Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turns out I'm autodidactic. But don't worry, my doctor says it'll pass.

Back before radio and TV, poetry really was for the masses. Just ask my grandmother and Mark Twain. Back when you only had two choices for entertainment--you could have a staring contest with Myrtle the cow or you could read a book. Nowadays, you read a little Emily Dickinson in College, take a test and get on with your life. Poetry went the way of CB Radios which I miss terribly, good buddy.

In 10th grade I discovered 'THE COLLECTED POEMS OF E.E. CUMMINGS'. I was in heaven.
Who was this strange man with his surreal poems. It changed everything for me.
A new way of thinking. A new frame. A new house to live in. Metaphorically of course, Susan.
From there it was just a hop, skip and a joy to find Eliot, Pound, H.D., Ford, Stein, Lowell, Plath, Sexton, Rimbaud, Valery, Breton...the list goes on and on and on and on.
I may have written a book of 'Bad Poetry' indeed. But the good stuff is what brought me to it.
You can't deconstruct what isn't there. Or can you?
Here are some of my favorites I stopped and had a few drinks with along the way...


The Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls  
by ee cummings

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church's protestant blessings
daughters, unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow,both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things-
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
....the Cambridge ladies do not care,above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy







Mad Girl’s Love Song 
By Sylvia Plath

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

 I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"
 



Recipe For Happiness Khaborovsk Or Anyplace  
By Lawrence Ferlinghetti


One grand boulevard with trees

one grand cafe in the sun

 with strong black coffee in very small cups.

One not necessarily very beautiful
man or woman who loves you.

One fine day



Love Poem 
By Louise Gl├╝ck

There is always something to be made of pain.
Your mother knits.
She turns out scarves in every shade of red.
They were for Christmas, and they kept you warm
while she married over and over, taking you
along. How could it work,
when all those years she stored her
widowed heart as though the dead come back.
No wonder you are the way you are,
                                                                                      afraid of blood, your women
                                                                                      like one brick wall after another.




A Drinking Song 

By William Butler Yeats


Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.





Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World
by Richard Wilbur
The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded
soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and
simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with
angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are
in blouses,

Some are in smocks: but truly there
they are.
Now they are rising together in calm
swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they
wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal
breathing;

Now they are flying in place,
conveying
The terrible speed of their
omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now
of a sudden
They swoon down in so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every
blessed day,
And cries,
"Oh, let there be nothing on
earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising
steam
And clear dances done in the sight of
heaven."

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks
and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter
love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns
and rises,

"Bring them down from their ruddy
gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs
of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be
undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure
floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult
balance." 

Real Life 
by Lucie Brock-Broido     
  
Soon the electrical wires will grow heavy under the snow.
I am thinking of fire of the possibility of fire & then moving

Across America in a car with a powder blue dashboard,
Moving to country music & the heart

Is torn a little more because the song says the truth.
Because in the thirty-six things that can happen

To people, men & women, women & women,
Men & men, in all these things the soul is bound

To be broken somewhere along the line,
That clove-scented, air-colored wanderer blushing

With no memory, no inkling & then proceeds
Across America

In the sap green of the tropics,
Toward the cadmium of a bitter sunrise to a new age,

At the white impossible ice hour, starving, 
Past the electric blue of the rivers melting down,

Above the nude, snuff, terra cotta, maybe fire,
Over the tiny fragile mound of finger bones

Of an Indian who died standing up, 
Through the heliotrope of a song about the sunset,

To live the thirty-six things & never comes home.


Carson McCullers

By Charles Bukowski

she died of alcoholism
wrapped in a blanket
on a deck chair
on an ocean
steamer.

all her books of
terrified loneliness

all her books about
the cruelty
of loveless love
 

were all that was left 
of her
 

as the strolling vacationer
                                                                               discovered her body

                                                                               notified the captain 

                                                                               and she was quickly dispatched
                                                                               to somewhere else
                                                                               on the ship

                                                                               as everything
                                                                               continued just
                                                                               as
                                                                              she had written it 


Lines For The Fortune Cookies By Frank O’Hara

I think you're wonderful and so does everyone else.

Just as Jackie Kennedy has a baby boy, so will you--even bigger.

You will meet a tall beautiful blonde stranger, and you will not say hello.

You will take a long trip and you will be very happy, though alone.

You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.

In the beginning there was YOU--there will always be YOU, I guess.

You will write a great play and it will run for three performances.

Please phone The Village Voice immediately: they want to interview you.

Roger L. Stevens and Kermit Bloomgarden have their eyes on you.

Relax a little; one of your most celebrated nervous tics will be your undoing.

Your first volume of poetry will be published as soon as you finish it.

You may be a hit uptown, but downtown you're legendary!

Your walk has a musical quality which will bring you fame and fortune.  


 
 

You will eat cake

Who do you think you are, anyway? Jo Van Fleet?

You think your life is like Pirandello, but it's really like O'Neill.

A few dance lessons with James Waring and who knows? Maybe something will happen.

That's not a run in your stocking, it's a hand on your leg.

I realize you've lived in France, but that doesn't mean you know EVERYTHING!

You should wear white more often--it becomes you.

The next person to speak to you will have a very intriquing proposal to make.

A lot of people in this room wish they were you.

Have you been to Mike Goldberg's show? Al Leslie's? Lee Krasner's?

At times, your disinterestedness may seem insincere, to strangers.

Now that the election's over, what are you going to do with yourself?

You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.

You eat meat. Why do you eat meat?

Beyond the horizon there is a vale of gloom.

You too could be Premier of France, if only ... if only... 


America 
http://hwanchul.com/files/gimgs/9_jen-kao-1.jpgBy Gertrude Stein

Once in English they said America.  Was it English to them.
Once they said Belgian.
We like a fog.
Do you for weather.
Are we brave.
Are we true.
Have we the national colour.
Can we stand ditches.

Can we mean well.
Do we talk together.
Have we red cross.
A great many people speak of feet.
And socks.
 




One Art   by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

 



Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


 



My Dream By Ogden Nash

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it 



  





This World is not Conclusion. 
by Emily Dickinson

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond --
Invisible, as Music --
But positive, as Sound --
It beckons, and it baffles --
Philosophy -- don't know --
And through a Riddle, at the last --
Sagacity, must go --
To guess it, puzzles scholars --
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown --
Faith slips -- and laughs, and rallies --
Blushes, if any see --
Plucks at a twig of Evidence --
And asks a Vane, the way --
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit Strong Hallelujahs roll --

Narcotics cannot still the Too
That nibbles at the soul --