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*Poem of the day thread

Discussion in 'books, films, TV, radio & writing' started by RubyToogood, Aug 4, 2002.

  1. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Discovery

    The gray path glided before me
    Through cool, green shadows;
    Little leaves hung in the soft air
    Like drowsy moths;
    A group of dark trees, gravely conferring,
    Made me conscious of the gaucherie of sound;
    Farther on, a slim lilac
    Drew me down to her on the warm grass.
    “How sweet is peace!”
    My serene heart said.

    Then, suddenly, in a curve of the road,
    Red tulips!
    A bright battalion, swaying,
    They marched with fluttering flags,
    And gay fifes playing!

    A swift flame leapt in my heart;
    I burned with passion;
    I was tainted with cruelty;
    I wanted to march in the wind,
    To tear the silence with gay music,
    And to slash the sober green
    Until it sobbed and bled.

    The tulips have found me out.

    Florence Ripley Mastin
     
  2. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    "Star Light, Star Bright..."

    Star, that gives a gracious dole,
    What am I to choose?
    Oh, will it be a shriven soul,
    Or little buckled shoes?

    Shall I wish a wedding-ring,
    Bright and thin and round,
    Or plead you send me covering -
    A newly spaded mound?

    Gentle beam, shall I implore
    Gold, or sailing-ships,
    Or beg I hate forevermore
    A pair of lying lips?

    Swing you low or high away,
    Burn you hot or dim;
    My only wish I dare not say -
    Lest you should grant me him.

    Dorothy Parker
     
  3. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    Annabel Lee
    BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
    It was many and many a year ago,
    In a kingdom by the sea,
    That a maiden there lived whom you may know
    By the name of Annabel Lee;
    And this maiden she lived with no other thought
    Than to love and be loved by me.

    I was a child and she was a child,
    In this kingdom by the sea,
    But we loved with a love that was more than love—
    I and my Annabel Lee—
    With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
    Coveted her and me.

    And this was the reason that, long ago,
    In this kingdom by the sea,
    A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
    My beautiful Annabel Lee;
    So that her highborn kinsmen came
    And bore her away from me,
    To shut her up in a sepulchre
    In this kingdom by the sea.

    The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
    Went envying her and me—
    Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
    In this kingdom by the sea)
    That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
    Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

    But our love it was stronger by far than the love
    Of those who were older than we—
    Of many far wiser than we—
    And neither the angels in Heaven above
    Nor the demons down under the sea
    Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

    For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
    And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
    Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
    In her sepulchre there by the sea—
    In her tomb by the sounding sea.
     
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  4. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Dangerous for Girls

    It was the summer of Chandra Levy, disappearing
    from Washington D.C., her lover a Congressman, evasive
    and blow-dried from Modesto, the TV wondering

    in every room in America to an image of her tight jeans and piles
    of curls frozen in a studio pose. It was the summer the only
    woman known as a serial killer, a ten-dollar whore trolling

    the plains of central Florida, said she knew she would
    kill again, murder filled her dreams
    and if she walked in the world, it would crack

    her open with its awful wings. It was the summer that in Texas, another
    young woman killed her five children, left with too many
    little boys, always pregnant. One Thanksgiving, she tried

    to slash her own throat. That summer the Congressman
    lied again about the nature of his relations, or,
    as he said, he couldn’t remember if they had sex that last

    night he saw her, but there were many anonymous girls that summer,
    there always are, who lower their necks to the stone
    and pray, not to God but to the Virgin, herself once

    a young girl, chosen in her room by an archangel.
    Instead of praying, that summer I watched television, reruns of
    a UFO series featuring a melancholic woman detective

    who had gotten cancer and was made sterile by aliens. I watched
    infomercials: exercise machines, pasta makers,
    and a product called Nails Again With Henna,

    ladies, make your nails steely strong, naturally,
    and then the photograph of Chandra Levy
    would appear again, below a bright red number,

    such as 81, to indicate the days she was missing.
    Her mother said, please understand how we’re feeling
    when told that the police don’t believe she will be found alive,

    though they searched the parks and forests
    of the Capitol for the remains and I remembered
    being caught in Tennessee, my tent filled with wind

    lifting around me, tornado honey, said the operator when I called
    in fear. The highway barren, I drove to a truck stop where
    maybe a hundred trucks hummed in pale, even rows

    like eggs in a carton. Truckers paced in the dining room,
    fatigue in their beards, in their bottomless
    cups of coffee. The store sold handcuffs, dirty

    magazines, t-shirts that read, Ass, gas or grass.
    Nobody rides for free, and a bulletin board bore a
    public notice: Jane Doe, found in a refrigerator box

    outside Johnson, TN, her slight measurements and weight.
    The photographs were of her face, not peaceful in death,
    and of her tattoos Born to Run, and J.T. caught in

    scrollworks of roses. One winter in Harvard Square, I wandered
    drunk, my arms full of still warm, stolen laundry, and
    a man said come to my studio and of course I went—

    for some girls, our bodies are not immortal so much as
    expendable, we have punished them or wearied
    from dragging them around for so long and so we go

    wearing the brilliant plumage of the possibly freed
    by death. Quick on the icy sidewalks, I felt thin and
    fleet, and the night made me feel unique in the eyes

    of the stranger. He told me he made sculptures
    of figure skaters, not of the women’s bodies,
    but of the air that whipped around them,

    a study of negative space,
    which he said was the where-we-were-not
    that made us. Dizzy from beer,

    I thought why not step into
    that space? He locked the door behind me.

    Connie Voisine
     
  5. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    A Jelly-Fish

    Visible, invisible,
    A fluctuating charm,
    An amber-colored amethyst
    Inhabits it; your arm
    Approaches, and
    It opens and
    It closes;
    You have meant
    To catch it,
    And it shrivels;
    You abandon
    Your intent—
    It opens, and it
    Closes and you
    Reach for it—
    The blue
    Surrounding it
    Grows cloudy, and
    It floats away
    From you.

    Marianne Moore
     
  6. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    HOME

    no one leaves home unless
    home is the mouth of a shark
    you only run for the border
    when you see the whole city running as well

    your neighbours running faster than you
    breath bloody in their throats
    the boy you went to school with
    who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
    is holding a gun bigger than his body
    you only leave home
    when home won't let you stay.

    no one leaves home unless home chases you
    fire under feet
    hot blood in your belly
    it's not something you ever thought of doing
    until the blade burnt threats into
    your neck
    and even then you carried the anthem under
    your breath
    only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
    sobbing as each mouthful of paper
    made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.

    you have to understand,
    that no one puts their children in a boat
    unless the water is safer than the land
    no one burns their palms
    under trains
    beneath carriages
    no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
    feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
    means something more than journey.
    no one crawls under fences
    no one wants to be beaten
    pitied

    no one chooses refugee camps
    or strip searches where your
    body is left aching
    or prison,
    because prison is safer
    than a city of fire
    and one prison guard
    in the night
    is better than a truckload
    of men who look like your father
    no one could take it
    no one could stomach it
    no one skin would be tough enough

    the
    go home blacks
    refugees
    dirty immigrants
    asylum seekers
    sucking our country dry
    niggers with their hands out
    they smell strange
    savage
    messed up their country and now they want
    to mess ours up
    how do the words
    the dirty looks
    roll off your backs
    maybe because the blow is softer
    than a limb torn off

    or the words are more tender
    than fourteen men between
    your legs
    or the insults are easier
    to swallow
    than rubble
    than bone
    than your child body
    in pieces.
    i want to go home,
    but home is the mouth of a shark
    home is the barrel of the gun
    and no one would leave home
    unless home chased you to the shore
    unless home told you
    to quicken your legs
    leave your clothes behind
    crawl through the desert
    wade through the oceans
    drown
    save
    be hunger
    beg
    forget pride
    your survival is more important

    no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
    saying-
    leave,
    run away from me now
    i dont know what i've become
    but i know that anywhere
    is safer than here.

    Warsan Shire
     
  7. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    When Ecstasy is Inconvenient

    Feign a great calm;
    all gay transport soon ends.
    Chant: who knows—
    flight’s end or flight’s beginning
    for the resting gull?

    Heart, be still.
    Say there is money but it rusted;
    say the time of moon is not right for escape.
    It’s the color in the lower sky
    too broadly suffused,
    or the wind in my tie.

    Know amazedly how
    often one takes his madness
    into his own hands
    and keeps it.

    Lorine Niedecker
     
  8. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Self-Portrait on the Street of an Unnamed Foreign City

    The lettering on the shop window in which
    you catch a glimpse of yourself is in Polish.

    Behind you a man quickly walks by, nearly shouting
    into his cell phone. Then a woman

    at a dreamier pace, carrying a just-bought bouquet
    upside-down. All on a street where pickpockets abound

    along with the ubiquitous smell of something baking.
    It is delicious to be anonymous on a foreign city street.

    Who knew this could be a life, having languages
    instead of relationships, struggling even then,

    finding out what it means to be a woman
    by watching the faces of men passing by.

    I went to distant cities, it almost didn’t matter
    which, so primed was I to be reverent.

    All of them have the beautiful bridge
    crossing a grey, near-sighted river,

    one that massages the eyes, focuses
    the swooping birds that skim the water’s surface.

    The usual things I didn’t pine for earlier
    because I didn’t know I wouldn’t have them.

    I spent so much time alone, when I actually turned lonely
    it was vertigo.

    Myself estranged is how I understood the world.
    My ignorance had saved me, my vices fueled me,

    and then I turned forty. I who love to look and look
    couldn’t see what others did.

    Now I think about currencies, linguistic equivalents, how lopsided they are, while
    my reflection blurs in the shop windows.

    Wanting to be as far away as possible exactly as much as still with you.
    Shamelessly entering a Starbucks (free wifi) to write this.

    Jennifer Grotz
     
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  9. Dillinger4

    Dillinger4 Es gibt Zeit

    Bush's War by Robert Hass

    I typed the brief phrase. "Bush's War,"
    At the top of a sheet of white paper.
    Having some dim intuition of a poem
    Made luminous by reason that would,
    Though I did not have them at hand,
    Set the facts out in an orderly way.
    Berlin is a northerly city. In May
    At the end of the twentieth century
    In the leafy precincts of Dahlem Dorf.
    South of the Grunewald, near Krumme Lanke,
    Spring is northerly, it begins before dawn
    In a racket of bird song. The amsels
    Shiver the sun up as if they were shaking
    A liquid tangle of golden wire. There are two kinds
    Of flowering chestnuts, red and white,
    And the wet pavements are speckled
    With petals from the incandescent spikes
    Of their flowers and shoes at U-bahn stops
    Are flecked with them. Green of holm oaks.
    Birch tassels, the soft green of maples.
    And the odor of lilacs is everywhere.
    At Oscar Helene Heim station a farmer
    Sells white asparagus from a heaped table.
    In a month he'll be selling chanterelles;
    In the month after that, strawberries
    And small, rosy crawfish from the Spree.
    The piles of stalks of the asparagus
    Are startlingly phallic, phallic and tender
    And deathly pale. Their seasonal appearance
    Must be the remnant of some fertility ritual
    Of the German tribes. Steamed, they are the color
    Of old ivory. In May, in restaurants
    They are served on heaped white platters
    With boiled potatoes and parsley butter,
    Or shavings of Parma ham and lemon juice
    Or sorrel and smoked salmon. And,
    Walking home in the slant, widening,
    Brilliant northern light that falls
    On the new-leaved birches and the elms,
    Nightingales singing at the first, subtlest,
    Darkening of dusk, it is a trick of the mind
    That the past seems just ahead of us,
    As if we were being shunted there
    In the surge of a rattling funicular.
    Flash forward: the firebombing of Hamburg,
    Fifty thousand dead in a single night,
    "The children's bodies the next day
    Set in the street in rows like a market
    In charred chicken." Flash forward:
    Firebombing of Tokyo, a hundred thousand
    In a night. Flash forward: forty-five
    Thousand Polish officers slaughtered
    By the Russian Army in the Katyn Woods.
    The work of half a day. Flash forward:
    Two million Russian prisoners of war
    Murdered by the German army all across
    The eastern front, supplies low,
    Winter of 1943. Flash: Hiroshima.
    And then Nagasaki, as if the sentence
    Life is fire and flesh is ash needed
    To be spoken twice. Flash: Auschwitz,
    Dachau, Therienstadt, the train lurching,
    The stomach woozy, past displays of falls
    Of hair, piles of valises, spectacles
    With frames designed to curl delicately
    Around a human ear. Flash;
    The gulags, seven million in Byelorussia
    And Ukraine. In innocent Europe on a night
    In spring, among the light-struck birches,
    Students holding hands. One of them
    Is carrying a novel, the German translation
    Of a slim book by Marguerite Duras
    About a love affair in old Saigon. (Flash:
    Two million Vietnamese, fifty five thousand
    Of the American young, whole races
    Of tropical birds extinct from saturation bombing)
    The kind of book the young love
    To love, about love in time of war.
    Forty five million, all told, in World War II.
    In Berlin, pretty Berlin, in the spring time,
    You are never not wondering how
    It happened, and the people around you
    In the station with chestnut petals on their shoes.
    Children then, or unborn, never not
    Wondering. Is it that we like the kissing
    And bombing together, in prospect
    At least, girls in their flowery dresses?
    Someone will always want to mobilize
    Death on a massive scale for economic
    Domination or revenge. And the task, taken
    As a task, appeals to the imagination.
    The military is an engineering profession.
    Look at boys playing: they love
    To figure out the ways to blow things up.
    But the rest of us have to go along.
    Why do we do it? Certainly there's a rage
    To injure what's injured us. Wars
    Are always pitched to us that way.
    The well-paid news readers read the reasons
    On the air. And we who are injured,
    Or have been convinced that we are injured,
    Are always identified with virtue. It's that--
    The rage to hurt mixed with self-righteousness
    And fear--that's murderous.
    The young Arab depilated himself
    As an act of purification before he drove
    The plane into the office building. It's not
    Just violence, it's a taste for power
    That amounts to loathing for the body.
    Perhaps it's this that permits people to believe
    That the dead women in the rubble of Baghdad
    Who did not cast a vote for their deaths
    Or the glimpse afforded them before they died
    Of the raw white of the splintered bones
    In the bodies of their men or their children
    Are being given the gift of freedom
    Which is the virtue of their injured killers.
    It's hard to say which is worse about this,
    The moral sloth of it or the intellectual disgrace.
    And what good are our judgments to the dead?
    And death the cleanser, Walt Whitman's
    Sweet death, the scourer, the tender
    Lover, shutter of eyelids, turns
    The heaped bodies into summer fruit,
    Magpies eating dark berries in the dusk
    And birch pollen staining sidewalks
    To the faintest gold. Bald nur--Goethe--no,
    Warte nur, bald ruhest du auch. Just wait.
    You will be quiet soon enough. In Dahlem,
    Under the chestnuts, in the leafy spring.
     
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  10. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    One for the dark Autumn season from William Shakespeare....

    That time of year thou mayst in me behold
    When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
    Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
    Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
    In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
    As after sunset fadeth in the west;
    Which by and by black night doth take away,
    Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
    In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
    That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
    As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
    Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
    This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
    To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
     
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  11. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    8 a.m.

    I am cycling, in a sensible, bright coat.
    A girl comes pedalling quickly by, looose shawls
    skidding from shoulders, hitched skirts, silver pumps.
    I was that girl. O may she ride her falls.

    Alison Brackenbury
     
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  12. 8115

    8115 sitting down is bad for you

    Peace Poem

    Oliver Bernard


    waking at five or so to white

    sky and various bird beginnings

    from exhausting dreams of past

    emotional encounters I can

    rest at last in a small room

    lying still considering

    whether to go back to sleep

    seeing the sky go colours of

    sunrise I begin to wonder

    how the tree looks and the wall

    downstairs in the shadow of

    the houses sleepers lie asleep

    in Kenninghall in Diss in Mellis

    bliss behind the children's eyelids

    all alone in morning silence

    what is peace if it is not

    loving indiscriminately

    others? Watching over all

    human sleep and knowing there's

    no need and every need to do so?

    what is peace but watching while

    being loved and cared for by

    the very clouds and trees

    and grass

    nourishing earth and candid sky

    breakneck rivers rising tides?

    newspapers at seven o'clock

    are laying on the day the grey

    word of war and world of worry

    all I want's a weather forecast

    promising there'll be more weather
     
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  13. killer b

    killer b Gazing vacantly at a plate of mince

    'The Book of my Enemy Has Been Remaindered'
    The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I am pleased.
    In vast quantities it has been remaindered
    Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
    And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
    My enemy's much-prized effort sits in piles
    In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
    Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
    One passes down reflecting on life's vanities,
    Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
    Lavished to no avail upon one's enemy's book --
    For behold, here is that book
    Among these ranks and banks of duds,
    These ponderous and seeminly irreducible cairns
    Of complete stiffs.


    The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I rejoice.
    It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion
    Beneath the yoke.
    What avail him now his awards and prizes,
    The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,
    His individual new voice?
    Knocked into the middle of next week
    His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys
    The sinker, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
    The Edsels of the world of moveable type,
    The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
    The unbudgeable turkeys.


    Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
    Bathes in the blare of the brightly jacketed Hitler's War Machine,
    His unmistakably individual new voice
    Shares the same scrapyart with a forlorn skyscraper
    Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook,
    His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed by others,
    His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretense,
    Is there with Pertwee's Promenades and Pierrots--
    One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,
    And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,
    His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,
    His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one
    With Barbara Windsor's Book of Boobs,
    A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
    "My boobs will give everyone hours of fun".


    Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
    Though not to the monumental extent
    In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
    To the book of my enemy,
    Since in the case of my own book it will be due
    To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error--
    Nothing to do with merit.
    But just supposing that such an event should hold
    Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset
    By the memory of this sweet moment.
    Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
    The book of my enemy has been remaindered
    And I am glad.


    Clive James
     
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  14. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    Girls and boys, come out to play,
    The moon doth shine as bright as day;
    Leave your supper and leave your sleep
    And join your playfellows into the street.
    Come with a whoop, come with a call,
    Come with a good will or not at all.
    Up the ladder and down the wall,
    A halfpenny roll will serve us all.
    You find milk, and I'll find flour,
    And we'll have a pudding in half an hour.
     
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  15. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    The Rum Tum Tugger - T S Elliot

    The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:
    If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
    If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
    If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house.
    If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
    If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse.
    Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat--
    And there isn't any call for me to shout it:
    For he will do
    As he do do
    And there's no doing anything about it!

    The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
    When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
    He's always on the wrong side of every door,
    And as soon as he's at home, then he'd like to get about.
    He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
    But he makes such a fuss if he can't get out.

    Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat--
    And there isn't any use for you to doubt it:
    For he will do
    As he do do
    And there's no doing anything about it!

    The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious beast:
    His disobliging ways are a matter of habit.
    If you offer him fish then he always wants a feast;
    When there isn't any fish then he won't eat rabbit.
    If you offer him cream then he sniffs and sneers,
    For he only likes what he finds for himself;

    So you'll catch him in it right up to the ears,
    If you put it away on the larder shelf.
    The Rum Tum Tugger is artful and knowing,
    The Rum Tum Tugger doesn't care for a cuddle;
    But he'll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing,
    For there's nothing he enjoys like a horrible muddle.
    Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat--
    And there isn't any need for me to spout it:
    For he will do
    As he do do
    And theres no doing anything about it!
     
  16. ShiftyBagLady

    ShiftyBagLady Thinks she is a flower to be looked at

    Well. I have found another new favourite poem :)

    Toward the Solstice

    by Adrienne Rich

    The thirtieth of November.
    Snow is starting to fall.
    A peculiar silence is spreading
    over the fields, the maple grove.
    It is the thirtieth of May,
    rain pours on ancient bushes, runs
    down the youngest blade of grass.
    I am trying to hold in one steady glance
    all the parts of my life.
    A spring torrent races
    on this old slanting roof,
    the slanted field below
    thickens with winter’s first whiteness.
    Thistles dried to sticks in last year’s wind
    stand nakedly in the green,
    stand sullenly in the slowly whitening field.

    My brain glows
    more violently, more avidly
    the quieter, the thicker
    the quilt of crystals settles,
    the louder, more relentlessly
    the torrent beats itself out
    on the old boards and shingles.
    It is the thirtieth of May,
    the thirtieth of November,
    a beginning or an end,
    we are moving into the solstice
    and there is so much here
    I still do not understand.
    If I could make sense of how
    my life is still tangled
    with dead weeds, thistles,
    enormous burdocks, burdens
    slowly shifting under
    this first fall of snow,
    beaten by this early, racking rain
    calling all new life to declare itself strong
    or die,

    if I could know
    in what language to address
    the spirits that claim a place
    beneath these low and simple ceilings,
    tenants that neither speak nor stir
    yet dwell in mute insistence
    till I can feel utterly ghosted in this house.

    If history is a spider-thread
    spun over and over though brushed away
    it seems I might some twilight
    or dawn in the hushed country light
    discern its grayness stretching
    from molding or doorframe, out
    into the empty dooryard
    and following it climb
    the path into the pinewoods,
    tracing from tree to tree
    in the failing light, in the slowly
    lucidifying day
    its constant, purposive trail,
    til I reach whatever cellar hole
    filling with snowflakes or lichen,
    whatever fallen shack
    or unremembered clearing
    I am meant to have found
    and there, under the first or last
    star, trusting to instinct
    the words would come to mind
    I have failed or forgotten to say
    year after year, winter
    after summer, the right rune
    to ease the hold of the past
    upon the rest of my life
    and ease my hold on the past.

    If some rite of separation
    is still unaccomplished
    between myself and the long-gone
    tenants of this house,
    between myself and my childhood,
    and the childhood of my children,
    it is I who have neglected
    to perform the needed acts,
    set water in corners, light and eucalyptus
    in front of mirrors,
    or merely pause and listen
    to my own pulse vibrating
    lightly as falling snow,
    relentlessly as the rainstorm,
    and hear what it has been saying.
    It seems I am still waiting
    for them to make some clear demand
    some articulate sound or gesture,
    for release to come from anywhere
    but from inside myself.

    A decade of cutting away
    dead flesh, cauterizing
    old scars ripped open over and over
    and still it is not enough.
    A decade of performing
    the loving humdrum acts
    of attention to this house
    transplanting lilac suckers,
    washing panes, scrubbing
    wood-smoke from splitting paint,
    sweeping stairs, brushing the thread
    of the spider aside,
    and so much yet undone,
    a woman’s work, the solstice nearing,
    and my hand still suspended
    as if above a letter
    I long and dread to close.

    (1977)
     
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  17. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

  18. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    To Hope

    WHEN by my solitary hearth I sit,
    When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
    And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
    Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
    And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

    Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
    Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
    Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
    And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
    Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
    And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof.

    Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
    Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
    When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
    Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
    Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
    And fright him as the morning frightens night!

    Whene’er the fate of those I hold most dear
    Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
    O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
    Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
    Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
    And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

    Should e’er unhappy love my bosom pain,
    From cruel parents, or relentless fair;
    O let me think it is not quite in vain
    To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
    Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
    And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

    In the long vista of the years to roll,
    Let me not see our country’s honour fade:
    O let me see our land retain her soul,
    Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom’s shade.
    From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed—
    Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

    Let me not see the patriot’s high bequest,
    Great Liberty! how great in plain attire!
    With the base purple of a court oppress’d,
    Bowing her head, and ready to expire:
    But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings
    That fill the skies with silver glitterings!

    And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
    Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
    Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
    So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
    Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
    Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

    John Keats
     
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  19. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Bagpipe Music

    It’s no go the merrygoround, it’s no go the rickshaw,
    All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
    Their knickers are made of crêpe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
    Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with heads of bison.

    John MacDonald found a corpse, put it under the sofa,
    Waited till it came to life and hit it with a poker,
    Sold its eyes for souvenirs, sold its blood for whisky,
    Kept its bones for dumb-bells to use when he was fifty.

    It’s no go the Yogi-Man, it’s no go Blavatsky,
    All we want is a bank balance and a bit of skirt in a taxi.

    Annie MacDougall went to milk, caught her foot in the heather,
    Woke to hear a dance record playing of Old Vienna.
    It’s no go your maidenheads, it’s no go your culture,
    All we want is a Dunlop tyre and the devil mend the puncture.

    The Laird o’Phelps spent Hogmanay declaring he was sober,
    Counted his feet to prove the fact and found he had one foot over.
    Mrs Carmichael had her fifth, looked at the job with repulsion,
    Said to the midwife ‘Take it away; I’m through with
    over-production’.

    It’s no go the gossip column, it’s no go the Ceilidh,
    All we want is a mother’s help and a sugar-stick for the baby.

    Willie Murray cut his thumb, couldn’t count the damage,
    Took the hide of an Ayrshire cow and used it for a bandage.
    His brother caught three hundred cran when the seas were lavish,
    Threw the bleeders back in the sea and went upon the parish.

    It’s no go the Herring Board, it’s no go the Bible,
    All we want is a packet of fags when our hands are idle.

    It’s no go the picture palace, it’s no go the stadium,
    It’s no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
    It’s no go the Government grants, it’s no go the elections,
    Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.

    It’s no go my honey love, it’s no go my poppet;
    Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
    The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall forever,
    But if you break the bloody glass you won’t hold up the weather.

    Louis MacNeice
     
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  20. Santino

    Santino lovelier than lovely

    Five Hundred Mile

    When I awauken from my rest
    I ken ye’ll be there at my breast
    When I fare abroad, I ken that thee
    Will fare abroad along wi’ me.
    When rairin fou and in my cups
    I ken ye’ll match me, sup for sup
    And if I haver, and speak no matter,
    It’s to ye, I’ll gab and yatter.

    For anely to proclaim my luve,
    Five hundred mile I’d gae.
    And to foonder at your door,
    I’d walk five hundred mae.

    When I’m sweitin wi’ ma trauchle,
    It’s for thee that I strauchle.
    And when I ha’ my penny-fee,
    Near every penny goes to thee.
    When hame-throu my journey tak me
    If ye be there, then hame’ll dae me.
    And if I come an eildit man,
    I ken we’ll grow auld, hand in hand.

    For anely to proclaim my luve,
    Five hundred mile I’d gae.
    And to foonder at your door,
    I’d walk five hundred mae.

    When I’m on ma lane and lanesome,
    It’s for want of ye I’m waesome.
    When in ma bed I lie a-sleeping,
    It’s days with ye that fill ma dreaming.

    For anely to proclaim my luve,
    Five hundred mile I’d gae.
    And to foonder at your door,
    I’d walk five hundred mae.
     
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  21. YouSir

    YouSir Look out Laika, it's Earth.

    Treading through technicolour
    with monochrome feet
    bringing dull grey-tone with each step
    as if all vivid shades
    were an infection
    killed by unintended antibodies
    purging the sickness of vision
    before the choice is made
    to live it or not

    Eventually birthing paralysis
    as the only kind reaction
    to this blinding arrangement

    Judged by a higher voice
    a Super Ego
    unwilling to let the Id eyes open
    but damning of ego’s claim to dull hues

    And in the distance You
    scouring all in a victimless war
    of colours
    acidic
    striking
    raw
    and infinite

    Fought for a goal set out of our reach
    set against capacity
    and beyond even love

    A liberation from self-inflicted darkness
    made impossible by now rooted feet
    a perfect mockery
    that though all voices desire
    none can step towards
    because the granite and the charcoal path
    has killed too much already
    for the murder of more spectral lights
    to be a price worth paying
     
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  22. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    One Art

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    – Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

    Elizabeth Bishop
     
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  23. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    A lyric for this very evening.....

    CEREMONIES FOR CANDLEMAS EVE I
    by Robert Herrick
    DOWN with the Rosemary and Bays,
    Down with the Misletoe ;
    Instead of Holly, now up-raise
    The greener Box (for show).

    The Holly hitherto did sway ;
    Let Box now domineer
    Until the dancing Easter day,
    Or Easter's eve appear.

    Then youthful Box which now hath grace
    Your houses to renew ;
    Grown old, surrender must his place
    Unto the crisped Yew.

    When Yew is out, then Birch comes in,
    And many flowers beside ;
    Both of a fresh and fragrant kin
    To honour Whitsuntide.

    Green rushes, then, and sweetest bents,
    With cooler oaken boughs,
    Come in for comely ornaments
    To re-adorn the house.
    Thus times do shift ; each thing his turn does hold ;
    New things succeed, as former things grow old.

    CEREMONY FOR CANDLEMAS EVE II
    Down with the Rosemary, and so
    Down with the Bays and Misletoe ;
    Down with the Holly, Ivy, all,
    Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall :
    That so the superstitious find
    No one least branch there left behind :
    For look, how many leaves there be
    Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
    So many goblins you shall see.
     
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  24. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    It was somewhere in September and the sun was going down,
    When I came in search of copy to a Darling-River town:
    ‘Come-and -Have -a-Drink’ we’ll call it, ’tis a fitting name, I think
    And ’twas raining, for a wonder, up at Come-and-Have-a-Drink.

    'Neath the public-house verandah, I was resting on a bunk
    When a stranger rose before me and he said that he was drunk;
    He apologised for speaking; there was no offence, he swore;
    But he somehow seemed to fancy that he’d seen my face before.

    ‘No erfence,’ he said. I told him that he needn’t mention it,
    For I might have met him somewhere: I had travelled round a bit,
    And I knew a lot of fellows in the Bush and in the streets
    But a fellow can’t remember all the fellows that he meets.

    Very old and thin and dirty were the garments that he wore,
    Just a shirt and pair of trousers, and a boot, and nothing more;
    He was wringing-wet and, really, in a sad and sinful plight,
    And his hat was in his left hand, and a bottle in his right.

    His brow was broad and roomy, but its lines were somewhat harsh,
    And a sensual mouth was hidden by a drooping, fair moustache;
    (His hairy chest was open to what poets called the “wined”,
    And I would have bet a thousand that his pants were gone behind).

    He agreed: “Yer can’t remember all the chaps yer chance to meet,”
    And he said his name was Sweeney — people lived in Sussex-street.
    He was campin’ in a stable, but he swore that he was right,
    “Only for the blanky horses walkin’ over him all night.”

    He’d apparently been fighting, for his face was black-and-blue,
    And he looked as though the horses had been treading on him, too;
    But an honest, genial twinkle in the eye that wasn’t hurt
    Seemed to hint of something better, spite of drink and rags and dirt.

    It appeared that he mistook me for a long-lost mate of his
    One of whom I was the image, both in figure and in phiz
    (He’d have had a letter from him if the chap were living still,
    For they’d carried swags together from the Gulf to Broken Hill).

    Sweeney yarned awhile, and hinted that his folks were doing well,
    And he told me that his father kept the Southern Cross Hotel:
    And I wondered if his absence was regarded as a loss
    When he left the elder Sweeney landlord of the Southern Cross.

    He was born in Parramatta, and he said, with humour grim,
    That he’d like to see the city ere the liquor finished him,
    But he couldn’t raise the money. He was damned if he could think
    What the Government was doing. Here he offered me a drink.

    I declined, ’twas self-denial and I lectured him on booze,
    Using all the hackneyed arguments that preachers mostly use;
    Things I’d heard in temperance lectures (I was young and rather green),
    And I ended by referring to the man he might have been.

    Then a wise expression struggled with the bruises on his face,
    Though his argument had scarcely any bearing on the case:
    “What’s the good o’ keepin’ sober? Fellers rise and fellers fall;
    What I might have been and wasn’t doesn’t trouble me at all.”

    But he couldn’t stay to argue, for his beer was nearly gone.
    He was glad, he said, to meet me, and he’d see me later on,
    But he guessed he’d have to go and get his bottle filled again:
    And he gave a lurch and vanished in the darkness and the rain.

    And of afternoons in cities, when the rain is on the land,
    Visions come to me of Sweeney with his bottle in his hand,
    With the stormy night behind him, and the pub veranda-post
    And I wonder why he haunts me more than any other ghost.

    Still I see the shearers drinking at the township in the scrub,
    And the Army praying nightly at the door of every pub,
    And the girls who flirt and giggle with the bushmen from the West
    But the memory of Sweeney overshadows all the rest.

    Well, perhaps it isn’t funny; there were links between us two
    He had memories of cities, he had been a jackeroo;
    And, perhaps, his face forewarned me of a face that I might see
    From a bitter cup reflected in the wretched days to be.

    I suppose he’s tramping somewhere where the bushmen carry swags,
    Cadging round the wretched stations with his empty tucker-bags
    And I fancy that of evenings, when the track is growing dim,
    What he ‘might have been and wasn’t’ comes along and troubles him.

    Henry Parsons
     
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  25. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    February 29

    An extra day—

    Like the painting’s fifth cow,
    who looks out directly,
    straight toward you,
    from inside her black and white spots.

    An extra day—

    Accidental, surely:
    the made calendar stumbling over the real
    as a drunk trips over a threshold
    too low to see.

    An extra day—

    With a second cup of black coffee.
    A friendly but businesslike phone call.
    A mailed-back package.
    Some extra work, but not too much—
    just one day’s worth, exactly.

    An extra day—

    Not unlike the space
    between a door and its frame
    when one room is lit and another is not,
    and one changes into the other
    as a woman exchanges a scarf.

    An extra day—

    Extraordinarily like any other.
    And still
    there is some generosity to it,
    like a letter re-readable after its writer has died.

    Jane Hirshfield
     
  26. butchersapron

    butchersapron blood on the walls

    The Temeraire

    The gloomy hulls, in armor grim,
    Like clouds o'er moors have met,
    And prove that oak, and iron, and man
    Are tough in fibre yet.

    But Splendors wane. The sea-fight yields
    No front of old display;
    The garniture, emblazonment,
    And heraldry all decay.

    Towering afar in parting light,
    The fleets like Albion's forelands shine--
    The full-sailed fleets, the shrouded show
    Of Ships-of-the-Line.

    The fighting Temeraire,
    Built of a thousand trees,
    Lunging out her lightnings,
    And beetling o'er the seas--
    O Ship, how brave and fair,
    That fought so oft and well,
    On open decks you manned the gun
    Armorial.
    What cheering did you share,
    Impulsive in the van,
    When down upon leagued France and Spain
    We English ran--
    The freshet at your bowsprit
    Like the foam upon the can.
    Bickering, your colors
    Licked up the Spanish air,
    You flapped with flames of battle-flags--
    Your challenge, Temeraire!
    The rear ones of our fleet
    They yearned to share your place,
    Still vying with the Victory
    Throughout that earnest race--
    The Victory, whose Admiral,
    With orders nobly won,
    Shone in the globe of the battle glow--
    The angel in that sun.
    Parallel in story,
    Lo, the stately pair,
    As late in grapple ranging,
    The foe between them there--
    When four great hulls lay tiered,
    And the fiery tempest cleared,
    And your prizes twain appeared,
    Temeraire!

    But Trafalgar' is over now,
    The quarter-deck undone;
    The carved and castled navies fire
    Their evening-gun.
    O, Tital Temeraire,
    Your stern-lights fade away;
    Your bulwarks to the years must yield,
    And heart-of-oak decay.
    A pigmy steam-tug tows you,
    Gigantic, to the shore--
    Dismantled of your guns and spars,
    And sweeping wings of war.
    The rivets clinch the iron-clads,
    Men learn a deadlier lore;
    But Fame has nailed your battle-flags--
    Your ghost it sails before:
    O, the navies old and oaken,
    O, the Temeraire no more!

    Melville
     
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  27. Greebo

    Greebo 'scuse me, Mrs May, can I have my country back? R.I.P.

    Original extended poem from "When a good man goes to war"

    Demons run when a good man goes to war
    Night will fall and drown the sun when a good man goes to war
    Friendship dies and true love lies
    Night will fall and the dark will rise when a good man goes to war
    Demons run but count the cost
    The battle’s won but the child is lost
    The fight goes on but what’s it for when a good man goes to war
    Now rise the sun, now dawn the day
    When good men run and women stay
    When battle’s done and nothing’s won
    It’s a woman’s work to say
    Well then, soldier, how goes the day?

    Steven Moffat
     
  28. Dillinger4

    Dillinger4 Es gibt Zeit

    The wily shafts of state, those jugglers’ tricks,
    Which we call deep designs and politics,
    (As in a theatre the ignorant fry,
    Because the cords escape their eye,
    Wonder to see the motions fly) (…)
    Methinks, when you expose the scene,
    Down the ill-organ’d engines fall;
    Off fly the vizards, and discover all:
    How plain I see through the deceit!
    How shallow, and how gross, the cheat!
    Look where the pulley’s tied above! (…)
    On what poor engines move
    The thoughts of monarchs and designs of states!
    What petty motives rule their fates! (…)
    Away the frighten'd peasants fly,
    Scared at the unheard-of prodigy (…)
    Lo! it appears!
    See how they tremble! how they quake!

    Swift, “Ode to the Honorable Sir William Temple,” 1689
     
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  29. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
    Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
    Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
    There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
    And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

    I will arise and go now, for always night and day
    I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
    While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
    I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
     
  30. Dillinger4

    Dillinger4 Es gibt Zeit

    Eyes-Shut Facing Eyes-Rolling-Around" [excerpt] by Rumi

    Pay close attention to your mean thoughts.

    That sourness may be a blessing,
    as an overcast day brings rain for the roses
    and relief to dry soil.

    Don't look so sourly on your sourness!
    It may be it's carrying what you most deeply need
    and want. What seems to be keeping you from joy
    may be what leads you to joy.

    Don't call it a dead branch.
    Call it the live, moist root.

    Don't always be waiting to see
    what's behind it. That wait and see
    poisons your Spirit.

    Reach for it.
    Hold your meanness to your chest
    as a healing root,
    and be through with waiting.
     
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