Category Archives: poem

the window

bd42940b0d669dd8ba649d5760c40687.jpg

A storm blew in last night and knocked out
the electricity. When I looked
through the window, the trees were translucent.
Bent and covered with rime. A vast calm
lay over the countryside.
I knew better. But at that moment
I felt I’d never in my life made any
false promises, nor committed
so much as one indecent act. My thoughts
were virtuous. Later on that morning,
of course, electricity was restored.
The sun moved from behind the clouds,
melting the hoarfrost.
And things stood as they had before.

poem by Raymond Carver / photograph by Shinzo Maeda

Tagged , , , , , , ,

I walked past a house where I lived once

 

e8a2613ce4474dc2334f14ee2bef4aaf-1.jpg

I walked past a house where I lived once:
a man and a woman are still together in the whispers there.
Many years have passed with the quiet hum
of the staircase bulb going on
and off and on again.

The keyholes are like little wounds
where all the blood seeped out. And inside,
people pale as death.

I want to stand once again as I did
holding my first love all night long in the doorway.
When we left at dawn, the house
began to fall apart and since then the city and since then
the whole world.

I want to be filled with longing again
till dark burn marks show on my skin.

I want to be written again
in the Book of Life, to be written every single day
till the writing hand hurts.

Yehuda Amichai

Tagged , , , , , ,

who knows where

5e5b19afbfe6da45d25adb29be59d8ee.jpg

who knows where
we will be in a year
but now, here,
on this small ledge

a mountain porch opening
into the night with listening
pines and a cathedral moon
i hold your hand

that made the tea and
for the first time
the thrill of love
returned to me,
without stain —
it could have been a
prayer.

our souls, my soul is a
feathery invisible breathing,
lifting and panicking
with delight —

why here and why now?
who made this,
who made us,
where will we be in a year?

 

chris woodhull

Tagged , , , , , , ,

as is

3e71df2b72a72b876c3af5c4aba23ef4

My heart hurt thinking about you

so I bought a book of poems

I may already have:

a line so small and heartbreaking

crept up on me

and slipped itself inside me and

stopped me dead in my tracks

and I trembled

– and yet, I may already have this line

in the very same book I may already own

and yet what if I am wrong

that is the question

about the book at home

and later this evening,

the store closed,

lights out, everybody

gone, home, alone, one lamp lit,

wondering how I dreamed up such a mistake

– what a terrible desolation – and

yet I am now driving home,

book in hand, so to speak,

in a bag resting in the passenger seat,

and the only surprise still possible

is this:

what if on the other hand,

I now have two beautiful slim volumes

of the exact same book of poems,

each with the hidden line I love,

one for me and the other for you.

 

 

chris woodhull

Fine and Mellow / Billie Holiday

3d72330edf0aeb1985f894f5f312a7ff

My man don’t love me
Treats me oh so mean
My man, he don’t love me
Treats me awful mean
He’s the lowest man
That I’ve ever seen

He wears high-draped pants
Stripes are really yellow
He wears high-draped pants
Stripes are really yellow
But when he starts in to love me
He’s so fine and mellow

Love will make you drink and gamble
Make you stay out all night long
Love will make you drink and gamble
Make you stay out all night long
Love will make you do things that you know is wrong

But if you treat me right daddy
I’ll stay home every day
If you treat me right daddy
I’ll stay home every day
But you’re so mean to me, baby
I know you’re gonna drive me away

Love is just like a faucet
It turns off and on
Love is just like a faucet
It turns off and on

Some times when you think it’s on, baby
It has turned off and gone

Tagged , , , , , ,

Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved

2064b98c4caf83bb0d18ecfa0f049c15

The river has a single song,
Which is itself.
The tree has a song.
The bird also.
The heart knows all
These songs
And a million of its own.

Neither the river
Nor the bird can write.
The tree moves
Its branches against
The sky all day
As if it’s thinking
About inventing
It’s own alphabet,
But nothing comes of it.

So it’s still up to us.
We’re supposed to bring
Them into the Book,
Make a place for them in our poems.
The world comes into the poem,
The poem comes into the world.
Reciprocity – it all comes down
To that.
As with lovers:
When it’s right you can’t say
Who is kissing whom.

by Gregory Orr

Tagged , ,

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

2820b7c5306fc98a640581c6694b61d3

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
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 …
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,
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,
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;
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;
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
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 —
(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
Disturb the universe?
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,
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—
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?
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
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
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!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched 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?
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,
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,
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 towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
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,
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?—
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:
“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,
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—
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.
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.
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.

BY T. S. ELIOT

Tagged , ,

Report from Paradise

1e37a819df9f04abf6dc35b4f2b28100
In paradise the work week is fixed at thirty hours
salaries are higher prices steadily go down
manual labour is not tiring (because of reduced gravity)
chopping wood is no harder than typing
the social system is stable and the rulers are wise
really in paradise one is better off than in whatever country
At first it was to have been different
luminous circles choirs and degrees of abstraction
but they were not able to separate exactly
the soul from the flesh and so it would come here
with a drop of fat a thread of muscle
it was necessary to face the consequences
to mix a grain of the absolute with a grain of clay
one more departure from doctrine the last departure
only John foresaw it: you will be resurrected in the flesh
not many behold God
he is only for those of 100 per cent pneuma
the rest listen to communiqués about miracles and floods
some day God will be seen by all
when it will happen nobody knows
As it is now every Saturday at noon
sirens sweetly bellow
and from the factories go the heavenly proletarians
awkwardly under their arms they carry their wings like violins

poem by Zbigniew Herbert / translated by Czeslaw Milosz

Tagged , , ,

Speak the Truth to the People / by Mari Evans

bbff9261fdcc26f742d91debbdc1681f
Speak the truth to the people
Talk sense to the people
Free them with honesty
Free the people with Love and Courage for their Being
Spare them the fantasy
Fantasy enslaves
A slave is enslaved
Can be enslaved by unwisdom
Can be re-enslaved while in flight from the enemy
Can be enslaved by his brother whom he loves
His brother whom he trusts whom he loves
His brother whom he trusts
His brother with the loud voice
And the unwisdom
Speak the truth to the people
It is not necessary to green the heart
Only to identify the enemy
It is not necessary to blow the mind
Only to free the mind
To identify the enemy is to free the mind
A free mind has no need to scream

A free mind is ready for other things

To BUILD black schools
To BUILD black children
To BUILD black minds
To BUILD black love
To BUILD black impregnability
To BUILD a strong black nation
To BUILD

Speak the truth to the people
Spare them the opium of devil-hate
They need no trips on honky-chants.

Move them instead to a BLACK ONENESS.

A black strength which will defend its own
Needing no cacophony of screams for activation
A black strength which will attack the laws
exposes the lies, disassembles the structure
and ravages the very foundation of evil.
Speak the truth to the people
To identify the enemy is to free the mind
Free the mind of the people
Speak to the mind of the people
Speak Truth

Tagged , , ,

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

3c73188c626bd366710f7699034a0f6b

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

by Dylan Thomas

Tagged , , ,