15 June 2007

Charles McLeod

[excerpt from Charles McLeod's "Exit Wounds" in the Spring 2007 issue of ZYZZYVA]

Mission Street was miles long, and I’d been over every inch of it, from the Greyhound station at the foot of the Bridge out to Silver Avenue, where most of the shop signs were in Spanish. But I could never remember what stood where, the specific order of things, so I walked the blocks again and again, checking and rechecking, hoping some wide, precious idea might strike me, because I could feel myself getting older, the ports closing, the ships pulling up their ropes.

Russell Edson

[from Russell Edson's The Intuitive Journey, 1976]

The Fall

There was a man who found two leaves and came indoors holding them out saying to his parents that he was a tree.

To which they said then go into the yard and do not grow in the living room as your roots may ruin the carpet.

He said I was fooling I am not a tree and he dropped the leaves.

But his parents said look it is fall.

The Tunnel: Selected Poems of Russell Edson

14 June 2007

William Carlos Williams, Robert Creeley

[William Carlos Williams, 1923]

To Elsie

The pure products of America
go crazy —
mountain folk from Kentucky

or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and

valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
old names
and promiscuity between

devil-may-care men who have taken
to railroading
out of sheer lust of adventure —

and young slatterns, bathed
in filth
from Monday to Saturday

to be tricked out that night
with gauds
from imaginations which have no

peasant traditions to give them
but flutter and flaunt

sheer rags — succumbing without
save numbed terror

under some hedge of choke-cherry
or viburnum —
which they cannot express —

unless it be that marriage
with a dash of Indian blood

will throw up a girl so desolate
so hemmed round
with disease or murder

that she'll be rescued by an
agent —
reared by the state and

sent out at fifteen to work in
some hard-pressed
house in the suburbs —

some doctor's family, some Elsie —
voluptuous water
expressing with broken

brain the truth about us —
her great
ungainly hips and flopping breasts

addressed to cheap
and rich young men with fine eyes

as if the earth under our feet
an excrement of some sky

and we degraded prisoners
to hunger until we eat filth

while the imagination strains
after deer
going by fields of goldenrod in

the stifling heat of September
it seems to destroy us

It is only in isolate flecks that
is given off

No one
to witness
and adjust, no one to drive the car

[Robert Creeley, 1957]

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, — John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Vol. 1: 1909-1939
Selected Poems

08 June 2007

James K. Baxter

I climbed up to a hole in the bank in a hill above the sea, and there fell into the attitude of listening out of which poems may rise — not to the sound of the sea but to the unheard sound of which poems are translations — it was then that I first endured that intense effort of listening, like a man chained to the ground trying to stand upright and walk — and from this intensity of listening the words emerged —

05 June 2007

Patrick Kavanagh

[from Patrick Kavanagh's Come Dancing with Kitty Stobling, 1958]

Canal Bank Walk

Leafy-with-love banks and the green waters of the canal
Pouring redemption for me, that I do
The will of God, wallow in the habitual, the banal,
Grow with nature again as before I grew.
The bright stick trapped, the breeze adding a third
Party to the couple kissing on an old seat,
And a bird gathering materials for the nest for the Word
Eloquently new and abandoned to its delirious beat.
O unworn world enrapture me, encapture me in a web
Of fabulous grass and eternal voices by a beech,
Feed the gaping need of my senses, give me ad lib
To pray unselfconsciously with overflowing speech
For this soul needs to be honoured with a new dress woven
From green and blue things and arguments that cannot be proven.

Selected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics)

01 June 2007

Thylias Moss

[from Thylias Moss's At Redbones, 1990]

The Tattoo

He had a blonde woman on his chest and he
was in prison. Just her head and it
was tilted so that she could look up at
his chin, the cliff just jumped off.

She's the glossy cover superimposed on
the table, the vinyl Chrysler seat,
wherever she lies.

A convict improvising isn't new. A black man
made a convict by the blonde woman on his chest
isn't new. Decapitations aren't new. Nothing
this man did is new. He didn't mean to be
a copy cat.

He wore her like a designer label. With her on
you could call him revealed but not naked.
She masked his heart. She kept it from hungry
others, even the starving self.

It was like she was being born right from
his rib cage. It was like rereading Genesis.
He was just a dark transitory cocoon.
It was like he just wanted to boast
about what he could produce
besides excrement.

At Redbones (CSU poetry series)

Maxine Kumin

[from Maxine Kumin's Up Country: Poems of New England, 1972]

Watering Trough

Let the end of all bathtubs
be this putting out to pasture
of four Victorian bowlegs
anchored in grasses.

Let all longnecked browsers
come drink from the shallows
while faucets grow rusty
and porcelain yellows.

Where once our nude forebears
soaped up in this vessel
come, cows, and come, horses.
Bring burdock and thistle,

come slaver the scum of
timothy and clover
on the castiron lip that
our grandsires climbed over

and let there be always
green water for sipping
that muzzles may enter thoughtful
and rise dripping.

Up Country: Poems of New England, New and Selected