Charles Webb | |
"Don't overdo it," Dad yelled, watching me
Play shortstop, collect stamps and shells,
Roll on the grass laughing until I peed my pants.
"Screw him," I said, and grabbed every cowry
I could find, hogged all the books I could
From Heights Library, wore out the baseball
Diamond dawn to dusk, and—parents in Duluth—
Gorged on bountiful Candy dusk to dawn.
Not until a Committee wrote of my poems,
"Enthusiasm should be tempered,"
Did I change my song.
I write now
The way I live: calm and sober, steering
Toward the Golden Mean.
Was right to withhold funds.
I'd have bought
A hundred box turtles with lemon-speckled shells,
Flyfished for rainbows six months straight,
Flown to the Great Barrier Reef and dived
Non-stop among pink coral and marble cones,
Living on chocolate malts, peaches, and barbecue.
I'd have turned into a ski bum, married
Ten women in ten states, written nothing
Poetry would glance at twice, instead
Of rising at 5:00 as I do now, writing
'Til noon about matters serious and deep,
Teaching 'til 6:00, eating a low-fat meal
High in fiber and cruciferous vegetables,
Then bed by 9:00, alarm clock set
Five minutes late: my one indulgence of the day.
Galway Kinnell | |
For I can snore like a bullhorn
or play loud music
or sit up talking with any reasonably sober Irishman
and Fergus will only sink deeper
into his dreamless sleep, which goes by all in one flash,
but let there be that heavy breathing
or a stifled come-cry anywhere in the house
and he will wrench himself awake
and make for it on the run - as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of our bodies,
familiar touch of the long-married,
and he appears - in his baseball pajamas, it happens,
the neck opening so small
he has to screw them on, which one day may make him wonder
about the mental capacity of baseball players -
and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles himself to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child.
In the half darkness we look at each other
and touch arms across his little, startling muscled body -
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making,
sleeper only the mortal sounds can sing awake,
this blessing love gives again into our arms.
William Matthews | |
I was miserable, of course, for I was seventeen
and so I swung into action and wrote a poem
and it was miserable, for that was how I thought
poetry worked: you digested experience shat
It was 1960 at The Showplace, long since
defunct, on West 4th st.
, and I sat at the bar,
casting beer money from a reel of ones,
the kid in the city, big ears like a puppy.
And I knew Mingus was a genius.
I knew two
other things, but as it happens they were wrong.
So I made him look at this poem.
"There's a lot of that going around," he said,
and Sweet Baby Jesus he was right.
at me but didn't look as if he thought
bad poems were dangerous, the way some poets do.
If they were baseball executives they'd plot
to destroy sandlots everywhere so that the game
could be saved from children.
Of course later
that night he fired his pianist in mid-number
and flurried him from the stand.
"We've suffered a diminuendo in personnel,"
he explained, and the band played on.
More great poems below...
David Lehman | |
There comes a time in every man's life
when he thinks: I have never had a single
original thought in my life
including this one & therefore I shall
eliminate all ideas from my poems
which shall consist of cats, rice, rain
baseball cards, fire escapes, hanging plants
red brick houses where I shall give up booze
and organized religion even if it means
despair is a logical possibility that can't
be disproved I shall concentrate on the five
senses and what they half perceive and half
create, the green street signs with white
letters on them the body next to mine
asleep while I think these thoughts
that I want to eliminate like nostalgia
0 was there ever a man who felt as I do
like a pronoun out of step with all the other
floating signifiers no things but in words
an orange T-shirt a lime green awning
Thomas Lux | |
each day mowed
and mowed his lawn, his dry quarter acre,
the machine slicing a wisp
from each blade's tip.
Dust storms rose
around the roar: 6:00 P.
, every day,
spring, summer, fall.
If he could mow
the snow he would.
On one side, his neighbors the cows
turned their backs to him
and did what they do to the grass.
Where he worked, I don't know
but it sets his jaw to: tight.
His wife a cipher, shoebox tissue,
a shattered apron.
into her head he drove a wedge of shale.
Years later his daughter goes to jail.
Mow, mow, mow his lawn
gently down a decade's summers.
On his other side lived mine and me,
across a narrow pasture, often fallow;
a field of fly balls, the best part of childhood
and baseball, but one could not cross his line
and if it did,
as one did in 1956
and another in 1958,
it came back coleslaw -- his lawn mower
ate it up, happy
to cut something, no matter
what the manual said
about foreign objects,
stones, or sticks.
Stephen Dunn | |
My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
and wife beater.
In bad dreams I killed him
and once, in the consequential light of day,
I called the Humane Society
about Blue, his dog.
They took her away
and I readied myself, a baseball bat
inside my door.
That night I hear his wife scream
and I couldn't help it, that pathetic
relief; her again, not me.
It would be years before I'd understand
why victims cling and forgive.
I plugged in
the Sleep-Sound and it crashed
like the ocean all the way to sleep.
One afternoon I found him
on the stoop,
a pistol in his hand, waiting,
he said, for me.
A sparrow had gotten in
to our common basement.
Could he have permission
to shoot it? The bullets, he explained,
might go through the floor.
I said I'd catch it, wait, give me
a few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly
afraid, I trapped it
with a pillow.
I remember how it felt
when I got my hand, and how it burst
that hand open
when I took it outside, a strength
that must have come out of hopelessness
and the sudden light
and the trees.
And I remember
the way he slapped the gun against
his open palm,
kept slapping it, and wouldn't speak.
Edward Field | |
The poster with my picture on it
Is hanging on the bulletin board in the Post Office.
I stand by it hoping to be recognized
Posing first full face and then profile
But everybody passes by and I have to admit
The photograph was taken some years ago.
I was unwanted then and I'm unwanted now
Ah guess ah'll go up echo mountain and crah.
I wish someone would find my fingerprints somewhere
Maybe on a corpse and say, You're it.
Description: Male, or reasonably so
White, but not lily-white and usually deep-red
Thirty-fivish, and looks it lately
Five-feet-nine and one-hundred-thirty pounds: no physique
Black hair going gray, hairline receding fast
What used to be curly, now fuzzy
Brown eyes starey under beetling brow
Mole on chin, probably will become a wen
It is perfectly obvious that he was not popular at school
No good at baseball, and wet his bed.
His aliases tell his history: Dumbell, Good-for-nothing,
Jewboy, Fieldinsky, Skinny, Fierce Face, Greaseball, Sissy.
Warning: This man is not dangerous, answers to any name
Responds to love, don't call him or he will come.
Charles Bukowski | |
they found him walking along the freeway
all red in
he had taken a rusty tin can
and cut off his sexual
as if to say --
see what you've done to
me? you might as well have the
and he put part of him
in one pocket and
part of him in
and that's how they found him,
they gave him over to the
who tried to sew the parts
but the parts were
the way they
I think sometimes of all of the good
turned over to the
monsters of the
maybe it was his protest against
a one man
that never squeezed in
the concert reviews and the
God, or somebody,