David Berman |
A web of sewer, pipe, and wire connects each house to the others.
In 206 a dog sleeps by the stove where a small gas leak causes him
to have visions; visions that are rooted in nothing but gas.
Next door, a man who has decided to buy a car part by part
excitedly unpacks a wheel and an ashtray.
He arranges them every which way.
It’s really beginning to take
Out the garage window he sees a group of ugly children
enter the forest.
Their mouths look like coin slots.
A neighbor plays keyboards in a local cover band.
Preparing for an engagement at the high school prom,
they pack their equipment in silence.
Last night they played the Police Academy Ball and
all the officers slow-danced with target range silhouettes.
This year the theme for the prom is the Tetragrammaton.
A yellow Corsair sails through the disco parking lot
and swaying palms presage the lot of young libertines.
Inside the car a young lady wears a corsage of bullet-sized rodents.
Her date, the handsome cornerback, stretches his talons over the
molded steering wheel.
They park and walk into the lush starlit gardens behind the disco
just as the band is striking up.
Their keen eyes and ears twitch.
The other couples
look beautiful tonight.
They stroll around listening
to the brilliant conversation.
The passionate speeches.
Clouds drift across the silverware.
There is red larkspur,
blue gum, and ivy.
A boy kneels before his date.
And the moon, I forgot to mention the moon.
William Topaz McGonagall |
Edward Teach was a native of Bristol, and sailed from that port
On board a privateer, in search of sport,
As one of the crew, during the French War in that station,
And for personal courage he soon gained his Captain's approbation.
'Twas in the spring of 1717, Captajn Harnigold and Teach sailed from Providence
For the continent of America, and no further hence;
And in their way captured a vessel laden with flour,
Which they put on board their own vessels in the space of an hour.
They also seized two other vessels snd took some gallons of wine,
Besides plunder to a considerable value, and most of it most costly design;
And after that they made a prize of a large French Guinea-man,
Then to act an independent part Teach now began.
But the news spread throughout America, far and near,
And filled many of the inhabitants' hearts with fear;
But Lieutenant Maynard with his sloops of war directly steered,
And left James River on the 17th November in quest of Black Beard,
And on the evening of the 21st came in sight of the pirate;
And when Black Beard spied his sloops he felt elate.
When he saw the sloops sent to apprehend him,
He didn't lose his courage, but fiendishly did grin;
And told his men to cease from drinking and their tittle-tattle,
Although he had only twenty men on board, and prepare for battle.
In case anything should happen to him during the engagement,
One of his men asked him, who felt rather discontent,
Whether his wife knew where he had buried his pelf,
When he impiously replied that nobody knew but the devil and himself.
In the Morning Maynard weighed and sent his boat to sound,
Which, coming near the pirate, unfortunately ran aground;
But Maynard lightened his vessel of the ballast and water,
Whilst from the pirates' ship small shot loudly did clatter.
But the pirates' small shot or slugs didn't Maynard appal,
He told his men to take their cutlasses and be ready upon his call;
And to conceal themselves every man below,
While he would remain at the helm and face the foe.
Then Black Beard cried, "They're all knocked on the head,"
When he saw no hand upon deck he thought they were dead;
Then Black Beard boarded Maynard'a sloop without dismay,
But Maynard's men rushed upon deck, then began the deadly fray.
Then Black Beard and Maynard engaged sword in hand,
And the pirate fought manfully and made a bold stand;
And Maynard with twelve men, and Black Beard with fourteen,
Made the most desperate and bloody conflict that ever was seen.
At last with shots and wounds the pirate fell down dead,
Then from his body Maynard severed the pirate's head,
And suspended it upon his bowsprit-end,
And thanked God Who so mercifully did him defend.
Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,
Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared;
But, thanks be to God, in this age we need not be afeared,
Of any such pirates as the inhuman Black Beard.
Walt Whitman |
WHILE my wife at my side lies slumbering, and the wars are over long,
And my head on the pillow rests at home, and the vacant midnight passes,
And through the stillness, through the dark, I hear, just hear, the breath of my infant,
There in the room, as I wake from sleep, this vision presses upon me:
The engagement opens there and then, in fantasy unreal;
The skirmishers begin—they crawl cautiously ahead—I hear the irregular snap!
I hear the sounds of the different missiles—the short t-h-t! t-h-t! of the
I see the shells exploding, leaving small white clouds—I hear the great shells
The grape, like the hum and whirr of wind through the trees, (quick, tumultuous, now the
All the scenes at the batteries themselves rise in detail before me again;
The crashing and smoking—the pride of the men in their pieces;
The chief gunner ranges and sights his piece, and selects a fuse of the right time;
After firing, I see him lean aside, and look eagerly off to note the effect;
—Elsewhere I hear the cry of a regiment charging—(the young colonel leads
time, with brandish’d sword;)
I see the gaps cut by the enemy’s volleys, (quickly fill’d up, no delay;)
I breathe the suffocating smoke—then the flat clouds hover low, concealing all;
Now a strange lull comes for a few seconds, not a shot fired on either side;
Then resumed, the chaos louder than ever, with eager calls, and orders of officers;
While from some distant part of the field the wind wafts to my ears a shout of applause,
And ever the sound of the cannon, far or near, (rousing, even in dreams, a devilish
all the old mad joy, in the depths of my soul;)
And ever the hastening of infantry shifting positions—batteries, cavalry, moving
(The falling, dying, I heed not—the wounded, dripping and red, I heed not—some
Grime, heat, rush—aid-de-camps galloping by, or on a full run;
With the patter of small arms, the warning s-s-t of the rifles, (these in my vision
And bombs busting in air, and at night the vari-color’d rockets.
Anne Sexton |
I dance in circles holding
the moth of the marriage,
thin, sticky, fluttering
its skirts, its webs.
The moth oozing a tear,
or is it a drop of urine?
The moth, grinning like a pear,
or is it teeth
clamping the iron maiden shut?
who is my mother,
who is my father,
who was my lover,
floats airily out of my hands
and I dance slower,
pulling off the fat diamond engagement ring,
pulling off the elopement wedding ring,
and holding them, clicking them
in thumb and forefinger,
the indent of twenty-five years,
like a tiny rip of a tiny earthquake.
Underneath the soil lies the violence,
the shift, the crack of continents,
and above only a cut,
a half-inch space to stick a pencil in.
The finger is scared
but it keeps its long numb place.
And I keep dancing,
a sort of waltz,
clicking the two rings,
all of a life at its last cough,
as I swim through the air of the kitchen,
and the same radio plays its songs
and I make a small path through them
with my bare finger and my funny feet,
doing the undoing dance,
on April 14th, 1973,
letting my history rip itself off me
and stepping into
but all ten fingers stretched outward,
flesh extended as metal
waiting for a magnet.
Donald Hall |
Snow fell in the night.
At five-fifteen I woke to a bluish
mounded softness where
the Honda was.
Cat fed and coffee made,
I broomed snow off the car
and drove to the Kearsarge Mini-Mart
before Amy opened
to yank my Globe out of the bundle.
Back, I set my cup of coffee
beside Jane, still half-asleep,
thanks in the aquamarine morning.
Then I sat in my blue chair
with blueberry bagels and strong
black coffee reading news,
the obits, the comics, and the sports.
Carrying my cup twenty feet,
I sat myself at the desk
for this day's lifelong
engagement with the one task and desire.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox |
Well, Mabel, 'tis over and ended---
The ball I wrote was to be;
And oh! it was perfectly splendid---
If you could have been here to see.
I've a thousand things to write you
That I know you are wanting to hear,
And one, that is sure to delight you---
I am wearing Joe's diamond, my dear!
Yes, mamma is quite ecstatic
That I am engaged to Joe;
She thinks I am rather erratic,
And feared that I might say "no.
But, Mabel, I'm twenty-seven
(Though nobody dreams it, dear),
And a fortune like Joe's isn't given
To lay at one's feet each year.
You know my old fancy for Harry---
Or, at least, I am certain you guessed
That it took all my sense not to marry
And go with that fellow out west.
But that was my very first season---
And Harry was poor as could be,
And mamma's good practical reason
Took all the romance out of me.
She whisked me off over the ocean,
And had me presented at court,
And got me all out of the notion
That ranch life out west was my forte.
Of course I have never repented---
I'm not such a goose of a thing;
But after I had consented
To Joe---and he gave me the ring---
I felt such a queer sensation.
I seemed to go into a trance,
Away from the music's pulsation,
Away from the lights and the dance.
And the wind o'er the wild prairie
Seemed blowing strong and free,
And it seemed not Joe, but Harry
Who was standing there close to me.
And the funniest feverish feeling
Went up from my feet to my head,
With little chills after it stealing---
And my hands got as numb as the dead.
A moment, and then it was over:
The diamond blazed up in my eyes,
And I saw in the face of my lover
A questioning, strange surprise.
Maybe 'twas the scent of the flowers,
That heavy with fragrance bloomed near,
But I didn't feel natural for hours;
It was odd now, wasn't it, dear?
Write soon to your fortunate Clara
Who has carried the prize away,
And say you'll come on when I marry;
I think it will happen in May.
Edgar Lee Masters |
Herbert broke our engagement of eight years
When Annabelle returned to the village
From the Seminary, ah me!
If I had let my love for him alone
It might have grown into a beautiful sorrow --
Who knows? -- filling my life with healing fragrance.
But I tortured it, I poisoned it,
I blinded its eyes, and it became hatred --
Deadly ivy instead of clematis.
And my soul fell from its support,
Its tendrils tangled in decay.
Do not let the will play gardener to your soul
Unless you are sure
It is wiser than your soul's nature.
Marriott Edgar |
Albert were what you'd call “thwarted”.
He had long had an ambition, which.
Were to save up and go to Australia,
The saving up that were the hitch.
He'd a red money box on the pot shelf,
A post office thing made of tin,
But with him and his Dad and the bread knife,
It never had anything in.
He were properly held up for bobbins,
As the folk in the mill used to say,
Till he hit on a simple solution -
He'd go as a young stowaway.
He studied the sailing lists daily,
And at last found a ship as would do.
Tosser:, a freighter from Fleetwood,
Via Cape Horn to Wooloomooloo.
He went off next evening to Fleetwood,
And found her there loaded and coaled,
Slipped over the side in the darkness,
And downstairs and into the hold.
The hold it were choked up with cargo,
He groped with his hands in the gloom,
Squeezed through bars of what felt like a grating,
And found he had plenty of room.
Some straw had been spilled in one corner,
He thankfully threw himself flat,
He thought he could hear someone breathing,
But he were too tired to fret about that.
When he woke they were out in mid-ocean,
He turned and in light which were dim,
Looked straight in the eyes of a lion,
That were lying there looking at him.
His heart came right up in his tonsils,
As he gazed at that big yellow face.
Then it smiled and they both said together,
“Well, isn't the world a small place?”
The lion were none other than Wallace,
He were going to Sydney, too.
To fulfil a short starring engagement
In a cage at Taronga Park Zoo.
As they talked they heard footsteps approaching,
“Someone comes” whispered Wallace, “Quick, hide”.
He opened his mouth to the fullest,
And Albert sprang nimbly inside.
'Twere Captain on morning inspection,
When he saw Wallace shamming to doze,
He picked up a straw from his bedding,
And started to tickle his nose.
Now Wallace could never stand tickling,
He let out a mumbling roar,
And before he could do owt about it,
He'd sneezed Albert out on the floor.
The Captain went white to the wattles,
He said, “I'm a son of a gun”.
He had heard of beasts bringing up children,
But were first time as he'd seen it done.
He soon had the radio crackling,
And flashing the tale far and wide,
Of the lad who'd set out for Australia,
Stowed away in a lion's inside.
The quay it were jammed with reporters,
When they docked on Australian soil.
They didn't pretend to believe it,
But 'twere too good a story to spoil.
And Albert soon picked up the language,
When he first saw the size of the fruit,
There was no more “by gum” now or “Champion”,
It were “Whacko!”, “Too right!” and “You beaut!”.
They gave him a wonderful fortnight,
Then from a subscription they made,
Sent him back as a “Parcel for Britain”,
Carriage forward, and all ex's paid!
Omar Khayyam |
Whoever has constancy will not renounce drinking wine,
for wine has within itself the virtue of the water of life.
If any one renounce it during the month of Ramazan, let
him at least abstain from engagement in prayer.