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Best Famous Edward Taylor Poems

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Written by Edward Taylor | |

The New Ergonomics

 The new ergonomics were delivered 
just before lunchtime 
so we ignored them.
Without revealing the particulars let me just say that lunch was most satisfying.
Jack and Roberta went with the corned beef for a change.
Jack believes in alien abduction and Roberta does not, although she has had several lost weekends lately and one or two unexplained scars on her buttocks.
I thought I recognized someone from my childhood at a table across the room, the same teeth, the same hair, but when he stood-up, I wasn't sure, Squid with a red tie? Impossible.
I finished my quiche lorraine and returned my thoughts to Jack's new jag: "Well, I guess anything's possible.
People disappear all the time, and most of them have no explanation when and if they return.
Look at Tony's daughter and she's never been the same.
" Jack was looking as if he'd bet on the right horse now.
"And these new ergonomics, who really designed them? Does anybody know? Do they tell us anything? A name, an address? Hell no.
" Squid was paying his bill in a standard-issue blue blazer.
He looked across the room at me several times.
He looked tired, like he wanted to sleep for a long time in a barn somewhere, in Kansas.
I wanted to sleep there, too.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

More Later Less The Same

 The common is unusually calm--they captured the storm
last night, it's sleeping in the stockade, relieved
of its duty, pacified, tamed, a pussycat.
But not before it tied the flagpole in knots, and not before it alarmed the firemen out of their pants.
Now it's really calm, almost too calm, as though anything could happen, and it would be a first.
It could be the worst thing that ever happened.
All the little rodents are sitting up and counting their nuts.
What if nothing ever happened again? Would there be enough to "eke out an existence," as they say? I wish "they" were here now, kicking up a little dust, mussing my hair, taunting me with weird syllogisms.
Instead, these are the windless, halcyon days.
The lull dispassion is upon us.
Serenity has triumphed in its mindless, atrophied way.
A school of Stoics walks by, eager, in its phlegmatic way, to observe human degradation, lust and debauchery at close quarters.
They are disappointed, but it barely shows on their faces.
They are late Stoa, very late.
They missed the bus.
They should have been here last night.
The joint was jumping.
But people change, they grow up, they fly around.
It's the same old story, but I don't remember it.
It's a tale of gore and glory, but we had to leave.
It could have turned out differently, and it did.
I feel much the same way about the city of Pompeii.
A police officer with a poodle cut squirts his gun at me for saying that, and it's still just barely possible that I didn't, and the clock is running out on his sort of behavior.
I'm napping in a wigwam as I write this, near Amity Street, which is buried under fifteen feet of ashes and cinders and rocks.
Moss and a certain herblike creature are beginning to whisper nearby.
I am beside myself, peering down, senselessly, since, for us, in space, there is neither above nor below; and thus the expression "He is being nibbled to death by ducks" shines with such style, such poise, and reserve, a beautiful, puissant form and a lucid thought.
To which I reply "It is time we had our teeth examined by a dentist.
" So said James the Lesser to James the More.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

My Felisberto

 My felisberto is handsomer than your mergotroid,
although, admittedly, your mergotroid may be the wiser of the two.
Whereas your mergotroid never winces or quails, my felisberto is a titan of inconsistencies.
For a night of wit and danger and temptation my felisberto would be the obvious choice.
However, at dawn or dusk when serenity is desired your mergotroid cannot be ignored.
Merely to sit near it in the garden and watch the fabrications of the world swirl by, the deep-sea's bathymetry wash your eyes, not to mention the little fawns of the forest and their flip-floppy gymnastics, ah, for this and so much more your mergotroid is infinitely preferable.
But there is a place for darkness and obscurity without which life can sometimes seem too much, too frivolous and too profound simultaneously, and that is when my felisberto is needed, is longed for and loved, and then the sun can rise again.
The bee and the hummingbird drink of the world, and your mergotroid elaborates the silent concert that is always and always about to begin.


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Written by Edward Taylor | |

Loyalty

 This is the hardest part:
When I came back to life
I was a good family dog
and not too friendly to strangers.
I got a thirty-five dollar raise in salary, and through the pea-soup fogs I drove the General, and introduced him at rallies.
I had a totalitarian approach and was a massive boost to his popularity.
I did my best to reduce the number of people.
The local bourgeoisie did not exist.
One of them was a mystic and walked right over me as if I were a bed of hot coals.
This is par for the course- I will be employing sundry golf metaphors henceforth, because a dog, best friend and chief advisor to the General, should.
While dining with the General I said, "Let's play the back nine in a sacred rage.
Let's tee-off over the foredoomed community and putt ourselves thunderously, touching bottom.
" He drank it all in, rugged and dusky.
I think I know what he was thinking.
He held his automatic to my little head and recited a poem about my many weaknesses, for which I loved him so.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

Goodtime Jesus

 Jesus got up one day a little later than usual.
He had been dream- ing so deep there was nothing left in his head.
What was it? A nightmare, dead bodies walking all around him, eyes rolled back, skin falling off.
But he wasn't afraid of that.
It was a beau- tiful day.
How 'bout some coffee? Don't mind if I do.
Take a little ride on my donkey, I love that donkey.
Hell, I love everybody.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

Days of Pie and Coffee

 A motorist once said to me, 
and this was in the country, 
on a county lane, a motorist 
slowed his vehicle as I was 
walking my dear old collie,
Sithney, by the side of the road, 
and the motorist came to a halt 
mildly alarming both Sithney and myself, 
not yet accustomed to automobiles, 
and this particular motorist 
sent a little spasm of fright up our spines, 
which in turn panicked the driver a bit 
and it seemed as if we were off to a bad start, 
and that's when Sithney began to bark 
and the man could not be heard, that is, 
if he was speaking or trying to speak 
because I was commanding Sithnewy to be silent, 
though, indeed I was sympathetic 
to his emotional excitement.
It was, as I recall, a day of prodigious beauty.
April 21, 1932--clouds like the inside of your head explained.
Bluebirds, too numerous to mention.
The clover calling you by name.
And fields oozing green.
And this motorist from nowhere moving his lips like the wings of a butterfly and nothing coming out, and Sithney silent now.
He was no longer looking at us, but straight ahead where his election was in doubt.
"That's a fine dog," he said.
"Collies are made in heaven.
" Well, if I were a voting man I'd vote for you, I said.
"A bedoozling day to be lost in the country, I say.
Leastways, I am a misplaced individual.
" We introduced ourselves and swapped a few stories.
He was a veteran and a salesmen who didn't believe in his product-- I've forgotten what it was--hair restorer, parrot feed--and he enjoyed nothing more then a a day spent meandering the back roads in his jalopy.
I gave him directions to the Denton farm, but I doubt that he followed them, he didn't seem to be listening, and it was getting late and Sithney had an idea of his own and I don't know why I am remembering this now, just that he summed himself up by saying "I've missed too many boats" and all these years later I keep thinking that was a man who loved to miss boats, but he didn't miss them that much.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

The List of Famous Hats

 Napoleon's hat is an obvious choice I guess to list as a famous
hat, but that's not the hat I have in mind.
That was his hat for show.
I am thinking of his private bathing cap, which in all hon- esty wasn't much different than the one any jerk might buy at a corner drugstore now, except for two minor eccentricities.
The first one isn't even funny: Simply it was a white rubber bathing cap, but too small.
Napoleon led such a hectic life ever since his childhood, even farther back than that, that he never had a chance to buy a new bathing cap and still as a grown-up--well, he didn't really grow that much, but his head did: He was a pin- head at birth, and he used, until his death really, the same little tiny bathing cap that he was born in, and this meant that later it was very painful to him and gave him many headaches, as if he needed more.
So, he had to vaseline his skull like crazy to even get the thing on.
The second eccentricity was that it was a tricorn bathing cap.
Scholars like to make a lot out of this, and it would be easy to do.
My theory is simple-minded to be sure: that be- neath his public head there was another head and it was a pyra- mid or something.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

Shut Up And Eat Your Toad

 The disorganization to which I currently belong
has skipped several meetings in a row
which is a pattern I find almost fatally attractive.
Down at headquarters there's a secretary and a janitor who I shall call Suzie and boy can she ever shoot straight.
She'll shoot you straight in the eye if you ask her to.
I mow the grass every other Saturday and that's the day she polishes the trivets whether they need it or not, I don't know if there is a name for this kind of behavior, hers or mine, but somebody once said something or another.
That's why I joined up in the first place, so somebody could teach me a few useful phrases, such as, "Good afternoon, my dear anal-retentive Doctor," and "My, that is a lovely dictionary you have on, Mrs.
Smith.
" Still, I hardly feel like functioning even on a brute or loutish level.
My plants think I'm one of them, and they don't look so good themselves, or so I tell them.
I like to give them at least several reasons to be annoyed with me, it's how they exercise their skinny spectrum of emotions.
Because.
That and cribbage.
Often when I return from the club late at night, weary-laden, weary-winged, washed out, I can actually hear the nematodes working, sucking the juices from the living cells of my narcissus.
I have mentioned this to Suzie on several occasions.
Each time she has backed away from me, panic-stricken when really I was just making a stab at conversation.
It is not my intention to alarm anyone, but dear Lord if I find a dead man in the road and his eyes are crawling with maggots, I refuse to say have a nice day Suzie just because she's desperate and her life is a runaway carriage rushing toward a cliff now can I? Would you let her get away with that kind of crap? Who are you anyway? And what kind of disorganization is this? Baron of the Holy Grail? Well it's about time you got here.
I was worried, I was starting to fret.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

Never Again The Same

 Speaking of sunsets,
last night's was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they? Well, this one was terrifying.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn't natural.
One climax followed another and then another until your knees went weak and you couldn't breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world, peaches dripping opium, pandemonium of tangerines, inferno of irises, Plutonian emeralds, all swirling and churning, swabbing, like it was playing with us, like we were nothing, as if our whole lives were a preparation for this, this for which nothing could have prepared us and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always and we looked into one another's eyes-- ancient caves with still pools and those little transparent fish who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us was not even our own.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

The Lost Pilot

 for my father, 1922-1944

Your face did not rot
like the others--the co-pilot,
for example, I saw him

yesterday.
His face is corn- mush: his wife and daughter, the poor ignorant people, stare as if he will compose soon.
He was more wronged than Job.
But your face did not rot like the others--it grew dark, and hard like ebony; the features progressed in their distinction.
If I could cajole you to come back for an evening, down from your compulsive orbiting, I would touch you, read your face as Dallas, your hoodlum gunner, now, with the blistered eyes, reads his braille editions.
I would touch your face as a disinterested scholar touches an original page.
However frightening, I would discover you, and I would not turn you in; I would not make you face your wife, or Dallas, or the co-pilot, Jim.
You could return to your crazy orbiting, and I would not try to fully understand what it means to you.
All I know is this: when I see you, as I have seen you at least once every year of my life, spin across the wilds of the sky like a tiny, African god, I feel dead.
I feel as if I were the residue of a stranger's life, that I should pursue you.
My head cocked toward the sky, I cannot get off the ground, and, you, passing over again, fast, perfect, and unwilling to tell me that you are doing well, or that it was mistake that placed you in that world, and me in this; or that misfortune placed these worlds in us.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

Happy As The Day Is Long

 I take the long walk up the staircase to my secret room.
Today's big news: they found Amelia Earhart's shoe, size 9.
1992: Charlie Christian is bebopping at Minton's in 1941.
Today, the Presidential primaries have failed us once again.
We'll look for our excitement elsewhere, in the last snow that is falling, in tomorrow's Gospel Concert in Springfield.
It's a good day to be a cat and just sleep.
Or to read the Confessions of Saint Augustine.
Jesus called the sons of Zebedee the Sons of Thunder.
In my secret room, plans are hatched: we'll explore the Smoky Mountains.
Then we'll walk along a beach: Hallelujah! (A letter was just delivered by Overnight Express-- it contained nothing of importance, I slept through it.
) (I guess I'm trying to be "above the fray.
") The Russians, I know, have developed a language called "Lincos" designed for communicating with the inhabitants of other worlds.
That's been a waste of time, not even a postcard.
But then again, there are tree-climbing fish, called anabases.
They climb the trees out of stupidity, or so it is said.
Who am I to judge? I want to break out of here.
A bee is not strong in geometry: it cannot tell a square from a triangle or a circle.
The locker room of my skull is full of panting egrets.
I'm saying that strictly for effect.
In time I will heal, I know this, or I believe this.
The contents and furnishings of my secret room will be labeled and organized so thoroughly it will be a little frightening.
What I thought was infinite will turn out to be just a couple of odds and ends, a tiny miscellany, miniature stuff, fragments of novelties, of no great moment.
But it will also be enough, maybe even more than enough, to suggest an immense ritual and tradition.
And this makes me very happy.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

The Wrong Way Home

 All night a door floated down the river.
It tried to remember little incidents of pleasure from its former life, like the time the lovers leaned against it kissing for hours and whispering those famous words.
Later, there were harsh words and a shoe was thrown and the door was slammed.
Comings and goings by the thousands, the early mornings and late nights, years, years.
O they've got big plans, they'll make a bundle.
The door was an island that swayed in its sleep.
The moon turned the doorknob just slightly, burned its fingers and ran, and still the door said nothing and slept.
At least that's what they like to say, the little fishes and so on.
Far away, a bell rang, and then a shot was fired.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry

 There's a fortune to be made in just about everything
in this country, somebody's father had to invent
everything--baby food, tractors, rat poisoning.
My family's obviously done nothing since the beginning of time.
They invented poverty and bad taste and getting by and taking it from the boss.
O my mother goes around chewing her nails and spitting them in a jar: You shouldn't be ashamed of yourself she says, think of your family.
My family I say what have they ever done but paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes of plastic squalor and human degradation.
Well then think of your great great etc.
Uncle Patrick Henry.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

Success Comes To Cow Creek

 I sit on the tracks,
a hundred feet from
earth, fifty from the
water.
Gerald is inching toward me as grim, slow, and determined as a season, because he has no trade and wants none.
It's been nine months since I last listened to his fate, but I know what he will say: he's the fire hydrant of the underdog.
When he reaches my point above the creek, he sits down without salutation, and spits profoundly out past the edge, and peeks for meaning in the ripple it brings.
He scowls.
He speaks: when you walk down any street you see nothing but coagulations of shit and vomit, and I'm sick of it.
I suggest suicide; he prefers murder, and spits again for the sake of all the great devout losers.
A conductor's horn concerto breaks the air, and we, two doomed pennies on the track, shove off and somersault like anesthetized fleas, ruffling the ideal locomotive poised on the water with our light, dry bodies.
Gerald shouts terrifically as he sails downstream like a young man with a destination.
I swim toward shore as fast as my boots will allow; as always, neglecting to drown.


Written by Edward Taylor | |

The Definition of Gardening

 Jim just loves to garden, yes he does.
He likes nothing better than to put on his little overalls and his straw hat.
He says, "Let's go get those tools, Jim.
" But then doubt begins to set in.
He says, "What is a garden, anyway?" And thoughts about a "modernistic" garden begin to trouble him, eat away at his resolve.
He stands in the driveway a long time.
"Horticulture is a groping in the dark into the obscure and unfamiliar, kneeling before a disinterested secret, slapping it, punching it like a Chinese puzzle, birdbrained babbling gibberish, dig and destroy, pull out and apply salt, hoe and spray, before it spreads, burn roots, where not desired, with gloved hands, poisonous, the self-sacrifice of it, the self-love, into the interior, thunderclap, excruciating, through the nose, the earsplitting necrology of it, the withering, shrivelling, the handy hose holder and Persian insect powder and smut fungi, the enemies of the iris, wireworms are worse than their parents, there is no way out, flowers as big as heads, pock-marked, disfigured, blinking insolently at me, the me who so loves to garden because it prevents the heaving of the ground and the untimely death of porch furniture, and dark, murky days in a large city and the dream home under a permanent storm is also a factor to keep in mind.
"