Tag: Poetry

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I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small spider
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn't
And she scared me
And I smashed her

I don't think
I'm allowed

To kill something

Because I am

Frightened.

― Nikki Giovanni, Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid

Via Goodreads

R.I.P. Peter Orlovsky

Allen Ginsberg with partner Peter Orlowski, Fr...

Poet and Ginsberg Muse is dead at 76: “Peter Orlovsky, who inspired Beat writers like Allen Ginsberg, with whom he had a romantic partnership for decades, and who wrote emotionally naked, loopy and occasionally luminescent poetry of his own, died in Williston, Vt., on Sunday. He was 76, and lived in St. Johnsbury, Vt.” (New York Times )

Going to Bed

I check the locks on the front door

and the side door,

make sure the windows are closed

and the heat dialed down.

I switch off the computer,

turn off the living room lights.

I let in the cats.

Reverently, I unplug the Christmas tree,

leaving Christ and the little animals

in the dark.

The last thing I do

is step out to the back yard

for a quick look at the Milky Way.

The stars are halogen-blue.

The constellations, whose names

I have long since forgotten,

look down anonymously,

and the whole galaxy

is cartwheeling in silence through the night.

Everything seems to be ok.

— George Bilgere

Diagnosis

By the time I was six months old, she knew something

was wrong with me. I got looks on my face

she had not seen on any child

in the family, or the extended family,

or the neighborhood. My mother took me in

to the pediatrician with the kind hands,

a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:

Hub Long. My mom did not tell him

what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.

It was just these strange looks on my face—

he held me, and conversed with me,

chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother

said, She’s doing it now! Look!

She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,

What your daughter has

is called a sense

of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me

back to the house where that sense would be tested

and found to be incurable.

`– Sharon Olds, from One Secret Thing. © Random House, Inc., 2009.

Story

Silver Moon

“I don’t know what made me do it. It was like getting up late at night and going out to find the moon, hung full, at the end of the block. Framed, between the low row of houses. As if it had been there, waiting, all the time.

When I came back inside, there was my life, enormous about me. It hung, as in a story, and then started to shrink. A girl with pigtails came into the room and reached up and grabbed the thing like the moon and started swaying with it back and forth, tossing it up and down.

I lay down, letting the page turn, for choice. Letting the light come up, as a decision. When I woke, you were there, at the head-end of the crib, still in your blankets. A small form. Your breath like someone escaping, then being caught.

As if this time it will be different. Up in the sky, intact. A small stranger opening her arms. Letting the thin silver slip through into the blank before the hands can clasp. Or, in the undergrowth, the little squirrels, or in the dark burrows, beneath the house.” — Nadia Herman Colburn (RealPoetik)

What I Understood by Katha Pollitt


When I was a child I understood everything

about, for example, futility. Standing for hours

on the hot asphalt outfield, trudging for balls

I'd ask myself, how many times will I have to perform

this pointless task, and all the others? I knew

about snobbery, too, and cruelty—for children

are snobbish and cruel—and loneliness: in restaurants

the dignity and shame of solitary diners

disabled me, and when my grandmother

screamed at me, “Someday you'll know what it's like!”

I knew she was right, the way I knew

about the single rooms my teachers went home to,

the pictures on the dresser, the hoard of chocolates,

and that there was no God, and that I would die.

All this I understood, no one needed to tell me.

the only thing I didn't understand

was how in a world whose predominant characteristics

are futility, cruelty, loneliness, disappointment

people are saved every day

by a sparrow, a foghorn, a grassblade, a tablecloth.

This year I'll be

thirty-nine, and I still don't understand it.

Amor Fati by Katha Pollitt


Everywhere I look I see my fate.

In the subway. In a stone.

On the curb where people wait for the bus in the rain.

In a cloud. In a glass of wine.

When I go for a walk in the park it's a sycamore leaf.

At the office, a dull pencil.

In the window of Woolworth's my fate looks back at me

through the shrewd eyes of a dusty parakeet.

Scrap of newspaper, dime in a handful of change,

down what busy street do you hurry this morning,

an overcoat among overcoats,

with a train to catch, a datebook full of appointments?

If I called you by my name would you turn around

or vanish round the corner,

leaving a faint odor of orange-flower water,

tobacco, twilight, snow?

Today is political commentator and poet Katha Pollitt‘s 60th birthday. Many happy returns!

Me by Spike Milligan

Born screaming small into this world-

Living I am.

Occupational therapy twixt birth and death-

What was I before?

What will I be next?

What am I now?

Cruel answer carried in the jesting mind

of a careless God

I will not bend and grovel

When I die. If He says my sins are myriad

I will ask why He made me so imperfect

And he will say 'My chisels were blunt'

I will say 'Then why did you make so

many of me'.

via PoemHunter.

R.I.P. Jim Carroll

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Poet and Punk Rocker Who Wrote ‘The Basketball Diaries’ Dies at 60: “As a teenage basketball star in the 1960s at Trinity, an elite private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mr. Carroll led a chaotic life that combined sports, drugs and poetry. This highly unusual combination lent a lurid appeal to “The Basketball Diaries,” the journal he kept during high school and published in 1978, by which time his poetry had already won him a cult reputation as the new Bob Dylan.” (New York Times obituary)

Even when I didn’t listen to punk, ‘People Who Died’ was in my regulsr rotation. Time to punch it up on the iPod and add one more name to the list…

Dissertations — in 17 syllables

Grave of YosaBuson (与謝蕪村墓)

“The Web site Dissertation Haikus has been around for a few years, but it’s enjoying a late-summer surge in popularity. The concept is irresistible. As its creator explains, “Dissertations are long and boring. By contrast, everybody likes haiku. So why not write your dissertation as a haiku?” Why not, indeed! For the writer, the site provides a way to dramatically expand the universe of people with a loose grasp on how you spent several or 10 or 12 years of your life. For the reader, it provides a way to painlessly survey what passes for the cutting edge of knowledge, without having to negotiate precious, colon-hobbled titles or scientific jargon.” (Boston Globe via laurie)

Hunting Season



Once every year, the Deer catch human beings. They do various things which irresistibly draw men near them; each one selects a certain man. The Deer shoots the man, who is then compelled to skin it and carry its meat home and eat it. Then the deer is inside the man. He waits and hides in there, but the man doesn't know it. When enough Deer have occupied enough men, they will strike all at once. The men who don't have Deer in them will also be taken by surprise, and everything will change some. This is called “takeover from inside”.

Gary Snyder

The Broken Sandal

Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke.
Nothing to hold it to my foot.
How shall I walk?
Barefoot?
The sharp stones, the dirt. I would hobble.
And–
Where was I going?
Where was I going I can't
go to now, unless hurting?
Where am I standing, if I'm
to stand still now?

Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

‘I’m Not a Man’: Harold Norse


I'm not a man, I can't earn a living, buy new things for my family.

I have acne and a small peter.

I'm not a man. I don't like football, boxing and cars.

I like to express my feeling. I even like to put an arm

around my friend's shoulder.

I'm not a man. I won't play the role assigned to me- the role created

by Madison Avenue, Playboy, Hollywood and Oliver Cromwell,

Television does not dictate my behavior.

I'm not a man. Once when I shot a squirrel I swore that I would

never kill again. I gave up meat. The sight of blood makes me sick.

I like flowers.

I'm not a man. I went to prison resisting the draft. I do not fight

when real men beat me up and call me queer. I dislike violence.

I'm not a man. I have never raped a woman. I don't hate blacks.

I do not get emotional when the flag is waved. I do not think I should

love America or leave it. I think I should laugh at it.

I'm not a man. I have never had the clap.

I'm not a man. Playboy is not my favorite magazine.

I'm not a man. I cry when I'm unhappy.

I'm not a man. I do not feel superior to women

I'm not a man. I don't wear a jockstrap.

I'm not a man. I write poetry.

I'm not a man. I meditate on peace and love.

I'm not a man. I don't want to destroy you

San Francisco, 1972 via Exquisite Corpse

R.I.P. Poet Harold Norse, 92

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“Although Mr. Norse is often classified with the Beats, he had already developed his themes and his style when, in the early 1960s, he fell in with Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Gregory Corso, just a few of the many writers with whom he formed romantic or professional relationships. A disciple of William Carlos Williams, who once called him “the best poet of your generation,” Mr. Norse found common cause with the Beats in his rejection of academic poetry and traditional metric schemes and his outsider status as a gay man.” (New York Times obit)

Is Slam in Danger of Going Soft?

“Slam poetry was invited into the White House last month and it is also the focus of the recent HBO documentary series “Brave New Voices.” So you might think that the originator of the poetry slam, a raucous live competition that is more likely to take place in a bar than in a bookstore, would be feeling rather pleased these days.

But from his base here at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, Marc Kelly Smith expresses mixed feelings about the growing popularity and respectability of the art form that he created almost 25 years ago. From the start, he envisioned slam poetry as a subversive, thumb-your-nose-at-authority movement, and he wants to ensure it stays true to those origins.” (New York Times )

Related:

R.I.P. poet Craig Arnold

An extended search of the Japanese island Kuchino-erabu for traces of Craig Arnold had offered up hope the poet might be injured, but still alive, among one of the island’s many crevices.

That hope died Friday afternoon once a search team announced that a trail discovered the previous day showed signs that Arnold, 41, suffered a leg injury, then fell from a steep cliff to his death soon afterward.

…Arnold graduated with a doctorate from the [University of Utah’s] creative writing program 2001 after earning his bachelor’s degree from Yale, and went on to teach poetry and literature at the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 2004. Arnold was exploring the island for a book he planned to write on the world’s active volcanos, and had been missing since April 27.

via Salt Lake Tribune.

Incubus, a poem by Arnold:

The chain uncouples, and his jacket hangs
on the peg over hers, and he’s inside.

She stalls in the kitchen, putting the kettle on,
buys herself a minute looking for two
matching cups for the lime-flower tea,
not really lime but linden, heart-shaped leaves
and sticky flowers that smell of antifreeze.
She talks a wall around her, twists the string
tighter around the teabag in her spoon.
But every conversation has to break
somewhere, and at the far end of the sofa
he sits, warming his hands around the cup
he hasn’t tasted yet, and listens on
with such an exasperating show of patience
it’s almost a relief to hear him ask it:
If you’re not using your body right now
maybe you’d let me borrow it for a while?

It isn’t what you’re thinking. No, it’s worse.

Why on earth did she find him so attractive
the first time she met him, propping the wall
at an awkward party, clearly trying to drink
himself into some sort of conversation?
Was it the dark uncomfortable reserve
she took upon herself to tease him out of,
asking, Are you a vampire? That depends,
he stammered, are you a virgin? No, not funny,
but why did she laugh at him? What made her think
that he needed her, that she could teach him something?
Why did she let him believe she was drunk
and needed a ride home? Why did she let him
take her shirt off, fumble around a bit
on the spare futon, passing back and forth
the warm breath of a half-hearted kiss
they kept falling asleep in the middle of?
And when he asked her, why did she not object?
I’d like to try something. I need you to trust me.

Younger and given to daydreams, she imagined
trading bodies with someone, a best friend,
the boy she had a crush on. But the fact
was more fantastic, a fairy-tale adventure
where the wolf wins, and hides in the girl’s red hood.
How it happens she doesn’t really remember,
drifting off with a vague sense of being
drawn out through a single point of her skin
(a bedsheet threaded through a needle’s eye)
and bundled into a body that must be his.
Sometimes she startles, as on the verge of sleep
you can feel yourself fall backward over a brink,
and snaps her eyelids open, to catch herself
slipping out of the bed, her legs swinging
over the edge, and feels the sudden sick
split-screen impression of being for a second
both she and her.
What he does with her
while she’s asleep, she never really knows,
flickers, only, conducted back in dreams:
Walking in neighborhoods she doesn’t know
and wouldn’t go to, overpasses, ragweed,
cars dry-docked on cinderblocks, wolf-whistles,
wanting to run away and yet her steps
planted sure and defiant. Performing tasks
too odd to recognize and too mundane
to have made up, like fixing a green salad
with the sunflower seeds and peppers that she hates,
pouring on twice the oil and vinegar
that she would like, and being unable to stop.
Her hands feel but are somehow not her own,
running over the racks of stacked fabric
in a clothing store, stroking the slick silk,
teased cotton and polar fleece, as if her fingers
each were a tongue tasting the knits and weaves.
Harmless enough.
It’s what she doesn’t dream
that scares her, panic she can’t account for, faces
familiar but not known, déjà vu
making a mess of memory, coming to
with a fresh love-bite on her left breast
and the aftershock of granting another’s flesh,
of having gripped, slipped in and fluttered tender
mmm, unbraided, and spent the whole slow day
clutching her thighs to keep the chafe from fading,
and furious at being joyful, less
at the violation, less the danger, than the sense
he’d taken her enjoyment for his own.
That was the time before, the time she swore
would be the last-returning to her senses,
she’d grabbed his throat and hit him around the face
and threw him out, and sat there on the floor
shaking. She hadn’t known how hard it was
to throw a punch without pulling it back.

Now, as they sit together on her couch
with the liquid cooling in the stained chipped cups
that would never match, no matter how hard
she stared at them, he seems the same as ever,
a quiet clumsy self-effacing ghost
with the gray-circled eyes that she once wanted
so badly to defy, that seemed to see her
seeing him-and she has to admit, she’s missed him.
Why? She scrolls back through their conversations,
searching for any reason not to hate him,
She’d ask him, What’s it like being a girl
when you’re not a girl? His answers, when he gave them,
weren’t helpful, so evasively poetic:
It’s like a sponge somebody else is squeezing.
A radio tuned to all stations at once.
Like having skin that’s softer but more thick.

Then she remembers the morning she awoke
with the smear of tears still raw across her cheeks
and the spent feeling of having cried herself
down to the bottom of something. Why was I crying?
she asked, and he looked back blankly, with that little
curve of a lip that served him for a smile.
Because I can’t.
And that would be their secret.
The power to feel another appetite
pass through her, like a shudder, like a cold
lungful of oxygen or hot sweet smoke,
fill her and then be stilled. The freedom to fall
asleep behind the blinds of his dark body
and wake cleanly. And when she swings her legs
over the edge of the bed, to trust her feet
to hit the carpet, and know as not before
how she never quite trusted the floor
to be there, no, not since she was a girl
first learning to swim, hugging her skinny
breastless body close to the pool-gutter,
skirting along the dark and darker blue
of the bottom dropping out –
Now she can stand,
and take the cup out of his giving hand,
and feel what they have learned inside each other
fair and enough, and not without a kind
of satisfaction, that she can put her foot
down, clear to the bottom of desire,
and find that it can stop, and go no deeper.

Arnold’s own biographical sketch of himself:

“Craig Arnold grew up in the United States, Europe and Asia. He graduated from Yale in 1990 with a BA in English, and received his PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Utah in 2001. W. S. Merwin chose his first book, Shells, as the 1998 volume of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. His writing has appeared in three volumes of Best American Poetry (1998, 2004, and 2006), as well as in Poetry, the New Republic, Paris Review, Yale Review, Denver Quarterly, Open City, Barrow Street, American Literary Review and Poetry Northwest. Among his numerous awards and honors are the Rome Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, and a residency at the MacDowell Colony. His second collection, Made Flesh, was a finalist for the New Criterion Prize and the Pitt Poetry Series, and will now be published by Ausable Press in the spring of 2009.” He is currently working on a book of lyric essays about volcanoes and the end of the world as we know it. In real life, he teaches poetry at the University of Wyoming MFA Program, where he also directs the Visiting Writers Series. He lives in Laramie with his son.”

[via steve silberman]

Talent

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 01:  Carol Ann Duffy...

This is the word tightrope. Now imagine

a man, inching across it in the space

between our thoughts. He holds our breath.

There is no word net.

You want him to fall, don’t you?

I guessed as much; he teeters but succeeds.

The word applause is written all over him.

Carol Ann Duffy, the new poet laureate of Great Britain
Related:

The Loon — James Tate


A loon woke me this morning. It was like waking up

in another world. I had no idea what was expected of me.

I waited for instructions. Someone called and asked me

if I wanted a free trip to Florida. I said, “Sure. Can

I go today?” A man in a uniform picked me up in a limousine,

and the next thing I know I’m being chased by an alligator

across a parking lot. A crowd gathers and cheers me on.

Of course, none of this really happened. I’m still sleeping.

I don’t want to go to work. I want to know what the loon is

saying. It sounds like ecstasy tinged with unfathomable

terror. One thing is certain: at least they are not speaking

of tax shelters. The phone rings. It’s my boss. She says,

“Where are you?” I say, “I don’t know. I don’t recognize

my surroundings. I think I’ve been kidnapped. If they make

demands of you, don’t give in. That’s my professional advice.”

Just then, the loon let out a tremendous looping, soaring,

swirling, quadruple whoop. “My god, are you alright?” my

boss said. “In case we do not meet again, I want you to know

that I’ve always loved you, Agnes,” I said. “What?” she said.

“What are you saying?” “Good-bye, my darling. Try to remember me

as your ever loyal servant,” I said. “Did you say you loved

me?” she said. I said, “Yes,” and hung up. I tried

to go back to sleep, but the idea of being kidnapped had me

quite worked up. I looked in the mirror for signs of torture.

Every time the loon cried, I screamed and contorted my face

in agony. They were going to cut off my head and place it on

a stake. I overheard them talking. They seemed like very

reasonable men, even, one might say, likeable.

“The Loon” by James Tate from Return to the City of White Donkeys. © Ecco Press, 2004. via a blind flaneur.

R.I.P. Sal Salasin

And am pleased to inhabit the earth with this species. Goodbye and God bless you all. More of the evil work of Denise and her evil twin Denise, bleeding through my dreams. Man is the only animal that builds jails. He can also eat peanuts and chew tobacco. Let's go back to the phones where we'll discuss idempotent transactions in just a moment. Well, yes, I'm sorry I did the best I could which was obviously inadequate.

Fate and too many painkillers.

Recently I had the pleasure of driving alone in an American car on American roads listening to American radio from Perth Amboy to Seattle. And this had its rewards although it didn't do the planet any good.

And if it makes you feel any better, I didn't use my tongue. I'm also extremely good at removing the lint after each use and believe I should get some credit for that. “By the light of a thousand suns, I am become death.” I'd sympathize but all in all, I'd rather talk about me. Just get my butt back safe from the K-Mart and I'm yours forever.

via RealPolitik.

A Girl

The tree has entered my hands,

The sap has ascended my arms,

The tree has grown in my breast-

Downward,

The branches grow out of me, like arms.

Tree you are,

Moss you are,

You are violets with wind above them.

A child – so high – you are,

And all this is folly to the world.

— Ezra Pound

Happy Birthday, Jane Hirshfield

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Jane Hirshfield was born in New York City in 1953. After receiving her B.A. from Princeton University in their first graduating class to include women, she went on to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. Her books of poetry include After HarperCollins, 2006; Given Sugar, Given Salt 2001, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Lives of the Heart 1997, The October Palace 1994, Of Gravity & Angels 1988, and Alaya 1982.

She is the author of Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry 1997 and has also edited and translated The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan 1990 with Mariko Aratani and Women in Praise of the Sacred: Forty-Three Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women 1994.

Poem Holding Its Heart In One Fist

Each pebble in this world keeps
its own counsel.

Certain words–these, for instance–
may be keeping a pronoun hidden.
Perhaps the lover’s you
or the solipsist’s I.
Perhaps the philosopher’s willowy it.

The concealment plainly delights.

Even a desk will gather
its clutch of secret, half-crumpled papers,
eased slowly, over years,
behind the backs of drawers.

Olives adrift in the altering brine-bath
etch onto their innermost pits
a few furrowed salts that will never be found by the tongue.

Yet even with so much withheld,
so much unspoken,
potatoes are cooked with butter and parsley,
and buttons affixed to their sweater.
Invited guests arrive, then dutifully leave.

And this poem, afterward, washes its breasts
with soap and trembling hands, disguising nothing.

Poem With Two Endings

Say “death” and the whole room freezes–
even the couches stop moving,
even the lamps.
Like a squirrel suddenly aware it is being looked at.

Say the word continuously,
and things begin to go forward.
Your life takes on
the jerky texture of an old film strip.

Continue saying it, hold it moment after moment inside the mouth,
it becomes another syllable.
A shopping mall swirls around the corpse of a beetle.

Death is voracious, it swallows all the living.
Life is voracious, it swallows all the dead.
neither is ever satisfied, neither is ever filled,
each swallows and swallows the world.

The grip of life is as strong as the grip of death.

(but the vanished, the vanished beloved, o where?)

Approaching Storm


dead leaves, some the color of cement if cement were
rust, scrape my knees on their way to the grave, buried
in gravity, the maple still full and maple leaves soft as
spring, drops begin their pattern on the pond, leaf rustle
hath a new inflection, foliate, smallest sunfish leap, dace
shimmer, scurry to every edge where arcs lap, cross, fade
back into pond, there is no pause, can be no interruption,
below words is sound, beneath sound, silence, then dark
cacophonies of need, a river, swells, above sound are the
sounds creatures make to each other by which they are
known, above these song, all this winding its way into
winter, time’s valance most acute in the fall, you’re over-
taken again, there’s nowhere to go except in, to listen as
Babels of rain sweep across the roof in a darkening room

— Skip Fox

via Realpoetik

Praise Song for the Day

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

— Elizabeth Alexander, 01/20/09

Adrian Mitchell, R.I.P.

British Poetry’s Voice of the Left is Dead at 76: ‘Mr. Mitchell, a spiritual descendant of William Blake, Walt Whitman and Bertolt Brecht, combined ferocity, playfulness and simplicity, with a broad audience in mind, in his poetry, plays, novels, song lyrics, children’s books and adaptations for the stage. His voluminous output included white-hot tirades against the Vietnam War, rapturous nature poems, nonsense verse and children’s tales of a wooly mammoth who returns to the modern world.

“Mitchell is a joker, a lyrics writer, a word-spinner, an epigrammist, a man of passion and imagination,” the art critic and novelist John Berger once wrote. “Against the present British state, he opposes a kind of revolutionary populism, bawdiness, wit and the tenderness sometimes to be found between animals.”

via New York Times obituary.

My Literary Career So Far

As I prowled through Parentheses

I met an Robin and a Owl

My Grammarboots they thrilled

like bees

My Vowelhat did gladly growl

Tis my delight each Friedegg Night

To chomp a Verbal Sandwich

Scots Consonants light up my Pants

And marinade my Heart in Language

Alphabet Soup was all my joy!

From Dreadfast up to Winnertime

I swam, a naked Pushkinboy

Up wodka vaterfalls of rhyme

And reached the summit of Blue Howl

To find a shining Suit of Words

And joined an Robin and a Owl

In good Duke Ellington’s Band of Birds

Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison

I'm getting very old. If I were a mutt
in dog years I'd be seven, not stray so far.
I am large. Tarpon my age are often large
but they are inescapably fish. A porpoise
my age was the King of New Guinea in 1343.
Perhaps I am the king of my dogs, cats, horses
but I have dropped any notion of explaining
to them why I read so much. To be mysterious
is a prerogative of kingship. I discovered
lately that my subjects do not live a life,
but are life itself. They do not recognize
the pain of the schizophrenia of kingship.
To them I am pretty much a fellow creature.

via The Writer’s Almanac. Happy birthday to Jim Harrison.

The Secret

Anna as Denise Levertov

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

— Denise Levertov

Happy Birthday, Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky, U.S.Robert PinskyPinsky: “The longer I live, the more I see there’s something about reciting rhythmical words aloud — it’s almost biological — that comforts and enlivens human beings.” (via Garrison Keillor)

First Things to Hand
by Robert Pinsky

In the skull kept on the desk.
In the spider-pod in the dust.

Or nowhere. In milkmaids, in loaves,
Or nowhere. And if Socrates leaves

His house in the morning,
When he returns in the evening

He will find Socrates waiting
On the doorstep. Buddha the stick

You use to clear the path,
And Buddha the dog-doo you flick

Away with it, nowhere or in each
Several thing you touch:

The dollar bill, the button
That works the television.

Even in the joke, the three
Words American men say

After making love. Where’s
The remote? In the tears

In things, proximate, intimate.
In the wired stem with root

And leaf nowhere of this lamp:
Brass base, aura of illumination,

Enlightenment, shade of grief.
Odor of the lamp, brazen.

The mind waiting in the mind
As in the first thing to hand.