Lawrence Ferlinghetti |
There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs
Lives cross lives
idling at stoplights
Beyond the cloverleaf turnoffs
'Souls eat souls in the general emptiness'
A piano concerto comes out a kitchen window
A yogi speaks at Ojai
'It's all taking pace in one mind'
On the lawn among the trees
lovers are listening
for the master to tell them they are one
with the universe
Eyes smell flowers and become them
There's a deathless hush
on the freeway tonight
as a Pacific tidal wave a mile high
Los Angeles breathes its last gas
and sinks into the sea like the Titanic all lights lit
Nine minutes later Willa Cather's Nebraska
sinks with it
The sea comes over in Utah
Mormon tabernacles washed away like barnacles
Coyotes are confounded & swim nowhere
An orchestra onstage in Omaha
keeps on playing Handel's Water Music
Horns fill with water
ans bass players float away on their instruments
clutching them like lovers horizontal
Chicago's Loop becomes a rollercoaster
Skyscrapers filled like water glasses
Great Lakes mixed with Buddhist brine
Great Books watered down in Evanston
Milwaukee beer topped with sea foam
Beau Fleuve of Buffalo suddenly become salt
Manhatten Island swept clean in sixteen seconds
buried masts of Amsterdam arise
as the great wave sweeps on Eastward
to wash away over-age Camembert Europe
manhatta steaming in sea-vines
the washed land awakes again to wilderness
the only sound a vast thrumming of crickets
a cry of seabirds high over
in empty eternity
as the Hudson retakes its thickets
and Indians reclaim their canoes
Allen Ginsberg |
When I die
I don't care what happens to my body
throw ashes in the air, scatter 'em in East River
bury an urn in Elizabeth New Jersey, B'nai Israel Cemetery
But l want a big funeral
Patrick's Cathedral, St.
Mark's Church, the largest synagogue in
First, there's family, brother, nephews, spry aged Edith stepmother
96, Aunt Honey from old Newark,
Doctor Joel, cousin Mindy, brother Gene one eyed one ear'd, sister-
in-law blonde Connie, five nephews, stepbrothers & sisters
companion Peter Orlovsky, caretakers Rosenthal & Hale, Bill Morgan--
Next, teacher Trungpa Vajracharya's ghost mind, Gelek Rinpoche,
there Sakyong Mipham, Dalai Lama alert, chance visiting
America, Satchitananda Swami
Shivananda, Dehorahava Baba, Karmapa XVI, Dudjom Rinpoche,
Katagiri & Suzuki Roshi's phantoms
Baker, Whalen, Daido Loorie, Qwong, Frail White-haired Kapleau
Roshis, Lama Tarchen --
Then, most important, lovers over half-century
Dozens, a hundred, more, older fellows bald & rich
young boys met naked recently in bed, crowds surprised to see each
other, innumerable, intimate, exchanging memories
"He taught me to meditate, now I'm an old veteran of the thousand
day retreat --"
"I played music on subway platforms, I'm straight but loved him he
"I felt more love from him at 19 than ever from anyone"
"We'd lie under covers gossip, read my poetry, hug & kiss belly to belly
arms round each other"
"I'd always get into his bed with underwear on & by morning my
skivvies would be on the floor"
"Japanese, always wanted take it up my bum with a master"
"We'd talk all night about Kerouac & Cassady sit Buddhalike then
sleep in his captain's bed.
"He seemed to need so much affection, a shame not to make him happy"
"I was lonely never in bed nude with anyone before, he was so gentle my
shuddered when he traced his finger along my abdomen nipple to hips-- "
"All I did was lay back eyes closed, he'd bring me to come with mouth
& fingers along my waist"
"He gave great head"
So there be gossip from loves of 1948, ghost of Neal Cassady commin-
gling with flesh and youthful blood of 1997
and surprise -- "You too? But I thought you were straight!"
"I am but Ginsberg an exception, for some reason he pleased me.
"I forgot whether I was straight gay ***** or funny, was myself, tender
and affectionate to be kissed on the top of my head,
my forehead throat heart & solar plexus, mid-belly.
on my prick,
tickled with his tongue my behind"
"I loved the way he'd recite 'But at my back allways hear/ time's winged
chariot hurrying near,' heads together, eye to eye, on a
Among lovers one handsome youth straggling the rear
"I studied his poetry class, 17 year-old kid, ran some errands to his
seduced me didn't want to, made me come, went home, never saw him
again never wanted to.
"He couldn't get it up but loved me," "A clean old man.
" "He made
sure I came first"
This the crowd most surprised proud at ceremonial place of honor--
Then poets & musicians -- college boys' grunge bands -- age-old rock
star Beatles, faithful guitar accompanists, gay classical con-
ductors, unknown high Jazz music composers, funky trum-
peters, bowed bass & french horn black geniuses, folksinger
fiddlers with dobro tamborine harmonica mandolin auto-
harp pennywhistles & kazoos
Next, artist Italian romantic realists schooled in mystic 60's India,
Late fauve Tuscan painter-poets, Classic draftsman Massa-
chusets surreal jackanapes with continental wives, poverty
sketchbook gesso oil watercolor masters from American
Then highschool teachers, lonely Irish librarians, delicate biblio-
philes, sex liberation troops nay armies, ladies of either sex
"I met him dozens of times he never remembered my name I loved
him anyway, true artist"
"Nervous breakdown after menopause, his poetry humor saved me
from suicide hospitals"
"Charmant, genius with modest manners, washed sink, dishes my
studio guest a week in Budapest"
Thousands of readers, "Howl changed my life in Libertyville Illinois"
"I saw him read Montclair State Teachers College decided be a poet-- "
"He turned me on, I started with garage rock sang my songs in Kansas
"Kaddish made me weep for myself & father alive in Nevada City"
"Father Death comforted me when my sister died Boston l982"
"I read what he said in a newsmagazine, blew my mind, realized
others like me out there"
Deaf & Dumb bards with hand signing quick brilliant gestures
Then Journalists, editors's secretaries, agents, portraitists & photo-
graphy aficionados, rock critics, cultured laborors, cultural
historians come to witness the historic funeral
Super-fans, poetasters, aging Beatnicks & Deadheads, autograph-
hunters, distinguished paparazzi, intelligent gawkers
Everyone knew they were part of 'History" except the deceased
who never knew exactly what was happening even when I was alive
February 22, 1997
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.
Billy Collins |
This is not bad --
ambling along 44th Street
with Sonny Rollins for company,
his music flowing through the soft calipers
of these earphones,
as if he were right beside me
on this clear day in March,
the pavement sparkling with sunlight,
pigeons fluttering off the curb,
nodding over a profusion of bread crumbs.
In fact, I would say
my delight at being suffused
with phrases from his saxophone --
some like honey, some like vinegar --
is surpassed only by my gratitude
to Tommy Potter for taking the time
to join us on this breezy afternoon
with his most unwieldy bass
and to the esteemed Arthur Taylor
who is somehow managing to navigate
this crowd with his cumbersome drums.
And I bow deeply to Thelonious Monk
for figuring out a way
to motorize -- or whatever -- his huge piano
so he could be with us today.
This music is loud yet so confidential.
I cannot help feeling even more
like the center of the universe
than usual as I walk along to a rapid
little version of "The Way You Look Tonight,"
and all I can say to my fellow pedestrians,
to the woman in the white sweater,
the man in the tan raincoat and the heavy glasses,
who mistake themselves for the center of the universe --
all I can say is watch your step,
because the five of us, instruments and all,
are about to angle over
to the south side of the street
and then, in our own tightly knit way,
turn the corner at Sixth Avenue.
And if any of you are curious
about where this aggregation,
this whole battery-powered crew,
is headed, let us just say
that the real center of the universe,
the only true point of view,
is full of hope that he,
the hub of the cosmos
with his hair blown sideways,
will eventually make it all the way downtown.
Duncan Campbell Scott |
Sun on the mountain,
Shade in the valley,
Ripple and lightness
Leaping along the world,
Sun, like a gold sword
Plucked from the scabbard,
Striking the wheat-fields,
Splendid and lusty,
Toppling with plenty;
Shade, like a buckler
Kindly and ample,
Sweeping the wheat-fields
Darkening and tossing;
There on the world-rim
Winds break and gather
Heaping the mist
For the pyre of the sunset;
And still as a shadow,
In the dim westward,
A cloud sloop of amethyst
Moored to the world
With cables of rain.
Acres of gold wheat
Stir in the sunshine,
Rounding the hill-top,
Crested with plenty,
Filling the valley,
Brimmed with abundance,
Wind in the wheat-field
Eddying and settling,
Swaying it, sweeping it,
Lifting the rich heads,
Tossing them soothingly
Twinkle and shimmer
The lights and the shadowings,
Nimble as moonlight
Astir in the mere.
Laden with odors
Of peace and of plenty,
Soft comes the wind
From the ranks of the wheat-field,
Bearing a promise
Of harvest and sickle-time,
Dusty and dim
With the whirl of the flail,
And wagons of bread,
Sown-laden and lumbering
Through the gateways of cities.
When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles,
Bending and grasping,
Shearing and spreading;
When will the gleaners
Searching the stubble
Take the last wheat-heads
Home in their arms ?
Ask not the question! -
Moves to the answer.
Hunger and poverty
Heaped like the ocean
Welters and mutters,
Hold back the sickles!
Millions of children
Born to their mothers' womb,
Starved at the nipple, cry,--
Ours is the harvest!
Millions of women
Learned in the tragical
Secrets of poverty,
Sweated and beaten, cry,--
Hold back the sickles!
Millions of men
With a vestige of manhood,
Wild-eyed and gaunt-throated,
Shout with a leonine
Accent of anger,
Leaves us the wheat-fields!
When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles?
Ask not the question;
Moves to the answer.
Long have they sharpened
Their fiery, impetuous
Sickles of carnage,
Welded them aeons
Ago in the mountains
Of suffering and anguish;
Hearts were their hammers
Blood was their fire,
Sorrow their anvil,
(Trusty the sickle
Tempered with tears;)
Time they had plenty-
Harvests and harvests
Passed them in agony,
Only a half-filled
Ear for their lot;
Man that has taken
God for a master
Made him a law,
Mocked him and cursed him,
Set up this hunger,
Called it necessity,
Put in the blameless mouth
The poor ye have with you
But up from the impotent
Anguish of children,
Up from the labor
Of millions of mothers,
Grew by a just law
Stern and implacable,
Art born of poverty,
The making of sickles
Meet for the harvest.
And now to the wheat-fields
Come the weird reapers
Armed with their sickles,
Whipping them keenly
In the fresh-air fields,
Wild with the joy of them,
Finding them trusty,
Hilted with teen.
Swarming like ants,
The Idea for captain,
No banners, no bugles,
Only a terrible
Ground-bass of gathering
Tempest and fury,
Only a tossing
Of arms and of garments;
Sexless and featureless,
(Only the children
Different among them,
Crawling between their feet,
Borne on their shoulders;)
Rolling their shaggy heads
Wild with the unheard-of
Drug of the sunshine;
Tears that had eaten
The half of their eyelids
Dry on their cheeks;
Blood in their stiffened hair
Clouted and darkened;
Down in their cavern hearts
Hunger the tiger,
Sighs that had choked them
Burst into triumphing;
On they come, Victory!
Up to the wheat-fields,
Dreamed of in visions
Bred by the hunger,
Seen for the first time
Splendid and golden;
On they come fluctuant,
Seething and breaking,
Weltering like fire
In the pit of the earthquake,
Bursting in heaps
With the sudden intractable
Lust of the hunger:
Then when they see them-
The miles of the harvest
White in the sunshine,
Rushing and stumbling,
With the mighty and clamorous
Cry of a people
Starved from creation,
Hurl themselves onward,
Deep in the wheat-fields,
Weeping like children,
After ages and ages,
Back at the mother the earth.
Night in the valley,
Gloom on the mountain,
Wind in the wheat,
Far to the southward
The flutter of lightning,
The shudder of thunder;
But high at the zenith,
A cluster of stars
Glimmers and throbs
In the gasp of the midnight,
Steady and absolute,
Ancient and sure
Walt Whitman |
A CALIFORNIA song!
A prophecy and indirection—a thought impalpable, to breathe, as air;
A chorus of dryads, fading, departing—or hamadryads departing;
A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky,
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.
Farewell, my brethren,
Farewell, O earth and sky—farewell, ye neighboring waters;
My time has ended, my term has come.
Along the northern coast,
Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves,
In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country,
With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse,
With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong arms,
Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes—there in the Redwood forest dense,
I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.
The choppers heard not—the camp shanties echoed not;
The quick-ear’d teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not,
As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to join the refrain;
But in my soul I plainly heard.
Murmuring out of its myriad leaves,
Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high,
Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs—out of its foot-thick bark,
That chant of the seasons and time—chant, not of the past only, but the future.
You untold life of me,
And all you venerable and innocent joys,
Perennial, hardy life of me, with joys, ’mid rain, and many a summer sun,
And the white snows, and night, and the wild winds;
O the great patient, rugged joys! my soul’s strong joys, unreck’d by man;
(For know I bear the soul befitting me—I too have consciousness, identity,
And all the rocks and mountains have—and all the earth;)
Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine,
Our time, our term has come.
Nor yield we mournfully, majestic brothers,
We who have grandly fill’d our time;
With Nature’s calm content, and tacit, huge delight,
We welcome what we wrought for through the past,
And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long,
For a superber Race—they too to grandly fill their time,
For them we abdicate—in them ourselves, ye forest kings!
In them these skies and airs—these mountain peaks—Shasta—Nevadas,
These huge, precipitous cliffs—this amplitude—these valleys grand—Yosemite,
To be in them absorb’d, assimilated.
Then to a loftier strain,
Still prouder, more ecstatic, rose the chant,
As if the heirs, the Deities of the West,
Joining, with master-tongue, bore part.
Not wan from Asia’s fetishes,
Nor red from Europe’s old dynastic slaughter-house,
(Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and scaffolds every
But come from Nature’s long and harmless throes—peacefully builded thence,
These virgin lands—Lands of the Western Shore,
To the new Culminating Man—to you, the Empire New,
You, promis’d long, we pledge, we dedicate.
You occult, deep volitions,
You average Spiritual Manhood, purpose of all, pois’d on yourself—giving, not taking
You Womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and love, and aught that
from life and love,
You unseen Moral Essence of all the vast materials of America, (age upon age,
in Death the same as Life,)
You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould the New World,
it to Time and Space,
You hidden National Will, lying in your abysms, conceal’d, but ever alert,
You past and present purposes, tenaciously pursued, may-be unconscious of
Unswerv’d by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface;
You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts, statutes,
Here build your homes for good—establish here—These areas entire, Lands of the Western
We pledge, we dedicate to you.
For man of you—your characteristic Race,
Here may be hardy, sweet, gigantic grow—here tower, proportionate to Nature,
Here climb the vast, pure spaces, unconfined, uncheck’d by wall or roof,
Here laugh with storm or sun—here joy—here patiently inure,
Here heed himself, unfold himself (not others’ formulas heed)—here fill
To duly fall, to aid, unreck’d at last,
To disappear, to serve.
Thus, on the northern coast,
In the echo of teamsters’ calls, and the clinking chains, and the music of choppers’ axes,
The falling trunk and limbs, the crash, the muffled shriek, the groan,
Such words combined from the Redwood-tree—as of wood-spirits’ voices ecstatic, ancient and
The century-lasting, unseen dryads, singing, withdrawing,
All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving,
From the Cascade range to the Wasatch—or Idaho far, or Utah,
To the deities of the Modern henceforth yielding,
The chorus and indications, the vistas of coming humanity—the settlements, features all,
In the Mendocino woods I caught.
The flashing and golden pageant of California!
The sudden and gorgeous drama—the sunny and ample lands;
The long and varied stretch from Puget Sound to Colorado south;
Lands bathed in sweeter, rarer, healthier air—valleys and mountain cliffs;
The fields of Nature long prepared and fallow—the silent, cyclic chemistry;
The slow and steady ages plodding—the unoccupied surface ripening—the rich ores forming
At last the New arriving, assuming, taking possession,
A swarming and busy race settling and organizing every where;
Ships coming in from the whole round world, and going out to the whole world,
To India and China and Australia, and the thousand island paradises of the Pacific;
Populous cities—the latest inventions—the steamers on the rivers—the railroads—with
many a thrifty farm, with machinery,
And wool, and wheat, and the grape—and diggings of yellow gold.
But more in you than these, Lands of the Western Shore!
(These but the means, the implements, the standing-ground,)
I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of years, till now deferr’d,
Promis’d, to be fulfill’d, our common kind, the Race.
The New Society at last, proportionate to Nature,
In Man of you, more than your mountain peaks, or stalwart trees imperial,
In Woman more, far more, than all your gold, or vines, or even vital air.
Fresh come, to a New World indeed, yet long prepared,
I see the Genius of the Modern, child of the Real and Ideal,
Clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America, heir of the past so grand,
To build a grander future.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
BURLY dozing humble-bee
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique
Far-off heats through seas to seek;
I will follow thee alone 5
Thou animated torrid-zone!
Zigzag steerer desert cheerer
Let me chase thy waving lines;
Keep me nearer me thy hearer
Singing over shrubs and vines.
Insect lover of the sun
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon; 15
Epicurean of June;
Wait I prithee till I come
Within earshot of thy hum ¡ª
All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind in May days 20
With a net of shining haze
Silvers the horizon wall
And with softness touching all
Tints the human countenance
With a color of romance 25
And infusing subtle heats
Turns the sod to violets
Thou in sunny solitudes
Rover of the underwoods
The green silence dost displace 30
With thy mellow breezy bass.
Hot midsummer's petted crone
Sweet to me thy drowsy tone
Tells of countless sunny hours
Long days and solid banks of flowers; 35
Of gulfs of sweetness without bound
In Indian wildernesses found;
Of Syrian peace immortal leisure
Firmest cheer and bird-like pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean 40
Hath my insect never seen;
But violets and bilberry bells
Maple-sap and daffodels
Grass with green flag half-mast high
Succory to match the sky 45
Columbine with horn of honey
Scented fern and agrimony
Clover catchfly adder's-tongue
And brier-roses dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste 50
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer
Seeing only what is fair
Sipping only what is sweet 55
Thou dost mock at fate and care
Leave the chaff and take the wheat.
When the fierce northwestern blast
Cools sea and land so far and fast
Thou already slumberest deep; 60
Woe and want thou canst outsleep;
Want and woe which torture us
Thy sleep makes ridiculous.
Elizabeth Bishop |
From narrow provinces
of fish and bread and tea,
home of the long tides
where the bay leaves the sea
twice a day and takes
the herrings long rides,
where if the river
enters or retreats
in a wall of brown foam
depends on if it meets
the bay coming in,
the bay not at home;
where, silted red,
sometimes the sun sets
facing a red sea,
and others, veins the flats'
lavender, rich mud
in burning rivulets;
on red, gravelly roads,
down rows of sugar maples,
past clapboard farmhouses
and neat, clapboard churches,
bleached, ridged as clamshells,
past twin silver birches,
through late afternoon
a bus journeys west,
the windshield flashing pink,
pink glancing off of metal,
brushing the dented flank
of blue, beat-up enamel;
down hollows, up rises,
and waits, patient, while
a lone traveller gives
kisses and embraces
to seven relatives
and a collie supervises.
Goodbye to the elms,
to the farm, to the dog.
The bus starts.
grows richer; the fog,
shifting, salty, thin,
comes closing in.
Its cold, round crystals
form and slide and settle
in the white hens' feathers,
in gray glazed cabbages,
on the cabbage roses
and lupins like apostles;
the sweet peas cling
to their wet white string
on the whitewashed fences;
inside the foxgloves,
and evening commences.
One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies
Lower, Middle, Upper;
Five Islands, Five Houses,
where a woman shakes a tablecloth
out after supper.
A pale flickering.
The Tantramar marshes
and the smell of salt hay.
An iron bridge trembles
and a loose plank rattles
but doesn't give way.
On the left, a red light
swims through the dark:
a ship's port lantern.
Two rubber boots show,
A dog gives one bark.
A woman climbs in
with two market bags,
brisk, freckled, elderly.
"A grand night.
all the way to Boston.
She regards us amicably.
Moonlight as we enter
the New Brunswick woods,
hairy, scratchy, splintery;
moonlight and mist
caught in them like lamb's wool
on bushes in a pasture.
The passengers lie back.
Some long sighs.
A dreamy divagation
begins in the night,
a gentle, auditory,
In the creakings and noises,
an old conversation
--not concerning us,
but recognizable, somewhere,
back in the bus:
talking, in Eternity:
names being mentioned,
things cleared up finally;
what he said, what she said,
who got pensioned;
deaths, deaths and sicknesses;
the year he remarried;
the year (something) happened.
She died in childbirth.
That was the son lost
when the schooner foundered.
He took to drink.
She went to the bad.
When Amos began to pray
even in the store and
finally the family had
to put him away.
" that peculiar
A sharp, indrawn breath,
half groan, half acceptance,
that means "Life's like that.
We know it (also death).
Talking the way they talked
in the old featherbed,
peacefully, on and on,
dim lamplight in the hall,
down in the kitchen, the dog
tucked in her shawl.
Now, it's all right now
even to fall asleep
just as on all those nights.
--Suddenly the bus driver
stops with a jolt,
turns off his lights.
A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus's hot hood.
high as a church,
homely as a house
(or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us
Some of the passengers
exclaim in whispers,
"Sure are big creatures.
"It's awful plain.
"Look! It's a she!"
Taking her time,
she looks the bus over,
Why, why do we feel
(we all feel) this sweet
sensation of joy?
says our quiet driver,
rolling his r's.
"Look at that, would you.
Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer,
by craning backward,
the moose can be seen
on the moonlit macadam;
then there's a dim
smell of moose, an acrid
smell of gasoline.
Billy Collins |
What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?
It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.
But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.
No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles--
each a different height--
are singing in perfect harmony.
So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt--
frog at the edge of a pond--
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.
James A Emanuel |
When three, he fished these lakes,
Curled sleeping on a lip of rock,
Crib blankets tucked from ants and fishbone flies,
Twitching as the strike of bass and snarling reel
Uncoiled my shouts not quit
Till he jerked blinking up on all-fours,
Swaying with the winking leaves.
Strong awake, he shook his cane pole like a spoon
And dipped among the wagging perch
Till, tired, he drew his silver rubber blade
And poked the winding fins that tugged our string,
Or sprayed the dimpling minnows with his plastic gun,
Or, rainstruck, squirmed to my armpit in the poncho.
Then years uncurled him, thinned him hard.
Now, far he cast his line into the wrinkled blue
And easy toes a rock, reel on his thigh
Till bone and crank cry out the strike
He takes with manchild chuckles, cunning
In his play of zigzag line and plunging silver.
Now fishing far from me, he strides through rain, shoulders
A spiny ridge of pines, and disappears
Near lakes that cannot be, while I must choose
To go or stay: bring blanket, blade, and gun,
Or stand a fisherman.