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Best Famous Cancer Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Cancer poems. This is a select list of the best famous Cancer poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Cancer poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of cancer poems.

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12
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Break Away

 Your daisies have come
on the day of my divorce:
the courtroom a cement box,
a gas chamber for the infectious Jew in me
and a perhaps land, a possibly promised land
for the Jew in me,
but still a betrayal room for the till-death-do-us—
and yet a death, as in the unlocking of scissors
that makes the now separate parts useless,
even to cut each other up as we did yearly
under the crayoned-in sun.
The courtroom keeps squashing our lives as they break into two cans ready for recycling, flattened tin humans and a tin law, even for my twenty-five years of hanging on by my teeth as I once saw at Ringling Brothers.
The gray room: Judge, lawyer, witness and me and invisible Skeezix, and all the other torn enduring the bewilderments of their division.
Your daisies have come on the day of my divorce.
They arrive like round yellow fish, sucking with love at the coral of our love.
Yet they wait, in their short time, like little utero half-borns, half killed, thin and bone soft.
They breathe the air that stands for twenty-five illicit days, the sun crawling inside the sheets, the moon spinning like a tornado in the washbowl, and we orchestrated them both, calling ourselves TWO CAMP DIRECTORS.
There was a song, our song on your cassette, that played over and over and baptised the prodigals.
It spoke the unspeakable, as the rain will on an attic roof, letting the animal join its soul as we kneeled before a miracle-- forgetting its knife.
The daisies confer in the old-married kitchen papered with blue and green chefs who call out pies, cookies, yummy, at the charcoal and cigarette smoke they wear like a yellowy salve.
The daisies absorb it all-- the twenty-five-year-old sanctioned love (If one could call such handfuls of fists and immobile arms that!) and on this day my world rips itself up while the country unfastens along with its perjuring king and his court.
It unfastens into an abortion of belief, as in me-- the legal rift-- as on might do with the daisies but does not for they stand for a love undergoihng open heart surgery that might take if one prayed tough enough.
And yet I demand, even in prayer, that I am not a thief, a mugger of need, and that your heart survive on its own, belonging only to itself, whole, entirely whole, and workable in its dark cavern under your ribs.
I pray it will know truth, if truth catches in its cup and yet I pray, as a child would, that the surgery take.
I dream it is taking.
Next I dream the love is swallowing itself.
Next I dream the love is made of glass, glass coming through the telephone that is breaking slowly, day by day, into my ear.
Next I dream that I put on the love like a lifejacket and we float, jacket and I, we bounce on that priest-blue.
We are as light as a cat's ear and it is safe, safe far too long! And I awaken quickly and go to the opposite window and peer down at the moon in the pond and know that beauty has walked over my head, into this bedroom and out, flowing out through the window screen, dropping deep into the water to hide.
I will observe the daisies fade and dry up wuntil they become flour, snowing themselves onto the table beside the drone of the refrigerator, beside the radio playing Frankie (as often as FM will allow) snowing lightly, a tremor sinking from the ceiling-- as twenty-five years split from my side like a growth that I sliced off like a melanoma.
It is six P.
M.
as I water these tiny weeds and their little half-life, their numbered days that raged like a secret radio, recalling love that I picked up innocently, yet guiltily, as my five-year-old daughter picked gum off the sidewalk and it became suddenly an elastic miracle.
For me it was love found like a diamond where carrots grow-- the glint of diamond on a plane wing, meaning: DANGER! THICK ICE! but the good crunch of that orange, the diamond, the carrot, both with four million years of resurrecting dirt, and the love, although Adam did not know the word, the love of Adam obeying his sudden gift.
You, who sought me for nine years, in stories made up in front of your naked mirror or walking through rooms of fog women, you trying to forget the mother who built guilt with the lumber of a locked door as she sobbed her soured mild and fed you loss through the keyhole, you who wrote out your own birth and built it with your own poems, your own lumber, your own keyhole, into the trunk and leaves of your manhood, you, who fell into my words, years before you fell into me (the other, both the Camp Director and the camper), you who baited your hook with wide-awake dreams, and calls and letters and once a luncheon, and twice a reading by me for you.
But I wouldn't! Yet this year, yanking off all past years, I took the bait and was pulled upward, upward, into the sky and was held by the sun-- the quick wonder of its yellow lap-- and became a woman who learned her own shin and dug into her soul and found it full, and you became a man who learned his won skin and dug into his manhood, his humanhood and found you were as real as a baker or a seer and we became a home, up into the elbows of each other's soul, without knowing-- an invisible purchase-- that inhabits our house forever.
We were blessed by the House-Die by the altar of the color T.
V.
and somehow managed to make a tiny marriage, a tiny marriage called belief, as in the child's belief in the tooth fairy, so close to absolute, so daft within a year or two.
The daisies have come for the last time.
And I who have, each year of my life, spoken to the tooth fairy, believing in her, even when I was her, am helpless to stop your daisies from dying, although your voice cries into the telephone: Marry me! Marry me! and my voice speaks onto these keys tonight: The love is in dark trouble! The love is starting to die, right now-- we are in the process of it.
The empty process of it.
I see two deaths, and the two men plod toward the mortuary of my heart, and though I willed one away in court today and I whisper dreams and birthdays into the other, they both die like waves breaking over me and I am drowning a little, but always swimming among the pillows and stones of the breakwater.
And though your daisies are an unwanted death, I wade through the smell of their cancer and recognize the prognosis, its cartful of loss-- I say now, you gave what you could.
It was quite a ferris wheel to spin on! and the dead city of my marriage seems less important than the fact that the daisies came weekly, over and over, likes kisses that can't stop themselves.
There sit two deaths on November 5th, 1973.
Let one be forgotten-- Bury it! Wall it up! But let me not forget the man of my child-like flowers though he sinks into the fog of Lake Superior, he remains, his fingers the marvel of fourth of July sparklers, his furious ice cream cones of licking, remains to cool my forehead with a washcloth when I sweat into the bathtub of his being.
For the rest that is left: name it gentle, as gentle as radishes inhabiting their short life in the earth, name it gentle, gentle as old friends waving so long at the window, or in the drive, name it gentle as maple wings singing themselves upon the pond outside, as sensuous as the mother-yellow in the pond, that night that it was ours, when our bodies floated and bumped in moon water and the cicadas called out like tongues.
Let such as this be resurrected in all men whenever they mold their days and nights as when for twenty-five days and nights you molded mine and planted the seed that dives into my God and will do so forever no matter how often I sweep the floor.
Written by Marilyn Hacker | Create an image from this poem

Scars on Paper

 An unwrapped icon, too potent to touch,
she freed my breasts from the camp Empire dress.
Now one of them's the shadow of a breast with a lost object's half-life, with as much life as an anecdotal photograph: me, Kim and Iva, all stripped to the waist, hiking near Russian River on June first '79: Iva's five-and-a-half.
While she was almost twenty, wearing black T-shirts in D.
C.
, where we hadn't met.
You lay your palm, my love, on my flat chest.
In lines alive with what is not regret, she takes her own path past, doesn't turn back.
Persistently, on paper, we exist.
Persistently, on paper, we exist.
You'd touch me if you could, but you're, in fact, three thousand miles away.
And my intact body is eighteen months paper: the past a fragile eighteen months regime of trust in slash-and-burn, in vitamin pills, backed by no statistics.
Each day I enact survivor's rituals, blessing the crust I tear from the warm loaf, blessing the hours in which I didn't or in which I did consider my own death.
I am not yet statistically a survivor (that is sixty months).
On paper, someone flowers and flares alive.
I knew her.
But she's dead.
She flares alive.
I knew her.
But she's dead.
I flirted with her, might have been her friend, but transatlantic schedules intervened.
She wrote a book about her Freedom Ride, the wary elders whom she taught to read, — herself half-British, twenty-six, white-blonde, with thirty years to live.
And I happened to open up The Nation to that bad news which I otherwise might not have known (not breast cancer: cancer of the brain).
Words take the absent friend away again.
Alone, I think, she called, alone, upon her courage, tried in ways she'd not have wished by pain and fear: her courage, extinguished.
The pain and fear some courage extinguished at disaster's denouement come back daily, banal: is that brownish-black mole the next chapter? Was the ache enmeshed between my chest and armpit when I washed rogue cells' new claw, or just a muscle ache? I'm not yet desperate enough to take comfort in being predeceased: the anguish when the Harlem doctor, the Jewish dancer, die of AIDS, the Boston seminary's dean succumbs "after brief illness" to cancer.
I like mossed slabs in country cemeteries with wide-paced dates, candles in jars, whose tallow glows on summer evenings, desk-lamp yellow.
Aglow in summer evening, a desk-lamp's yellow moonlight peruses notebooks, houseplants, texts, while an aging woman thinks of sex in the present tense.
Desire may follow, urgent or elegant, cut raw or mellow with wine and ripe black figs: a proof, the next course, a simple question, the complex response, a burning sweetness she will swallow.
The opening mind is sexual and ready to embrace, incarnate in its prime.
Rippling concentrically from summer's gold disc, desire's iris expands, steady with blood beat.
Each time implies the next time.
The aging woman hopes she will grow old.
The aging woman hopes she will grow old.
A younger woman has a dazzling vision of bleeding wrists, her own, the clean incisions suddenly there, two open mouths.
They told their speechless secrets, witnesses not called to what occurred with as little volition of hers as these phantom wounds.
Intense precision of scars, in flesh, in spirit.
I'm enrolled by mine in ranks where now I'm "being brave" if I take off my shirt in a hot crowd sunbathing, or demonstrating for Dyke Pride.
Her bravery counters the kitchen knives' insinuation that the scars be made.
With, or despite our scars, we stay alive.
"With, or despite our scars, we stayed alive until the Contras or the Government or rebel troops came, until we were sent to 'relocation camps' until the archives burned, until we dug the ditch, the grave beside the aspen grove where adolescent boys used to cut class, until we went to the precinct house, eager to behave like citizens.
.
.
" I count my hours and days, finger for luck the word-scarred table which is not my witness, shares all innocent objects' silence: a tin plate, a basement door, a spade, barbed wire, a ring of keys, an unwrapped icon, too potent to touch.
Written by Philip Larkin | Create an image from this poem

Church Going

Once i am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting seats and stone and little books; sprawlings of flowers cut For Sunday brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense musty unignorable silence Brewed God knows how long.
Hatless I take off My cylce-clips in awkward revrence Move forward run my hand around the font.
From where i stand the roof looks almost new-- Cleaned or restored? someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern I peruse a few hectoring large-scale verses and pronouce Here endeth much more loudly than I'd meant The echoes snigger briefly.
Back at the door I sign the book donate an Irish sixpence Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.
Yet stop I did: in fact I often do And always end much at a loss like this Wondering what to look for; wondering too When churches fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show Their parchment plate and pyx in locked cases And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or after dark will dubious women come To make their children touvh a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort or other will go on In games in riddles seemingly at random; But superstition like belief must die And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass weedy pavement brambles butress sky.
A shape less recognisable each week A purpose more obscure.
I wonder who Will be the last the very last to seek This place for whta it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber randy for antique Or Christmas-addict counting on a whiff Of grown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative Bored uninformed knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed yet tending to this cross of ground Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation--marriage and birth And death and thoughts of these--for which was built This special shell? For though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is In whose blent air all our compulsions meet Are recognisd and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious And gravitating with it to this ground Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in If only that so many dead lie round.
1955
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Double Image

 1.
I am thirty this November.
You are still small, in your fourth year.
We stand watching the yellow leaves go *****, flapping in the winter rain.
falling flat and washed.
And I remember mostly the three autumns you did not live here.
They said I'd never get you back again.
I tell you what you'll never really know: all the medical hypothesis that explained my brain will never be as true as these struck leaves letting go.
I, who chose two times to kill myself, had said your nickname the mewling mouths when you first came; until a fever rattled in your throat and I moved like a pantomine above your head.
Ugly angels spoke to me.
The blame, I heard them say, was mine.
They tattled like green witches in my head, letting doom leak like a broken faucet; as if doom had flooded my belly and filled your bassinet, an old debt I must assume.
Death was simpler than I'd thought.
The day life made you well and whole I let the witches take away my guilty soul.
I pretended I was dead until the white men pumped the poison out, putting me armless and washed through the rigamarole of talking boxes and the electric bed.
I laughed to see the private iron in that hotel.
Today the yellow leaves go *****.
You ask me where they go I say today believed in itself, or else it fell.
Today, my small child, Joyce, love your self's self where it lives.
There is no special God to refer to; or if there is, why did I let you grow in another place.
You did not know my voice when I came back to call.
All the superlatives of tomorrow's white tree and mistletoe will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.
The time I did not love myself, I visited your shoveled walks; you held my glove.
There was new snow after this.
2.
They sent me letters with news of you and I made moccasins that I would never use.
When I grew well enough to tolerate myself, I lived with my mother, the witches said.
But I didn't leave.
I had my portrait done instead.
Part way back from Bedlam I came to my mother's house in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
And this is how I came to catch at her; and this is how I lost her.
I cannot forgive your suicide, my mother said.
And she never could.
She had my portrait done instead.
I lived like an angry guest, like a partly mended thing, an outgrown child.
I remember my mother did her best.
She took me to Boston and had my hair restyled.
Your smile is like your mother's, the artist said.
I didn't seem to care.
I had my portrait done instead.
There was a church where I grew up with its white cupboards where they locked us up, row by row, like puritans or shipmates singing together.
My father passed the plate.
Too late to be forgiven now, the witches said.
I wasn't exactly forgiven.
They had my portrait done instead.
3.
All that summer sprinklers arched over the seaside grass.
We talked of drought while the salt-parched field grew sweet again.
To help time pass I tried to mow the lawn and in the morning I had my portrait done, holding my smile in place, till it grew formal.
Once I mailed you a picture of a rabbit and a postcard of Motif number one, as if it were normal to be a mother and be gone.
They hung my portrait in the chill north light, matching me to keep me well.
Only my mother grew ill.
She turned from me, as if death were catching, as if death transferred, as if my dying had eaten inside of her.
That August you were two, by I timed my days with doubt.
On the first of September she looked at me and said I gave her cancer.
They carved her sweet hills out and still I couldn't answer.
4.
That winter she came part way back from her sterile suite of doctors, the seasick cruise of the X-ray, the cells' arithmetic gone wild.
Surgery incomplete, the fat arm, the prognosis poor, I heard them say.
During the sea blizzards she had here own portrait painted.
A cave of mirror placed on the south wall; matching smile, matching contour.
And you resembled me; unacquainted with my face, you wore it.
But you were mine after all.
I wintered in Boston, childless bride, nothing sweet to spare with witches at my side.
I missed your babyhood, tried a second suicide, tried the sealed hotel a second year.
On April Fool you fooled me.
We laughed and this was good.
5.
I checked out for the last time on the first of May; graduate of the mental cases, with my analysts's okay, my complete book of rhymes, my typewriter and my suitcases.
All that summer I learned life back into my own seven rooms, visited the swan boats, the market, answered the phone, served cocktails as a wife should, made love among my petticoats and August tan.
And you came each weekend.
But I lie.
You seldom came.
I just pretended you, small piglet, butterfly girl with jelly bean cheeks, disobedient three, my splendid stranger.
And I had to learn why I would rather die than love, how your innocence would hurt and how I gather guilt like a young intern his symptons, his certain evidence.
That October day we went to Gloucester the red hills reminded me of the dry red fur fox coat I played in as a child; stock still like a bear or a tent, like a great cave laughing or a red fur fox.
We drove past the hatchery, the hut that sells bait, past Pigeon Cove, past the Yacht Club, past Squall's Hill, to the house that waits still, on the top of the sea, and two portraits hung on the opposite walls.
6.
In north light, my smile is held in place, the shadow marks my bone.
What could I have been dreaming as I sat there, all of me waiting in the eyes, the zone of the smile, the young face, the foxes' snare.
In south light, her smile is held in place, her cheeks wilting like a dry orchid; my mocking mirror, my overthrown love, my first image.
She eyes me from that face that stony head of death I had outgrown.
The artist caught us at the turning; we smiled in our canvas home before we chose our foreknown separate ways.
The dry redfur fox coat was made for burning.
I rot on the wall, my own Dorian Gray.
And this was the cave of the mirror, that double woman who stares at herself, as if she were petrified in time -- two ladies sitting in umber chairs.
You kissed your grandmother and she cried.
7.
I could not get you back except for weekends.
You came each time, clutching the picture of a rabbit that I had sent you.
For the last time I unpack your things.
We touch from habit.
The first visit you asked my name.
Now you will stay for good.
I will forget how we bumped away from each other like marionettes on strings.
It wasn't the same as love, letting weekends contain us.
You scrape your knee.
You learn my name, wobbling up the sidewalk, calling and crying.
You can call me mother and I remember my mother again, somewhere in greater Boston, dying.
I remember we named you Joyce so we could call you Joy.
You came like an awkward guest that first time, all wrapped and moist and strange at my heavy breast.
I needed you.
I didn't want a boy, only a girl, a small milky mouse of a girl, already loved, already loud in the house of herself.
We named you Joy.
I, who was never quite sure about being a girl, needed another life, another image to remind me.
And this was my worst guilt; you could not cure or soothe it.
I made you to find me.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

As a Strong Bird on Pinions Free

 1
AS a strong bird on pinions free, 
Joyous, the amplest spaces heavenward cleaving, 
Such be the thought I’d think to-day of thee, America, 
Such be the recitative I’d bring to-day for thee.
The conceits of the poets of other lands I bring thee not, Nor the compliments that have served their turn so long, Nor rhyme—nor the classics—nor perfume of foreign court, or indoor library; But an odor I’d bring to-day as from forests of pine in the north, in Maine—or breath of an Illinois prairie, With open airs of Virginia, or Georgia, or Tennessee—or from Texas uplands, or Florida’s glades, With presentment of Yellowstone’s scenes, or Yosemite; And murmuring under, pervading all, I’d bring the rustling sea-sound, That endlessly sounds from the two great seas of the world.
And for thy subtler sense, subtler refrains, O Union! Preludes of intellect tallying these and thee—mind-formulas fitted for thee—real, and sane, and large as these and thee; Thou, mounting higher, diving deeper than we knew—thou transcendental Union! By thee Fact to be justified—blended with Thought; Thought of Man justified—blended with God: Through thy Idea—lo! the immortal Reality! Through thy Reality—lo! the immortal Idea! 2 Brain of the New World! what a task is thine! To formulate the Modern.
.
.
.
.
Out of the peerless grandeur of the modern, Out of Thyself—comprising Science—to recast Poems, Churches, Art, (Recast—may-be discard them, end them—May-be their work is done—who knows?) By vision, hand, conception, on the background of the mighty past, the dead, To limn, with absolute faith, the mighty living present.
(And yet, thou living, present brain! heir of the dead, the Old World brain! Thou that lay folded, like an unborn babe, within its folds so long! Thou carefully prepared by it so long!—haply thou but unfoldest it—only maturest it; It to eventuate in thee—the essence of the by-gone time contain’d in thee; Its poems, churches, arts, unwitting to themselves, destined with reference to thee, The fruit of all the Old, ripening to-day in thee.
) 3 Sail—sail thy best, ship of Democracy! Of value is thy freight—’tis not the Present only, The Past is also stored in thee! Thou holdest not the venture of thyself alone—not of thy western continent alone; Earth’s résumé entire floats on thy keel, O ship—is steadied by thy spars; With thee Time voyages in trust—the antecedent nations sink or swim with thee; With all their ancient struggles, martyrs, heroes, epics, wars, thou bear’st the other continents; Theirs, theirs as much as thine, the destination-port triumphant: —Steer, steer with good strong hand and wary eye, O helmsman—thou carryest great companions, Venerable, priestly Asia sails this day with thee, And royal, feudal Europe sails with thee.
4 Beautiful World of new, superber Birth, that rises to my eyes, Like a limitless golden cloud, filling the western sky; Emblem of general Maternity, lifted above all; Sacred shape of the bearer of daughters and sons; Out of thy teeming womb, thy giant babes in ceaseless procession issuing, Acceding from such gestation, taking and giving continual strength and life; World of the Real! world of the twain in one! World of the Soul—born by the world of the real alone—led to identity, body, by it alone; Yet in beginning only—incalculable masses of composite, precious materials, By history’s cycles forwarded—by every nation, language, hither sent, Ready, collected here—a freer, vast, electric World, to be constructed here, (The true New World—the world of orbic Science, Morals, Literatures to come,) Thou Wonder World, yet undefined, unform’d—neither do I define thee; How can I pierce the impenetrable blank of the future? I feel thy ominous greatness, evil as well as good; I watch thee, advancing, absorbing the present, transcending the past; I see thy light lighting and thy shadow shadowing, as if the entire globe; But I do not undertake to define thee—hardly to comprehend thee; I but thee name—thee prophecy—as now! I merely thee ejaculate! Thee in thy future; Thee in thy only permanent life, career—thy own unloosen’d mind—thy soaring spirit; Thee as another equally needed sun, America—radiant, ablaze, swift-moving, fructifying all; Thee! risen in thy potent cheerfulness and joy—thy endless, great hilarity! (Scattering for good the cloud that hung so long—that weigh’d so long upon the mind of man, The doubt, suspicion, dread, of gradual, certain decadence of man;) Thee in thy larger, saner breeds of Female, Male—thee in thy athletes, moral, spiritual, South, North, West, East, (To thy immortal breasts, Mother of All, thy every daughter, son, endear’d alike, forever equal;) Thee in thy own musicians, singers, artists, unborn yet, but certain; Thee in thy moral wealth and civilization (until which thy proudest material wealth and civilization must remain in vain;) Thee in thy all-supplying, all-enclosing Worship—thee in no single bible, saviour, merely, Thy saviours countless, latent within thyself—thy bibles incessant, within thyself, equal to any, divine as any; Thee in an education grown of thee—in teachers, studies, students, born of thee; Thee in thy democratic fetes, en masse—thy high original festivals, operas, lecturers, preachers; Thee in thy ultimata, (the preparations only now completed—the edifice on sure foundations tied,) Thee in thy pinnacles, intellect, thought—thy topmost rational joys—thy love, and godlike aspiration, In thy resplendent coming literati—thy full-lung’d orators—thy sacerdotal bards—kosmic savans, These! these in thee, (certain to come,) to-day I prophecy.
5 Land tolerating all—accepting all—not for the good alone—all good for thee; Land in the realms of God to be a realm unto thyself; Under the rule of God to be a rule unto thyself.
(Lo! where arise three peerless stars, To be thy natal stars, my country—Ensemble—Evolution—Freedom, Set in the sky of Law.
) Land of unprecedented faith—God’s faith! Thy soil, thy very subsoil, all upheav’d; The general inner earth, so long, so sedulously draped over, now and hence for what it is, boldly laid bare, Open’d by thee to heaven’s light, for benefit or bale.
Not for success alone; Not to fair-sail unintermitted always; The storm shall dash thy face—the murk of war, and worse than war, shall cover thee all over; (Wert capable of war—its tug and trials? Be capable of peace, its trials; For the tug and mortal strain of nations come at last in peace—not war;) In many a smiling mask death shall approach, beguiling thee—thou in disease shalt swelter; The livid cancer spread its hideous claws, clinging upon thy breasts, seeking to strike thee deep within; Consumption of the worst—moral consumption—shall rouge thy face with hectic: But thou shalt face thy fortunes, thy diseases, and surmount them all, Whatever they are to-day, and whatever through time they may be, They each and all shall lift, and pass away, and cease from thee; While thou, Time’s spirals rounding—out of thyself, thyself still extricating, fusing, Equable, natural, mystical Union thou—(the mortal with immortal blent,) Shalt soar toward the fulfilment of the future—the spirit of the body and the mind, The Soul—its destinies.
The Soul, its destinies—the real real, (Purport of all these apparitions of the real;) In thee, America, the Soul, its destinies; Thou globe of globes! thou wonder nebulous! By many a throe of heat and cold convuls’d—(by these thyself solidifying;) Thou mental, moral orb! thou New, indeed new, Spiritual World! The Present holds thee not—for such vast growth as thine—for such unparallel’d flight as thine, The Future only holds thee, and can hold thee.
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Division Of Parts

 1.
Mother, my Mary Gray, once resident of Gloucester and Essex County, a photostat of your will arrived in the mail today.
This is the division of money.
I am one third of your daughters counting my bounty or I am a queen alone in the parlor still, eating the bread and honey.
It is Good Friday.
Black birds pick at my window sill.
Your coat in my closet, your bright stones on my hand, the gaudy fur animals I do not know how to use, settle on me like a debt.
A week ago, while the hard March gales beat on your house, we sorted your things: obstacles of letters, family silver, eyeglasses and shoes.
Like some unseasoned Christmas, its scales rigged and reset, I bundled out gifts I did not choose.
Now the houts of The Cross rewind.
In Boston, the devout work their cold knees toward that sweet martyrdom that Christ planned.
My timely loss is too customary to note; and yet I planned to suffer and I cannot.
It does not please my yankee bones to watch where the dying is done in its usly hours.
Black birds peck at my window glass and Easter will take its ragged son.
The clutter of worship that you taught me, Mary Gray, is old.
I imitate a memory of belief that I do not own.
I trip on your death and jesus, my stranger floats up over my Christian home, wearing his straight thorn tree.
I have cast my lot and am one third thief of you.
Time, that rearranger of estates, equips me with your garments, but not with grief.
2.
This winter when cancer began its ugliness I grieved with you each day for three months and found you in your private nook of the medicinal palace for New England Women and never once forgot how long it took.
I read to you from The New Yorker, ate suppers you wouldn't eat, fussed with your flowers, joked with your nurses, as if I were the balm among lepers, as if I could undo a life in hours if I never said goodbye.
But you turned old, all your fifty-eight years sliding like masks from your skull; and at the end I packed your nightgowns in suitcases, paid the nurses, came riding home as if I'd been told I could pretend people live in places.
3.
Since then I have pretended ease, loved with the trickeries of need, but not enough to shed my daughterhood or sweeten him as a man.
I drink the five o' clock martinis and poke at this dry page like a rough goat.
Fool! I fumble my lost childhood for a mother and lounge in sad stuff with love to catch and catch as catch can.
And Christ still waits.
I have tried to exorcise the memory of each event and remain still, a mixed child, heavy with cloths of you.
Sweet witch, you are my worried guide.
Such dangerous angels walk through Lent.
Their walls creak Anne! Convert! Convert! My desk moves.
Its cavr murmurs Boo and I am taken and beguiled.
Or wrong.
For all the way I've come I'll have to go again.
Instead, I must convert to love as reasonable as Latin, as sold as earthenware: an equilibrium I never knew.
And Lent will keep its hurt for someone else.
Christ knows enough staunch guys have hitched him in trouble.
thinking his sticks were badges to wear.
4.
Spring rusts on its skinny branch and last summer's lawn is soggy and brown.
Yesterday is just a number.
All of its winters avalanche out of sight.
What was, is gone.
Mother, last night I slept in your Bonwit Teller nightgown.
Divided, you climbed into my head.
There in my jabbering dream I heard my own angry cries and I cursed you, Dame keep out of my slumber.
My good Dame, you are dead.
And Mother, three stones slipped from your glittering eyes.
Now it's Friday's noon and I would still curse you with my rhyming words and bring you flapping back, old love, old circus knitting, god-in-her-moon, all fairest in my lang syne verse, the gauzy bride among the children, the fancy amid the absurd and awkward, that horn for hounds that skipper homeward, that museum keeper of stiff starfish, that blaze within the pilgrim woman, a clown mender, a dove's cheek among the stones, my Lady of first words, this is the division of ways.
And now, while Christ stays fastened to his Crucifix so that love may praise his sacrifice and not the grotesque metaphor, you come, a brave ghost, to fix in my mind without praise or paradise to make me your inheritor.
Written by Barry Tebb | Create an image from this poem

INCOMPATABILITIES

 For Brenda Williams



La lune diminue; divin septembre.
Divine September the moon wanes.
Pierre Jean Jouve Themes for poems and the detritus of dreams coalesce: This is one September I shall not forget.
The grammar-school caretaker always had the boards re-blacked And the floors waxed, but I never shone.
The stripes of the red and black blazer Were prison-grey.
You could never see things that way: Your home had broken windows to the street.
You had the mortification of lice in your hair While I had the choice of Brylcreem or orange pomade.
Four children, an alcoholic father and An Irish immigrant mother.
Failure’s metaphor.
I did not make it like Alan Bennett, Who still sends funny postcards About our Leeds childhood.
Of your’s, you could never speak And found my nostalgia Wholly inappropriate.
Forgetting your glasses for the eleven plus, No money for the uniform for the pass at thirteen.
It wasn’t - as I imagined - shame that kept you from telling But fear of the consequences for your mother Had you sobbed the night’s terrors Of your father’s drunken homecomings, Your mother sat with the door open In all weathers while you, the oldest, Waited with her, perhaps Something might have been done.
He never missed a day’s work digging graves, Boasting he could do a six-footer Single-handed in two hours flat.
That hackneyed phrase ‘He drank all his wages’ Doesn’t convey his nightly rages The flow of obscenities about menstruation While the three younger ones were in bed And you waited with your mother To walk the streets of Seacroft.
“Your father murdered your mother” As Auntie Margaret said, Should a witness Need indicting.
Your mother’s growing cancer went diagnosed, but unremarked Until the final days She was too busy auxiliary nursing Or working in the Lakeside Caf?.
It was her wages that put bread and jam And baked beans into your stomachs.
Her final hospitalisation Was the arena for your father’s last rage Her fare interfering with the night’s drinking; He fought in the Burma Campaign but won no medals.
Some kind of psychiatric discharge- ‘paranoia’ Lurked in his papers.
The madness went undiagnosed Until his sixtieth birthday.
You never let me meet him Even after our divorce.
In the end you took me on a visit with the children.
A neat flat with photographs of grandchildren, Stacks of wood for the stove, washing hung precisely In the kitchen, a Sunday suit in the wardrobe.
An unwrinkling of smiles, the hard handshake Of work-roughened hands.
One night he smashed up the tidy flat.
The TV screen was powder The clock ticked on the neat lawn ‘Murder in Seacroft Hospital’ Emblazoned on the kitchen wall.
I went with you and your sister in her car to Roundhay Wing.
Your sister had to leave for work or sleep You had to back to meet the children from school.
For Ward 42 it wasn’t an especially difficult admission.
My first lesson: I shut one set of firedoors while the charge nurse Bolted the other but after five minutes his revolt Was over and he signed the paper.
The nurse on nights had a sociology degree And an interest in borderline schizophrenia.
After lightsout we chatted about Kohut and Kernberg And Melanie Klein.
Your father was occasionally truculent, Barricading himself in on one home leave.
Nothing out of the way For a case of that kind.
The old ladies on the estate sighed, Single men were very scarce.
Always a gentleman, tipping His cap to the ladies.
There seems to be objections in the family to poetry Or at least to the kind that actually speaks And fails to lie down quietly on command.
Yours seems to have set mine alight- I must get something right.
Written by Gregory Corso | Create an image from this poem

Gregory Corso

 Budger of history Brake of time You Bomb
 Toy of universe Grandest of all snatched sky I cannot hate you
 Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt the jawbone of an ***
 The bumpy club of One Million B.
C.
the mace the flail the axe Catapult Da Vinci tomahawk Cochise flintlock Kidd dagger Rathbone Ah and the sad desparate gun of Verlaine Pushkin Dillinger Bogart And hath not St.
Michael a burning sword St.
George a lance David a sling Bomb you are as cruel as man makes you and you're no crueller than cancer All Man hates you they'd rather die by car-crash lightning drowning Falling off a roof electric-chair heart-attack old age old age O Bomb They'd rather die by anything but you Death's finger is free-lance Not up to man whether you boom or not Death has long since distributed its categorical blue I sing thee Bomb Death's extravagance Death's jubilee Gem of Death's supremest blue The flyer will crash his death will differ with the climbor who'll fall to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork Some die by swamp some by sea and some by the bushy-haired man in the night O there are deaths like witches of Arc Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff No-feeling deaths like birth-death sadless deaths like old pain Bowery Abandoned deaths like Capital Punishment stately deaths like senators And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx girls on Vogue covers my own I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train The smiling Schenley poster will always smile Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath Turtles exploding over Istanbul The jaguar's flying foot soon to sink in arctic snow Penguins plunged against the Sphinx The top of the Empire state arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens St.
Sophia peeling over Sudan O athletic Death Sportive Bomb the temples of ancient times their grand ruin ceased Electrons Protons Neutrons gathering Hersperean hair walking the dolorous gulf of Arcady joining marble helmsmen entering the final ampitheater with a hymnody feeling of all Troys heralding cypressean torches racing plumes and banners and yet knowing Homer with a step of grace Lo the visiting team of Present the home team of Past Lyre and tube together joined Hark the hotdog soda olive grape gala galaxy robed and uniformed commissary O the happy stands Ethereal root and cheer and boo The billioned all-time attendance The Zeusian pandemonium Hermes racing Owens The Spitball of Buddha Christ striking out Luther stealing third Planeterium Death Hosannah Bomb Gush the final rose O Spring Bomb Come with thy gown of dynamite green unmenace Nature's inviolate eye Before you the wimpled Past behind you the hallooing Future O Bomb Bound in the grassy clarion air like the fox of the tally-ho thy field the universe thy hedge the geo Leap Bomb bound Bomb frolic zig and zag The stars a swarm of bees in thy binging bag Stick angels on your jubilee feet wheels of rainlight on your bunky seat You are due and behold you are due and the heavens are with you hosanna incalescent glorious liaison BOMB O havoc antiphony molten cleft BOOM Bomb mark infinity a sudden furnace spread thy multitudinous encompassed Sweep set forth awful agenda Carrion stars charnel planets carcass elements Corpse the universe tee-hee finger-in-the-mouth hop over its long long dead Nor From thy nimbled matted spastic eye exhaust deluges of celestial ghouls From thy appellational womb spew birth-gusts of of great worms Rip open your belly Bomb from your belly outflock vulturic salutations Battle forth your spangled hyena finger stumps along the brink of Paradise O Bomb O final Pied Piper both sun and firefly behind your shock waltz God abandoned mock-nude beneath His thin false-talc's apocalypse He cannot hear thy flute's happy-the-day profanations He is spilled deaf into the Silencer's warty ear His Kingdom an eternity of crude wax Clogged clarions untrumpet Him Sealed angels unsing Him A thunderless God A dead God O Bomb thy BOOM His tomb That I lean forward on a desk of science an astrologer dabbling in dragon prose half-smart about wars bombs especially bombs That I am unable to hate what is necessary to love That I can't exist in a world that consents a child in a park a man dying in an electric-chair That I am able to laugh at all things all that I know and do not know thus to conceal my pain That I say I am a poet and therefore love all man knowing my words to be the acquainted prophecy of all men and my unwords no less an acquaintanceship That I am manifold a man pursuing the big lies of gold or a poet roaming in bright ashes or that which I imagine myself to be a shark-toothed sleep a man-eater of dreams I need not then be all-smart about bombs Happily so for if I felt bombs were caterpillars I'd doubt not they'd become butterflies There is a hell for bombs They're there I see them there They sit in bits and sing songs mostly German songs And two very long American songs and they wish there were more songs especially Russian and Chinese songs and some more very long American songs Poor little Bomb that'll never be an Eskimo song I love thee I want to put a lollipop in thy furcal mouth A wig of Goldilocks on thy baldy bean and have you skip with me Hansel and Gretel along the Hollywoodian screen O Bomb in which all lovely things moral and physical anxiously participate O fairylike plucked from the grandest universe tree O piece of heaven which gives both mountain and anthill a sun I am standing before your fantastic lily door I bring you Midgardian roses Arcadian musk Reputed cosmetics from the girls of heaven Welcome me fear not thy opened door nor thy cold ghost's grey memory nor the pimps of indefinite weather their cruel terrestial thaw Oppenheimer is seated in the dark pocket of Light Fermi is dry in Death's Mozambique Einstein his mythmouth a barnacled wreath on the moon-squid's head Let me in Bomb rise from that pregnant-rat corner nor fear the raised-broom nations of the world O Bomb I love you I want to kiss your clank eat your boom You are a paean an acme of scream a lyric hat of Mister Thunder O resound thy tanky knees BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM ye skies and BOOM ye suns BOOM BOOM ye moons ye stars BOOM nights ye BOOM ye days ye BOOM BOOM BOOM ye winds ye clouds ye rains go BANG ye lakes ye oceans BING Barracuda BOOM and cougar BOOM Ubangi BOOM orangutang BING BANG BONG BOOM bee bear baboon ye BANG ye BONG ye BING the tail the fin the wing Yes Yes into our midst a bomb will fall Flowers will leap in joy their roots aching Fields will kneel proud beneath the halleluyahs of the wind Pinkbombs will blossom Elkbombs will perk their ears Ah many a bomb that day will awe the bird a gentle look Yet not enough to say a bomb will fall or even contend celestial fire goes out Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine all beautiful and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires fierce with moustaches of gold
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

Doctors

 They work with herbs
and penicillin
They work with gentleness
and the scalpel.
They dig out the cancer, close an incision and say a prayer to the poverty of the skin.
They are not Gods though they would like to be; they are only a human trying to fix up a human.
Many humans die.
They die like the tender, palpitating berries in November.
But all along the doctors remember: First do no harm.
They would kiss if it would heal.
It would not heal.
If the doctors cure then the sun sees it.
If the doctors kill then the earth hides it.
The doctors should fear arrogance more than cardiac arrest.
If they are too proud, and some are, then they leave home on horseback but God returns them on foot.
Written by Carolyn Kizer | Create an image from this poem

American Beauty

 For Ann London 

As you described your mastectomy in calm detail
and bared your chest so I might see
the puckered scar,
"They took a hatchet to your breast!" I said.
"What an Amazon you are.
" When we were girls we climbed Mt.
Tamalpais chewing bay leaves we had plucked along the way; we got high all right, from animal pleasure in each other, shouting to the sky.
On your houseboat we tried to ignore the impossible guy you had married to enrage your family, a typical ploy.
We were great fools let loose in the No Name bar on Sausalito's bay.
In San Francisco we'd perch on a waterfront pier chewing sourdough and cheese, swilling champagne, kicking our heels; crooning lewd songs, hooting like seagulls, we bayed with the seals.
Then you married someone in Mexico, broke up in two weeks, didn't bother to divorce, claimed it didn't count.
You dumped number three, fled to Albany to become a pedant.
Averse to domesticity, you read for your Ph.
D.
Your four-year-old looked like a miniature John Lennon.
You fed him peanut butter from your jar and raised him on Beowulf and Grendal.
Much later in New York we reunited; in an elevator at Sak's a woman asked for your autograph.
You glowed like a star, like Anouk Aimee at forty, close enough.
Your pedantry found its place in the Women's Movement.
You rose fast, seen suddenly as the morning star; wrote the ERA found the right man at last, a sensitive artist; flying too high not to crash.
When the cancer caught you you went on talk shows to say you had no fear or faith.
In Baltimore we joked on your bed as you turned into a witty wraith.
When you died I cleaned out your bureau drawers: your usual disorder; an assortment of gorgeous wigs and prosthetic breasts tossed in garbage bags, to spare your gentle spouse.
Then the bequests you had made to every friend you had! For each of us a necklace or a ring.
A snapshot for me: We two, barefoot in chiffon, laughing amid blossoms your last wedding day.
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