José Martí |
A sincere man am I
From the land where palm trees grow,
And I want before I die
My soul's verses to bestow.
I'm a traveler to all parts,
And a newcomer to none:
I am art among the arts,
With the mountains I am one.
I know how to name and class
All the strange flowers that grow;
I know every blade of grass,
Fatal lie and sublime woe.
I have seen through dead of night
Upon my head softly fall,
Rays formed of the purest light
From beauty celestial.
I have seen wings that were surging
From beautiful women's shoulders,
And seen butterflies emerging
From the refuse heap that moulders.
I have known a man to live
With a dagger at his side,
And never once the name give
Of she by whose hand he died.
Twice, for an instant, did I
My soul's reflection espy:
Twice: when my poor father died
And when she bade me good-bye.
I trembled once, when I flung
The vineyard gate, and to my dread,
The wicked hornet had stung
My little girl on the forehead.
I rejoiced once and felt lucky
The day that my jailer came
To read the death warrant to me
That bore his tears and my name.
I hear a sigh across the earth,
I hear a sigh over the deep:
It is no sign reaching my hearth,
But my son waking from sleep.
If they say I have obtained
The pick of the jeweller's trove,
A good friend is what I've gained
And I have put aside love.
I have seen across the skies
A wounded eagle still flying;
I know the cubby where lies
The snake of its venom dying.
I know that the world is weak
And must soon fall to the ground,
Then the gentle brook will speak
Above the quiet profound.
While trembling with joy and dread,
I have touched with hand so bold
A once-bright star that fell dead
From heaven at my threshold.
On my brave heart is engraved
The sorrow hidden from all eyes:
The son of a land enslaved,
Lives for it, suffers and dies.
All is beautiful and right,
All is as music and reason;
And all, like diamonds, is light
That was coal before its season.
I know when fools are laid to rest
Honor and tears will abound,
And that of all fruits, the best
Is left to rot in holy ground.
Without a word, the pompous muse
I've set aside, and understood:
From a withered branch, I choose
To hang my doctoral hood.
Anne Sexton |
Because there was no other place
to flee to,
I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
came back last night at midnight,
arriving in the thick June night
without luggage or defenses,
giving up my car keys and my cash,
keeping only a pack of Salem cigarettes
the way a child holds on to a toy.
I signed myself in where a stranger
puts the inked-in X's—
for this is a mental hospital,
not a child's game.
Today an intern knocks my knees,
testing for reflexes.
Once I would have winked and begged for dope.
Today I am terribly patient.
Today crows play black-jack
on the stethoscope.
Everyone has left me
except my muse,
that good nurse.
She stays in my hand,
a mild white mouse.
The curtains, lazy and delicate,
billow and flutter and drop
like the Victorian skirts
of my two maiden aunts
who kept an antique shop.
Hornets have been sent.
They cluster like floral arrangements on the screen.
Hornets, dragging their thin stingers,
hover outside, all knowing,
hissing: the hornet knows.
I heard it as a child
but what was it that he meant?
The hornet knows!
What happened to Jack and Doc and Reggy?
Who remembers what lurks in the heart of man?
What did The Green Hornet mean, he knows?
Or have I got it wrong?
Is it The Shadow who had seen
me from my bedside radio?
Now it's Dinn, Dinn, Dinn!
while the ladies in the next room argue
and pick their teeth.
Upstairs a girl curls like a snail;
in another room someone tries to eat a shoe;
meanwhile an adolescent pads up and down
the hall in his white tennis socks.
A new doctor makes rounds
advertising tranquilizers, insulin, or shock
to the uninitiated.
Six years of such small preoccupations!
Six years of shuttling in and out of this place!
O my hunger! My hunger!
I could have gone around the world twice
or had new children - all boys.
It was a long trip with little days in it
and no new places.
it's the same old crowd,
the same ruined scene.
The alcoholic arrives with his gold culbs.
The suicide arrives with extra pills sewn
into the lining of her dress.
The permanent guests have done nothing new.
Their faces are still small
like babies with jaundice.
they carried out my mother,
wrapped like somebody's doll, in sheets,
bandaged her jaw and stuffed up her holes.
My father, too.
He went out on the rotten blood
he used up on other women in the Middle West.
He went out, a cured old alcoholic
on crooked feet and useless hands.
He went out calling for his father
who died all by himself long ago -
that fat banker who got locked up,
his genes suspened like dollars,
wrapped up in his secret,
tied up securely in a straitjacket.
But you, my doctor, my enthusiast,
were better than Christ;
you promised me another world
to tell me who
I spent most of my time,
damned and in trance—that little hut,
that naked blue-veined place,
my eyes shut on the confusing office,
eyes circling into my childhood,
eyes newly cut.
Years of hints
strung out—a serialized case history—
thirty-three years of the same dull incest
that sustained us both.
You, my bachelor analyst,
who sat on Marlborough Street,
sharing your office with your mother
and giving up cigarettes each New Year,
were the new God,
the manager of the Gideon Bible.
I was your third-grader
with a blue star on my forehead.
In trance I could be any age,
voice, gesture—all turned backward
like a drugstore clock.
Awake, I memorized dreams.
Dreams came into the ring
like third string fighters,
each one a bad bet
who might win
because there was no other.
I stared at them,
concentrating on the abyss
the way one looks down into a rock quarry,
uncountable miles down,
my hands swinging down like hooks
to pull dreams up out of their cage.
O my hunger! My hunger!
Once, outside your office,
I collapsed in the old-fashioned swoon
between the illegally parked cars.
I threw myself down,
pretending dead for eight hours.
I thought I had died
into a snowstorm.
Above my head
chains cracked along like teeth
digging their way through the snowy street.
I lay there
like an overcoat
that someone had thrown away.
You carried me back in,
with help of the red-haired secretary
who was built like a lifeguard.
were lost in the snowbank
as if I planned never to walk again.
That was the winter
that my mother died,
half mad on morphine,
blown up, at last,
like a pregnant pig.
I was her dreamy evil eye.
I carried a knife in my pocketbook—
my husband's good L.
Bean hunting knife.
I wasn't sure if I should slash a tire
or scrape the guts out of some dream.
You taught me
to believe in dreams;
thus I was the dredger.
I held them like an old woman with arthritic fingers,
carefully straining the water out—
sweet dark playthings,
and above all, mysterious
until they grew mournful and weak.
O my hunger! My hunger!
I was the one
who opened the warm eyelid
like a surgeon
and brought forth young girls
to grunt like fish.
I told you,
but I was lying—
that the kife was for my mother .
and then I delivered her.
The curtains flutter out
and slump against the bars.
They are my two thin ladies
named Blanche and Rose.
The grounds outside
are pruned like an estate at Newport.
Far off, in the field,
something yellow grows.
Was it last month or last year
that the ambulance ran like a hearse
with its siren blowing on suicide—
Dinn, dinn, dinn!—
a noon whistle that kept insisting on life
all the way through the traffic lights?
I have come back
but disorder is not what it was.
I have lost the trick of it!
The innocence of it!
That fellow-patient in his stovepipe hat
with his fiery joke, his manic smile—
even he seems blurred, small and pale.
I have come back,
fastened to the wall like a bathroom plunger,
held like a prisoner
who was so poor
he fell in love with jail.
I stand at this old window
complaining of the soup,
examining the grounds,
allowing myself the wasted life.
Soon I will raise my face for a white flag,
and when God enters the fort,
I won't spit or gag on his finger.
I will eat it like a white flower.
Is this the old trick, the wasting away,
the skull that waits for its dose
of electric power?
This is madness
but a kind of hunger.
What good are my questions
in this hierarchy of death
where the earth and the stones go
Dinn! Dinn! Dinn!
It is hardly a feast.
It is my stomach that makes me suffer.
Turn, my hungers!
For once make a deliberate decision.
There are brains that rot here
like black bananas.
Hearts have grown as flat as dinner plates.
flee on your donkey,
flee this sad hotel,
ride out on some hairy beast,
gallop backward pressing
your buttocks to his withers,
sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That's what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it—
the fool's disease.
Anne Sexton |
Old man, it's four flights up and for what?
Your room is hardly bigger than your bed.
Puffing as you climb, you are a brown woodcut
stooped over the thin tail and the wornout tread.
The room will do.
All that's left of the old life
is jampacked on shelves from floor to ceiling
like a supermarket: your books, your dead wife
generously fat in her polished frame, the congealing
bowl of cornflakes sagging in their instant milk,
your hot plate and your one luxury, a telephone.
You leave your door open, lounging in maroon silk
and smiling at the other roomers who live alone.
Well, almost alone.
Through the old-fashioned wall
the fellow next door has a girl who comes to call.
Twice a week at noon during their lunch hour
they puase by your door to peer into your world.
They speak sadly as if the wine they carry would sour
or as if the mattress would not keep them curled
together, extravagantly young in their tight lock.
Old man, you are their father holding court
in the dingy hall until their alarm clock
rings and unwinds them.
You unstopper the quart
of brandy you've saved, examining the small print
in the telephone book.
The phone in your lap is all
that's left of your family name.
Like a Romanoff prince
you stay the same in your small alcove off the hall.
Castaway, your time is a flat sea that doesn't stop,
with no new land to make for and no new stories to swap.
I'm at pains to know what else I could have done
but move him out of his parish, him being my son;
him being the only one at home since his Pa
left us to beat the Japs at Okinawa.
I put the gold star up in the front window
beside the flag.
Alterations is what I know
and what I did: hems, gussets and seams.
When my boy had the fever and the bad dreams
I paid for the clinic exam and a pack of lies.
As a youngster his private parts were undersize.
I thought of his Pa, that muscly old laugh he had
and the boy was thin as a moth, but never once bad,
as smart as a rooster! To hear some neighbors tell,
Your kid! He'll go far.
He'll marry well.
So when he talked of taking the cloth, I thought
I'd talk him out of it.
You're all I got,
I told him.
For six years he studied up.
against God Himself for my boy.
But he stayed.
Christ was a hornet inside his head.
I'd better stitch the zipper in this dress.
I guess I'll get along.
I always did.
Across the hall from me's an old invalid,
aside of him, a young one -- he carries on
with a girl who pretends she comes to use the john.
The old one with the bad breath and his bed all mussed,
he smiles and talks to them.
He's got some crust.
Sure as hell, what else could I have done
but pack up and move in here, him being my son?
Dear love, as simple as some distant evil
we walk a little drunk up these three flughts
where you tacked a Dufy print above your army cot.
The thin apartment doors on the way up will
not tell us.
We are saying, we have our rights
and let them see the sandwiches and wine we bought
for we do not explain my husband's insane abuse
and we do not say why your wild-haired wife has fled
or that my father opened like a walnut and then was dead.
Your palms fold over me like knees.
Love is the only use.
Both a little drunk in the afternoon
with the forgotten smart of August on our skin
we hold hands as if we were still children who trudge
up the wooden tower, on up past that close platoon
of doors, past the dear old man who always asks us in
and the one who sews like a wasp and will not budge.
Climbing the dark halls, I ignore their papers and pails,
the twelve coats of rubbish of someone else's dim life.
Tell them need is an excuse for love.
Tell them need prevails.
Tell them I remake and smooth your bed and am your wife.
A R Ammons |
You'll rejoice at how many kinds of **** there are:
gosling **** (which J.
Williams said something
was as green as), fish **** (the generality), trout
****, rainbow trout **** (for the nice), mullet ****,
sand dab ****, casual sloth ****, elephant ****
(awesome as process or payload), wildebeest ****,
horse **** (a favorite), caterpillar **** (so many dark
kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros
****, splashy jaybird ****, mockingbird ****
(dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin **** that
oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts,
chicken **** and chicken mite ****, pelican ****, gannet
**** (wholesome guano), fly **** (periodic), cockatoo
****, dog **** (past catalog or assimilation),
cricket ****, elk (high plains) ****, and
tiny scribbled little shrew ****, whale **** (what
a sight, deep assumption), mandril **** (blazing
blast off), weasel **** (wiles' waste), gazelle ****,
magpie **** (total protein), tiger **** (too acid
to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray ****, eerie
shark ****, earthworm **** (a soilure), crab ****,
wolf **** upon the germicidal ice, snake ****, giraffe
**** that accelerates, secretary bird ****, turtle
**** suspension invites, remora **** slightly in
advance of the shark ****, hornet **** (difficult to
assess), camel **** that slaps the ghastly dry
siliceous, frog ****, beetle ****, bat **** (the
marmoreal), contemptible cat ****, penguin ****,
hermit crab ****, prairie hen ****, cougar ****, eagle
**** (high totem stuff), buffalo **** (hardly less
lofty), otter ****, beaver **** (from the animal of
alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down
cloaca—macaw ****, alligator **** (that floats the Nile
along), louse ****, macaque, koala, and coati ****,
antelope ****, chuck-will's-widow ****, alpaca ****
(very high stuff), gooney bird ****, chigger ****, bull
**** (the classic), caribou ****, rasbora, python, and
razorbill ****, scorpion ****, man ****, laswing
fly larva ****, chipmunk ****, other-worldly wallaby
****, gopher **** (or broke), platypus ****, aardvark
****, spider ****, kangaroo and peccary ****, guanaco
****, dolphin ****, aphid ****, baboon **** (that leopards
induce), albatross ****, red-headed woodpecker (nine
inches long) ****, tern ****, hedgehog ****, panda ****,
seahorse ****, and the **** of the wasteful gallinule.
John Greenleaf Whittier |
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, -
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art, - the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye, -
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee's morning chase,
Of the wild-flower's time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape's clusters shine;
Of the black wasp's cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy, -
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
Oh for boyhood's time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!
Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O'er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs' orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt's for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!
Robert Browning |
A MIDDLE-AGE INTERLUDE.
ROSA MUNDI; SEU, FULCITE ME FLORIBUS.
A CONCEIT OF MASTER GYSBRECHT,
CANON-REGULAR OF SAID JODOCUS-BY-THE-BAR,
AND HATH OFTEN BEEN SUNG
AT HOCK-TIDE AND FESTIVALES.
(It would seem to be a glimpse from the
burning of Jacques du Bourg-Mulay, at Paris,
1314; as distorted by the refraction from
Flemish brain to brain, during the course of
a couple of centuries.
[Molay was Grand Master of the Templars
when that order was suppressed in 1312.
PREADMONISHETH THE ABBOT DEODAET.
The Lord, we look to once for all,
Is the Lord we should look at, all at once:
He knows not to vary, saith Saint Paul,
Nor the shadow of turning, for the nonce.
See him no other than as he is!
Give both the infinitudes their due---
Infinite mercy, but, I wis,
As infinite a justice too.
As infinite a justice too.
John, Master of the Temple of God,
Falling to sin the Unknown Sin,
What he bought of Emperor Aldabrod,
He sold it to Sultan Saladin:
Till, caught by Pope Clement, a-buzzing there,
Hornet-prince of the mad wasps' hive,
And clipt of his wings in Paris square,
They bring him now to be burned alive.
[_And wanteth there grace of lute or
clavicithern, ye shall say to confirm
him who singeth---_
We bring John now to be burned alive.
In the midst is a goodly gallows built;
'Twixt fork and fork, a stake is stuck;
But first they set divers tumbrils a-tilt,
Make a trench all round with the city muck;
Inside they pile log upon log, good store;
Faggots no few, blocks great and small,
Reach a man's mid-thigh, no less, no more,---
For they mean he should roast in the sight of all.
We mean he should roast in the sight of all.
Good sappy bavins that kindle forthwith;
Billets that blaze substantial and slow;
Pine-stump split deftly, dry as pith;
Larch-heart that chars to a chalk-white glow:
Then up they hoist me John in a chafe,
Sling him fast like a hog to scorch,
Spit in his face, then leap back safe,
Sing ``Laudes'' and bid clap-to the torch.
_Laus Deo_---who bids clap-to the torch.
John of the Temple, whose fame so bragged,
Is burning alive in Paris square!
How can he curse, if his mouth is gagged?
Or wriggle his neck, with a collar there?
Or heave his chest, which a band goes round?
Or threat with his fist, since his arms are spliced?
Or kick with his feet, now his legs are bound?
---Thinks John, I will call upon Jesus Christ.
[_Here one crosseth himself_
Jesus Christ---John had bought and sold,
Jesus Christ---John had eaten and drunk;
To him, the Flesh meant silver and gold.
Now it was, ``Saviour, bountiful lamb,
``I have roasted thee Turks, though men roast me!
``See thy servant, the plight wherein I am!
``Art thou a saviour? Save thou me!''
'Tis John the mocker cries, ``Save thou me!''
Who maketh God's menace an idle word?
---Saith, it no more means what it proclaims,
Than a damsel's threat to her wanton bird?---
For she too prattles of ugly names.
---Saith, he knoweth but one thing,---what he knows?
That God is good and the rest is breath;
Why else is the same styled Sharon's rose?
Once a rose, ever a rose, he saith.
O, John shall yet find a rose, he saith!
Alack, there be roses and roses, John!
Some, honied of taste like your leman's tongue:
Some, bitter; for why? (roast gaily on!)
Their tree struck root in devil's-dung.
When Paul once reasoned of righteousness
And of temperance and of judgment to come,
Good Felix trembled, he could no less:
John, snickering, crook'd his wicked thumb.
What cometh to John of the wicked thumb?
Ha ha, John plucketh now at his rose
To rid himself of a sorrow at heart!
Lo,---petal on petal, fierce rays unclose;
Anther on anther, sharp spikes outstart;
And with blood for dew, the bosom boils;
And a gust of sulphur is all its smell;
And lo, he is horribly in the toils
Of a coal-black giant flower of hell!
What maketh heaven, That maketh hell.
So, as John called now, through the fire amain.
On the Name, he had cursed with, all his life---
To the Person, he bought and sold again---
For the Face, with his daily buffets rife---
Feature by feature It took its place:
And his voice, like a mad dog's choking bark,
At the steady whole of the Judge's face---
Forth John's soul flared into the dark.
SUBJOINETH THE ABBOT DEODAET.
God help all poor souls lost in the dark!
Li-Young Lee |
I've pulled the last of the year's young onions.
The garden is bare now.
The ground is cold,
brown and old.
What is left of the day flames
in the maples at the corner of my
I turn, a cardinal vanishes.
By the cellar door, I wash the onions,
then drink from the icy metal spigot.
Once, years back, I walked beside my father
among the windfall pears.
I can't recall
We may have strolled in silence.
I still see him bend that way-left hand braced
on knee, creaky-to lift and hold to my
eye a rotten pear.
In it, a hornet
spun crazily, glazed in slow, glistening juice.
It was my father I saw this morning
waving to me from the trees.
called to him, until I came close enough
to see the shovel, leaning where I had
left it, in the flickering, deep green shade.
White rice steaming, almost done.
Sweet green peas
fried in onions.
Shrimp braised in sesame
oil and garlic.
And my own loneliness.
What more could I, a young man, want.
Credit: Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee.
Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
Siegfried Sassoon |
(To Robert Graves)
Here I'm sitting in the gloom
Of my quiet attic room.
France goes rolling all around,
Fledged with forest May has crowned.
And I puff my pipe, calm-hearted,
Thinking how the fighting started,
Wondering when we'll ever end it,
Back to hell with Kaiser sent it,
Gag the noise, pack up and go,
Clockwork soldiers in a row.
I've got better things to do
Than to waste my time on you.
Robert, when I drowse to-night,
Skirting lawns of sleep to chase
Shifting dreams in mazy light,
Somewhere then I'll see your face
Turning back to bid me follow
Where I wag my arms and hollo,
Over hedges hasting after
Crooked smile and baffling laughter,
Running tireless, floating, leaping,
Down your web-hung woods and valleys,
Where the glowworm stars are peeping,
Till I find you, quiet as stone
On a hill-top all alone,
Staring outward, gravely pondering
Jumbled leagues of hillock-wandering.
You and I have walked together
In the starving winter weather.
We've been glad because we knew
Time's too short and friends are few.
We've been sad because we missed
One whose yellow head was kissed
By the gods, who thought about him
Till they couldn't do without him.
Now he's here again; I've been
Soldier David dressed in green,
Standing in a wood that swings
To the madrigal he sings.
He's come back, all mirth and glory,
Like the prince in a fairy tory.
Winter called him far away;
Blossoms bring him home with May.
Well, I know you'll swear it's true
That you found him decked in blue
Striding up through morning-land
With a cloud on either hand.
Out in Wales, you'll say, he marches
Arm-in-arm with aoks and larches;
Hides all night in hilly nooks,
Laughs at dawn in tumbling brooks.
Yet, it's certain, here he teaches
Outpost-schemes to groups of beeches.
And I'm sure, as here I stand,
That he shines through every land,
That he sings in every place
Where we're thinking of his face.
Robert, there's a war in France;
Everywhere men bang and blunder,
Sweat and swear and worship Chance,
Creep and blink through cannon thunder.
Rifles crack and bullets flick,
Sing and hum like hornet-swarms.
Bones are smashed and buried quick.
Yet, through stunning battle storms,
All the while I watch the spark
Lit to guide me; for I know
Dreams will triumph, though the dark
Scowls above me where I go.
You can hear me; you can mingle
Radiant folly with my jingle.
War's a joke for me and you
While we know such dreams are true!
Ogden Nash |
For years we've had a little dog,
Last year we acquired a big dog;
He wasn't big when we got him,
He was littler than the dog we had.
We thought our little dog would love him,
Would help him to become a trig dog,
But the new little dog got bigger,
And the old little dog got mad.
Now the big dog loves the little dog,
But the little dog hates the big dog,
The little dog is eleven years old,
And the big dog only one;
The little dog calls him Schweinhund,
The little dog calls him Pig-dog,
She grumbles broken curses
As she dreams in the August sun.
The big dog's teeth are terrible,
But he wouldn't bite the little dog;
The little dog wants to grind his bones,
But the little dog has no teeth;
The big dog is acrobatic,
The little dog is a brittle dog;
She leaps to grip his jugular,
And passes underneath.
The big dog clings to the little dog
Like glue and cement and mortar;
The little dog is his own true love;
But the big dog is to her
Like a scarlet rag to a Longhorn,
Or a suitcase to a porter;
The day he sat on the hornet
I distinctly heard her purr.
Well, how can you blame the little dog,
Who was once the household darling?
He romps like a young Adonis,
She droops like an old mustache;
No wonder she steals his corner,
No wonder she comes out snarling,
No wonder she calls him Cochon
And even Espèce de vache.
Yet once I wanted a sandwich,
Either caviar or cucumber,
When the sun had not yet risen
And the moon had not yet sank;
As I tiptoed through the hallway
The big dog lay in slumber,
And the little dog slept by the big dog,
And her head was on his flank.
Anne Sexton |
A red-hot needle
hangs out of him, he steers by it
as if it were a rudder, he
would get in the house any way he could
and then he would bounce from window
to ceiling, buzzing and looking for you.
Do not sleep for he is there wrapped in the curtain.
Do not sleep for he is there under the shelf.
Do not sleep for he wants to sew up your skin,
he want to leap into your body like a hammer
with a nail, do not sleep he wants to get into
your nose and make a transplant, he wants do not
sleep he wants to bury your fur and make
a nest of knives, he wants to slide under your
fingernail and push in a splinter, do not sleep
he wants to climb out of the toilet when you sit on it
and make a home in the embarrassed hair do not sleep
he wants you to walk into him as into a dark fire.