Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

“the withness of the body”

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water’s clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
—The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit’s motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
The scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

Delmore Schwartz

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Full fathom five thy father lies;

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them — Ding-dong, bell.

William Shakespeare

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.

I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
    With witness I speak this. But where I say
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.
I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
  Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Acts of Youth

And with great fear I inhabit the middle of the night
What wrecks of the mind await me, what drugs
to dull the senses, what little I have left,
what more can be taken away?

The fear of travelling, of the future without hope
or buoy. I must get away from this place and see
that there is no fear without me: that it is within
unless it be some sudden act or calamity

to land me in the hospital, a total wreck, without
memory again; or worse still, behind bars. If
I could just get out of the country. Some place
where one can eat the lotus in peace.

For in this country it is terror, poverty awaits; or
am I a marked man, my life to be a lesson
or experience to those young who would trod
the same path, without God

unless he be one of justice, to wreak vengeance
on the acts committed while young under un-
due influence or circumstance. Oh I have
always seen my life as drama, patterned

after those who met with disaster or doom.
Is my mind being taken away me.
I have been over the abyss before. What
is that ringing in my ears that tells me

all is nigh, is naught but the roaring of the winter wind.
Woe to those homeless who are out on this night.
Woe to those crimes committed from which we
can walk away unharmed.

So I turn on the light
And smoke rings rise in the air.
Do not think of the future; there is none.
But the formula all great art is made of.

Pain and suffering. Give me the strength
to bear it, to enter those places where the
great animals are caged. And we can live
at peace by their side. A bride to the burden

that no god imposes but knows we have the means
to sustain its force unto the end of our days.
For that is what we are made for; for that
we are created. Until the dark hours are done.

And we rise again in the dawn.
Infinite particles of the divine sun, now
worshipped in the pitches of the night.

John Wieners

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Low Bank of Cloud

But for a low bank of cloud,
         clear morning,    empty sky.
The bright band of light beneath the cloud’s gray
       I thought at first was open distance,    but it’s ice
that by extension raised the lake above the lip of blue lake
       and spilled it farther out than that horizon
along the sky
       and floods the clouds.
      Seeing the distant level further
unfurl into the sky says not to trust
      blue line as terminus
when a meniscus of ice
       can ride up that wall of the skyline,
a measure of illusion how close
       the eye can be to filled
with seeing,        to widen instead the tube of that measure
of sight we are given.        There is the larger
        lake the wider look we open
eyes to see. That glance of the lip
        put in a bigger cylinder falls away,
but how much deeper the spring
       to fill the cup.
As if the surface we are seeing
        drops          the more seeing is added,
       while we feel the stories well as our height
from which to see.         And watch the dawns coming.
…I seem to be emptying
of time        the more time I put in,
       and see like a man with weathered eyes enough
to face to face up   to the sight’s field expanded
       to insight.    To the dark the lake can turn
and curl up like a map for poems to have
these likenesses to graph,
        then come un-scrolled from semblance back
to just this lake.        Water
       cities are led to        layout
beside.      But never in stillness;
       always the restoration to change,
from ice, from cloud, turning to clear
        liquid—as is most of our body
        water—       thinned sheet, layer
that if written        on or with,         a bearing
a name chiseled on water

Ed Roberson

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dank fens of cedar, hemlock branches gray

Dank fens of cedar, hemlock branches gray
With trees and trail of mosses, wringing-wet,
Beds of the black pitchpine in dead leaves set
Whose wasted red has wasted to white away,
Remnants of rain and droppings of decay,
Why hold ye so my heart, nor dimly let
Through your deep leaves the light of yesterday,
The faded glimmer of a sunshine set?
Is it that in your darkness, shut from strife,
The bread of tears becomes the bread of life?
Far from the roar of day, beneath your boughs
Fresh griefs beat tranquilly, and loves and vows
Grow green in your gray shadows, dearer far
Even than all lovely lights and roses are?

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman

Friday, June 24, 2011

Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Anne Sexton

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
   And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
   When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
   Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
   Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have cross’d the bar.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Anticipated Stranger,

the bruise will stop by later.
For now, the pain pauses in its round,
notes the time of day, the patient’s temperature,
leaves a memo for the surrogate: What the hell
did you think you were doing? I mean . . .
Oh well, less said the better, they all say.
I’ll post this at the desk.

God will find the pattern and break it.

John Ashbery

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Catalogue Raisonné of My Refrigerator Door

for Joshua Starbuck, master of montage

A Caledonian megalith.
A tinted bather from Cape Ann.
The 1937 kith
and kin of a Kentuckian
beside their Model T sedan.
The Celts. Who set me this arith-
metic of icons? Who began
by pasting in Bob Dylan? Zith-
erpicking rhinestone charlatan.
He tries to be American.

Who tries to be American
as hard as him? Not Aly Khan.
Not George F. Babbitt the Zenith-
ophiliac Zenithian.
As sure as God made Granny Smith
a pricier-sounding product than
the Winesap or the Jonathan,
there is a mystery and myth
to being an American,
and being an American

compounds it. Kurosawa-san,
steady my Nikon while I pan
across the porches of forsyth-
iabedizened Mattapan
in search of ... dot dot dot ... the plan,
the weltanschauung, the ethnith-
ifying principle a pith
helmeted Oxbridge fancy-dan
could pounce on like a fiend from Ran
and authenticate forthwith.

The cromlech beetles o’er the frith.
The ultimate American
possession rattles his Kal-Kan,
Prince, you’re a prince. A dog a man
can talk to. What this caravan
of adumbrations and antith-
esises panteth for is Dith
Pran and the long-lost Mrs. Pran:
Far-fetched, tenacious, captious: fan
tabulously American.

George Starbuck

Monday, June 20, 2011


Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite "The boy stood on
the burning deck". Love's the son
     stood stammering elocution
     while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too
     or an excuse to stay
     on deck. And love's the burning boy.

Elizabeth Bishop

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For Once, Then, Something

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Robert Frost

Saturday, June 18, 2011



Stephen Crane

Friday, June 17, 2011


Truth also is the pursuit of it:
Like happiness, and it will not stand.

Even the verse begins to eat away
In the acid. Pursuit, pursuit;

A wind moves a little,
Moving in a circle, very cold.

How shall we say?
In ordinary discourse—

We must talk now. I am no longer sure of the words,
The clockwork of the world. What is inexplicable

Is the 'preponderance of objects,' The sky lights
Daily with that predominance

And we have become the present.

We must talk now. Fear
Is fear. But we abandon one another.

George Oppen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

“The Dreadful Has Already Happened”

The relatives are leaning over, staring expectantly.
They moisten their lips with their tongues. I can feel
them urging me on. I hold the baby in the air.
Heaps of broken bottles glitter in the sun.

A small band is playing old fashioned marches.
My mother is keeping time by stamping her foot.
My father is kissing a woman who keeps waving
to somebody else. There are palm trees.

The hills are spotted with orange flamboyants and tall
billowy clouds move behind them. “Go on, Boy,”
I hear somebody say, “Go on.”
I keep wondering if it will rain.

The sky darkens. There is thunder.
“Break his legs,” says one of my aunts,
“Now give him a kiss.” I do what I’m told.
The trees bend in the bleak tropical wind.

The baby did not scream, but I remember that sigh
when I reached inside for his tiny lungs and shook them
out in the air for the flies. The relatives cheered.
It was about that time I gave up.

Now, when I answer the phone, his lips
are in the receiver; when I sleep, his hair is gathered
around a familiar face on the pillow; wherever I search
I find his feet. He is what is left of my life.

Mark Strand

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Around Us

We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap--
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.

Marvin Bell

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith