Shel Silverstein |
Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of booze.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid,
but the meanest thing that he ever did was
before he left he went and named me Sue.
Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke,
and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks,
it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame,
but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars,
I'd search the honky tonks and bars and kill
that man that gave me that awful name.
But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had
just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud
and at a table dealing stud sat the dirty,
mangy dog that named me Sue.
Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
from a worn-out picture that my mother had
and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old
and I looked at him and my blood ran cold,
and I said, "My name is Sue.
How do you do?
Now you're gonna die.
" Yeah, that's what I told him.
Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down
but to my surprise he came up with a knife
and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair
right across his teeth.
And we crashed through
the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging
in the mud and the blood and the beer.
I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin',
he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.
And he said, "Son, this world is rough and if
a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die.
that name that helped to make you strong.
Yeah, he said, "Now you have just fought one
helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've
got the right to kill me now and I wouldn't blame you
if you do.
But you ought to thank me
before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit
in your eye because I'm the nut that named you Sue.
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?
I got all choked up and I threw down my gun,
called him pa and he called me a son,
and I came away with a different point of view
and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I
ever have a son I think I am gonna name him
Bill or George - anything but Sue.
Edward Lear |
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"
Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will.
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Allen Ginsberg |
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
Patrick's Cathedral, St.
Mark's Church, the largest synagogue in
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
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
"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
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 ***** 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
Among lovers one handsome youth straggling the rear
"I studied his poetry class, 17 year-old kid, ran some errands to his
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
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
"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
Percy Bysshe Shelley |
ARIEL to Miranda:¡ªTake
This slave of music for the sake
Of him who is the slave of thee;
And teach it all the harmony
In which thou canst and only thou 5
Make the delighted spirit glow
Till joy denies itself again
And too intense is turn'd to pain.
For by permission and command
Of thine own Prince Ferdinand 10
Poor Ariel sends this silent token
Of more than ever can be spoken;
Your guardian spirit Ariel who
From life to life must still pursue
Your happiness for thus alone 15
Can Ariel ever find his own.
From Prospero's enchanted cell
As the mighty verses tell
To the throne of Naples he
Lit you o'er the trackless sea 20
Flitting on your prow before
Like a living meteor.
When you die the silent Moon
In her interlunar swoon
Is not sadder in her cell 25
Than deserted Ariel:¡ª
When you live again on earth
Like an unseen Star of birth
Ariel guides you o'er the sea
Of life from your nativity:¡ª 30
Many changes have been run
Since Ferdinand and you begun
Your course of love and Ariel still
Has track'd your steps and served your will.
Now in humbler happier lot 35
This is all remember'd not;
And now alas the poor Sprite is
Imprison'd for some fault of his
In a body like a grave¡ª
From you he only dares to crave 40
For his service and his sorrow
A smile to-day a song to-morrow.
The artist who this viol wrought
To echo all harmonious thought
Fell'd a tree while on the steep 45
The woods were in their winter sleep
Rock'd in that repose divine
On the wind-swept Apennine;
And dreaming some of autumn past
And some of spring approaching fast 50
And some of April buds and showers
And some of songs in July bowers
And all of love; and so this tree ¡ª
Oh that such our death may be!¡ª
Died in sleep and felt no pain 55
To live in happier form again:
From which beneath heaven's fairest star
The artist wrought this loved guitar;
And taught it justly to reply
To all who question skilfully 60
In language gentle as thine own;
Whispering in enamour'd tone
Sweet oracles of woods and dells
And summer winds in sylvan cells.
For it had learnt all harmonies 65
Of the plains and of the skies
Of the forests and the mountains
And the many-voic¨¨d fountains;
The clearest echoes of the hills
The softest notes of falling rills 70
The melodies of birds and bees
The murmuring of summer seas
And pattering rain and breathing dew
And airs of evening; and it knew
That seldom-heard mysterious sound 75
Which driven on its diurnal round
As it floats through boundless day
Our world enkindles on its way:¡ª
All this it knows but will not tell
To those who cannot question well 80
The spirit that inhabits it:
It talks according to the wit
Of its companions; and no more
Is heard than has been felt before
By those who tempt it to betray 85
These secrets of an elder day.
But sweetly as its answers will
Flatter hands of perfect skill
It keeps its highest holiest tone
For one beloved Friend alone.
Gary Soto |
I was hoping to be happy by seventeen.
School was a sharp check mark in the roll book,
An obnoxious tuba playing at noon because our team
Was going to win at night.
The teachers were
Too close to dying to understand.
Stank of poor grades and unwashed hair.
A friend and I sat watching the water on Saturday,
Neither of us talking much, just warming ourselves
By hurling large rocks at the dusty ground
And feeling awful because San Francisco was a postcard
On a bedroom wall.
We wanted to go there,
Hitchhike under the last migrating birds
And be with people who knew more than three chords
On a guitar.
We didn't drink or smoke,
But our hair was shoulder length, wild when
The wind picked up and the shadows of
This loneliness gripped loose dirt.
By bus or car,
By the sway of train over a long bridge,
We wanted to get out.
The years froze
As we sat on the bank.
Our eyes followed the water,
White-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town.
Olu Oguibe |
Song of Sorrow
for rosa diez
si només, però, aquesta
llum parada poguès durar
I shall sing you a song of
Sorrow when the moment comes.
It is the way of poets.
He will come bearing along his voice
Like the lament of an old guitar.
Only night shall fall; another day dawn.
I shall sing you a tearful song.
In the desert the rain fell on me.
Bushfires danced their way through
The undergrowth of my verse.
Your footfall soft as felt, you
Stepped into the light and
Asked the poet for a song.
I shall sing you a lyric of pain.
The blue moon peers through the foliage
Of your eyelashes.
The minstrel hawks
His tears through the streets of night.
A household god is asking for water;
An old god is pleading at your door.
There's a white rose on your breast.
It is the fortune of poets;
I shall sing you a song.
Untie the fresh leaves of dawn,
I want to make my journey short.
I will go upon the hill and cast my little net,
Decorate the river of your morning with petals;
I shall speak the words of songs.
It is the destiny of poets.
I shall sing you
A song of sorrow
When the moment comes.
Jim Carroll |
Genius is not a generous thing
In return it charges more interest than any amount of royalties can cover
And it resents fame
With bitter vengeance
Pills and powdres only placate it awhile
Then it puts you in a place where the planet's poles reverse
Where the currents of electricity shift
Your Body becomes a magnet and pulls to it despair and rotten teeth,
Cheese whiz and guns
Whose triggers are shaped tenderly into a false lust
In timeless illusion
The guitar claws kept tightening, I guess on your heart stem.
The loops of feedback and distortion, threaded right thru
Lucifer's wisdom teeth, and never stopped their reverbrating
In your mind
And from the stage
All the faces out front seemed so hungry
With an unbearably wholesome misunderstanding
From where they sat, you seemed so far up there
High and live and diving
And instead you were swamp crawling
Until you tasted the Earth's own blood
And chatted with the Buzzing-eyed insects that heroin breeds
You should have talked more with the monkey
He's always willing to negotiate
I'm still paying him off.
The greater the money and fame
The slower the Pendulum of fortune swings
Your will could have sped it up.
But you left that in a plane
Because it wouldn't pass customs and immigration
Here's synchronicity for you:
Your music's tape was inside my walkman
When my best friend from summer camp
Called with the news about you
I listened them.
It was all there!
Your music kept cutting deeper and deeper valleys of sound
Less and less light
Until you hit solid rock
The drill bit broke
and the valley became
A thin crevice, impassible in time,
As time itself stopped.
And the walls became cages of brilliant notes
That's how diamonds are made
And that's WHERE it sometimes all collapses
Down in on you
Then I translated your muttered lyrics
And the phrases were curious:
Like "incognito libido"
And "Chalk Skin Bending"
The words kept getting smaller and smaller
Separated from their music
Each letter spilled out into a cartridge
Which fit only in the barrel of a gun
And you shoved the barrel in as far as possible
Because that's where the pain came from
That's where the demons were digging
The world outside was blank
Its every cause was just a continuation
Of another unsolved effect
Didn't the thought that you would never write another song
Another feverish line or riff
Make you think twice?
That's what I don't understand
Because it's kept me alive, above any wounds
If only you hadn't swallowed yourself into a coma in Roma.
You could have gone to Florence
And looked into the eyes of Bellinni or Rafael's Portraits
Perhaps inside them
You could have found a threshold back to beauty's arms
Where it all began.
No matter that you felt betrayed by her
That is always the cost
As Frank said,
Of a young artist's remorseless passion
Which starts out as a kiss
And follows like a curse
Elizabeth Barrett Browning |
She has laughed as softly as if she sighed,
She has counted six, and over,
Of a purse well filled, and a heart well tried -
Oh, each a worthy lover!
They "give her time"; for her soul must slip
Where the world has set the grooving;
She will lie to none with her fair red lip:
But love seeks truer loving.
She trembles her fan in a sweetness dumb,
As her thoughts were beyond recalling;
With a glance for one, and a glance for some,
From her eyelids rising and falling;
Speaks common words with a blushful air,
Hears bold words, unreproving;
But her silence says - what she never will swear -
And love seeks better loving.
Go, lady! lean to the night-guitar,
And drop a smile to the bringer;
Then smile as sweetly, when he is far,
At the voice of an in-door singer.
Bask tenderly beneath tender eyes;
Glance lightly, on their removing;
And join new vows to old perjuries -
But dare not call it loving!
Unless you can think, when the song is done,
No other is soft in the rhythm;
Unless you can feel, when left by One,
That all men else go with him;
Unless you can know, when unpraised by his breath,
That your beauty itself wants proving;
Unless you can swear "For life, for death!" -
Oh, fear to call it loving!
Unless you can muse in a crowd all day
On the absent face that fixed you;
Unless you can love, as the angels may,
With the breadth of heaven betwixt you;
Unless you can dream that his faith is fast,
Through behoving and unbehoving;
Unless you can die when the dream is past -
Oh, never call it loving!
Erin Belieu |
Writing from Boston, where sky is simply
property, a flourish topping crowds
of condos and historic real estate,
I'm trying to imagine blue sky:
the first time, where it happened,
what I was becoming.
Being taken there
by car, from a town so newly born that grass
still accounted all distance, an explanation
drawn in measureless yellows, a tone
stubbling the whole world, ten minutes away.
Consider now how the single pussy willow
edging a cattle pond in winter becomes
a wind-shivered monument to what this mean
a placid loneliness asking nothing, nothing?.
Not knowing then the proper name for things
green chubs of milo, the husbandry of soy,
bovine patience, the rhythm of the cud,
sea green foam washing round
a cow's mouth, its tender udders,
the surprise of an animal's dignity.
but something comes before
Before car or cow, before
That sky, I mean, disregarded
as buried memory .
There was a time before.
Remember when the tiny sightless hand
could not know, not say hand, but knew it
in its straying, knew it in the cool
condensation steaming the station wagon windows,
thrums of heat blowing a brand of idiot's safety
over the brightly-wrapped package
that was then your body, well-loved?
This must have been you, looking out at that world
of flat, buttered fields and blackbirds ascending.
But what was sky then?
Today, I receive a postcard of
a blue guitar.
Here, snow falls with wings,
tumbling in its feathered body, melting
on the window glass.
How each evening becomes
another beautiful woman holding
the color of expensive sapphires
against her throat, I'll never know.
It is an ordinary clarity.
So then was it music?
Something like love or
words, a sentimental moment once
years ago, that blue sky?
How soon the sky and I have grown apart.
On the postcard, an old man hangs
half-dead, strung over his instrument, and what
I have imagined is half-dead, too.
end hollow, sky blue; the flute comes untuned.
Geoffrey Chaucer |
THE Cook of London, while the Reeve thus spake,
For joy he laugh'd and clapp'd him on the back:
"Aha!" quoth he, "for Christes passion,
This Miller had a sharp conclusion,
Upon this argument of herbergage.
Well saide Solomon in his language,
Bring thou not every man into thine house,
For harbouring by night is perilous.
*Well ought a man avised for to be* *a man should take good heed*
Whom that he brought into his privity.
I pray to God to give me sorrow and care
If ever, since I highte* Hodge of Ware, *was called
Heard I a miller better *set a-work*; *handled
He had a jape* of malice in the derk.
But God forbid that we should stinte* here, *stop
And therefore if ye will vouchsafe to hear
A tale of me, that am a poore man,
I will you tell as well as e'er I can
A little jape that fell in our city.
Our Host answer'd and said; "I grant it thee.
Roger, tell on; and look that it be good,
For many a pasty hast thou letten blood,
And many a Jack of Dover<1> hast thou sold,
That had been twice hot and twice cold.
Of many a pilgrim hast thou Christe's curse,
For of thy parsley yet fare they the worse.
That they have eaten in thy stubble goose:
For in thy shop doth many a fly go loose.
Now tell on, gentle Roger, by thy name,
But yet I pray thee be not *wroth for game*; *angry with my jesting*
A man may say full sooth in game and play.
"Thou sayst full sooth," quoth Roger, "by my fay;
But sooth play quad play,<2> as the Fleming saith,
And therefore, Harry Bailly, by thy faith,
Be thou not wroth, else we departe* here, *part company
Though that my tale be of an hostelere.
But natheless, I will not tell it yet,
But ere we part, y-wis* thou shalt be quit.
And therewithal he laugh'd and made cheer,<4>
And told his tale, as ye shall after hear.
Notes to the Prologue to the Cook's Tale
Jack of Dover: an article of cookery.
suggested by some commentators to be a kind of pie, and by
others to be a fish)
Sooth play quad play: true jest is no jest.
It may be remembered that each pilgrim was bound to tell
two stories; one on the way to Canterbury, the other returning.
Made cheer: French, "fit bonne mine;" put on a pleasant
A prentice whilom dwelt in our city,
And of a craft of victuallers was he:
Galliard* he was, as goldfinch in the shaw**, *lively **grove
Brown as a berry, a proper short fellaw:
With lockes black, combed full fetisly.
And dance he could so well and jollily,
That he was called Perkin Revellour.
He was as full of love and paramour,
As is the honeycomb of honey sweet;
Well was the wenche that with him might meet.
At every bridal would he sing and hop;
He better lov'd the tavern than the shop.
For when there any riding was in Cheap,<1>
Out of the shoppe thither would he leap,
And, till that he had all the sight y-seen,
And danced well, he would not come again;
And gather'd him a meinie* of his sort, *company of fellows
To hop and sing, and make such disport:
And there they *sette steven* for to meet *made appointment*
To playen at the dice in such a street.
For in the towne was there no prentice
That fairer coulde cast a pair of dice
Than Perkin could; and thereto *he was free *he spent money liberally
Of his dispence, in place of privity.
* where he would not be seen*
That found his master well in his chaffare,* *merchandise
For oftentime he found his box full bare.
For, soothely, a prentice revellour,
That haunteth dice, riot, and paramour,
His master shall it in his shop abie*, *suffer for
All* have he no part of the minstrelsy.
For theft and riot they be convertible,
All can they play on *gitern or ribible.
* *guitar or rebeck*
Revel and truth, as in a low degree,
They be full wroth* all day, as men may see.
This jolly prentice with his master bode,
Till he was nigh out of his prenticehood,
All were he snubbed* both early and late, *rebuked
And sometimes led with revel to Newgate.
But at the last his master him bethought,
Upon a day when he his paper<2> sought,
Of a proverb, that saith this same word;
Better is rotten apple out of hoard,
Than that it should rot all the remenant:
So fares it by a riotous servant;
It is well lesse harm to let him pace*, *pass, go
Than he shend* all the servants in the place.
Therefore his master gave him a quittance,
And bade him go, with sorrow and mischance.
And thus this jolly prentice had his leve*: *desire
Now let him riot all the night, or leave*.
And, for there is no thief without a louke,<3>
That helpeth him to wasten and to souk* *spend
Of that he bribe* can, or borrow may, *steal
Anon he sent his bed and his array
Unto a compere* of his owen sort, *comrade
That loved dice, and riot, and disport;
And had a wife, that held *for countenance* *for appearances*
A shop, and swived* for her sustenance.
Notes to the Cook's Tale
Cheapside, where jousts were sometimes held, and which
was the great scene of city revels and processions.
His paper: his certificate of completion of his apprenticeship.
Louke: The precise meaning of the word is unknown, but it
is doubtless included in the cant term "pal".
The Cook's Tale is unfinished in all the manuscripts; but in
some, of minor authority, the Cook is made to break off his
tale, because "it is so foul," and to tell the story of Gamelyn, on
which Shakespeare's "As You Like It" is founded.
The story is
not Chaucer's, and is different in metre, and inferior in
composition to the Tales.
It is supposed that Chaucer expunged
the Cook's Tale for the same reason that made him on his death-
bed lament that he had written so much "ribaldry.