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Best Famous Propped Up Poems

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Written by Raymond Carver | Create an image from this poem


 And all at length are gathered in.
--LOUISE BOGAN By the time I came around to feeling pain and woke up, moonlight flooded the room.
My arm lay paralyzed, propped up like an old anchor under your back.
You were in a dream, you said later, where you'd arrived early for the dance.
But after a moment's anxiety you were okay because it was really a sidewalk sale, and the shoes you were wearing, or not wearing, were fine for that.
* "Help me," I said.
And tried to hoist my arm.
But it just lay there, aching, unable to rise on its own.
Even after you said, "What is it? What's wrong?" it stayed put -- deaf, unmoved by any expression of fear or amazement.
We shouted at it, and grew afraid when it didn't answer.
"It's gone to sleep," I said, and hearing those words knew how absurd this was.
But I couldn't laugh.
Somehow, between the two of us, we managed to raise it.
This can't be my arm is what I kept thinking as we thumped it, squeezed it, and prodded it back to life.
Shook it until that stinging went away.
We said a few words to each other.
I don't remember what.
Whatever reassuring things people who love each other say to each other given the hour and such odd circumstance.
I do remember you remarked how it was light enough in the room that you could see circles under my eyes.
You said I needed more regular sleep, and I agreed.
Each of us went to the bathroom, and climbed back into bed on our respective sides.
Pulled the covers up.
"Good night," you said, for the second time that night.
And fell asleep.
Maybe into that same dream, or else another.
* I lay until daybreak, holding both arms fast across my chest.
Working my fingers now and then.
While my thoughts kept circling around and around, but always going back where they'd started from.
That one inescapable fact: even while we undertake this trip, there's another, far more bizarre, we still have to make.

Written by Audre Lorde | Create an image from this poem

Making Love To Concrete

 An upright abutment in the mouth
of the Willis Avenue bridge
a beige Honda leaps the divider
like a steel gazelle inescapable
sleek leather boots on the pavement
rat-a-tat-tat best intentions
going down for the third time
stuck in the particular

You cannot make love to concrete
if you care about being
non-essential wrong or worn thin
if you fear ever becoming
diamonds or lard
you cannot make love to concrete
if you cannot pretend
concrete needs your loving

To make love to concrete
you need an indelible feather
white dresses before you are ten
a confirmation lace veil milk-large bones
and air raid drills in your nightmares
no stars till you go to the country
and one summer when you are twelve
Con Edison pulls the plug
on the street-corner moons Walpurgisnacht
and there are sudden new lights in the sky
stone chips that forget you need
to become a light rope a hammer
a repeatable bridge
garden-fresh broccoli two dozen dropped eggs
and a hint of you
caught up between my fingers
the lesson of a wooden beam
propped up on barrels
across a mined terrain

between forgiving too easily
and never giving at all.
Written by Charles Bukowski | Create an image from this poem

Are You Drinking?

 washed-up, on shore, the old yellow notebook
 out again
 I write from the bed
 as I did last
will see the doctor, Monday.
"yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head- aches and my back hurts.
" "are you drinking?" he will ask.
"are you getting your exercise, your vitamins?" I think that I am just ill with life, the same stale yet fluctuating factors.
even at the track I watch the horses run by and it seems meaningless.
I leave early after buying tickets on the remaining races.
"taking off?" asks the motel clerk.
"yes, it's boring," I tell him.
"If you think it's boring out there," he tells me, "you oughta be back here.
" so here I am propped up against my pillows again just an old guy just an old writer with a yellow notebook.
something is walking across the floor toward me.
oh, it's just my cat this time.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem


 Is it not strange? A year ago to-day,
 With scarce a thought beyond the hum-drum round,
I did my decent job and earned my pay;
 Was averagely happy, I'll be bound.
Ay, in my little groove I was content, Seeing my life run smoothly to the end, With prosy days in stolid labour spent, And jolly nights, a pipe, a glass, a friend.
In God's good time a hearth fire's cosy gleam, A wife and kids, and all a fellow needs; When presto! like a bubble goes my dream: I leap upon the Stage of Splendid Deeds.
I yell with rage; I wallow deep in gore: I, that was clerk in a drysalter's store.
Stranger than any book I've ever read.
Here on the reeking battlefield I lie, Under the stars, propped up with smeary dead, Like too, if no one takes me in, to die.
Hit on the arms, legs, liver, lungs and gall; Damn glad there's nothing more of me to hit; But calm, and feeling never pain at all, And full of wonder at the turn of it.
For of the dead around me three are mine, Three foemen vanquished in the whirl of fight; So if I die I have no right to whine, I feel I've done my little bit all right.
I don't know how -- but there the beggars are, As dead as herrings pickled in a jar.
And here am I, worse wounded than I thought; For in the fight a bullet bee-like stings; You never heed; the air is metal-hot, And all alive with little flicking wings.
But on you charge.
You see the fellows fall; Your pal was by your side, fair fighting-mad; You turn to him, and lo! no pal at all; You wonder vaguely if he's copped it bad.
But on you charge.
The heavens vomit death; And vicious death is besoming the ground.
You're blind with sweat; you're dazed, and out of breath, And though you yell, you cannot hear a sound.
But on you charge.
Oh, War's a rousing game! Around you smoky clouds like ogres tower; The earth is rowelled deep with spurs of flame, And on your helmet stones and ashes shower.
But on you charge.
It's odd! You have no fear.
Machine-gun bullets whip and lash your path; Red, yellow, black the smoky giants rear; The shrapnel rips, the heavens roar in wrath.
But on you charge.
Barbed wire all trampled down.
The ground all gored and rent as by a blast; Grim heaps of grey where once were heaps of brown; A ragged ditch -- the Hun first line at last.
All smashed to hell.
Their second right ahead, So on you charge.
There's nothing else to do.
More reeking holes, blood, barbed wire, gruesome dead; (Your puttee strap's undone -- that worries you).
You glare around.
You think you're all alone.
But no; your chums come surging left and right.
The nearest chap flops down without a groan, His face still snarling with the rage of fight.
Ha! here's the second trench -- just like the first, Only a little more so, more "laid out"; More pounded, flame-corroded, death-accurst; A pretty piece of work, beyond a doubt.
Now for the third, and there your job is done, So on you charge.
You never stop to think.
Your cursed puttee's trailing as you run; You feel you'd sell your soul to have a drink.
The acrid air is full of cracking whips.
You wonder how it is you're going still.
You foam with rage.
Oh, God! to be at grips With someone you can rush and crush and kill.
Your sleeve is dripping blood; you're seeing red; You're battle-mad; your turn is coming now.
See! there's the jagged barbed wire straight ahead, And there's the trench -- you'll get there anyhow.
Your puttee catches on a strand of wire, And down you go; perhaps it saves your life, For over sandbag rims you see 'em fire, Crop-headed chaps, their eyes ablaze with strife.
You crawl, you cower; then once again you plunge With all your comrades roaring at your heels.
Have at 'em lads! You stab, you jab, you lunge; A blaze of glory, then the red world reels.
A crash of triumph, then .
you're faint a bit .
That cursed puttee! Now to fasten it.
Well, that's the charge.
And now I'm here alone.
I've built a little wall of Hun on Hun, To shield me from the leaden bees that drone (It saves me worry, and it hurts 'em none).
The only thing I'm wondering is when Some stretcher-men will stroll along my way? It isn't much that's left of me, but then Where life is, hope is, so at least they say.
Well, if I'm spared I'll be the happy lad.
I tell you I won't envy any king.
I've stood the racket, and I'm proud and glad; I've had my crowning hour.
Oh, War's the thing! It gives us common, working chaps our chance, A taste of glory, chivalry, romance.
Ay, War, they say, is hell; it's heaven, too.
It lets a man discover what he's worth.
It takes his measure, shows what he can do, Gives him a joy like nothing else on earth.
It fans in him a flame that otherwise Would flicker out, these drab, discordant days; It teaches him in pain and sacrifice Faith, fortitude, grim courage past all praise.
Yes, War is good.
So here beside my slain, A happy wreck I wait amid the din; For even if I perish mine's the gain.
Hi, there, you fellows! won't you take me in? Give me a *** to smoke upon the way.
We've taken La Boiselle! The hell, you say! Well, that would make a corpse sit up and grin.
Lead on! I'll live to fight another day.
Written by Seamus Heaney | Create an image from this poem

Keeping Going

 The piper coming from far away is you
With a whitewash brush for a sporran
Wobbling round you, a kitchen chair
Upside down on your shoulder, your right arm
Pretending to tuck the bag beneath your elbow,
Your pop-eyes and big cheeks nearly bursting
With laughter, but keeping the drone going on
Interminably, between catches of breath.
* The whitewash brush.
An old blanched skirted thing On the back of the byre door, biding its time Until spring airs spelled lime in a work-bucket And a potstick to mix it in with water.
Those smells brought tears to the eyes, we inhaled A kind of greeny burning and thought of brimstone.
But the slop of the actual job Of brushing walls, the watery grey Being lashed on in broad swatches, then drying out Whiter and whiter, all that worked like magic.
Where had we come from, what was this kingdom We knew we'd been restored to? Our shadows Moved on the wall and a tar border glittered The full length of the house, a black divide Like a freshly opened, pungent, reeking trench.
* Piss at the gable, the dead will congregate.
But separately.
The women after dark, Hunkering there a moment before bedtime, The only time the soul was let alone, The only time that face and body calmed In the eye of heaven.
Buttermilk and urine, The pantry, the housed beasts, the listening bedroom.
We were all together there in a foretime, In a knowledge that might not translate beyond Those wind-heaved midnights we still cannot be sure Happened or not.
It smelled of hill-fort clay And cattle dung.
When the thorn tree was cut down You broke your arm.
I shared the dread When a strange bird perched for days on the byre roof.
* That scene, with Macbeth helpless and desperate In his nightmare--when he meets the hags agains And sees the apparitions in the pot-- I felt at home with that one all right.
Hearth, Steam and ululation, the smoky hair Curtaining a cheek.
'Don't go near bad boys In that college that you're bound for.
Do you hear me? Do you hear me speaking to you? Don't forget!' And then the postick quickening the gruel, The steam crown swirled, everything intimate And fear-swathed brightening for a moment, Then going dull and fatal and away.
* Grey matter like gruel flecked with blood In spatters on the whitewash.
A clean spot Where his head had been, other stains subsumed In the parched wall he leant his back against That morning like any other morning, Part-time reservist, toting his lunch-box.
A car came slow down Castle Street, made the halt, Crossed the Diamond, slowed again and stopped Level with him, although it was not his lift.
And then he saw an ordinary face For what it was and a gun in his own face.
His right leg was hooked back, his sole and heel Against the wall, his right knee propped up steady, So he never moved, just pushed with all his might Against himself, then fell past the tarred strip, Feeding the gutter with his copious blood.
* My dear brother, you have good stamina.
You stay on where it happens.
Your big tractor Pulls up at the Diamond, you wave at people, You shout and laugh about the revs, you keep old roads open by driving on the new ones.
You called the piper's sporrans whitewash brushes And then dressed up and marched us through the kitchen, But you cannot make the dead walk or right wrong.
I see you at the end of your tether sometimes, In the milking parlour, holding yourself up Between two cows until your turn goes past, Then coming to in the smell of dung again And wondering, is this all? As it was In the beginning, is now and shall be? Then rubbing your eyes and seeing our old brush Up on the byre door, and keeping going.

Written by Louis Untermeyer | Create an image from this poem


Can that be you, la mouche? Wait till I lift
This palsied eye-lid and make sure... Ah, true.
Come in, dear fly, and pardon my delay
In thus existing; I can promise you
Next time you come you'll find no dying poet—
Without sufficient spleen to see me through,
The joke becomes too tedious a jest.
I am afraid my mind is dull to-day;
I have that—something—heavier on my chest
And then, you see, I've been exchanging thoughts
With Doctor Franz. He talked of Kant and Hegel
As though he'd nursed them both through whooping cough
And, as he left, he let his finger shake
Too playfully, as though to say, "Now off
With that long face—you've years and years to live."
I think he thinks so. But, for Heaven's sake,
Don't credit it—and never tell Mathilde.
Poor dear, she has enough to bear already....
This was a month! During my lonely weeks
One person actually climbed the stairs
To seek a cripple. It was Berlioz—
But Berlioz always was original.

Meissner was also here; he caught me unawares,
Scribbling to my old mother. "What!" he cried,
"Is the old lady of the Dammthor still alive?
And do you write her still?" "Each month or so."
"And is she not unhappy then, to find
How wretched you must be?" "How can she know?
You see," I laughed, "she thinks I am as well
As when she saw me last. She is too blind
To read the papers—some one else must tell
What's in my letters, merely signed by me.
Thus she is happy. For the rest—
That any son should be as sick as I,
No mother could believe."
Ja, so it goes.

Come here, my lotus-flower. It is best
I drop the mask to-day; the half-cracked shield
Of mockery calls for younger hands to wield.
Laugh—or I'll hug it closer to my breast.
So ... I can be as mawkish as I choose
And give my thoughts an airing, let them loose
For one last rambling stroll before—Now look!
Why tears? You never heard me say "the end."
Before ... before I clap them in a book
And so get rid of them once and for all.
This is their holiday—we'll let them run—
Some have escaped already. There goes one ...
What, I have often mused, did Goethe mean?
So many years ago at Weimar, Goethe said

"Heine has all the poet's gifts but love."
Good God! But that is all I ever had.
More than enough! So much of love to give
That no one gave me any in return.
And so I flashed and snapped in my own fires
Until I stood, with nothing left to burn,
A twisted trunk, in chilly isolation.
Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam—you recall?
I was that Northern tree and, in the South,
Amalia... So I turned to scornful cries,
Hot iron songs to save the rest of me;
Plunging the brand in my own misery.
Crouching behind my pointed wall of words,
Ramparts I built of moons and loreleys,
Enchanted roses, sphinxes, love-sick birds,
Giants, dead lads who left their graves to dance,
Fairies and phœnixes and friendly gods—
A curious frieze, half Renaissance, half Greek,
Behind which, in revulsion of romance,
I lay and laughed—and wept—till I was weak.
Words were my shelter, words my one escape,
Words were my weapons against everything.
Was I not once the son of Revolution?
Give me the lyre, I said, and let me sing
My song of battle: Words like flaming stars
Shot down with power to burn the palaces;
Words like bright javelins to fly with fierce
Hate of the oily Philistines and glide
Through all the seven heavens till they pierce
The pious hypocrites who dare to creep

Into the Holy Places. "Then," I cried,
"I am a fire to rend and roar and leap;
I am all joy and song, all sword and flame!"
Ha—you observe me passionate. I aim
To curb these wild emotions lest they soar
Or drive against my will. (So I have said
These many years—and still they are not tame.)
Scraps of a song keep rumbling in my head ...
Listen—you never heard me sing before.
When a false world betrays your trust
And stamps upon your fire,
When what seemed blood is only rust,
Take up the lyre!
How quickly the heroic mood
Responds to its own ringing;
The scornful heart, the angry blood
Leap upward, singing!
Ah, that was how it used to be. But now,
Du schöner Todesengel, it is odd
How more than calm I am. Franz said it shows
Power of religion, and it does, perhaps—
Religion or morphine or poultices—God knows.
I sometimes have a sentimental lapse
And long for saviours and a physical God.
When health is all used up, when money goes,
When courage cracks and leaves a shattered will,
Then Christianity begins. For a sick Jew,
It is a very good religion ... Still,

I fear that I will die as I have lived,
A long-nosed heathen playing with his scars,
A pagan killed by weltschmerz ... I remember,
Once when I stood with Hegel at a window,
I, being full of bubbling youth and coffee,
Spoke in symbolic tropes about the stars.
Something I said about "those high
Abodes of all the blest" provoked his temper.
"Abodes? The stars?" He froze me with a sneer,
"A light eruption on the firmament."
"But," cried romantic I, "is there no sphere
Where virtue is rewarded when we die?"
And Hegel mocked, "A very pleasant whim.
So you demand a bonus since you spent
One lifetime and refrained from poisoning
Your testy grandmother!" ... How much of him
Remains in me—even when I am caught
In dreams of death and immortality.
To be eternal—what a brilliant thought!
It must have been conceived and coddled first
By some old shopkeeper in Nuremberg,
His slippers warm, his children amply nursed,
Who, with his lighted meerschaum in his hand,
His nightcap on his head, one summer night
Sat drowsing at his door. And mused, how grand
If all of this could last beyond a doubt—

This placid moon, this plump gemüthlichkeit;
Pipe, breath and summer never going out—
To vegetate through all eternity ...
But no such everlastingness for me!
God, if he can, keep me from such a blight.
Death, it is but the long, cool night,
And Life's a dull and sultry day.
It darkens; I grow sleepy;
I am weary of the light.
Over my bed a strange tree gleams
And there a nightingale is loud.
She sings of love, love only ...
I hear it, even in dreams.
My Mouche, the other day as I lay here,
Slightly propped up upon this mattress-grave
In which I've been interred these few eight years,
I saw a dog, a little pampered slave,
Running about and barking. I would have given
Heaven could I have been that dog; to thrive
Like him, so senseless—and so much alive!
And once I called myself a blithe Hellene,
Who am too much in love with life to live.
(The shrug is pure Hebraic) ... For what I've been,
A lenient Lord will tax me—and forgive.
Dieu me pardonnera—c'est son metier.
But this is jesting. There are other scandals

You haven't heard ... Can it be dusk so soon?
Or is this deeper darkness ...? Is that you,
Mother? How did you come? Where are the candles?...
Over my bed a strange tree gleams—half filled
With stars and birds whose white notes glimmer through
Its seven branches now that all is stilled.
What? Friday night again and all my songs
Forgotten? Wait ... I still can sing—
Sh'ma Yisroel Adonai Elohenu,
Adonai Echod ...
Written by James Dickey | Create an image from this poem

The Sharks Parlor

 Memory: I can take my head and strike it on a wall on Cumberland Island 
Where the night tide came crawling under the stairs came up the first 
Two or three steps and the cottage stood on poles all night 
With the sea sprawled under it as we dreamed of the great fin circling 
Under the bedroom floor.
In daylight there was my first brassy taste of beer And Payton Ford and I came back from the Glynn County slaughterhouse With a bucket of entrails and blood.
We tied one end of a hawser To a spindling porch-pillar and rowed straight out of the house Three hundred yards into the vast front yard of windless blue water The rope out slithering its coil the two-gallon jug stoppered and sealed With wax and a ten-foot chain leader a drop-forged shark-hook nestling.
We cast our blood on the waters the land blood easily passing For sea blood and we sat in it for a moment with the stain spreading Out from the boat sat in a new radiance in the pond of blood in the sea Waiting for fins waiting to spill our guts also in the glowing water.
We dumped the bucket, and baited the hook with a run-over collie pup.
The jug Bobbed, trying to shake off the sun as a dog would shake off the sea.
We rowed to the house feeling the same water lift the boat a new way, All the time seeing where we lived rise and dip with the oars.
We tied up and sat down in rocking chairs, one eye on the other responding To the blue-eye wink of the jug.
Payton got us a beer and we sat All morning sat there with blood on our minds the red mark out In the harbor slowly failing us then the house groaned the rope Sprang out of the water splinters flew we leapt from our chairs And grabbed the rope hauled did nothing the house coming subtly Apart all around us underfoot boards beginning to sparkle like sand Pulling out the tarred poles we slept propped-up on leaning to sea As in land-wind crabs scuttling from under the floor as we took runs about Two more porch-pillars and looked out and saw something a fish-flash An almighty fin in trouble a moiling of secret forces a false start Of water a round wave growing in the whole of Cumberland Sound the one ripple.
Payton took off without a word I could not hold him either But clung to the rope anyway it was the whole house bending Its nails that held whatever it was coming in a little and like a fool I took up the slack on my wrist.
The rope drew gently jerked I lifted Clean off the porch and hit the water the same water it was in I felt in blue blazing terror at the bottom of the stairs and scrambled Back up looking desperately into the human house as deeply as I could Stopping my gaze before it went out the wire screen of the back door Stopped it on the thistled rattan the rugs I lay on and read On my mother's sewing basket with next winter's socks spilling from it The flimsy vacation furniture a bucktoothed picture of myself.
Payton came back with three men from a filling station and glanced at me Dripping water inexplicable then we all grabbed hold like a tug-of-war.
We were gaining a little from us a cry went up from everywhere People came running.
Behind us the house filled with men and boys.
On the third step from the sea I took my place looking down the rope Going into the ocean, humming and shaking off drops.
A houseful Of people put their backs into it going up the steps from me Into the living room through the kitchen down the back stairs Up and over a hill of sand across a dust road and onto a raised field Of dunes we were gaining the rope in my hands began to be wet With deeper water all other haulers retreated through the house But Payton and I on the stairs drawing hand over hand on our blood Drawing into existence by the nose a huge body becoming A hammerhead rolling in beery shallows and I began to let up But the rope strained behind me the town had gone Pulling-mad in our house far away in a field of sand they struggled They had turned their backs on the sea bent double some on their knees The rope over their shoulders like a bag of gold they strove for the ideal Esso station across the scorched meadow with the distant fish coming up The front stairs the sagging boards still coming in up taking Another step toward the empty house where the rope stood straining By itself through the rooms in the middle of the air.
"Pass the word," Payton said, and I screamed it "Let up, good God, let up!" to no one there.
The shark flopped on the porch, grating with salt-sand driving back in The nails he had pulled out coughing chunks of his formless blood.
The screen door banged and tore off he scrambled on his tail slid Curved did a thing from another world and was out of his element and in Our vacation paradise cutting all four legs from under the dinner table With one deep-water move he unwove the rugs in a moment throwing pints Of blood over everything we owned knocked the buckteeth out of my picture His odd head full of crashed jelly-glass splinters and radio tubes thrashing Among the pages of fan magazines all the movie stars drenched in sea-blood Each time we thought he was dead he struggled back and smashed One more thing in all coming back to die three or four more times after death.
At last we got him out logrolling him greasing his sandpaper skin With lard to slide him pulling on his chained lips as the tide came, Tumbled him down the steps as the first night wave went under the floor.
He drifted off head back belly white as the moon.
What could I do but buy That house for the one black mark still there against death a forehead- toucher in the room he circles beneath and has been invited to wreck? Blood hard as iron on the wall black with time still bloodlike Can be touched whenever the brow is drunk enough.
All changes.
Memory: Something like three-dimensional dancing in the limbs with age Feeling more in two worlds than one in all worlds the growing encounters.
Copyright © James Dickey 1965 Online Source - http://www.
Written by Eugene Field | Create an image from this poem

De Amicitiis

 Though care and strife
Elsewhere be rife,
Upon my word I do not heed 'em;
In bed I lie
With books hard by,
And with increasing zest I read 'em.
Propped up in bed, So much I've read Of musty tomes that I've a headful Of tales and rhymes Of ancient times, Which, wife declares, are "simply dreadful!" They give me joy Without alloy; And isn't that what books are made for? And yet--and yet-- (Ah, vain regret!) I would to God they all were paid for! No festooned cup Filled foaming up Can lure me elsewhere to confound me; Sweeter than wine This love of mine For these old books I see around me! A plague, I say, On maidens gay; I'll weave no compliments to tell 'em! Vain fool I were, Did I prefer Those dolls to these old friends in vellum! At dead of night My chamber's bright Not only with the gas that's burning, But with the glow Of long ago,-- Of beauty back from eld returning.
Fair women's looks I see in books, I see them, and I hear their laughter,-- Proud, high-born maids, Unlike the jades Which men-folk now go chasing after! Herein again Speak valiant men Of all nativities and ages; I hear and smile With rapture while I turn these musty, magic pages.
The sword, the lance, The morris dance, The highland song, the greenwood ditty, Of these I read, Or, when the need, My Miller grinds me grist that's gritty! When of such stuff We've had enough, Why, there be other friends to greet us; We'll moralize In solemn wise With Plato or with Epictetus.
Sneer as you may, I'm proud to say That I, for one, am very grateful To Heaven, that sends These genial friends To banish other friendships hateful! And when I'm done, I'd have no son Pounce on these treasures like a vulture; Nay, give them half My epitaph, And let them share in my sepulture.
Then, when the crack Of doom rolls back The marble and the earth that hide me, I'll smuggle home Each precious tome, Without a fear my wife shall chide me!