Best Famous Class Poems

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

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12
Written by David Berman | Create an image from this poem

Self-Portrait At 28

 I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.
It is a certain hill the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill" and if the apocalypse turns out to be a world-wide nervous breakdown if our five billion minds collapse at once well I'd call that a surprise ending and this hill would still be beautiful a place I wouldn't mind dying alone or with you.
I am trying to get at something and I want to talk very plainly to you so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk I stare out when I am stuck though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write and I don't know why I keep staring at it.
My childhood hasn't made good material either mostly being a mulch of white minutes with a few stand out moments, popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer a certain amount of pride at school everytime they called it "our sun" and playing football when the only play was "go out long" are what stand out now.
If squeezed for more information I can remember old clock radios with flipping metal numbers and an entree called Surf and Turf.
As a way of getting in touch with my origins every night I set the alarm clock for the time I was born so that waking up becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.
II two I can't remember being born and no one else can remember it either even the doctor who I met years later at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments that makes you think about getting away going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables and taking a room on the square with a landlady whose hands are scored by disinfectant, telling the people you meet that you are from Alaska, and listen to what they have to say about Alaska until you have learned much more about Alaska than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.
Sometimes I am buying a newspaper in a strange city and think "I am about to learn what it's like to live here.
" Oftentimes there is a news item about the complaints of homeowners who live beside the airport and I realize that I read an article on this subject nearly once a year and always receive the same image.
I am in bed late at night in my house near the airport listening to the jets fly overhead a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation of various cold medicine commercial sets (there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).
I know these recurring news articles are clues, flaws in the design though I haven't figured out how to string them together yet, but I've begun to notice that the same people are dying over and over again, for instance Minnie Pearl who died this year for the fourth time in four years.
III three Today is the first day of Lent and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass before I take the trouble to ask someone? It reminds of this morning when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater numbly watching you dress and when you asked why I never wear a robe I had so many good reasons I didn't know where to begin.
If you were cool in high school you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask and that's what cool was: the ability to deduct to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness means not asking when you don't know, which is why kids grow ever more stupid.
A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness of a teenager's promise.
Not like I'm dying for a letter from the class stoner ten years on but.
.
.
Do you remember the way the girls would call out "love you!" conveniently leaving out the "I" as if they didn't want to commit to their own declarations.
I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept and hope you won't get uncomfortable if I should go into some deeper stuff here.
IV four There are things I've given up on like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older and the human race as a group has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes I hope you won't be insulted if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live seem slow-witted and obvious now.
It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past, though try explaining that to a kid.
I'm not saying it should be this way.
All this new technology will eventually give us new feelings that will never completely displace the old ones leaving everyone feeling quite nervous and split in two.
We will travel to Mars even as folks on Earth are still ripping open potato chip bags with their teeth.
Why? I don't have the time or intelligence to make all the connections like my friend Gordon (this is a true story) who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.
V five The hill out my window is still looking beautiful suffused in a kind of gold national park light and it seems to say, I'm sorry the world could not possibly use another poem about Orpheus but I'm available if you're not working on a self-portrait or anything.
I'm watching my dog have nightmares, twitching and whining on the office floor and I try to imagine what beast has cornered him in the meadow where his dreams are set.
I'm just letting the day be what it is: a place for a large number of things to gather and interact -- not even a place but an occasion a reality for real things.
Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic or religious with this piece: "They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic or religious," but these are valid topics and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor possibly dreaming of me that part of me that would beat a dog for no good reason no reason that a dog could see.
I am trying to get at something so simple that I have to talk plainly so the words don't disfigure it and if it turns out that what I say is untrue then at least let it be harmless like a leaky boat in the reeds that is bothering no one.
VI six I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories, many of them having blended with sentimental telephone and margarine commercials plainly ruined by Madison Avenue though no one seems to call the advertising world "Madison Avenue" anymore.
Have they moved? Let's get an update on this.
But first I have some business to take care of.
I walked out to the hill behind our house which looks positively Alaskan today and it would be easier to explain this if I had a picture to show you but I was with our young dog and he was running through the tall grass like running through the tall grass is all of life together until a bird calls or he finds a beer can and that thing fills all the space in his head.
You see, his mind can only hold one thought at a time and when he finally hears me call his name he looks up and cocks his head and for a single moment my voice is everything: Self-portrait at 28.
Written by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | Create an image from this poem

If A Tree Could Wander

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Oh, if a tree could wander

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     and move with foot and wings!

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">It would not suffer the axe blows

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     and not the pain of saws!

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">For would the sun not wander

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     away in every night ?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">How could at ev’ry morning

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     the world be lighted up?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">And if the ocean’s water

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     would not rise to the sky,

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">How would the plants be quickened

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     by streams and gentle rain?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">The drop that left its homeland,

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     the sea, and then returned ?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">It found an oyster waiting

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     and grew into a pearl.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Did Yusaf not leave his father,

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     in grief and tears and despair?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Did he not, by such a journey,

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     gain kingdom and fortune wide?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Did not the Prophet travel

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     to far Medina, friend?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">And there he found a new kingdom

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     and ruled a hundred lands.

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">You lack a foot to travel?

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     Then journey into yourself!

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">And like a mine of rubies

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     receive the sunbeams? print!

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Out of yourself ? such a journey

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     will lead you to your self,

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">It leads to transformation

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">     of dust into pure gold!

 

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Look! This is Love – Poems of Rumi,

class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0pt;">Annemarie Schimmel

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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 Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

Death and Fame

 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
St.
Patrick's Cathedral, St.
Mark's Church, the largest synagogue in Manhattan 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 their grandchildren, 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 loved me" "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 stomach 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 queer 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 pillow --" Among lovers one handsome youth straggling the rear "I studied his poetry class, 17 year-old kid, ran some errands to his walk-up flat, 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 provinces 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 City" "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
Written by Carl Sandburg | Create an image from this poem

Remorse

 THE HORSE’S name was Remorse.
There were people said, “Gee, what a nag!” And they were Edgar Allan Poe bugs and so They called him Remorse.
When he was a gelding He flashed his heels to other ponies And threw dust in the noses of other ponies And won his first race and his second And another and another and hardly ever Came under the wire behind the other runners.
And so, Remorse, who is gone, was the hero of a play By Henry Blossom, who is now gone.
What is there to a monicker? Call me anything.
A nut, a cheese, something that the cat brought in.
Nick me with any old name.
Class me up for a fish, a gorilla, a slant head, an egg, a ham.
Only … slam me across the ears sometimes … and hunt for a white star In my forehead and twist the bang of my forelock around it.
Make a wish for me.
Maybe I will light out like a streak of wind.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Theme For English B

 The instructor said,

 Go home and write
 a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you-- Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it's that simple? I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem, through a park, then I cross St.
Nicholas, Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator up to my room, sit down, and write this page: It's not easy to know what is true for you or me at twenty-two, my age.
But I guess I'm what I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: hear you, hear me--we two--you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.
) Me--who? Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present, or records--Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write? Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be a part of you, instructor.
You are white-- yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true! As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me-- although you're older--and white-- and somewhat more free.
This is my page for English B.
Written by Vladimir Mayakovsky | Create an image from this poem

At the Top of My voice

 My most respected
 comrades of posterity!
Rummaging among
 these days’ 
 petrified crap,
exploring the twilight of our times,
you,
 possibly,
 will inquire about me too.
And, possibly, your scholars will declare, with their erudition overwhelming a swarm of problems; once there lived a certain champion of boiled water, and inveterate enemy of raw water.
Professor, take off your bicycle glasses! I myself will expound those times and myself.
I, a latrine cleaner and water carrier, by the revolution mobilized and drafted, went off to the front from the aristocratic gardens of poetry - the capricious wench She planted a delicious garden, the daughter, cottage, pond and meadow.
Myself a garden I did plant, myself with water sprinkled it.
some pour their verse from water cans; others spit water from their mouth - the curly Macks, the clever jacks - but what the hell’s it all about! There’s no damming al this up - beneath the walls they mandoline: “Tara-tina, tara-tine, tw-a-n-g.
.
.
” It’s no great honor, then, for my monuments to rise from such roses above the public squares, where consumption coughs, where whores, hooligans and syphilis walk.
Agitprop sticks in my teeth too, and I’d rather compose romances for you - more profit in it and more charm.
But I subdued myself, setting my heel on the throat of my own song.
Listen, comrades of posterity, to the agitator the rabble-rouser.
Stifling the torrents of poetry, I’ll skip the volumes of lyrics; as one alive, I’ll address the living.
I’ll join you in the far communist future, I who am no Esenin super-hero.
My verse will reach you across the peaks of ages, over the heads of governments and poets.
My verse will reach you not as an arrow in a cupid-lyred chase, not as worn penny Reaches a numismatist, not as the light of dead stars reaches you.
My verse by labor will break the mountain chain of years, and will present itself ponderous, crude, tangible, as an aqueduct, by slaves of Rome constructed, enters into our days.
When in mounds of books, where verse lies buried, you discover by chance the iron filings of lines, touch them with respect, as you would some antique yet awesome weapon.
It’s no habit of mine to caress the ear with words; a maiden’s ear curly-ringed will not crimson when flicked by smut.
In parade deploying the armies of my pages, I shall inspect the regiments in line.
Heavy as lead, my verses at attention stand, ready for death and for immortal fame.
The poems are rigid, pressing muzzle to muzzle their gaping pointed titles.
The favorite of all the armed forces the cavalry of witticisms ready to launch a wild hallooing charge, reins its chargers still, raising the pointed lances of the rhymes.
and all these troops armed to the teeth, which have flashed by victoriously for twenty years, all these, to their very last page, I present to you, the planet’s proletarian.
The enemy of the massed working class is my enemy too inveterate and of long standing.
Years of trial and days of hunger ordered us to march under the red flag.
We opened each volume of Marx as we would open the shutters in our own house; but we did not have to read to make up our minds which side to join, which side to fight on.
Our dialectics were not learned from Hegel.
In the roar of battle it erupted into verse, when, under fire, the bourgeois decamped as once we ourselves had fled from them.
Let fame trudge after genius like an inconsolable widow to a funeral march - die then, my verse, die like a common soldier, like our men who nameless died attacking! I don’t care a spit for tons of bronze; I don’t care a spit for slimy marble.
We’re men of kind, we’ll come to terms about our fame; let our common monument be socialism built in battle.
Men of posterity examine the flotsam of dictionaries: out of Lethe will bob up the debris of such words as “prostitution,” “tuberculosis,” “blockade.
” For you, who are now healthy and agile, the poet with the rough tongue of his posters, has licked away consumptives’ spittle.
With the tail of my years behind me, I begin to resemble those monsters, excavated dinosaurs.
Comrade life, let us march faster, march faster through what’s left of the five-year plan.
My verse has brought me no rubles to spare: no craftsmen have made mahogany chairs for my house.
In all conscience, I need nothing except a freshly laundered shirt.
When I appear before the CCC of the coming bright years, by way of my Bolshevik party card, I’ll raise above the heads of a gang of self-seeking poets and rogues, all the hundred volumes of my communist-committed books.
Transcribed: by Mitch Abidor.
Written by Francesco Petrarch | Create an image from this poem

TO LAURA IN DEATH

class=pagenum>[Pg 232]

TO LAURA IN DEATH.

Written by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | Create an image from this poem

There Is A Candle In Your Heart

There is a candle in your heart,       ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,       ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you? You feel the separation       from the Beloved.
Invite Him to fill you up,       embrace the fire.
Remind those who tell you otherwise that       Love       comes to you of its own accord,       and the yearning for it       cannot be learned in any school.

From: ‘Hush Don’t Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi’ Translated by Sharam Shiva

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Sufi Poets

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Written by Marge Piercy | Create an image from this poem

My Mothers Body

 1.
The dark socket of the year the pit, the cave where the sun lies down and threatens never to rise, when despair descends softly as the snow covering all paths and choking roads: then hawkfaced pain seized you threw you so you fell with a sharp cry, a knife tearing a bolt of silk.
My father heard the crash but paid no mind, napping after lunch yet fifteen hundred miles north I heard and dropped a dish.
Your pain sunk talons in my skull and crouched there cawing, heavy as a great vessel filled with water, oil or blood, till suddenly next day the weight lifted and I knew your mind had guttered out like the Chanukah candles that burn so fast, weeping veils of wax down the chanukiya.
Those candles were laid out, friends invited, ingredients bought for latkes and apple pancakes, that holiday for liberation and the winter solstice when tops turn like little planets.
Shall you have all or nothing take half or pass by untouched? Nothing you got, Nun said the dreydl as the room stopped spinning.
The angel folded you up like laundry your body thin as an empty dress.
Your clothes were curtains hanging on the window of what had been your flesh and now was glass.
Outside in Florida shopping plazas loudspeakers blared Christmas carols and palm trees were decked with blinking lights.
Except by the tourist hotels, the beaches were empty.
Pelicans with pregnant pouches flapped overhead like pterodactyls.
In my mind I felt you die.
First the pain lifted and then you flickered and went out.
2.
I walk through the rooms of memory.
Sometimes everything is shrouded in dropcloths, every chair ghostly and muted.
Other times memory lights up from within bustling scenes acted just the other side of a scrim through which surely I could reach my fingers tearing at the flimsy curtain of time which is and isn't and will be the stuff of which we're made and unmade.
In sleep the other night I met you, seventeen your first nasty marriage just annulled, thin from your abortion, clutching a book against your cheek and trying to look older, trying to took middle class, trying for a job at Wanamaker's, dressing for parties in cast off stage costumes of your sisters.
Your eyes were hazy with dreams.
You did not notice me waving as you wandered past and I saw your slip was showing.
You stood still while I fixed your clothes, as if I were your mother.
Remember me combing your springy black hair, ringlets that seemed metallic, glittering; remember me dressing you, my seventy year old mother who was my last dollbaby, giving you too late what your youth had wanted.
3.
What is this mask of skin we wear, what is this dress of flesh, this coat of few colors and little hair? This voluptuous seething heap of desires and fears, squeaking mice turned up in a steaming haystack with their babies? This coat has been handed down, an heirloom this coat of black hair and ample flesh, this coat of pale slightly ruddy skin.
This set of hips and thighs, these buttocks they provided cushioning for my grandmother Hannah, for my mother Bert and for me and we all sat on them in turn, those major muscles on which we walk and walk and walk over the earth in search of peace and plenty.
My mother is my mirror and I am hers.
What do we see? Our face grown young again, our breasts grown firm, legs lean and elegant.
Our arms quivering with fat, eyes set in the bark of wrinkles, hands puffy, our belly seamed with childbearing, Give me your dress that I might try it on.
Oh it will not fit you mother, you are too fat.
I will not fit you mother.
I will not be the bride you can dress, the obedient dutiful daughter you would chew, a dog's leather bone to sharpen your teeth.
You strike me sometimes just to hear the sound.
Loneliness turns your fingers into hooks barbed and drawing blood with their caress.
My twin, my sister, my lost love, I carry you in me like an embryo as once you carried me.
4.
What is it we turn from, what is it we fear? Did I truly think you could put me back inside? Did I think I would fall into you as into a molten furnace and be recast, that I would become you? What did you fear in me, the child who wore your hair, the woman who let that black hair grow long as a banner of darkness, when you a proper flapper wore yours cropped? You pushed and you pulled on my rubbery flesh, you kneaded me like a ball of dough.
Rise, rise, and then you pounded me flat.
Secretly the bones formed in the bread.
I became willful, private as a cat.
You never knew what alleys I had wandered.
You called me bad and I posed like a gutter queen in a dress sewn of knives.
All I feared was being stuck in a box with a lid.
A good woman appeared to me indistinguishable from a dead one except that she worked all the time.
Your payday never came.
Your dreams ran with bright colors like Mexican cottons that bled onto the drab sheets of the day and would not bleach with scrubbing.
My dear, what you said was one thing but what you sang was another, sweetly subversive and dark as blackberries and I became the daughter of your dream.
This body is your body, ashes now and roses, but alive in my eyes, my breasts, my throat, my thighs.
You run in me a tang of salt in the creek waters of my blood, you sing in my mind like wine.
What you did not dare in your life you dare in mine.
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