Sylvia Plath |
'Perspective betrays with its dichotomy:
train tracks always meet, not here, but only
in the impossible mind's eye;
horizons beat a retreat as we embark
on sophist seas to overtake that mark
where wave pretends to drench real sky.
'Well then, if we agree, it is not odd
that one man's devil is another's god
or that the solar spectrum is
a multitude of shaded grays; suspense
on the quicksands of ambivalence
is our life's whole nemesis.
So we could rave on, darling, you and I,
until the stars tick out a lullaby
about each cosmic pro and con;
nothing changes, for all the blazing of
our drastic jargon, but clock hands that move
implacably from twelve to one.
We raise our arguments like sitting ducks
to knock them down with logic or with luck
and contradict ourselves for fun;
the waitress holds our coats and we put on
the raw wind like a scarf; love is a faun
who insists his playmates run.
Now you, my intellectual leprechaun,
would have me swallow the entire sun
like an enormous oyster, down
the ocean in one gulp: you say a mark
of comet hara-kiri through the dark
should inflame the sleeping town.
So kiss: the drunks upon the curb and dames
in dubious doorways forget their monday names,
caper with candles in their heads;
the leaves applaud, and santa claus flies in
scattering candy from a zeppelin,
playing his prodigal charades.
The moon leans down to took; the tilting fish
in the rare river wink and laugh; we lavish
blessings right and left and cry
hello, and then hello again in deaf
churchyard ears until the starlit stiff
graves all carol in reply.
Now kiss again: till our strict father leans
to call for curtain on our thousand scenes;
brazen actors mock at him,
multiply pink harlequins and sing
in gay ventriloquy from wing to wing
while footlights flare and houselights dim.
Tell now, we taunq where black or white begins
and separate the flutes from violins:
the algebra of absolutes
explodes in a kaleidoscope of shapes
that jar, while each polemic jackanapes
joins his enemies' recruits.
The paradox is that 'the play's the thing':
though prima donna pouts and critic stings,
there burns throughout the line of words,
the cultivated act, a fierce brief fusion
which dreamers call real, and realists, illusion:
an insight like the flight of birds:
Arrows that lacerate the sky, while knowing
the secret of their ecstasy's in going;
some day, moving, one will drop,
and, dropping, die, to trace a wound that heals
only to reopen as flesh congeals:
cycling phoenix never stops.
So we shall walk barefoot on walnut shells
of withered worlds, and stamp out puny hells
and heavens till the spirits squeak
surrender: to build our bed as high as jack's
bold beanstalk; lie and love till sharp scythe hacks
away our rationed days and weeks.
Then jet the blue tent topple, stars rain down,
and god or void appall us till we drown
in our own tears: today we start
to pay the piper with each breath, yet love
knows not of death nor calculus above
the simple sum of heart plus heart.
Jack Prelutsky |
I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
there are flavors in my freezer
you have never seen before,
twenty-eight divine creations
too delicious to resist,
why not do yourself a favor,
try the flavors on my list:
COCOA MOCHA MACARONI
TAPIOCA SMOKED BALONEY
CHECKERBERRY CHEDDAR CHEW
CHICKEN CHERRY HONEYDEW
TUTTI-FRUTTI STEWED TOMATO
TUNA TACO BAKED POTATO
LOBSTER LITCHI LIMA BEAN
ALMOND HAM MERINGUE SALAMI
YAM ANCHOVY PRUNE PASTRAMI
SASSAFRAS SOUVLAKI HASH
BUTTER BRICKLE PEPPER PICKLE
PEACH PIMENTO PIZZA PLUM
PEANUT PUMPKIN BUBBLEGUM
BROCCOLI BANANA BLUSTER
CHOCOLATE CHOP SUEY CLUSTER
AVOCADO BRUSSELS SPROUT
COTTON CANDY CARROT CUSTARD
CAULIFLOWER COLA MUSTARD
ONION DUMPLING DOUBLE DIP
TURNIP TRUFFLE TRIPLE FLIP
GARLIC GUMBO GRAVY GUAVA
LENTIL LEMON LIVER LAVA
ORANGE OLIVE BAGEL BEET
WATERMELON WAFFLE WHEAT
I am Ebenezer Bleezer,
I run BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM STORE,
taste a flavor from my freezer,
you will surely ask for more.
Langston Hughes |
When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you're in a hurry-
That's the blues.
When you go to buy a candy bar
And you've lost the dime you had-
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere-
That's the blues, too, and bad!
Marge Piercy |
This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.
She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.
She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.
In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.
Charles Webb |
"Don't overdo it," Dad yelled, watching me
Play shortstop, collect stamps and shells,
Roll on the grass laughing until I peed my pants.
"Screw him," I said, and grabbed every cowry
I could find, hogged all the books I could
From Heights Library, wore out the baseball
Diamond dawn to dusk, and—parents in Duluth—
Gorged on bountiful Candy dusk to dawn.
Not until a Committee wrote of my poems,
"Enthusiasm should be tempered,"
Did I change my song.
I write now
The way I live: calm and sober, steering
Toward the Golden Mean.
Was right to withhold funds.
I'd have bought
A hundred box turtles with lemon-speckled shells,
Flyfished for rainbows six months straight,
Flown to the Great Barrier Reef and dived
Non-stop among pink coral and marble cones,
Living on chocolate malts, peaches, and barbecue.
I'd have turned into a ski bum, married
Ten women in ten states, written nothing
Poetry would glance at twice, instead
Of rising at 5:00 as I do now, writing
'Til noon about matters serious and deep,
Teaching 'til 6:00, eating a low-fat meal
High in fiber and cruciferous vegetables,
Then bed by 9:00, alarm clock set
Five minutes late: my one indulgence of the day.
David Lehman |
The woman said yes she would go to Australia with him
Unless he heard wrong and she said Argentina
Where they could learn the tango and pursue the widows
Of Nazi war criminals unrepentant to the end.
But no, she said Australia.
She'd been born in New Zealand.
The difference between the two places was the difference
Between a hamburger and a chocolate malted, she said.
In the candy store across from the elementary school,
They planned their tryst.
She said Australia, which meant
She was willing to go to bed with him, and this
Was before her husband's coronary
At a time when a woman didn't take off her underpants
If she didn't like you.
She said Australia,
And he saw last summer's seashell collection
In a plastic bag on a shelf in the mud room
With last summer's sand.
The cycle of sexual captivity
Beginning in romance and ending in adultery
Was now in the late middle phases, the way America
Had gone from barbarism to amnesia without
A period of high decadence, which meant something,
But what? A raft on the rapids? The violinist
At the gate? Oh, absolute is the law of biology.
For the *********** seminar, what should she wear?
Denise Duhamel |
my mother pushed my sister out of the apartment door with an empty
suitcase because she kept threatening to run away my sister was sick of me
getting the best of everything the bathrobe with the pink stripes instead of
the red the soft middle piece of bread while she got the crust I was sick with
asthma and she thought this made me a favorite
I wanted to be like the girl in the made-for-tv movie Maybe I'll Come Home
in the Spring which was supposed to make you not want to run away but it
looked pretty fun especially all of the agony it put your parents through and
the girl was in California or someplace warm with a boyfriend and they
always found good food in the dumpsters at least they could eat pizza and
candy and not meat loaf the runaway actress was Sally Field or at least
someone who looked like Sally Field as a teenager the Flying Nun propelled
by the huge wings on the sides of her wimple Arnold the Pig getting drafted
in Green Acres my understanding then of Vietnam I read Go Ask Alice and
The Peter Pan Bag books that were designed to keep a young girl home but
there were the sex scenes and if anything this made me want to cut my hair
with scissors in front of the mirror while I was high on marijuana but I
couldn't inhale because of my lungs my sister was the one to pass out
behind the church for both of us rum and angel dust
and that's how it was my sister standing at the top of all those stairs that
lead up to the apartment and she pushed down the empty suitcase that
banged the banister and wall as it tumbled and I was crying on the other side
of the door because I was sure it was my sister who fell all ketchup blood and
stuck out bones my mother wouldn't let me open the door to let my sister
back in I don't know if she knew it was just the suitcase or not she was cold
rubbing her sleeves a mug of coffee in her hand and I had to decide she said I
had to decide right then
Robert William Service |
I stood before a candy shop
Which with a Christmas radiance shone;
I saw my parents pass and stop
To grin at me and then go on.
The sweets were heaped in gleamy rows;
On each I feasted - what a game!
Against the glass with flatted nose,
Gulping my spittle as it came;
So still I stood, and stared and dreamed,
Savouring sweetness with my eyes,
Devouring dainties till it seemed
My candy shop was paradise.
I had, I think, but five years old,
And though three-score and ten have passed,
I still recall the craintive cold,
The grimy street, the gritty blast;
And how I stared into that shop,
Its gifts so near and yet so far,
Of marzipan and toffee drop,
Of chocolate and walnut bar;
Imagining what I would buy
Amid delights so rich and rare .
The glass was misted with my sigh:
"If just one penny Pop could spare!"
And then when I went home to tea
Of bread and butter sparsely spread,
Oh, how my parents twitted me:
"You stood for full an hour," they said.
"We saw you as we passed again;
Your eyes upon the sweets were glued;
Your nose was flattened to the pane,
Like someone hypnotized you stood.
But when they laughed as at a joke,
A bitterness I could not stem
Within my little heart awoke.
Oh, I have long forgiven them;
For though I know they did no own
Pennies to spare, they might, it seems
More understanding love have shown
More sympathy for those vain dreams,
Which make of me with wistful gaze
God's Window Shopper all days.
Amy Clampitt |
The West Village by then was changing; before long
the rundown brownstones at its farthest edge
would have slipped into trendier hands.
impervious to trends, behind a potted hedge of
rubber trees, with three cats, a canary—refuse
from whose cage kept sifting down and then
germinating, a yearning seedling choir, around
the saucers on the windowsill—and an inexorable
cohort of roaches she was too nearsighted to deal
with, though she knew they were there, and would
speak of them, ruefully, as of an affliction that
might once, long ago, have been prevented.
Unclassifiable castoffs, misfits, marginal cases:
when you're one yourself, or close to it, there's
a reassurance in proving you haven't quite gone
under by taking up with somebody odder than you are.
Or trying to.
"They're my friends," she'd say of
her cats—Mollie, Mitzi and Caroline, their names were,
and she was forever taking one or another in a cab
to the vet—as though she had no others.
who'd become a nun, the one who was Jewish, the couple
she'd met on a foliage tour, one fall, were all people
she no longer saw.
She worked for a law firm, said all
the judges were alcoholic, had never voted.
But would sometimes have me to dinner—breaded veal,
white wine, strawberry Bavarian—and sometimes, from
what she didn't know she was saying, I'd snatch a shred
or two of her threadbare history.
sent home in a troika when her feet went numb.
summer, carriage rides.
A swarm of gypsy children
driven off with whips.
An octogenarian father, bishop
of a dying schismatic sect.
A very young mother
who didn't want her.
A half-brother she met just once.
Cousins in Wisconsin, one of whom phoned her from a candy
store, out of the blue, while she was living in Chicago.
What had brought her there, or when, remained unclear.
As did much else.
We'd met in church.
I noticed first
a big, soaring soprano with a wobble in it, then
the thickly wreathed and braided crimp in the mouse-
Old? Young? She was of no age.
Through rimless lenses she looked out of a child's,
or a doll's, globular blue.
Wore Keds the year round,
tended otherwise to overdress.
Owned a mandolin.
I got her to take it down from the mantel and plink out,
through a warm fuddle of sauterne, a lot of giddy Italian
airs from a songbook whose pages had started to crumble.
The canary fluffed and quivered, and the cats, amazed,
came out from under the couch and stared.
What could the offspring of the schismatic age and a
reluctant child bride expect from life? Not much.
Less and less.
A dream she'd had kept coming back,
She'd taken a job in Washington with
some right-wing lobby, and lived in one of those
bow-windowed mansions that turn into roominghouses,
and her room there had a full-length mirror: oval,
with a molding, is the way I picture it.
In her dream
something woke her, she got up to look, and there
in the glass she'd had was covered over—she gave it
a wondering emphasis—with gray veils.
The West Village was changing.
I was changing.
time I asked her to dinner, she didn't show.
or was it days?—later, she phoned to explain: she hadn't
been able to find my block; a patrolman had steered her home.
I spent my evenings canvassing for Gene McCarthy.
I'd see her shades drawn, no light behind the rubber trees.
She wasn't out, she didn't own a TV.
She was in there,
getting gently blotto.
What came next, I wasn't brave
enough to know.
Only one day, passing, I saw
new shades, quick-chic matchstick bamboo, going up where
the waterstained old ones had been, and where the seedlings—
O gray veils, gray veils—had risen and gone down.
Delmore Schwartz |
"the withness of the body" --Whitehead
The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.
Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
--The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.
That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit's motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.