Masterpieces of Connection by wanghonghx


									     Human voices wake us

                 A Year 11 Poetry Anthollogy
                 A Year 11 Poetry Antho ogy

(With links to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Gattaca, & Macbeth)
      TITLE                                  Author                           Page
1.    KUBLA KHAN                             S. T. Coleridge       …………………………………4

2.    LONDON                                 William Blake         …………………………………6

3.    NU-PLASTIK FANFARE RED                 Judith Rodriguez      …………………………………6

4.    DESIGN                                 Robert Frost          …………………………………7

5.    THE FISH                               Elizabeth Bishop      …………………………………8

6.    THE CAGED SKYLARK                      Gerard Manley Hopkins …………………………………9

7.    SONNET 60: Like as the waves…          William Shakespeare   …………………………………9

8.    SONNET 94: They that have power…       William Shakespeare   …………………………………9

9.    ODE ON MELANCHOLY                      John Keats            …………………………………10

10. I FELT A FUNERAL IN MY BRAIN             Emily Dickinson       …………………………………11

11. NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING                  Stevie Smith          …………………………………11

12. MUSÉE DES BEAUX ARTS                     W. H. Auden           …………………………………12

13. WAKING IN THE BLUE                       Robert Lowell         …………………………………13

14. MEMORIES OF WEST ST. AND LEPKE           Robert Lowell         …………………………………14

15. SKUNK HOUR                               Robert Lowell         …………………………………15

16. MUCH MADNESS IS DIVINEST SENSE           Emily Dickinson       …………………………………17

17. GOOD GIRL                                Kim Addonizio         …………………………………17

18. PORPHYRIA’S LOVER                        Robert Browning       …………………………………18

19. THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK      T. S. Eliot           …………………………………19

20. HOMECOMING                               Bruce Dawe            …………………………………22

21. THE ROCK-THROWER                         Bruce Dawe            …………………………………22

22. A HANDFUL                                Geoff Goodfellow      …………………………………24

23. EVE TO HER DAUGHTERS                     Judith Wright         …………………………………25

24. MUSHROOMS                                Sylvia Plath          …………………………………27

25. TULIPS                                   Sylvia Plath          …………………………………28

26. THE APPLICANT                            Sylvia Plath          …………………………………30

27. COUPLES                                  Kate Jennings         …………………………………31

28. HOLY SONNET 10: Death be not proud       John Donne            …………………………………31

29.   ‘OUT, OUT — ‘                          Robert Frost          …………………………………32
     KUBLA KHAN                                             by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    OR, A VISION IN A DREAM:*                         (*see Coleridge’s published note, below)
                     +                               +
        A FRAGMENT                                  ( see Coleridge’s manuscript note, below)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.                                                                  5
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,                                                10
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
    But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
    Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
    A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e‘er beneath a waning moon was haunted                                              15
    By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
    And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
    As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
    A mighty fountain momently was forced:
    Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst                                                20
    Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
    Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher‘s flail:
    And ‗mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
    It flung up momently the sacred river.
    Five miles meandering with a mazy motion                                               25
    Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
    Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
    And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
    And ‗mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
    Ancestral voices prophesying war!                                                      30
    The shadow of the dome of pleasure
    Floated midway on the waves;
    Where was heard the mingled measure
    From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,                                                           35
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid,
    And on her dulcimer she played,                                                        40
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight ‗twould win me,

That with music loud and long,                                                                                      45
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!                                                                               50
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Coleridge’s note, published with the poem
The following fragment is here published at the request of a poet of great and deserved celebrity [Lord Byron],
and, as far as the Author‘s own opinions are concerned, rather as a psychological curiosity, than on the ground of
any supposed poetic merits.
In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock
and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an
anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was
reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in Purchas’s Pilgrimage: ``Here the Khan Kubla
commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed
with a wall.‘‘ The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses,
during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three
hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a
parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On
awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper,
instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out
by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to
his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general
purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed
away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after
restoration of the latter!
     Is broken—all that phantom-world so fair
     Vanishes, and a thousand circlets spread,
     And each mis-shape the other. Stay awile,
     Poor youth! who scarcely dar‘st lift up thine eyes—
     The stream will soon renew its smoothness, soon
     The visions will return! And lo, he stays,
     And soon the fragments dim of lovely forms
     Come trembling back, unite, and now once more
     The pool becomes a mirror.
Yet from the still surviving recollections in his mind, the Author has frequently purposed to finish for himself what
had been originally, as it were, given to him. But the to-morrow is yet to come.
As a contrast to this vision, I have annexed a fragment of a very different character, describing with equal fidelity
the dream of pain and disease.

STC’s note on a manuscript copy
This fragment with a good deal more, not recoverable, composed, in a sort of Reverie brought on by two grains of
Opium taken to check a dysentery, at a Farm House between Porlock & Linton, a quarter of a mile from Culbone
Church, in the fall of the year, 1797.

One of STC’s sources
From William Bartram (1739-1823) record of his travels to America, Travels, published 1792:
... in front, just under my feet, was the enchanting and amazing crystal fountain which incessantly threw up from
dark rocky caverns below, tons of water every minute, forming a basin, capacious enough for large shallops to ride
in, and a creek of four or five feet depth of water and near twenty yards over, which meanders six miles through
green meadows, ... directly opposite to the mouth or outlet of the creek, is a continual and amazing ebullition
where the waters are thrown up in such abundance and amazing force, as to jet and swell up two or three feet
above the common surface: white sand and small particles of shells are thrown up with the waters near to the top,
... The ebullition is astonishing and continual, though its greatest force of fury intermits, regularly, for the space of
thiry seconds of time: ...

LONDON                                                    by William Blake

I wander thro‘ each charter‘d street,
Near where the charter‘d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,                         5
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg‘d manacles I hear

How the Chimney-sweepers cry
Every blackning Church appalls,                   10
And the hapless Soldiers sigh,
Runs in blood down Palace walls

But most thro‘ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlots curse
Blasts the new-born Infants tear                  15
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse

NU-PLASTIK FANFARE RED                                 by Judith Rodriguez

I declare myself:
I am painting my room red.
Because they haven‘t any
flat red suitable for interiors,
because their acres of colour-card                                      5
are snowy with daylight only,
because it will look like Danger! Explosives,
or would you prefer a basement cabaret?
A decent home where Italians moved in,
Como perhaps (yes, I‘ve gilded the mirror)                              10
or simply infernal –

I rejoice to be doing it
with quick-drying plastic,
for small area decoration.
I tear at the wall, brush speeding:                                     15
let‘s expand this limited stuff!
It dries impetuously in patches,
I at the edges too late scrub; this is a fight.
I sought the conditions,
and the unbroken wall is yet to come.                                   20
Clear stretches screech into clots,
streak into smokiness.

Botched job this, my instant
hell! and no re-sale value, Dad;
cliché too. Well, too bad.                                         25
It‘s satisfying tto note
this mix is right for pottery.
Good glad shock of seeing
that red-figure vases are.
Not 4th-edition-earthy, but stab-colour,                           30
new vine, red-Attis-flower, the full howl.
My inward amphora!

Even thus shyly to surface:
up we go red, flag-balloon,
broomstick-rocket!                                                 35
Brandishing blood and fire, pumping
lungs external as leaves!
This is a red land, sour
with blood it has not shed,
money not lost, risks evaded,                                      40
blood it has forgotten, dried
in furnace airs that vainly
figure (since mines are doing well)
the fire. Torpor
of a disallowed abortion.                                          45

Why not a red room?

DESIGN                                                 by Robert Frost

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravely ground:
My father, digging. I look down                                     5

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft                      10
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,                          15
Just like his old man.

THE FISH                                                                          by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish                                         I admired his sullen face,               45
and held him beside the boat                                       the mechanism of his jaw,
half out of water, with my hook                                    and then I saw
fast in a corner of his mouth.                                     that from his lower lip
He didn‘t fight.                                               5   – if you could call it a lip –
He hadn‘t fought at all.                                           grim, wet, and weaponlike,               50
He hung a grunting weight,                                         hung five old pieces of fish-line,
battered and venerable                                             or four and a wire leader
and homely. Here and there                                         with the swivel still attached,
his brown skin hung in strips                                 10   with all their five big hooks
like ancient wallpaper,                                            grown firmly in his mouth.               55
and its pattern of darker brown                                    A green line, frayed at the end
was like wallpaper:                                                where he broke it, two heavier lines,
shapes like full-blown roses                                       and a fine black thread
stained and lost through age.                                 15   still crimped from the strain and snap
He was speckled with barnacles,                                    when it broke and he got away.           60
fine rosettes of lime,                                             Like medals with their ribbons
and infested                                                       frayed and wavering,
with tiny white sea-lice,                                          a five-haired beard of wisdom
and underneath two or three                                   20   trailing from his aching jaw.
rags of green weed hung down.                                      I stared and stared                      65
While his gills were breathing in                                  and victory filled up
the terrible oxygen                                                the little rented boat,
– the frightening gills,                                           from the pool of bilge
fresh and crisp with blood,                                   25   where oil had spread a rainbow
that can cut so badly –                                            around the rusted engine                 70
I thought of the coarse white flesh                                to the bailer rusted orange,
packed in like feathers,                                           the sun-cracked thwarts,
the big bones and the little bones,                                the oarlocks on their strings,
the dramatic reds and blacks                                  30   the gunnels – until everything
of his shiny entrails,                                             was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!           75
and the pink swim-bladder                                          And I let the fish go.
like a big peony.1
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine                               35
but shallower, and yellowed,                                                    From Geography III (1976)
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.2                                  40
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
– It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.

  peony: large single and double flowers of white, pink, rose,
and deep-crimson colour.
  isinglass: a semitransparent whitish very pure gelatine
prepared from the air bladders of fishes (especially sturgeons),
or from the mineral mica, and once used in the manufacture of
instrument lenses.
THE CAGED SKYLARK                                           by Gerard Manly Hopkins
As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
   Man‘s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells―
   That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life‘s age.
Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,                                  5
   Both sing sometímes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
   Yet both droop deadly sómetimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.
Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest -
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,                        10
  But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.
Man‘s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
  For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bónes rísen

   SONNET 60                                                 by William Shakespeare
   Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
   So do our minutes hasten to their end,
   Each changing place with that which goes before;
   In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
   Nativity, once in the main of light,                                           5
   Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned
   Crookèd eclipses ‗gainst his glory fight,
   And time that gave doth now his gift confound.
   Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
   And delves the parallels in beauty‘s brow ;                                   10
   Feeds on the rarities of nature‘s truth,
   And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
   And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
   Praising thy worth despite his cruel hand.

   SONNET 94                                                 by William Shakespeare
   They that have power to hurt and will do none,
   That do not do the thing they most do show,
   Who moving others are themselves as stone,
   Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow -
   They rightly do inherit heaven‘s graces,                                       5
   And husband nature‘s riches from expense ;
   They are the lords and owners of their faces,
   Others but stewards of their excellence.
   The summer‘s flower is to the summer sweet
   Though to itself it only live and die,                                        10
   But if that flower with base infection meet
   The basest weed outbraves his dignity ;
   For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds :
   Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

    ODE ON MELANCHOLY                                                            by John Keats

    No, no go not to Lethe1, neither twist
       Wolf‘s-bane2, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
    Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss‘d
       By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
    Make not your rosary of yew-berries,                                                         5
       Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
          Your mournful Psyche3, nor the downy owl
    A partner in your sorrow‘s mysteries;
       For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
          And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.                                         10

    But when the melancholy fit shall fall
       Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
    That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
       And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
    Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,                                                  15
       Or on the rainbow of the salt sand wave,
           Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
    Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
       Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
           And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.                                       20

    She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
       And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
    Bidding adieu ; and aching Pleasure nigh,
       Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips :
    Ay, in the very temple of Delight                                                        25
       Veil‘d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
          Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
    Can burst Joy‘s grape against his palate fine ;
       His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
          And be among her cloudy trophies hung.                                             30

 Lethe: the River of Oblivion in Hades. In the Greek mystical religious movement
Orphism, it was believed that the newly dead who drank from it would lose all memory
of their past existence.
 Wolf’s-bane: this and all the other plants mentioned in verse 1 are medicinal
plants associated with sleep, drugs and poison
 Psychē: the goddess of the soul, which in Greek folklore was also pictured as
a butterfly, itself another meaning of the word psychē.

                                    - 10 -
I FELT A FUNERAL IN MY BRAIN                             by Emily Dickinson

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,                                           5
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                                                10
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                                   15
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 –                                           20

NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING                                     by Stevie Smith

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

Poor chap, he always loved larking                                       5
And now he‘s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)                                        10
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

                          - 11 -
MUSÉE DES BEAUX ARTS                                              by W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking
dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting                        5
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course                          10
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer‘s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel‘s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may                          15
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,                              20
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

                                     12 -
                             "Fall -of Icarus" by Breughel
                                           WAKING IN THE BLUE                                     by Robert Lowell
Boston University 2nd year student         The night attendant, a B.U. sophomore,
mare’s-nest = an illusion / fantasy        rouses from the mare‘s-nest of his drowsy head
A philosophy text book                     propped on The Meaning of Meaning.
                                           He catwalks down our corridor.
                                           Azure day                                                           5
                                           makes my agonized blue window bleaker.
                                           Crows maunder on the petrified fairway.
                                           Absence! My hearts grows tense
                                           as though a harpoon were sparring for the kill.
                                           (This is the house for the ―mentally ill.‖)                        10

                                           What use is my sense of humour?
                                           I grin at Stanley, now sunk in his sixties,
                                           once a Harvard all-American fullback,
                                           (if such were possible!)
                                           still hoarding the build of a boy in his twenties,                 15
                                           as he soaks, a ramrod
                                           with a muscle of a seal
                                           in his long tub,
                                           vaguely urinous from the Victorian plumbing.
                                           A kingly granite profile in a crimson gold-cap,                    20
                                           worn all day, all night,
                                           he thinks only of his figure,
                                           of slimming on sherbert and ginger ale –
                                           more cut off from words than a seal.
McLean’s: a mental asylum for Boston‘s     This is the way day breaks in Bowditch Hall at McLean‘s;           25
                                           the hooded night lights bring out ―Bobbie,‖
Porcellian an exclusive Harvard            Porcellian ‗29,
University graduates‘ Club
                                           a replica of Louis XVI
                                           without the wig –
                                           redolent and roly-poly as a sperm whale,                           30
                                           as he swashbuckles about in his birthday suit
                                           and horses at chairs.

Ossified: changed into bone                These victorious figures of bravado ossified young.

                                           In between the limits of day,
                                           hours and hours go by under the crew haircuts                      35
                                           and slightly too little nonsensical bachelor twinkle
                                           of the Roman Catholic attendants.
Mayflower: ship that brought the Pilgrim   (There are no Mayflower
Fathers (a metonymy for all Protestant
                                           screwballs in the Catholic Church.)

                                           After a hearty New England breakfast,                              40
                                           I weigh two hundred pounds
                                           this morning. Cock of the walk,
                                           I strut in my turtle-necked French sailor‘s jersey
                                           before the metal shaving mirrors,
                                           and see the shaky future grow familiar                             45
                                           in the pinched, indigenous faces
                                           of these thoroughbred mental cases,
                                           twice my age and half my weight.
                                           We are all old-timers,
                                           each of us holds a locked razor.         50

                                                              - 13 -
                                          MEMORIES OF WEST ST AND LEPKE1                     by Robert Lowell

                                          Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming
                                          in pajamas fresh from the washer each morning,
                                          I hog a whole house on Boston‘s
                                          ―hardly passionate Marlborough Street,‖
                                          where even the man
                                          scavenging filth in the back alley trash cans,
                                          has two children, a beach wagon, a helpmate,
                                          and is ―a young Republican.‖
                                          I have a nine months‘ daughter,
                                          young enough to be my granddaughter.
                                          Like the sun she rises in her flame-flamingo
                                          infants‘ wear.

                                          These are the tranquilized Fifties,
                                          and I am forty. Ought I to regret my seedtime?2
Conscientious Objector: against the war
                                          I was a fire-breathing Catholic C.O.,
                                          and made my manic statement,
                                          telling off the state and president, and then
                                          sat waiting sentence in the bull pen
                                          beside a negro boy with curlicues
                                          of marijuana in his hair.

                                          Given a year,
                                          I walked on the roof of the West Street Jail, a short
                                          enclosure like my school soccer court,
                                          and saw the Hudson River once a day
                                          through sooty clothesline entanglements
                                          and bleaching khaki tenements.
                                          Strolling, I yammered metaphysics with
                                          a jaundice-yellow (―it‘s really tan‖)
                                          and fly-weight pacifist,
                                          so vegetarian,
                                          he wore rope shoes and preferred fallen fruit.
                                          He tried to convert Bioff and Brown,
                                          the Hollywood pimps, to his diet.
                                          Hairy, muscular, suburban,
                                          wearing chocolate double-breasted suits,
                                          they blew their tops and beat him black and blue.

  Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, head of an American national crime syndicate, known as Murder Inc.,
founded in the 1930s to threaten, maim, or murder designated victims for a price.
 ―Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up / Fostered alike by beauty and by fear‖, The Prelude,
Book William Wordsworth. Lowell is implying a similarity between himself as a Conscientious
Objector to the war in his disordered and idealistic youth and his attitudes now in his forties, and
Wordsworth at the time of the Napoleonic war with France and his later drift into middle-aged
                                                           - 14 -
                                          I was so out of things, I‘d never heard
                                          of the Jehovah‘s Witnesses.
                                          ―Are you a C.O.?‖ I asked a fellow jailbird.
                                          ―No,‖ he answered, ―I‘m a J.W.‖
                                          He taught me the ―hospital tuck,‖
                                          and pointed out the T-shirted back
                                          of Murder Incorporated‘s Czar Lepke,
                                          there piling towels on a rack,
                                          or dawdling off to his little segregated cell full
                                          of things forbidden to the common man:
                                          a portable radio, a dresser, two toy American
                                          flags tied together with a ribbon of Easter palm.
                                          Flabby, bald, lobotomized,
                                          he drifted in a sheepish calm,
                                          where no agonizing reappraisal
                                          jarred his concentration on the electric chair
                                          hanging like an oasis in his air
                                          of lost connections....

                                         SKUNK HOUR                                            by Robert Lowell

                                         (For Elizabeth Bishop1)

In Castine, Maine, on Atlantic coast     Nautilus Island‘s hermit
 where Lowell had a summer house
                                         heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage;
                                         her sheep still graze above the sea.
                                         Her son‘s a bishop. Her farmer
selectman: elected councillor in New     is first selectman in our village;
England (USA) towns
                                         she‘s in her dotage.

                                         Thirsting for
                                         the hierarchal privacy
                                         of Queen Victoria‘s century,
                                         she buys up all
                                         the eyesores facing her shore,
                                         and lets them fall.

                                         The season‘s ill –
                                         we‘ve lost our summer millionaire,
L.L. Bean a mail-order house in Maine,   who seemed to leap from an L. L. Bean
selling sporting and camping goods
                                         catalogue. His nine-knot yawl
                                         was auctioned off to lobstermen.
                                         A red fox stain covers Blue Hill.

                                         And now our fairy
                                         decorator brightens his shop for fall;
                                         his fishnet‘s filled with orange cork,
                                         orange, his cobbler‘s bench and awl;
                                         there is no money in his work,
                                         he‘d rather marry.

    the poem is Lowell's response to Elizabeth Bishop's The Armadillo
                                                           - 15 -
                           One dark night,
                           my Tudor Ford climbed the hill‘s skull;
                           I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
                           they lay together, hull to hull,
                           where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
                           My mind‘s not right.

                           A car radio bleats,
                           ―Love, O careless Love. . . .‖ I hear
                           my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
                           as if my hand were at its throat. . . .
                           I myself am hell;1
                           nobody‘s here – 2

                           only skunks, that search
                           in the moonlight for a bite to eat.
                           They march on their soles up Main Street:
                           white stripes, moonstruck eyes‘ red fire
                           under the chalk-dry and spar spire
                           of the Trinitarian Church.

                           I stand on top
                           of our back steps and breathe the rich air—
                           a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage
                           She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
                           of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
                           and will not scare.

             The three Robert Lowell poems all come from his book Life Studies (1959)

  "Which way I fly is Hell, myself am Hell", from John Milton‘s Paradise Lost, Book IV, line 75 –
Satan‘s reaction to first viewing Adam and Eve‘s bliss in the Garden of Eden, sometime after he has
been thrown out of Heaven as a fallen angel.
  French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a play in the 1940‘s called Huis Clos (―No Exit‖) where
three people who died – a nymphomaniac woman, a homosexual and an insecure male – found
themselves in Hell as a room where they had to share eternity with each other.
                                                 - 16 -
MUCH MADNESS IS DIVINEST SENSE                                  by Emily Dickinson

Much Madness is divinest Sense —
To a discerning Eye —
Much Sense — the starkest Madness —
‗Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail —
Assent — and you are sane —
Demur — you‘re straightaway dangerous —
And handled with a Chain —.

GOOD GIRL                                                        by Kim Addonizio

Look at you, sitting there being good.
After two years you‘re still dying for a cigarette.
And not drinking on weekdays, who thought that one up?
Don‘t you want to run to the corner right now
for a fifth of vodka and have it with cranberry juice                                5
and a nice lemon slice, wouldn‘t the backyard
that you‘re so sick of staring out into
look better then, the tidy yard your landlord tends
day and night — the fence with its fresh coat of paint,
the ash-free barbeque, the patio swept clean of small twigs —                    10
don‘t you want to mess it all up, to roll around
like a dog in his flowerbeds? Aren‘t you a dog anyway,
always groveling for love and begging to be petted?
You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides
of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones,                          15
you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds.
Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes
and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first
beautiful man you find? The words Ruin me, haven‘t they
been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn‘t it time                        20
you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets
to totter around in five-inch heels and slutty mascara?
Sure it‘s time. You‘ve rolled over long enough.
Forty, forty-one. At the end of all this
there‘s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt.                              25
So get going. Listen: they‘re howling for you now:
up and down the block your neighbors‘ dogs
burst into frenzied barking and won‘t shut up.

                                - 17 -
PORPHYRIA’S LOVER                                 by Robert Browning
  THE rain set early in to-night,
    The sullen wind was soon awake,
  It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
    And did its worst to vex the lake:
    I listen‘d with heart fit to break.                            5
  When glided in Porphyria; straight
    She shut the cold out and the storm,
  And kneel‘d and made the cheerless grate
    Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
    Which done, she rose, and from her form                       10
  Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
    And laid her soil‘d gloves by, untied
  Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
    And, last, she sat down by my side
    And call‘d me. When no voice replied,                         15
  She put my arm about her waist,
    And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
  And all her yellow hair displaced,
    And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
    And spread, o‘er all, her yellow hair,                        20
  Murmuring how she loved me—she
    Too weak, for all her heart‘s endeavour,
  To set its struggling passion free
    From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
    And give herself to me for ever.                              25
  But passion sometimes would prevail,
    Nor could to-night‘s gay feast restrain
  A sudden thought of one so pale
    For love of her, and all in vain:
    So, she was come through wind and rain.                       30
  Be sure I look‘d up at her eyes
    Happy and proud; at last I knew
  Porphyria worshipp‘d me; surprise
    Made my heart swell, and still it grew
    While I debated what to do.                                   35
  That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
    Perfectly pure and good: I found
  A thing to do, and all her hair
    In one long yellow string I wound
    Three times her little throat around,                         40
  And strangled her. No pain felt she;
    I am quite sure she felt no pain.
  As a shut bud that holds a bee,
    I warily oped her lids: again
    Laugh‘d the blue eyes without a stain.                        45
  And I untighten‘d next the tress
    About her neck; her cheek once more
  Blush‘d bright beneath my burning kiss:
    I propp‘d her head up as before,
    Only, this time my shoulder bore                              50
  Her head, which droops upon it still:
    The smiling rosy little head,
  So glad it has its utmost will,
    That all it scorn‘d at once is fled,
    And I, its love, am gain‘d instead!                           55
  Porphyria‘s love: she guess‘d not how
    Her darling one wish would be heard.
  And thus we sit together now,
    And all night long we have not stirr‘d,
    And yet God has not said a word!         60
                              - 18 -
THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK                         by T. S. Eliot

 S'io credesse chc mia risposta fosse
 A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
 Questa Gamma staria senza piu scosse.
 Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
 Non torno viva alcun, s'i'odo il vero,
 Senza tema d'infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats                                                  5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question....                            10
Oh, do not ask, ―What is it?‖
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,               15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,                            20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;                                25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;                           30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go                                      35
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, ―Do I dare?‖ and, ―Do I dare?‖
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—                             40
(They will say: ―How his hair is growing thin!‖)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: ―But how his arms and legs are thin!‖)
Do I dare                                                              45
Disturb the universe?

                                     - 19 -
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,                    50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—                55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?                60
 And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress                                        65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
 And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets           70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!             75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers.
Stretched on on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?              80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald)
brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here's no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,                   85
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,              90
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: ―I am Lazarus, come from the dead,                       95
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all‖—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,

                                     - 20 -
Should say: ―That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.‖

And would it have been worth it, after all,                                                   100
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts
that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—                                                                  105
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while If one, settling a
pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:                                                    110
  ‖That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.‖

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,                                                    115
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—                                                          120
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.                                 125
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.                                                130

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

    Eliot has taken the opening epigram from Dante‘s medieval epic poem The Inferno, Canto
    XXVII, lines 61-66 (trans. Robert Scholes)

            If I believed that my answer were to a person who should ever return
            to the world, this flame would stand without further movement;
            but since never one returns alive from this deep, if I hear true,
            I answer you without fear of infamy.

A hypertext version of ―The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock‖ with detailed notes on the poem
is available at

                                        - 21 -
HOMECOMING                                                            by Bruce Dawe

All day, day after day, they‘re bringing them home,
they‘re picking them up, those they can find, and bringing them home,
they‘re bringing them in, piled on the hulls of Grants, in trucks, in convoys,
they‘re zipping them up in green plastic bags,
they‘re tagging them now in Saigon, in the mortuary coolness                      5
they‘re giving them names, they‘re rolling them out of
the deep-freeze lockers—on the tarmac at Tan Son Nhut
the noble jets are whining like hounds,
they are bringing them home

—curly-heads, kinky hairs, crew-cuts, balding non-coms                           10
—they‘re high, now high and higher, over the land, the steaming chow mein,
their shadows are tracing the blue curve of the Pacific
with sorrowful quick fingers, heading south, heading east,
home, home, home—and the coasts swing upward, the old ridiculous curvatures
of earth, the knuckled hill, the mangrove-swamps, the desert emptiness…          15
in their sterile housing they tilt towards these like skiers

—taxiing in, on the long runways, the howl of their homecoming rises
surrounding them like their last moments (the mash, the splendour)
then fading at length as they move
on to small towns where dogs in the frozen sunset                                20
raise muzzles in mute salute,
and on to cities in whose wide web of suburbs
telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree
and the spider grief swings in his bitter geometry
—they‘re bring them home, now, too late, too early                               25

THE ROCK-THROWER                                                      by Bruce Dawe

Out in the suburbs I hear
trains rocketing to impossible destinations
cry out against the intolerable waste,
at 3.40 in the morning hear the dog-frost
bark over the dark back-yards with their young trees                              5
and tubular-steel swings where tomorrow‘s children
laughingly dangle their stockinged feet already
and the moon coats with white primer
the youthful lawns, the thirtyish expectations.

Midway between the hills and the sea                                             10

                                  - 22 -
our house rocks quietly in the flow of time, each morning
we descend to sandy loam, the birds
pipe us ashore, on the rimed grass
someone has left four sets of footprints
as a sign to us that we are not alone                               15
but likely to be visited
at some unearthly hour by a dear friend
who bears a love for us, wax-wrapped and sealed,
sliced, white, starch-reduced …

Sometimes I wake at night, thinking:                                20
Even now he may be at work,
the rock-thrower in the neighbouring suburb, turning
the particular street of his choice
back to an earlier settlement – the men armed,
mounting guard, eyeing the mysterious skies,                        25
tasting the salt of siege, the cleansing sacrament
of bombardment, talking in whispers, breaking humbly
the bread of their small fame,
as the planes going north and south
wink conspiratorially overhead                                      30
and the stones rain down …
And sometimes, too, dieseling homewards
when the bruised blue look of evening
prompts speculations upon the reasons for existence
and sets the apprehensive traveller to fingering thoughtfully       35
his weekly ticket, when the sun draws its bloody
knuckles back from the teeth of roof-tops
and the wounded commuter limps finally up the cement path
— I think of the rock-thrower, the glazier‘s benefactor,
raining down meaning from beyond the subdivisions,                  40
proclaiming the everlasting evangel of vulnerability
— and the suburbs of men shrink to one short street
where voices are calling now from point to point:
‗Is that you, Frank?‘
                       ‗Is that you, Les?‘                          45
                                            ‗Is that you, Harry?‘
‗See anything?‘
                                ‗Nup…‘                              50

                                 - 23 -
A HANDFUL                                by Geoff Goodfellow

He was mounted on the footpath
   his head tilted back
& angled away from me

but i knew it was him

the afternoon sun was low                                5
& unkind
    & light richocheted
off his acne scars
& his blue eyes rolled
in their sockets                                        10

he looked like he'd
swallowed a handful of
   or it could have been
Serapax                                                 15
    but it could have been
a whack

i'm no expert on these things
    but he was somewhere else
besides Semaphore Road                                  20

i'd known him seven years back
when he was on the Methadone
    saw him straight for week
after week
     after month...                                     25
pushing his red headed baby
up & down Osmond Terrace
     & dodging the dealers

i called out
    get off the street y' mug-                          30
we don't want your type in Semaphore

it took a while for him to focus
      but eventually his eyes
fell into mine

ah     it's you Geoff                                   35
    i thought someone was serious
for a moment
                                - 24 -
     hey this is my daughter -
you remember her eh
    i'm taking her for a swim                                           40

there was some small talk...
    they headed for the beach

when they left
   i wanted to say to him
look after her                                                          45

but i said to her
      look after him.

EVE TO HER DAUGHTERS                                       by Judith Wright
―It was not I who began it.
Turned out into draughty caves,
hungry so often, having to work for our bread,
hearing the children whining,
I was nevertheless not unhappy.                                          5
Where Adam went I was fairly contented to go.
I adapted myself to the punishment: it was my life.

But Adam, you know...!
He kept on brooding over the insults,
over the trick They had played on us, over the scolding.                10
He had discovered a flaw in himself
and he had to make up for it.
Outside Eden the earth was imperfect,
the seasons changed, the game was fleet-footed,
he had to work for our living, and he didn't like it.                   15
He even complained of my cooking
(it was hard to compete with Heaven).

So he set to work.
The earth must be made a new Eden
with central heating, domesticated animals,                             20
mechanical harvesters, combustion engines,
escalators, refrigerators,
and modern means of communication
and multiplied opportunities for safe investment
and higher education for Abel and Cain                                  25
and the rest of the family.
You can see how pride had been hurt.

                                 - 25 -
In the process he had to unravel everything,
because he believed that mechanism
was the whole secret-he was always mechanical-minded.               30
He got to the very inside of the whole machine
exclaiming as he went So this is how it works!
And now that I know how it works, why, I must have invented it.
As for God and the Other, they cannot be demonstrated,
and what cannot be demonstrated                                     35
doesn't exist.
You see, he had always been jealous.

Yes, he got to the centre
where nothing at all can be demonstrated.
And clearly he doesn't exist; but he refuses                        40
to accept the conclusion.
You see, he was always an egotist.

It was warmer than this in the cave;
there was none of this fall-out.
I would suggest, for the sake of the children,                      45
that it's time you took over.

But you are my daughters, you inherit my own faults of character;
you are submissive, following Adam
even beyond existence.
Faults of character have their own logic                            50
and it always works out.
I observed this with Abel and Cain.

Perhaps the whole elaborate fable
right from the beginning
is meant to demonstrate this: perhaps it's the whole secret.        55
Perhaps nothing exists but our faults?
At least they can be demonstrated.

But it's useless to make
such a suggestion to Adam.
He has turned himself into God,                                     60
who is faultless, and doesn't exist.‖

                                  - 26 -
MUSHROOMS                              by Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,                              5
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on                               10
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,                               15

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,                               20
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are                             25
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:                               30

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.

                              - 27 -
TULIPS                                                           by Sylvia Plath

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.                            5
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anaesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.                                  10
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water                           15
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage -
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;                        20
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley                        25
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

                                   - 28 -
I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted                          30
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free -
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them             35
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.                  40
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their colour,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me                   45
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I hve no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.                                   50

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.                  55
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,        60
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

                                   - 29 -
THE APPLICANT                                        by Sylvia Plath
First, are you our sort of person?
Do you wear
A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
A brace or a hook,
Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,                                5

Stitches to show something‘s missing? No, no? Then
How can we give you a thing?
Stop crying.
Open your hand.
Empty? Empty. Here is a hand                                     10

To fill it and willing
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do whatever you tell it.
Will you marry it?
It is guaranteed                                                 15

To thumb shut your eyes at the end
And dissolve of sorrow.
We make new stock from the salt.
I notice you are stark naked.
How about this suit                                             20

Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
Will you marry it?
It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
Against fire and bombs through the roof.
Believe me, they‘ll bury you in it.                              25

Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
Well, what do you think of that?
Naked as paper to start                                          30

But in twenty-five years she‘ll be silver,
In fifty, gold.
A living doll, everywhere you look.
It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk.                                         35

It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
You have a hole, it‘s a poultice.
You have an eye, it‘s an image.
My boy, it‘s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.                           40

                                   - 30 -
COUPLES                                                            by Kate Jennings
this is a song an epithalamium it is also                  epithalamium: celebrating a wedding
a requiem this is a poem about couples it                          requiem :celebrating a death
is called racked and ranked
the title comes from william faulkner
who said                                                                                      5

‗and thank God you can flee, can escape from that
massy five-foot-thick maggot-cheesy solidarity which
overlays the earths, in which men and women in couples
are racked and ranked like ninepins.‘

this is a poem for couples from which i cannot escape                                       10
this is a poem for people who are not couples but who
want to be couples from which i cannot escape a poem
for all you out there people who are coupling up or
or breaking up just to couple again and giving me
second prize because                                                                        15

kate jennings, lose him weep him, couldn‘t catch a man
much less keep him

couples create obstacle courses to prevent me from doing
all sorts of things easily

couples make sure i‘m not comfortable with myself because                                   20
i‘m only half a potential couple
couples point accusing right index fingers at me
couples make me guilty of loneliness, insecurity, or
worse still, lack of ambition.

what do i do at the end of the day?                                                         25
lose him, weep him, think of catching a man,
and eating him.

HOLY SONNET 10                                                        by John Donne

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom thou think‘st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,                                               5
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow;
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and souls‘ delivery.
Thou‘rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desp‘rate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;                                              10
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well,                             poppy: opiate drugs
And better, than thy stroke; - why swell‘st thou then?                 swell’st: puff with pride
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.

                            - 31 -
‘OUT, OUT — ‘                                            by Robert Frost

The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other                             5
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said                           10
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them ―Supper.‖ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,                          15
Leaped out at the boy‘s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy‘s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand                          20
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man‘s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. ―Don‘t let him cut my hand off—                  25
The doctor, when he comes. Don‘t let him, sister!‖
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.                       30
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

                            - 32 -
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