Thursday, October 28, 2010


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
This is a give away poem...
When my hands are empty
I will be full

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


By A. A. Milne

John had
Great Big
Boots on;
John had a
Great Big
John had a
Great Big
Mackintosh --
And that
(Said John)

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


By Allen Ginsberg         For Carl Solomon 


       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 
       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 
       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 
       who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked 
              and trembling before the machinery of other 
       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- 
       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 
       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 
       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 
       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 
       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 & 
       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 
       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 
       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 
       ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and 
              now you're really in the total animal soup of 
       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 
       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 


       What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open 
              their skulls and ate up their brains and imagi- 
       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 
       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 
       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 


       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 
       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 
       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 
       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 



The Hawaiian Shirt

By Kimiko Hahn

His earliest recollection
was sucking on his mother's breast
and throwing up on his father's Hawaiian shirt.
Years later his father told him
he was bottle-fed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Movement

By Carl Sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
not one lasts.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


By Stephen Dunn

The housework, the factory work, the work
that takes from the body
and does not put back.
The white-collar work and the dirt
of its profits, the terrible politeness
of the office worker, the work that robs
the viscera to pay the cool
surfaces of the brain. All the work
that makes love difficult, brings on
sleep, drops the body off
at the liquor cabinet. All the work
that reaches the intestines and sprawls.
And the compulsive work after the work
is done, those unfillable spaces
of the Calvinist, or certain marriage beds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An American Poem

By Eileen Myles

I was born in Boston in
1949. I never wanted
this fact to be known, in
fact I’ve spent the better
half of my adult life
trying to sweep my early
years under the carpet
and have a life that
was clearly just mine
and independent of
the historic fate of
my family. Can you
imagine what it was
like to be one of them,
to be built like them,
to talk like them
to have the benefits
of being born into such
a wealthy and powerful
American family. I went
to the best schools,
had all kinds of tutors
and trainers, traveled
widely, met the famous,
the controversial, and
the not-so-admirable
and I knew from
a very early age that
if there were every any
possibility of escaping
the collective fate of this famous
Boston family I would
take that route and
I have. I hopped
on an Amtrak to New
York in the early
‘70s and I guess
you could say
my hidden years
began. I thought
Well I’ll be a poet.
What could be more
foolish and obscure.
I became a lesbian.
Every woman in my
family looks like
a dyke but it’s really
stepping off the flag
when you become one.
While holding this ignominious
pose I have seen and
I have learned and
I am beginning to think
there is no escaping
history. A woman I
am currently having
an affair with said
you know you look
like a Kennedy. I felt
the blood rising in my
cheeks. People have
always laughed at
my Boston accent
confusing “large” for
“lodge,” “party”
for “potty.” But
when this unsuspecting
woman invoked for
the first time my
family name
I knew the jig
was up. Yes, I am,
I am a Kennedy.
My attempts to remain
obscure have not served
me well. Starting as
a humble poet I
quickly climbed to the
top of my profession
assuming a position of
leadership and honor.
It is right that a
woman should call
me out now. Yes,
I am a Kennedy.
And I await
your orders.
You are the New Americans.
The homeless are wandering
the streets of our nation’s
greatest city. Homeless
men with AIDS are among
them. Is that right?
That there are no homes
for the homeless, that
there is no free medical
help for these men. And women.
That they get the message
—as they are dying—
that this is not their home?
And how are your
teeth today? Can
you afford to fix them?
How high is your rent?
If art is the highest
and most honest form
of communication of
our times and the young
artist is no longer able
to move here to speak
to her time…Yes, I could,
but that was 15 years ago
and remember—as I must
I am a Kennedy.
Shouldn’t we all be Kennedys?
This nation’s greatest city
is home of the business-
man and home of the
rich artist. People with
beautiful teeth who are not
on the streets. What shall
we do about this dilemma?
Listen, I have been educated.
I have learned about Western
Civilization. Do you know
what the message of Western
Civilization is? I am alone.
Am I alone tonight?
I don’t think so. Am I
the only one with bleeding gums
tonight. Am I the only
homosexual in this room
tonight. Am I the only
one whose friends have
died, are dying now.
And my art can’t
be supported until it is
gigantic, bigger than
everyone else’s, confirming
the audience’s feeling that they are
alone. That they alone
are good, deserved
to buy the tickets
to see this Art.
Are working,
are healthy, should
survive, and are
normal. Are you
normal tonight? Everyone
here, are we all normal.
It is not normal for
me to be a Kennedy.
But I am no longer
ashamed, no longer
alone. I am not
alone tonight because
we are all Kennedys.
And I am your President.

Monday, October 11, 2010

doom and siesta time

By Charles Bukowski

my friend is worried about dying

he lives in Frisco
I live in L.A.

he goes to the gym and
works with the iron and hits
the big bag.

old age diminishes him.

he can't drink because of
his liver.

he can do
50 pushups.

he writes me
telling me
that I'm the only one
who listens to him.

sure, Hal, I answer him
on a postcard.

but I don't want to pay
all those gym fees.

I go to bed
with a liverwurst and
onion sandwich at
one p.m.

after I eat I

with the heli-
copters and vultures
circling over my
sagging mattress.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


By Jack Kerouac

I demand that the human race
ceases multiplying its kind
and bow out
I advise it

And as punishment & reward
for making this plea I know
I’ll be reborn
the last human

Everybody else dead and I’m
an old woman roaming the earth
groaning in caves
sleeping on mats

And sometimes I’ll cackle, sometimes
pray, sometimes cry, eat and cook
at my little stove
in the corner
“Always knew it anyway”
I’ll say
And one morning won’t get up from my mat.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Men Who Should Have Loved Me

By Rae Rose

My history professor - in your adorable
black shirts and that strange click
of your jaw that made you so thirsty.
You said, "A one world Utopia sounds genocidal"
and I almost dropped my pen.
You blushed when you cursed, called my writing a joy
and snuck looks down my cleavage in your office.
Room Q 19, fourth floor.
Your wife grows peppers and keeps chickens.
She asks you to go to the store when you're out of plums.

Saxophone player - all dimple,
all clever smile.
You loved my hair short and curly, drank with me at the bar
and your wife never came to a show,
well, once.
Once she did. In tennis shoes with the laces
untied and huge white tube socks
and I called her "Socks" to feel better about myself,
but it didn't work. You told me about your quiet Halloween,
cuddling and handing candy out to kids
and I can't imagine her like that,
but I'm wrong. I hate that memory. Yours.

Kevin Beck in 1st - 8th grade.
We were the funny redheads.
The first note you wrote to me as an adult
was from jail. You shot a cop.
I stared at the return address. You said you missed me.
Everything was misspelled. There wasn't any punctuation.
I wrote back. You didn't.

The man who called me "Honey." Just that sound! Honey.
You bought me dresses and nachos.
I didn't love you either.
You call me now, back from France
and a mental break down. Your therapist says hi.

Oh Freddie, you idiot.

Published in The Raleigh Review, October 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Life is Fine

By Langston Hughes

I went down to the river,
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn't,
So I jumped in and sank.

I came up once and hollered!
I came up twice and cried!
If that water hadn't a-been so cold
I might've sunk and died.

But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!

I took the elevator
Sixteen floors above the ground.
I thought about my baby
And thought I would jump down.

I stood there and I hollered!
I stood there and I cried!
If it hadn't a-been so high
I might've jumped and died.

But it was High up there! It was high!

So since I'm still here livin',
I guess I will live on.
I could've died for love--
But for livin' I was born

Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry--
I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.

Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!

Original formatting can be viewed here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grieving for Phoebe

I have been watching Phoebe
the California hummingbird
along with four thousand other people on the internet.
She's battled a lizard, a crow, and her own biology and not winning
the battle of late. Her last brood of two would be labeled "failure to thrive"
if the Department of Children and Families paid house visits to birds.
Her most recent eggs are dead –
one discarded from her nest by Phoebe herself
after its stench attracted the lizard
The other one left to finish decomposing in the nest
while she flitted away to mourn.
Do birds grieve? I feel her grief
but perhaps that's just like Elliot feeling E.T.'s grief
in that movie that made me sob,
which my mother is convinced traumatized me,
just one more piece of a mother's guilt.
There are so many reasons to feel guilty and inadequate as parents
and even before we become parents.
Knowing which ones are true is the hardest part.
Her third attempt yielded better results
One egg hatched and the chick fledged without issue
The other hatched but the chick was startled from the nest
By the strong black wings and rawwk rawwk of a crow.
The chick’s whereabouts are unknown
I remain hopeful she is safe
Hopeful for my own eggs.

Previously published in The Houston Literary Review, September 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Hour and What is Dead

By Li-Young Lee

Tonight my brother, in heavy boots, is walking
through bare rooms over my head,
opening and closing doors.
What could he be looking for in an empty house?
What could he possibly need there in heaven?
Does he remember his earth, his birthplace set to torches?
His love for me feels like spilled water
running back to its vessel.

At this hour, what is dead is restless
and what is living is burning.

Someone tell him he should sleep now.

My father keeps a light on by our bed
and readies for our journey.
He mends ten holes in the knees
of five pairs of boy's pants.
His love for me is like sewing:
various colors and too much thread,
the stitching uneven. But the needle pierces
clean through with each stroke of his hand.

At this hour, what is dead is worried
and what is living is fugitive.

Someone tell him he should sleep now.

God, that old furnace, keeps talking
with his mouth of teeth,
a beard stained at feasts, and his breath
of gasoline, airplane, human ash.
His love for me feels like fire,
feels like doves, feels like river-water.

At this hour, what is dead is helpless, kind
and helpless. While the Lord lives.

Someone tell the Lord to leave me alone.
I've had enough of his love
that feels like burning and flight and running away.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clear Snake

By Mary Bowen

Clear snake tie old man to earth.
Clear snake follow up steps and down.

Hiss detached—hiss live in box, hiss hide in box,
Box on ground. Hush Mum! I say,
He keep house always—
Old man’s clear spirit stay to ground.

Death got nothin but the hiss say the box.
Death ain’t nothin but his.

Clear snake slither up his nose.
Clear snake siphon his hot spite.
Clear snake goes and go and no thing will
Put old man to rights.

Hush! Mum say, He still your Daddy.
Hush! box say all day and night.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In Those Years

By Adrienne Rich

In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we, of you
we found ourselves
reduced to I
and the whole thing became silly, ironic, terrible:
we were trying to live a personal life
and yes, that was the only life
we could bear witness to
But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
into our personal weather
They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove
along the shore, through the rags of fog
where we stood, saying I