A R Ammons |
You'll rejoice at how many kinds of shit there are:
gosling shit (which J.
Williams said something
was as green as), fish shit (the generality), trout
shit, rainbow trout shit (for the nice), mullet shit,
sand dab shit, casual sloth shit, elephant shit
(awesome as process or payload), wildebeest shit,
horse shit (a favorite), caterpillar shit (so many dark
kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros
shit, splashy jaybird shit, mockingbird shit
(dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin shit that
oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts,
chicken shit and chicken mite shit, pelican shit, gannet
shit (wholesome guano), fly shit (periodic), cockatoo
shit, dog shit (past catalog or assimilation),
cricket shit, elk (high plains) shit, and
tiny scribbled little shrew shit, whale shit (what
a sight, deep assumption), mandril shit (blazing
blast off), weasel shit (wiles' waste), gazelle shit,
magpie shit (total protein), tiger shit (too acid
to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray shit, eerie
shark shit, earthworm shit (a soilure), crab shit,
wolf shit upon the germicidal ice, snake shit, giraffe
shit that accelerates, secretary bird shit, turtle
shit suspension invites, remora shit slightly in
advance of the shark shit, hornet shit (difficult to
assess), camel shit that slaps the ghastly dry
siliceous, frog shit, beetle shit, bat shit (the
marmoreal), contemptible cat shit, penguin shit,
hermit crab shit, prairie hen shit, cougar shit, eagle
shit (high totem stuff), buffalo shit (hardly less
lofty), otter shit, beaver shit (from the animal of
alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down
cloaca—macaw shit, alligator shit (that floats the Nile
along), louse shit, macaque, koala, and coati shit,
antelope shit, chuck-will's-widow shit, alpaca shit
(very high stuff), gooney bird shit, chigger shit, bull
shit (the classic), caribou shit, rasbora, python, and
razorbill shit, scorpion shit, man shit, laswing
fly larva shit, chipmunk shit, other-worldly wallaby
shit, gopher shit (or broke), platypus shit, aardvark
shit, spider shit, kangaroo and peccary shit, guanaco
shit, dolphin shit, aphid shit, baboon shit (that leopards
induce), albatross shit, red-headed woodpecker (nine
inches long) shit, tern shit, hedgehog shit, panda shit,
seahorse shit, and the shit of the wasteful gallinule.
A R Ammons |
The reason to be autonomous is to stand there,
a cleared instrument, ready to act, to search
the moral realm and actual conditions for what
needs to be done and to do it: fine, the
best, if it works out, but if, like a gun, it
comes in handy to the wrong choice, why then
you see the danger in the effective: better
then an autonomy that stands and looks about,
negotiating nothing, the supreme indifferences:
is anything to be gained where as much is lost:
and if for every action there is an equal and
opposite reaction has the loss been researched
equally with the gain: you can see how the
milling actions of millions could come to a
buzzard-like glide as from a coincidental,
warm bottom of water stuck between chilled
peaks: it is not so easy to say, OK, go on
out and act: who, doing what, to what or
whom: just a minute: should the bunker be
bombed (if it stores gas): should all the
rattlers die just because they rattle: if I
hear the young gentleman vomiter roaring down
the hall in the men's room, should I go and
inquire of him, reducing him to my care: no
wonder the great sayers (who say nothing) sit
about in inaccessible states of mind: no
wonder still wisdom and catatonia appear to
exchange places occasionally: but if anything
were easy, our easy choices soon would carry
away our ignorance with the world-better
let the mixed-up mix and let the surface shine
with all the possibilities, each in itself.
Randall Jarrell |
It was not dying: everybody died.
It was not dying: we had died before
In the routine crashes-- and our fields
Called up the papers, wrote home to our folks,
And the rates rose, all because of us.
We died on the wrong page of the almanac,
Scattered on mountains fifty miles away;
Diving on haystacks, fighting with a friend,
We blazed up on the lines we never saw.
We died like aunts or pets or foreigners.
(When we left high school nothing else had died
For us to figure we had died like.
In our new planes, with our new crews, we bombed
The ranges by the desert or the shore,
Fired at towed targets, waited for our scores--
And turned into replacements and worke up
One morning, over England, operational.
It wasn't different: but if we died
It was not an accident but a mistake
(But an easy one for anyone to make.
We read our mail and counted up our missions--
In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school--
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, "Our casualties were low.
The said, "Here are the maps"; we burned the cities.
It was not dying --no, not ever dying;
But the night I died I dreamed that I was dead,
And the cities said to me: "Why are you dying?
We are satisfied, if you are; but why did I die?"
Seamus Heaney |
He would drink by himself
And raise a weathered thumb
Towards the high shelf,
Calling another rum
And blackcurrant, without
Having to raise his voice,
Or order a quick stout
By a lifting of the eyes
And a discreet dumb-show
Of pulling off the top;
At closing time would go
In waders and peaked cap
Into the showery dark,
A dole-kept breadwinner
But a natural for work.
I loved his whole manner,
Sure-footed but too sly,
His deadpan sidling tact,
His fisherman's quick eye
And turned observant back.
To him, my other life.
Sometimes on the high stool,
Too busy with his knife
At a tobacco plug
And not meeting my eye,
In the pause after a slug
He mentioned poetry.
We would be on our own
And, always politic
And shy of condescension,
I would manage by some trick
To switch the talk to eels
Or lore of the horse and cart
Or the Provisionals.
But my tentative art
His turned back watches too:
He was blown to bits
Out drinking in a curfew
Others obeyed, three nights
After they shot dead
The thirteen men in Derry.
PARAS THIRTEEN, the walls said,
His breath and trembled.
It was a day of cold
Raw silence, wind-blown
Surplice and soutane:
Coffin after coffin
Seemed to float from the door
Of the packed cathedral
Like blossoms on slow water.
The common funeral
Unrolled its swaddling band,
Till we were braced and bound
Like brothers in a ring.
But he would not be held
At home by his own crowd
Whatever threats were phoned,
Whatever black flags waved.
I see him as he turned
In that bombed offending place,
Remorse fused with terror
In his still knowable face,
His cornered outfaced stare
Blinding in the flash.
He had gone miles away
For he drank like a fish
Swimming towards the lure
Of warm lit-up places,
The blurred mesh and murmur
Drifting among glasses
In the gregarious smoke.
How culpable was he
That last night when he broke
Our tribe's complicity?
'Now, you're supposed to be
An educated man,'
I hear him say.
The right answer to that one.
I missed his funeral,
Those quiet walkers
And sideways talkers
Shoaling out of his lane
To the respectable
Purring of the hearse.
They move in equal pace
With the habitual
Of a dawdling engine,
The line lifted, hand
Over fist, cold sunshine
On the water, the land
Banked under fog: that morning
I was taken in his boat,
The screw purling, turning
Indolent fathoms white,
I tasted freedom with him.
To get out early, haul
Steadily off the bottom,
Dispraise the catch, and smile
As you find a rhythm
Working you, slow mile by mile,
Into your proper haunt
Somewhere, well out, beyond.
Plodder through midnight rain,
Question me again.
Marriott Edgar |
Sam Small had retired from the Army,
In the old Duke of Wellington's time,
So when present unpleasantness started,
He were what you might call.
past his prime.
He'd lived for some years in retirement,
And knew nowt of war, if you please,
Till they blasted and bombed his allotment,
And shelled the best part of his peas.
'T were as if bugles called Sam to duty,
For his musket he started to search,
He found it at last in the Hen house,
Buff Orpingtons had it for perch.
Straight off to the Fusilliers' depot,
He went to rejoin his old troop.
Where he found as they couldn't recruit Him,
Until his age group was called up.
Now Sam wasn't getting no younger,
Past the three score and ten years was he,
And he reckoned by time they reached his age group,
He'd be very near ten score and three.
So he took up the matter with Churchill,
Who said, "I don't know what to do,
Never was there a time when so many,
Came asking so much from so few.
"I don't want no favours" Sam answered,
"Don't think as I'm one of that mob,
All I'm asking is give me the tools, lad,
And let me help finish the job.
"I'll fit you in somewhere," said Winnie,
"Old soldiers we must not discard.
Then seeing he'd got his own musket,
He sent him to join the Home Guard.
They gave Sam a coat with no stripes on,
In spite of the service he'd seen,
Which considering he'd been a King's sergeant,
Kind of rankled.
you know what I mean.
He said "I come back to the Army,
Expecting my country's thanks,
And the first thing I find when I get here,
Is that I've been reduced to the ranks.
He found all the lads sympathetic,
They agreed that 'twere a disgrace,
Except one old chap in the corner,
With a nutcracker kind of a face.
Said the old fella, "Who do you think you are?
The last to appear on the scene,
And you start off by wanting promotion,
Last come, last served.
see what I mean?"
Said Sam, "Wasn't I at Corunna,
And when company commander got shot,
Didn't I lead battalion to victory?"
Said the old fella, "No.
you did not.
"I didn't?" said Sam quite indignent,
"Why, in every fight Wellington fought,
Wasn't I at his right hand to guard him?"
Said old chap, "You were nowt of the sort.
"What do you know of Duke and his battles?"
Said Sam, with a whithering look,
Said the old man, "I ought to know something,
Between you and me.
I'm the Duke.
And if you should look in any evening,
You'll find them both in the canteen,
Ex Commander-in-Chief and ex Sergeant,
Both just Home Guards.
you know what I mean?
Edgar Albert Guest |
The long lines of diesels
groan toward evening
carrying off the breath
of the living.
The face of your house
it is your face, black
and fire bombed
in the first street wars,
a black tooth planted in the earth
and bearing nothing,
and the earth is black,
sick on used oils.
Did you look for me in that house
behind the sofa
where I had to be?
in the basement where the shirts
yellowed on hangers?
in the bedroom
where a woman lay her face
on a locked chest?
at windows the rain streaked
and no one told me.
I found you later
from The History of Siege,
eyes turned to a public wall
before I turned back, mouth
in mine and gone.
I found you whole
toward the autumn of my 43rd year
in this chair beside
a masonjar of dried zinnias
and I turned away.
I find you
in these tears, few,
useless and here at last.
Don't come back.
Robert William Service |
The poppies gleamed like bloody pools through cotton-woolly mist;
The Captain kept a-lookin' at the watch upon his wrist;
And there we smoked and squatted, as we watched the shrapnel flame;
'Twas wonnerful, I'm tellin' you, how fast them bullets came.
'Twas weary work the waiting, though; I tried to sleep a wink,
For waitin' means a-thinkin', and it doesn't do to think.
So I closed my eyes a little, and I had a niceish dream
Of a-standin' by a dresser with a dish of Devon cream;
But I hadn't time to sample it, for suddenlike I woke:
"Come on, me lads!" the Captain says, 'n I climbed out through the smoke.
We spread out in the open: it was like a bath of lead;
But the boys they cheered and hollered fit to raise the bloody dead,
Till a beastly bullet copped 'em, then they lay without a sound,
And it's odd -- we didn't seem to heed them corpses on the ground.
And I kept on thinkin', thinkin', as the bullets faster flew,
How they picks the werry best men, and they lets the rotters through;
So indiscriminatin' like, they spares a man of sin,
And a rare lad wot's a husband and a father gets done in.
And while havin' these reflections and advancin' on the run,
A bullet biffs me shoulder, and says I: "That's number one.
Well, it downed me for a jiffy, but I didn't lose me calm,
For I knew that I was needed: I'm a bomber, so I am.
I 'ad lost me cap and rifle, but I "carried on" because
I 'ad me bombs and knew that they was needed, so they was.
We didn't 'ave no singin' now, nor many men to cheer;
Maybe the shrapnel drowned 'em, crashin' out so werry near;
And the Maxims got us sideways, and the bullets faster flew,
And I copped one on me flipper, and says I: "That's number two.
I was pleased it was the left one, for I 'ad me bombs, ye see,
And 'twas 'ard if they'd be wasted like, and all along o' me.
And I'd lost me 'at and rifle -- but I told you that before,
So I packed me mit inside me coat and "carried on" once more.
But the rumpus it was wicked, and the men were scarcer yet,
And I felt me ginger goin', but me jaws I kindo set,
And we passed the Boche first trenches, which was 'eapin' 'igh with dead,
And we started for their second, which was fifty feet ahead;
When something like a 'ammer smashed me savage on the knee,
And down I came all muck and blood: Says I: "That's number three.
So there I lay all 'elpless like, and bloody sick at that,
And worryin' like anythink, because I'd lost me 'at;
And thinkin' of me missis, and the partin' words she said:
"If you gets killed, write quick, ol' man, and tell me as you're dead.
And lookin' at me bunch o' bombs -- that was the 'ardest blow,
To think I'd never 'ave the chance to 'url them at the foe.
And there was all our boys in front, a-fightin' there like mad,
And me as could 'ave 'elped 'em wiv the lovely bombs I 'ad.
And so I cussed and cussed, and then I struggled back again,
Into that bit of battered trench, packed solid with its slain.
Now as I lay a-lyin' there and blastin' of me lot,
And wishin' I could just dispose of all them bombs I'd got,
I sees within the doorway of a shy, retirin' dug-out
Six Boches all a-grinnin', and their Captain stuck 'is mug out;
And they 'ad a nice machine gun, and I twigged what they was at;
And they fixed it on a tripod, and I watched 'em like a cat;
And they got it in position, and they seemed so werry glad,
Like they'd got us in a death-trap, which, condemn their souls! they 'ad.
For there our boys was fightin' fifty yards in front, and 'ere
This lousy bunch of Boches they 'ad got us in the rear.
Oh it set me blood a-boilin' and I quite forgot me pain,
So I started crawlin', crawlin' over all them mounds of slain;
And them barstards was so busy-like they 'ad no eyes for me,
And me bleedin' leg was draggin', but me right arm it was free.
And now they 'ave it all in shape, and swingin' sweet and clear;
And now they're all excited like, but -- I am drawin' near;
And now they 'ave it loaded up, and now they're takin' aim.
Rat-tat-tat-tat! Oh here, says I, is where I join the game.
And my right arm it goes swingin', and a bomb it goes a-slingin',
And that "typewriter" goes wingin' in a thunderbolt of flame.
Then these Boches, wot was left of 'em, they tumbled down their 'ole,
And up I climbed a mound of dead, and down on them I stole.
And oh that blessed moment when I heard their frightened yell,
And I laughed down in that dug-out, ere I bombed their souls to hell.
And now I'm in the hospital, surprised that I'm alive;
We started out a thousand men, we came back thirty-five.
And I'm minus of a trotter, but I'm most amazin' gay,
For me bombs they wasn't wasted, though, you might say, "thrown away".
Thomas Hardy |
By Corporal Tullidge.
See "The Trumpet-Major"
In Memory of S.
WE trenched, we trumpeted and drummed,
And from our mortars tons of iron hummed
Ath'art the ditch, the month we bombed
The Town o' Valencie?n.
'Twas in the June o' Ninety-dree
(The Duke o' Yark our then Commander be?n)
The German Legion, Guards, and we
Laid siege to Valencie?n.
This was the first time in the war
That French and English spilled each other's gore;
--God knows what year will end the roar
Begun at Valencie?n!
'Twas said that we'd no business there
A-topper?n the French for disagre?n;
However, that's not my affair--
We were at Valencie?n.
Such snocks and slats, since war began
Never knew raw recruit or veter?n:
Stone-deaf therence went many a man
Who served at Valencie?n.
Into the streets, ath'art the sky,
A hundred thousand balls and bombs were fle?n;
And harmless townsfolk fell to die
Each hour at Valencie?n!
And, sweat?n wi' the bombardiers,
A shell was slent to shards anighst my ears:
--'Twas night the end of hopes and fears
For me at Valencie?n!
They bore my wownded frame to camp,
And shut my gap?n skull, and washed en cle?n,
And jined en wi' a zilver clamp
Thik night at Valencie?n.
"We've fetched en back to quick from dead;
But never more on earth while rose is red
Will drum rouse Corpel!" Doctor said
O' me at Valencie?n.
No voice o' friend or foe
Can reach me now, or any live?n be?n;
And little have I power to know
Since then at Valencie?n!
I never hear the zummer hums
O' bees; and don't know when the cuckoo comes;
But night and day I hear the bombs
We threw at Valencie?n.
As for the Duke o' Yark in war,
There be some volk whose judgment o' en is me?n;
But this I say--'a was not far
From great at Valencie?n.
O' wild wet nights, when all seems sad,
My wownds come back, as though new wownds I'd had;
But yet--at times I'm sort o' glad
I fout at Valencie?n.
Well: Heaven wi' its jasper halls
Is now the on'y Town I care to be in.
Good Lord, if Nick should bomb the walls
As we did Valencie?n!