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Best Famous C K Williams Poems

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Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

A Celebration

 A middle-northern March, now as always— 
gusts from the South broken against cold winds— 
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide, 
it moves—not into April—into a second March, 

the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping 
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree 
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.
So we will put on our pink felt hat—new last year! —newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back the seasons—and let us walk to the orchid-house, see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow at the Palace.
Stop here, these are our oleanders.
When they are in bloom— You would waste words It is clearer to me than if the pink were on the branch.
It would be a searching in a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless, shows the very reason for their being.
And these the orange-trees, in blossom—no need to tell with this weight of perfume in the air.
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better see the white.
It is that very perfume has drawn the darkness down among the leaves.
Do I speak clearly enough? It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings— not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion of a sigh.
A too heavy sweetness proves its own caretaker.
And here are the orchids! Never having seen such gaiety I will read these flowers for you: This is an odd January, died—in Villon's time.
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom.
And this, a certain July from Iceland: a young woman of that place breathed it toward the South.
It took root there.
The color ran true but the plant is small.
This falling spray of snow-flakes is a handful of dead Februaries prayed into flower by Rafael Arevalo Martinez of Guatemala.
Here's that old friend who went by my side so many years: this full, fragile head of veined lavender.
Oh that April that we first went with our stiff lusts leaving the city behind, out to the green hill— May, they said she was.
A hand for all of us: this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem.
June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August the over-heavy one.
And here are— russet and shiny, all but March.
And March? Ah, March— Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
One has a wish to shake them from their pots root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.
Walk out again into the cold and saunter home to the fire.
This day has blossomed long enough.
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze instead which will at least warm our hands and stir up the talk.
I think we have kept fair time.
Time is a green orchard.
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

A Sort Of A Song

 Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
—through metaphor to reconcile the people and the stones.
(No ideas but in things) Invent! Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks.
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

To Elsie

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

or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and

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

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

and young slatterns, bathed
in filth
from Monday to Saturday

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

peasant traditions to give them
but flutter and flaunt

sheer rags-succumbing without
save numbed terror

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

Unless it be that marriage
with a dash of Indian blood

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

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

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

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

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

addressed to cheap
and rich young men with fine eyes

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

and we degraded prisoners
to hunger until we eat filth

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

the stifling heat of September
it seems to destroy us

It is only in isolate flecks that
is given off

No one
to witness
and adjust, no one to drive the car
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

Poem (As the cat)

 As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down
into the pit of
the empty
Written by C K Williams | Create an image from this poem


 I was walking home down a hill near our house 
 on a balmy afternoon
under the blossoms
Of the pear trees that go flamboyantly mad here 
 every spring with
their burgeoning forth

When a young man turned in from a corner singing 
 no it was more of
a cadenced shouting
Most of which I couldn't catch I thought because 
 the young man was
black speaking black

It didn't matter I could tell he was making his 
 song up which pleased 
me he was nice-looking
Husky dressed in some style of big pants obviously 
 full of himself
hence his lyrical flowing over

We went along in the same direction then he noticed 
 me there almost
beside him and "Big"
He shouted-sang "Big" and I thought how droll 
 to have my height
incorporated in his song

So I smiled but the face of the young man showed nothing 
 he looked
in fact pointedly away
And his song changed "I'm not a nice person"
 he chanted "I'm not
I'm not a nice person"

No menace was meant I gathered no particular threat
 but he did want
to be certain I knew
That if my smile implied I conceived of anything like concord
between us I should forget it

That's all nothing else happened his song became 
 indecipherable to
me again he arrived
Where he was going a house where a girl in braids 
 waited for him on
the porch that was all

No one saw no one heard all the unasked and 
 unanswered questions
were left where they were
It occurred to me to sing back "I'm not a nice 
 person either" but I
couldn't come up with a tune

Besides I wouldn't have meant it nor he have believed 
 it both of us
knew just where we were
In the duet we composed the equation we made 
 the conventions to
which we were condemned

Sometimes it feels even when no one is there that 
 someone something
is watching and listening
Someone to rectify redo remake this time again though 
 no one saw nor
heard no one was there
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

April Is The Saddest Month

 There they were
dog and bitch
halving the compass

Then when with his yip
they parted
oh how frolicsome

she grew before him
dancing and
how disconsolate

he retreated
she following
through the shrubbery
Written by C K Williams | Create an image from this poem


 The first morning of Three Mile Island: those first disquieting, uncertain, 
mystifying hours.
All morning a crew of workmen have been tearing the old decrepit roof off our building, and all morning, trying to distract myself, I've been wandering out to watch them as they hack away the leaden layers of asbestos paper and disassemble the disintegrating drains.
After half a night of listening to the news, wondering how to know a hundred miles downwind if and when to make a run for it and where, then a coming bolt awake at seven when the roofers we've been waiting for since winter sent their ladders shrieking up our wall, we still know less than nothing: the utility company continues making little of the accident, the slick federal spokesmen still have their evasions in some semblance of order.
Surely we suspect now we're being lied to, but in the meantime, there are the roofers, setting winch-frames, sledging rounds of tar apart, and there I am, on the curb across, gawking.
I never realized what brutal work it is, how matter-of-factly and harrow- ingly dangerous.
The ladders flex and quiver, things skid from the edge, the materials are bulky and recalcitrant.
When the rusty, antique nails are levered out, their heads pull off; the underroofing crumbles.
Even the battered little furnace, roaring along as patient as a donkey, chokes and clogs, a dense, malignant smoke shoots up, and someone has to fiddle with a cock, then hammer it, before the gush and stench will deintensify, the dark, Dantean broth wearily subside.
In its crucible, the stuff looks bland, like licorice, spill it, though, on your boots or coveralls, it sears, and everything is permeated with it, the furnace gunked with burst and half-burst bubbles, the men themselves so completely slashed and mucked they seem almost from another realm, like trolls.
When they take their break, they leave their brooms standing at attention in the asphalt pails, work gloves clinging like Br'er Rabbit to the bitten shafts, and they slouch along the precipitous lip, the enormous sky behind them, the heavy noontime air alive with shim- mers and mirages.
Sometime in the afternoon I had to go inside: the advent of our vigil was upon us.
However much we didn't want to, however little we would do about it, we'd understood: we were going to perish of all this, if not now, then soon, if not soon, then someday.
Someday, some final generation, hysterically aswarm beneath an at- mosphere as unrelenting as rock, would rue us all, anathematize our earthly comforts, curse our surfeits and submissions.
I think I know, though I might rather not, why my roofers stay so clear to me and why the rest, the terror of that time, the reflexive disbelief and distancing, all we should hold on to, dims so.
I remember the president in his absurd protective booties, looking absolutely unafraid, the fool.
I remember a woman on the front page glaring across the misty Sus- quehanna at those looming stacks.
But, more vividly, the men, silvered with glitter from the shingles, cling- ing like starlings beneath the eaves.
Even the leftover carats of tar in the gutter, so black they seemed to suck the light out of the air.
By nightfall kids had come across them: every sidewalk on the block was scribbled with obscenities and hearts.
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

The Ivy Crown

 The whole process is a lie,
 crowned by excess,
It break forcefully,
 one way or another,
 from its confinement—
or find a deeper well.
Antony and Cleopatra were right; they have shown the way.
I love you or I do not live at all.
Daffodil time is past.
This is summer, summer! the heart says, and not even the full of it.
No doubts are permitted— though they will come and may before our time overwhelm us.
We are only mortal but being mortal can defy our fate.
We may by an outside chance even win! We do not look to see jonquils and violets come again but there are, still, the roses! Romance has no part in it.
The business of love is cruelty which, by our wills, we transform to live together.
It has its seasons, for and against, whatever the heart fumbles in the dark to assert toward the end of May.
Just as the nature of briars is to tear flesh, I have proceeded through them.
Keep the briars out, they say.
You cannot live and keep free of briars.
Children pick flowers.
Let them.
Though having them in hand they have no further use for them but leave them crumpled at the curb's edge.
At our age the imagination across the sorry facts lifts us to make roses stand before thorns.
Sure love is cruel and selfish and totally obtuse— at least, blinded by the light, young love is.
But we are older, I to love and you to be loved, we have, no matter how, by our wills survived to keep the jeweled prize always at our finger tips.
We will it so and so it is past all accident.
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

from Asphodel That Greeny Flower

 Of asphodel, that greeny flower,
 like a buttercup
 upon its branching stem-
save that it's green and wooden-
 I come, my sweet,
 to sing to you.
We lived long together a life filled, if you will, with flowers.
So that I was cheered when I came first to know that there were flowers also in hell.
Today I'm filled with the fading memory of those flowers that we both loved, even to this poor colorless thing- I saw it when I was a child- little prized among the living but the dead see, asking among themselves: What do I remember that was shaped as this thing is shaped? while our eyes fill with tears.
Of love, abiding love it will be telling though too weak a wash of crimson colors it to make it wholly credible.
There is something something urgent I have to say to you and you alone but it must wait while I drink in the joy of your approach, perhaps for the last time.
And so with fear in my heart I drag it out and keep on talking for I dare not stop.
Listen while I talk on against time.
It will not be for long.
I have forgot and yet I see clearly enough something central to the sky which ranges round it.
An odor springs from it! A sweetest odor! Honeysuckle! And now there comes the buzzing of a bee! and a whole flood of sister memories! Only give me time, time to recall them before I shall speak out.
Give me time, time.
When I was a boy I kept a book to which, from time to time, I added pressed flowers until, after a time, I had a good collection.
The asphodel, forebodingly, among them.
I bring you, reawakened, a memory of those flowers.
They were sweet when I pressed them and retained something of their sweetness a long time.
It is a curious odor, a moral odor, that brings me near to you.
The color was the first to go.
There had come to me a challenge, your dear self, mortal as I was, the lily's throat to the hummingbird! Endless wealth, I thought, held out its arms to me.
A thousand tropics in an apple blossom.
The generous earth itself gave us lief.
The whole world became my garden! But the sea which no one tends is also a garden when the sun strikes it and the waves are wakened.
I have seen it and so have you when it puts all flowers to shame.
Too, there are the starfish stiffened by the sun and other sea wrack and weeds.
We knew that along with the rest of it for we were born by the sea, knew its rose hedges to the very water's brink.
There the pink mallow grows and in their season strawberries and there, later, we went to gather the wild plum.
I cannot say that I have gone to hell for your love but often found myself there in your pursuit.
I do not like it and wanted to be in heaven.
Hear me out.
Do not turn away.
I have learned much in my life from books and out of them about love.
Death is not the end of it.
There is a hierarchy which can be attained, I think, in its service.
Its guerdon is a fairy flower; a cat of twenty lives.
If no one came to try it the world would be the loser.
It has been for you and me as one who watches a storm come in over the water.
We have stood from year to year before the spectacle of our lives with joined hands.
The storm unfolds.
Lightning plays about the edges of the clouds.
The sky to the north is placid, blue in the afterglow as the storm piles up.
It is a flower that will soon reach the apex of its bloom.
We danced, in our minds, and read a book together.
You remember? It was a serious book.
And so books entered our lives.
The sea! The sea! Always when I think of the sea there comes to mind the Iliad and Helen's public fault that bred it.
Were it not for that there would have been no poem but the world if we had remembered, those crimson petals spilled among the stones, would have called it simply murder.
The sexual orchid that bloomed then sending so many disinterested men to their graves has left its memory to a race of fools or heroes if silence is a virtue.
The sea alone with its multiplicity holds any hope.
The storm has proven abortive but we remain after the thoughts it roused to re-cement our lives.
It is the mind the mind that must be cured short of death's intervention, and the will becomes again a garden.
The poem is complex and the place made in our lives for the poem.
Silence can be complex too, but you do not get far with silence.
Begin again.
It is like Homer's catalogue of ships: it fills up the time.
I speak in figures, well enough, the dresses you wear are figures also, we could not meet otherwise.
When I speak of flowers it is to recall that at one time we were young.
All women are not Helen, I know that, but have Helen in their hearts.
My sweet, you have it also, therefore I love you and could not love you otherwise.
Imagine you saw a field made up of women all silver-white.
What should you do but love them? The storm bursts or fades! it is not the end of the world.
Love is something else, or so I thought it, a garden which expands, though I knew you as a woman and never thought otherwise, until the whole sea has been taken up and all its gardens.
It was the love of love, the love that swallows up all else, a grateful love, a love of nature, of people, of animals, a love engendering gentleness and goodness that moved me and that I saw in you.
I should have known, though I did not, that the lily-of-the-valley is a flower makes many ill who whiff it.
We had our children, rivals in the general onslaught.
I put them aside though I cared for them.
as well as any man could care for his children according to my lights.
You understand I had to meet you after the event and have still to meet you.
Love to which you too shall bow along with me- a flower a weakest flower shall be our trust and not because we are too feeble to do otherwise but because at the height of my power I risked what I had to do, therefore to prove that we love each other while my very bones sweated that I could not cry to you in the act.
Of asphodel, that greeny flower, I come, my sweet, to sing to you! My heart rouses thinking to bring you news of something that concerns you and concerns many men.
Look at what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in despised poems.
It is difficult to get the news from poems yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.
Hear me out for I too am concerned and every man who wants to die at peace in his bed besides.
Written by John Williams | Create an image from this poem

A Benediction Of The Air

 In every presence there is absence.
When we're together, the spaces between Threaten to enclose our bodies And isolate our spirits.
The mirror reflects what we are not, And we wonder if our mate Suspects a fatal misreading Of our original text, Not to mention the dreaded subtext.
Reality, we fear, mocks appearance.
Or is trapped in a hall of mirrors Where infinite regress prevents A grateful egress.
That is, We can never know the meaning Of being two-in-one, Or if we are one-in-two.
What-I-Am is grieved at What-I'm-Not.
What-We-Should-Be is numbed by What-We-Are.
Yes, I'm playing word games With the idea of marriage, Musing over how even we can Secularize Holy wedlock.
Or to figure it another way, To wonder why two televisions In the same house seem natural symbols Of the family in decline.
Yet you are present to me now.
I sense you keenly, at work, Bending red in face to reach A last defiant spot of yellow On those horrific kitchen cabinets.
Your honey hair flecked with paint; Your large soft hidden breasts Pushing down against your shirt.
The hemispheres of those buttocks Curving into uncompromising hips.
To embrace you would be to take hold Of my life in all its substance.
Without romance, I say that if I were to deconstruct myself And fling the pieces at random, They would compose themselves Into your shape.
But I guess that is romantic, The old mystification- Cramming two bodies Into a single space.
Amen! Our separation has taught me That, dwelling in mind, The corporeality Of mates has spiritual mass Which may be formulated: Memory times desire over distance Yields a bodying forth.
Thus I project into the Deadly space between us A corposant,Pulsating a language That will cleave to you In the coolness of sleep With insubstantiality So fierce as to leave its dampness On the morning sheets, Or so gentle As to fan your brow While you paint the kitchen.
A body like a breath, Whispering the axiom By which all religions are blessed: In every absence there is presence.
Bene Bene Benedictus.
Written by John Williams | Create an image from this poem

Ode To The Only Girl

 I've seen you many times in many places--
Theater, bus, train, or on the street;
Smiling in spring rain, in winter sleet,
Eyes of any hue in myriad faces;
Midnight black, all shades of brown your hair,
Long, short, bronze or honey-fair.
Instantly have I loved, have never spoken; Slowly a truck passed, a light changed, A door closed--all seemingly pre-arranged-- Then you were gone forever, the spell was broken.
Ubiquitios only one, we've met before A hundred times, and we'll meet again As many more; in hills or forest glen, On crowded street or lonely, peaceful shore; Somewhere, someday--but how will we ever know True love, how wil we ever know?
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus

 According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem


 Flowers through the window
lavender and yellow

changed by white curtains—
Smell of cleanliness—

Sunshine of late afternoon—
On the glass tray

a glass pitcher, the tumbler
turned down, by which

a key is lying— And the
immaculate white bed
Written by William Carlos (WCW) Williams | Create an image from this poem

The Red Wheelbarrow

 so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white
Written by Hugo Williams | Create an image from this poem

Siren Song

 This is the one song everyone 
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember.
Shall I tell you the secret and if I do, will you get me out of this bird suit? I don'y enjoy it here squatting on this island looking picturesque and mythical with these two faethery maniacs, I don't enjoy singing this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you, to you, only to you.
Come closer.
This song is a cry for help: Help me! Only you, only you can, you are unique at last.
Alas it is a boring song but it works every time.