Archive for the ‘Mary’s Favorite Poets’ Category

In My Country by Craig Czury   Leave a comment


we are a village
flying toward one dream of wings on earth
what you try to keep to yourself
when you speak without opening your eyes
we breathe from each others lungs
even when you smoke with your eyes closed
staring at the face that becomes our face of sleep
under your dark eyelids
your leg with my leg
your head with my shoulder
the way we’ve known each other all our lives
stranger
one of us jerks and cries out here
here stop here
we all jerk and cry out
and what if this bus were to stop
who will remember whom
at the moment of stepping off

Posted September 7, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock by T.S Eliot   2 comments

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised 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?
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!]
It is 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 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,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 85
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, 90
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,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”— 95
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, 100
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: 105
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.”
.      .      .      .      .
110
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, 115
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 … 120
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. 125
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 130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Posted August 19, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) activists, poet, mother   Leave a comment

Arise then…women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts!

Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:

“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,

For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country,

Will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with

Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe out dishonor,

Nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil

At the summons of war,

Let women now leave all that may be left of home

For a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means

Whereby the great human family can live in peace…

Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,

But of God –

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,

May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient

And the earliest period consistent with its objects,

To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,

The amicable settlement of international questions,

The great and general interests of peace.

Posted August 19, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

Shark’s Teeth by Kay Ryan   Leave a comment

Everything contains some
silence. Noise gets
its zest from the
small shark’s-tooth
shaped fragments
of rest angled
in it. An hour
of city holds maybe
a minute of these
remnants of a time
when silence reigned,
compact and dangerous
as a shark. Sometimes
a bit of a tail
or fin can still
be sensed in parks.

Posted August 16, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

two nights before my 72nd birthday by Charles Bukowski   Leave a comment

<!– (from Come On In!) –>

sitting here on a boiling hot night while
drinking a bottle of cabernet sauvignon
after winning $232 at the track.
there’s not much I can tell you except
if it weren’t for my bad right leg
I don’t feel much different than I did
30 or 40 years ago (except that
now I have more money and should be able
to afford a decent
burial). also,
I drive better automobiles and have
stopped carrying a
switchblade.
I am still looking for a hero, a role model,
but can’t find one.
I am no more tolerant of Humanity
than I ever was.
I am not bored with myself and find
that I am the only one I can
turn to in time of
crisis.
I’ve been ready to die for decades and
I’ve been practicing, polishing up
for that end
but it’s very
hot tonight
and I can thing of little but
this fine cabernet,
that’s gift enough for me.
sometimes I can’t
believe I’ve come this far,
this has to be some kind of goddamned
miracle!
just another old guy
blinking at the forces,
smiling a little,
as the cities tremble and the left
hand rises,
clutching
something
real.

Posted August 16, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

Sancificum by Chris Abani   Leave a comment

Boys are taught to kill early.
I was five
when I shot a chick in my first ritual.
I was eight
when chickens became easy
but turkeys drew loathing.
I was ten
when I killed a goat. I was made to stare
into that goat’s eyes before pulling
my knife across its throat.
Amen.
I thought it was to teach me the agony
of the kill. Perhaps it was
to inure me to blood.
To think nothing of the jagged resistance of flesh,
To make the smell of rust and metal and shit familiar.
I didn’t grow up on a farm.
I have never killed a man, but
I know how, I know I can,
I know that if the timing were right I would.
I am afraid that I might not feel sorry.
I am afraid that I will enjoy it.
Let there be love.
T-shirt for Terrence:
“And you say psycho like it’s a bad thing.”
What can you say about growing up in Nigeria?
Does anyone care that you picked plump red and yellow
cashews from trees and ate them in the sun,
the sticky sweet of them running down your arms.
And later, the seeds collected and roasted for the nut.
Can you talk about later in prison?
Writing names on other men with the sap of cashews.
Names to obscure their real selves,
names to protect what might be left over
for when they returned to the world from hell.
It is an old trick, to fool death by writing
a new name on your body.
I was afraid my soul would be obscured,
and in cowardly script, almost invisible to the eye,
scrawled with the tip of a needle: Saddam.
It has faded to a nice smudge on my belly,
where a network of hairs and stretch marks
pretend it never happened.
I learned alchemy in prison.
Words mean only what you want them too.
You say, sunshine and you mean hope.
You say, food and you mean refuge.
You say, sand and you mean play.
You say, stone and you mean, I will never forget.
But you do, but you do and thank God, thank God.
When they called from the university,
in all innocence, they said,
there is a letter for you from the president.
They had never heard the words Dele Giwa uttered
before the bomb blew him and his family to hell.
You tell your friend who runs the place.
And you sit turning the letter over and over,
while she gently clears the building
and then comes back to sit with you as
you turn the letter over and over.
Fingers ignorantly searching for wires.
Over and over you turn wishing you were American
and could have the naivety to not fear a letter from
your president. To feel only pride or the gentle rise
of acerbic wit as you prepare
to decline whatever is on offer.
You smile at your friend who has no reason
to be here except she won’t let you die alone
and you rip the envelope open.
There is no explosion,
A letter spills out with the crest of the president.
You are crying, tears running down your face.
You are glad you are not dead.
You are glad that your country is proud of you.
You are glad to see the day when things can change.
You are confused.
Your friend is holding your hand.
Dear Eloise Klein Healy,
blessing be upon your name.
Is this what it feels like to have your father love you?
To not fear his return?
To not expect to be hit when he reaches for you?
What can it feel like to believe
that the world is inherently good?
Let there be love.
I am not a pessimist.
I believe in love.

Posted August 15, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

Why I Don’t Write Autobiographical Poems by Mary Wallach   Leave a comment

Vengeance doesn’t work in a poem, nor do digs at anatomical parts
or mean-spirited, see-what-I-mean, anecdotal jibes. For example
you write an epic tirade against “Bob.” Who is Bob to me, the reader?
The fact that he lied, cheated, was lousy in bed, that doesn’t make Bob
special, nor does your problem with Bob make me feel different about my life.
However, speak to me of Bob’s kitchen, of its perfect, painted walls
of deep and shiny teal with high-gloss white moldings, (he was into that
Southwestern look), of the way Bob’s toast had to be cooked evenly on
both sides, and of Bob, himself, draped, regally, in a raggedy old kimono,
dragging on a filthy, filterless cigarette, his hand as graceful as a gazelle in
slow-motion, the nervousness suspended, of how each word he spoke was
always articulated as neatly, separately, yet as packed with juice as a
champagne grape – and I can begin to feel more impassioned. And when,
after several years of cohabitation, he drops you as carelessly as he flicks
an ash, you allow me to be devastated.

“Why I Don’t Write Autobiographical Poems” by Mary Wallach. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Posted August 15, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Mary's Favorite Poets

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