31 March 2008

John Wieners

[from John Wieners's Selected Poems: 1958-1984]

A Poem for Vipers

I sit in Lees. At 11:40 PM with
Jimmy the pusher. He teaches me
Ju Ju. Hot on the table before us
shrimp foo yong, rice and mushroom
chow yuke. Up the street under the wheels
of a strange car is his stash — The ritual.
We make it. And have made it.
For months now together after midnight.
Soon I know the fuzz will
interrupt, will arrest Jimmy and
I shall be placed on probation. The poem
does not lie to us. We lie under
its law, alive in the glamour of this hour
able to enter into the sacred places
of his dark people, who carry secrets
glassed in their eyes and hide words
under the coats of their tongue.

Selected Poems: 1958-1984


[according to Peggy Noonan at www.opinionjournal.com]

I think we've reached a signal point in the campaign. This is the point where, with Hillary Clinton, either you get it or you don't. There's no dodging now. You either understand the problem with her candidacy, or you don't. You either understand who she is, or not. And if you don't, after 16 years of watching Clintonian dramas, you probably never will.

That's what the Bosnia story was about. Her fictions about dodging bullets on the tarmac — and we have to hope they were lies, because if they weren't, if she thought what she was saying was true, we are in worse trouble than we thought — either confirmed what you already knew (she lies as a matter of strategy, or, as William Safire said in 1996, by nature) or revealed in an unforgettable way (videotape! Smiling girl in pigtails offering flowers!) what you feared (that she lies more than is humanly usual, even politically usual).

But either you get it now, or you never will. That's the importance of the Bosnia tape.

30 March 2008

Allen Ginsberg

[from Allen Ginsberg's Notes for Howl and Other Poems, 1959]

A word on Academies; poetry has been attacked by an ignorant & frightened bunch of bores who don't understand how it's made, & the trouble with these creeps is they wouldn't know Poetry if it came up and buggered them in broad daylight.

A word on the Politicians: my poetry is Angelical Ravings, & has nothing to do with dull, materialistic vagaries about who should shoot who. The secrets of individual imagination — which are transconceptual & non-verbal — I mean unconditioned Spirit — are not for sale to this consciousness, are of no use to this world, except perhaps to make it shut its trap & listen to the music of the Spheres. Who denies the music of the spheres denies poetry, denies man, & spits on Blake, Shelley, Christ & Buddha. Meanwhile have a ball. The universe is a new flower. American will be discovered. Who wants a war against roses will have it. Fate tells big lies, & the gay Creator dances on his own body in Eternity.

[from Poetry, Violence, and the Trembling Lambs, 1959]

The only immediate historical data that we can know and act on are those fed to our senses through systems of mass communication.

These media are exactly the places where the deepest and most personal sensitivities and confessions of reality are most prohibited, mocked, suppressed.

The Poetics of the New American Poetry

26 March 2008

Alice Notley

inchoate, I'm still always choked with bells

25 March 2008

Lola Haskins

[from Lola Haskins's Desire Lines: New and Selected Poems, 2004]

For Someone Considering Death

I told you.
Life is one big Hanon
up and down the piano,
ten fingers skipping over each other
in every conceivable way,
two hands getting stronger.

And sure,
the notes are the same for everyone,
but you can choose to whisper or shout,
to fade or grow.
And haven't you noticed that some people's hands sing,
but others are Midwestern on the keys,
each crescendo a secretarial swell.

Think about this.
How can you dream to play the Pathetique,
how can the moment come to truly look
into someone's eyes
and say,The hell with everything, I love you,
when you haven't done your time,
hour after hour, year after year
in that small closed room.

Desire Lines: New and Selected Poems (American Poets Continuum)

23 March 2008

Muddy Prints, Water Shine

You can pre-order my chapbook, Muddy Prints, Water Shine from Finishing Line Press. Free shipping until 03/28/08.

21 March 2008

Samuel Beckett

[from Samuel Beckett's Echo's Bones, 1935]

Sanies I

all the livelong way this day of sweet showers from Portrane on the
Donabate sad swans of Turvey Swords
pounding along in three ratios like a sonata
like a Ritter with pommelled scrotum atra cura on the step
Botticelli from the fork down pestling the transmission
tires bleeding voiding zeep the highway
all heaven in the sphincter
the sphincter

müüüüüüüde now
potwalloping now through the promenaders
this trusty all-steel this super-real
bound for home like a good boy
where I was born with a pop with the green of the larches
ah to be back in the caul now with no trusts
no fingers no spoilt love
belting along in the meantime clutching the bike
the billows of the nubile the cere wrack
pot-valient caulless waisted in rags hatless
for mamma papa chicken and ham
warm Grave too say the word
happy days snap the stem shed a tear
this day Spy Wedsday seven pentades past
oh the larches the pain drawn like a cork
the glans ho took the day off up hill and down dale
with a ponderous fawn from the Liverpool London and Globe
back the shadows lengthen the sycamores are sobbing
to roly-poly oh to me a spanking boy
buckets of fizz childbed is thirsty work
for the midwife he is gory
for the proud parent he washes down a gob of gladness
for footsore Achates also he pants his pleasure
sparkling beestings for me
tired now hair ebbing gums ebbing ebbing home
good as gold now in the prime after a brief prodigality
yea and suave
suave urbane beyond good and evil
biding my time without rancour you may take your oath
distraught half-crooked courting the sneers of these fauns these
      smart nymphs
clipped like a pederast as to one trouser-end
sucking in my bloated lantern behind a Wild Woodbine
cinched to death in a filthy slicker
flinging the proud Swift forward breasting the swell of Stürmers
I see main verb at last
her whom alone in the accusative
I have dismounted to love
gliding towards me dauntless nautch-girl on the face of the waters
dauntless daughter of desires in the old black and flamingo
get along with you now take the six the seven the eight or the little
take a bus for all I care walk cadge a lift
home to the cob of your web in Holles Street
and let the tiger go on smiling
in our hearts that funds ways home

Collected Poems in English & French

20 March 2008

Troy Jollimore

[from Troy Jollimore's Tom Thomson in Purgatory, 2006]


The feelings you thought were genuine
were purchased at a discount
from a supplier
in a city with a name something like
Tobekobekon, Ohio.
A city where there are more cafés
than people, and residents gather
under the eaves of the bridge which connects them
with their sister city
in New jersey.
In these small gropus they confess their sins,
passing cigarettes in circles.
My supplier was a kind man
who kept a large family
and whose irrational attraction
to large sea mammals
would lead to his untimely demise.
I am telling you this
so you will know what it is
that wakes me at four every morning,
wanting you
more than drugs, or sleep, or peace.

Roses Inverted

The roses that grow in that stony ground
send their roots straight up, and their blossoms down.

Their sun-seeking roots anchor them in the air,
but they find neither water nor nourishment there.

Their leaves stretch toward the planet's hot core.
But the earth's inner engine radiates more

heat than it does light, so that, to their surprise,
they find that they cannot photosynthesize.

They are white as milk. Up among the stones,
the pale roots linger like the half-buried bones

of abandoned camels licked clean by the sands.
Yet the underground flowers that open like hands

are brazen and bright. They unfurl like flags.
Among the miniature caverns and crags

just beneath the surface, these banners gather,
sheltered from sun, from stars, from weather —

sheltered, too, from admirers; hidden from any
appreciative eye. And there are so many!

They are thoughts we attempted to utter, but failed.
Or confessions of love: folded, stamped, never mailed.

Tom Thomson In Purgatory

17 March 2008

Ron Padgett

[from Ron Padgett's How to Be Perfect, 2007]

Mortal Combat

You can't tell yourself not to think
of the English muffin because that's what
you just did, and now the idea
of the English muffin has moved
to your salivary glands and caused
a ruckus. But I am more powerful
than you, salivary glands, stronger
than you, idea, and able to leap
over you, thoughts that keep coming
like an invading army trying to pull
me away from who I am. I am
a squinty old fool stooped over
his keyboard having an anxiety attack
over an English muffin! And
that's the way I like it.

How to Be Perfect

13 March 2008

Harriet Monroe's Poetry

We have learned from Ron Silliman that the first ten years of Poetry are now online.

09 March 2008

Philip Levine

[from Philip Levine's Not This Pig, 1968]

Animals Are Passing from Our Lives

It's wonderful how I jog
on four honed-down ivory toes
my massive buttocks slipping
like oiled parts with each light step.

I'm to market. I can smell
the sour, grooved block, I can smell
the blade that opens the hole
and the pudgy white fingers

that shake out the intestines
like a hankie. In my dreams
the snouts drool on the marble,
suffering children, suffering flies,

suffering the consumers
who won't meet their steady eyes
for fear they could see. The boy
who drives me along believes

that any moment I'll fall
on my side and drum my toes
like a typewriter or squeal
and shit like a new housewife

discovering television,
or that I'll turn like a beast
cleverly to hook his teeth
with my teeth. No. Not this pig.

Not This Pig: Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Program)

06 March 2008

Susan Mitchell

[from Susan Mitchell's The Water Inside the Water, 1983]

Once, Driving West of Billings, Montana

I ran into the afterlife.
No fluffy white clouds. Not even stars. Only sky
dark as the inside of a movie theater
at three in the afternoon and getting bigger all the time,
expanding at terrific speed
over the car which was disappearing,
flattening out empty
as the fields on either side.

                                      It was impossible to think
under that rain louder than engines.
I turned off the radio to listen, let my head
fill up until every bone
was vibrating — sky.

                            Twice, trees of lightning
broke out of the asphalt. I could smell
the highway burning. Long after, saw blue smoke twirling
behind the eyeballs, lariats
doing fancy rope tricks, jerking silver
dollars out of the air, along with billiard cues, ninepins.

I was starting to feel I could drive forever
when suddenly one of those trees was right in front of me.
Of course, I hit it —
branches shooting stars down the windshield,
poor car shaking like a dazed cow.
I thought this time for sure I was dead
so whatever was on the other side had to be eternity.

Saw sky enormous as nowhere. Kept on driving.

The Water Inside the Water

05 March 2008

Ellen Bryant Voigt

[from Ellen Bryant Voigt's Claiming Kin, 1976]


In the still morning when you move
toward me in sleep for love,
I dream of

an island where long-stemmed cranes,
serious weather vanes,
turn slowly on one

foot. There the dragonfly folds
his mica wings and rides
the tall reed

close as a handle. The hippo yawns,
nods to thick pythons,
slack and drowsy, who droop down

like untied sashes
from the trees. The brash
hyenas do not cackle

and run but lie with their paws
on their heads like dogs.
The lazy crow's caw

falls like a sigh. In the field
below, the fat moles build
their dull passage with an old

instinct that needs
no light or waking; its slow beat
turns the hand in sleep

as we turn toward each other
in the ripe air of summer,
before the change of weather,

before the heavy drop
of the apples.

Claiming Kin (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

04 March 2008

Elizabeth Spires

[from Elizabeth Spires's Now the Green Blade Rises, 2002]

The Papermaker

          Last year's poverty was not yet true poverty.
          This year's poverty is at last true poverty.
          Last year there was nowhere to place the gimlet.
          This year the gimlet itself is gone.

                               — ZEN MONK HSIANG-YEN

In the hot heat of deep summer,
I dream of paper white as snow,
white winter paper,
drying in the hills.

The days repeat.
Each sheet is the first sheet,
alive, without ego, still,
until the poet speaks.

Here is the white field.
Here is the white field, waiting.
A black brush, a crow,
walks there, flies off.

What do I know?
The I disappearing
is the crow flying,
the clumsy crow.

Sweating, I wake,
holding nothing in my hands.
Again, I have dreamed
the dream of paper.

And what, you patiently ask,
is true poverty?
This sheet that I give you
upon which nothing is written.

Now the Green Blade Rises: Poems