Monday, July 9, 2007

By Candlelight

This is winter, this is night, small love --
A sort of black horsehair,
A rough, dumb country stuff
Steeled with the sheen
Of what green stars can make it to our gate.
I hold you on my arm.
It is very late.
The dull bells tongue the hour.
The mirror floats us at one candle power.

This is the fluid in which we meet each other,
This haloey radiance that seems to breathe
And lets our shadows wither
Only to blow
Them huge again, violent giants on the wall.
One match scratch makes you real.

At first the candle will not bloom at all --
It snuffs its bud
To almost nothing, to a dull blue dud.

I hold my breath until you creak to life,
Balled hedgehog,
Small and cross. The yellow knife
Grows tall. You clutch your bars.
My singing makes you roar.
I rock you like a boat
Across the Indian carpet, the cold floor,
While the brass man
Kneels, back bent, as best he can

Hefting his white pillar with the light
That keeps the sky at bay,
The sack of black! It is everywhere, tight, tight!
He is yours, the little brassy Atlas --
Poor heirloom, all you have,
At his heels a pile of five brass cannonballs,
No child, no wife.
Five balls! Five bright brass balls!
To juggle with, my love, when the sky falls.

By Sylvia Plath

April 18

the slime of all my yesterdays
rots in the hollow of my skull

and if my stomach would contract
because of some explicable phenomenon
such as pregnancy or constipation

I would not remember you

or that because of sleep
infrequent as a moon of greencheese
that because of food
nourishing as violet leaves
that because of these

and in a few fatal yards of grass
in a few spaces of sky and treetops

a future was lost yesterday
as easily and irretrievably
as a tennis ball at twilight

By Sylvia Plath

A Radio With Guts

it was on the 2nd floor on Coronado Street
I used to get drunk
and throw the radio through the window
while it was playing, and, of course,
it would break the glass in the window
and the radio would sit there on the roof
still playing
and I'd tell my woman,
"Ah, what a marvelous radio!"
the next morning I'd take the window
off the hinges
and carry it down the street
to the glass man
who would put in another pane.
I kept throwing that radio through the window
each time I got drunk
and it would sit there on the roof
still playing-
a magic radio
a radio with guts,
and each morning I'd take the window
back to the glass man.
I don't remember how it ended exactly
though I do remember
we finally moved out.
there was a woman downstairs who worked in
the garden in her bathing suit,
she really dug with that trowel
and she put her behind up in the air
and I used to sit in the window
and watch the sun shine all over that thing
while the music played.

By Charles Bukowski

Friday, June 15, 2007

To Clymène

Mystical singing-birds,
romances without words,
dear, because your eyes
the shade of skies,

because your voice, strange
vision that will derange,
troubling the horizon
of my reason,

because the rare perfume
of your swanlike paleness,
because the innocence
of your fragrance,

ah, because all your being,
music so piercing,
clouds of lost angels,
tones and scents,

has by soft cadences
with its correspondences,
lured my subtle heart, oh
let it be so!

By Paul Verlaine

My Familiar Drea

I often have this dream, strange and penetrating
of a woman, unknown, whom I love, who loves me,
and who’s never, each time, the same exactly,
nor exactly different, she knows me, she’s loving.

Oh she knows me, and my heart, growing
clear for her alone, is no longer a problem,
for her alone, she alone understands, then,
how to cool the sweat of my brow with her weeping.

Is she dark, blond, or auburn? – I’ve no idea.
Her name? I remember it’s vibrant and dear,
as those of the loved that life has exiled.

Her eyes are the same as a statue’s eyes,
and in her voice, distant, serious, mild,
the tone of dear voices, of those who have died.

By Paul Verlaine

The Graveyard Club

I meet B. in the graveyard.
She is my age, more or less.

I have been coming here for nine years,
every Sabbath - she explains -.
My little son died in his sleep.
A sudden death.
I had gone to work at the cannery.
My elder son, the seven year old, realized
that he could not wake him up
to go to school.

By Miren Agur Meabe

The Cold

Frost spat in my eyes
at four in the morning.
The sheets were clean,
but her lips are a puddle on the pillow.

I put on her stockings.
Now she has warm feet.
I thought she smiled at me.

They tolled the bell. Funeral rites.
I shall never again touch this body.

By Miren Agur Meabe


Fire makes a body of the match.
A living soul with its own expression,
its own glory, its own short history.
The gas rising from it blazes;
bestowing wings, a costume, even a body:
a truly moving thing,

It all happens so quickly!

Only the head has the power to catch fire
when it comes into contact with harsh
- sounds like the crack of a starting pistol.
But, as soon as it takes hold,
the flame
- upright, swift, a sail blown like a racing yacht -
travels the length of its own wooden boom,

And hardly has it come about
it leaves
black as the hat of a parish priest.

By Francis Ponge

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

As someone on his back for months of illness

As someone on his back for months of illness
would leave the bed one morning; tries and tries
with little help from bone or muscle, striving
upward, he doubles over, cannot rise;
just so with me: I struggle against loving;
wish to believe what thought assures me of,
only cannot, cannot - no strength remaining
after the long infirmity of love.

By Ausiàs March

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so ryly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

By Robert Frost

The Pasture

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too.
I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too.

By Robert Frost

Sí tosto come aven che l’arco scocchi

As soon as ever he has launched his arrows,
the expert archer can see from afar
which shots have gone astray, and those
he’s sure will hit the target he assigned:

so you knew the arrows from your eyes,
lady, had pierced straight to my deepest part,
and I’d be forced to weep eternally
because of the wound my heart received.

And I am certain of what you said then:
‘Wretched lover, where will crying lead him?
Behold the arrow by which Love hoped he’d die.’

Now, seeing how grief has bound me,
all that my enemies do with me now,
is not to kill me but increase my pain.

By Petrarch

And when you are gone

And when you are gone there will be no memory
Of you and no regret. For you do not share
The Pierian roses, but unseen in the house of Hades
You will stray, breathed out, among the ghostly dead.

By Sappho

Hopkins Forest

I'd gone out
to get water from the well, near the trees,
and I was in the presence of another sky.
Gone were the constellations
there a moment before.
Three fourths of the firmament was empty,
the intensest black shone there alone,
though to the left, above the horizon,
in among the tops of the oaks,
there was a mass of reddening stars
like firecoals, from which smoke even rose.

I went back inside
and re-opened the book on the table.
Page after page,
there were only indecipherable signs,
clusters of forms without any sense,
although vaguely recurring,
and beneath them an abyssal white
as if what we call the spirit
were falling there, soundlessly,
like snow.
Still, I went on turning the pages.

Many years earlier,
in a train at the moment when the day rises,
between Princeton Junction and Newark,
— that is to say, two chance places for me,
two arrows fallen out of nowhere —
the passengers were reading, silent
in the snow that was sweeping the gray windows,
and suddenly,
in a newspaper open next to me —
a big photograph of Baudelaire,
a whole page,
as if the sky were emptying at the world's end
in recognition of the chaos of words.
I put together this dream and this memory
when I walked, all of one fall,
in woods where snow would soon triumph,
among the many signs we receive,
from the world devastated by language.
The conflict between two principles,
it seemed to me, was nearing an end,
two lights were becoming one,
the lips of a wound closing.
The white mass of the cold was falling in gusts
on color, but a roof in the distance, a painted
board, standing against a gate,
was color still, and mysterious,
like someone coming out of a tomb, laughing,
and telling the world, "No, don't touch me."

Truly I owe a lot to Hopkins Forest.
I keep it on my horizon, in that place
where the visible gives way to the invisible
in the trembling of the blue in the distance.
I listen to it, amid other sounds,
and at times even, in summer,
kicking the dead leaves of other years
lying as if lit in the shade of oaks
grown densely among stones,
I stop: I believe that the ground is opening
to the infinite, that the leaves are falling into it
without hurry, or coming up again,
above and below no longer existing,
or sound, only the light
whispering of snowflakes that soon
multiply, draw closer, bind together —
and then I see again the whole other sky,
I enter for a moment the great snow.

By Yves Bonnefoy

The Oldest Child

The night still frightens you.
You know it is interminable
And of vast, unimaginable dimensions.
"That's because His insomnia is permanent,"
You've read some mystic say.
Is it the point of His schoolboy's compass
That pricks your heart?

Somewhere perhaps the lovers lie
Under the dark cypress trees,
Trembling with happiness,
But here there's only your beard of many days
And a night moth shivering
Under your hand pressed against your chest.

Oldest child, Prometheus
Of some cold, cold fire you can't even name
For which you're serving slow time
With that night moth's terror for company.

By Charles Simic

Hotel Insomnia

I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month
a crippled old man came to play
"My Blue Heaven."

Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revelry.
So dark,
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The "Gypsy" fortuneteller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought
For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

By Charles Simic

‘Yo eschuco los cantos’

I follow the songs
with age-old rhythms
the children are singing
while they are playing
and showing in song
what their souls are dreaming,
like stone fountains
that show their water:
in monotonous murmurs
of undying laughter
that has in it no joy,
of ancient weeping
that has in it no pain
and speaks of sadness
the sadness of loving
of ancient legends.

In the mouths of children
the singing brings
the tale’s confusion,
pain that’s clear
as that clear water,
brings the message
of ancient love,
that it conceals.

Playing in shadows
of an ancient plaza
the children, singing…

The fountain of stone
poured out its eternal
crystal of legend.
The children were singing
innocent songs
of things that go on
and are never ending:
the story confused
the suffering clear.

The fountain serenely
continued its tale:
erasing the story,
telling the pain.

By Antonio Machado

The wisdom handed down by the ancients

The wisdom handed down by the ancients
breaks up into miserable fragments the moment I breathe
at every beat stasis renders it vain
confirmed and unsurprising.
How can we forget that the shades, the disquietudes
merely dissimulate rigid rest
a silence already immense?
The wisdom handed down by the ancients
therefore, must only be thought of
as the headlong flight of a herd
of animals pursued by fire:
a not unnatural, non-formal event
which happens many times in a life
and millions of times in every memory
and imagination – an event
both vital and mortal
and fundamental
which makes of existence an extinction
and not only the appearance of movement.

By Andrea Raos

Saturday, June 2, 2007


It’s filled with light, is
my heart of silk, and
with bells that are lost,
with bees and with lilies,
and I will go far off,
behind those hills there,
close to the starlight,
to ask of the Christ there
Lord, to return me
my child’s soul, ancient,
ripened with legends,
with a cap of feathers,
and a sword of wood.

By Federico Garcia Lorca

The house where I was born (01)

I woke up, it was the house where I was born,
Sea foam splashed against the rock,
Not a single bird, only the wind to open and close the wave,
Everywhere on the horizon the smell of ashes,
As if the hills were hiding a fire
That somewhere else was burning up a universe.
I went onto the veranda, the table was set,
The water knocked against the legs of the table, the sideboard.
And yet she had to come in, the faceless one,
The one I knew was shaking the door
In the hall, near the darkened staircase, but in vain,
So high had the water already risen in the room.
I took the handle, it was hard to turn,
I could almost hear the noises of the other shore,
The laughter of the children playing in the tall grass,
The games of the others, always the others, in their joy.

By Yves Bonnefoy

Close To Midnight

Close to midnight.
Flies dying in a glass.
The fire has died out.
Fair Vida, there is
sorrow in your memory.
Stravinsky in a car.
The roaring of the sea.
Oh, to be alone for 5 minutes.
The heart-Trieste is ill.
That is why Trieste is beautiful.
Pain blossoms in beauty.

By Srečko Kosovel

A Suicide in front of a Mirror

A suicide in front of a mirror.
A frightened soul.
The wind moans in the black woods.
The night's tempest tears my heart from my chest.

My spirit, you are the Flying Dutchman,
always returning to the primal darkness,
getting drunk on the blowing of the wind!
A policeman blowing his whistle.

It is frightening to be a brother to the storm!
Frightening to be a brother to the silver sun.
Stay broken and slain, my spirit,
do not look to the dead slopes for salvation.

I walk through the woods. The tree trunks are black.
Two go leaning towards each other.
The black chasm of the universe above me.
I am leaning into it
and listening.

I walk through the woods. The tree trunks are black.
Two go leaning towards each other.
The black chasm of the universe above me.
I am leaning into it
and listening.

By Srečko Kosovel

Homeless Poet Writing to His Love

I will build us a house made of words.
Nouns will be bricks
and verbs will be shutters.

With adjectives we will adorn
the window sills
as with flowers.

In perfect silence we will lie
beneath the baldachin of our love.
In perfect silence.

Our house will be too beautiful
and too fragile for us to endanger it
with an inflation of words.

And if we speak,
we will name objects
visible only to our eyes.

Because every verb
could shake the foundations
and demolish them.

Therefore, hush, mon amour,
hush, pour le beau demain
à notre maison.

By Peter Semolič

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Book I Elegy V: Corinna in an Afternoon

It was hot, and the noon hour had gone by:
I was relaxed, limbs spread in the midst of the bed.
One half of the window was open, the other closed:
the light was just as it often is in the woods,
it glimmered like Phoebus dying at twilight,
or when night goes, but day has still not risen.
Such a light as is offered to modest girls,
whose timid shyness hopes for a refuge.
Behold Corinna comes, hidden by her loose slip,
scattered hair covering her white throat –
like the famous Semiramis going to her bed,
one might say, or Lais loved by many men.
I pulled her slip away –not harming its thinness much;
yet she still struggled to be covered by that slip.
While she would struggle so, it was as if she could not win,
yielding, she was effortlessly conquered.
When she stood before my eyes, the clothing set aside,
there was never a flaw in all her body.
What shoulders, what arms, I saw and touched!
Breasts formed as if they were made for pressing!
How flat the belly beneath the slender waist!
What flanks, what form! What young thighs!
Why recall each aspect? I saw nothing lacking praise
and I hugged her naked body against mine.
Who doesn’t know the story? Weary we both rested.
May such afternoons often come for me!

By Ovid

Requiem for a Friend

(For Paula Modersohn-Becker 1876-1907)

I have dead ones, and I have let them go,
and was astonished to see them so peaceful,
so quickly at home in being dead, so just,
so other than their reputation. Only you, you turn
back: you brush against me, and go by, you try
to knock against something, so that it resounds
and betrays you. O don’t take from me what I
am slowly learning. I’m sure you err
when you deign to be homesick at all
for any Thing. We change them round:
they are not present, we reflect them here
out of our being, as soon as we see them.
I thought you were much further on. It disturbs me
that you especially err and return, who have
changed more than any other woman.
That we were frightened when you died, no, that
your harsh death broke in on us darkly,
tearing the until-then from the since-that:
it concerns us: that it become a unique order
is the task we must always be about.
But that even you were frightened, and now too
are in terror, where terror is no longer valid:

that you lose a little of your eternity, my friend,
and that you appear here, where nothing
yet is: that you, scattered for the first time,
scattered and split in the universe,
that you did not grasp the rise of events,
as here you grasped every Thing:
that from the cycle that has already received you
the silent gravity of some unrest
pulls you down to measured time –
this often wakes me at night like a thief breaking in.
And if only I might say that you deign to come
out of magnanimity, out of over-fullness,
because so certain, so within yourself,
that you wander about like a child, not anxious
in the face of anything one might do –
but no: you are asking. This enters so
into my bones, and cuts like a saw.
A reproach, which you might offer me, as a ghost,
impose on me, when I withdraw at night,
into my lungs, into the innards,
into the last poor chamber of my heart –
such a reproach would not be as cruel
as this asking is. What do you ask?
Say, shall I travel? Have you left some Thing
behind somewhere, that torments itself
and yearns for you? Shall I enter a land
you never saw, though it was close to you
like the other side of your senses?
I will travel its rivers: go ashore
and ask about its ancient customs:
speak to women in their doorways
and watch when they call their children.
I’ll note how they wrap the landscape
round them, going about their ancient work
in meadow and field: I’ll demand
to be led before their king, and I’ll
win their priests with bribes to place me
in front of their most powerful statues,
and leave, and close the temple gates.
Only then when I know enough, will I
simply look at creatures, so that something
of their manner will glide over my limbs:
and I will possess a limited being
in their eyes, which hold me and slowly
release me, calmly, without judgment.
I’ll let the gardeners recite many flowers
to me, so that I might bring back
in the fragments of their lovely names
a remnant of their hundred perfumes.
And I’ll buy fruits, fruits in which that land
exists once more, as far as the heavens.
That is what you understood: the ripe fruits.
You placed them in bowls there in front of you
and weighed out their heaviness with pigments.
And so you saw women as fruits too,
and saw the children likewise, driven
from inside into the forms of their being.
And you saw yourself in the end as a fruit,
removed yourself from your clothes, brought
yourself in front of the mirror, allowed yourself
within, as far as your gaze that stayed huge outside
and did not say: ‘I am that’: no, rather: ‘this is.’
So your gaze was finally free of curiosity
and so un-possessive, of such real poverty,
it no longer desired self: was sacred.
So I’ll remember you, as you placed yourself
within the mirror, deep within and far
from all. Why do you appear otherwise?
What do you countermand in yourself? Why
do you want me to believe that in the amber beads
at your throat there was still some heaviness
of that heaviness that never exists in the other-side
calm of paintings: why do you show me
an evil presentiment in your stance:
what do the contours of your body mean,
laid out like the lines on a hand,
so that I no longer see them except as fate?
Come here, to the candlelight. I’m not afraid
to look on the dead. When they come
they too have the right to hold themselves out
to our gaze, like other Things.
Come here: we’ll be still for a while.
See this rose, close by on my desk:
isn’t the light around it precisely as hesitant
as that over you: it too shouldn’t be here.
Outside in the garden, unmixed with me,
it should have remained or passed –
now it lives, so: what is my consciousness to it?
Don’t be afraid if I understand now, ah,
it climbs in me: I can do no other,
I must understand, even if I die of it.
Understand, that you are here. I understand.
Just as a blind man understands a Thing,
I feel your fate and do not know its name
Let us grieve together that someone drew you
out of your mirror. Can you still weep?
You cannot. You turned the force and pressure
of your tears into your ripe gaze,
and every juice in you besides
you added into a heavy reality,
that climbed and spun in balance blindly.
Then chance tore at you, a final chance
tore you back from your furthest advance,
back into a world where juices have will.
Not tearing you wholly: tore only a piece at first,
but when around this piece, day after day
reality grew, so that it became heavy,
you needed your whole self: you went
and broke yourself, in pieces, out of its control,
painfully, out, because you needed yourself. Then
you lifted yourself out, and dug the still green seeds
out of the night-warmed earth of your heart,
from which your death would rise: yours,
your own death for your own life.
And ate them, the kernels of your death,
like all the others, ate the kernels,
and found an aftertaste of sweetness
you did not expect, found sweetness on the lips,
you: who were already sweet within your senses.
O let us grieve. Do you know how your blood
hesitated in its unequaled gyre, and reluctantly
returned, when you called it back?
How confused it was to take up once more
the body’s narrow circulation: how full of mistrust
and amazement, entering into the placenta,
and suddenly tired by the long way back.
You drove it on: you pushed it along,
you dragged it to the fireplace, as one
drags a herd-animal to the sacrifice:
and still wished that it would be happy too.
And you finally forced it: it was happy
and ran over to you and gave itself up. You thought
because you’d grown used to other rules,
it was only for a while: but
now you were within Time, and Time is long.
And Time runs on, and Time takes away, and Time
is like a relapse in a lengthy illness.
How short your life was, if you compare it
with those hours where you sat and bent
the varied powers of your varied future
silently into the bud of the child,
that was fate once more. O painful task.
O task beyond all strength. You did it
from day to day, you dragged yourself to it,
and drew the lovely weft through the loom,
and used up all the threads in another way.
And finally you still had courage to celebrate.
When it was done, you wanted to be rewarded,
like a child when it has drunk the bittersweet
tea that might perhaps make it well.
So you rewarded yourself: you were still so far
from other people, even then: no one was able
to think through, what gift would please you.
You knew. You sat up in childbed,
and in front of you stood a mirror, that returned
the whole thing to you. This everything was you,
and wholly before, and within was only illusion,
the sweet illusion of every woman, who gladly
takes up her jewelry, and combs, and alters her hair.
So you died, as women used to die, you died,
in the old-fashioned way, in the warm house,
the death of women who have given birth, who wish
to shut themselves again and no longer can,
because that darkness, that they have borne,
returns once more, and thrusts, and enters.
Still, shouldn’t a wailing of women have been raised?
Where women would have lamented, for gold,
and one could pay for them to howl
through the night, when all becomes silent.
A custom once! We have too few customs.
They all vanish and become disowned.
So you had to come, in death, and, here with me,
retrieve the lament. Can you hear that I lament?
I wish that my voice were a cloth thrown down
over the broken fragments of your death
and pulled about until it were torn to pieces,
and all that I say would have to walk around,
ragged, in that voice, and shiver:
what remains belongs to lament. But now I lament,
not the man who pulled you back out of yourself,
(I don’t discover him: he’s like everyone)
but I lament all in him: mankind.
When, somewhere, from deep within me, a sense
of having been a child rises, which I still don’t understand,
perhaps the pure being-a-child of my childhood:
I don’t wish to understand. I wish to form
an angel from it, without addition,
and wish to hurl him into the front rank
of the screaming angels who remind God.
Because this suffering’s lasted far too long,
and no one can bear it: it’s too heavy for us,
this confused suffering of false love,
that builds on limitation, like a custom,
calls itself right and makes profit out of wrong.
Where is the man who has the right of possession?
Who can possess what cannot hold its own self,
what only from time to time catches itself happily,
and throws itself down again, as a child does a ball.
No more than the captain of the ship can grasp
the Nike jutting outwards from the prow
when the secret lightness of her divinity
lifts her suddenly into the bright ocean-wind:
no more can one of us call back the woman
who walks on, no longer seeing us,
along a small strip of her being
as if by a miracle, without disaster:
unless his desire and trade is in crime.
For this is a crime, if anything’s a crime:
not to increase the freedom of a Love
with all the freedom we can summon in ourselves.
We have, indeed, when we love, only this one thing:
to loose one another: because holding on to ourselves
comes easily to us, and does not first have to be learned.
Are you still there? Are you in some corner? –
You understood all of this so well
and used it so well, as you passed through
open to everything, like the dawn of a day.
Women do suffer: love means being alone,
and artists sometimes suspect in their work
that they must transform where they love.
You began both: both are in that
which now fame disfigures, and takes from you.
Oh you were far beyond any fame. You were
barely apparent: you’d withdrawn your beauty
as a man takes down a flag
on the grey morning of a working day,
and wished for nothing, except the long work –
which is unfinished: and yet is not finished.
If you are still here, if in this darkness
there is still a place where your sensitive spirit
resonates on the shallow waves
of a voice, isolated in the night,
vibrating in the high room’s current:
then hear me: help me. See, we can slip back so
unknowingly, out of our forward stride,
into something we didn’t intend: find
that we’re trapped there as if in dream
and we die there, without waking.
No one is far from it. Anyone who has fired
their blood through work that endures,
may find that they can no longer sustain it
and that it falls according to its weight, worthless.
For somewhere there is an ancient enmity
between life and the great work.
Help me, so that I might see it and know it.
Come no more. If you can bear it so, be
dead among the dead. The dead are occupied.
But help me like this, so you are not scattered,
as the furthest things sometimes help me: within.

By Rainer Maria Rilke

To the Moon (XIV)

To the Moon (XIV)
O lovely moon, now I’m reminded
how almost a year since, full of anguish,
I climbed this hill to gaze at you again,
and you hung there, over that wood, as now,
clarifying all things. Filled with mistiness,
trembling, that’s how your face seemed to me,
with all those tears that welled in my eyes, so
troubled was my life, and is, and does not change,
O moon, my delight. And yet it does help me,
to record my sadness and tell it, year by year.
Oh how sweetly it hurts, when we are young,
when hope has such a long journey to run,
and memory is so short,
this remembrance of things past, even if it
is sad, and the pain lasts!

By Giacomo Leopardi

My Familiar Dream

(Poèmes Saturniens: Mélancholia VI)

I often have this dream, strange and penetrating
of a woman, unknown, whom I love, who loves me,
and who’s never, each time, the same exactly,
nor exactly different, she knows me, she’s loving.

Oh she knows me, and my heart, growing
clear for her alone, is no longer a problem,
for her alone, she alone understands, then,
how to cool the sweat of my brow with her weeping.

Is she dark, blonde, or auburn? – I’ve no idea.
Her name? I remember it’s vibrant and dear,
as those of the loved that life has exiled.

Her eyes are the same as a statue’s eyes,
and in her voice, distant, serious, mild,
the tone of dear voices, of those who have died.

By Paul Verlaine


HE knelt upon her brother's grave,
My little girl of six years old--
He used to be so good and brave,
The sweetest lamb of all our fold;
He used to shout, he used to sing,
Of all our tribe the little king--
And so unto the turf her ear she laid,
To hark if still in that dark place he played.
No sound! no sound!
Death's silence was profound;
And horror crept
Into her aching heart, and Dora wept.
If this is as it ought to be,
My God, I leave it unto Thee.

By: T. E. Brown (1830-1897)


This I give to my poor mother
As a prayer now, to our Mistress
– She who bore bitter pain for me,
God knows, and also much sadness –
I’ve no other castle or fortress,
That my body and soul can summon,
When I’m faced with life’s distress,
Nor has my mother, poor woman

By François Villon

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Supreme Moment

The Supreme Moment
As an ant is powerless
Against a raised boot,
And only has an instant
To have a bright idea or two.
The black boot so polished,
He can see himself
Reflected in it, distorted,
Perhaps made larger
Into a huge monster ant
Shaking his arms and legs

The boot may be hesitating,
Demurring, having misgivings,
Gathering cobwebs,
Yes, and apparently no.

By Charles Simic

Read Your Fate

A world's disappearing.
Little street,
You were too narrow,
Too much in the shade already.

You had only one dog,
One lone child.
You hid your biggest mirror,
Your undressed lovers.

Someone carted them off
In an open truck.
They were still naked, traveling
On their sofa

Over a darkening plain,
Some unknown Kansas or Nebraska
With a storm brewing.
The woman opening a red umbrella

In the truck. The boy
And the dog running after them,
As if after a rooster
With its head chopped off.

By Charles Simic

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Briar and fennel and chincapin,
And rue and ragweed everywhere;
The field seemed sick as a soul with sin,
Or dead of an old despair,
Born of an ancient care.

The cricket's cry and the locust's whirr,
And the note of a bird's distress,
With the rasping sound of the grasshopper,
Clung to the loneliness
Like burrs to a trailing dress.

So sad the field, so waste the ground,
So curst with an old despair,
A woodchuck's burrow, a blind mole's mound,
And a chipmunk's stony lair,
Seemed more than it could bear.

So lonely, too, so more than sad,
So droning-lone with bees--
I wondered what more could Nature add
To the sum of its miseries . . .
And then--I saw the trees.

Skeletons gaunt that gnarled the place,
Twisted and torn they rose--
The tortured bones of a perished race
Of monsters no mortal knows,
They startled the mind's repose.

And a man stood there, as still as moss,
A lichen form that stared;
With an old blind hound that, at a loss,
Forever around him fared
With a snarling fang half bared.

I looked at the man; I saw him plain;
Like a dead weed, gray and wan,
Or a breath of dust. I looked again--
And man and dog were gone,
Like wisps of the graying dawn. . . .

Were they a part of the grim death there--
Ragweed, fennel, and rue?
Or forms of the mind, an old despair,
That there into semblance grew
Out of the grief I knew?


NOTE: In a letter to the editor printed in the Times Literary Supplement (8 Dec. 1995, p. 14), Robert Ian Scott suggests that "the many similarities between this poem" and T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" "can hardly be coincidental." Scott notes that Eliot "had reasons to be reading" the Jan. 1913 issue of Poetry in which Cawein's poem appeared because it contained Pound's article on the poets then in London (though Eliot himself is not referred to in the article).

The City Jungle

by Roger Pedersen

I walk the streets alone
in the city jungle
there’s no green
no trees, no leaves

Only grey concrete
black asphalt
cold metallic streetcars
cold people
with eyes that do not see

They do not see
the forgotten ones
the lost ones
those who sleep in the alleyways
those who die in the backyards
of drugs and booze
in the coldness of night

They do not see
the rape victims
the brutal killings
those who die alone
those who suffer
whose pain’s too much to bear

I walk the streets tonight
like a lonely and lost God
who no longer can create
who no longer can redeem

I am no Jesus, No Buddha
No Muhammad or Allah
I am just one lonely man
walking the city jungle
amongst its predators
its killers and hunters

By Roger Pedersen


They'll say
is not
I tell you
that poetry
a hammer.

By Gabriel Aresti

February. Take ink and weep


February. Take ink and weep,
write February as you’re sobbing,
while black Spring burns deep
through the slush and throbbing.
Take a cab. For a clutch of kopecks,
through bell-towers’ and wheel noise,
go where the rain-storm’s din breaks,
greater than crying or ink employs.
Where rooks in thousands falling,
like charred pears from the skies,
drop down into puddles, bringing
cold grief to the depths of eyes.
Below, the black shows through,
and the wind’s furrowed with cries:
the more freely, the more truly
then, sobbing verse is realized.



I sang to you and the moon
But only the moon remembers.
I sang
O reckless free-hearted
free-throated rythms,
Even the moon remembers them
And is kind to me

By Carl Sandburg


LESH-LIKE flowers, O my breasts: how rich you are in voluptuousness! My breasts in my hands, what lack you of softness, and of mellow warmth and of youthful perfume?

Already you are polished like the breasts of a statue, and hard like the insensible marble. In order that you may submit, I will cherish you the more, you that were already loved.

Your sleek and rounded form is the honor of my brown body, whether I imprison you under a necklace of gold, or leave you free and naked, you precede me with your splendor.

Be then happy this night. If my fingers toy with you in caresses, you alone will know them until to-morrow morning; for this night Bilitis has paid Bilitis

By Pierre Louÿs


Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question "Whither?"

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

By Robert Frost


For Carl Solomon


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,

who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,

who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,

who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,

who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night

with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,

incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping towards poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between,

Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,

who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,

who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford's floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi's, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,

who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge,

a lost batallion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon

yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars,

whose intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,

who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall,

suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark's bleak furnished room,

who wandered around and around at midnight in the railway yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,

who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,

who studied Plotinus Poe St John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the universe instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,

who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels who were visionary indian angels,

who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,

who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,

who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa,

who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving nothing behind but the shadow of dungarees and the larva and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,

who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,

who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism, who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,

who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,

who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,

who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,

who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,

who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,

who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,

who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,

who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman's loom,

who copulated ecstatic and insatiate and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,

who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but were prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,

who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver—joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses' rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,

who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hungover with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,

who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open full of steamheat and opium,

who created great suicidal dramas on the appartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,

who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of the Bowery,

who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,

who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts, who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,

who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,

who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,

who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,

who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for an Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade,

who cut their wrists three times successfully unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried,

who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,

who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,

who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to each other's hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch Birmingham jazz incarnation,

who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,

who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,

who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other's salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,

who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,

who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,

who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,

who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturerson Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with the shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy,

and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,

who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,

returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East,

Pilgrim State's Rockland's and Greystone's foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,

with mother finally *****, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 A.M. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger on the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination—

ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you're really in the total animal soup of time—

and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,

who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soulbetween 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus

to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,

the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death,

and rose incarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America's naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio

with the absolute heart of the poem butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.


What sphinx of cement and aluminium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!

Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgement! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!

Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!

Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovas! Moloch whose factories dream and choke in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and antennae crown the cities!

Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!

Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!

Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!

Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisable suburbs! skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks! monstrous bombs!

They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!

Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstacies! gone down the American river!

Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive bullshit!

Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood! Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years' animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!

Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!


Carl Solomon! I'm with you in Rockland

where you're madder than I am

I'm with you in Rockland

where you must feel strange

I'm with you in Rockland

where you imitate the shade of my mother

I'm with you in Rockland

where you've murdered your twelve secretaries

I'm with you in Rockland

where you laugh at this invisible humour

I'm with you in Rockland

where we are great writers on the same dreadful typewriter

I'm with you in Rockland

where your condition has become serious and is reported on the radio

I'm with you in Rockland

where the faculties of the skull no longer admit the worms of the senses

I'm with you in Rockland

where you drink the tea of the breasts of the spinsters of Utica

I'm with you in Rockland

where you pun on the bodies of your nurses the harpies of the Bronx

I'm with you in Rockland

where you scream in a straightjacket that you're losing the game of actual pingpong of the abyss

I'm with you in Rockland

where you bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse

I'm with you in Rockland

where fifty more shocks will never return your soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a cross in the void

I'm with you in Rockland

where you accuse your doctors of insanity and plot the Hebrew socialist revolution against the fascist national Golgotha

I'm with you in Rockland

where you will split the heavens of Long Island and resurrect your living human Jesus from the superhuman tomb

I'm with you in Rockland

where there are twentyfive thousand mad comrades all together singing the final stanzas of the Internationale

I'm with you in Rockland

where we hug and kiss the United States under our bedsheets the United States that coughs all night and won't let us sleep

I'm with you in Rockland

where we wake up electrified out of the coma by our own souls' airplanes roaring over the roof they've come to drop angelic bombs the hospital illuminates itself imaginary walls collapse O skinny legions run outside O starry-spangled shock of mercy the eternal war is here O victory forget your underwear we're free

I'm with you in Rockland

in my dreams you walk dripping from a sea-journey on the highway across America in tears to the door of my cottage in the Western night

By Allen Ginsberg

For the Dead

I dreamed I called you on the telephone
to say: Be kinder to yourself
but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered about the left-over
energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting long after midnight

By Adrienne Rich


I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root;
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was you madness?

Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it.
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallup thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Echoing, echoing.

Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand,a hand of wires.

Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.

The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her.

I let her go. I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.

I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.

I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?

I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches?--

Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.

By Sylvia Plath

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

Wallace Stevens

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches Tigers
In red weather.

By Wallace Stevens


Dread nor hope attend
A dying animal;
A man awaits his end
Dreading and hoping all;
Many times he died,
Many times rose again.
A great man in his pride
Confronting murderous men
Casts derision upon
Supersession of breath;
He knows death to the bone
Man has created death.

By W. B. Yeats

Beggars and Kings

In the evening
all the hours that weren't used
are emptied out
and the beggars are waiting to gather them up
to open them
to find the sun in each one
and teach it its beggar's name
and sing to it It is well
through the night

but each of us
has his own kingdom of pains
and has not yet found them all
and is sailing in search of them day and night
infallible undisputed unresting
filled with a dumb use
and its time
like a finger in a world without hands

In the evening
all the hours that weren't used
are emptied out
and the beggars are waiting to gather them up
to open them
to find the sun in each one
and teach it its beggar's name
and sing to it It is well
through the night

but each of us
has his own kingdom of pains
and has not yet found them all
and is sailing in search of them day and night
infallible undisputed unresting
filled with a dumb use
and its time
like a finger in a world without hands

By W. S. Merwin

Eating Poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

By Mark Doty

If White is The Color

If white is the color
of mourning in Andalusia,
it is a proper custom.
Look at me,
I dress myself in the white
of white hair
in mourning for youth.


To the Reader

To the Reader

Infatuation, sadism, lust, avarice
possess our souls and drain the body's force;
we spoonfeed our adorable remorse,
like whores or beggars nourishing their lice.

Our sins are mulish, our confessions lies;
we play to the grandstand with our promises,
we pray for tears to wash our filthiness;
importantly pissing hogwash through our styes.

The devil, watching by our sickbeds, hissed
old smut and folk-songs to our soul, until
the soft and precious metal of our will
boiled off in vapor for this scientist.

Each day his flattery makes us eat a toad,
and each step forward is a step to hell,
unmoved, through previous corpses and their smell
asphyxiate our progress on this road.

Like the poor lush who cannot satisfy,
we try to force our sex with counterfeits,
die drooling on the deliquescent tits,
mouthing the rotten orange we suck dry.

Gangs of demons are boozing in our brain —
ranked, swarming, like a million warrior-ants,
they drown and choke the cistern of our wants;
each time we breathe, we tear our lungs with pain.

If poison, arson, sex, narcotics, knives
have not yet ruined us and stitched their quick,
loud patterns on the canvas of our lives,
it is because our souls are still too sick.

Among the vermin, jackals, panthers, lice,
gorillas and tarantulas that suck
and snatch and scratch and defecate and fuck
in the disorderly circus of our vice,

there's one more ugly and abortive birth.
It makes no gestures, never beats its breast,
yet it would murder for a moment's rest,
and willingly annihilate the earth.

It's BOREDOM. Tears have glued its eyes together.
You know it well, my Reader. This obscene
beast chain-smokes yawning for the guillotine —
you — hypocrite Reader — my double — my brother!

By Charles Baudelaire