Table of Contents: Jane Hirshfield
Poems About Poetry 2-3
Billy Collins Iraq War Poems – Brian Turner 10
―Introduction to Poetry‖ ―Eulogy‖
William Mathews ―Najaf 1820‖
―A Poetry Reading at West Point‖ ―Ashbah‖
Tom Wayman ―Here, Bullet‖
Billy Collins William Carlos Williams 11
―The Trouble With Poetry‖ ―The Red Wheelbarrow‖
Charles Bukowski ―Danse Russe‖
―Poetry Readings‖ ―Lanscape with the Fall of Icarus‖
―This is Just to Say‖
Poems of Emily Dickinson 4 ―Nantucket‖
#280 Wallace Stevens 12-13
#754 ―The Snowman‖
―Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird‖
Poems About Death 5-6 ―The Rabbit as King of Ghosts‖
Li-Young Lee ―The Emperor of Ice Cream‖
―Little Father‖ ―A Postcard From the Volcano‖
Karen Chase ―Poetry is a Destructive Force‖
―Before She Died‖
Billy Collins Frank O’Hara 14
―Death of the Hat‖ ―A Step Away From Them‖
Richard Braughtigan ―The Day Lady Died‖
―Trout Fishing on the Bevel‖ ―Poem (Lana Turner Has Collapsed)‖
―Tariff‖ Charles Simic 15
Yusef Komunyakaa ―Hotel Insomnia‖
―Facing It‖ ―Evening Walk‖
Poems of Robert Frost 7 ―Late September‖
―For Once, Then Something‖
―In a Disused Graveyard‖ Confessional Poetry 16-17
―Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening‖ Anne Sexton
―Design‖ ―Wanting to Die‖
―The Gift Outright‖ ―For My Lover Gone Back to His Wife‖
―The Oven Bird‖ Sharon Olds
―The Daughter Goes to Camp‖
Poems About Nature 8-9 ―The Unborn‖
―Traveling Through the Dark‖ Allen Ginsberg 18-19
―Supermarket in California‖
Mary Oliver From ―Howl‖
Theodore Roethke Poetry Terms Glossary 20-21
―Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm
in Pine Island, Minnesota‖
―Seen From Above‖
1. Introduction to Poetry like a heavy fabric. My own
Billy Collins head ached. "Sir," he yelled. "Thank you. Sir."
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light 3. The Poet
like a color slide Tom Wayman
or press an ear against its hive. Loses his position on worksheet or page in textbook
May speak much but makes little sense
I say drop a mouse into a poem Cannot give clear verbal instructions
and watch him probe his way out, Does not understand what he reads
Does not understand what he hears
or walk inside the poem's room Cannot handle ―yes-no‖ questions
and feel the walls for a light switch.
Has great difficulty interpreting proverbs
I want them to waterski Has difficulty recalling what he ate for breakfast, etc.
across the surface of a poem Cannot tell a story from a picture
waving at the author's name on the shore. Cannot recognize visual absurdities
But all they want to do Has difficulty classifying and categorizing objects
is tie the poem to a chair with rope Has difficulty retaining such things as
and torture a confession out of it. addition and subtraction facts, or multiplication tables
May recognize a word one day and not the next
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
4. The Trouble With Poetry
2. A Poetry Reading At West Point
William Matthews The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night --
I read to the entire plebe class, cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
in two batches. Twice the hall filled a show of stars in the sky --
with bodies dressed alike, each toting
a copy of my book. What would my the trouble with poetry is
shrink say, if I had one, about that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
such a dream, if it were a dream? more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
Question and answer time. hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.
"Sir," a cadet yelled from the balcony,
and gave his name and rank, and then, And how will it ever end?
closing his parentheses, yelled unless the day finally arrives
"Sir" again. "Why do your poems give when we have compared everything in the world
me a headache when I try to everything else in the world,
to understand them?" he asked. "Do and there is nothing left to do
you want that?" I have a gift for but quietly close our notebooks
gentle jokes to defuse tension, and sit with our hands folded on our desks.
but this was not the time to use it.
"I try to write as well as I can Poetry fills me with joy
what it feels like to be human," and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
I started, picking my way care- and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.
fully, for he and I were, after
all, pained by the same dumb longings. But mostly poetry fills me
"I try to say what I don't know with the urge to write poetry,
how to say, but of course I can't to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
get much of it down at all." to appear at the tip of my pencil.
By now I was sweating bullets. And along with that, the longing to steal,
"I don't want my poems to be hard, to break into the poems of others
unless the truth is, if there is with a flashlight and a ski mask.
a truth." Silence hung in the hall
And what an unmerry band of thieves we are, an elephant's fart in a circus tent,
cut-purses, common shoplifters, a 6 p.m. freeway crush,
I thought to myself the mailman telling a dirty joke
as a cold wave swirled around my feet
and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea, anything
which is an image I stole directly anything
from Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- but
to be perfectly honest for a moment -- these.
the bicycling poet of San Francisco
whose little amusement park of a book
I carried in a side pocket of my uniform
up and down the treacherous halls of high school.
5. Poetry Readings
poetry readings have to be some of the saddest
damned things ever,
the gathering of the clansmen and clanladies,
week after week, month after month, year
getting old together,
reading on to tiny gatherings,
still hoping their genius will be
making tapes together, discs together,
sweating for applause
they read basically to and for
they can't find a New York publisher
but they read on and on
in the poetry holes of America,
never considering the possibility that
their talent might be
thin, almost invisible,
they read on and on
before their mothers, their sisters, their husbands,
their wives, their friends, the other poets
and the handful of idiots who have wandered
I am ashamed for them,
I am ashamed that they have to bolster each other,
I am ashamed for their lisping egos,
their lack of guts.
if these are our creators,
please, please give me something else:
a drunken plumber at a bowling alley,
a prelim boy in a four rounder,
a jock guiding his horse through along the
a bartender on last call,
a waitress pouring me a coffee,
a drunk sleeping in a deserted doorway,
a dog munching a dry bone,
Because I could not stop for Death – My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun -
He kindly stopped for me – In Corners - till a Day
The Carriage held but just Ourselves – The Owner passed - identified -
And Immortality. And carried Me away -
We slowly drove – He knew no haste And now We roam in Sovereign Woods -
And I had put away And now We hunt the Doe -
My labor and my leisure too, And every time I speak for Him -
For His Civility – The Mountains straight reply -
We passed the School, where Children strove And do I smile, such cordial light
At Recess – in the Ring – Upon the Valley glow -
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – It is as a Vesuvian face
We passed the Setting Sun – Had let its pleasure through -
Or rather – He passed us – And when at Night - Our good Day done -
The Dews drew quivering and chill – I guard My Master's Head -
For only Gossamer, my Gown – 'Tis better than the Eider-Duck's
My Tippet – only Tulle – Deep Pillow - to have shared -
We paused before a House that seemed To foe of His - I'm deadly foe -
A Swelling of the Ground – None stir the second time -
The Roof was scarcely visible – On whom I lay a Yellow Eye -
The Cornice – in the Ground – Or an emphatic Thumb -
Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet Though I than He - may longer live
Feels shorter than the Day He longer must - than I -
I first surmised the Horses' Heads For I have but the power to kill,
Were toward Eternity – Without--the power to die--
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading – treading – till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through –
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum –
Kept beating – beating – till I thought
My Mind was going numb –
And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space – began to toll,
As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here –
And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down –
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing – then –
Little Father Death of the Hat
Li-Young Lee Billy Collins
I buried my father Once every man wore a hat.
in the sky.
Since then, the birds In the ashen newsreels,
clean and comb him every morning the avenues of cities
and pull the blanket up to his chin are broad rivers flowing with hats.
The ballparks swelled
I buried my father underground. with thousands of straw hats,
Since then, my ladders brims and bands,
only climb down, rows of men smoking
and all the earth has become a house and cheering in shirtsleeves.
whose rooms are the hours, whose doors
stand open at evening, receiving Hats were the law.
guest after guest. They went without saying.
Sometimes I see past them You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.
to the tables spread for a wedding feast.
You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
I buried my father in my heart. who branded your initials in gold
Now he grows in me, my strange son, on the inside band.
my little root who won’t drink milk,
little pale foot sunk in unheard-of night, Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
little clock spring newly wet Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
in the fire, little grape, parent to the future Men with hats gathered on the docks.
wine, a son the fruit of his own son,
little father I ransom with my life. There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
Before She Died or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
Karen Chase In your office stood a hat rack.
When I look at the sky now, I look at it for you. The day war was declared
As if with enough attention, I could take it in for you. everyone in the street was wearing a hat.
And they were wearing hats
With all the leaves gone almost from when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.
the trees, I did not walk briskly through the field.
My father wore one to work every day
Late today with my dog Wool, I lay down in the upper and returned home
field, carrying the evening paper,
he panting and aged, me looking at the blue. Leaning the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.
on him, I wondered how finite these lustered days But today we go bareheaded
seem into the winter streets,
to you, A stand of hemlock across the lake catches stand hatless on frozen platforms.
my eye. It will take a long time to know how it is Today the mailboxes on the roadside
for you. Like a dog's lifetime -- long -- multiplied by and the spruce trees behind the house
sevens. wear cold white hats of snow.
Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.
And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,
a lighter one of cloud and sky—a hat of wind.
TROUT FISHING ON THE BEVEL and then going outside and casting it up into the sky,
Richard Braughtigan watching it float over clouds and then into the evening
The two graveyards were next to each other on small
hills and between them flowed Graveyard Creek, a
slow-moving, funeral-procession-on-a-hot-day creek Tariff
with a lot of fine trout in it. Michelle Boisseau
And the dead didn't mind me fishing there at all. It takes time to appreciate how I once
One graveyard had tall fir trees growing in it, and the made a friend so unhappy the next night
grass was kept Peter Pan green all year round by on the road from Chauncey to Amesville, Ohio,
pumping water up from the creek, and the graveyard she steered her Fiat Spider head on
had fine marble headstones and statues and tombs. into an on-coming truck. Her boyfriend
identified her waitress uniform.
The other graveyard was for the poor and it had no She’s been dead now for more than twenty years.
trees and the grass turned a flat-tire brown in the What I did to hurt her I won’t tell you—
summer and stayed that way until the rain, like a so you’re free to imagine any vicious,
mechanic, began in the late autumn. self-indulgent, hapless blunder or crime
There were no fancy headstones for the poor dead. while I go about turning this into a poem again,
Their markers were small boards that looked like heels turning over heavy marl, the garden
of stale bread: in spring, and the wind picks up, flinging soil
against my neck, behind my ears, into my teeth.
Devoted Slob Father Of You have to get dirty: what appreciate
means is to price. After living a while
Beloved Worked-to-Death Mother Of you understand the ways you have to pay.
On some of the graves were fruit jars and tin cans Facing it
with wilted flowers in them: Yusef Komunyakaa
Sacred My black face fades,
To the Memory hiding inside the black granite.
of John Talbot I said I wouldn't,
Who at the Age of Eighteen dammit: No tears.
Had His Ass Shot Off In a Honky-Tonk I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
November 1, 1936 like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
This Mayonnaise Jar this way--the stone lets me go.
With Wilted Flowers In It I turn that way--I'm inside
Was Left Here Six Months Ago By His Sister the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
Who Is In to make a difference.
The Crazy Place Now. I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
Eventually the seasons would take care of their my own in letters like smoke.
wooden names like a sleepy short-order cook cracking I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
eggs over a grill next to a railroad station. Whereas the I see the booby trap's white flash.
well-to-do would have their names for a long time Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
written on marble hers d'oeuvres like horses trotting but when she walks away
up the fancy paths to the sky. the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
I fished Graveyard Creek in the dusk when the hatch wings cutting across my stare.
was on and worked some good trout out of there. Only The sky. A plane in the sky.
the poverty of the dead bothered me. A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
Once, while cleaning the trout before I went home in look through mine. I'm a window.
the almost night, I had a vision of going over to the He's lost his right arm
poor graveyard and gathering up grass and fruit jars inside the stone. In the black mirror
and tin cans and markers and wilted flowers and bugs a woman's trying to erase names:
and weeds and clods and going home and putting a No, she's brushing a boy's hair.
hook in the vise and tying a fly with all that stuff
For Once, Then, Something Design
Others taught me with having knelt at well-curbs I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Deeper down in the well than where the water Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Gives me back in a shining surface picture Assorted characters of death and blight
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs. Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb, A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture, And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths--and then I lost it. What had that flower to do with being white,
Water came to rebuke the too clear water. The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom, Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness? What but design of darkness to appall?--
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something. If design govern in a thing so small.
In a Disused Graveyard The Gift Outright (JFK Inaugural Poem)
The living come with grassy tread The land was ours before we were the land's.
To read the gravestones on the hill; She was our land more than a hundred years
The graveyard draws the living still, Before we were her people. She was ours
But never anymore the dead. In Massachusetts, in Virginia.
The verses in it say and say: But we were England's, still colonials,
"The ones who living come today Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
To read the stones and go away Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Tomorrow dead will come to stay." Something we were withholding made us weak.
So sure of death the marbles rhyme, Until we found out that it was ourselves
Yet can't help marking all the time We were withholding from our land of living,
How no one dead will seem to come. And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
What is it men are shrinking from? Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
It would be easy to be clever (The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
And tell the stones: Men hate to die To the land vaguely realizing westward,
And have stopped dying now forever. But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
I think they would believe the lie. Such as she was, such as she would become.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening The Oven Bird
Whose woods these are I think I know. There is a singer everyone has heard,
His house is in the village though; Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
He will not see me stopping here Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
To watch his woods fill up with snow. He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
My little horse must think it queer Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
To stop without a farmhouse near he says the early petal-fall is past
Between the woods and frozen lake When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
The darkest evening of the year. On sunny days a moment overcast;
He gives his harness bells a shake And comes that other fall we name the fall.
To ask if there is some mistake. He says the highway dust is over all.
The only other sound's the sweep The bird would cease and be as other birds
Of easy wind and downy flake. But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. The question that he frames in all but words
But I have promises to keep, Is what to make of a diminished thing.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Traveling through the Dark Her shriveled petals falling
William Stafford On the faded carpet, the stale
Steak grease stuck to her fuzzy leaves.
Traveling through the dark I found a deer (Dried-out, she creaked like a tulip.)
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon: The things she endured!--
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead. The dumb dames shrieking half the night
Or the two of us, alone, both seedy,
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car Me breathing booze at her,
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing; She leaning out of her pot toward the window.
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly. Near the end, she seemed almost to hear me--
And that was scary--
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason— So when that snuffling cretin of a maid
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting, Threw her, pot and all, into the trash-can,
alive, still, never to be born. I said nothing.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
But I sacked the presumptuous hag the next week,
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights; I was that lonely.
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red; Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen. Pine Island, Minnesota
I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river. Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Wild Geese Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Mary Oliver Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
You do not have to be good. Into the distances of the afternoon.
You do not have to walk on your knees To my right,
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. In a field of sunlight between two pines,
You only have to let the soft animal of your body The droppings of last year’s horses
love what it loves. Blaze up into golden stones.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
Meanwhile the world goes on. A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain I have wasted my life.
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees, Living
the mountains and the rivers. Denise Levertov
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again. The fire in leaf and grass
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, so green it seems
the world offers itself to your imagination, each summer the last summer.
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place The wind blowing, the leaves
in the family of things. shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.
Theodore Roethke A red salamander
so cold and so
When I put her out, once, by the garbage pail, easy to catch, dreamily
She looked so limp and bedraggled,
So foolish and trusting, like a sick poodle, moves his delicate feet
Or a wizened aster in late September, and long tail. I hold
I brought her back in again my hand open for him to go.
For a new routine--
Vitamins, water, and whatever Each minute the last minute.
Sustenance seemed sensible
At the time: she'd lived
So long on gin, bobbie pins, half-smoked cigars, dead
Seen From Above
A dead beetle lies on the path through the field.
Three pairs of legs folded neatly on its belly.
Instead of death's confusion, tidiness and order.
The horror of this sight is moderate,
its scope is strictly local, from the wheat grass to the mint.
The grief is quarantined.
The sky is blue.
To preserve our peace of mind, animals die
more shallowly: they aren't deceased, they're dead.
They leave behind, we'd like to think, less feeling and less
departing, we suppose, from a stage less tragic.
Their meek souls never haunt us in the dark,
they know their place,
they show respect.
And so the dead beetle on the path
lies unmourned and shining in the sun.
One glance at it will do for meditation—
clearly nothing much has happened to it.
Important matters are reserved for us,
for our life and death, a death
that always claims the right of way.
A woman tells me
the story of a small wild bird,
beautiful on her window sill, dead three days.
How her daughter cam suddenly running,
―It’s moving, Mommy, he’s alive.‖
And when she went, it was.
The emerald wing-feathers stirred, the throat
seemed to beat again with pulse.
Closer then, she saw how the true life lifted
Under the wings. Turned her face
So her daughter would not see, though she would see.
Eulogy HERE, BULLET
It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 A.M., If a body is what you want,
as tower guards eat sandwiches then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River. Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
Prisoners tilt their heads to the west the aorta's opened valves, the leap
though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them. thought makes at the synaptic gap.
The sound reverberates down concertina coils Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
the way piano wire thrums when given slack. that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun, into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
when Private Miller pulls the trigger what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
to take brass and fire into his mouth: here is where I complete the word you bring
the sound lifts the birds up off the water, hissing through the air, here is where I moan
a mongoose pauses under the orange trees, the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
and nothing can stop it now, no matter what my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices inside of me, each twist of the round
crackle over the radio in static confusion, spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
because if only for this moment the earth is stilled, here is where the world ends, every time.
and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.
PFC B. Miller
(1980-March 22, 2004)
Camel caravans transport the dead
from Persia and beyond, their bodies dried
and wrapped in carpets, their dying wishes
to be buried near Ali,
where the first camel
dragged Ali's body across the desert
tied to the fate of its exhaustion.
Najaf is where the dead naturally go,
where the gates of Paradise open before them
in unbanded light, the blood washed clean
from their bodies.
It is November,
the clouds made of gunpowder and rain,
the earth pregnant with the dead;
cemetery mounds stretching row by row
with room enough yet for what the years
will bring: the gravediggers need only dig,
shovel by shovel.
The ghosts of American soldiers
wander the streets of Balad by night,
unsure of their way home, exhausted,
the desert wind blowing trash
down the narrow alleys as a voice
sounds from the minaret, a soulfull call
reminding them how alone they are,
how lost. And the Iraqi dead,
they watch in silence from rooftops
as date palms line the shore in silhouette,
leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.
The Red Wheelbarrow sweating in the sun
so much depends the wings' wax
a red wheel off the coast
barrow there was
glazed with rain a splash quite unnoticed
water this was
beside the white
This is Just to Say
Danse Russe I have eaten
If when my wife is sleeping that were in
and the baby and Kathleen the icebox
and the sun is a flame-white disc and which
in silken mists you were probably
above shining trees,- saving
if I in my north room for breakfast
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror Forgive me
waving my shirt round my head they were delicious
and singing softly to myself: so sweet
"I am lonely, lonely, and so cold
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face, Nantucket
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,- Flowers through the window
lavender and yellow
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household? changed by white curtains –
Smell of cleanliness –
Landscape With the Fall of Icarus Sunshine of late afternoon –
On the glass tray
According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell a glass pitcher, the tumbler
it was spring turned down, by which
a farmer was ploughing a key is lying – And the
his field immaculate white bed
the whole pageantry
of the year was
the edge of the sea
The Snow Man Crossed it, to and fro.
One must have a mind of winter Traced in the shadow
To regard the frost and the boughs An indecipherable cause.
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice, O thin men of Haddam,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Of the January sun; and not to think Walks around the feet
Of any misery in the sound of the wind, Of the women about you?
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind I know noble accents
That is blowing in the same bare place And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
For the listener, who listens in the snow, That the blackbird is involved
And, nothing himself, beholds In what I know.
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Thirteen Ways of Looking as a Blackbird When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
I Of one of many circles.
Among twenty snowy mountains, X
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the black bird. At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
II Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree XI
In which there are three blackbirds.
He rode over Connecticut
III In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. In that he mistook
It was a small part of the pantomime. The shadow of his equipage
A man and a woman
Are one. The river is moving.
A man and a woman and a blackbird The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
I do not know which to prefer, It was snowing
The beauty of inflections And it was going to snow.
Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird sat
The blackbird whistling In the cedar-limbs.
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
The Rabbit as King of Ghosts A Postcard from the Volcano
The difficulty to think at the end of day, Children picking up our bones
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun Will never know that these were once
And nothing is left except light on your fur— As quick as foxes on the hill;
There was the cat slopping its milk all day, And that in autumn, when the grapes
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk Made sharp air sharper by their smell
And August the most peaceful month. These had a being, breathing frost;
To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time, And least will guess that with our bones
Without that monument of cat, We left much more, left what still is
The cat forgotten on the moon; The look of things, left what we felt
And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light At what we saw. The spring clouds blow
In which everything is meant for you Above the shuttered mansion-house,
And nothing need be explained; Beyond our gate and the windy sky
Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of it- Cries out a literate despair.
self; We knew for long the mansion's look
And east rushes west and west rushes down, And what we said of it became
No matter. The grass is full
A part of what it is . . . Children,
And full of yourself. The trees around are for you, Still weaving budded aureoles,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you, Will speak our speech and never know,
A self that touches all edges,
Will say of the mansion that it seems
You become a self that fills the four corners of As if he that lived there left behind
night. A spirit storming in blank walls,
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up, A dirty house in a gutted world,
A tatter of shadows peaked to white,
You are humped higher and higher, black as Smeared with the gold of the opulent sun.
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass. Poetry is a Destructive Force
That's what misery is,
The Emperor of Ice-Cream Nothing to have at heart.
It is to have or nothing.
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip It is a thing to have,
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. A lion, an ox in his breast,
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress To feel it breathing there.
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers. Corazon, stout dog,
Let be be finale of seem. Young ox, bow-legged bear,
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. He tastes its blood, not spit.
Take from the dresser of deal. He is like a man
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet In the body of a violent beast.
On which she embroidered fantails once Its muscles are his own . . .
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come The lion sleeps in the sun.
To show how cold she is, and dumb. Its nose is on its paws.
Let the lamp affix its beam. It can kill a man.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
A Step Away From Them and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
It's my lunch hour, so I go in Ghana are doing these days
for a walk among the hum-colored
I go on to the bank
cabs. First, down the sidewalk and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
where laborers feed their dirty doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
glistening torsos sandwiches and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
and Coca-Cola, with yellow helmets for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
on. They protect them from falling think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
bricks, I guess. Then onto the Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
avenue where skirts are flipping of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness
above heels and blow up over
grates. The sun is hot, but the and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
cabs stir up the air. I look Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega, and
at bargains in wristwatches. There then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
are cats playing in sawdust. and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatere and
On casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
to Times Square, where the sign of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it
blows smoke over my head, and higher
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
the waterfall pours lightly. A
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
Negro stands in a doorway with a while she whispered a song along the keyboard
toothpick, languorously agitating. to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing.
A blonde chorus girl clicks: he
smiles and rubs his chin. Everything
suddenly honks: it is 12:40 of Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!)
Neon in daylight is a Lana Turner has collapsed!
great pleasure, as Edwin Denby would I was trotting along and suddenly
write, as are light bulbs in daylight. it started raining and snowing
I stop for a cheeseburger at JULIET'S and you said it was hailing
CORNER. Giulietta Masina, wife of but hailing hits you on the head
Federico Fellini, e bell' attrice. hard so it was really snowing and
And chocolate malted. A lady in raining and I was in such a hurry
foxes on such a day puts her poodle to meet you but the traffic
in a cab. was acting exactly like the sky
There are several Puerto and suddenly I see a headline
Ricans on the avenue today, which LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED!
makes it beautiful and warm. First there is no snow in Hollywood
Bunny died, then John Latouche, there is no rain in California
then Jackson Pollack. But is the I have been to lots of parties
earth as full as life was full, of them? and acted perfectly disgraceful
And one has eaten and one walks, but I never actually collapsed
past the magazines with nudes oh Lana Turner we love you get up
and the posters for BULLFIGHT and
the Manhattan Storage Warehouse,
which they'll soon tear down. I
used to think they had the Armory
A glass of papaya juice
and back to work. My heart is in my
pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.
The Day Lady Died
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille Day, yes
it is 1959, and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in East Hampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me
I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
Hotel Insomnia Against Winter
I liked my little hole, The truth is dark under your eyelids.
Its window facing a brick wall. What are you going to do about it?
Next door there was a piano. The birds are silent; there's no one to ask.
A few evenings a month All day long you'll squint at the gray sky.
a crippled old man came to play When the wind blows you'll shiver like straw.
"My Blue Heaven."
A meek little lamb you grew your wool
Mostly, though, it was quiet. Till they came after you with huge shears.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat Flies hovered over open mouth,
Catching his fly with a web Then they, too, flew off like the leaves,
Of cigarette smoke and revery. The bare branches reached after them in vain.
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror. Winter coming. Like the last heroic soldier
Of a defeated army, you'll stay at your post,
At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs. Head bared to the first snow flake.
The "Gypsy" fortuneteller, Till a neighbor comes to yell at you,
Whose storefront is on the corner, You're crazier than the weather, Charlie.
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. Late September
The mail truck goes down the coast
Evening Walk Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
You give the appearance of listening The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
To my thoughts, O trees, And forgets to put it down.
Bent over the road I am walking There is a menace in the air
On a late summer evening Of tragedies in the making.
When every one of you is a steep staircase
The night is slowly descending. Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
The high leaves like my mother's lips You were sure it was some new
Forever trembling, unable to decide, Horror they were reporting,
For there's a bit of wind, So you went out to find out.
And it's like hearing voices, Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
Or a mouth full of muffled laughter, It was only the sea sounding weary
A huge dark mouth we can all fit in After so many lifetimes
Suddenly covered by a hand. Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.
Everything quiet. Light
Of some other evening strolling ahead, This morning, it felt like Sunday.
Long-ago evening of silk dresses, The heavens did their part
Bare feet, hair unpinned and falling. By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Happy heart, what heavy steps you take Or the row of vacant cottages,
As you follow after them in the shadows. Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
The sky at the road's end cloudless and blue. As if they, too, had the shivers.
The night birds like children
Who won't come to dinner.
Lost children in the darkening woods.
Wanting to Die My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
Littleneck clams out of season.
Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage. She is more than that. She is your have to have,
Then the almost unnameable lust returns. has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
Even then I have nothing against life. She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun. has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter's wheel at midday,
But suicides have a special language. set forth three children under the moon,
Like carpenters they want to know which tools. three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,
They never ask why build.
done this with her legs spread out
Twice I have so simply declared myself, in the terrible months in the chapel.
have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy, If you glance up, the children are there
have taken on his craft, his magic. like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.
In this way, heavy and thoughtful, She has also carried each one down the hall
warmer than oil or water, after supper, their heads privately bent,
I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole. two legs protesting, person to person,
her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.
I did not think of my body at needle point.
Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone. I give you back your heart.
Suicides have already betrayed the body. I give you permission --
Still-born, they don't always die, for the fuse inside her, throbbing
but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
that even children would look on and smile. and the burying of her wound --
for the burying of her small red wound alive --
To thrust all that life under your tongue!--
that, all by itself, becomes a passion. for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
Death's a sad Bone; bruised, you'd say, for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother's knee, for the stocking,
and yet she waits for me, year after year, for the garter belt, for the call --
to so delicately undo an old wound,
to empty my breath from its bad prison. the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet, and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon, and answer the call, the curious call.
leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,
She is so naked and singular
leaving the page of the book carelessly open, She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
something unsaid, the phone off the hook Climb her like a monument, step after step.
and the love, whatever it was, an infection. She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.
For My Lover Gone back To His Wife
She is all there.
She was melted carefully down for you
and cast up from your childhood,
cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.
She has always been there, my darling.
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.
Let's face it, I have been momentary.
A luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
The Daughter Goes To Camp
In the taxi alone, home from the airport,
I could not believe you were gone. My palm kept
creeping over the smooth plastic
to find your strong meaty little hand and
squeeze it, find your narrow thigh in the
noble ribbing of the corduroy,
straight and regular as anything in nature, to
find the slack cool cheek of a
child in the heat of a summer morning—
nothing, nothing, waves of bawling
hitting me in hot flashes like some
change of life, some boiling wave
rising in me toward your body, toward
where it should have been on the seat, your
brow curved like a cereal bowl, your
eyes dark with massed crystals like the
magnified scales of a butterfly's wing, the
delicate feelers of your limp hair,
floods of blood rising in my face as I
tried to reassemble the hot
gritty molecules in the car, to
make you appear like a holograph
on the back seat, pull you out of nothing
as I once did—but you were really gone,
the cab glossy as a slit caul out of
which you had slipped, the air glittering
electric with escape as it does in the room at a birth.
Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.
Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell.
Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office
And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.
Supermarket in California – Allen Ginsburg
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman*, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you, Garcia Lorca**, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store
We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in
an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,
what America did you have when Charon*** quit poling his ferry and
you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat
disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
19th Century American Poet
** Fredrico Garcia Lorca, 20th Century Spanish Poet
***In Greek mythology, Charon drove the recently dead across the River Lethe to their final
from ―Howl‖ – Allen Ginsberg
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
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels
staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,…
Metaphor: a comparison:
―My love is a red, red rose.‖
Simile: a comparison using like or as:
―My love is like a red, red rose.‖
Tone: the emotion contained in the poem—angry, sad, happy.
Onomatopoeia: Words that imitate sounds—buzz, bark.
Alliteration: Repetition of consonant sounds:
―He clasps the crag with crooked claws.‖
Assonance: Repetition of vowel sounds:
―All the awful autumns.‖
Meter: Organizing of the words so that each line has a desired beat
―Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?‖
―Shall-I, com-pare, thee-to, a-sum, mer’s day?‖
―ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum?‖
Rhyme: phrases or lines that end with a similar consonant/ vowel sound.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Rhyme Scheme: When the rhyming has a pattern: ABBA, ABABCC
But thy eternal summer shall not fade A
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest; B
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, A
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: B
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, C
So long lives this and this gives life to thee. C
Stanza: Lines of poetry usually gathered into logical or orderly groups:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Theme: The broader idea in the poem: Death, Fame, Love, Sadness…
Free Verse: Poetry with no meter or rhyme scheme.
Personification: To give human qualities to non-human things, critters, and
―The trees seemed to laugh in the breeze
When he fell from the branch.‖
Enjambment: Creating one idea with one line then altering that idea in the next:
―If I stepped out of my body I would break
Elegy: a Poem lamenting the loss of a friend or loved one.
Ode: a poem written to honor or praise someone or something