Barry Tebb |
I was never a film buff, give me Widmark and Wayne any day
Saturday matin?es with Margaret Gardener still hold sway
As my memory veers backwards this temperate Boxing Day-
Westerns and war films and a blurred Maigret,
Coupled with a worn-out sixties Penguin Mallarm?-
How about that mix for a character trait?
Try as I may I can’t get my head round the manifold virtues
Of Geraldine Monk or either Riley
Poetry has to have a meaning, not just patterns on a page,
Vertical words and snips of scores just make me rage.
Is Thom Gunn really the age-old sleaze-weasel Andrew Duncan says?
Is Tim Allen right to give Geraldine Monk an eleven page review?
At least they care for poetry to give their lives to it
As we do, too.
My syntax far from perfect, my writing illegible
But somehow I’ll get through, Bloodaxe and Carcourt
May jeer but an Indian printer’s busy with my ‘Collected’
And, Calcutta typesetters permitting, it will be out this year
With the red gold script of sari cloth on the spine
And fuck those dusty grey contemporary voices
Those verses will be mine.
Haslam’s a whole lot better but touchy as a prima donna
And couldn’t take it when I said he’d be a whole lot better
If he’d unloose his affects and let them scatter
I’m envious of his habitat, The Haworth Moors
Living there should be the inspiration of my old age
But being monophobic I can’t face the isolation
Or persuade my passionate friend to join me.
What urban experiences can improve
Upon a cottage life with my own muse!
Robert William Service |
In youth when oft my muse was dumb,
My fancy nighly dead,
To make my inspiration come
I stood upon my head;
And thus I let the blood down flow
Into my cerebellum,
And published every Spring or so
Slim tomes in vellum.
Alas! I am rheumatic now,
Grey is my crown;
I can no more with brooding brow
I fear I might in such a pose
Burst brain blood-vessel;
And that would be a woeful close
To my rhyme wrestle.
If to write verse I must reverse
I fear I'm stymied;
In ink of prose I must immerse
A pen de-rhymèd.
No more to spank the lyric lyre
Like Keats or Browning,
May I inspire the Sacred Fire
Robert William Service |
Hark to the Sourdough story, told at sixty below,
When the pipes are lit and we smoke and spit
Into the campfire glow.
Rugged are we and hoary, and statin' a general rule,
A genooine Sourdough story
Ain't no yarn for the Sunday School.
A Sourdough came to stake his claim in Heav'n one morning early.
Saint Peter cried: "Who waits outside them gates so bright and pearly?"
"I'm recent dead," the Sourdough said, "and crave to visit Hades,
Where haply pine some pals o' mine, includin' certain ladies.
Said Peter: "Go, you old Sourdough, from life so crooly riven;
And if ye fail to find their trail, we'll have a snoop round Heaven.
He waved, and lo! that old Sourdough dropped down to Hell's red spaces;
But though 'twas hot he couldn't spot them old familiar faces.
The bedrock burned, and so he turned, and climbed with footsteps fleeter,
The stairway straight to Heaven's gate, and there, of course, was Peter.
"I cannot see my mates," sez he, "among those damned forever.
I have a hunch some of the bunch in Heaven I'll discover.
Said Peter: "True; and this I'll do (since Sourdoughs are my failing)
You see them guys in Paradise, lined up against the railing -
As bald as coots, in birthday suits, with beards below the middle .
Well, I'll allow you in right now, if you can solve a riddle:
Among that gang of stiffs who hang and dodder round the portals,
Is one whose name is know to Fame - it's Adam, first of mortals.
For quiet's sake he makes a break from Eve, which is his Madame.
Well, there's the gate - To crash it straight, just spy the guy that's Adam.
The old Sourdough went down the row of greybeards ruminatin'
With optics dim they peered at him, and pressed agin the gratin'.
In every face he sought some trace of our ancestral father;
But though he stared, he soon despaired the faintest clue to gather.
Then suddenly he whooped with glee: "Ha! Ha! an inspiration.
And to and fro along the row he ran with animation.
To Peter, bold he cried: "Behold, all told there are eleven.
Suppose I fix on Number Six - say Boy! How's that for Heaven?"
"By gosh! you win," said Pete.
But tell me how you chose him.
They're like as pins; all might be twins.
There's nothing to disclose him.
The Sourdough said: "'Twas hard; my head was seething with commotion.
I felt a dunce; then all at once I had a gorgeous notion.
I stooped and peered beneath each beard that drooped like fleece of mutton.
My search was crowned.
That bird I found - ain't got no belly button.
More great poems below...
Kahlil Gibran |
He is a link between this and the coming world.
A pure spring from which all thirsty souls may drink.
He is a tree watered by the River of Beauty, bearing
Fruit which the hungry heart craves;
He is a nightingale, soothing the depressed
Spirit with his beautiful melodies;
He is a white cloud appearing over the horizon,
Ascending and growing until it fills the face of the sky.
Then it falls on the flows in the field of Life,
Opening their petals to admit the light.
He is an angel, send by the goddess to
Preach the Deity's gospel;
He is a brilliant lamp, unconquered by darkness
And inextinguishable by the wind.
It is filled with
Oil by Istar of Love, and lighted by Apollon of Music.
He is a solitary figure, robed in simplicity and
Kindness; He sits upon the lap of Nature to draw his
Inspiration, and stays up in the silence of the night,
Awaiting the descending of the spirit.
He is a sower who sows the seeds of his heart in the
Prairies of affection, and humanity reaps the
Harvest for her nourishment.
This is the poet -- whom the people ignore in this life,
And who is recognized only when he bids the earthly
World farewell and returns to his arbor in heaven.
This is the poet -- who asks naught of
Humanity but a smile.
This is the poet -- whose spirit ascends and
Fills the firmament with beautiful sayings;
Yet the people deny themselves his radiance.
Until when shall the people remain asleep?
Until when shall they continue to glorify those
Who attain greatness by moments of advantage?
How long shall they ignore those who enable
Them to see the beauty of their spirit,
Symbol of peace and love?
Until when shall human beings honor the dead
And forget the living, who spend their lives
Encircled in misery, and who consume themselves
Like burning candles to illuminate the way
For the ignorant and lead them into the path of light?
Poet, you are the life of this life, and you have
Triumphed over the ages of despite their severity.
Poet, you will one day rule the hearts, and
Therefore, your kingdom has no ending.
Poet, examine your crown of thorns; you will
Find concealed in it a budding wreath of laurel.
Thomas Moore |
They may rail at this life -- from the hour I began it
I found it a life full of kindness and bliss;
And, until they can show me some happier planet,
More social and bright, I'll content me with this.
As long as the world has such lips and such eyes
As before me this moment enraptured I see,
They may say what they will of their orbs in the skies,
But this earth is the planet for you, love, and me.
In Mercury's star, where each moment can bring them
New sunshine and wit from the fountain on high,
Though the nymphs may have livelier poets to sing them,
They've none, even there, more enamour'd than I.
And, as long as this harp can be waken'd to love,
And that eye its divine inspiration shall be,
They may talk as they will of their Edens above,
But this earth is the planet for you, love, and me.
In that star of the west, by whose shadowy splendour,
At twilight so often we've roam'd through the dew,
There are maidens, perhaps, who have bosoms as tender,
And look, in their twilights, as lovely as you.
But though they were even more bright than the queen
Of that Isle they inhabit in heaven's blue sea,
As I never those fair young celestials have seen,
Why -- this earth is the planet for you, love, and me.
As for those chilly orbs on the verge of creation,
Where sunshine and smiles must be equally rare,
Did they want a supply of cold hearts for that station,
Heaven knows we have plenty on earth we could spare,
Oh! think what a world we should have of it here,
If the haters of peace, of affection and glee,
Were to fly up to Saturn's comfortless sphere,
And leave earth to such spirits as you, love, and me.
Czeslaw Milosz |
You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.
What strengthened me, for you was lethal.
You mixed up farewell to an epoch with the beginning of a new one,
Inspiration of hatred with lyrical beauty,
Blind force with accomplished shape.
Here is the valley of shallow Polish rivers.
And an immense bridge
Going into white fog.
Here is a broken city,
And the wind throws the screams of gulls on your grave
When I am talking with you.
What is poetry which does not save
Nations or people?
A connivance with official lies,
A song of drunkards whose throats will be cut in a moment,
Readings for sophomore girls.
That I wanted good poetry without knowing it,
That I discovered, late, its salutary aim,
In this and only this I find salvation.
They used to pour millet on graves or poppy seeds
To feed the dead who would come disguised as birds.
I put this book here for you, who once lived
So that you should visit us no more.
Sir Walter Raleigh |
I was a Poet!
But I did not know it,
Neither did my Mother,
Nor my Sister nor my Brother.
The Rich were not aware of it;
The Poor took no care of it.
The Reverend Mr.
Never knew it.
The High did not suspect it;
The Low could not detect it.
Said it was obviously untrue.
Said I was off my head:
(This from a Colonial
Was really a good testimonial.
Still everybody seemed to think
That genius owes a good deal to drink.
So that is how
I am not a poet now,
My inspiration has run dry.
It is no sort of use
To cultivate the Muse
If vulgar people
Can't tell a village pump from a church steeple.
I am merely apologizing
For the lack of the surprising
In what I write
I am quite well-meaning,
But a lot of things are always intervening
What I mean
And what it is said
I had in my head.
It is all very puzzling.
Says Poets need muzzling.
Erica Jong |
Sometimes the poem
doesn't want to come;
it hides from the poet
like a playful cat
who has run
under the house
& lurks among slugs,
roots, spiders' eyes,
ledge so long out of the sun
that it is dank
with the breath of the Troll King.
Sometimes the poem
like a coy lover
who is afraid of being possessed,
of feeling too much,
of losing his essential
loneliness-which he calls
Sometimes the poem
the poet's passion.
The poem is a dance
between poet & poem,
but sometimes the poem
just won't dance
and lurks on the sidelines
tapping its feet-
out of step with the music
of your mariachi band.
If the poem won't come,
I say: sneak up on it.
Pretend you don't care.
Sit in your chair
reading Shakespeare, Neruda,
and let yourself flow
into their music.
Go to the kitchen
and start peeling onions
for homemade sugo.
Before you know it,
the poem will be crying
as your ripe tomatoes
When the whole house is filled
with the tender tomato aroma,
start kneading the pasta.
As you rock
over the damp sensuous dough,
making it bend to your will,
as you make love to this manna
of flour and water,
the poem will get hungry
just like a cat
when you least
Robert William Service |
The Spanish women don't wear slacks
Because their hips are too enormous.
'Tis true each bulbous bosom lacks
No inspiration that should warm us;
But how our ardor seems to freeze
When we behold their bulgy knees!
Their starry eyes and dusky hair,
Their dazzling teeth in smile so gracious,
I love, but oh I wish they were
Not so confoundedly curvacious.
I'm sure I would prefer them willowy,
Instead of obviously pillowy.
It may be that they're plump because
The caballeros like them that way;
Since men are lean and Nature's laws
Of contrast sway them to the fat way:
For few their dames as much adore, as
The señors love their sleek señoras.
Well, each according to his taste.
The dons prefer their women lardy,
But me, I likes a tiny waist,
And breast that fits a hand that's hardy:
In short, my bottom money backs
The baby who looks well in slacks.
Allen Ginsberg |
Elan that lifts me above the clouds
into pure space, timeless, yea eternal
Breath transmuted into words
Transmuted back to breath
in one hundred two hundred years
nearly Immortal, Sappho's 26 centuries
of cadenced breathing -- beyond time, clocks, empires, bodies, cars,
chariots, rocket ships skyscrapers, Nation empires
brass walls, polished marble, Inca Artwork
of the mind -- but where's it come from?
Inspiration? The muses drawing breath for you? God?
Nah, don't believe it, you'll get entangled in Heaven or Hell --
Guilt power, that makes the heart beat wake all night
flooding mind with space, echoing through future cities, Megalopolis or
Cretan village, Zeus' birth cave Lassithi Plains -- Otsego County
farmhouse, Kansas front porch?
Buddha's a help, promises ordinary mind no nirvana --
coffee, alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, marijuana, laughing gas?
Nope, too heavy for this lightness lifts the brain into blue sky
at May dawn when birds start singing on East 12th street --
Where does it come from, where does it go forever?
Dejan Stojanovic |
There can be no forced inspiration,
But there can be mergers with the world
There can be a flowing of feelings
Quiet, yet overwhelming
Flying outside to unite
Flying inside to find
The melody of the moment
When the yellow corona appears on the horizon
And blue light appears over the mountain
And the world becomes mellow
Hospitable and generous,
And you fly into the heart of the mountain
To find an egg of an unborn bird
Able to break out and fly as a newborn eagle
Anne Sexton |
Like Oedipus I am losing my sight.
LIke Judas I have done my wrong.
Their punishment is over;
the shame and disgrace of it
are all used up.
But as for me,
look into my face
and you will know that crimes dropped upon me
as from a high building
and although I cannot speak of them
or explain the degrading details
I have remembered much
about Judas -
about Judas, the old and the famous -
that you overlooked.
The story of his life
is the story of mine.
I have one glass eye.
My nerves push against its painted surface
but the other one
waiting for judgement
continues to see .
the New Testament is very small.
Its mouth opens four times -
as out-of-date as a prehistoric monster,
yet somehow man-made
held together by pullies
like the stone jaw of a back-hoe.
It gouges out the Judaic ground,
taking its own backyard
like a virgin daughter.
And furthermore how did Judas come into it -
that Judas Iscariot,
belonging to the tribe of Reuben?
He should have tried to lift him up there!
His neck like an iron pole,
hard as Newcastle,
his heart as stiff as beeswax,
his legs swollen and unmarked,
his other limbs still growing.
All of it heavy!
That dead weight that would have been his fault
He should have known!
In the first place who builds up such ugliness?
I think of this man saying .
Look! Here's the price to do it
plus the cost of the raw materials
and if it took him three or four days
to do it, then, they'd understand.
They figured it weighed enough
to support a man.
fifteen stone is the approximate weight
of a thief.
Its ugliness is a matter of custom.
If there was a mistake made
then the Crucifix was constructed wrong .
not from the quality of the pine,
not from hanging a mirror,
not from dropping the studding or the drill
but from having an inspriation.
But Judas was not a genius
or under the auspices of an inspiration.
I don't know whether it was gold or silver.
I don't know why he betrayed him
other than his motives,
other than the avaricious and dishonest man.
And then there were the forbidden crimes,
those that were expressly foretold,
and then overlooked
and then forgotten
except by me .
Judas had a mother
just as I had a mother.
Oh! Honor and relish the facts!
Do not think of the intense sensation
I have as I tell you this
but think only .
Judas had a mother.
His mother had a dream.
Because of this dream
he was altogether managed by fate
and thus he raped her.
As a crime we hear little of this.
Also he sold his God.
Barry Tebb |
For Jeremy Reed
Rejection doesn’t lead me to dejection
But to inspiration via irritation
Or at least to a bit of naughty new year wit-
Oh isn’t it a shame my poetry’s not tame
Like Rupert’s or Jay’s - I never could
Get into their STRIDE just to much pride
To lick the arses of the poetry-of-earthers
Or the sad lady who runs KATABASIS from the back
Of a bike, gets shouted at by rude parkies
And writing huffy poems to prove it.
Oh to be acceptable and
IN THE POETRY REVIEW
Like Lavinia or Jo
With double spreads
And a glossy colour photo
Instead I’m stuck in a bus queue at Morden
London’s meridian point of zero imagination
Actually it’s a bit like ACUMEN with the Oxleys
Boasting about their 150,000 annual submissions-
If what they print’s the best God help the rest.
At least my Christmas post had - instead of a card
From Jeremy Reed - his ELEGY FOR DAVID GASCOYNE -
The best poem I’ve had by post in forty years
And Jeremy’s best to date in my estimate -
The English APOLLINAIRE - your ZONE, your SONG
OF THE BADLY LOVED - sitting in a cafe in South End Green
I send you this poem, Jeremy, sight unseen,
A new year’s gift to you, pushing through
To star galaxies still unmapped and to you, BW,
Sonneteer of silence, huddled in the fourth month
Of your outdoor vigil, measuring in blood, tears and rain
Your syllable count in hour-glass of pain.
Kahlil Gibran |
I am the lover's eyes, and the spirit's
Wine, and the heart's nourishment.
I am a rose.
My heart opens at dawn and
The virgin kisses me and places me
Upon her breast.
I am the house of true fortune, and the
Origin of pleasure, and the beginning
Of peace and tranquility.
I am the gentle
Smile upon his lips of beauty.
Overtakes me he forgets his toil, and his
Whole life becomes reality of sweet dreams.
I am the poet's elation,
And the artist's revelation,
And the musician's inspiration.
I am a sacred shrine in the heart of a
Child, adored by a merciful mother.
I appear to a heart's cry; I shun a demand;
My fullness pursues the heart's desire;
It shuns the empty claim of the voice.
I appeared to Adam through Eve
And exile was his lot;
Yet I revealed myself to Solomon, and
He drew wisdom from my presence.
I smiled at Helena and she destroyed Tarwada;
Yet I crowned Cleopatra and peace dominated
The Valley of the Nile.
I am like the ages -- building today
And destroying tomorrow;
I am like a god, who creates and ruins;
I am sweeter than a violet's sigh;
I am more violent than a raging tempest.
Gifts alone do not entice me;
Parting does not discourage me;
Poverty does not chase me;
Jealousy does not prove my awareness;
Madness does not evidence my presence.
Oh seekers, I am Truth, beseeching Truth;
And your Truth in seeking and receiving
And protecting me shall determine my
Robert Francis |
O Man! what Inspiration was thy Guide,
Who taught thee Light and Air thus to divide;
To let in all the useful Beams of Day,
Yet force, as subtil Winds, without thy Shash to stay;
T'extract from Embers by a strange Device,
Then polish fair these Flakes of solid Ice;
Which, silver'd o'er, redouble all in place,
And give thee back thy well or ill-complexion'd Face.
To Vessels blown exceed the gloomy Bowl,
Which did the Wine's full excellence controul,
These shew the Body, whilst you taste the Soul.
Its colour sparkles Motion, lets thee see,
Tho' yet th' Excess the Preacher warns to flee,
Lest Men at length as clearly spy through Thee.