Maya Angelou |
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Carol Ann Duffy |
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
Rita Dove |
She was thinner, with a mannered gauntness
as she paused just inside the double
glass doors to survey the room, silvery cape
billowing dramatically behind her.
I thought, lifting a hand until
she nodded and started across the parquet;
that's when I saw she was dressed all in gray,
from a kittenish cashmere skirt and cowl
down to the graphite signature of her shoes.
"Sorry I'm late," she panted, though
she wasn't, sliding into the chair, her cape
tossed off in a shudder of brushed steel.
Then I leaned back to peruse
my blighted child, this wary aristocratic mole.
"How's business?" I asked, and hazarded
a motherly smile to keep from crying out:
Are you content to conduct your life
as a cliché and, what's worse,
an anachronism, the brooding artist's demimonde?
Near the rue Princesse they had opened
a gallery cum souvenir shop which featured
fuzzy off-color Monets next to his acrylics, no doubt,
plus beared African drums and the occasional miniature
gargoyle from Notre Dame the Great Artist had
carved at breakfast with a pocket knife.
"Tourists love us.
The Parisians, of course"--
she blushed--"are amused, though not without
a certain admiration .
arrived on a bone-white plate, smug and absolute
in its fragrant crust, a black plug steaming
like the heart plucked from the chest of a worthy enemy;
one touch with her fork sent pink juices streaming.
"Admiration for what?"Wine, a bloody
Pinot Noir, brought color to her cheeks.
the aplomb with which we've managed
to support our Art"--meaning he'd convinced
her to pose nude for his appalling canvases,
faintly futuristic landscapes strewn
with carwrecks and bodies being chewed
by rabid cocker spaniels.
"I'd like to come by
the studio," I ventured, "and see the new stuff.
"Yes, if you wish .
"A delicate rebuff
before the warning: "He dresses all
in black now.
Me, he drapes in blues and carmine--
and even though I think it's kinda cute,
in company I tend toward more muted shades.
She paused and had the grace
to drop her eyes.
She did look ravishing,
spookily insubstantial, a lipstick ghost on tissue,
or as if one stood on a fifth-floor terrace
peering through a fringe of rain at Paris'
dreaming chimney pots, each sooty issue
wobbling skyward in an ecstatic oracular spiral.
"And he never thinks of food.
I didn't have to plead with him to eat.
and cheese appeared, arrayed on leaf-green dishes.
I stuck with café crème.
so ripe," she joked, "it's practically grown hair,"
mucking a golden glob complete with parsley sprig
onto a heel of bread.
Nothing seemed to fill
her up: She swallowed, sliced into a pear,
speared each tear-shaped lavaliere
and popped the dripping mess into her pretty mouth.
Nowhere the bright tufted fields, weighted
vines and sun poured down out of the south.
"But are you happy?"Fearing, I whispered it
"What?You know, Mother"--
she bit into the starry rose of a fig--
"one really should try the fruit here.
I've lost her, I thought, and called for the bill.
Sylvia Plath |
Viciousness in the kitchen!
The potatoes hiss.
It is all Hollywood, windowless,
The fluorescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine,
Coy paper strips for doors --
Stage curtains, a widow's frizz.
And I, love, am a pathological liar,
And my child -- look at her, face down on the floor,
Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear --
Why she is schizophrenic,
Her face is red and white, a panic,
You have stuck her kittens outside your window
In a sort of cement well
Where they crap and puke and cry and she can't hear.
You say you can't stand her,
The bastard's a girl.
You who have blown your tubes like a bad radio
Clear of voices and history, the staticky
Noise of the new.
You say I should drown the kittens.
You say I should drown my girl.
She'll cut her throat at ten if she's mad at two.
The baby smiles, fat snail,
From the polished lozenges of orange linoleum.
You could eat him.
He's a boy.
You say your husband is just no good to you.
His Jew-Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl.
You have one baby, I have two.
I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair.
I should wear tiger pants, I should have an affair.
We should meet in another life, we should meet in air,
Me and you.
Meanwhile there's a stink of fat and baby crap.
I'm doped and thick from my last sleeping pill.
The smog of cooking, the smog of hell
Floats our heads, two venemous opposites,
Our bones, our hair.
I call you Orphan, orphan.
You are ill.
The sun gives you ulcers, the wind gives you T.
Once you were beautiful.
In New York, in Hollywood, the men said: 'Through?
Gee baby, you are rare.
You acted, acted for the thrill.
The impotent husband slumps out for a coffee.
I try to keep him in,
An old pole for the lightning,
The acid baths, the skyfuls off of you.
He lumps it down the plastic cobbled hill,
The sparks are blue.
The blue sparks spill,
Splitting like quartz into a million bits.
O jewel! O valuable!
That night the moon
Dragged its blood bag, sick
Up over the harbor lights.
And then grew normal,
Hard and apart and white.
The scale-sheen on the sand scared me to death.
We kept picking up handfuls, loving it,
Working it like dough, a mulatto body,
The silk grits.
A dog picked up your doggy husband.
He went on.
Now I am silent, hate
Up to my neck,
I do not speak.
I am packing the hard potatoes like good clothes,
I am packing the babies,
I am packing the sick cats.
O vase of acid,
It is love you are full of.
You know who you hate.
He is hugging his ball and chain down by the gate
That opens to the sea
Where it drives in, white and black,
Then spews it back.
Every day you fill him with soul-stuff, like a pitcher.
You are so exhausted.
Your voice my ear-ring,
Flapping and sucking, blood-loving bat.
That is that.
That is that.
You peer from the door,
'Every woman's a whore.
I can't communicate.
I see your cute décor
Close on you like the fist of a baby
Or an anemone, that sea
Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac.
I am still raw.
I say I may be back.
You know what lies are for.
Even in your Zen heaven we shan't meet.
Walt Whitman |
TO get betimes in Boston town, I rose this morning early;
Here’s a good place at the corner—I must stand and see the show.
Clear the way there, Jonathan!
Way for the President’s marshal! Way for the government cannon!
Way for the Federal foot and dragoons—and the apparitions copiously tumbling.
I love to look on the stars and stripes—I hope the fifes will play Yankee Doodle.
How bright shine the cutlasses of the foremost troops!
Every man holds his revolver, marching stiff through Boston town.
A fog follows—antiques of the same come limping,
Some appear wooden-legged, and some appear bandaged and bloodless.
Why this is indeed a show! It has called the dead out of the earth!
The old grave-yards of the hills have hurried to see!
Phantoms! phantoms countless by flank and rear!
Cock’d hats of mothy mould! crutches made of mist!
Arms in slings! old men leaning on young men’s shoulders!
What troubles you, Yankee phantoms? What is all this chattering of bare gums?
Does the ague convulse your limbs? Do you mistake your crutches for fire-locks, and level
If you blind your eyes with tears, you will not see the President’s marshal;
If you groan such groans, you might balk the government cannon.
For shame, old maniacs! Bring down those toss’d arms, and let your white hair be;
Here gape your great grand-sons—their wives gaze at them from the windows,
See how well dress’d—see how orderly they conduct themselves.
Worse and worse! Can’t you stand it? Are you retreating?
Is this hour with the living too dead for you?
Retreat then! Pell-mell!
To your graves! Back! back to the hills, old limpers!
I do not think you belong here, anyhow.
But there is one thing that belongs here—shall I tell you what it is, gentlemen of
I will whisper it to the Mayor—he shall send a committee to England;
They shall get a grant from the Parliament, go with a cart to the royal vault—haste!
Dig out King George’s coffin, unwrap him quick from the grave-clothes, box up his
Find a swift Yankee clipper—here is freight for you, black-bellied clipper,
Up with your anchor! shake out your sails! steer straight toward Boston bay.
Now call for the President’s marshal again, bring out the government cannon,
Fetch home the roarers from Congress, make another procession, guard it with foot and
This centre-piece for them:
Look! all orderly citizens—look from the windows, women!
The committee open the box, set up the regal ribs, glue those that will not stay,
Clap the skull on top of the ribs, and clap a crown on top of the skull.
You have got your revenge, old buster! The crown is come to its own, and more than its
Stick your hands in your pockets, Jonathan—you are a made man from this day;
You are mighty cute—and here is one of your bargains.
Robert William Service |
Only a Leather Medal, hanging there on the wall,
Dingy and frayed and faded, dusty and worn and old;
Yet of my humble treasures I value it most of all,
And I wouldn't part with that medal if you gave me its weight in gold.
Read the inscription: For Valour - presented to Millie MacGee.
Ah! how in mem'ry it takes me back to the "auld lang syne,"
When Millie and I were sweethearts, and fair as a flower was she -
Yet little I dreamt that her bosom held the heart of heroine.
Listen! I'll tell you about it.
An orphan was Millie MacGee,
Living with Billie her brother, under the Yukon sky,
Sam, her pa, was cremated in the winter of nineteen-three,
As duly and truly related by the pen of an author guy.
A cute little kid was Billie, solemn and silken of hair,
The image of Jackie Coogan in the days before movies could speak.
Devoted to him was Millie, with more than a mother's care,
And happy were they together in their cabin on Bunker Creek.
'Twas only a mining village, where hearts are simple and true,
And Millie MacGee was schoolma'am, loved and admired by all;
Yet no one dreamed for a moment she'd do what she dared to do -
But wait and I'll try to tell you, as clear as I can recall.
Christmas Eve in the school-house! A scene of glitter and glee;
The children eager and joyful; parents and neighbours too;
Right in the forefront, Millie, close to the Christmas Tree.
While Billie, her brother, recited "The Shooting of Dan McGrew.
I reckon you've heard the opus, a ballad of guts and gore;
Of a Yukon frail and a frozen trail and a fight in a dringing dive,
It's on a par, I figger, with "The Face on the Bar-Room Floor,"
And the boys who wrote them pieces ought to be skinned alive.
Picture that scene of gladness; the honest faces aglow;
The kiddies gaping and spellbound, as Billie strutted his stuff.
The stage with its starry candles, and there in the foremost row,
Millie, bright as a fairy, in radient flounce and fluff.
More like an angel I thought her; all she needed was wings,
And I sought for a smile seraphic, but her eyes were only for Bill;
So there was I longing and loving, and dreaming the craziest things,
And Billie shouting and spouting, and everyone rapt and still.
Proud as a prince was Billie, bang in the footlights' glare,
And quaking for him was Millie, as she followed every word;
Then just as he reached the climax, ranting and sawing the air -
Ugh! How it makes me shudder! The horrible thing occurred.
'Twas the day when frocks were frilly, and skirts were scraping the ground,
And the snowy flounces of Millie like sea foam round her swept;
Humbly adoring I watched her - when oh, my heart gave a bound!
Hoary and scarred and hideous, out from the tree.
A whiskered, beady-eyes monster, grisly and grim of hue;
Savage and slinking and silent, born of the dark and dirt;
Dazed by the glare and the glitter, it wavered a moment or two -
Then like a sinister shadow, it vanished.
'neath Millie's skirt.
had my eyes deceived me? I shivered.
I held my breath.
Surly I must have dreamed it.
I made to rise.
Then - my God! it was real.
Millie grew pale as death;
And oh, such a look of terror woke in her lovely eyes.
Did her scream ring out? Ah no, sir.
It froze at her very lips.
Clenching her teeth she checked it, and I saw her slim hands lock,
Grasping and gripping tensely, with desperate finger tips,
Something that writhed and wriggled under her dainty frock.
Quick I'd have dashed to her rescue, but fiercely she signalled: "No!"
Her eyes were dark with anguish, but her lips were set and grim;
Then I knew she was thinking of Billie - the kiddy must have his show,
Reap to the full his glory, nothing mattered but him.
So spiked to my chair with horror, there I shuddered and saw
Her fingrs frenziedly clutching and squeezing with all their might
Something that squirmed and struggled, a deamon of tooth and claw,
Fighting with fear and fury, under her garment white.
Oh could I only aid her! But the wide room lay between,
And again her eyes besought me: "Steady!" they seamed to say.
"Stay where you are, Bob Simmons; don't let us have a scene,
Billie will soon be finished.
Only a moment.
A moment! Ah yes, I got her.
I knew how night after night
She'd learned him each line of that ballad with patience and pride and glee;
With gesture and tone dramatic, she'd taught him how to recite.
And now at the last to fail him - no, it must never be.
A moment! It seemed like ages.
Why was Billie so slow?
Twice he repeated: "The Lady that's known as Lou -"
The kiddy was stuck and she knew it.
Her face was frantic with woe.
Could she but come to his rescue? Could she remember the cue?
I saw her whispering wildly as she leaned to the frightened boy;
But Billie stared like a dummy, and I stifled an anxious curse.
Louder, louder she prompted; then his face illumined with joy,
And panting, flushed and exultant, he finished the final verse.
So the youngster would up like a whirlwind, while cheer resounded on cheer;
His piece was the hit of the evening.
"Bravo!" I heard them say.
But there in the heart of the racket was one who could not hear -
The loving sister who'd coached him; for Millie had fainted away.
I rushed to her side and grabbed her; then others saw her distress,
And all were eager to aid me, as I pillowed that golden head,
But her arms were tense and rigid, and clutched in the folds of her dress,
Unlocking her hands they found it .
A RAT .
and the brute was dead.
In silence she'd crushed its life out, rather than scare the crowd,
And ***** little Billie's triumph .
Hey! Mother, what about tea?
I've just been telling a story that makes me so mighty proud.
Stranger, let me present you - my wife, that was Millie MacGee.
James Wright |
Beautiful natural blossoms,
Pure delicate body,
You stand without trembling.
Little mist of fallen starlight,
Perfect, beyond my reach,
How I envy you.
For if you could only listen,
I would tell you something,
An old man
Appeared to me once
In the unendurable snow.
He had a singe of white
Beard on his face.
He paused on a street in Minneapolis
And stroked my face.
Give it to me, he begged.
I'll pay you anything.
We slunk away,
Each in his own way dodging
The cruel darts of the cold.
Beautiful natural blossoms,
How could you possibly
Worry or bother or care
About the ashamed, hopeless
Old man? He was so near death
He was willing to take
Any love he could get,
Even at the risk
Of some mocking policeman
Or some cute young wiseacre
Smashing his dentures,
Perhaps leading him on
To a dark place and there
Kicking him in his dead groin
Just for the fun of it.
Young tree, unburdened
By anything but your beautiful natural blossoms
And dew, the dark
Blood in my body drags me
Down with my brother.
Charles Bukowski |
I was shacked with a
24 year old girl from
New York City for
two weeks- about
the time of the garbage
strike out there, and
one night my 34 year
old woman arrived and
she said, "I want to see
" she did
and then she said, "o,
you're a cute little thing!"
next I knew there was a
screech of wildcats-
such screaming and scratch-
ing, wounded animal moans,
blood and piss.
I was drunk and in my
I tried to
seperate them and fell,
wrenched my knee.
they were through the screen
door and down the walk
and out into the street.
squadcars full of cops
a police heli-
coptor circled overhead.
I stood in the bathroom
and grinned in the mirror.
it's not often at the age
of 55 that such splendid
better than the Watts
the 34 year old
came back in.
pissed all over her-
self and her clothing
was torn and she was
followed by 2 cops who
wanted to know why.
pulling up my shorts
I tried to explain.
Richard Brautigan |
A long lazy September look
in the mirror
say it's true.
and my nose is growing
It starts about 1/2
below the bridge
and strolls geriatrically
for another inch or so:
Fortunately, the rest
of the nose is comparatively
I wonder if girls
will want me with an
I can hear them now
the heartless bitches!
but his nose
Ogden Nash |
BANKERS TRUST AUTOMOBILE LOAN
You'll find a banker at Bankers Trust"
Advertisement in N.
When comes my second childhood,
As to all men it must,
I want to be a banker
Like the banker at Bankers Trust.
I wouldn't ask to be president
Or even assistant veep,
I'd only ask for a kiddie car
And permission to go beep-beep.
The banker at Chase Manhattan,
He bids a polite Good-day;
The banker at Immigrant Savings
Cries Scusi! and Olé!
But I'd be a sleek Ferrari
Or perhaps a joggly jeep,
And scooting around at Bankers Trust,
Beep-beep, I'd go, beep-beep.
The trolley car used to say clang-clang
And the choo-choo said toot-toot,
But the beep of the banker at Bankers Trust
Is every bit as cute.
Miaow, says the cuddly kitten,
Baa, says the woolly sheep,
Oink, says the piggy-wiggy,
And the banker says beep-beep.
So I want to play at Bankers Trust
Like a hippety-hoppety bunny,
And best of all, oh best of all,
With really truly money.
Now grown-ups dear, it's nightie-night
Until my dream comes true,
And I bid you a happy boop-a-doop
And a big beep-beep adieu.