Emanuel Xavier |
knows the condom wrapped penetration
of strangers and lovers, deep inside
only a tear away from risk
knows bare minimum t-cell level counts,
replacing intoxicating cocktails
with jagged little pills
knows how to avoid a cure thanks to war
how to keep pharmaceutical corporations
and doctors in business
knows the weight loss desired
knows the fearless meaning of a friends genuine kiss or hug
converts non-believers to religion
values the support of luminaries
smiles at the solidarity
of single red ribbons
knows to dim the lights
to elude detection
how to shame someone into hiding
from the rest of the world
to be grateful for the gift of clothing
to remain silent, holding back the anger and frustration
knows that time on earth
is limited for all of us
that using lemons to make lemonade is better than drinking the Kool-Aid
but no matter how much you drink
you are always left dehydrated
knows working extensive hours
to pay hospital bills,
the choice of survival
or taking pleasure in what is left of life
knows the solid white walls
you want to crash through
and tear down
the thoughts of suicide
in the back of your head
knows the prosperous could be doing more with their wealth
and that everyone still thinks it is a deserving fate- for gays,
drug addicts, prostitutes,
and the unfortunate children of such
born into a merciless world of posh handbags and designer jewelry
knows how to be used as another percentage to profit politicians
knows it doesn’t only affect humans
but animals too, without bias
-providing fodder for art and something to be left behind
if there is a God
he has disregarded our prayers
left his angels behind to journey along with us
-none of us knowing exactly
where we are headed
G K Chesterton |
The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours—on the wall—
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me.
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
To-morrow is the time I get my pay—
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall—
I see a little cloud all pink and grey—
Perhaps the rector's mother will not call— I fancy that I heard from Mr.
That mushrooms could be cooked another way—
I never read the works of Juvenal—
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
Rationalists are growing rational—
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray
So secret that the very sky seems small—
I think I will not hang myself to-day.
Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall,
I think I will not hang myself to-day
Anne Sexton |
"You speak to me of narcissism but I reply that it is
a matter of my life" - Artaud
"At this time let me somehow bequeath all the leftovers
to my daughters and their daughters" - Anonymous
despite the worms talking to
the mare's hoof in the field;
despite the season of young girls
dropping their blood;
to drop myself quickly
into an old room.
Better (someone said)
not to be born
and far better
not to be born twice
where the boardinghouse,
each year a bedroom,
I will have to sink with hundreds of others
on a dumbwaiter into hell.
I will be a light thing.
I will enter death
like someone's lost optical lens.
Life is half enlarged.
The fish and owls are fierce today.
Life tilts backward and forward.
Even the wasps cannot find my eyes.
eyes that were immediate once.
Eyes that have been truly awake,
eyes that told the whole story—
poor dumb animals.
Eyes that were pierced,
little nail heads,
light blue gunshots.
And once with
a mouth like a cup,
clay colored or blood colored,
open like the breakwater
for the lost ocean
and open like the noose
for the first head.
Once upon a time
my hunger was for Jesus.
O my hunger! My hunger!
Before he grew old
he rode calmly into Jerusalem
in search of death.
do not ask for understanding
and yet I hope everyone else
will turn their heads when an unrehearsed fish jumps
on the surface of Echo Lake;
its bass note turned up loud,
hurts some building in Boston,
when the truly beautiful lie together.
I think of this, surely,
and would think of it far longer
if I were not… if I were not
at that old fire.
I could admit
that I am only a coward
crying me me me
and not mention the little gnats, the moths,
forced by circumstance
to suck on the electric bulb.
But surely you know that everyone has a death,
his own death,
waiting for him.
So I will go now
without old age or disease,
wildly but accurately,
knowing my best route,
carried by that toy donkey I rode all these years,
never asking, “Where are we going?”
We were riding (if I'd only known)
please do not think
that I visualize guitars playing
or my father arching his bone.
I do not even expect my mother's mouth.
I know that I have died before—
once in November, once in June.
How strange to choose June again,
so concrete with its green breasts and bellies.
Of course guitars will not play!
The snakes will certainly not notice.
New York City will not mind.
At night the bats will beat on the trees,
knowing it all,
seeing what they sensed all day.
More great poems below...
Charles Bukowski |
the lady has me temporarily off the bottle
and now the pecker stands up
however, things change overnight--
instead of listening to Shostakovich and
Mozart through a smeared haze of smoke
the nights change, new
we drive to Baskin-Robbins,
Rocky Road, Bubble Gum, Apricot Ice, Strawberry
Cheesecake, Chocolate Mint.
we park outside and look at icecream
a very healthy and satisfied people,
nary a potential suicide in sight
(they probably even vote)
and I tell her
"what if the boys saw me go in there? suppose they
find out I'm going in for a walnut peach sundae?"
"come on, chicken," she laughs and we go in
and stand with the icecream people.
none of them are cursing or threatening
there seem to be no hangovers or
I am alarmed at the placid and calm wave
that flows about.
I feel like a leper in a
we finally get our sundaes and
sit in the car and eat them.
I must admit they are quite good.
a curious new
(all my friends tell me I am looking
"you're looking good, man, we thought you
were going to die there for a while.
--those 4,500 dark nights, the jails, the
and later that night
there is use for the pecker, use for
love, and it is glorious,
long and true,
and afterwards we speak of easy things;
our heads by the open window with the moonlight
looking through, we sleep in each other's
the icecream people make me feel good,
inside and out.
Lisa Zaran |
love is believable
in every moment of exhaustion
in every heartbroken home
in every dark spirit,
the meaning unfolds.
in every night that sings
in every suicide
i carry deep inside my head.
in every lonely smile
that plays across my lips.
love is believable i tell you,
in every scrap of history,
in every sheen of want.
what can be wrong
that some days i have a tough time
and in each chamber of my heart
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2006
Jackie Kay |
I always wanted to give birth
Do that incredible natural thing
That women do-I nearly broke down
When I heard we couldn't
And then my man said to me
Well there's always adoption
(we didn't have test tubes and the rest
then) and well even in the early sixties there was something
Scandalous about adopting
Telling the world your secret failure
Bringing up an alien child
Who knew what it would turn out to be?
But I wanted a baby badly
Didn't need to come from my womb
Or his seed for me to love it
And I had sisters who looked just like me
Didn't need carbon copy features
Blueprints for generations
It was my baby a baby a baby I wanted
So I watched my child grow
Always the first to hear her in the night
All this umbilical knot business is
Nonsense-the men can afford deeper sleeps
I listened to hear her talk
And when she did I heard my voice under hers
And now some of her mannerisms
Crack me up
All them stories could have really had me
Believing unless you are breast fed
You'll never be close and the rest
My daughter's warmth spills over me
Leaves a gap
When she's gone
I think of her mother.
She remembers how I read her
All those newspaper and magazine
Cuttings about adoption
She says her head's an encyclopedia
Of sob stories: the ones that were never
Told and committed suicide on their wedding nights
I always believed in the telling anyhow
You can't keep something like that secret
I wanted her to think of her other mother
Out there thinking that child I had will be
Eight today nine today all the way up to
God knows when.
I told my daughter;
I bet your mother's never missed your birthday
How could she
Now when people say ah but
It's not like having your own child though is it
I say of course it is what else is it
She's my child I have brought her up
Told her stories wept at losses
Laughed at her pleasures she is mine.
Well maybe that is why I don't
Like all this talk about her being black
I brought her up as my own
As I would any other child
Colour matters to the nuttters
But she says my daughter says
It matters to her.
I suppose there would have been things
I couldn't have understood with any child
We knew she was coloured
They told us they had no babies at first
And I chanced to say it didn't matter
What colour it was and then they
Said oh well are you sure in that case
We have a baby for you
To think she wasn't even thought of as a baby!
My baby my baby.
Robert Graves |
Call it a good marriage -
For no one ever questioned
Her warmth, his masculinity,
Their interlocking views;
Except one stray graphologist
Who frowned in speculation
At her h's and her s's,
His p's and w's.
Though few would still subscribe
To the monogamic axiom
That strife below the hip-bones
Need not estrange the heart,
Call it a good marriage:
More drew those two together,
Despite a lack of children,
Than pulled them apart.
Call it a good marriage:
They never fought in public,
They acted circumspectly
And faced the world with pride;
Thus the hazards of their love-bed
Were none of our damned business -
Till as jurymen we sat on
Two deaths by suicide.
Charles Bukowski |
I see you drinking at a fountain with tiny
blue hands, no, your hands are not tiny
they are small, and the fountain is in France
where you wrote me that last letter and
I answered and never heard from you again.
you used to write insane poems about
ANGELS AND GOD, all in upper case, and you
knew famous artists and most of them
were your lovers, and I wrote back, it’ all right,
go ahead, enter their lives, I’ not jealous
because we’ never met.
we got close once in
New Orleans, one half block, but never met, never
so you went with the famous and wrote
about the famous, and, of course, what you found out
is that the famous are worried about
their fame –– not the beautiful young girl in bed
with them, who gives them that, and then awakens
in the morning to write upper case poems about
ANGELS AND GOD.
we know God is dead, they’ told
us, but listening to you I wasn’ sure.
it was the upper case.
you were one of the
best female poets and I told the publishers,
editors, “ her, print her, she’ mad but she’
there’ no lie in her fire.
” I loved you
like a man loves a woman he never touches, only
writes to, keeps little photographs of.
I would have
loved you more if I had sat in a small room rolling a
cigarette and listened to you piss in the bathroom,
but that didn’ happen.
your letters got sadder.
your lovers betrayed you.
kid, I wrote back, all
it didn’ help.
you had a crying bench and it was by a bridge and
the bridge was over a river and you sat on the crying
bench every night and wept for the lovers who had
hurt and forgotten you.
I wrote back but never
a friend wrote me of your suicide
3 or 4 months after it happened.
if I had met you
I would probably have been unfair to you or you
it was best like this.
Sylvia Plath |
The day you died I went into the dirt,
Into the lightless hibernaculum
Where bees, striped black and gold, sleep out the blizzard
Like hieratic stones, and the ground is hard.
It was good for twenty years, that wintering --
As if you never existed, as if I came
God-fathered into the world from my mother's belly:
Her wide bed wore the stain of divinity.
I had nothing to do with guilt or anything
When I wormed back under my mother's heart.
Small as a doll in my dress of innocence
I lay dreaming your epic, image by image.
Nobody died or withered on that stage.
Everything took place in a durable whiteness.
The day I woke, I woke on Churchyard Hill.
I found your name, I found your bones and all
Enlisted in a cramped necropolis
your speckled stone skewed by an iron fence.
In this charity ward, this poorhouse, where the dead
Crowd foot to foot, head to head, no flower
Breaks the soil.
This is Azalea path.
A field of burdock opens to the south.
Six feet of yellow gravel cover you.
The artificial red sage does not stir
In the basket of plastic evergreens they put
At the headstone next to yours, nor does it rot,
Although the rains dissolve a bloody dye:
The ersatz petals drip, and they drip red.
Another kind of redness bothers me:
The day your slack sail drank my sister's breath
The flat sea purpled like that evil cloth
My mother unrolled at your last homecoming.
I borrow the silts of an old tragedy.
The truth is, one late October, at my birth-cry
A scorpion stung its head, an ill-starred thing;
My mother dreamed you face down in the sea.
The stony actors poise and pause for breath.
I brought my love to bear, and then you died.
It was the gangrene ate you to the bone
My mother said: you died like any man.
How shall I age into that state of mind?
I am the ghost of an infamous suicide,
My own blue razor rusting at my throat.
O pardon the one who knocks for pardon at
Your gate, father -- your hound-bitch, daughter, friend.
It was my love that did us both to death.
Robert William Service |
I've often wondered why
Old chaps who choose to die
In evil passes,
Before themselves they slay,
Take off their glasses?
As I strolled by the Castle cliff
An oldish chap I set my eyes on,
Who stood so singularly stiff
And stark against the blue horizon;
A poet fashioning a sonnet,
I thought - how rapt he labours on it!
And then I blinked and stood astare,
And questioned at my sight condition,
For I was seeing empty air -
He must have been an apparition.
Amazed I gazed .
no one was there:
My sanity roused my suspicion.
I strode to where I saw him stand
So solitary in the sun -
Nothing! just empty sew and land,
no smallest sign of anyone.
While down below I heard the roar
Of waves, five hundred feet or more.
I had been drinking, I confess;
There was confusion in my brain,
And I was feeling more or less
The fumes of overnight champagne.
So standing on that dizzy shelf:
"You saw no one," I told myself.
"No need to call the local law,
For after all its not your business.
You just imagined what you saw .
Then I was seized with sudden dizziness:
For at my feet, beyond denying,
A pair of spectacles were lying.
And so I simply let them lie,
And sped from that accursed spot.
No lover of the police am I,
And sooner would be drunk than not.
"I'll scram," said I, "and leave the locals
To find and trace them dam bi-focals.
Lisa Zaran |
I went looking for God
but I found you instead.
Bad luck or destiny,
Buried in the muck,
the soot of the city,
sorrow for an appetite,
devil on your left shoulder,
angel on your right.
You, with your thorny rhythms
and tragic, midnight melodies.
My heart never tried
to commit suicide before.
Originally published in Literati Magazine, Winter 2005
Copyright © Lisa Zaran, 2005
Robert William Service |
Deeming that I were better dead,
"How shall I kill myself?" I said.
Thus mooning by the river Seine
I sought extinction without pain,
When on a bridge I saw a flash
Of lingerie and heard a splash .
So as I am a swimmer stout
I plunged and pulled the poor wretch out.
The female that I saved? Ah yes,
To yield the Morgue of one corpse the less,
Apart from all heroic action,
Gave me a moral satisfaction.
was she an old and withered hag,
Too tired of life to long to lag?
Ah no, she was so young and fair
I fell in love with her right there.
And when she took me to her attic
Her gratitude was most emphatic.
A sweet and simple girl she proved,
Distraught because the man she loved
In battle his life-blood had shed .
So I, too, told her of my dead,
The girl who in a garret grey
Had coughed and coughed her life away.
Thus as we sought our griefs to smother,
With kisses we consoled each other .
And there's the ending of my story;
It wasn't grim, it wasn't gory.
For comforted were hearts forlorn,
And from black sorrow joy was born:
So may our dead dears be forgiving,
And bless the rapture of the living.
Dorothy Parker |
If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide;
If cool my heart and high my head,
I think, "How lucky are the dead!"
Anne Sexton |
It is snowing and death bugs me
as stubborn as insomnia.
The fierce bubbles of chalk,
the little white lesions
settle on the street outside.
It is snowing and the ninety
year old woman who was combing
out her long white wraith hair
is gone, embalmed even now,
even tonight her arms are smooth
muskets at her side and nothing
issues from her but her last word - "Oh.
" Surprised by death.
It is snowing.
are falling from the punch.
Death is here!
She suffers according to the digits
of my hate.
I hear the filaments
I would lie down
with them and lift my madness
off like a wig.
I would lie
outside in a room of wool
and let the snow cover me.
Paris white or flake white
or argentine, all in the washbasin
of my mouth, calling, "Oh.
I am empty.
I am witless.
Death is here.
There is no
See the mark, the pock, the pock!
Meanwhile you pour tea
with your handsome gentle hands.
Then you deliberately take your
forefinger and point it at my temple,
saying, "You suicide bitch!
I'd like to take a corkscrew
and screw out all your brains
and you'd never be back ever.
And I close my eyes over the steaming
tea and see God opening His teeth.
" He says.
I see the child in me writing, "Oh.
Oh, my dear, not why.
Lewis Carroll |
The day was wet, the rain fell souse
Like jars of strawberry jam,  a
sound was heard in the old henhouse,
A beating of a hammer.
Of stalwart form, and visage warm,
Two youths were seen within it,
Splitting up an old tree into perches for their poultry
At a hundred strokes  a minute.
The work is done, the hen has taken
Possession of her nest and eggs,
Without a thought of eggs and bacon, 
(Or I am very much mistaken happy)
She turns over each shell,
To be sure that all's well,
Looks into the straw
To see there's no flaw,
Goes once round the house, 
Half afraid of a mouse,
Then sinks calmly to rest
On the top of her nest,
First doubling up each of her legs.
Time rolled away, and so did every shell,
"Small by degrees and beautifully less,"
As the large mother with a powerful spell 
Forced each in turn its contents to express, 
But ah! "imperfect is expression,"
Some poet said, I don't care who,
If you want to know you must go elsewhere,
One fact I can tell, if you're willing to hear,
He never attended a Parliament Session,
For I'm certain that if he had ever been there,
Full quickly would he have changed his ideas,
With the hissings, the hootings, the groans and the cheers.
And as to his name it is pretty clear
That it wasn't me and it wasn't you!
And so it fell upon a day,
(That is, it never rose again)
A chick was found upon the hay,
Its little life had ebbed away.
No longer frolicsome and gay,
No longer could it run or play.
"And must we, chicken, must we part?"
Its master  cried with bursting heart,
And voice of agony and pain.
So one, whose ticket's marked "Return", 
When to the lonely roadside station
He flies in fear and perturbation,
Thinks of his home--the hissing urn--
Then runs with flying hat and hair,
And, entering, finds to his despair
He's missed the very last train.
Too long it were to tell of each conjecture
Of chicken suicide, and poultry victim,
The deadly frown, the stern and dreary lecture,
The timid guess, "perhaps some needle pricked him!"
The din of voice, the words both loud and many,
The sob, the tear, the sigh that none could smother,
Till all agreed "a shilling to a penny
It killed itself, and we acquit the mother!"
Scarce was the verdict spoken,
When that still calm was broken,
A childish form hath burst into the throng;
With tears and looks of sadness,
That bring no news of gladness,
But tell too surely something hath gone wrong!
"The sight I have come upon
The stoutest heart  would sicken,
That nasty hen has been and gone
And killed another chicken!"