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Theodore Roethke Short Poems

Famous Short Theodore Roethke Poems. Short poetry by famous poet Theodore Roethke. A collection of the all-time best Theodore Roethke short poems


by Theodore Roethke
 This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks,
Cut stems struggling to put down feet,
What saint strained so much,
Rose on such lopped limbs to a new life?
I can hear, underground, that sucking and sobbing,
In my veins, in my bones I feel it --
The small waters seeping upward,
The tight grains parting at last.
When sprouts break out, Slippery as fish, I quail, lean to beginnings, sheath-wet.



by Theodore Roethke
 Indelicate is he who loathes
The aspect of his fleshy clothes, --
The flying fabric stitched on bone,
The vesture of the skeleton,
The garment neither fur nor hair,
The cloak of evil and despair,
The veil long violated by
Caresses of the hand and eye.
Yet such is my unseemliness: I hate my epidermal dress, The savage blood's obscenity, The rags of my anatomy, And willingly would I dispense With false accouterments of sense, To sleep immodestly, a most Incarnadine and carnal ghost.

by Theodore Roethke
 All profits disappear: the gain
Of ease, the hoarded, secret sum;
And now grim digits of old pain
Return to litter up our home.
We hunt the cause of ruin, add, Subtract, and put ourselves in pawn; For all our scratching on the pad, We cannot trace the error down.
What we are seeking is a fare One way, a chance to be secure: The lack that keeps us what we are, The penny that usurps the poor.

by Theodore Roethke
 I study the lives on a leaf: the little
Sleepers, numb nudgers in cold dimensions,
Beetles in caves, newts, stone-deaf fishes,
Lice tethered to long limp subterranean weeds,
Squirmers in bogs,
And bacterial creepers
Wriggling through wounds
Like elvers in ponds,
Their wan mouths kissing the warm sutures,
Cleaning and caressing,
Creeping and healing.

by Theodore Roethke
 Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks! Roots ripe as old bait, Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich, Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life: Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.

by Theodore Roethke
 The whiskey on your breath 
Could make a small boy dizzy; 
But I hung on like death: 
Such waltzing was not easy.
We romped until the pans Slid from the kitchen shelf; My mother's countenance Could not unfrown itself.
The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle; At every step you missed My right ear scraped a buckle.
You beat time on my head With a palm caked hard by dirt, Then waltzed me off to bed Still clinging to your shirt.

by Theodore Roethke
 The fruit rolled by all day.
They prayed the cogs would creep; They thought about Saturday pay, And Sunday sleep.
Whatever he smelled was good: The fruit and flesh smells mixed.
There beside him she stood,-- And he, perplexed; He, in his shrunken britches, Eyes rimmed with pickle dust, Prickling with all the itches Of sixteen-year-old lust.



by Theodore Roethke
 In moving-slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear, He thinks about it for a Year; And, then, before he says a Word There, upside down (unlike a Bird), He will assume that you have Heard-- A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug, He'll sigh and give his Branch a Hug; Then off again to Sleep he goes, Still swaying gently by his Toes, And you just know he knows he knows.