Everyone else was in bed doing exercises to get in shape for noon

Hey the monopoly said let’s uncork the World Trade Center and get

blotto

Silence

The monopoly scowled

All it wanted was a little good-fellowship, like you get in the

highrise apartment-buildings

Then the sky got awful dark

Gee

And everyone was in bed frantically doing those exercises that get us in

shape for death

Exercises known as “kissing” “fucking” “caressing”

Everyone was unaware that they had been bought

Or that the earth was about to sell them to the moon

For a little light 

Poem – Heritage 

“…here thy generations endeth in accord.” 
I physically resemble my mother

And father and therefore must have been

Adopted, because on my TV screen

The role-children rarely share a feature

With either parent. The fact they’re actors

And I’m not is what makes me misbegot—

A matched world of monitors all 2-shot

The mirror daily where I pray these stars 
Come: cancel everyone of us whose names

And clans have sundered human unity

Descend always among daughters or sons

To live still, beyond the Net’s trivia games,

Till their faces cloned shape ours. Family.

From android to ape, we’ll be Thy reruns. 

Poem – Man of the House

It was a misunderstanding.
I got into bed, made love
with the woman I found there,
called her honey, mowed the lawn,
had three children, painted
the house twice, fixed the furnace,
overcame an addiction to blue pills,
read Spinoza every night
without once meeting his God,
buried one child, ate my share
of Jell-o and meatloaf,
went away for nine hours a day
and came home hoarding my silence,
built a ferris wheel in my mind,
bolt by bolt, then it broke
just as it spun me to the top.
Turns out I live next door.

Poem – Mortal Shower

I met my butt in a Pittsburgh
hotel room. My face
still looks like my face
but not my butt, my hair

no longer resembles an ad
for Jell-O pudding, people thought
it was chocolate pudding for years,
so thick

and rich. There was fog
in the bathroom and then not fog,
I faced my face
and then not my face, the mirror

staring at my ass
winked at the mirror
staring at my face

and the future was defined
as an effort
to use the word sag in my resume.
Have sagged, will

sag, am looking for a position
in which to maximize my sagging
potential. I once cared
what went on back there, about

the extent of grip and rise, just
as some birds crave
the reddest plumage, and I propositioned
mirrors, watched women’s eyes
follow, turned in shop windows
to see if my pants
fit their purpose. Then love

and car payments, love and the sofa
needs to be moved, love and her grandmother
dies, my grandmother
dies, love
and she comes home and I’m thrilled
by her coat and voice
and the brown habit of her eyes. She

likes my ass and lies
about its travels, how it’s lost
focus, and there are wattles
to come, please God
if dentures
only partials, may Depends

be cheap in bulk and the earth
generous with its telepathy, I’m

in Pittsburgh tonight
and with her,
mirrors don’t scare me,
room service is a gas
because she’s alive, I’m a giant,
a tight-assed
titan because she’s alive
and says

come home, the Honda needs
new brakes, a robin flew
into the window today
but shook it off, just
dizzy, stunned
by reflection.

Poem – In the Loop

I heard from people after the shootings. People
I knew well or barely or not at all. Largely
the same message: how horrible it was, how little
there was to say about how horrible it was.
People wrote, called, mostly e-mailed
because they know I teach at Virginia Tech,
to say, there’s nothing to say. Eventually
I answered these messages: there’s nothing
to say back except of course there’s nothing
to say, thank you for your willingness
to say it. Because this was about nothing.
A boy who felt that he was nothing,
who erased and entered that erasure, and guns
that are good for nothing, and talk of guns
that is good for nothing, and spring
that is good for flowers, and Jesus for some,
and scotch for others, and “and” for me
in this poem, “and” that is good
for sewing the minutes together, which otherwise
go about going away, bereft of us and us
of them. Like a scarf left on a train and nothing
like a scarf left on a train. As if the train,
empty of everything but a scarf, still opens
its doors at every stop, because this
is what a train does, this is what a man does
with his hand on a lever, because otherwise,
why the lever, why the hand, and then it was over,
and then it had just begun.

Poem – Full Flight

I’m in a plane that will not be flown into a building.
It’s a SAAB 340, seats 40, has two engines with propellers
is why I think of beanies, those hats that would spin
a young head into the clouds. The plane is red and loud
inside like it must be loud in the heart, red like fire
and fire engines and the woman two seats up and to the right
resembles one of the widows I saw on TV after the Towers
came down. It’s her hair that I recognize, the fecundity of it
and the color and its obedience to an ideal, the shape
it was asked several hours ago to hold and has held, a kind
of wave that begins at the forehead and repeats with slight
variations all the way to the tips, as if she were water
and a pebble had been continuously dropped into the mouth
of her existence. We are eighteen thousand feet over America.
People are typing at their laps, blowing across the fog of coffee,
sleeping with their heads on the windows, on the pattern
of green fields and brown fields, streams and gas stations
and swimming pools, blue dots of aquamarine that suggest
we’ve domesticated the mirage. We had to kill someone,
I believe, when the metal bones burned and the top
fell through the bottom and a cloud made of dust and memos
and skin muscled across Manhattan. I remember feeling
I could finally touch a rifle, that some murders
are an illumination of ethics, that they act as a word,
a motion the brain requires for which there is
no syllable, no breath. The moment the planes had stopped,
when we were afraid of the sky, there was a pause
when we could have been perfectly American,
could have spent infinity dollars and thrown a million
bodies at finding the few, lasering our revenge
into a kind of love, the blood-hunger kept exact
and more convincing for its precision, an expression
of our belief that proximity is never the measure of guilt.
We’ve lived in the sky again for some years and today
on my lap these pictures from Iraq, naked bodies
stacked into a pyramid of ha-ha and the articles
about broomsticks up the ass and the limbs of children
turned into stubble, we are punch-drunk and getting even
with the sand, with the map, with oil, with ourselves
I think listening to the guys behind me. There’s a problem
in Alpena with an inventory control system, some switches
are being counted twice, switches for what I don’t know—
switches of humor, of faith—but the men are musical
in their jargon, both likely born in New Delhi
and probably Americans now, which is what the flesh
of this country has been, a grafted pulse, an inventory
of the world, and just as the idea of embrace
moves chemically into my blood, and I’m warmed
as if I’ve just taken a drink, a voice announces
we’ve begun our descent, and then I sense the falling.

Poem – Duke

He was hit back of the head for a haul of $15,
a Diner’s Club Card and picture of his daughter in a helmet
on a horse tethered to a pole that centered
its revolving universe. Pacing the halls, he’d ask

for a blow job he didn’t want. The ward’s new visitors
didn’t know this request was all the injury
had left him to say, and would be shamed or pissed,
a few hitting him as he stood with his mouth

slightly open and large frame leaning in. His wife
divorced him for good and blameless reasons. He would not
be coming home to share his thoughts on film and weather,
or remembering her any longer than it took to leave a room.

He liked ham. Kept newspapers in drawers and under his bed,
each unread page hand-pressed flat. And when it snowed
he leaned into one of the sealed, unbreakable windows,
a cheek to the cool glass as he held his fingers

over his mouth and moaned low and constant like the sound
of a boat on the far side of a lake. When he died
they cut him open to see how his habits had been rewired
and so tightly looped. Having known him they were afraid

of what can happen when you cross the lot to the office
or pull up to a light and thump the wheel as you might
any hour. If you stare at the dyed
and beautiful cross sections of a brain, it’s natural

to wonder how we extract the taste of coffee
or sense of a note accurately found and held on an oboe
from this bramble. On Duke’s slides they circled
the regions of blight which explain

why almost all behavior we recognize as human was lost,
but not why a man who’d curl into a ball
like a caterpillar when barely touched, could only ask
for sex, for intimacy, for the very thing

he could least accept and lived twelve years without,
no embrace or caress, no kiss on the lips before sleep,
until he died in the lounge looking out on winter sky
that seemed eager to snow all day but didn’t.

Poem – Sudden Movements 

My father’s head has become a mystery to him.
We finally have something in common.
When he moves his head his eyes
get big as roses filled
with the commotion of spring.
Not long ago he was a man
who had tomato soup for lunch
and dusted with the earnestness
of a gun fight. Now he’s a man
who sits at the table trying to breathe
in tiny bites. When they told him
his spinal column is closing, I thought
of all the branches he’s cut
with loppers and piled and burned
in the fall, the pinch of the blades
on the green and vital pulp. Surgeons
can fuse vertebrae, a welders art,
and scrape the ring through which
the soul-wires flow as a dentist
would clean your teeth.
And still it could happen, one turn
of his head toward a hummingbird,
wings keeping that brittle life
afloat, working hard against the fall,
and he might freeze in that pose
of astonishment, a man estranged
from the neck down, who can only share
with his body the silence
he’s pawned on his children as love.

Poem – By Their Works

Who cleaned up the Last Supper?
These would be my people.
Maybe hung over, wanting
desperately a better job,
standing with rags
in hand as the window
beckons with hills
of yellow grass. In Da Vinci,
the blue robed apostle
gesturing at Christ
is saying, give Him the check.
What a mess they’ve made
of their faith. My God
would put a busboy
on earth to roam
among the waiters
and remind them to share
their tips. The woman
who finished one
half eaten olive
and scooped the rest
into her pockets,
walked her tiny pride home
to children who looked
at her smile and saw
the salvation of a meal.
All that week
at work she ignored
customers who talked
of Rome and silk
and crucifixions,
though she couldn’t stop
thinking of this man
who said thank you
each time she filled
His glass.

Poem – Cemetery

Who whispers here is forgotten.

Saliva’s emptiest fruit
adorns the stones,
words ripening your mouth
to a spoilation
of silence.

Who speaks here
reads a text that downloads
the screen of his fingernail,
through which nothing’s visible
as glass is.

For the memorial
we must kneel
to pick each flower
from amongst its modifiers:
but to do that
one needs a hand bared
of all uses, of all trades:
as ours is not.

Poem – The Golden Age

is thought to be a confession, won by endless
torture, but which our interrogators must
hate to record—all those old code names, dates,
the standard narrative of sandpaper
throats, even its remorse, fall ignored. Far

away, a late (not lost) messenger stares,
struck by window bargains or is it the gift
of a sudden solicitude: is she going to
lift up her shadow’s weight, shift hers
onto it? She knows who bears whom. In

that momentary museum where memory occurs
more accrue of those torturers’ pincers than
lessened fingernails, eyes teased to a pulp,
we beg for closeups. Ormolus, objets d’art!
A satyr drains an hourglass with one gulp.

Poem – Feeding the Sun

One day we notice that the sun
needs feeding. Immediately
a crash program begins: we fill rockets
with wheat, smoke-rings, razorblades, then,
after long aiming
–they’re off. Hulls specially alloyed
so as not to melt before the stuff
gets delivered we pour cattle rivers windmills,
aborigines etcet into the sun which
however, grows stubbornly
smaller, paler. Finally
of course we run out of things to feed the thing,
start shipping ourselves. By now
all the planets-moons-asteroids and
so on have been shoveled in though they’re
not doing much good it’s
still looking pretty weak, heck, nothing helps!
Now the last few of us left lift off.
The trip seems forever but then, touchdown.
Just before entering we wonder,
will we be enough. There’s
a last-second doubt in our minds: can we,
can this final sacrifice, our broughten crumb,
satiate
it–will a glutteral belch burst out then at last,–
and will that Big Burp be seen by far-off telescopes,
interpreted as a nova
by those other galaxies,
those further stars which have always seemed even more
starving
than ours?

Poem – What Would Freud Say

Wasn’t on purpose that I drilled
through my finger or the nurse
laughed. She apologized
three times and gave me a shot
of something that was a lusher
apology. The person
who drove me home
said my smile was a smeared
totem that followed
his body that night as it arced
over a cliff in a dream.
He’s always flying
in his dreams and lands
on cruise ships or hovers
over Atlanta with an erection.
He put me to bed and the drugs
wore off and I woke
to cannibals at my extremities.
I woke with a sense
of what nails in the palms
might do to a spirit
temporarily confined to flesh.
That too was an accident
if you believe Judas
merely wanted to be loved.
To be loved by God,
Urban the 8th
had heads cut off
that were inadequately
bowed by dogma. To be loved
by Blondie, Dagwood
gets nothing right
except the hallucinogenic
architecture of sandwiches.
He would have drilled
through a finger too
while making a case for books
on home repair and health.
Drilling through my finger’s
not the dumbest thing
I’ve done. Second place
was approaching
a frozen gas-cap with lighter
in hand while thinking
heat melts ice and not
explosion kills asshole. First
place was passing
through a bedroom door
and removing silk that did not
belong to my wife.
Making a bookcase is not
the extent of my apology.
I’ve also been beaten up
in a bar for saying huevos
rancheros in a way
insulting to the patrons’
ethnicity. I’ve also lost
my job because lying
face down on the couch
didn’t jibe with my employer’s
definition of home
office. I wanted her to come
through the door on Sunday
and see the bookcase
she’d asked me to build
for a year and be impressed
that it didn’t lean
or wobble even though
I’ve only leaned and often
wobbled. Now it’s half
done but certainly
a better gift with its map
of my unfaithful blood.

Poem – O My Pa Pa

Our  father   have formed a poetry workshop.
They sit in a circle of disappointment over our fastballs
and wives. We thought they didn’t read our stuff,
whole anthologies of poems that begin, My father never,
or those that end, and he was silent as a carp,
or those with middles which, if you think
of the right side as a sketch, look like a paunch
of beer and worry, but secretly, with flashlights
in the woods, they’ve read every word and noticed
that our nine happy poems have balloons and sex
and giraffes inside, but not one dad waving hello
from the top of a hill at dusk. Theirs
is the revenge school of poetry, with titles like
‘My Yellow Sheet Lad’ and ‘Given Your Mother’s Taste
for Vodka, I’m Pretty Sure You’re Not Mine.’
They’re not trying to make the poems better
so much as sharper or louder, more like a fishhook
or electrocution, as a group
they overcome their individual senilities,
their complete distaste for language, how cloying
it is, how like tears it can be, and remember
every mention of their long hours at the office
or how tired they were when they came home,
when they were dragged through the door
by their shadows. I don’t know why it’s so hard
to write a simple and kind poem to my father, who worked,
not like a dog, dogs sleep most of the day in a ball
of wanting to chase something, but like a man, a man
with seven kids and a house to feed, whose absence
was his presence, his present, the Cheerios,
the PF Flyers, who taught me things about trees,
that they’re the most intricate version of standing up,
who built a grandfather clock with me so I would know
that time is a constructed thing, a passing, ticking fancy.
A bomb. A bomb that’ll go off soon for him, for me,
and I notice in our fathers’ poems a reciprocal dwelling
on absence, that they wonder why we disappeared
as soon as we got our licenses, why we wanted
the rocket cars, as if running away from them
to kiss girls who looked like mirrors of our mothers
wasn’t fast enough, and it turns out they did
start to say something, to form the words hey
or stay, but we’d turned into a door full of sun,
into the burning leave, and were gone
before it came to them that it was all right
to shout, that they should have knocked us down
with a hand on our shoulders, that they too are mystified
by the distance men need in their love.

Poem – The Maple

is a system of posture for wood.
A way of not falling down
for twigs that happens
to benefit birds. I don’t know.
I’m staring at a tree,
at yellow leaves
threshed by wind and want you
reading this to be staring
at the same tree. I could
cut it down and laminate it
or ask you to live with me
on the stairs with the window
keeping an eye on the maple
but I think your real life
would miss you. The story
here is that all morning
I’ve thought of the statement
that art is about loneliness
while watching golden leaves
become unhinged.
By ones or in bunches
they tumble and hang
for a moment like a dress
in the dryer.
At the laundromat
you’ve seen the arms
thrown out to catch the shirt
flying the other way.
Just as you’ve stood
at the bottom of a gray sky
in a pile of leaves
trying to lick them
back into place.

Poem – Thanksgiving 

The roar of the world is in my ears.

Thank God for the roar of the world!

Thank God for the mighty tide of fears

Against me always hurled!

Thank God for the bitter and ceaseless strife,

And the sting of His chastening rod!

Thank God for the stress and the pain of life,

And Oh, thank God for God! 

Poem – Stars

(For the Rev. James J. Daly, S. J.) 
Bright stars, yellow stars, flashing through the air,

Are you errant strands of Lady Mary’s hair?

As she slits the cloudy veil and bends down through,

Do you fall across her cheeks and over heaven too? 
Gay stars, little stars, you are little eyes,

Eyes of baby angels playing in the skies.

Now and then a winged child turns his merry face

Down toward the spinning world — what a funny place! 
Jesus Christ came from the Cross (Christ receive my soul!)

In each perfect hand and foot there was a bloody hole.

Four great iron spikes there were, red and never dry,

Michael plucked them from the Cross and set them in the sky. 
Christ’s Troop, Mary’s Guard, God’s own men,

Draw your swords and strike at Hell and strike again.

Every steel-born spark that flies where God’s battles are,

Flashes past the face of God, and is a star. 

Poem – Roses

I went to gather roses and twine them in a ring,

For I would make a posy, a posy for the King.

I got an hundred roses, the loveliest there be,

From the white rose vine and the pink rose bush and from the red 

rose tree.

But when I took my posy and laid it at His feet

I found He had His roses a million times more sweet.

There was a scarlet blossom upon each foot and hand,

And a great pink rose bloomed from His side for the healing of the 

land.

Now of this fair and awful King there is this marvel told,

That He wears a crown of linked thorns instead of one of gold.

Where there are thorns are roses, and I saw a line of red,

A little wreath of roses around His radiant head.

A red rose is His Sacred Heart, a white rose is His face,

And His breath has turned the barren world to a rich and flowery 

place.

He is the Rose of Sharon, His gardener am I,

And I shall drink His fragrance in Heaven when I die. 

Poem – For Annie 

Thank Heaven! the crisis-

The danger is past,

And the lingering illness

Is over at last-

And the fever called “Living”

Is conquered at last.
Sadly, I know

I am shorn of my strength,

And no muscle I move

As I lie at full length-

But no matter!-I feel

I am better at length.
And I rest so composedly,

Now, in my bed

That any beholder

Might fancy me dead-

Might start at beholding me,

Thinking me dead.
The moaning and groaning,

The sighing and sobbing,

Are quieted now,

With that horrible throbbing

At heart:- ah, that horrible,

Horrible throbbing!
The sickness- the nausea-

The pitiless pain-

Have ceased, with the fever

That maddened my brain-

With the fever called “Living”

That burned in my brain.
And oh! of all tortures

That torture the worst

Has abated- the terrible

Torture of thirst

For the naphthaline river

Of Passion accurst:-

I have drunk of a water

That quenches all thirst:-
Of a water that flows,

With a lullaby sound,

From a spring but a very few

Feet under ground-

From a cavern not very far

Down under ground.
And ah! let it never

Be foolishly said

That my room it is gloomy

And narrow my bed;

For man never slept

In a different bed-

And, to sleep, you must slumber

In just such a bed.
My tantalized spirit

Here blandly reposes,

Forgetting, or never

Regretting its roses-

Its old agitations

Of myrtles and roses:
For now, while so quietly

Lying, it fancies

A holier odor

About it, of pansies-

A rosemary odor,

Commingled with pansies-

With rue and the beautiful

Puritan pansies.
And so it lies happily,

Bathing in many

A dream of the truth

And the beauty of Annie-

Drowned in a bath

Of the tresses of Annie.
She tenderly kissed me,

She fondly caressed,

And then I fell gently

To sleep on her breast-

Deeply to sleep

From the heaven of her breast.
When the light was extinguished,

She covered me warm,

And she prayed to the angels

To keep me from harm-

To the queen of the angels

To shield me from harm.
And I lie so composedly,

Now, in my bed,

(Knowing her love)

That you fancy me dead-

And I rest so contentedly,

Now, in my bed,

(With her love at my breast)

That you fancy me dead-

That you shudder to look at me,

Thinking me dead.
But my heart it is brighter

Than all of the many

Stars in the sky,

For it sparkles with Annie-

It glows with the light

Of the love of my Annie-

With the thought of the light

Of the eyes of my Annie. 

Poem -Fairy Land 

Dim vales- and shadowy floods

-And cloudy-looking woods,

Whose forms we can’t discover

For the tears that drip all over!

Huge moons there wax and wane-

Again- again- again-

Every moment of the night-

Forever changing places-

And they put out the star-light

With the breath from their pale faces.

About twelve by the moon-dial,

One more filmy than the rest

(A kind which, upon trial,

They have found to be the best)

Comes down- still down- and down,

With its centre on the crown

Of a mountain’s eminence,

While its wide circumference

In easy drapery falls

Over hamlets, over halls,

Wherever they may be-

O’er the strange woods- o’er the sea-

Over spirits on the wing-

Over every drowsy thing-

And buries them up quite

In a labyrinth of light-

And then, how deep!- O, deep!

Is the passion of their sleep.

In the morning they arise,

And their moony covering

Is soaring in the skies,

With the tempests as they toss,

Like- almost anything-

Or a yellow Albatross.

They use that moon no more

For the same end as before-

Videlicet, a tent-

Which I think extravagant:

Its atomies, however,

Into a shower dissever,

Of which those butterflies

Of Earth, who seek the skies,

And so come down again,

(Never-contented things!)

Have brought a specimen

Upon their quivering wings. 

Poem – A Valentine 

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,

Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,

Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies

Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.

Search narrowly the lines! – they hold a treasure

Divine- a talisman- an amulet

That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-

The words- the syllables! Do not forget

The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor

And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

Which one might not undo without a sabre,

If one could merely comprehend the plot.

Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering

Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus

Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing

Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet’s, too,

Its letters, although naturally lying

Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-

Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying! 

You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do. 

Poem – A Dream with in a Dream 

Take this kiss upon the brow! 

And, in parting from you now,

Thus much let me avow-

You are not wrong, who deem

That my days have been a dream; 

Yet if hope has flown away

In a night, or in a day,

In a vision, or in none,

Is it therefore the less gone? 

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar

Of a surf-tormented shore,

And I hold within my hand

Grains of the golden sand-

How few! yet how they creep

Through my fingers to the deep,

While I weep- while I weep! 

O God! can I not grasp

Them with a tighter clasp? 

O God! can I not save

One from the pitiless wave? 

Is all that we see or seem

But a dream within a dream? 

Poem – The Old Tune 

THIRTY-SIXTH VARIATION

THIS shred of song you bid me bring

Is snatched from fancy’s embers;

Ah, when the lips forget to sing,

The faithful heart remembers!
Too swift the wings of envious Time

To wait for dallying phrases,

Or woven strands of labored rhyme

To thread their cunning mazes.
A word, a sigh, and lo, how plain

Its magic breath discloses

Our life’s long vista through a lane

Of threescore summers’ roses!
One language years alone can teach

Its roots are young affections

That feel their way to simplest speech

Through silent recollections.
That tongue is ours. How few the words

We need to know a brother!

As simple are the notes of birds,

Yet well they know each other.
This freezing month of ice and snow

That brings our lives together

Lends to our year a living glow

That warms its wintry weather.
So let us meet as eve draws nigh,

And life matures and mellows,

Till Nature whispers with a sigh,

‘Good-night, my dear old fellows!’ 

Poem – The Old Man Dreams

OH for one hour of youthful joy!

Give back my twentieth spring!

I’d rather laugh, a bright-haired boy,

Than reign, a gray-beard king.
Off with the spoils of wrinkled age!

Away with Learning’s crown!

Tear out life’s Wisdom-written page,

And dash its trophies down!
One moment let my life-blood stream

From boyhood’s fount of flame!

Give me one giddy, reeling dream

Of life all love and fame!
. . . . . 
My listening angel heard the prayer,

And, calmly smiling, said,

“If I but touch thy silvered hair

Thy hasty wish hath sped.
“But is there nothing in thy track,

To bid thee fondly stay,

While the swift seasons hurry back

To find the wished-for day?”
“Ah, truest soul of womankind!

Without thee what were life ?

One bliss I cannot leave behind:

I’ll take– my– precious– wife!”
The angel took a sapphire pen

And wrote in rainbow dew,

The man would be a boy again,

And be a husband too!
“And is there nothing yet unsaid,

Before the change appears?

Remember, all their gifts have fled

With those dissolving years.”
“Why, yes;” for memory would recall

My fond paternal joys;

“I could not bear to leave them all–

I’ll take– my– girl– and– boys.”
The smiling angel dropped his pen,–

“Why, this will never do;

The man would be a boy again,

And be a father too!”
. . . . . 
And so I laughed,– my laughter woke

The household with its noise,–

And wrote my dream, when morning broke,

To please the gray-haired boys. 

Poem – The Old Cruiser 

HERE ‘s the old cruiser, ‘Twenty-nine,

Forty times she ‘s crossed the line;

Same old masts and sails and crew,

Tight and tough and as good as new.
Into the harbor she bravely steers

Just as she ‘s done for these forty years,

Over her anchor goes, splash and clang!

Down her sails drop, rattle and bang!
Comes a vessel out of the dock

Fresh and spry as a fighting-cock,

Feathered with sails and spurred with steam,

Heading out of the classic stream.
Crew of a hundred all aboard,

Every man as fine as a lord.

Gay they look and proud they feel,

Bowling along on even keel.
On they float with wind and tide,–

Gain at last the old ship’s side;

Every man looks down in turn,–

Reads the name that’s on her stern.
‘Twenty-nine!–Diable you say!

That was in Skipper Kirkland’s day!

What was the Flying Dutchman’s name?

This old rover must be the same.
‘Ho! you Boatswain that walks the deck,

How does it happen you’re not a wreck?

One and another have come to grief,

How have you dodged by rock and reef?’
Boatswain, lifting one knowing lid,

Hitches his breeches and shifts his quid

‘Hey? What is it? Who ‘s come to grief

Louder, young swab, I ‘m a little deaf.’
‘I say, old fellow, what keeps your boat

With all you jolly old boys afloat,

When scores of vessels as good as she

Have swallowed the salt of the bitter sea?
‘Many a crew from many a craft

Goes drifting by on a broken raft

Pieced from a vessel that clove the brine

Taller and prouder than ‘Twenty-nine.
‘Some capsized in an angry breeze,

Some were lost in the narrow seas,

Some on snags and some on sands

Struck and perished and lost their hands.
‘Tell us young ones, you gray old man,

What is your secret, if you can.

We have a ship as good as you,

Show us how to keep our crew.’
So in his ear the youngster cries;

Then the gray Boatswain straight replies:–

‘All your crew be sure you know,–

Never let one of your shipmates go.
‘If he leaves you, change your tack,

Follow him close and fetch him back;

When you’ve hauled him in at last,

Grapple his flipper and hold him fast.
‘If you’ve wronged him, speak him fair,

Say you’re sorry and make it square;

If he’s wronged you, wink so tight

None of you see what ‘s plain in sight.
‘When the world goes hard and wrong,

Lend a hand to help him along;

When his stockings have holes to darn,

Don’t you grudge him your ball of yarn.
‘Once in a twelvemonth, come what may,

Anchor your ship in a quiet bay,

Call all hands and read the log,

And give ’em a taste of grub and grog.
‘Stick to each other through thick and thin;

All the closer as age leaks in;

Squalls will blow and clouds will frown,

But stay by your ship till you all go down!’ 

Poem – Morning Prayer 

Now another day is breaking,

Sleep was sweet and so is waking.

Dear Lord, I promised you last night

Never again to sulk or fight.

Such vows are easier to keep

When a child is sound asleep.

Today, O Lord, for your dear sake,

I’ll try to keep them when awake. 

Will V – Day Be Me – Day Too – Langston Hughes

Over There,World War II.
Dear Fellow Americans,

I write this letter

Hoping times will be better

When this war

Is through.

I’m a Tan-skinned Yank

Driving a tank.

I ask, WILL V-DAY

BE ME-DAY, TOO?
I wear a U. S. uniform.

I’ve done the enemy much harm,

I’ve driven back

The Germans and the Japs,

From Burma to the Rhine.

On every battle line,

I’ve dropped defeat

Into the Fascists’ laps.
I am a Negro American

Out to defend my land

Army, Navy, Air Corps–

I am there.

I take munitions through,

I fight–or stevedore, too.

I face death the same as you do 

Everywhere.
I’ve seen my buddy lying

Where he fell.

I’ve watched him dying

I promised him that I would try

To make our land a land

Where his son could be a man–

And there’d be no Jim Crow birds

Left in our sky.
So this is what I want to know:

When we see Victory’s glow,

Will you still let old Jim Crow

Hold me back?

When all those foreign folks who’ve waited–

Italians, Chinese, Danes–are liberated.

Will I still be ill-fated

Because I’m black?
Here in my own, my native land,

Will the Jim Crow laws still stand?

Will Dixie lynch me still

When I return?

Or will you comrades in arms

From the factories and the farms,

Have learned what this war

Was fought for us to learn?
When I take off my uniform,

Will I be safe from harm–

Or will you do me

As the Germans did the Jews?

When I’ve helped this world to save,

Shall I still be color’s slave?

Or will Victory change

Your antiquated views?
You can’t say I didn’t fight

To smash the Fascists’ might.

You can’t say I wasn’t with you

in each battle.

As a soldier, and a friend.

When this war comes to an end,

Will you herd me in a Jim Crow car

Like cattle?
Or will you stand up like a man

At home and take your stand

For Democracy?

That’s all I ask of you.

When we lay the guns away

To celebrate

Our Victory Day

WILL V-DAY BE ME-DAY, TOO?

That’s what I want to know.
Sincerely,

GI Joe. 

You and Your Whole Race – Langston Hughes

You and your whole race.

Look down upon the town in which you live

And be ashamed.

Look down upon white folks 

And upon yourselves 

And be ashamed

That such supine poverty exists there,

That such stupid ignorance breeds children there

Behind such humble shelters of despair—

That you yourselves have not the sense to care

Nor the manhood to stand up and say

I dare you to come one step nearer, evil world,

With your hands of greed seeking to touch my throat, 

I dare you to come one step nearer me:

When you can say that

you will be free! 

Exiled – John Tansey 

Exiled…

from my tribe; 

Outcast, ostracized

For defying the elders.

My spear, broken, 

Sling and skin gourd, taken.
Banished…

Pelted with stones 

By those pockmarked with sin

Beaten beyond the mountains I have known

Down into the hinterlands, 

And the cold, wintry wild, alone
Excommunicated…

To be alone, even in death.

Without such security

As the clan and cave, 

I shiver in the cold, 

Get wet in the rain.
Disowned…

No more to be one of them.

I seek shelter on a patch of land, 

Under a thatch of sky

I must fend, now, for myself, 

A lone, lean wolf, scavenging
On the frozen Tundra, alone. 

Empty Nest – John Tansey

With the boy’s room, draped in white sheets

This whole year, like a cocoon, preserved, in amber, 

She closes another album: The fossil record of their marriage, 

Steeped, in the earthen layers of clay.

Then, turning to face him, two huge land masses: 

He, the old world, she is of the new, 

And with thirty years of continental drift

Having poured an ocean between them, 

They live, now, in different time zones, 

Sleep, eat and speak in different tongues… 

Delusions of Evening – John Tansey

Evening comes. My self-delusion

stirs the synapses

with a steaming cup of coffee.

A dimly lit oil lamp

shrouded with Saffron scarf

casts the room in an amber hue

with subtle shapes in the shadows

while words as gold ingots on the page

forming this poem

with an alchemic blaze.
Morning rises, lighting the gray room 

dispelling truth

from every fold of darkness

to a sterile whiteness

that turning back 

such atomic weight of words

into leaden blocks of stone

I wake, both bleary eyed and blood shot, 

into this failed, pale bleak

truth of morning

Manners – Elizabeth Bishop 

My grandfather said to me

as we sat on the wagon seat,

“Be sure to remember to always

speak to everyone you meet.”
We met a stranger on foot.

My grandfather’s whip tapped his hat.

“Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day.”

And I said it and bowed where I sat.
Then we overtook a boy we knew

with his big pet crow on his shoulder.

“Always offer everyone a ride;

don’t forget that when you get older,”
my grandfather said. So Willy

climbed up with us, but the crow

gave a “Caw!” and flew off. I was worried.

How would he know where to go?
But he flew a little way at a time

from fence post to fence post, ahead;

and when Willy whistled he answered.

“A fine bird,” my grandfather said,
“and he’s well brought up. See, he answers

nicely when he’s spoken to.

Man or beast, that’s good manners.

Be sure that you both always do.”
When automobiles went by,

the dust hid the people’s faces,

but we shouted “Good day! Good day!

Fine day!” at the top of our voices.
When we came to Hustler Hill,

he said that the mare was tired, 

so we all got down and walked,

as our good manners required. 

Little Exercise – Elizabeth Bishop

Think of the storm roaming the sky uneasily

like a dog looking for a place to sleep in,

listen to it growling. 
Think how they must look now, the mangrove keys

lying out there unresponsive to the lightning

in dark, coarse-fibred families, 
where occasionally a heron may undo his head,

shake up his feathers, make an uncertain comment

when the surrounding water shines. 
Think of the boulevard and the little palm trees

all stuck in rows, suddenly revealed

as fistfuls of limp fish-skeletons. 
It is raining there. The boulevard

and its broken sidewalks with weeds in every crack,

are relieved to be wet, the sea to be freshened. 
Now the storm goes away again in a series

of small, badly lit battle-scenes,

each in “Another part of the field.” 
Think of someone sleeping in the bottom of a row-boat

tied to a mangrove root or the pile of a bridge;

think of him as uninjured, barely disturbed. 

Night on the Prairies – Walt Whitman 

The supper is over–the fire on the ground burns low;

The wearied emigrants sleep, wrapt in their blankets:

I walk by myself–I stand and look at the stars, which I think now I

never realized before.
Now I absorb immortality and peace,

I admire death, and test propositions.
How plenteous! How spiritual! How resumé!

The same Old Man and Soul–the same old aspirations, and the same

content.
I was thinking the day most splendid, till I saw what the not-day

exhibited,

I was thinking this globe enough, till there sprang out so noiseless

around me myriads of other globes. 10
Now, while the great thoughts of space and eternity fill me, I will

measure myself by them;

And now, touch’d with the lives of other globes, arrived as far along

as those of the earth,

Or waiting to arrive, or pass’d on farther than those of the earth,

I henceforth no more ignore them, than I ignore my own life,

Or the lives of the earth arrived as far as mine, or waiting to

arrive.
O I see now that life cannot exhibit all to me–as the day cannot,

I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by death. 

Native Moments – Walt Whitman 

NATIVE moments! when you come upon me–Ah you are

here now! Give me now

libidinous joys only! Give me the drench of my passions! Give me life

coarse and rank! To-day, I go consort with nature’s darlings–to-night too;

I am for those who believe in loose delights–I share the midnight orgies

of young men; I dance with the dancers, and drink with the drinkers; The

echoes ring with our indecent calls; I take for my love some prostitute–I

pick out some low person for my dearest friend, He shall be lawless, rude,

illiterate–he shall be one condemn’d by others for deeds done; I will play

a part no longer–Why should I exile myself from my companions? 10 O you

shunn’d persons! I at least do not shun you, I come forthwith in your

midst–I will be your poet, I will be more to you than to any of the rest. 

Liebestod – Dorothy Parker

When I was bold, when I was bold-

And that’s a hundred years!-

Oh, never I thought my breast could hold

The terrible weight of tears.
I said: “Now some be dolorous;

I hear them wail and sigh,

And if it be Love that play them thus,

Then never a love will I.”
I said: “I see them rack and rue,

I see them wring and ache,

And little I’ll crack my heart in two

With little the heart can break.”
When I was gay, when I was gay-

It’s ninety years and nine!-

Oh, never I thought that Death could lay

His terrible hand in mine.
I said: “He plies his trade among

The musty and infirm;

A body so hard and bright and young

Could never be meat for worm.”
“I see him dull their eyes,” I said,

“And still their rattling breath.

And how under God could I be dead

That never was meant for Death?”
But Love came by, to quench my sleep,

And here’s my sundered heart;

And bitter’s my woe, and black, and deep,

And little I guessed a part.
Yet this there is to cool my breast,

And this to ease my spell;

Now if I were Love’s, like all the rest,

Then can I be Death’s, as well.
And he shall have me, sworn and bound,

And I’ll be done with Love.

And better I’ll be below the ground

Than ever I’ll be above. 

Landscape – Dorothy Parker

Now this must be the sweetest place

From here to heaven’s end;

The field is white and flowering lace,

The birches leap and bend,

The hills, beneath the roving sun,

From green to purple pass,

And little, trifling breezes run

Their fingers through the grass.

So good it is, so gay it is,

So calm it is, and pure.

A one whose eyes may look on this

Must be the happier, sure.

But me- I see it flat and gray

And blurred with misery,

Because a lad a mile away

Has little need of me. 

Workshop – Billy Collins

I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title.

It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now 

so immediately the poem has my attention, 

like the Ancient Mariner grabbing me by the sleeve. 
And I like the first couple of stanzas, 

the way they establish this mode of self-pointing 

that runs through the whole poem 

and tells us that words are food thrown down 

on the ground for other words to eat. 

I can almost taste the tail of the snake 

in its own mouth, 

if you know what I mean. 
But what I’m not sure about is the voice, 

which sounds in places very casual, very blue jeans, 

but other times seems standoffish, 

professorial in the worst sense of the word 

like the poem is blowing pipe smoke in my face. 

But maybe that’s just what it wants to do. 
What I did find engaging were the middle stanzas, 

especially the fourth one. 

I like the image of clouds flying like lozenges 

which gives me a very clear picture. 

And I really like how this drawbridge operator 

just appears out of the blue 

with his feet up on the iron railing 

and his fishing pole jigging—I like jigging— 

a hook in the slow industrial canal below. 

I love slow industrial canal below. All those l’s. 
Maybe it’s just me, 

but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem. 

I mean how can the evening bump into the stars? 

And what’s an obbligato of snow? 

Also, I roam the decaffeinated streets. 

At that point I’m lost. I need help. 
The other thing that throws me off, 

and maybe this is just me, 

is the way the scene keeps shifting around. 

First, we’re in this big aerodrome 

and the speaker is inspecting a row of dirigibles, 

which makes me think this could be a dream. 

Then he takes us into his garden, 

the part with the dahlias and the coiling hose, 

though that’s nice, the coiling hose, 

but then I’m not sure where we’re supposed to be. 

The rain and the mint green light, 

that makes it feel outdoors, but what about this wallpaper? 

Or is it a kind of indoor cemetery? 

There’s something about death going on here. 
In fact, I start to wonder if what we have here 

is really two poems, or three, or four, 

or possibly none. 
But then there’s that last stanza, my favorite. 

This is where the poem wins me back, 

especially the lines spoken in the voice of the mouse. 

I mean we’ve all seen these images in cartoons before,

but I still love the details he uses 

when he’s describing where he lives. 

The perfect little arch of an entrance in the baseboard, 

the bed made out of a curled-back sardine can, 

the spool of thread for a table. 

I start thinking about how hard the mouse had to work 

night after night collecting all these things 

while the people in the house were fast asleep, 

and that gives me a very strong feeling, 

a very powerful sense of something. 

But I don’t know if anyone else was feeling that. 

Maybe that was just me. 

Maybe that’s just the way I read it.

The Mothering Blackness – Maya Angelou 

She came home running 

back to the mothering blackness 

deep in the smothering blackness 

white tears icicle gold plains of her face 

She came home running 
She came down creeping 

here to the black arms waiting 

now to the warm heart waiting 

rime of alien dreams befrosts her rich brown face 

She came down creeping 
She came home blameless 

black yet as Hagar’s daughter 

tall as was Sheba’s daughter 

threats of northern winds die on the desert’s face 

She came home blameless

Unharvested –   Robert Frost 

A scent of ripeness from over a wall. 

And come to leave the routine road 

And look for what had made me stall, 

There sure enough was an apple tree 

That had eased itself of its summer load, 

And of all but its trivial foliage free, 

Now breathed as light as a lady’s fan. 

For there had been an apple fall 

As complete as the apple had given man. 

The ground was one circle of solid red. 
May something go always unharvested! 

May much stay out of our stated plan, 

Apples or something forgotten and left, 

So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.

Tree At My Window -Robert Frost 

Tree at my window, window tree, 

My sash is lowered when night comes on; 

But let there never be curtain drawn 

Between you and me. 
Vague dream head lifted out of the ground, 

And thing next most diffuse to cloud, 

Not all your light tongues talking aloud 

Could be profound. 
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed, 

And if you have seen me when I slept, 

You have seen me when I was taken and swept 

And all but lost. 
That day she put our heads together, 

Fate had her imagination about her, 

Your head so much concerned with outer, 

Mine with inner, weather.

Wind And Window Flower – Robert Frost

Lovers, forget your love, 

And list to the love of these, 

She a window flower, 

And he a winter breeze. 

When the frosty window veil 

Was melted down at noon, 

And the cagèd yellow bird 

Hung over her in tune, 

He marked her through the pane, 

He could not help but mark, 

And only passed her by, 

To come again at dark. 

He was a winter wind, 

Concerned with ice and snow, 

Dead weeds and unmated birds, 

And little of love could know. 

But he sighed upon the sill, 

He gave the sash a shake, 

As witness all within 

Who lay that night awake. 

Perchance he half prevailed 

To win her for the flight 

From the firelit looking-glass 

And warm stove-window light. 

But the flower leaned aside 

And thought of naught to say, 

And morning found the breeze 

A hundred miles away.

In Midnight Sleep – Walt Whitman

IN midnight sleep, of many a face of anguish, 

Of the look at first of the mortally wounded–of that indescribable 

look; 

Of the dead on their backs, with arms extended wide, 

I dream, I dream, I dream. 

Of scenes of nature, fields and mountains; 

Of skies, so beauteous after a storm–and at night the moon so 

unearthly bright, 

Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and gather 

the heaps, 

I dream, I dream, I dream. 

Long, long have they pass’d–faces and trenches and fields; 

Where through the carnage I moved with a callous composure–or away 

from the fallen, 

Onward I sped at the time–But now of their forms at night, 

I dream, I dream, I dream. 10

City Of Orgies – Walt Whitman

CITY of orgies, walks and joys! 
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day make 

you illustrious, 

Not the pageants of you–not your shifting tableaux, your spectacles, 

repay me; 

Not the interminable rows of your houses–nor the ships at the 

wharves, 

Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows, with 

goods in them; 

Nor to converse with learn’d persons, or bear my share in the soiree 

or feast; 

Not those–but, as I pass, O Manhattan! your frequent and swift flash 

of eyes offering me love, 

Offering response to my own–these repay me; 

Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.

Poem – A Certain Lady – Dorothy Parker

Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head, 

And drink your rushing words with eager lips, 

And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red, 

And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips. 

When you rehearse your list of loves to me, 

Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed. 

And you laugh back, nor can you ever see 

The thousand little deaths my heart has died. 

And you believe, so well I know my part, 

That I am gay as morning, light as snow, 

And all the straining things within my heart 

You’ll never know. 
Oh, I can laugh and listen, when we meet, 

And you bring tales of fresh adventurings, — 

Of ladies delicately indiscreet, 

Of lingering hands, and gently whispered things. 

And you are pleased with me, and strive anew 

To sing me sagas of your late delights. 

Thus do you want me — marveling, gay, and true, 

Nor do you see my staring eyes of nights. 

And when, in search of novelty, you stray, 

Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go …. 

And what goes on, my love, while you’re away, 

You’ll never know.

Poem – You are such a Fool

You Are Sucha Foolyou are sucha fool/ i haveta love you 

you decide to give me a poem/ intent on it/ actually 

you pull/ kiss me from 125th to 72nd street/ on 

the east side/ no less 

you are sucha fool/ you gonna give me/ the poet/ 

the poem 

insistin on proletarian images/ we buy okra/ 

3 lbs for $1/ & a pair of 98 cent shoes 

we kiss 

we wrestle 

you make sure at east 110 street/ we have cognac 

no beer all day 

you are sucha fool/ you fall over my day like 

a wash of azure 

you take my tongue outta my mouth/ 

make me say foolish things 

you take my tongue outta my mouth/ lay it on yr skin 

like the dew between my legs 

on this the first day of silver balloons 

& lil girl’s braids undone 

friendly savage skulls on bikes/ wish me good-day 

you speak spanish like a german & ask puerto rican 

market men on lexington if they are foreigners 

oh you are sucha fool/ i cant help but love you 

maybe it was something in the air 

our memories 

our first walk 

our first… 

yes/ alla that 

where you poured wine down my throat in rooms 

poets i dreamed abt seduced sound & made history/ 

you make me feel like a cheetah 

a gazelle/ something fast & beautiful 

you make me remember my animal sounds/ 

so while i am an antelope 

ocelot & serpent speaking in tongues 

my body loosens for/ you 

you decide to give me the poem 

you wet yr fingers/ lay it to my lips 

that i might write some more abt you/ 

how you come into me 

the way the blues jumps outta b.b.king/ how 

david murray assaults a moon & takes her home/ 

like dyanne harvey invades the wind 

oh you/ you are sucha fool/ 

you want me to write some more abt you 

how you come into me like a rollercoaster in a 

dip that swings 

leaving me shattered/ glistening/ rich/ screeching 

& fully clothed 

you set me up to fall into yr dreams 

like the sub-saharan animal i am/ in all this heat 

wanting to be still 

to be still with you 

in the shadows 

all those buildings 

all those people/ celebrating/ sunlight & love/ you 

you are sucha fool/ you spend all day piling up images 

locations/ morsels of daydreams/ to give me a poem 

just smile/ i’ll get it

Poem – My Father Is A Retired Magician

 

my father is a retired magician 

which accounts for my irregular behavior 

everythin comes outta magic hats 

or bottles wit no bottoms & parakeets 

are as easy to get as a couple a rabbits 

or 3 fifty cent pieces/ 1958 
my daddy retired from magic & took 

up another trade cuz this friend of mine 

from the 3rd grade asked to be made white 

on the spot 
what cd any self-respectin colored american magician 

do wit such a outlandish request/ cept 

put all them razzamatazz hocus pocus zippity-do-dah 

thingamajigs away cuz 

colored chirren believin in magic 

waz becomin politically dangerous for the race 

& waznt nobody gonna be made white 

on the spot just 

from a clap of my daddy’s hands 
& the reason i’m so peculiar’s 

cuz i been studyin up on my daddy’s technique 

& everythin i do is magic these days 

& it’s very colored 

very now you see it/ now you 

dont mess wit me 

i come from a family of retired 

sorcerers/ active houngans & pennyante fortune tellers 

wit 41 million spirits critturs & celestial bodies 

on our side 

i’ll listen to yr problems 

help wit yr career yr lover yr wanderin spouse 

make yr grandma’s stay in heaven more gratifyin 

ease yr mother thru menopause & show yr son 

how to clean his room 
YES YES YES 3 wishes is all you get 

scarlet ribbons for yr hair 

benwa balls via hong kong 

a miniature of machu picchu 
all things are possible 

but aint no colored magician in her right mind 

gonna make you white 

i mean 

this is blk magic 

you lookin at 

& i’m fixin you up good/ fixin you up good n colored 

& you gonna be colored all yr life 

& you gonna love it/ bein colored/ all yr life/ colored & love it 

love it/ bein colored/ 

Spell #7 from Upnorth-Outwest Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual for Technologically Stressed Third World People

Poem – Nightclub – Billy Collins

You are so beautiful and I am a fool to be in love with you 

is a theme that keeps coming up 

in songs and poems. 

There seems to be no room for variation. 

I have never heard anyone sing 

I am so beautiful 

and you are a fool to be in love with me, 

even though this notion has surely 

crossed the minds of women and men alike. 

You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool 

is another one you don’t hear. 

Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful. 

That one you will never hear, guaranteed. 
For no particular reason this afternoon 

I am listening to Johnny Hartman 

whose dark voice can curl around 

the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness 

like no one else’s can. 

It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette 

someone left burning on a baby grand piano 

around three o’clock in the morning; 

smoke that billows up into the bright lights 

while out there in the darkness 

some of the beautiful fools have gathered 

around little tables to listen, 

some with their eyes closed, 

others leaning forward into the music 

as if it were holding them up, 

or twirling the loose ice in a glass, 

slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream. 
Yes, there is all this foolish beauty, 

borne beyond midnight, 

that has no desire to go home, 

especially now when everyone in the room 

is watching the large man with the tenor sax 

that hangs from his neck like a golden fish. 

He moves forward to the edge of the stage 

and hands the instrument down to me 

and nods that I should play. 

So I put the mouthpiece to my lips 

and blow into it with all my living breath. 

We are all so foolish, 

my long bebop solo begins by saying, 

so damn foolish 

we have become beautiful without even knowing it.

Poem – Bond and Free – Robert Frost

Love has earth to which she clings With hills and circling arms about- 

Wall within wall to shut fear out. 

But Thought has need of no such things, 

For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings. 
On snow and sand and turn, I see 

Where Love has left a printed trace 

With straining in the world’s embrace. 

And such is Love and glad to be 

But Thought has shaken his ankles free. 
Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom 

And sits in Sirius’ disc all night, 

Till day makes him retrace his flight 

With smell of burning on every plume, 

Back past the sun to an earthly room. 
His gains in heaven are what they are. 

Yet some say Love by being thrall 

And simply staying possesses all 

In several beauty that Thought fares far 

To find fused in another star.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost  Mar 26, 1874 - Jan 19, 1963

Robert Frost
Mar 26, 1874 – Jan 19, 1963

Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. A popular and often-quoted poet, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. 
Early years 
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, to journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., and Isabelle Moodie. His mother was of Scottish descent, and his father descended from Nicholas Frost of Tiverton, Devon, England, who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634 on the Wolfrana. 
Frost’s father was a teacher and later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin (which afterwards merged into the San Francisco Examiner), and an unsuccessful candidate for city tax collector. After his father’s death in May 5, 1885, in due time the family moved across the country to Lawrence, Massachusetts under the patronage of (Robert’s grandfather) William Frost, Sr., who was an overseer at a New England mill. Frost graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892. Frost’s mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult. 
Despite his later association with rural life, Frost grew up in the city, and published his first poem in his high school’s magazine. He attended Dartmouth College long enough to be accepted into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. Frost returned home to teach and to work at various jobs including delivering newspapers and factory labor. He did not enjoy these jobs at all, feeling his true calling as a poet. 
Adult years 
In 1894 he sold his first poem, “My Butterfly: An Elegy” (published in the November 8, 1894 edition of the New York Independent) for fifteen dollars. Proud of this accomplishment he proposed marriage to Elinor Miriam White, but she demurred, wanting to finish college (at St. Lawrence University) before they married. Frost then went on an excursion to the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, and asked Elinor again upon his return. Having graduated she agreed, and they were married at Harvard University[citation needed], where he attended liberal arts studies for two years. 
He did well at Harvard, but left to support his growing family. Grandfather Frost had, shortly before his death, purchased a farm for the young couple in Derry, New Hampshire; and Robert worked the farm for nine years, while writing early in the mornings and producing many of the poems that would later become famous. Ultimately his farming proved unsuccessful and he returned to education as an English teacher, at Pinkerton Academy from 1906 to 1911, then at the New Hampshire Normal School (now Plymouth State University) in Plymouth, New Hampshire. 
In 1912 Frost sailed with his family to Great Britain, living first in Glasgow before settling in Beaconsfield outside London. His first book of poetry, A Boy’s Will, was published the next year. In England he made some important acquaintances, including Edward Thomas (a member of the group known as the Dymock Poets), T.E. Hulme, and Ezra Pound. Pound would become the first American to write a (favorable) review of Frost’s work. Surrounded by his peers, Frost wrote some of his best work while in England. 
As World War I began, Frost returned to America in 1915. He bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, where he launched a career of writing, teaching, and lecturing. This family homestead served as the Frosts’ summer home until 1938, and is maintained today as ‘The Frost Place’, a museum and poetry conference site at Franconia. During the years 1916–20, 1923–24, and 1927–1938, Frost taught English at Amherst College, Massachusetts, notably encouraging his students to account for the sounds of the human voice in their writing. 
For forty-two years, from 1921 to 1963, Frost spent almost every summer and fall teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College, at the mountain campus at Ripton, Vermont. He is credited as a major influence upon the development of the school and its writing programs; the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference gained renown during Frost’s tenure there.[citation needed] The college now owns and maintains his former Ripton farmstead as a national historic site near the Bread Loaf campus. In 1921 Frost accepted a fellowship teaching post at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he resided until 1927; while there he was awarded a lifetime appointment at the University as a Fellow in Letters. The Robert Frost Ann Arbor home is now situated at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Frost returned to Amherst in 1927. In 1940 he bought a 5-acre (2.0 ha) plot in South Miami, Florida, naming it Pencil Pines; he spent his winters there for the rest of his life. 
Harvard’s 1965 alumni directory indicates Frost received an honorary degree there. He also received honorary degrees from Bates College and from Oxford and Cambridge universities; and he was the first person to receive two honorary degrees from Dartmouth College. During his lifetime the Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, Virginia, and the main library of Amherst College were named after him. 
Frost was 86 when he spoke and performed a reading of his poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. Some two years later, on January 29, 1963, he died, in Boston, of complications from prostate surgery. He was buried at the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. His epitaph reads, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.” 
Frost’s poems are critiqued in the “Anthology of Modern American Poetry”, Oxford University Press, where it is mentioned that behind a sometimes charmingly familiar and rural façade, Frost’s poetry frequently presents pessimistic and menacing undertones which often are not recognized nor analyzed. 
One of the original collections of Frost materials, to which he himself contributed, is found in the Special Collections department of the Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts. The collection consists of approximately twelve thousand items, including original manuscript poems and letters, correspondence, and photographs, as well as audio and visual recordings

English Poem – Alone With Everybody – Charles Bukowski

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
much
and nobody finds the
one
but keep
looking
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than
flesh.

there’s no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular
fate.

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else
fills.

Charles Bukowski
charles-bukowski

English Poem – All Love is Love – Susan Lacovara

Love the sound of lifted laughter
Love the thought of ever after
Love is love, all love is love

Love the hand that rocks the cradle
Love the working man so stable
Love is love, all love is love

Love the words still unspoken
Love the promise left unbroken
Love is love, all love is love

Love the minstrel, love the maestro
Love the lyrics sung insightful
Love is love, all love is love

Love the vagabond and vagrant
Love the hand picked flowers fragrant
Love is love, all love is love

Love the purity of principle
Love the ideas thought invincible
Love is love, all love is love

Love the poor man void of riches
Love the artist painting pictures
Love is love, all love is love

Love the velvet sky of evening
Love the wandering wounded grieving
Love is love, all love is love

Love the children chasing rainbows
Love the place we hope their pain goes
Love is love, all love is love

Love the two who stand united
Love the vows, in truth, recited
Love is love, all love is love

Love the pleasure and the purpose
Love the lasting three ringed circus
Love is love, all love is love

Love the memories and minutes
Love the life you’re living…in it
Love is love, all love is love

Love the sister and her brother
Love in peace, love one another
Love is love, all love is love

LOVE IS LOVE…ALL LOVE IS LOVE