She traded Henry for James
And now James is glad,
But James doesn’t know he’s
The next to be sad.

The one she abuses
Learns a lesson, Jimmy, lad;
he one she chooses is
The next to be sad.

The man she refuses
Is rejected a tad,
But the man she chooses is
The next to be sad.

If you are the next,
For a while you’ll be glad—
But her next is, you ought to know,
The next to be sad.


Put down your device and listen to me.
Do you know Miss University?
We owe her a trillion dollars in debt.
Are you listening yet?
Professor Benjamin took a suicide pill.
Hunted by Nazis: no money, no will.
America hunted the Nazis down.
Miss University was burned to the ground.
They cancelled many a college course
As Miss University was handled with force.
The intellectualization
Of Miss University never saved a nation.
When groups like Nazis start to hold sway
Miss University just does what they say;
But every poet and scientist is dead
Unless Miss University lets them get read.
She is the girl every intellectual desires,
The lovely of brick and ivy covered spires;
But these days any building will do
To pull the ass-kissing degree-seekers through
For vanity and pride, a printed degree,
A victim of Miss University.
A program to please every trend and taste
As the competition must be laid to waste,
As ‘on-line’ and ‘psycho-babble’ mix and blend;
(With most of the courses cancelled in the end)
Miss University’s catalogue advertises
Plenty—in cynical disguises.
University accepts every crazy and flake—
She has enrollment goals to make,
And retention numbers to count,
As crushing debt continues to mount,
As graduates find out a degree
Doesn’t equal opportunity:
You’ve been pleasured by Miss University.
She knows how to avoid disasters:
A teacher to keep teaching must get a masters.
Just make it necessary
To bow and scrape for her degree
And make her’s the kind of place
Which teaches the same disgrace
Of paper pushing guile
Which first made her smile.
The deans and bureaucrats multiply
And become the very reason why
The whole business exists at all.
Raise money to buy a new hall
For Miss University to dance
On corpses, so you, hypocrite!—might have a chance.








Dante may have rhymed like the Cat in the Hat,
But who will take you seriously if you rhyme like that?
A mournful picture which takes your breath away,
A rain covered river in a mist of gray,
The reedy banks and the green hanging over,
The river swollen, the foliage sinking lower,
Makes an impression on the eye—
But too much rhyme makes the reader want to cry…
If you want an orchestra to support your art
Poetry can play only a small, wordy part.
There is nothing more wrong
Than a poem stolen from a song

Poetry is somber and grammatical.
It sympathizes with the painter’s art
To find in objects a sympathetic heart,
To find in nature where nothing but cruelty is
A bird’s flute or a hesitant kiss.
But the poem lives in shadows
And cannot turn towards the light
For it lives with reason only,
Not with laughter—or any sensual delight;
It does not drum. It has no sight.
There is nothing more wrong
Than a poem stolen from a song.

Good night, poetry, in your safe lake of death.
You have no music, no eyesight, no breath.
Music marches and pictures tease.
A poem is only marks on a frieze.
A poem is a meditation on a grave;
It brings silence to the mind.
Sober poetry’s thoughts are of a different kind;
It knows not music’s immediate bliss;
It thinks of—but is not—the kiss:
Yet without this there is no genius.
There is nothing more wrong
Than a poem stolen from a song.








My novels are long, ten times longer than yours,
My intricate poems take years to write;
I assembled my wardrobe with more effort than you can imagine,
The colors that match and the expensive material should tell you something,
And you can’t possibly appreciate the mammoth undertaking
That went into my cleanliness or my clever jokes
Aimed at dismantling the system
Which oppresses, oppresses
Even from its bed, even while it is naked, held by
The lover that loves.


Call it the love that it is:
Body of flesh pointing to the future,
Venus of reproduction, a daughter
Not down here for poetry or dance
Or the lesbian alternative.
Sexy prophecy of now,
More lovely than a golden cow.
The only reason for her sexiness:
Bearing children in the priceless future.
Hips, breasts, the good flesh,
A conspiracy of reproducing nature.
Nature will let you touch the breast
After painting and poetry have spoken,
After the speech, perhaps the sacred portal will open.
Life—without reason—will begin.
Here is accident without nuance.
Here is the clumsiest dance.
Sacrifice to silence and pilgrimage.
You, ashamed to kiss
Pure quantity?
Call it the love that it is.




Nothing much happens here after four.
Five will show up, in his usual place,
always looking suspiciously
ready to make a disclaimer regarding his appearance,
but we’re used to that. Five becomes quiet when Six arrives.

We’re getting rather tired of him, too.
What does Six talk about?  The usual stuff about what happens
between five and six, but we suspect he has no idea what he’s talking about.
He doesn’t talk much about what happens between six and seven,
and becomes very depressed when he does, almost like his time is running out.

Once, he began crying softly for ten minutes. Only when Seven came did he shut up.
Seven is a somber character and she becomes more somber as the evening goes on.
She keeps asking where the others went. Isn’t that obvious?
You and I sit here because we like to be with each other; we’re in love, and we talk almost as an afterthought,
because it’s what people do— they talk, and we hold each other, less shyly as evening comes on.

Eight arrives. In the summer, it’s day, and we see him, dressed like sundown, a brilliant shadow of
A third world person, obsessed with clouds; he chirps more like a cricket than a bird.
Nine shows up, has given up looking for work, given up on a lot of things, but likes to read
And will carefully sing to us about what he’s read. We would love
to have a really interesting conversation, but we can’t. We are falling asleep.

We keep thinking someone else is arriving. Even when I hold you, you look at your watch,
But I am happy to be with you, on an island, in the shadows, for a short hour.


Since the woman is superior, she says no;
Because she is the jewel
To have, she makes
The man, sad, come and go.

Since the man is inferior, he says yes;
Because she is the jewel
To have, she makes
The man run and stop and guess.

Because she is everything, she says no.
Because he is nothing, he whispers
Beatrice! Beatrice! I love you so!


Poet! Ungrateful child!
Lover of beauty for its own sake!

Did you expect the moon, your mother,
To give and give, and never take?
To always be a light for you?
In this day, where there is no poetry,
You long for a night that will never return,
When night held you, before the sun rose
And son was the pun too bright to learn.
Listen to me: there is no beauty
For its own sake. Do your duty.
Look inside yourself. You are a dark, indifferent tune.
You need to be a mother.  You need to make another moon.



Cargo pants,
I’ll take you to the dance,
And we’ll have fun
In the morning, in the morning

Take my hand
In the military band
And we’ll have fun
In the morning, in the morning

I am free.
No one needs me,
And watch me pee
In the morning, in the morning

A golden ring,
And the markets sing;
I am lingering
In the morning, in the morning



The rape joke is that I could never have seen it coming.

The rape joke is that I was 7 years old.

The rape joke is that there wasn’t a wine cooler in sight.  I was a boy alone with a strange man in an elevator which made a soft whoosh as it passed each floor.

The rape joke is it was New York City and I normally walked home from school alone.

But maybe this isn’t a rape joke because it was years ago and life was safer then.

The rape joke is the only thing I could think was: “Oh please don’t bite it off.”

The rape joke is there were no women, only a boy and a man who preferred dick to pussy, apparently.

“Dick to pussy” almost sounds like a dirty joke.

Doesn’t it?

How much does it matter if you don’t get the rape joke? Even if you were “there?”

Wait, it gets funnier.

Don’t worry, Miss Geography!  It gets funnier!

Why is celebrating being a victim good?

OK, the rape joke understands that.

But why is celebrating not being a victim bad?

Let them enjoy rape jokes.

Let them admit as they laugh it’s great not to be raped.

Give them that much, will you?

Can you?

The rape joke is my mother opened the apartment door after he ran down the stairs and I was never happier to see her, before or since. Four years before, she had lost a child.  She asked me questions and then it was forgotten. Was it pre-internet stoicism? Today a word makes the news. The rape joke is my innocence (soul) remained untouched.

The rape joke is in the elevator he began to fondle me and not knowing it was wrong I continued to speak as politely as I could to the grownup whose wishes were superior to mine.

The rape joke is I didn’t know it was wrong and I felt nothing afterwards.

Is this wrong?

The rape joke is how matter-of-fact it all was.

The rape joke is that sexual attraction is always the beginning of love.

The rape joke is that sexual attraction is not the beginning of friendship.

The rape joke is the Rape Joke is linguistic only.

I know the story.

The Rape Joke author went to a comedy club and thought:

Jokes about rape?  Really?

The deeper story is that Edgar Poe in his “Philosophy of Composition” said length is crucial for popularity and “Rape Joke” is the same length as “The Raven.” Lockwood doesn’t have a college degree. Poe didn’t have a college degree. (Wait there’s more. More more more) The “Rape Joke” went viral after appearing on Facebook.  “The Raven” went viral after appearing in a daily newspaper.

The rape joke is the raven enters and tells a joke that is not funny over and over again. How can painting compete with nature?  Poetry is not found in nature, but painting reproduces nature, so how can painting possibly compete with the world? How can painting compete with nature?  Because of interiority.  Because we need pictures inside.

Remember the bouncer part of the Rape Joke?

Are jokes poems?  Are jokes deep?

The Rape Joke is funny/no it isn’t.

Have your cake and eat it.

Funny—but not funny.

Slimy and clean.

Have empathy for the victim but the victim’s poem is smoking hot.

Let’s see how the rapist feels—not!  

“Smoking hot” is actually quite complex.

Patricia Lockwood knows this: the worst thing is when your enemy has better jokes.

Does she know: the Joke insults the Poem, the Poem insults the Joke?

Does she know how it feels when someone says please stop joking. Please. I love you.

I know she knows that nothing disturbs us more than a joke we don’t get.

And she knows this: whether a joke hurts or heals, they laugh.

This rape joke is bullshit!

The rape joke is I don’t want to blame or pass judgment.

The rape joke is I would have pleasurable flying dreams, flying down the stair landings of the thirteen story building, the stairs where my rapist ran down, after trying to give me a blow job.

The rape joke is it feels stupid to say “my rapist” since I was only 7 years old.

The rape joke is that language doesn’t seem like the right choice for an event such as this.

The rape joke is I am guilty of exploiting my rape.

The rape joke is that when I look in my heart I am only writing this to get attention.

The rape joke is that even as I say sorry I get a thrill because I will seem sensitive as I confess my selfishness to the rape joke.

Where will it end?

The rape joke is that years later I was trapped alone in an elevator and it was far more terrifying.  I think.

The rape joke is loneliness seems unlimited and sympathy has limits.

The rape joke is you’ll never look away.

Admit it.









25. Suddenly realizing someone is incredibly stupid.

24. Rolling your eyes when they are not looking.

23. Rolling your eyes when they are.

22. Finding out someone’s taste in film and music is really lame.

21. Reading their poems and being completely unmoved.

20. Realizing you have no interest in what they are saying.

19. Discovering the truth that people who laugh all the time are really unhappy.

18. Knowing every ‘life of the party’ person is secretly depressed and alone.

17. Knowing everyone is secretly depressed and alone.

16. Knowing life will never get better.

15. Knowing the young will one day be old.

14. Finding out the richer they are, the more worried and secretly miserable they are.

13. Discovering that having children makes people less happy.

12. Finding out everyone secretly hates everything.

11. At the home team stadium when the home team loses.

10. When the smiling bitch lets a nasty word slip out.

9. When the ‘one-in-control’ is exposed as a coward.

8. When the ‘wise’ one completely fucks up.

7. When feelings of love suddenly vanish.

6. Summer that brings skin cancer.

5. Spring that brings allergies.

6. Fall that brings student debt.

5. Winter that brings winter.

4. People having a ‘good time’ not really having a good time at all but trying hard to pretend they are, and failing at it.

3. The proud misanthrope trying to be more misanthropic than you, and ending up as the most miserable of all.

2. An environmentalist eaten by a bear.

1. Stars Without Makeup.



The first sun will not look like the last:
Nothing seems new—except as we look back at the past.
Bright the sky, bright trying to look through the blue
Radiance—the radiance of a sun burning, and all dark things, too.

The dream you have when you wake up
Will look different in the evening,
And by tomorrow it will
Not be friendly at all.

The one you want most
You can’t have,
Not because you fail, or they fail you,
But because wanting is not having.
Amazement was left on the pavement
As the skyscrapers grew.

The worst, that will spoil all your fun:
You will love several;
You will not love one.





When the sun confuses the sky,
And the warmth and the shades and the light
Which shouldn’t exist, springs into sight,
I have my opinions of you anyway,
Which I ponder in secret agony
Despite the swimming day.
Every miracle that you can think of is nothing
Without my thinking it so,
Without me, nothing exists at all—
Nothing triumphs without me,
Without me, nothing can fall.

It took me a long time,
Because I was blinded by myself,
To see how much you were
Yourself in your own soul,
How much the existence I
Took for granted was really myself,
A miracle for you
And also a poem
That could never be written,
Not because you are not a poet,
But because you are,
Understanding limits in a perfectly
Positive way; so when I
Fell upon your silences
As things too wide and tall,
You made no effort to acknowledge
The silences at all.

I thought you rejected me,
But you rejected silence by being
Silent about it, these silences
The space you needed
To have space as yourself
In each particular case
So that I, myself, could not possibly know,
Hanging over here in my space,
The whole context a little piece of the all
Which surrounds your face,
Silent, and this is why I am in your thrall.


All poets I know would say a poem is a thing,
A piece of rich imagining,
A thing other things are holding
For some other time.
A life, a soul, a rhyme.

But I know a poem is a person,
I know this poem is me.
And you—my love! reading this poem—
Can I count on you to agree?


Complexity was my delight;
When the shadow had a name, I got the shadow right,
And all around my cunning memory
The people honored me.
But that was under a different sun.
You better put me down for one.

I endeared myself to all,
My poems were glaciers, which I made small
In a trick I learned last year
When the critic, my love, swung near.
But that was under a different sun.
You better put me down for one.

I fabricated delights for all
Who came into the leafy valley beaten and small;
I took the law from the primitive tree.
I made the law me.
But that was under a different sun.
You better put me down for one.

I tried to show what I could know
In difficulty—night, fog, the valley, snow.
I knew a thousand poems by sight
Even when they were covered by night.
But that was under a different sun.
You better put me down for one.

I thought it was the thought you feared,
But that was only how the thought appeared;
We had not wanted to imply
That our thought needed to ask why.
But that was under a different sun.
You better put me down for one.

I thought I could love you all,
Where the great woods shadow the sibilant call,
And the rain and lake plunge pleasantly
To the green sea.
But that was under a different sun.
You better put me down for one.





Was I the one who leaned into your life—
Protected, soft, and safe from strife?
Was it I who entered the door of your mind,
Disrupting its innocence with ideas unkind?
Was I the one who hunted the prey,
Who hoped in her heart, “Please, please go away?”
Did I come armed with words untrue
Which flattered the sweetest part of you?
Did I know what you wanted to hear,
And poured only that into your ear?

Was I the one who mesmerized you?
Who took you away from the beautiful and true?
But the beautiful and true is a world of lies:
Smiles smiling with beautiful eyes.

I was the one who was mesmerized.
I was the one forsaken.
I was the one seduced by you, captured by you, and taken.
I was the one deceived by you—
Whether or not the beautiful is beautiful. Or true.


As the present presently becomes the past,
It is no longer a question of when or how fast
Will this fade, will we die, for nothing can last
At all; death is already here; all that is known is past.
All this lighted love, love’s fat desire and being,
All this love wants and smells and is seeing
Is dead already; we are gone, dead; dead in the past of the past.

Why did philosophy tell us things could last?
By the booming microphone’s voice, his hand shook as he drank his water.
Voices say so many things, their bodies already dying:
“You like my poems? You can have my daughter!”
Old poet, depressed by the pastness of everything,
Poet, put your poems away; they cannot sing.
Lover, love; lover, act; let’s see what this dead past can bring.
No one can give away their daughter; she is plucked
By death. And your lover has too many memories;
Your lover lives in death between each breath.

But you, the one I love the most; recently you have not spoken to me
And I have this terrible fear I am but a memory among many
To you, who now finds comfort in how death stays
In songs, in thoughts, in winding, unseen ways
Where you live, and I do not; my breath
Far from the life which floats inside your death
In a languor I dare not reach, I dare not stir
Because not only will you not be; it will be as if you never were.
The poet addresses the crowd, and they remain.
I close my eyes and count to ten,
Then to infinity. Don’t ask me why, or what, or how.
Please make this seem this is happening now.


Because you do not speak,
You are the one I seek.
You spoke to me before
And now, in the cold mist, I wander the cold shore.
Cordelia said little to her father, the king,

A little more than nothing;
She said enough, we knew,
Before tragedy, in the form of rage, broke through.
We might attempt to describe our love,
But when the king’s in a rage, it will never be enough.
Make a play of silence, instead.
Hate will still fall on your head.
Since I am not a king
I hardly need a thing.
How much do I need to know?
A hint of love will exterminate my woe.
I wait in the shade
Where woe and jealousy are made.
Do not think your silence recommends you;
So vast is silence,
A single moment it spends, outspends you.
A single word—from you—to me–
Will stop my crying by the crying sea.



The beautiful face has nothing to say,
It communicates with looks;
Poetry can talk for hours;
That’s how it gets into books.

A beautiful face is called beautiful
And that is the end of that;
If poetry attempts to be beautiful,
It no longer wants to chat.

Beauty makes everything silent:
Tower, sun, thought, snow.
Poetry talks on and on,
And doesn’t really know.

The beautiful do not like poetry,
For poetry is ugly and fat;
Poetry is intellectually beautiful
And the merely beautiful do not like that.

The beautiful do not like poetry,
For poetry is needy and thin.
Poetry is sadly beautiful
But the beautiful, beautiful to win.


My confidence grew
As I received praise from you,
And now, at last
I am free of the past.
My poetry moves
Even as you love.
Formerly, my line
Reflected what was mine;
Now it holds your symbol
And your sign.

I am free of sadness:
The sad madness
Held in the vast
Vacancy, where broken hearts,
Called me on the phone,
Sometimes in company,
Sometimes alone.
I am free of old wine,
And its old poetry
That reflected what was mine.
Now your symbol is my love
And my sign.





It’s nice to have a nice physique,

But face it, a face is what’s unique;

We fall in love with one of those,

Not with the hands, or somebody’s toes.

If you love a voice or verses

You might as well love shouts and curses,

And to fall in love with naughty parts

Is like falling in love with farts—

No, the face, the window to the soul

Is how we know the person as a whole,

For it’s as if the face were a thought

That can never be known and never be bought.

Come, let me look in your eyes again—

Was that you, with another, in the rain?





How much kissing is too much
When the mouth is beautiful?
How do we know when beauty is full?
How much divinity lives in the tongue
When the tongue does not speak?
Neither love, nor bodies mild and meek
Can measure kissing’s soft ecstasy.
Beauty and sublimity are silent,

So why don’t we shut up?
It is good that you were silent;
I learned to love thought
Which washes over the world.
Behind my words, a riddle sits on a throne.
Speaking is not enough,
No, speaking is never enough
When kisses are set upon by your moan.


The bird species in most cases
Picks a mate for life.
A life can be filled with songs and kisses,
Joy as far as the eye can see.
How can we hate when love sings from every tree?

Humans and crawling mammals
Tend to move from wife to wife.
There is a life of tunnels,
Of secrecy and sad satiety,
But you were like the lark singing above the strife.

You remembered for hours
Words of a beautiful song
That told of songs bedecked in flowers
With birds singing from every tree.
How can we hate when things like these agree?

Tell me what you are thinking
Of love and life.
Meteors and stars in the vast sky are blinking
As far as the eye can see.
But not for long.




“Invade your privacy?  I will give you your privacy forever!” –Portrait painter’s plea

Let me paint you.
The valley doesn’t know itself.
You have listened by flowers
When I, bold, told you the dozen
Goings of the sun, and the soreness
In my mind when you are gone.
Both of us are offended by ourselves
In photographs, and when mirrors
Map our sublime faces they fail;
The glass plate destroys the significance
Of longing that stretches in many
Directions far away.
Only my mastery in the painting art,
The valley laying out its perspective
In the singular sun, can allow the mystery
To go home at last, the multiple sufferings
Seeing what is happy and one.
I quickly sketched your nose and told you it was
The best nose, but you would have none of it,
Though there was a moment when your modesty dropped
And I thought perhaps you knew.
Is it possible for you to know how
I saw you once without me being specifically in the picture?
Let the painter satisfy the life no longer here,
And the living, too—vaguely sad, vaguely near.


Where is your sighing lullaby?
Last night strings
Played the mystic tune.
Usually desire sings
The words beneath the mystic moon.

The tempo is usually slow,
Like flames running across a stream,
The flames not certain which way to go,
Like perfume drifting through a dream,
A dream with dreams by you and I.

The words were immediate, not a test;
We listened and listened, and got no rest;
You were stranger, lover, and guest,
Someone I dreamed to know
Even as I moved by your elbow
And heard the sigh in your sigh.

The earthly tones conveyed unearthliness;
This perfume was one of your own;
A love was melodiously confessed—
You and I roaming to a mystic home
Where dripping love is welcome
And love in love is best.


Helpless in your beautiful face,
Helpless to triumph over the body,
To secure a new life in a different place,
To say the words that sound like the sea,
Eating your fame insatiably.

Helpless in your beautiful face,
Helpless to love a face less beautiful than your own,
Helpless to put yourself in someone’s place—
They do what they want, and do it alone.
They sail the seas, like you, the surface, the tone…

Helpless in your beautiful face
To make mirrors with soundtrack and plot;
You see only the beauty of your race
And never what the race sees not.
Beautiful faces in your country are rounded up and shot.

Helpless in your beautiful face
To continue the beauty in a different sphere;
You will be erased, and there will be no trace
That you once reigned down here,
Where loves and the sea and the moon were near.


Because I belong to myself, not you.
Galleries of paintings on love only prove
Painters should have had something better to do.
They preach in their paint that love’s elusive,
And most of the time untrue.

Because I belong to the new, not you.
Libraries of books on love prove
Only the old is possibly true.
The pleasing poems I read are few
And nothing that’s written or read is new.

Because I belong to the past, not you,
A past you can never know,
And the more you try, the more I’ll lie,
The more I’ll know
My past is me and will never die.

Because I hate beauty—
Beauty that dies.
I hate the tears in hopeful eyes.
Songs of love the singers sing prove
Lies are sung and loves’ truths
Are falsehoods fed by lies.

Because even when I love, I do not love.
I am merely sickened, I ache;
I am anxious to prove
To myself you aren’t sick for my sake—
And therefore cannot love.

I will not, by any means, abandon you,
Only love—and the question whether love is true.

Let’s study love no more.
Love just leads to war.


There was enough in these words,
There was enough in this face,
Enough danger surrounding
This safe and secret place
To make his lips on hers
A pleasure inside a pleasure,
A life within a life
No measurement can measure.
A focus and a will,
A purpose and a want,
A love in love with love,
As loves forever taunt.


How is it going?
How should it go?
There’s something I want to tell you,
But you already know.
How can I say it
In a new sort of way
That makes a difference
Among the things I say?
I hope you want to hear it,
I understand if you don’t.
Love too often speaks—
Okay then, I won’t.
New information
Is not what poets tell.
The heart of the buyer,
The advertisers sell.
This is even simpler:
The poet must find
A word for a love already on the mind.
You didn’t see this coming
As simple as this was—
The halves keep dividing,
That’s what it always does.
The purpose of division?
The One is a prison
From which you must flee,
Set theory’s two parts already are three.
My heart that loves your heart
Is expected, although,
You don’t quite believe it.
How does my poem grow?
How does it say the things
You already know?


File:Pierre Mignard (1610-1695) - Time Clipping Cupid's Wings (1694).jpg

Everything loving can fit into a cartoon,
The history of love is contained by the moon:
A lover’s mind is a cave, bathed in moonlight,
The eye not seeing, but feeling the stare of its eyesight,
As the lover looks at Mona and cries, “I cared for Mona a lot,
But it ended the one time—the one time—I forgot.”
The moon, a cold stone, shows organic rot
How to be eternal; above the ruminations and the plot,
Phases of root and branch and flower are the phases we forgot.

Cupid drawn by a cartoonist with a dirty mind
Has no sound or smell and makes you almost blind.

The look of what this man is doing
Is not okay for viewing.
The hot sun white at noon.
The dark contrast.  The cartoon.


The movie is about you, the poem is about somebody else.
Lessing says paintings furnish bodies in space,
Poetry actions in time; the interesting, talking face
Is neither a painting nor a poem; it’s myself.

I am acting as myself because this is how the movie is cast,
The best acting is not acting— it’s you being real.
A movie, like a painting or a poem, makes you feel
You are living in the present, not trapped in the past.

Since life is worth watching
Even when it’s not worth living,
We go into someone else’s past.
We escape our own, not great because it will not last.

This art object describes you,
But it also describes your neighbor, too.
Poems are for your neighbors.
Paintings and movies are multiple, but not true.
Your life is fine, but interesting to only a few.

Watching the poem, I felt
I wanted to be somewhere else,
Because I am never myself
Unless I know I will last,
Even though it is easy to think nothing will last.
The only alternative? the horror
That this will last and last and last.

Someone wants to cast  you in their play.
You are going to fulfill a dream,
Even if it’s a dream
Dull in a dull day.


She once existed, and she will exist,
As a scent from trees, as a twilight mist,
But here I look at her mouth, just kissed
By so many kisses, kisses to replace
The first kisses that kissed her face—
Desire approving this death, time approving this place.

She exists, as romance strives romantically to be
Her face kissing the part of the face she is able to see.
Is there another reason for poetry?

She forgets the beginning, and doesn’t know how life ends
But feels the moment and how it tends
Not to be momentary, but is like the mist that gradually blends

With poetry always written for her,
Where those who belong to analysis were
Ignorant of why and when poetry shall occur.


Can too much loving make us weep?
When we get more loving than we can keep?
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.

Great love means great worry.
Great fear means great hurry.
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.

Who will look at the moon alone
From the prison of their frozen throne?
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.

Love, that makes us love the same things,
Has lost a rose in Saturn’s rings.
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.

Sorrow, who wrote the poems of old,
Scorned the warrior, bedecked and bold.
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.

God, who sees all things slain,
Painted us from shadows small and vain.
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.

There is a path we are on,
But the path we are is gone.
I will be there, soon, love, I will be there, soon.


21. Because this reason goes along with the other reasons.

20. You know very well why.

19.  Okay, maybe this one doesn’t fit.

18. After #19, this had to be good.

17. This one makes you think a little, doesn’t it?

16. Yes, yes, your hunch was correct, this is how others see it!

15. Yup. We’re not kidding.

14. Google if you don’t believe.

13. Doesn’t apply to you, but it certainly applies to them.

12. This is so lame, instead of “21 reasons for 21 reasons,” it should be “20 reasons for 20 reasons.” I mean, really.

11. We are—exactly—half way through the reasons.

10. Don’t look away! The really good reasons are coming.

9. Told you. And you thought it was France!

8. Did we make your day?

7. Nailed it.

6. A great reason because it subtly undermines all the others.

5. Are you excited for the top 4?

4. Maybe this should have been number one.

3. Ha. Bet you didn’t see this coming.

2. Boo ya.

1. The most important reason:  you read them.


Because I am strangely attracted to love,
Not as attempts by whim or fancy,
But purely tender as the eternal dove:
The light of the other the light by which I see,

You may note me smiling as if in pain,
Or hear my laughter sounding like tears;
For when does love ever rest upon the plain,
Or gaze straight into a face for years?

There is much to consider when the beautiful
Sink to their knees and wish to die.
Weeping and ashamed, I told the philosophical:
Because I cry too much, I cry.


“Sally forth, my friends” –old saying

Sally only smokes in boats.
Sally gives up on wet afternoons.
Sally tries hard all winter.
Sally wants what bears want.
Sally goes slowly through stores.
Sally makes it her business to sit.
Sally has several foods for each sauce.
Sally rounds up pages of poems.
Sally takes a bus only if it’s snowing.
Sally only eats with company present.
Sally makes it seem she’s not in charge.
Sally is, after all, like other people, despite her opinions.
Sally watches TV to forget you.
Sally has a secret lovely singing voice.
Sally has a language she never uses.
Sally hates what the girls hate.
Sally secretly likes the same things she always liked.
Sally has nice ears, so what?


We’re all going blind.
If only we could see better,
We wouldn’t be ashamed of our mind.
What is going on in the workshop?
We’re all going blind.
We think with the sun’s thoughts
After the sun has gone down,
And left, in its wake, the crimson-tinged cloud.
We go down vistas
With eyes that travel those vistas down
Of leaves that speak, with gains and losses, all over town.
It would be better to be a criminal in a flat landscape.
Our sight is robbed by conveniences.
There is a certain statue that resides across the river…
We’re all going blind.
So let’s guide each other!
We don’t see. But we’re kind.


The genius is the only one
Who can love herself and hate people.
The genius understands every motive
And the origin of every motive.
The genius can be smilingly alone
In a room full of laughing people.
The genius has none of those friends
Who are not really friends.
The genius has only private wants,
Not public needs.
The genius is a genius at being left alone.
The genius is mundane on the outside,
Exciting on the inside.
The genius could be from the cold north
Or the warm south—geography has nothing to do with genius.
You don’t travel to experience genius.
Genius is right beside you when you first fall in love.
Genius is what you don’t notice until it’s too late.
Genius is nice—but not nice.
Genius always gives a little to accident.
Genius was up late at night
But will never tell you.
Genius is comfortable—but never comfortable.
Genius lives with fear and lust
As others live with sunny boredom.
Genius is strange, but in a beautiful way.
Genius goes out all the time, and always finds something.
Genius sleeps in a bed of thinking.
Genius transcends Time and timing.
Genius takes what makes you afraid,
Goes one step further, and laughs.
Genius is sensitive before you are
To what you are most sensitive about.
Genius is right in front of you
And terribly far away.


When the wings falter,
And landscape is no longer scanned,
When we forget to fly,
Every step is planned.

When the flight fails,
And we are forced to land,
We dance with our heavy bodies.
Every step is planned.

Take it up with the sun,
Complain, at once, to the moon.
Say goodbye to the sky.
You’ll be dancing soon.

Famous for the moment,
Perfumed and grinning and tanned,
You found art in your foot.
Every step is planned.


Run from love.
You will lose your sleep.
You will lose your sanity
Among everything you keep:
Letters of theirs with marks one can hardly see.
Run from love.

How many times
Will great triumphs
Sink under their sighs?
How many times
Will you forget your whole life,
Looking in their eyes?

Run from love,
Before it is too late.
Soon, all that is not love
Will be hate.

Run from love.
Run from design and rhyme
Formulated all for them
Who will be so touched.
Reason needs to condemn.

Run from love
And all its doubt.
The moon is sliding beneath the earth.
And the mind is coming out.

Run from love.
Wanting love, you will lose your sleep.
Run from love.
You’ll make the others who love you weep.


When I’m away from you I’m lost in grief,
A grief stretching on to greater sorrow;
Whether mean or kind, the world’s a thief,
The prize, you, a prize more prized tomorrow.
With each degree of intimacy barred,
All thoughts are pain, all feelings, sorrow.
Everything that I once loved is marred,
A bright past accusing a dark tomorrow.
Where are you? You are there, reading this,
Which is, for reasons given, closed to you;
Pointless, then, this poem, for pointless all my bliss.
Nothing in poems can tell us what is true.
Loving thoughts burn into the smoke of speech
Which covers a love no song of love can reach.


Unable to say what pleasure of this kind is,
I thought of love deprived of sound;
If love’s moan were not allowed, strange the bliss
To silent performance strangely bound,
Love’s fate, to have no sound at all:
All sighs, songs, gasps, pleadings, taken away—
Not that love would seem a dumb show of hate,
Or love itself die as night dies in day,
For eyes and smiles and stroking hands
Can always picture love love understands—
But still it would be strange to have no sound
When love lives in her face—and all around.
But if her face is musically unique,
It should be easy for my poetry to speak.


The homeless need to give me money.
I have a mortgage and need it more.
The banks are depending on me to get rich.
Should we care about the flea that makes the vagabond itch?
Life goes upward and onward forever, sad to say.
Not that I’m going to get into a conversation with a bum
And make a pitch to them for cash as they give me a strange look.
We might become friends if we talked,
Though I hate that I-haven’t-bathed smell,
And I don’t have time for conversation.  I’m on a lunch break
And there’s not one good decent lunch place around here
Except for the Indian restaurant I had my heart set on,
And they’re closed for improvements.
Slyly borrowing money to get more. We get it. We have nothing
But the need for money.  Even love
Is a strategy to get more money—you want something
You can use to change something into something else.
When we walk into a restaurant money is everywhere.
Even when we just walk along, the meter is running.
We need money even to experience nonchalant nature. Do you think
There’s anything for free?  Do you?  Money is always on the brain.
Quickly pull some out and make someone happy.
Or save it.  You know money will eventually do it for you.
No one is going to just come up and buy you.  But if they
Wanted you, wouldn’t that be flattering?  I love you
And that means I would be willing to pay for you.  The
Exchange—of which money is the light when want rubs against want;
All this money and rubbing and money and rubbing,
Exchange, exchange.  Trade ancient for modern
In every university’s office and banker’s stall.
I want the light right now.  I want the money.
The money that makes money is the best money.
The one with more money always needs it more than you.


By way of introduction we would like to simply point out the loneliness of this poem, how it captures the whole ‘sophisticated, outsider’ culture of modern life from Pound to Eliot to Auden to Ashbery.  Noel Coward, welcome to the pantheon of Modern Poets.  In this holiday season, when people without family feel lonely, this poem by Noel Coward is dedicated to them.

Should They Wish To Lay Bare Their Lives In Their Language

Sitting outside this cafe in the afternoon sunshine
His mind felt pleasantly alert.
It had certainly been a good idea, this little continental jaunt;
Here he could sit, for hours if need be, just watching and listening.
Later, of course, in the bar of the hotel or in the lounge after dinner,
He would get into conversation with various people and draw them
Out subtly to talk about themselves, to tell him their stories.
His knowledge of French being only adequate, he hoped that
Should they wish to lay bare their lives in their language,
That they would not speak too rapidly.
Of German he knew not a word,
So whatever he gathered would have to be in English,
Slow French, or by signs.

At this moment in his reflections his attention was caught
By the seedy-looking man whom he had noticed before
Buying a ticket for a boat. Something in the way he was standing,
Or rather leaning against the railing, struck a familiar chord in his mind.
He reminded him of somebody, that’s what it was, but who?
He scrutinized him carefully,  the grey suit, the umbrella,
The straggling moustache, the air of depressed resignation.
Then he remembered—he was exactly like a commoner,
Foreign edition of Uncle Philip.
Aubrey sighed with relief at having identified him.

There is nothing so annoying as being tantalized by a resemblance.

Uncle Phillip! It might make quite an interesting little story
If Uncle Phillip, after all those years of marriage,
Suddenly left Aunt Freda and came here to live
In some awful little pension with a French prostitute.
Or perhaps not live with her, just meet her every afternoon here at the pier.
His eyes would light up when she stepped off the boat
(She worked in a cafe in a town on the other side of the lake and only had a few hours off),
And they would walk away together under the chestnut trees,
He timidly  holding her arm.  Then they would go to some sordid bedroom
In the town somewhere and he, lying with her arms round him,
Would suddenly think of his life, those years at Exeter with Aunt Freda,
And laugh madly.

Aubrey looked a the Swiss Uncle Philip again; he was reading
A newspaper now very intently.  Perhaps, after all, he was a secret agent
As he had at first thought and was waiting for the boat to take him
Down the lake to the town on the other side of the frontier,
Where he would sit in a bar with two men in bowler hats
And talk very ostentatiously about his son who was ill in Zurich,
Which would give them to understand that Karl
Had received the papers satisfactorily in Amsterdam.

At this moment a bell rang loudly and a steamer sidled up to the pier.
The man folded his paper.
He waved his hand and was immediately joined by a large woman in green
And three children who had been sitting on a seat.
They all went on to the boat together, the children making a good deal of noise.

Aubrey sighed. Just another family.

(from the short story, “The Wooden Madonna,” by Noel Coward, 1939)


The Annunciation - Robert Campin

There was a chaste kiss
That played on our lips
For a moment or two—
To have that kiss
What would a soul that loves those lips not do?

A familiar name
Stayed on our lips
For a moment or two—
To swim in that name
What would a name that loves that name not do?

What was long ago in the heart,
By this life, and this art,
Was a rhyme, a simple one,
That knew whom I had spoken to
When God—who hides from all—was you.


And so I went with her
Into the leaves that were shining,
Into the leaves,
I went with her gaily,
We held hands,
And kissed occasionally.

Better leave the breathing
To one who has the will
To smother you in sighs,
Will leave off breathing
To save the breath for sighs,
Sweet and slowly sighing
For love and breath and eyes.

Can you bring your memory
Into the smell of now?
Can you teach me how?
I want to be new
Here in this place with you—
Kissing more than once in a while.

ALL I GO THROUGH—new scarriet poem

Sun NASA 1 June 008

Perfection is the living presence
Living without sense or essence
Of symbol. Living in present tense,
Control of wavering coincidence
Is not done with metaphor’s lie;
God as lamb is a sham, but not you,
You don’t have to die.

Fate is not straight; love’s tune
Curls like smoke that blurs the moon;
Words are dead, are dead! But love will love you soon.
What is poetry’s body? You’ll find it in June,
In a breath of dust, particles of trust
Once a whole word; but now all around
The great June sun scatters into sound.

All I go through,
I go through for you.

The sly theorist,
Who slyly says we don’t exist,
The cold moon, by the cold sun coldly kissed,
Seminars unknowing, all the meetings I should have missed,
But went to, hoping by a hug to be hugged or kissed,
When all it was, was a blinding mist,
Leaked from symposiums where I learned the gist:
The point, the fact, does not exist.


Drowning, one inch sun,
You shone, once,
On everyone,
Sublime in a sublime sky,
Spectacular in my eye,
Able to walk among
Towering subjects of poems,
You dissolve, now, in a glass,
Small, and on your own.
Hazy, unique poison,
You will be my end
And once you gave life to worlds.

Poetry is saying
What you’re not really saying,
Evoking a sun
Less than a dream of a cloud,
Not sexy, not real, not exciting.
You hide in writing
When others lie out loud.

In love you play at war.
You defeat each other.
You are your prisoners,
Hoping you treat each other well.
You cannot tell
How much of yourselves you capture,
How many of your enemy fell.

Love sells to the seller,
The selling can never stop.
You will never find a body
Until the bodies drop.
You will never find a voice
Until the voice lies,
Or the soul vanishes
In the sunrise.

Poetry, that had a tear in its eye,
Is now a cold-hearted spy.
War, all war, is music,
Making the throngs throng.
Do you know we need the bad
To make the good song?
Do you know if you give to what gives away,
Love and giving are wrong?


Who, then, is this Judith Butler?
Google her face.  Never heard of her.

Holy crap she looks like a man.
Theory does what theory can.

The couplet is an interesting device
For this poem—reproducing like mice.

It ridicules thick-necked jocks,
Brainless oafs in team-striped socks.

It notices girls with little bird faces,
Thinks of all the physical disgraces.

These are its children, the swarm
Of humanity, smelly and warm.

They say attention to looks is unkind—
And yet the body is the mind.

As a teen I had terrible skin
Which inside and outside almost did me in.

A few pimples? How can you complain?
But you do.  Ugly face means doubtful brain.

But then you find that beauty is lurking
Behind the ugliness—a poem starts working.

How did poems rescue disgrace?
Why’d you write poetry? I had pimples on my face.

But a life has phases: the beautiful child
With perfect skin, and mild

Becomes the haunted adolescent,
Ugly, hairy, angry, prescient.

Keats and Byron were my Superman.
I hated Beats, Modern, Ash Can.

So let’s unleash our ire upon
Eclectics who hate beautiful Byron.

And no, we don’t have a reason why
Beyond a truth that lives in the eye.

For truth that asserts itself in the mind
Is a light in the cave of the blind.

Everything under the sun is queer
To the liberals who hate Shakespeare

Kind of the way the subject of race
Matters to liberals of nervous grace.

Lost in Dante’s midlife-crisis wood,
Academic theory would be understood.

Academics need to express change
Far away from the shooting range.

After Sputnik made the sciences champ,
The Humanities became chilly and damp.

No one took out a loan for college
Until Sputnik caused the race for knowledge.

But now loans go for art and writing.
Billions in debt for questionable lighting.

If gender is performance, the audience is slow.
Ask Judith Butler, she ought to know!

We really wonder about Queer Theory:
Did a look in the mirror cause the query?

Butler’s a rat in the maze of her text:
“I look like a man!  Okay, what’s next?”

If one has a face that looks like a witch,
Perhaps it’s time for a gender switch.

When procreate beauty falls in disgrace
We call it the revenge of the ugly face.

God grants ladies reproduction.
Beauty is for reproduction’s end,

Since beauty inspires reproduction,
Love is our death as well as our friend.

But if ugly things reproduce,
What is beauty’s use?

Fleeting pleasure, food, attention,
A nice review, a poem’s mention?

In the higher realms, pleasure and hope
Push away the misanthrope,

The scholar, the rule, the task, obscure
Lose sight of beauty and make us poor.

Beauty, of course, can live within:
In Butler’s heart and in her kin.

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