Federico García Lorca |
In the sky there is nobody asleep.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the
Nobody is asleep on earth.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.
Life is not a dream.
Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.
Nobody is sleeping in the sky.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world.
No one, no one.
I have said it before.
No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the night,
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.
A R Ammons |
You'll rejoice at how many kinds of **** there are:
gosling **** (which J.
Williams said something
was as green as), fish **** (the generality), trout
****, rainbow trout **** (for the nice), mullet ****,
sand dab ****, casual sloth ****, elephant ****
(awesome as process or payload), wildebeest ****,
horse **** (a favorite), caterpillar **** (so many dark
kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros
****, splashy jaybird ****, mockingbird ****
(dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin **** that
oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts,
chicken **** and chicken mite ****, pelican ****, gannet
**** (wholesome guano), fly **** (periodic), cockatoo
****, dog **** (past catalog or assimilation),
cricket ****, elk (high plains) ****, and
tiny scribbled little shrew ****, whale **** (what
a sight, deep assumption), mandril **** (blazing
blast off), weasel **** (wiles' waste), gazelle ****,
magpie **** (total protein), tiger **** (too acid
to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray ****, eerie
shark ****, earthworm **** (a soilure), crab ****,
wolf **** upon the germicidal ice, snake ****, giraffe
**** that accelerates, secretary bird ****, turtle
**** suspension invites, remora **** slightly in
advance of the shark ****, hornet **** (difficult to
assess), camel **** that slaps the ghastly dry
siliceous, frog ****, beetle ****, bat **** (the
marmoreal), contemptible cat ****, penguin ****,
hermit crab ****, prairie hen ****, cougar ****, eagle
**** (high totem stuff), buffalo **** (hardly less
lofty), otter ****, beaver **** (from the animal of
alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down
cloaca—macaw ****, alligator **** (that floats the Nile
along), louse ****, macaque, koala, and coati ****,
antelope ****, chuck-will's-widow ****, alpaca ****
(very high stuff), gooney bird ****, chigger ****, bull
**** (the classic), caribou ****, rasbora, python, and
razorbill ****, scorpion ****, man ****, laswing
fly larva ****, chipmunk ****, other-worldly wallaby
****, gopher **** (or broke), platypus ****, aardvark
****, spider ****, kangaroo and peccary ****, guanaco
****, dolphin ****, aphid ****, baboon **** (that leopards
induce), albatross ****, red-headed woodpecker (nine
inches long) ****, tern ****, hedgehog ****, panda ****,
seahorse ****, and the **** of the wasteful gallinule.
Eugene Field |
TO MISS GRACE KING
Down in the old French quarter,
Just out of Rampart street,
I wend my way
At close of day
Unto the quaint retreat
Where lives the Voodoo Doctor
By some esteemed a sham,
Yet I'll declare there's none elsewhere
So skilled as Doctor Sam
With the claws of a deviled crawfish,
The juice of the prickly prune,
And the quivering dew
From a yarb that grew
In the light of a midnight moon!
I never should have known him
But for the colored folk
That here obtain
And ne'er in vain
That wizard's art invoke;
For when the Eye that's Evil
Would him and his'n damn,
The negro's grief gets quick relief
Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam.
With the caul of an alligator,
The plume of an unborn loon,
And the poison wrung
From a serpent's tongue
By the light of a midnight moon!
In all neurotic ailments
I hear that he excels,
And he insures
Of weird, uncanny spells;
The most unruly patient
Gets docile as a lamb
And is freed from ill by the potent skill
Of Hoodoo-Doctor Sam;
Feathers of strangled chickens,
Moss from the dank lagoon,
And plasters wet
With spider sweat
In the light of a midnight moon!
They say when nights are grewsome
And hours are, oh! so late,
Old Sam steals out
And hunts about
For charms that hoodoos hate!
That from the moaning river
And from the haunted glen
He silently brings what eerie things
Give peace to hoodooed men:--
The tongue of a piebald 'possum,
The tooth of a senile 'coon,
The buzzard's breath that smells of death,
And the film that lies
On a lizard's eyes
In the light of a midnight moon!
Elizabeth Bishop |
The state with the prettiest name,
the state that floats in brackish water,
held together by mangrave roots
that bear while living oysters in clusters,
and when dead strew white swamps with skeletons,
dotted as if bombarded, with green hummocks
like ancient cannon-balls sprouting grass.
The state full of long S-shaped birds, blue and white,
and unseen hysterical birds who rush up the scale
every time in a tantrum.
Tanagers embarrassed by their flashiness,
and pelicans whose delight it is to clown;
who coast for fun on the strong tidal currents
in and out among the mangrove islands
and stand on the sand-bars drying their damp gold wings
on sun-lit evenings.
Enormous turtles, helpless and mild,
die and leave their barnacled shells on the beaches,
and their large white skulls with round eye-sockets
twice the size of a man's.
The palm trees clatter in the stiff breeze
like the bills of the pelicans.
The tropical rain comes down
to freshen the tide-looped strings of fading shells:
Job's Tear, the Chinese Alphabet, the scarce Junonia,
parti-colored pectins and Ladies' Ears,
arranged as on a gray rag of rotted calico,
the buried Indian Princess's skirt;
with these the monotonous, endless, sagging coast-line
is delicately ornamented.
Thirty or more buzzards are drifting down, down, down,
over something they have spotted in the swamp,
in circles like stirred-up flakes of sediment
sinking through water.
Smoke from woods-fires filters fine blue solvents.
On stumps and dead trees the charring is like black velvet.
go hunting to the tune of their ferocious obbligatos.
After dark, the fireflies map the heavens in the marsh
until the moon rises.
Cold white, not bright, the moonlight is coarse-meshed,
and the careless, corrupt state is all black specks
too far apart, and ugly whites; the poorest
post-card of itself.
After dark, the pools seem to have slipped away.
The alligator, who has five distinct calls:
friendliness, love, mating, war, and a warning--
whimpers and speaks in the throat
of the Indian Princess.
Walt Whitman |
O MAGNET-SOUTH! O glistening, perfumed South! My South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things, and the trees where I was
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow, distant, over flats of silvery
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee,
Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float on the Okeechobee—I cross
hummock land, or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the yellow-pine, the scented
lemon and orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound through an inlet, and dart my vision
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp!
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree, with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old woods charged with mistletoe
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural stillness, (Here in these dense swamps
freebooter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave has his conceal’d hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half-impassable swamps, infested by
resounding with the bellow of the alligator, the sad noises of the night-owl and the
the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all the forenoon—singing through the
The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum;
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav’d corn—slender,
green with tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath’d in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Tennessee, and never wander more!
Wallace Stevens |
As the immense dew of Florida
The big-finned palm
And green vine angering for life,
As the immense dew of Florida
Brings forth hymn and hymn
From the beholder,
Beholding all these green sides
And gold sides of green sides,
And blessed mornings,
Meet for the eye of the young alligator,
And lightning colors
So, in me, comes flinging
Forms, flames, and the flakes of flames.
Kenneth Patchen |
So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame
To extend all boundaries
To fog them in right over the plate
To kill only what is ridiculous
To establish problem
To ignore solutions
To listen to no one
To omit nothing
To contradict everything
To generate the free brain
To bear no cross
To take part in no crucifixion
To tinkle a warning when mankind strays
To explode upon all parties
To wound deeper than the soldier
To heal this poor obstinate monkey once and for all
To verify the irrational
To exaggerate all things
To inhibit everyone
To lubricate each proportion
To experience only experience
To set a flame in the high air
To exclaim at the commonplace alone
To cause the unseen eyes to open
To admire only the abrsurd
To be concerned with every profession save his own
To raise a fortuitous stink on the boulevards of truth and beauty
To desire an electrifiable intercourse with a female alligator
To lift the flesh above the suffering
To forgive the beautiful its disconsolate deceit
To flash his vengeful badge at every abyss
It is the artist’s duty to be alive
To drag people into glittering occupations
To blush perpetually in gaping innocence
To drift happily through the ruined race-intelligence
To burrow beneath the subconscious
To defend the unreal at the cost of his reason
To obey each outrageous inpulse
To commit his company to all enchantments.
Marianne Moore |
Strong and slippery,
built for the midnight grass-party
confronted by four cats, he sleeps his time away--
the detached first claw on the foreleg corresponding
to the thumb, retracted to its tip; the small tuft of fronds
or katydid-legs above each eye numbering all units
in each group; the shadbones regularly set about the mouth
to droop or rise in unison like porcupine-quills.
He lets himself be flattened out by gravity,
as seaweed is tamed and weakened by the sun,
compelled when extended, to lie stationary.
Sleep is the result of his delusion that one must do as well
as one can for oneself,
sleep--epitome of what is to him the end of life.
Demonstrate on him how the lady placed a forked stick
on the innocuous neck-sides of the dangerous southern snake.
One need not try to stir him up; his prune-shaped head
and alligator-eyes are not party to the joke.
Lifted and handled, he may be dangled like an eel
or set up on the forearm like a mouse;
his eyes bisected by pupils of a pin's width,
are flickeringly exhibited, then covered up.
May be? I should have said might have been;
when he has been got the better of in a dream--
as in a fight with nature or with cats, we all know it.
Profound sleep is not with him a fixed illusion.
Springing about with froglike accuracy, with jerky cries
when taken in hand, he is himself again;
to sit caged by the rungs of a domestic chair
would be unprofitable--human.
What is the good of hypocrisy?
it is permissible to choose one's employment,
to abandon the nail, or roly-poly,
when it shows signs of being no longer a pleasure,
to score the nearby magazine with a double line of strokes.
He can talk but insolently says nothing.
What of it?
When one is frank, one's very presence is a compliment.
It is clear that he can see the virtue of naturalness,
that he does not regard the published fact as a surrender.
As for the disposition invariably to affront,
an animal with claws should have an opportunity to use them.
The eel-like extension of trunk into tail is not an accident.
To leap, to lengthen out, divide the air, to purloin, to pursue.
To tell the hen: fly over the fence, go in the wrong way
in your perturbation--this is life;
to do less would be nothing but dishonesty.
Li-Young Lee |
Sad is the man who is asked for a story
and can't come up with one.
His five-year-old son waits in his lap.
Not the same story, Baba.
A new one.
The man rubs his chin, scratches his ear.
In a room full of books in a world
of stories, he can recall
not one, and soon, he thinks, the boy
will give up on his father.
Already the man lives far ahead, he sees
the day this boy will go.
Hear the alligator story! The angel story once more!
You love the spider story.
You laugh at the spider.
Let me tell it!
But the boy is packing his shirts,
he is looking for his keys.
Are you a god,
the man screams, that I sit mute before you?
Am I a god that I should never disappoint?
But the boy is here.
Please, Baba, a story?
It is an emotional rather than logical equation,
an earthly rather than heavenly one,
which posits that a boy's supplications
and a father's love add up to silence.
Credit: Copyright © 1990 by Li-Young Lee.
Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
Donald Hall |
The clock of my days winds down.
The cat eats sparrows outside my window.
Once, she brought me a small rabbit
which we devoured together, under
the Empire Table
while the men shrieked
repossessing the gold umbrella.
Now the beard on my clock turns white.
My cat stares into dark corners
missing her gold umbrella.
She is in love
with the Alligator Bride.
Ah, the tiny fine white
teeth! The Bride, propped on her tail
in white lace
stares from the holes
of her eyes.
Her stuck-open mouth
laughs at minister and people.
On bare new wood
a dozen ears of corn,
six bottles of white wine,
and the Alligator Bride.
The color of bubble gum,
the consistency of petroleum jelly,
from the palm of my left hand.
My cat licks it.
I watch the Alligator Bride.
Big houses like shabby boulders
hold themselves tight
I am unable to daydream.
The sky is a gun aimed at me.
I pull the trigger.
The skull of my promises
leans in a black closet, gapes
with its good mouth
for a teat to suck.
A bird flies back and forth
in my house that is covered by gelatin
and the cat leaps at it
Under the Empire Table
the Alligator Bride
lies in her bridal shroud.
My left hand
leaks on the Chinese carpet.