Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Quitting

By Edward Albert Guest

How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,
And where’er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
Have you ever issued commands to you
To quit the things that you like to do,
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,
Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don’t boast of your grit till you’ve tried it out,
Nor prate to men of your courage stout,
For it’s easy enough to retain a grin
In the face of a fight there’s a chance to win,
But the sort of grit that is good to own
Is the stuff you need when you’re all alone.

How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?
Have you ever tested yourself to know
How far with yourself your will can go?
If you want to know if you have grit,
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It’s bully sport and it’s open fight;
It will keep you busy both day and night;
For the toughest kind of a game you’ll find
Is to make your body obey your mind.
And you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taking Down the Tree

By Jane Kenyon

"Give me some light!" cries Hamlet's
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. "Light! Light!" cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it's dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.

The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother's childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.

With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcases increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.

By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it's darkness
we're having, let it be extravagant.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Five Ways To Kill A Man

By Andre Breton

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
to the top of a hill and nail him to it. To do this
properly you require a crowd of people
wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
to dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
shaped and chased in a traditional way,
and attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
at least two flags, a prince, and a
castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
a mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
more mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
and some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
miles above your victim and dispose of him by
pressing one small switch. All you then
require is an ocean to separate you, two
systems of government, a nation's scientists,
several factories, a psychopath and
land that no-one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
to kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
is to see that he is living somewhere in the middle
of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dragon’s Teeth

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

A headless man is running
down the street
He is carrying his head
in his hands
A woman runs after him
She has his heart
in her hands
The bombs keep falling
sowing hate
And they keep running
down the streets
Not the same two people
but thousands of others & brothers
All running
from the bombs that keep falling
sowing pure hate
And for every bomb that's dropped
up spring a thousand Bin Ladens
a thousand new terrorists
Like dragon's teeth sown
From which armed warriors sprang up
Crying for blood
As the smart bombs sowing hate
Keep falling and falling and falling

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Breakfast

By Minnie Bruce Pratt

Rush hour, and the short order cook lobs breakfast
sandwiches, silverfoil softballs, up and down the line.
We stand until someone says, Yes? The next person behind
breathes hungrily. The cashier's hands never stop. He shouts:
Where's my double double? We help. We eliminate all verbs.
The superfluous want, need, give they already know. Nothing's left
but stay or go, and a few things like bread. No one can stay long,
not even the stolid man in blue-hooded sweats, head down, eating,
his work boots powdered with cement dust like snow that never melts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Hymn to Childhood

By Li-Young Lee

Childhood? Which childhood?
The one that didn’t last?
The one in which you learned to be afraid
of the boarded-up well in the backyard
and the ladder in the attic?

The one presided over by armed men
in ill-fitting uniforms
strolling the streets and alleys,
while loudspeakers declared a new era,
and the house around you grew bigger,
the rooms farther apart, with more and more
people missing?

The photographs whispered to each other
from their frames in the hallway.
The cooking pots said your name
each time you walked past the kitchen.

And you pretended to be dead with your sister
in games of rescue and abandonment.
You learned to lie still so long
the world seemed a play you viewed from the muffled
safety of a wing. Look! In
run the servants screaming, the soldiers shouting,
turning over the furniture,
smashing your mother’s china.

Don’t fall asleep.
Each act opens with your mother
reading a letter that makes her weep.
Each act closes with your father fallen
into the hands of Pharaoh.

Which childhood? The one that never ends? O you,
still a child, and slow to grow.
Still talking to God and thinking the snow
falling is the sound of God listening,
and winter is the high-ceilinged house
where God measures with one eye
an ocean wave in octaves and minutes,
and counts on many fingers
all the ways a child learns to say Me.

Which childhood?
The one from which you’ll never escape? You,
so slow to know
what you know and don’t know.
Still thinking you hear low song
in the wind in the eaves,
story in your breathing,
grief in the heard dove at evening,
and plentitude in the unseen bird
tolling at morning. Still slow to tell
memory from imagination, heaven
from here and now,
hell from here and now,
death from childhood, and both of them
from dreaming.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wildfire

By Tasha Poslaniec

Driving down the bright highway
we pass into a cool shadow
cast by a hill
This catches me just enough
that I glance over
and witness an orange explosion by the fence line
The hill is burning with poppies
We pass back into the sunlight
and my eyes resume their course
of road
and sky

Published by Cherry Blossom Review in December 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sometimes A Man Comes Back From War

like shadow –
himself, but different.
Some kind of science fiction,
Invasion of The Body Snatchers.

Same body, sometimes.
Same eyes – used up,
inkwells that can't be refilled.

His fingers know how to touch wire
and explode, or –
sometimes he comes back,

war stuck to his shoes,
he drags it inside,
right over the welcome mat.

Sometimes his family
huddles like sheep.
Eyes shut so tight

it aches.
We bought him a war,
he sometimes comes back

all shadow,
footsteps like gunfire
up the hall, down the hall.

By Rae Rose

Previously published in Protestpoems, December 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

By W.B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Masters of War

By Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead

Thursday, December 16, 2010

40 Love Letters

By Jeanann Verlee

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Andre,
I saw you kiss her.
I haven’t looked back.

Dear Patrick,
You’re just too young.

Dear Eric,
I said horrible things about
you.
Your teeth are fine,
it’s the rest of you I don’t
like.

Dear Greg,
Thank you for the poem, for
every single scar.

Dear William,
I love you, simple.
I like that we will never be we.

Dear Jay,
The bruises fell off
eventually.

Dear Michael,
I’ll never be enough to fill
the shoes
that will one day stand at
your side.

Dear Ben,
I did read your letters.
All of them.

Dear Freeman,
I’ll never stop looking over
my shoulder,
boots laced, ready to run.

Dear Jon,
I’ll always love you.
You are all there ever was.

Dear Derek,
There was no one thing,
your everything is
impossible.

Dear Eddie,
We are refracting magnets.
We will battle this to the
end.

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Ryan,
I love you, simple.
Sex under the streetlight was
a delicious accident.

Dear Kevin,
Your kiss came too late.
My lips were already dancing
in the other room with Jon.

Dear Ethan,
No.

Dear Joseph,
I said you were too pretty.
They said to try it anyway.
They are fools.

Dear Avery,
You are the definition of unrequited.

Dear Skippy,
I’m sorry about the whiskey
and the tampon.
I’m sorry I never called you.

Dear Nate,
Until you mocked my smile, I
was yours.

Dear Marc,
I like your wife too much.
Is your brother still single?

Dear Mitch,
You were my biggest mistake.
I’m sure that only makes your
smile more sinister.

Dear Allen,
While you poured Guinness for
Patrick,
I pictured you bending me
over the bar.

Dear Graham,
I’d have swallowed that
bullet.

Dear Miguel,
You said a man never forgets
his first redhead.
What color are my eyes?

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Francis,
I’d have broken you in half.

Dear Chris,
I’m sorry I stalked you.
I’d try to forget me, too.

Dear Dex,
I can’t be with you again.
Just accept it.

Dear Dr. Matthews,
No.
I’ll have you fired.
Again.

Dear Aiden,
I wrote a poem about you.
It’s everyone’s favorite.
I find it trite.

Dear Logan,
I think I finally stopped
wanting you.

Dear Cynthia,
I was drunk.
I thought you were, too.

Dear Ricky,
Maybe it was the red dress
or because I was fifteen.
Your brother married my
mother
on the same day I first
touched your cock.
Maybe you’re still a pervert.
Call me.

Dear Jeff,
I was your biggest mistake.

Dear Robert,
You are more than beer and
vomit.
You are more than I could
ever put into a poem.

Dear Dennis,
I still think of you.

Dear Dennis,
I keep your photos in a box.
Each
one, still in its frame.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sugar and Spice

By Laura Gail Grohe

Nice girls kill themselves
rather than their enemies.

Nice girls prefer to swallow the poison themselves
rather than watch their rapists choke on their own bile.

Nice girls know how to make polite conversation
while walking on piles of broken glass,
feet bloodied, but not a hair out of place.
Watch a nice girl, with her lovely measured steps,
her nails are trimmed and perhaps painted pink (never red).
She wears her mother’s brooch over her heart
like a medal for a war she never won nor lost.
Casualties have no sides.

First published by Protest Poems in December 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Song of the Open Road

By Ogden Nash

I think that I shall never see
A billboard as lovely as a tree.
Perhaps unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beauty is the Beast

By Amy Edgington

We are told it lies
no deeper than a woman's skin.
We are told it lives
in someone else's eye.
We starve ourselves and pad our breasts
bleach or burn our skins
curl or straighten our hair
because beauty must be domesticated -
wolves don't worry about their appearance;
there is no Miss Bear contest.

But underneath the clothes
and the attitudes that cage us
something paces, wanting out.
A wild woman longs to strut,
baring every scar and crease and bulge:
She knows her pack would not judge
but read what life has written on her.
They would delight to see how the spirit
spills through her frayed skin,
shining, like electric fur.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

temporary compound

By V. Ji

together
we are a temporary compound
the only instance we might be found
in relationship
is in the dark
in the cracks
in the fault line that began forming
in your concrete immovable life.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Experience

By Carrie Fountain

When I think of everything I’ve wanted
I feel sick. There was this one night in winter
when Jennifer Scanlon and I were driven out
to the desert to be the only girls there
when the boys got drunk and chose
the weakest among themselves to beat the living
shit out of again and again while the night
continued in its airy way to say nothing. Sure, I wanted
to believe violence was a little bell you could ring
and get what you wanted. It seemed to work for those
boys, who’d brought strict order to the evening
using nothing but a few enthusiastic muscles.
Even when he’d begun bleeding from his nose, the boy
stayed. It was an initiation. That’s what he believed.
Thank God time keeps erasing everything in this steady,
impeccable way. Now it’s like I never lived
that life, never had to, sitting on a tailgate
while Jennifer asked for advice on things she’d already done,
watching the stars ferment above, adoring whatever it was
that allowed those boys to throw themselves fists-first
at the world, yell every profanity ever made
into the open ear of the universe. I believed then
that if only they’d get quiet enough, we’d hear
the universe calling back, telling us what to do next.
Of course, if we’d been quiet, we would’ve heard
nothing. And that silence, too, would’ve ruined us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For My Young Friends Who Are Afraid

By William Stafford

There is a country to cross you will
find in the corner of your eye, in
the quick slip of your foot--air far
down, a snap that might have caught.
And maybe for you, for me, a high, passing
voice that finds its way by being
afraid. That country is there, for us,
carried as it is crossed. What you fear
will not go away: it will take you into
yourself and bless you and keep you.
That's the world, and we all live there.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Honorary Jew

By John Repp

The first year, I grated potatoes, chopped onions
& watched. The second year, I fed all but the eggs

into the machine & said I'll do the latkes & did,
my pile of crisp delights borne to the feast by the wife

who baffled me, our books closed, banter hushed,
money useless in the apartment—house, my in-laws called it,

new-wave thump at one end, ganja reek at the other—
in which she'd knelt to tell the no one who listened

no more no no more no a three-year-old mouthing
the essential prayer. The uncle made rich by a song

stacked three & dug in, talking critics & Koch—
everyone crunching now, slathering applesauce, slurping tea—

talking Rabin & Mehitabel, radio & Durrell,
how a song is a poem or it isn't a song

& vice-versa. Done, he pointed a greasy finger
at me, said You can't be a goy. You—I say it

for all to hear—are an honorary Jew!
which, impossible dream, my latkes lived up to

for five more years. Then the wailing.
Then the dust.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Año Nuevo, California

By Eve Lyons

Elephant seals come here twice a year,
once to shed their skins and
once to ensure their legacy.
The rest of the year they roam the oceans alone.
It's not a bad life,
being on their own.
From the first days as a pup
they must learn to swim and
follow the ones who look like
they'll survive forever.
No one teaches them this.
Harbor seals and sea lions play and joke around –
they understand the need for connection.
They don't defy nature
like elephant seals do.
It's not a bad life,
if they can stand the solitude,
the long trip up to the Aleutian Islands
in search of food to break their fast.
It's not a bad life,
this skin they shed.

Published in Concho River Review, December 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just Once

By Anne Sexton

Just once, I knew what life was for.
In Boston, quite suddenly, I understood;
walked there along the Charles River,
watched the lights copying themselves,
all neoned and strobe-hearted, opening
their mouths as wide as opera singers;
counted the stars, my little campaigners,
my scar daisies, and knew that I walked my love
on the night green side of it and cried
my heart to the eastbound cars and cried
my heart to the westbound cars and took
my truth across a small humped bridge
and hurried my truth, the charm of it, home
and hoarded these constants into morning
only to find them gone.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Blessed is the match

By Hannah Senesh 

A blessing on the match that was consumed and kindled flames.
A blessing on the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
A blessing on the hearts that know to stop for the sake of honor.
A blessing on the match that was consumed and kindled flames.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Like the Inner Wall of a House

By Yehuda Amichai

Like the inner wall of a house
that after wars and destruction becomes
an outer one –
that’s how I found myself suddenly,
too soon in life. I’ve almost forgotten what it means
to be inside. It no longer hurts;
I no longer love. Far or near –
they’re both very far from me,
equally far.
I’d never imagined what happens to colors.
The same as with human beings: a bright blue drowses
inside the memory of dark blue and night,
a paleness sighs
out of a crimson dream. A breeze
carries odors from far away
but itself has no odor. The leaves of the squill die
long before its white flower,
which never knows
the greenness of spring and dark love.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. Now I understand
what it means to lift up the eyes, what a heavy burden
it is. But these violent longings, this pain of
never-again-to-be-inside.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Coming of Light

By Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Praise of Their Divorce

By Tony Hoagland

And when I heard about the divorce of my friends,
I couldn't help but be proud of them,

that man and that woman setting off in different directions,
like pilgrims in a proverb

—him to buy his very own toaster oven,
her seeking a prescription for sleeping pills.

Let us keep in mind the hidden forces
which had struggled underground for years

to push their way to the surface—and that finally did,
cracking the crust, moving the plates of earth apart,

releasing the pent-up energy required
for them to rent their own apartments,

for her to join the softball league for single mothers
for him to read  
George the Giraffe over his speakerphone

at bedtime to the six-year-old.

The bible says, Be fruitful and multiply

but is it not also fruitful to subtract and to divide?
Because if marriage is a kind of womb,

divorce is the being born again;
alimony is the placenta one of them will eat;

loneliness is the name of the wet-nurse;
regret is the elementary school;

endurance is the graduation.
So do not say that they are splattered like dropped lasagna

or dead in the head-on collision of clichés
or nailed on the cross of their competing narratives.

What is taken apart is not utterly demolished.
It is like a great mysterious egg in Kansas

that has cracked and hatched two big bewildered birds.
It is two spaceships coming out of retirement,

flying away from their dead world,
the burning booster rocket of divorce
                                 falling off behind them,

the bystanders pointing at the sky and saying, Look. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Untitled

Not knowing
The name of the tree,
I stood in the flood
of its sweet smell.

It is a bit too cold
To be naked
In this stormy wind
Of February.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Map to the Next World

By Joy Harjo
 
In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map
for those who would climb through the hole in the sky.
 
My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged from the killing fields,
from the bedrooms and the kitchens.
 
For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.
 
The map must be of sand and can't be read by ordinary light.
It must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.
 
In the legend are instructions on the language of the land,
how it was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.
 
Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the altars of money.
They best describe the detour from grace.
 
Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; a fog steals our children while we sleep.
 
Flowers of rage spring up in the depression, the monsters are born there of nuclear anger.
 
Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to disappear.
 
We no longer know the names of the birds here,
how to speak to them by their personal names.
 
Once we knew everything in this lush promise.
 
What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the map.
Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us,
leaving a trail of paper diapers, needles and wasted blood.
 
An imperfect map will have to do little one.
 
The place of entry is the sea of your mother's blood,
your father's small death as he longs to know himself in another.
 
There is no exit.
 
The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine --
a spiral on the road of knowledge.
 
You will travel through the membrane of death,
smell cooking from the encampment where our relatives make a feast
of fresh deer meat and corn soup, in the Milky Way.
 
They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.
 
And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world there will be no X,
no guide book with words you can carry.
 
You will have to navigate by your mother's voice, renew the song she is singing.
 
Fresh courage glimmers from planets.
 
And lights the map printed with the blood of history,
a map you will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.
 
When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers
where they entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.
 
You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.
 
A white deer will come to greet you when the last human climbs from the destruction.
 
Remember the hole of our shame marking the act of abandoning our tribal grounds.
 
We were never perfect.
 
Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth
who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.
 
We might make them again, she said.
 
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.
 
You must make your own map.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Her Toolbox

By Martín Espada
For Katherine Gilbert-Espada

The city was new, so new
that she once bought
a set of knives
from the trunk of a car
and saw them rust
after the first rinsing.
She gathered with the tourists
at the marketplace of city souvenirs.
Still, she was a carpenter
for the community center
on Dorchester Avenue,
where men with baseball bats
chased the new immigrants
and even the liberals
rolled up their windows
at a red light.

The car on Dorchester Avenue
trailed behind her one night
as she walked to the subway.
The man talked to her
while he steered, kept taunting
when the car lurched
onto the sidewalk,
trapped her in a triangle
of brick and fender.
He knew her chest was  throbbing,
that was the reason he throbbed too,
stepped from the car.

But the carpenter
unlocked her toolbox
and raised a hammer up
as if a nail protruded
from between his eyebrows,
ready to spike his balsawood forehead.
Oh, the hands like startled pigeons
flying across his face
as he backpedaled to the car
and rolled his window shut.

After the rusting discount knives,
the costly city souvenirs,
the men who gripped the bat
or the steering wheel
to keep her from trembling,
she swung her toolbox walking
down Dorchester Avenue.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quaker Meeting, The Sixties

By Robin Becker

Seeing my friend’s son in his broad-brimmed hat
and suspenders, I think of the Quakers
who lectured us on nonviolent social action
every week when I was a child. In the classrooms
we listened to those who would not take up arms,
who objected, who had accepted alternative
service in distant work camps and showed
slides of hospitals they helped to build.
On Wednesdays, in Meeting for Worship,
when someone rose to speak,
all the energy in the room
flew inside her mouth, empowering her to tell
what she had seen on her brief
encounter with the divine: sometimes, a parable,
a riddle, a kindness. The fall that we were seventeen,
we scuffed our loafers on the gravelly path
from the Meetinghouse, while maple and elm
leaves sailed around our shoulders   
like tiny envelopes, our futures sealed inside.
Despite the war in Vietnam, I felt safer
than I ever would again. Perhaps
those aged, protective trees had cast a spell
on us, or maybe the nonviolent Quaker God
had set up a kingdom right there—
suburban Philadelphia. Looking back, I see how
good deeds and thoughts climbed with us to the attic
room for Latin, descended to the gym for sports,
where we hung from the praiseworthy scaffolds
of righteous behavior. We prepared to leave
for college, armed with the language of the American
Friends and the memories of Thanksgiving
dinners we’d cooked for the unfortunates:
borrowing our parents’ cars to drive
downtown to the drop-off point, racing back
to play our last field hockey match. Grim center forwards
shook hands before the whistle, the half-backs’
knee-pads strapped on tight; one varsity team vanquished another.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Butter

By Elizabeth Alexander

My mother loves butter more than I do,
more than anyone. She pulls chunks off
the stick and eats it plain, explaining
cream spun around into butter! Growing up
we ate turkey cutlets sauteed in lemon
and butter, butter and cheese on green noodles,
butter melting in small pools in the hearts
of Yorkshire puddings, butter better
than gravy staining white rice yellow,
butter glazing corn in slipping squares,
butter the lava in white volcanoes
of hominy grits, butter softening
in a white bowl to be creamed with white
sugar, butter disappearing into
whipped sweet potatoes, with pineapple,
butter melted and curdy to pour
over pancakes, butter licked off the plate
with warm Alaga syrup. When I picture
the good old days I am grinning greasy
with my brother, having watched the tiger
chase his tail and turn to butter. We are
Mumbo and Jumbo’s children despite   
historical revision, despite
our parent’s efforts, glowing from the inside
out, one hundred megawatts of butter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mother to Son

By Langston Hughes

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
Bare.
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nurture

By Maxine Kumin

From a documentary on marsupials I learn
that a pillowcase makes a fine
substitute pouch for an orphaned kangaroo.

I am drawn to such dramas of animal rescue.
They are warm in the throat. I suffer, the critic proclaims,
from an overabundance of maternal genes.

Bring me your fallen fledgling, your bummer lamb,

lead the abused, the starvelings, into my barn.
Advise the hunted deer to leap into my corn.

And had there been a wild child—
filthy and fierce as a ferret, he is called
in one nineteenth-century account—

a wild child to love, it is safe to assume,
given my fireside inked with paw prints,
there would have been room.

Think of the language we two, same and not-same,
might have constructed from sign,
scratch, grimace, grunt, vowel:

Laughter our first noun, and our long verb, howl.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fragile

By Eve Lyons

Ever have one of those days
when the Apocalypse seemed imminent?
Two trains collide, and trapping one driver
until her death. A cop opens fire
on a man in Boston Common
who had only a fake gun on him.
A crane collapses in New York City
killing several people.
You wonder what will happen tomorrow.
The Spurs won't still be playing,
and that's affecting your mood
more than it should. Will the Red Sox
ever win on the road again?
Will the sun be shining? Will your
dinner guests back out
this week as well?
Will the tests come back benign
or will more treatment be needed?
So much uncertainty
So much tragedy
Makes you feel fragile
Makes you feel needy
Makes you feel blessed.

Published in Barbaric Yawp, November 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Psalm III

By Allen Ginsberg


To God: to illuminate all men. Beginning with Skid Road.
Let Occidental and Washington be transformed into a higher place, the plaza of eternity.
Illuminate the welders in shipyards with the brilliance of their torches.
Let the crane operator lift up his arm for joy.
Let elevators creak and speak, ascending and descending in awe.
Let the mercy of the flower’s direction beckon in the eye.
Let the straight flower bespeak its purpose in straightness — to seek the light.
Let the crooked flower bespeak its purpose in crookedness — to seek the light.
Let the crookedness and straightness bespeak the light.
Let Puget Sound be a blast of light.
I feed on your Name like a cockroach on a crumb — this cockroach is holy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Certain Kind of Holy Men

By Alden Nowlan

Not every wino is a Holy Man.
Oh, but some of them are.
I love those who've learned
to sit comfortably
for long periods with their hams
pressed against their calves,
outdoors,
with a wall for a back-rest,
contentedly saying nothing.
These move about only when
necessary,
on foot, and almost always
in pairs.
I think of them as oblates.
Christ's blood is in their veins
or they thirst for it.
They have looked into the eyes
of God,
unprotected by smoked glass.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Afternoon

By Dorothy Parker

When I am old, and comforted,
And done with this desire,
With Memory to share my bed
And Peace to share my fire,

I'll comb my hair in scalloped bands
Beneath my laundered cap,
And watch my cool and fragile hands
Lie light upon my lap.

And I will have a sprigged gown
With lace to kiss my throat;
I'll draw my curtain to the town,
And hum a purring note.

And I'll forget the way of tears,
And rock, and stir my tea.
But oh, I wish those blessed years
Were further than they be!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gift Outright

By Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Continuities

By Walt Whitman

Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form—no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space—ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left from earlier fires,
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Questions

By Harvey Shapiro

The idiot sound of someone's stereo
in the apartment below. The bass thudding
like something caught in a trap.
People live in that racket the way I live
with my questions, the things I don't know.
For example, an image of the successful life,
or what is the good, or how can I get
from here to where I want to be, and where is that.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Ghazal of What Hurt

By Peter Cole

Pain froze you, for years—and fear—leaving scars.
But now, as though miraculously, it seems, here you are

walking easily across the ground, and into town
as though you were floating on air, which in part you are,

or riding a wave of what feels like the world's good will—
though helped along by something foreign and older than you are

and yet much younger too, inside you, and so palpable
an X-ray, you're sure, would show it, within the body you are,

not all that far beneath the skin, and even in
some bones. Making you wonder: Are you what you are—

with all that isn't actually you having flowed
through and settled in you, and made you what you are?

The pain was never replaced, nor was it quite erased.
It's memory now—so you know just how lucky you are.

You didn't always. Were you then? And where's the fear?
Inside your words, like an engine? The car you are?!

Face it, friend, you most exist when you're driven
away, or on—by forms and forces greater than you are.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Five Tasks Taught by Hospice Nurses

By Patrick Clary To my brother

1. Say Goodbye
You called me at work to ask for a loan
And said goodbye as sweetly as if I'd said yes.
I was unhappy, and probably rude.
It was the last time we talked.

2. Express Forgiveness
I forgive you for stepping over the edge,
Wearing a roofer's safety harness
Clipped stylishly to nothing,
Momentary angel over Arizona.

When you were seven
You flew the swing set outside
Our Chilean house through an earthquake
As walls and ceilings collapsed into themselves.
"More, make it do that again!"
Your life was not as short as I feared
Nor as long as I hoped.

3. Request Forgiveness
Forgive me for not lending you the money
To buy that motorcycle,
For not admiring your poetry,
For never taking a photograph of you with my sons.
Forgive me for not wrestling with you into more
Sunsets the summer before I was drafted.
Forgive me for being your imitation angel,
For leaving you with that elephant in the living room.
Forgive me for living.

4. Affirm Affection
I love you
For being obvious about loving me
When I was fifteen and
Thought I couldn't bear to be loved.
You were too young to know better.
You were so alive,
Your death seemed impossible-
If you could die everyone would.

5. Express Gratitude
Thank you for giving me back
My lost family and Montana,
Where we scattered your ashes
According to your instructions:
Up Big Creek Canyon
And on the hundred-year
Flood plain of the Bitterroot.
West Yellowstone burned all the week
Of your death, frosting windshields white in July.
Now, when I visit - and I visit often - I do work I love,
While I stay in a lodge built ten years ago
Of first-growth timber
Salvaged from that fire.

Now I see: living is a kind of slow burning,
And love is what we salvage from the fire.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Poison Tree

By William Blake

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,--

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Friday, November 5, 2010

We Are Those People

By Robinson Jeffers

I have abhorred the wars and despised the liars, laughed at the frightened
And forecast victory; never one moment's doubt.
But now not far, over the backs of some crawling years, the next
Great war's column of dust and fire writhes
Up the sides of the sky: it becomes clear that we too may suffer
What others have, the brutal horror of defeat—
Or if not in the next, then in the next—therefore watch Germany
And read the future. We wish, of course, that our women
Would die like biting rats in the cellars, our men like wolves on the mountain:
It will not be so. Our men will curse, cringe, obey;
Our women uncover themselves to the grinning victors for bits of chocolate

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Enough

By Jeffrey Harrison

It's a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough for you to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you've never said circling inside you.

It's the rising wind that pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
swirling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and rising above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket

By Vachel Lindsay

I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness.
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely.
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.

Man is a curious brute — he pets his fancies —
Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury.
So he will be, tho’ law be clear as crystal,
Tho’ all men plan to live in harmony.

Come, let us vote against our human nature,
Crying to God in all the polling places
To heal our everlasting sinfulness
And make us sages with transfigured faces.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autumn Movement

by Grace Paley

1.
What is sometimes called a
tongue of flame
or an arm extended burning
is only the long
red and orange branch of
a green maple
in early September reaching
into the greenest field
out of the green woods at the
edge of which the birch trees
appear a little tattered tired
of sustaining delicacy
all through the hot summer re-
minding everyone (in
our family) of a Russian
song a story
by Chekhov or my father


2.
What is sometimes called a
tongue of flame
or an arm extended burning
is only the long
red and orange branch of
a green maple
in early September reaching
into the greenest field
out of the green woods at the
edge of which the birch trees
appear a little tattered tired
of sustaining delicacy
all through the hot summer re-
minding everyone (in
our family) of a Russian
song a story by
Chekhov or my father on
his own lawn standing
beside his own wood in
the United States of
America saying (in Russian)
this birch is a lovely
tree but among the others
somehow superficial.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunset at Wellfleet

By Jean Valentine

A spit of sky, awash with Venetian gold
Hangs over the Congregational bell-tower, where
Last night the Northern Lights sifted their fire,
Shot through with the airless dark, romantic and cold.
The sun doesn’t move, but suddenly is gone,
The cloudy tide goes out, and leaves a ring.
Easy to die: we knew it all along:
Knee-high to the dark as of old:
Thee words I tell you smoking in my eye:
The tree-frog is the tree-frog. The sky is the sky,
The rattling bay runs night and day I, I, I
Over and over, turning on itself: there,
Where it curls on emptiness: there I sing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Untitled

By Chrystos

This is a give-away poem
I want to give you the first daffodil opening from the earth I have sown
To give you warm loaves of bread baked in soft mounds like breasts...
I have wrapped your face around me, a warm robe
I give you blankets woven of flowers and roots
Come closer
I have more to give
this basket is very large
I have stitched it out of your kind words...
This basket is only the beginning...
Within this basket is something you have been looking for all of your life
Come take it
Take as much as you want
I give you seeds of a new way
I give you the moon shining on a fire of singing women
I give you the sound of our feet dancing
I gve you the sound of our thoughts flying
I give you the sound of peace moving into our faces and sitting down
Come
This is a give away poem...
When my hands are empty
I will be full

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happiness

By A. A. Milne

John had
Great Big
Waterproof
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
Waterproof
Hat;
John had a
Great Big
Waterproof
Mackintosh --
And that
(Said John)
Is
That.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

your revolution

By Sarah Jones

dedicated to all the women and men struggling to keep their self respect in
this climate of misogyny, money-worship, and mass production of hip-hop’s
illegitimate child, “hip-pop”; and especially to Gil Scott-Heron, friend,
living legend and proto-rapper, who wrote The Revolution Will Not Be
Televised and continues to inspire me.


your revolution will not happen between these thighs
your revolution will not happen between these thighs

the real revolution
ain't about booty size
the Versaces you buys
or the Lexus you drives

and though we've lost Biggie Smalls
your Notorious revolution
will never allow you to lace no lyrical douche in my bush
your revolution will not be you killing me softly with Fugees
your revolution won’t knock me up and produce li’l future MCs
because that revolution will not happen between these thighs

your revolution
will not find me in the
backseat of a Jeep with LL
hard as hell
doin' it & doin' it & doin' it well

your revolution will not be you
smackin' it up, flippin' it, or rubbin' it down
nor will it take you downtown or humpin' around
because that revolution will not happen between these thighs

your revolution will not have me singing
ain't no nigger like the one I got
your revolution will not have me singing
ain't no nigger like the one I got
your revolution will not be you
sending me for no VD shot

your revolution will not involve me feeling your nature rise
or helping you fantasize
because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
and no, my Jamaican brother, your revolution
will not make me feel bombastic and really fantastic
have you groping in the dark for that rubber wrapped in plastic

you will not be touching your lips to my triple dip of
french vanilla butter pecan chocolate deluxe
or having Akinyele's dream
a six-foot blowjob machine

you wanna subjugate your “queen”
think I should put it in my mouth
just ‘cause you made a few bucks

your revolution will not be me tossing my weave
making believe I'm some caviar-eating, ghetto mafia clown
or me givin’ up my behind just so I can get signed
have someone else write my rhymes?
I'm Sarah Jones, not Foxy Brown
your revolution makes me wonder, where could we go
if we could drop the empty pursuit of props and the ego
revolt back to our Roots, use a little Common sense on a Quest
to make love De La Soul, no pretense . . . but

your revolution will not be you flexing your little sex and status
to express what you “feel”
your revolution will not happen between these thighs
will not happen between these thighs
will not be you shaking and me faking between these thighs
because the revolution, when it finally comes, is gon’ be real

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Piute Creek

By Gary Snyder

One granite ridge
A tree, would be enough
Or even a rock, a small creek,
A bark shred in a pool.
Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted
Tough trees crammed
In thin stone fractures
A huge moon on it all, is too much.
The mind wanders. A million
Summers, night air still and the rocks
Warm. Sky over endless mountains.
All the junk that goes with being human
Drops away, hard rock wavers
Even the heavy present seems to fail
This bubble of a heart.
Words and books
Like a small creek off a high ledge
Gone in the dry air.

A clear, attentive mind
Has no meaning but that
Which sees is truly seen.
No one loves rock, yet we are here.
Night chills. A flick
In the moonlight
Slips into Juniper shadow:
Back there unseen
Cold proud eyes
Of Cougar or Coyote
Watch me rise and go.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blessed Be The Truth-Tellers

By Martín Espada
For Jack Agüeros

In the projects of Brooklyn, everyone lied.
My mother used to say:
If somebody starts a fight,
just walk away.

Then somebody would smack
the back of my head
and dance around me in a circle, laughing.

When I was twelve, pus bubbled
on my tonsils, and everyone said:
After the operation, you can have
all the ice cream you want.
I bragged about the deal;
no longer would I chase the ice cream truck
down the street, panting at the bells
to catch Johnny the ice cream man,
who allegedly sold heroin the color of vanilla
from the same window.

Then Jack the Truth-Teller visited the projects,
Jack who herded real camels and sheep
through the snow of East Harlem every Three Kings’ Day,
Jack who wrote sonnets of the jail cell
and the racetrack and the boxing ring,
Jack who crossed his arms in a hunger strike
until the mayor hired more Puerto Ricans.

And Jack said:
You gonna get your tonsils out?
Ay bendito cuchifrito Puerto Rico.
That’s gonna hurt.


I was etherized,
then woke up on the ward
heaving black water onto white sheets.
A man poking through his hospital gown
leaned over me and sneered:
You think you got it tough? Look at this!
and showed me the cauliflower tumor
behind his ear. I heaved up black water again.

The ice cream burned.
Vanilla was a snowball spiked with bits of glass.
My throat was red as a tunnel on fire
after the head-on collision of two gasoline trucks.

This is how I learned to trust
the poets and shepherds of East Harlem.
Blessed be the Truth-Tellers,
for they shall have all the ice cream they want.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Notes from the Other Side

By Jane Kenyon

I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.

Now there is no more catching
one's own eye in the mirror,

there are no bad books, no plastic,
no insurance premiums, and of course

no illness. Contrition
does not exist, nor gnashing

of teeth. No one howls as the first
clod of earth hits the casket.

The poor we no longer have with us.
Our calm hearts strike only the hour,

and God, as promised, proves
to be mercy clothed in light.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If the drum is a woman

By Jayne Cortez

why are you pounding your drum into an insane babble
why are you pistol-whipping your drum at dawn-
why are you shooting through the head of your drum
and making a drum tragedy of drums
if the drum is a woman
don’t abuse your drum don’t abuse your drum
don’t abuse your drum
I know the night is full of displaced persons
I see skins striped with flames
I know the ugly dispositions of underpaid clerks
they constantly menstruate through the eyes
I know bitterness embedded in flesh
the itching alone can drive you crazy
I know that this is America
and chickens are coming home to roost
on the MX missileBut if the drum is a woman
why are you choking your drum
why are you raping your drum
why are you saying disrespectful things
to your mother drum your sister drum
your wife drum and your infant daughter drum
if the drum is a woman
then understand your drum
your drum is not docile
your drum is not invisible
your drum is not inferior to you
your drum is a woman
so don’t reject your drumdon’t try to dominate your drum
don’t become weak and cold and desert your drum
don’t be forced into the position as an oppressor of drums
and make a drum tragedy of drums
if the drum is a woman
don’t abuse your drum, don’t abuse your drum
don’t abuse your drum

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Howl


By Allen Ginsberg         For Carl Solomon 

                           I 

       I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by 
              madness, starving hysterical naked, 
       dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn 
              looking for an angry fix, 
       angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly 
              connection to the starry dynamo in the machin- 
              ery of night, 
       who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat 
              up smoking in the supernatural darkness of 
              cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities 
              contemplating jazz, 
       who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and 
              saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- 
              ment roofs illuminated, 
       who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes 
              hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy 
              among the scholars of war, 
       who were expelled from the academies for crazy & 
              publishing obscene odes on the windows of the 
              skull, 
       who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- 
              ing their money in wastebaskets and listening 
              to the Terror through the wall, 
       who got busted in their pubic beards returning through 
              Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York, 
       who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in 
              Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their 
              torsos night after night 
       with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, al- 
              cohol and cock and endless balls, 
       incomparable blind; streets of shuddering cloud and 
              lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of 
              Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the mo- 
              tionless world of Time between, 
       Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery 
              dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, 
              storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon 
              blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree 
              vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brook- 
              lyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind, 
       who chained themselves to subways for the endless 
              ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine 
              until the noise of wheels and children brought 
              them down shuddering mouth-wracked and 
              battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance 
              in the drear light of Zoo, 
       who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's 
              floated out and sat through the stale beer after 
              noon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack 
              of doom on the hydrogen jukebox, 
       who talked continuously seventy hours from park to 
              pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brook- 
              lyn Bridge, 
       lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping 
              down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills 
              off Empire State out of the moon, 
       yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts 
              and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks 
              and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars, 
       whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days 
              and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the 
              Synagogue cast on the pavement, 
       who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a 
              trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic 
              City Hall, 
       suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grind- 
              ings and migraines of China under junk-with- 
              drawal in Newark's bleak furnished room, 
       who wandered around and around at midnight in the 
              railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, 
              leaving no broken hearts, 
       who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing 
              through snow toward lonesome farms in grand- 
              father night, 
       who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telep- 
              athy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos in- 
              stinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas, 
       who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking vis- 
              ionary indian angels who were visionary indian 
              angels, 
       who thought they were only mad when Baltimore 
              gleamed in supernatural ecstasy, 
       who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Okla- 
              homa on the impulse of winter midnight street 
              light smalltown rain, 
       who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston 
              seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the 
              brilliant Spaniard to converse about America 
              and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship 
              to Africa, 
       who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving 
              behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees 
              and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fire 
              place Chicago, 
       who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the 
              F.B.I. in beards and shorts with big pacifist 
              eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incom- 
              prehensible leaflets, 
       who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting 
              the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, 
       who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union 
              Square weeping and undressing while the sirens 
              of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed 
              down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also 
              wailed, 
       who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked 
              and trembling before the machinery of other 
              skeletons, 
       who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight 
              in policecars for committing no crime but their 
              own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication, 
       who howled on their knees in the subway and were 
              dragged off the roof waving genitals and manu- 
              scripts, 
       who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly 
              motorcyclists, and screamed with joy, 
       who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, 
              the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean 
              love, 
       who balled in the morning in the evenings in rose 
              gardens and the grass of public parks and 
              cemeteries scattering their semen freely to 
              whomever come who may, 
       who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up 
              with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath 
              when the blond & naked angel came to pierce 
              them with a sword, 
       who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate 
              the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar 
              the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb 
              and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but 
              sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden 
              threads of the craftsman's loom, 
       who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of 
              beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a can- 
              dle and fell off the bed, and continued along 
              the floor and down the hall and ended fainting 
              on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and 
              come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness, 
       who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling 
              in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning 
              but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sun 
              rise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked 
              in the lake, 
       who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad 
              stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these 
              poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver-joy 
              to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls 
              in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' 
              rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with 
              gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely pet- 
              ticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station 
              solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too, 
       who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in 
              dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and 
              picked themselves up out of basements hung 
              over with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third 
              Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemploy- 
              ment offices, 
       who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on 
              the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the 
              East River to open to a room full of steamheat 
              and opium, 
       who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment 
              cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime 
              blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall 
              be crowned with laurel in oblivion, 
       who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested 
              the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of 
              Bowery, 
       who wept at the romance of the streets with their 
              pushcarts full of onions and bad music, 
       who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the 
              bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in 
              their lofts, 
       who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned 
              with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded 
              by orange crates of theology, 
       who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty 
              incantations which in the yellow morning were 
              stanzas of gibberish, 
       who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht 
              & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable 
              kingdom, 
       who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for 
              an egg, 
       who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot 
              for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks 
              fell on their heads every day for the next decade, 
       who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccess- 
              fully, gave up and were forced to open antique 
              stores where they thought they were growing 
              old and cried, 
       who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits 
              on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse 
              & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments 
              of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the 
              fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinis- 
              ter intelligent editors, or were run down by the 
              drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality, 
       who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually hap- 
              pened and walked away unknown and forgotten 
              into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alley 
              ways & firetrucks, not even one free beer, 
       who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of 
              the subway window, jumped in the filthy Pas- 
              saic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, 
              danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed 
              phonograph records of nostalgic European 
              1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and 
              threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans 
              in their ears and the blast of colossal steam 
              whistles, 
       who barreled down the highways of the past journeying 
              to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude 
              watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation, 
       who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out 
              if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had 
              a vision to find out Eternity, 
       who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who 
              came back to Denver & waited in vain, who 
              watched over Denver & brooded & loned in 
              Denver and finally went away to find out the 
              Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes, 
       who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying 
              for each other's salvation and light and breasts, 
              until the soul illuminated its hair for a second, 
       who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for 
              impossible criminals with golden heads and the 
              charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet 
              blues to Alcatraz, 
       who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky 
              Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys 
              or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or 
              Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the 
              daisychain or grave, 
       who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hyp 
              notism & were left with their insanity & their 
              hands & a hung jury, 
       who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism 
              and subsequently presented themselves on the 
              granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads 
              and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding in- 
              stantaneous lobotomy, 
       and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin 
              Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psycho- 
              therapy occupational therapy pingpong & 
              amnesia, 
       who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic 
              pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia, 
       returning years later truly bald except for a wig of 
              blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible mad 
              man doom of the wards of the madtowns of the 
              East, 
       Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid 
              halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rock- 
              ing and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench 
              dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a night- 
              mare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the 
              moon, 
       with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book 
              flung out of the tenement window, and the last 
              door closed at 4. A.M. and the last telephone 
              slammed at the wall in reply and the last fur- 
              nished room emptied down to the last piece of 
              mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted 
              on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that 
              imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of 
              hallucination 
       ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and 
              now you're really in the total animal soup of 
              time 
       and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed 
              with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use 
              of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat- 
              ing plane, 
       who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space 
              through images juxtaposed, and trapped the 
              archangel of the soul between 2 visual images 
              and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun 
              and dash of consciousness together jumping 
              with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna 
              Deus 
       to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human 
              prose and stand before you speechless and intel- 
              ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con- 
              fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm 
              of thought in his naked and endless head, 
       the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, 
              yet putting down here what might be left to say 
              in time come after death, 
       and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in 
              the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the 
              suffering of America's naked mind for love into 
              an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone 
              cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio 
       with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered 
              out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand 
              years. 

                           II 

       What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open 
              their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- 
              nation? 
       Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unob 
              tainable dollars! Children screaming under the 
              stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men 
              weeping in the parks! 
       Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the 
              loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy 
              judger of men! 
       Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the 
              crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of 
              sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! 
              Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stun- 
              ned governments! 
       Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose 
              blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers 
              are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a canni- 
              bal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking 
              tomb! 
       Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! 
              Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long 
              streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose fac- 
              tories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose 
              smokestacks and antennae crown the cities! 
       Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch 
              whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch 
              whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch 
              whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! 
              Moloch whose name is the Mind! 
       Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream 
              Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in 
              Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch! 
       Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom 
              I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch 
              who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! 
              Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! 
              Light streaming out of the sky! 
       Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! 
              skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic 
              industries! spectral nations! invincible mad 
              houses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs! 
       They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pave- 
              ments, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to 
              Heaven which exists and is everywhere about 
              us! 
       Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! 
              gone down the American river! 
       Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole 
              boatload of sensitive bullshit! 
       Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! 
              gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! De- 
              spairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides! 
              Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on 
              the rocks of Time! 
       Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the 
              wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! 
              They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! 
              carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the 
              street! 

                           III

       Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you're madder than I am 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you must feel very strange 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you imitate the shade of my mother 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you've murdered your twelve secretaries 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you laugh at this invisible humor 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where we are great writers on the same dreadful 
              typewriter 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where your condition has become serious and 
              is reported on the radio 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where the faculties of the skull no longer admit 
              the worms of the senses 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you drink the tea of the breasts of the 
              spinsters of Utica 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the 
              harpies of the Bronx 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you scream in a straightjacket that you're 
              losing the game of the actual pingpong of the 
              abyss 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul 
              is innocent and immortal it should never die 
              ungodly in an armed madhouse 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where fifty more shocks will never return your 
              soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a 
              cross in the void 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you accuse your doctors of insanity and 
              plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the 
              fascist national Golgotha 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where you will split the heavens of Long Island 
              and resurrect your living human Jesus from the 
              superhuman tomb 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where there are twenty-five-thousand mad com- 
              rades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where we hug and kiss the United States under 
              our bedsheets the United States that coughs all 
              night and won't let us sleep 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              where we wake up electrified out of the coma 
              by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the 
              roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the 
              hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls col- 
              lapse O skinny legions run outside O starry 
              spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is 
              here O victory forget your underwear we're 
              free 
       I'm with you in Rockland 
              in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea- 
              journey on the highway across America in tears 
              to the door of my cottage in the Western night 

                                


        

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