Shel Silverstein |
If you were only one inch tall, you'd ride a worm to school.
The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool.
A crumb of cake would be a feast
And last you seven days at least,
A flea would be a frightening beast
If you were one inch tall.
If you were only one inch tall, you'd walk beneath the door,
And it would take about a month to get down to the store.
A bit of fluff would be your bed,
You'd swing upon a spider's thread,
And wear a thimble on your head
If you were one inch tall.
You'd surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum.
You couldn't hug your mama, you'd just have to hug her thumb.
You'd run from people's feet in fright,
To move a pen would take all night,
(This poem took fourteen years to write--
'Cause I'm just one inch tall).
Robert Frost |
I didn't make you know how glad I was
To have you come and camp here on our land.
I promised myself to get down some day
And see the way you lived, but I don't know!
With a houseful of hungry men to feed
I guess you'd find.
It seems to me
I can't express my feelings any more
Than I can raise my voice or want to lift
My hand (oh, I can lift it when I have to).
Did ever you feel so? I hope you never.
It's got so I don't even know for sure
Whether I am glad, sorry, or anything.
There's nothing but a voice-like left inside
That seems to tell me how I ought to feel,
And would feel if I wasn't all gone wrong.
You take the lake.
I look and look at it.
I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water.
I stand and make myself repeat out loud
The advantages it has, so long and narrow,
Like a deep piece of some old running river
Cut short off at both ends.
It lies five miles
Straight away through the mountain notch
From the sink window where I wash the plates,
And all our storms come up toward the house,
Drawing the slow waves whiter and whiter and whiter.
It took my mind off doughnuts and soda biscuit
To step outdoors and take the water dazzle
A sunny morning, or take the rising wind
About my face and body and through my wrapper,
When a storm threatened from the Dragon's Den,
And a cold chill shivered across the lake.
I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water,
Our Willoughby! How did you hear of it?
I expect, though, everyone's heard of it.
In a book about ferns? Listen to that!
You let things more like feathers regulate
Your going and coming.
And you like it here?
I can see how you might.
But I don't know!
It would be different if more people came,
For then there would be business.
As it is,
The cottages Len built, sometimes we rent them,
Sometimes we don't.
We've a good piece of shore
That ought to be worth something, and may yet.
But I don't count on it as much as Len.
He looks on the bright side of everything,
He thinks I'll be all right
But it's not medicine--
Lowe is the only doctor's dared to say so--
It's rest I want--there, I have said it out--
From cooking meals for hungry hired men
And washing dishes after them--from doing
Things over and over that just won't stay done.
By good rights I ought not to have so much
Put on me, but there seems no other way.
Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through--
Leastways for me--and then they'll be convinced.
It's not that Len don't want the best for me.
It was his plan our moving over in
Beside the lake from where that day I showed you
We used to live--ten miles from anywhere.
We didn't change without some sacrifice,
But Len went at it to make up the loss.
His work's a man's, of course, from sun to sun,
But he works when he works as hard as I do--
Though there's small profit in comparisons.
(Women and men will make them all the same.
But work ain't all.
Len undertakes too much.
He's into everything in town.
It's highways, and he's got too many men
Around him to look after that make waste.
They take advantage of him shamefully,
And proud, too, of themselves for doing so.
We have four here to board, great good-for-nothings,
Sprawling about the kitchen with their talk
While I fry their bacon.
Much they care!
No more put out in what they do or say
Than if I wasn't in the room at all.
Coming and going all the time, they are:
I don't learn what their names are, let alone
Their characters, or whether they are safe
To have inside the house with doors unlocked.
I'm not afraid of them, though, if they're not
Afraid of me.
There's two can play at that.
I have my fancies: it runs in the family.
My father's brother wasn't right.
They kept him
Locked up for years back there at the old farm.
I've been away once--yes, I've been away.
The State Asylum.
I was prejudiced;
I wouldn't have sent anyone of mine there;
You know the old idea--the only asylum
Was the poorhouse, and those who could afford,
Rather than send their folks to such a place,
Kept them at home; and it does seem more human.
But it's not so: the place is the asylum.
There they have every means proper to do with,
And you aren't darkening other people's lives--
Worse than no good to them, and they no good
To you in your condition; you can't know
Affection or the want of it in that state.
I've heard too much of the old-fashioned way.
My father's brother, he went mad quite young.
Some thought he had been bitten by a dog,
Because his violence took on the form
Of carrying his pillow in his teeth;
But it's more likely he was crossed in love,
Or so the story goes.
It was some girl.
Anyway all he talked about was love.
They soon saw he would do someone a mischief
If he wa'n't kept strict watch of, and it ended
In father's building him a sort of cage,
Or room within a room, of hickory poles,
Like stanchions in the barn, from floor to ceiling,--
A narrow passage all the way around.
Anything they put in for furniture
He'd tear to pieces, even a bed to lie on.
So they made the place comfortable with straw,
Like a beast's stall, to ease their consciences.
Of course they had to feed him without dishes.
They tried to keep him clothed, but he paraded
With his clothes on his arm--all of his clothes.
I 'spose they did the best
And just when he was at the height,
Father and mother married, and mother came,
A bride, to help take care of such a creature,
And accommodate her young life to his.
That was what marrying father meant to her.
She had to lie and hear love things made dreadful
By his shouts in the night.
He'd shout and shout
Until the strength was shouted out of him,
And his voice died down slowly from exhaustion.
He'd pull his bars apart like bow and bow-string,
And let them go and make them twang until
His hands had worn them smooth as any ox-bow.
And then he'd crow as if he thought that child's play--
The only fun he had.
I've heard them say, though,
They found a way to put a stop to it.
He was before my time--I never saw him;
But the pen stayed exactly as it was
There in the upper chamber in the ell,
A sort of catch-all full of attic clutter.
I often think of the smooth hickory bars.
It got so I would say--you know, half fooling--
"It's time I took my turn upstairs in jail"--
Just as you will till it becomes a habit.
No wonder I was glad to get away.
Mind you, I waited till Len said the word.
I didn't want the blame if things went wrong.
I was glad though, no end, when we moved out,
And I looked to be happy, and I was,
As I said, for a while--but I don't know!
Somehow the change wore out like a prescription.
And there's more to it than just window-views
And living by a lake.
I'm past such help--
Unless Len took the notion, which he won't,
And I won't ask him--it's not sure enough.
I 'spose I've got to go the road I'm going:
Other folks have to, and why shouldn't I?
I almost think if I could do like you,
Drop everything and live out on the ground--
But it might be, come night, I shouldn't like it,
Or a long rain.
I should soon get enough,
And be glad of a good roof overhead.
I've lain awake thinking of you, I'll warrant,
More than you have yourself, some of these nights.
The wonder was the tents weren't snatched away
From over you as you lay in your beds.
I haven't courage for a risk like that.
Bless you, of course, you're keeping me from work,
But the thing of it is, I need to be kept.
There's work enough to do--there's always that;
But behind's behind.
The worst that you can do
Is set me back a little more behind.
I sha'n't catch up in this world, anyway.
I'd rather you'd not go unless you must.
Robert Frost |
What tree may not the fig be gathered from?
The grape may not be gathered from the birch?
It's all you know the grape, or know the birch.
As a girl gathered from the birch myself
Equally with my weight in grapes, one autumn,
I ought to know what tree the grape is fruit of.
I was born, I suppose, like anyone,
And grew to be a little boyish girl
My brother could not always leave at home.
But that beginning was wiped out in fear
The day I swung suspended with the grapes,
And was come after like Eurydice
And brought down safely from the upper regions;
And the life I live now's an extra life
I can waste as I please on whom I please.
So if you see me celebrate two birthdays,
And give myself out of two different ages,
One of them five years younger than I look-
One day my brother led me to a glade
Where a white birch he knew of stood alone,
Wearing a thin head-dress of pointed leaves,
And heavy on her heavy hair behind,
Against her neck, an ornament of grapes.
Grapes, I knew grapes from having seen them last year.
One bunch of them, and there began to be
Bunches all round me growing in white birches,
The way they grew round Leif the Lucky's German;
Mostly as much beyond my lifted hands, though,
As the moon used to seem when I was younger,
And only freely to be had for climbing.
My brother did the climbing; and at first
Threw me down grapes to miss and scatter
And have to hunt for in sweet fern and hardhack;
Which gave him some time to himself to eat,
But not so much, perhaps, as a boy needed.
So then, to make me wholly self-supporting,
He climbed still higher and bent the tree to earth
And put it in my hands to pick my own grapes.
"Here, take a tree-top, I'll get down another.
Hold on with all your might when I let go.
I said I had the tree.
It wasn't true.
The opposite was true.
The tree had me.
The minute it was left with me alone
It caught me up as if I were the fish
And it the fishpole.
So I was translated
To loud cries from my brother of "Let go!
Don't you know anything, you girl? Let go!"
But I, with something of the baby grip
Acquired ancestrally in just such trees
When wilder mothers than our wildest now
Hung babies out on branches by the hands
To dry or wash or tan, I don't know which,
(You'll have to ask an evolutionist)-
I held on uncomplainingly for life.
My brother tried to make me laugh to help me.
"What are you doing up there in those grapes?
Don't be afraid.
A few of them won't hurt you.
I mean, they won't pick you if you don't them.
Much danger of my picking anything!
By that time I was pretty well reduced
To a philosophy of hang-and-let-hang.
"Now you know how it feels," my brother said,
"To be a bunch of fox-grapes, as they call them,
That when it thinks it has escaped the fox
By growing where it shouldn't-on a birch,
Where a fox wouldn't think to look for it-
And if he looked and found it, couldn't reach it-
Just then come you and I to gather it.
Only you have the advantage of the grapes
In one way: you have one more stem to cling by,
And promise more resistance to the picker.
One by one I lost off my hat and shoes,
And still I clung.
I let my head fall back,
And shut my eyes against the sun, my ears
Against my brother's nonsense; "Drop," he said,
"I'll catch you in my arms.
It isn't far.
(Stated in lengths of him it might not be.
"Drop or I'll shake the tree and shake you down.
Grim silence on my part as I sank lower,
My small wrists stretching till they showed the banjo strings.
"Why, if she isn't serious about it!
Hold tight awhile till I think what to do.
I'll bend the tree down and let you down by it.
I don't know much about the letting down;
But once I felt ground with my stocking feet
And the world came revolving back to me,
I know I looked long at my curled-up fingers,
Before I straightened them and brushed the bark off.
My brother said: "Don't you weigh anything?
Try to weigh something next time, so you won't
Be run off with by birch trees into space.
It wasn't my not weighing anything
So much as my not knowing anything-
My brother had been nearer right before.
I had not taken the first step in knowledge;
I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart-nor need,
That I can see.
The mind-is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind-
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.
Robert Frost |
Lancaster bore him--such a little town,
Such a great man.
It doesn't see him often
Of late years, though he keeps the old homestead
And sends the children down there with their mother
To run wild in the summer--a little wild.
Sometimes he joins them for a day or two
And sees old friends he somehow can't get near.
They meet him in the general store at night,
Pre-occupied with formidable mail,
Rifling a printed letter as he talks.
They seem afraid.
He wouldn't have it so:
Though a great scholar, he's a democrat,
If not at heart, at least on principle.
Lately when coming up to Lancaster
His train being late he missed another train
And had four hours to wait at Woodsville Junction
After eleven o'clock at night.
To think of sitting such an ordeal out,
He turned to the hotel to find a bed.
"No room," the night clerk said.
Woodsville's a place of shrieks and wandering lamps
And cars that shook and rattle--and one hotel.
"You say 'unless.
"Unless you wouldn't mind
Sharing a room with someone else.
"Who is it?"
"So I should hope.
What kind of man?"
"I know him: he's all right.
A man's a man.
Separate beds of course you understand.
The night clerk blinked his eyes and dared him on.
"Who's that man sleeping in the office chair?
Has he had the refusal of my chance?"
"He was afraid of being robbed or murdered.
What do you say?"
"I'll have to have a bed.
The night clerk led him up three flights of stairs
And down a narrow passage full of doors,
At the last one of which he knocked and entered.
"Lafe, here's a fellow wants to share your room.
"Show him this way.
I'm not afraid of him.
I'm not so drunk I can't take care of myself.
The night clerk clapped a bedstead on the foot.
"This will be yours.
Good-night," he said, and went.
"Lafe was the name, I think?"
You got it the first time.
"Well, a teacher.
Hold on, there's something I don't think of now
That I had on my mind to ask the first
Man that knew anything I happened in with.
I'll ask you later--don't let me forget it.
The Doctor looked at Lafe and looked away.
A man? A brute.
Naked above the waist,
He sat there creased and shining in the light,
Fumbling the buttons in a well-starched shirt.
"I'm moving into a size-larger shirt.
I've felt mean lately; mean's no name for it.
I just found what the matter was to-night:
I've been a-choking like a nursery tree
When it outgrows the wire band of its name tag.
I blamed it on the hot spell we've been having.
'Twas nothing but my foolish hanging back,
Not liking to own up I'd grown a size.
Number eighteen this is.
What size do you wear?"
The Doctor caught his throat convulsively.
"Fourteen! You say so!
I can remember when I wore fourteen.
And come to think I must have back at home
More than a hundred collars, size fourteen.
Too bad to waste them all.
You ought to have them.
They're yours and welcome; let me send them to you.
What makes you stand there on one leg like that?
You're not much furtherer than where Kike left you.
You act as if you wished you hadn't come.
Sit down or lie down, friend; you make me nervous.
The Doctor made a subdued dash for it,
And propped himself at bay against a pillow.
"Not that way, with your shoes on Kike's white bed.
You can't rest that way.
Let me pull your shoes off.
"Don't touch me, please--I say, don't touch me, please.
I'll not be put to bed by you, my man.
"Just as you say.
Have it your own way then.
'My man' is it? You talk like a professor.
Speaking of who's afraid of who, however,
I'm thinking I have more to lose than you
If anything should happen to be wrong.
Who wants to cut your number fourteen throat!
Let's have a show down as an evidence
Of good faith.
There is ninety dollars.
Come, if you're not afraid.
"I'm not afraid.
There's five: that's all I carry.
"I can search you?
Where are you moving over to? Stay still.
You'd better tuck your money under you
And sleep on it the way I always do
When I'm with people I don't trust at night.
"Will you believe me if I put it there
Right on the counterpane--that I do trust you?"
"You'd say so, Mister Man.
--I'm a collector.
My ninety isn't mine--you won't think that.
I pick it up a dollar at a time
All round the country for the Weekly News,
Published in Bow.
You know the Weekly News?"
"Known it since I was young.
"Then you know me.
Now we are getting on together--talking.
I'm sort of Something for it at the front.
My business is to find what people want:
They pay for it, and so they ought to have it.
Fairbanks, he says to me--he's editor--
Feel out the public sentiment--he says.
A good deal comes on me when all is said.
The only trouble is we disagree
In politics: I'm Vermont Democrat--
You know what that is, sort of double-dyed;
The News has always been Republican.
Fairbanks, he says to me, 'Help us this year,'
Meaning by us their ticket.
'No,' I says,
'I can't and won't.
You've been in long enough:
It's time you turned around and boosted us.
You'll have to pay me more than ten a week
If I'm expected to elect Bill Taft.
I doubt if I could do it anyway.
"You seem to shape the paper's policy.
"You see I'm in with everybody, know 'em all.
I almost know their farms as well as they do.
"You drive around? It must be pleasant work.
"It's business, but I can't say it's not fun.
What I like best's the lay of different farms,
Coming out on them from a stretch of woods,
Or over a hill or round a sudden corner.
I like to find folks getting out in spring,
Raking the dooryard, working near the house.
Later they get out further in the fields.
Everything's shut sometimes except the barn;
The family's all away in some back meadow.
There's a hay load a-coming--when it comes.
And later still they all get driven in:
The fields are stripped to lawn, the garden patches
Stripped to bare ground, the apple trees
To whips and poles.
There's nobody about.
The chimney, though, keeps up a good brisk smoking.
And I lie back and ride.
I take the reins
Only when someone's coming, and the mare
Stops when she likes: I tell her when to go.
I've spoiled Jemima in more ways than one.
She's got so she turns in at every house
As if she had some sort of curvature,
No matter if I have no errand there.
She thinks I'm sociable.
I maybe am.
It's seldom I get down except for meals, though.
Folks entertain me from the kitchen doorstep,
All in a family row down to the youngest.
"One would suppose they might not be as glad
To see you as you are to see them.
Because I want their dollar.
I don't want
Anything they've not got.
I never dun.
I'm there, and they can pay me if they like.
I go nowhere on purpose: I happen by.
Sorry there is no cup to give you a drink.
I drink out of the bottle--not your style.
Mayn't I offer you----?"
"No, no, no, thank you.
"Just as you say.
Here's looking at you then.
And now I'm leaving you a little while.
You'll rest easier when I'm gone, perhaps--
Lie down--let yourself go and get some sleep.
But first--let's see--what was I going to ask you?
Those collars--who shall I address them to,
Suppose you aren't awake when I come back?"
"Really, friend, I can't let you.
You--may need them.
"Not till I shrink, when they'll be out of style.
"But really I--I have so many collars.
"I don't know who I rather would have have them.
They're only turning yellow where they are.
But you're the doctor as the saying is.
I'll put the light out.
Don't you wait for me:
I've just begun the night.
You get some sleep.
I'll knock so-fashion and peep round the door
When I come back so you'll know who it is.
There's nothing I'm afraid of like scared people.
I don't want you should shoot me in the head.
What am I doing carrying off this bottle?
There now, you get some sleep.
He shut the door.
The Doctor slid a little down the pillow.
Charles Bukowski |
ah, christ, what a CREW:
poetry, always more
P O E T R Y .
if it doesn't come, coax it out with a
get your name in LIGHTS,
get it up there in
8 1/2 x 11 mimeo.
keep it coming like a miracle.
ah christ, writers are the most sickening
of all the louts!
gutless, flea-bitten and
in tinker-toy rooms
with their flabby hearts
they tell us
what's wrong with the world-
as if we didn't know that a cop's club
can crack the head
and that war is a dirtier game than
or down in a basement bar
hiding from a wife who doesn't appreciate him
and children he doesn't
he tells us that his heart is drowning in
hell, all our hearts are drowning in vomit,
in pork salt, in bad verse, in soggy
but he thinks he's alone and
he thinks he's special and he thinks he's Rimbaud
and he thinks he's
and death! how about death? did you know
that we all have to die? even Keats died, even
Thomas-THEY KILLED HIM, of course.
Thomas didn't want all those free drinks
all that free pussy-
FORCED IT ON HIM
when they should have left him alone so he could
write write WRITE!
and there's another
I've met them at their country
places (don't ask me what I was doing there because
I don't know).
they were born with money and
they don't have to dirty their hands in
slaughterhouses or washing
dishes in grease joints or
driving cabs or pimping or selling pot.
this gives them time to understand
they walk in with their cocktail glass
held about heart high
and when they drink they just
you are drinking green beer which you
brought with you
because you have found out through the years
that rich bastards are tight-
they use 5 cent stamps instead of airmail
they promise to have all sorts of goodies ready
upon your arrival
from gallons of whisky to
50 cent cigars.
but it's never
and they HIDE their women from you-
their wives, x-wives, daughters, maids, so forth,
because they've read your poems and
figure all you want to do is fuck everybody and
which once might have been
true but is no longer quite
he WRITES TOO.
he has plenty of time and a
postoffice box in town
and he drives there 3 or 4 times a day
looking and hoping for accepted
he thinks that poverty is a weakness of the
he thinks your mind is ill because you are
drunk all the time and have to work in a
factory 10 or 12 hours a
he brings his wife in, a beauty, stolen from a
he lets you gaze for 30 seconds
then hustles her
she has been crying for some
you've got 3 or 4 days to linger in the
guesthouse he says,
"come on over to dinner
but he doesn't say when or
and then you find out that you are not even
IN HIS HOUSE.
you are in
ONE of his houses but
his house is somewhere
you don't know
he even has x-wives in some of his
his main concern is to keep his x-wives away from
he doesn't want to give up a
and you can't blame him:
his x-wives are all young, stolen, kept,
talented, well-dressed, schooled, with
varying French-German accents.
WRITE POETRY TOO.
but his big problem is to get down to that mail
box in town to get back his
and to keep his eye on all the other mail boxes
in all his other
meanwhile, the starving Indians
sell beads and baskets in the streets of the small desert
the Indians are not allowed in his houses
not so much because they are a fuck-threat
but because they are
dirty? I look down at my shirt
with the beerstain on the front.
ignorant? I light a 6 cent cigar and
he or they or somebody was supposed to meet me at
of course, they weren't
"We'll be there to meet the great
well, I looked around and didn't see any
besides it was 7 a.
the trouble was there were no
not even a
he's a poet.
he's also a doctor, a head-shrinker.
no blood involved that
he won't tell me whether I am crazy or
not-I don't have the
he walks out with his cocktail glass
disappears for 2 hours, 3 hours,
then suddenly comes walking back in
with the same cocktail glass
to make sure I haven't gotten hold of
something more precious than
my cheap green beer is killing
he shows heart (hurrah) and
gives me a little pill that stops my
but nothing decent to
he'd bought a small 6 pack
for my arrival but that was gone in an
hour and 15
"I'll buy you barrels of beer," he had
I used his phone (one of his phones)
to get deliveries of beer and
the town was ten miles away,
I peeled my poor dollars from my poor
and the boy needed a tip, of
the way it was shaping up I could see that I was
hardly Dylan Thomas yet, not even
certainly Creeley wouldn't have
had beerstains on his
anyhow, when I finally got hold of one of his
x-wives I was too drunk to
sure, I imagined him peering
through the window-
he didn't want to give up a damn thing-
leveling the luger while I was
while "The March to the Gallows" was playing over
and shooting me in the ass first and
my poor brain
"an intruder," I could hear him telling them,
"ravishing one of my helpless x-wives.
I see him published in some of the magazines
not very good stuff.
a poem about me
too: the Polack.
the Polack whines too much.
the Polack whines about his
country, other countries, all countries, the Polack
works overtime in a factory like a fool, among other
fools with "pre-drained spirits.
the Polack drinks seas of green beer
full of acid.
the Polack has an ulcerated
the Polack picks on fags
" the Polack hates his
wife, hates his daughter.
his daughter will become
an alcoholic, a prostitute.
the Polack has an
"obese burned out wife.
" the Polack has a
the Polack has a
thank you, Doctor (and poet).
any charge for
this? I know I still owe you for the
Your poem is not too good
but at least I got your starch up.
most of your stuff is about as lively as a
wet and deflated
but it is your round, you've won a round.
going to invite me out this
Summer? I might scrape up
got an Indian friend who'd like to meet
you and yours.
he swears he's got the biggest
pecker in the state of California.
and guess what?
Robert William Service |
Because I have ten thousand pounds I sit upon my stern,
And leave my living tranquilly for other folks to earn.
For in some procreative way that isn't very clear,
Ten thousand pounds will breed, they say, five hundred every year.
So as I have a healthy hate of economic strife,
I mean to stand aloof from it the balance of my life.
And yet with sympathy I see the grimy son of toil,
And heartly congratulate the tiller of the soil.
I like the miner in the mine, the sailor on the sea,
Because up to five hundred pounds they sail and mine for me.
For me their toil is taxed unto that annual extent,
According to the holy shibboleth of Five-per-Cent.
So get ten thousand pounds, my friend, in any way you can.
And leave your future welfare to the noble Working Man.
He'll buy you suits of Harris tweed, an Airedale and a car;
Your golf clubs and your morning Times, your whisky and cigar.
He'll cosily install you in a cottage by a stream,
With every modern comfort, and a garden that's a dream>
Or if your tastes be urban, he'll provide you with a flat,
Secluded from the clamour of the proletariat.
With pictures, music, easy chairs, a table of good cheer,
A chap can manage nicely on five hundred pounds a year.
And though around you painful signs of industry you view,
Why should you work when you can make your money work for you?
So I'll get down upon my knees and bless the Working Man,
Who offers me a life of ease through all my mortal span;
Whose loins are lean to make me fat, who slaves to keep me free,
Who dies before his prime to let me round the century;
Whose wife and children toil in urn until their strength is spent,
That I may live in idleness upon my five-per-cent.
And if at times they curse me, why should I feel any blame?
For in my place I know that they would do the very same.
Aye, though hey hoist a flag that's red on Sunday afternoon,
Just offer them ten thousand pounds and see them change their tune.
So I'll enjoy my dividends and live my life with zest,
And bless the mighty men who first - invented Interest.
Charles Baudelaire |
When, by decree of the supreme power,
The Poet appears in this annoyed world,
His mother, blasphemous out of horror
At God's pity, cries out with fists curled:
"Ah! I'd rather You'd will me a snake's skin
Than to keep feeding this monstrous slur!
I curse that night's ephemera are sins
To make my womb atone for pleasure.
"Since You have chosen me from all the brides
To bear the disgust of my dolorous groom
And since I can't throw back into the fires
Like an old love letter this gaunt buffoon
"I'll replace Your hate that overwhelms me
On the instrument of Your wicked gloom
And torture so well this miserable tree
Its pestiferous buds will never bloom!"
She chokes down the eucharist of venom,
Not comprehending eternal designs,
She prepares a Gehenna of her own,
And consecrates a pyre of maternal crimes.
Yet, watched by an invisible seraph,
The disinherited child is drunk on the sun
And in all he devours and in all he quaffs
Receives ambrosia, nectar and honey.
He plays with the wind, chats with the vapors,
Deliriously sings the stations of the cross;
And the Spirit who follows him in his capers
Cries at his joy like a bird in the forest.
Those whom he longs to love look with disdain
And dread, strengthened by his tranquillity,
They seek to make him complain of his pain
So they may try out their ferocity.
In the bread and wine destined for his lips,
They mix in cinders and spit with their wrath,
And throw out all he touches as he grasps it,
And accuse him of putting his feet in their path.
His wife cries out so that everyone hears:
"Since he finds me good enough to adore
I'll weave as the idols of ancient years
A corona of gold as a cover.
"I'll get drunk on nard, incense and myrrh,
Get down on bent knee with meats and wines
To see if in a heart that admires,
My smile denies deference to the divine.
"And, when I tire of these impious farces,
I'll arrange for him my frail and hard nails
Sharpened just like the claws of a harpy
That out of his heart will carve a trail.
"Like a baby bird trembling in the nest
I'll dig out his heart all red from my breast
To slake the thirst of my favorite pet,
And will throw it on the ground with contempt!"
Toward the sky, where he sees a great host,
The poet, serene, lifts his pious arms high
And the vast lightning of his lucid ghost
Blinds him to the furious people nearby:
"Glory to God, who leaves us to suffer
To cure us of all our impurities
And like the best, most rarefied buffer
Prepares the strong for a saint's ecstasies!
"I know that You hold a place for the Poet
In the ranks of the blessed and the saint's legions,
That You invite him to an eternal fete
Of thrones, of virtues, of dominations.
"I know only sorrow is unequaled,
It cannot be encroached on from Hell or Earth
And if I am to braid my mystic wreath,
May I impose it on the universe.
"But the ancient jewels of lost Palmyra,
The unknown metals, pearls from the ocean
By Your hand mounted, they do not suffice,
They cannot dazzle as clearly as this crown
"For it will not be made except from halos
Drawn of pure light in a holy portal
Whose entire splendor, in the eyes of mortals
Is only a mirror, obscure and mournful.
James Whitcomb Riley |
Tell you what I like the best --
'Long about knee-deep in June,
'Bout the time strawberries melts
On the vine, -- some afternoon
Like to jes' git out and rest,
And not work at nothin' else!
Orchard's where I'd ruther be --
Needn't fence it in fer me! --
Jes' the whole sky overhead,
And the whole airth underneath --
Sort o' so's a man kin breathe
Like he ort, and kind o' has
Elbow-room to keerlessly
Sprawl out len'thways on the grass
Where the shadders thick and soft
As the kivvers on the bed
Mother fixes in the loft
Allus, when they's company!
Jes' a-sort o' lazin there -
S'lazy, 'at you peek and peer
Through the wavin' leaves above,
Like a feller 'ats in love
And don't know it, ner don't keer!
Ever'thing you hear and see
Got some sort o' interest -
Maybe find a bluebird's nest
Tucked up there conveenently
Fer the boy 'at's ap' to be
Up some other apple tree!
Watch the swallers skootin' past
Bout as peert as you could ast;
Er the Bob-white raise and whiz
Where some other's whistle is.
Ketch a shadder down below,
And look up to find the crow --
Er a hawk, - away up there,
'Pearantly froze in the air! --
Hear the old hen squawk, and squat
Over ever' chick she's got,
Suddent-like! - and she knows where
That-air hawk is, well as you! --
You jes' bet yer life she do! --
Eyes a-glitterin' like glass,
Waitin' till he makes a pass!
Pee-wees wingin', to express
My opinion, 's second-class,
Yit you'll hear 'em more er less;
Sapsucks gittin' down to biz,
Weedin' out the lonesomeness;
Bluejay, full o' sass,
In them baseball clothes o' his,
Sportin' round the orchad jes'
Like he owned the premises!
Sun out in the fields kin sizz,
But flat on yer back, I guess,
In the shade's where glory is!
That's jes' what I'd like to do
Stiddy fer a year er two!
Plague! Ef they ain't somepin' in
Work 'at kind o' goes ag'in'
My convictions! - 'long about
Here in June especially! --
Under some ole apple tree,
Jes' a-restin through and through,
I could git along without
Nothin' else at all to do
Only jes' a-wishin' you
Wuz a-gittin' there like me,
And June wuz eternity!
Lay out there and try to see
Jes' how lazy you kin be! --
Tumble round and souse yer head
In the clover-bloom, er pull
Yer straw hat acrost yer eyes
And peek through it at the skies,
Thinkin' of old chums 'ats dead,
Maybe, smilin' back at you
In betwixt the beautiful
Clouds o'gold and white and blue! --
Month a man kin railly love --
June, you know, I'm talkin' of!
March ain't never nothin' new! --
April's altogether too
Brash fer me! and May -- I jes'
'Bominate its promises, --
Little hints o' sunshine and
Green around the timber-land --
A few blossoms, and a few
Chip-birds, and a sprout er two, --
Drap asleep, and it turns in
Fore daylight and snows ag'in! --
But when June comes - Clear my th'oat
With wild honey! -- Rench my hair
In the dew! And hold my coat!
Whoop out loud! And th'ow my hat! --
June wants me, and I'm to spare!
Spread them shadders anywhere,
I'll get down and waller there,
And obleeged to you at that!
John Betjeman |
Oh would I could subdue the flesh
Which sadly troubles me!
And then perhaps could view the flesh
As though I never knew the flesh
And merry misery.
To see the golden hiking girl
With wind about her hair,
The tennis-playing, biking girl,
The wholly-to-my-liking girl,
To see and not to care.
At sundown on my tricycle
I tour the Borough’s edge,
And icy as an icicle
See bicycle by bicycle
Stacked waiting in the hedge.
Get down from me! I thunder there,
You spaniels! Shut your jaws!
Your teeth are stuffed with underwear,
Suspenders torn asunder there
And buttocks in your paws!
Oh whip the dogs away my Lord,
They make me ill with lust.
Bend bare knees down to pray, my Lord,
Teach sulky lips to say, my Lord,
That flaxen hair is dust.
A R Ammons |
Fall fell: so that's it for the leaf poetry:
some flurries have whitened the edges of roads
and lawns: time for that, the snow stuff: &
turkeys and old St.
Nick: where am I going to
find something to write about I haven't already
written away: I will have to stop short, look
down, look up, look close, think, think, think:
but in what range should I think: should I
figure colors and outlines, given forms, say
mailboxes, or should I try to plumb what is
behind what and what behind that, deep down
where the surface has lost its semblance: or
should I think personally, such as, this week
seems to have been crafted in hell: what: is
something going on: something besides this
diddledeediddle everyday matter-of-fact: I
could draw up an ancient memory which would
wipe this whole presence away: or I could fill
out my dreams with high syntheses turned into
concrete visionary forms: Lucre could lust
for Luster: bad angels could roar out of perdition
and kill the AIDS vaccine not quite
perfected yet: the gods could get down on
each other; the big gods could fly in from
nebulae unknown: but I'm only me: I have 4
interests--money, poetry, sex, death: I guess
I can jostle those.