THIS POEM CAN ONLY SPEAK FOR THIS POEM

Ocean Impressionism Art: Prints, Paintings, Posters & Wall Art | Art.com

“Emily tries, but misunderstands” –Syd Barrett

Let’s forget about war
And the opposition to war—
Which has ruined many a poem.
Violence is like a tide
Which comes and goes.
Poetry isn’t the whole sea.
It only wets our toes.
There is a war happening somewhere
And the poet congratulating himself
That he is against it
Has already wasted more time
Than he would have
Had he published this rhyme.
Let’s forget about the bad
And not waste time opposing it.
Saving time is the only thing
Which defines the great poet.
Rosalinda, do this fast:
Remember every mistake you made in the past.
Now just as quickly
Tickle me.

SMILE

Residents disgruntled by dark streets - Springs Advertiser

Spring mud and summer fatigue.
Autumn darkness. The seasons are in league
Against me. Winter’s Christmas break
Is now plastic toys for kids and other things which are fake.
Arctic blasts. What’s global is alarming.
Bric-a-brac dies.
Alea iacta est. My neighbor is pruning his hedges, and arming.
Shall I go into the cafe and debate?
Or smile? And hide my hate?
I think I’m the wrong guy
To consider these things. Two Beatles
Are dead. And I will die.

BEAUTY CANNOT SPEAK

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Beauty cannot speak, but if she could,
She would say first, Do not harm me,
And then, Do my bidding. These two things
Which beauty asks, whether
In statue, or poetry, or song,
Are fair—or do we think ‘Do my bidding’ is wrong?
The free, desperate to never be enslaved,
Seeing in their souls the meaning of the second request,
Sabotage the whole thing
In the very beginning
By doing beauty harm.
Did you see what they did to those women?
My poem is not moving.
Nor can it sound the alarm.

WHEN I SPOKE AT LENGTH ON LOVE

MSbio2 – Harvard Justice

When I spoke at length on love,
There was no one waiting outside the hall to love me.
Love should be whispered, not lectured on
Was one theme, and the theme of poetry
Was very strong.
I talked on and on.
In the audience—six exes. They
Did not want to hear anything I had to say.
Curiosity had brought them there, as when
We loved back then.
At the end of the talk, I cried.
People coughed. The chairs creaked and sighed.

LOVE IS WHEN TWO ARE WRONG

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Love doesn’t help anyone, or cure anyone, it’s not when
Someone who is happy lifts up someone who is sad.
I was nice. She had been a libertine—that’s why she was always mad:
I would make an innocent remark she considered an accusation.
Why don’t we figure this out? Hell is not a small nation.
Read the Commedia. Hell is 4,000 miles long.
Love doesn’t exist when one person is right and one person is wrong.
A relationship meant to be temporary is wrong in advance,
No matter how sweet the partner or skillful the dance.
If you think you are right in a situation like that, you’re wrong.
Why does love fail?—The wrong think they are right—
Which leads to anger, indignation and spite.
Unknown love is wrong. The unknown never goes well.
Be wrong with me. If someone is right, we’ll both go to hell.

EVIDENCE IT MATTERED

Shays Pub & Wine Bar - Harvard Square - Boston - The Infatuation

We drank and got high and read Nabokov together, listened to jazz
And cheated on each other. In the 90s we did everything for a laugh.
Intellectualism was its own ticket to the naked show. Bill Clinton
Was president. Harvard Square was filled with bars pouring for the young.
A large vocabulary meant one was insincere; moral deceit for the smart
Triumphed, and even chicks who were super cool succumbed to a broken heart,
The same as those in crowds who went out for ice cream rather than beer.
Evidence it mattered? One good poem? Nope. Nothing. Not even a tear.

IT COULDN’T HAVE BEEN YOU

Art | Happily Ever After 7.10.11

It couldn’t have been you.
Darling, we do what our parents do.
Your mother was crazy and your father was untrue.
I wasn’t going to marry you.
Your mother was crazy and your father was untrue.
We can kiss and listen to a song.
But love won’t work if society’s wrong.
Your mother was crazy and your father was untrue.
Darling, we do what our parents do.
I wasn’t going to marry you.

FAILING TO PRIORITIZE, WE LET THEM GET AWAY WITH MURDER

Wrigley Field 1945 Giclee

When it comes to things we personally cannot fix, we are easily distracted.
The policies which led to murder by the elected official were forgotten
When the sex scandal began to be covered with zest.
When he was next to her, did he deliberately touch her breast?
A crowd presses into the stadium to witness the amazing—a hitter who does not fail
When a one hundred mile per hour fastball is thrown towards his knees.
Amazing! He is president of the United States! Though he should be in jail!
Isn’t anything going to be done? Will you shut up, please.
After the game we are going to have a few beers.
On the TV, the elected official says “I never loved her” to cheers.

WHEN THE PLAY ENDS

Works Cited: The Player's Speech in Hamlet

When the play ends, everybody dies;
We forget the play’s mysteries
And find in the lobby a low hum.
Those whom the play managed to please,
Whom we might call happy, death defies.
Those who couldn’t wait for the play to end—
Those we might call miserable,
Head to the lobby at various speeds,
And they, too, receive the bad news;
The cooling lobby is their last stop;
Wretched, they had far fewer needs—
But they get no reward for hating the play.
One who saw life was a fraud is ready to drop:
“I love death!” The rest push him away
As they look for exits, but death defies
All—even the one who most hated the play—
Even the one who did not watch the play, dies.

DEATH SATISFIES NONE

Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre — Anderson & Roe Piano Duo

Death satisfies none; there will be
No intriguing dreams, lovely dreams,
As when life gives us sleep;
Life, so full of life, oblivion
In life has life; life never seems
To not be life: death satisfies none,
Not even with closure—
No one is sure death
Is, in fact, closure;
Death is death
When it takes our friends away,
But their closure is not our own—
Death has nothing to offer us,
Death satisfies none—
A dull speech which is not done
Even when it is done.
Did you know every poet
Is listening to it?

AN HONORABLE MAN

Street in Nassau 1878 Painting | Albert Bierstadt Oil Paintings

An honorable man made one mistake
And now the perception is he is a snake.
He defiled something that was good
Once. So forever, he’ll be misunderstood.

What was good was not entirely good
In the specifics of what it was.
But the public judges without specifics.
That’s what it does.

To be understood the man must write
A thousand poems every night.
And the moral crime
Must fit into a perfect rhyme
To make things right.

The poems? Where are they?
Who shall publish them?
Never mind. When the public reads
They will skip all the good deeds.

They will go right to the offense—
Described in a poem floating in the air
Where they will find themselves guilty
In a passage obscure and rare.

They will read of their hearts in his heart
Which will bring copious tears.
Too late to explain. His masterpiece of justification
Will be defeated by the years.

As you will be, who could not forgive.
None will forgive those tears.


BACK IN THAT DREAM

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Back in that dream
I’m still dreaming
Unable to break
My bonds until I wake.
The mode was
I could not leave
Melting into I must
Not leave into I must leave.
Here now is a first
Thought of many
Leading back into the past.
But wait, am I holding the first
Card in the deck, or the last?

NOW THAT THE POEM IS OVER

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Now that the poem is over,
You can go back to bed.
For him the poem is over a long time—
You read a poem by someone who’s dead.
Yes, once again, the poem lives on after its author—
You loved someone who doesn’t love you.
Aroused by a ghost, and just in time, because it’s true:
The worst tragedy is the itch which cannot be scratched—
They always said you were too detached,
When they did not accuse you of too much lust—
No wonder their inconsistency never earned your trust—
But this poem made you live again.
It was almost like an orgasm at the end.
Thank the poet as you ease into bed.
The only guys who love us are dead.

OKAY, I GUESS I’LL WRITE MY FATHER

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I’m curious about people, too.
X is difficult for me to be curious about.
I was unhappy when I was his age; it was especially hard
graduating from college and not feeling I had any skills or connections
to take my place as a working person in the real world.
Funny how the world allows one to live a semi-real existence among poems,
and yet one is fed, and housed, and one maintains a somewhat normal front.
And one is actually happy! X is addicted to video games.
He plays with his friends remotely, noon and night—literally.
This is his cocoon: video games, and his mother.
When I go upstairs he’s either sleeping or playing a video game—
and it’s usually fairies and elves blowing each other up.
It doesn’t even look like an interesting game to me, and I love games.
His reaction to me is always “why are you here? Get out of here.”
If he watches Jeopardy with me, and politics happens to come up,
it ends in disaster. He’s convinced white people are racists
and orange man bad and climate change will kill us in 9 years.
That’s what they teach in the schools now. These are the facts.
And there’s deep, psychological animosity if you disagree.
The only nice moments I have with him are joking and making fun of others.
His mother makes him food at odd hours, mostly soup or frozen meals.
She continues to bully me whenever I dare to see things differently
in the domestic sphere. So I end up agreeing with her, and then it’s okay.
The car was at John’s because of a snow emergency,
and I overheard Z saying Y had to work at 3
and Z had a zoom work-meeting at 2:30,
so rather than let Y walk all the way to John’s and be late,
I volunteered to walk to the car, de-ice it, and drive Y to work.
That’s the only way I can be a hero these days.
I had hopes of Y getting good marks and being a star in college;
that was very hard to take when I saw she did so poorly,
and more or less deliberately, from not doing work.
Where was her advisor? Where was her mother? Where were her instructors?
They teach in school how “supportive community” is everything,
and “evil right-wingers” only care about “profit,” but where is Y’s “community?”
That’s the thing about the Left—one can question its message,
but in fact the Left isn’t even real.
There’s no there there. It’s a hologram. It’s a video game.
It’s Z having sweet, innocuous conversations
and making her kids feel they are always right,
And never making them do chores.
But back to Y and her lack of academic achievement. Maybe that’s our family.
The fall of the House of P_____. I’m looking at myself.
I didn’t do terribly well at school (but I would never let myself get Fs!)
And I was scared of success. I didn’t think I had what it took to make it.
I had acne. I was shy. You and mom fought a lot. I was scared. I was anxious.
The world was run by nasty right-wingers and so why bother?
Successful in the past, our family is slowly succumbing to poverty—
the seed is not going forth and flourishing.
There’s one great-grandchild, and where is he?
My niece is in California and I’m sure that pains her mother.
Y, simply by luck—online connection—has a boyfriend in California.
I will be very sad if she should move out there.
I have little connection to my kids and maybe that’s why
it comforts me that they are at least nearby,
In the next room. Z keeps talking of selling the house,
and I will then be out on my own,
as Z will welcome a scattering—who needs me around? That’s her stated attitude.
I suppose the mature attitude for me would be to strike out on my own
and fashion a life for myself with people I like.
I don’t finally like people, that’s the problem.
Oh, I adore people. When they belong to me, in some real sense.
When I can do something for them, or have a laugh with them, I like people.
But to go forward and form relationships in terms of
landlord, employer, doctor, grocer, bar-mate,
that just makes me feel lonely. But that’s what we all need to do.
I didn’t like doing it at 21. Or 18?
At my age, I feel like it will be worse. I’ll have experience and wisdom,
but it won’t help quell the existential dread.
Of course I can be charming, when I want to be.
I usually form superficial relationships in which they seek me out,
and I finally don’t have time for them.
I know I can be charming, but after a while, I think: why bother?
But I never form relationships with successful people,
people who are going somewhere, people who can teach me something.
Maybe because those types are disciplined and cold?
I form relationships with lovable losers
who finally aren’t good for anything but a laugh.
The relationships that really count—wife, children—
I’m generally failing there because of money.
Z hates me because I don’t make enough money.
I don’t have money to give to my kids.
That’s what it finally comes down to. Not a PBS interview.
Not a book of poems. Not school reform. Money.
So it all comes together—successful job, good friendships, happy wife and kids,
motivated behavior, with money. But one sees wrecked homes
and miserable lives where there’s money, too. You can only live one life.
I don’t know first hand what money brings. I certainly have comforts.
I chiefly want to be able to share what I know with my kids,
share what we have with each other as a family—
we do have what we need, really, as a family,
but Z keeps insisting we are not a family,
and she doesn’t want me to have that happiness;
she doesn’t like it when I bond with the kids,
she makes sure there are negative feelings in the air in our home
and she welcomes that our kids breathe it,
because she has decided I don’t deserve to be happy as a father.
I’m old and wise enough to understand that human beings
are miserable, secretive, creatures—
selfish, insecure, jealous, craven, unwise, fearful.
I can write and you can read and we can pretend to be reasonable,
but humanity is tortured and confused as a rule, and life is short.
I have shortcomings and Z and I are equally guilty.
This is finally just a glimpse into my thoughts—of my thoughts.
Nothing, really, but a sharing. Beautiful, because it doesn’t cost a nickel.

ENGLISH IS A HOMELY LANGUAGE

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English is a homely language,
Though English has done quite well.
Do you, Jane, wish to be in a monosyllabic hell?
Why does “consent of the governed” sound old?
It shouldn’t. Oh sound, you phrase, as new and clear
As any of those phrases we hold more dear:
All poems are created equal. Keats and Shelley
Were English and do not sound at all ugly,
But the truth is they were Italian, not English.
Listen. You can certainly distinguish
Between red, ivory, and various grays,
But moderns cannot, even on the best days.
Where poetry is effortless, Dante fell
In love with love which waves goodbye to hell.
Do you think Keats and Shelley were fond
Of half-rhymes? They were not. The pond
Grew into a lake. They were not afraid
Of mutability. Or the shape of an Abyssinian maid.
Jane, do you remember greenish roots and Chaucer
And all that Middle-English horror?
Our dilemma, Jane, is the ugly English tongue
Sounds even uglier when it was young
And in its mature expression
Leads to pills and manic depression.
It really pains me to say this, Jane.
The English tongue has won the brain,
But English cannot be poetry
Unless it is dreary and wild
Like mad Edgar Allan Poe’s child.
Do you remember in New Haven
When we heard a reading of The Raven?
The only escape is Shelley in Italy.
Forget the tears of Seamus Heaney,
Lie down here on this white bed.
Don’t get up. Stop. Don’t think.
Don’t think. For once in your life do nothing instead.






COLD VIRTUE

Image result for moon in renaissance painting

Every time I warmly want,
Cold virtue comes to haunt.
But virtue must have wants, too.
Yes. Virtue wants what’s best for you.
Virtue owns the morning, the placid afternoon.
Last night I saw virtue reflected in the moon.
The trouble is, I’m emotional—
Virtue is distant and cold.
Virtue doesn’t rescue us from death
Or getting old.
Stoic virtue, you must be blamed, too.
I feel death’s cold. Don’t you?

SCARRIET POETRY HOT ONE HUNDRED!

Image result for poet with a mask

AMANDA GORMAN is an “American poet and activist,” according to Wikipedia.
CATE MARVIN “THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS EVIL. Straight up evil. It’s just beyond.” –Facebook
3 LOUISE GLUCK 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature
4 JOY HARJO In her third term as Poet Laureate.
5 DON MEE CHOI DMZ Colony, Wave Books, wins 2020 National Book Award.
6 JERICHO BROWN The Tradition, Copper Canyon Press, wins 2020 Pulitzer Prize
NOOR HINDI Poem “Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying” in Dec 2020 Poetry.
8 NAOMI SHIHAB NYE Her poem “kindness” read online by Emma Thompson has 2.3 million Instagram views
9 WAYNE MILLER “When Talking About Poetry Online Goes Very Wrong” 2/8/21 essay in Lithub.
10 WILLIAM LOGAN “she speaks in the voice of a documentary narrator, approaching scenes in a hazmat suit.”
11 VICTORIA CHANG Obit Copper Canyon Press, longlist for 2020 National Book Award; also, in BAP.
12 ALAN CORDLE founder of Foetry, “most despised..most feared man in American poetry” —LA Times 2005
13 RUPI KAUR Has sold 3 million books
14 DON SHARE Resigned as Poetry editor August of 2020.
15 MARY RUEFLE Dunce, Wave Books, finalist for 2020 Pulitzer Prize
16 ANTHONY CODY Borderland Apocrypha, longlist for 2020 National Book Award
17 LILLIAN-YVONNE BERTRAM Travesty Generator, longlist for 2020 National Book Award
18 EDUARDO C. CORRAL Guillotine, longlist for 2020 National Book Award
19 PAISLEY REKDAL Poet Laureate of Utah, Guest editor for the 2020 Best American Poetry
20 DORIANNE LAUX Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems, Norton, finalist for 2020 Pulitzer Prize
21 DANEZ SMITH Latest book of poems, Homie, published in 2020.
22 ILYA KAMINSKY LA Times Book Prize in 2020 for Deaf Republic.
23 RON SILLIMAN in Jan. 2021 Poetry “It merely needs to brush against the hem of your gown.”
24 FORREST GANDER Be With, New Directions, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize
25 RITA DOVE Her Penguin Twentieth-Century of American Poetry Anthology is 10 years old. Collected Poems, 2016.
26 NATALIE DIAZ Postcolonial Love Poem, longlist for 2020 National Book Award
27 TERRANCE HAYES “I love how your blackness leaves them in the dark.”
28 TIMOTHY DONNELLY The Problem of the Many, Wave Books, 2019
29 REGINALD DWAYNE BETTS In 2020 BAP
30 FRANK BIDART Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 (FSG) winner, 2018 Pulitzer
31 OCEAN VUONG “this is how we loved: a knife on the tongue turning into a tongue”
32 MATTHEW ZAPRUDER Disputed Ocean Vuong’s Instagram reflections on metaphor.
33 SHARON OLDS Stag’s Leap won 2013 Pulitzer; she’s in 2020 BAP
34 HONOREE FANONNE JEFFERS The Age of Phillis, longlist for 2020 National Book Award.
35 CLAUDIA RANKINE Citizen came out in 2014.
36 HENRI COLE Blizzard, FSG, is his tenth book of poems.
37 TRACY K. SMITH In the New Yorker 10/5
38 DIANE SEUSS In the New Yorker 9/14
39 SUSHMITA GUPTA “She missed her room, her pillow, her side of the bed, her tiny bedside lamp.”
40 ANNE CARSON has translated Sappho and Euripides.
41 AL FILREIS Leads “Poem Talk” with guests on Poetry’s website
42 MARY ANGELA DOUGLAS “the larks cry out and not with music”
43 STEPHEN COLE “…the everlasting living and the longtime dead feast on the same severed, talking head.”
44 MARILYN CHIN Her New and Selected was published in 2018 (Norton).
45 KEVIN GALLAGHER Editor, poet, economist, historian has re-discovered the poet John Boyle O’Reilly.
46 DAVID LEHMAN Series Editor for Best American Poetry—founded in 1988.
47 JIM BEHRLE A thorn in the side of BAP.
48 ROBIN RICHARDSON The Canadian poet wrote recently, “I have removed myself completely from Canadian literature.”
49 PAOLA FERRANTE New editor of Minola Reivew.
50 A.E. STALLINGS Like, FSG, finalist for 2019 Pulitzer
51 TAYLOR JOHNSON Poetry Blog: “felt presence of the black crowd as we study our amongness together.”
52 PATRICA SMITH Incendiary Art, TriQuarterly/Northwestern U, finalist for 2018 Pulitzer
53 TYLER MILLS in Jan. 2021 Poetry “Gatsby is not drinking a gin rickey. Dracula not puncturing a vein.”
54 SEUNGJA CHOI in Jan. 2021 Poetry “Dog autumn attacks. Syphilis autumn.”
55 ATTICUS “It was her chaos that made her beautiful.”
56 JAMES LONGENBACH Essay in Jan. 2021 Poetry, wonders: would Galileo have been jailed were his claims in verse?
57 DAN SOCIU Hit 3 home runs for the Paris Goths in Scarriet’s 2020 World Baseball League.
58 PHILIP NIKOLAYEV Editor of Fulcrum and “14 International Younger Poets” issue from Art and Letters.
59 SUSMIT PANDA “Time walked barefoot; the clock gave it heels.”
60 BRIAN RIHLMANN Poet of working-class honesty.
61 TYREE DAYE in the New Yorker 1/18/21
62 JANE WONG in Dec. 2020 Poetry “My grandmother said it was going to be long—“
63 ALAN SHAPIRO Reel to Reel, University of Chicago Press, finalist for 2015 Pulitzer
64 PIPPA LITTLE in Dec. 2020 Poetry “I knew the names of stones at the river mouth”
65 PATRICK STEWART Read Shakespeare’s Sonnets online to millions of views.
66 STEVEN CRAMER sixth book of poems, Listen, published in 2020.
67 HIEU MINH NGUYEN In 2020 BAP
68 BEN MAZER New book on Harry Crosby. New book of poems. Unearthing poems by Delmore Schwartz for FSG.
69 KEVIN YOUNG Poetry editor of the New Yorker
70 BILLY COLLINS Poet Laureate of the U.S. 2001 to 2003
71 ARIANA REINES In 2020 BAP
72 VALERIE MACON fired as North Carolina poet laureate—when it was found she lacked publishing credentials.
73 ANDERS CARLSON-WEE Nation magazine published, then apologized, for his poem, “How-To,” in 2018.
74 DANA GIOIA 99 Poems: New and Selected published in 2016. His famous Can Poetry Matter? came out in 1992.
75 YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA In 2020 BAP
76 MARJORIE PERLOFF published Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire in 2016.
77 HELEN VENDLER her The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry came out in 2015.
78 MEI-MEI BERSSENBRUGGE A Treatise On Stars, longlist for 2020 National Book Award—her 13th book.
79 GEORGE BILGERE  Belongs to the Billy Collins school. Lives in Cleveland.
80 CAROLYN FORCHE 2020 saw the publication of her book In the Lateness of the World: Poems from Penguin.
81 BOB DYLAN “Shall I leave them by your gate? Or sad-eyed lady, should I wait?”
82 RICHARD HOWARD  has translated Baudelaire, de Beauvoir, Breton, Foucault, Camus and Gide.
83 GLYN MAXWELL The playwright/poet’s mother acted in the original Under Milk Wood on Broadway in 1956.
84 KAVEH AKBAR published in Best New Poets
85 D.A. POWELL The poet has received a Paul Engle Fellowship.
86 JOHN YAU In 2020 BAP
87 DAIPAYAN NAIR “Hold me tight. Bones are my immortality…”
88 ANDREEA IULIA SCRIDON in 14 International Younger Poets from Art and Letters.
89 LORI GOMEZ Sassy and sensual internet poet—Romantic who uses F-bombs.
90 JORIE GRAHAM In 2020 BAP
91 SIMON ARMITAGE In the New Yorker 9/28
92 TOMMYE BLOUNT Fantasia for the Man in Blue, longlist for 2020 National Book Award.
93 TYLER KNOTT GREGSON on Twitter: “let us sign/our names/ in the/emptiness”
94 STEPHANIE BURT Close Calls With Nonsense: Reading New Poetry published in 2009
95 WILLIE LEE KINARD III in Jan. 2021 Poetry “The lesbians that lived in the apartment to the left…”
96 MICHAEL DICKMAN His poem about his grandmother in 2020 July/August Poetry was controversial.
97 FATIMAH ASGHAR published in Best New Poets
98 RICK BAROT The Galleons, Milkweed Editions, on longlist for 2020 National Book Award and excerpted in BAP 2020
99 DERRICK MICHAEL HUDSON had his 15 minutes of fame in Best American Poetry 2015.
100 JEAN VALENTINE (d. 12/30/20) in New Yorker 1/18/21

VALENTINE, WHO REJECTED ME

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One who rejected me
Nevertheless had a question for me:
“When I ghosted you
I wasn’t planning on ghosting you permanently.
But you panicked. You failed me.
I don’t love you. I did love you. Do you hate me?”
I was incensed by her question.
I froze. I panicked again.
At that moment I knew
Only one thing: this questioner was you.
You arrived in my poem again
Bringing no poetry—which you always do,
Forcing me to answer you in prose.
And here I am, as usual, after the dream,
Wondering why you sent her ahead into the dream
To make my poems more complicated.
I don’t want my poems to be complicated.
Meanwhile, your question about hate?
It’s for someone else. Wait.


THINGS THE SPY AND DOCTOR KNOW

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Things the spy and doctor know.
Where does Kimberly at midnight go?
What do her ailments look like in the mirror?
Who does Kimberly love the best
When she is late and slightly undressed?
When will that organ with a Latin name
Be an enemy to Kimberly again?
I don’t want to know. The lover
Must be ignorant. Love
Must be ignorant, to want what it wants.
Kimberly has an army in her brain—
But to explain is not to know.
The hounds have the answer. The rose has the scent.
Here is the odorless, colorless lover.
But he, too, is ignorant.

IN THE EVENINGS

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In the evenings, we can throw ourselves into a bitter sleep,
Which may become pleasant in a deeper sleep,
And, in the mornings, we can take hours to revive.
But those long afternoons. That’s when it’s hard to be alive.
I’ve seen mornings, and evenings, covered by mist,
But those bright afternoons! They make it difficult to exist.
I once lived a whole, sad, life between one and two,
Reading T.S. Eliot, and thinking of you.
I went completely mad, once, waiting for three.
It was like one hundred years without poetry.
My enemy is a towering sky
Rebuffing rumors and anecdotes of anecdotes gone by.

THE BEAUTIFUL SWAN

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“Ugly!” A swan looked up. She did not feel the slur;
Because she was beautiful, the slur did not occur.
This was how she felt—she felt no pain,
Even though the slur had come from a crane.
Her friends, however, told her what to feel.
An insult from a crane had to be real.
They said, “Insults wound, and you should be raw
With suffering.” She said, “Congress shall make no law
Abridging free speech. That’s how I, as a swan
Shall live,” and she sang on the waters with elan.
“Speech protection only applies to the government,”
A wise friend said, but the swan said she felt it meant
“No law” shall be made; therefore in the whole land
Free speech lives. And she sang to him on the sand.
Swans and cranes stared. She was beautiful and content.
She smiled and sang everywhere she went
Of mercy and love and the First Amendment.

WE THINK OF LOVE

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We think of love
As two people in a perfect state,
Kissing, no trace of hate,
But, in truth, love is squabbling,
Measurement and judging, a heightened tension,
So that a stranger, secretly overhearing
Two in love, can only gasp: “Is this love?
It seems more like hate on the verge of war.”
Do you remember us? Content, yet not content?
Our love was such we could not handle more.
It was love, yes, and for that very reason
Not at all like love; it was like childhood,
Celebrated by mad Romantic poets—
Such intensity, both bad, and good,
The answer, finally, is the child,
So committed to itself, so obnoxiously perfect and wild,
God’s answer, finally, is for the child to grow up—
We loved to such a degree we judged until we were sore.
What happened? Like a beautiful child, we changed—
Oh God! Was that what our love was for?
We grew up—and were no more.

I WANT TO HAVE SEX

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For some, sex requires strong feelings. The atmosphere must be right.
I want to have sex, but I can’t. Mr. Trump is no longer in the news.
My girlfriends are not feeling it. There is talk of coalitions,
Mobs, even, to spark fury, but the women say talk is not enough.
Rumors of Vanity Fair covers stoke controversy
In vain. There is no sexual feeling in the air. Rosa and Claire
Have coffee on the street. They’re not seeing it there.
Reruns of Mom are falling on deaf ears.
“Something has to be happening, and seen.” “Need to see it,
So I start yelling,” another said. “OMG. Can you believe what I see?”
Until this happens, no sex for me.
Did it help that Weekend Update called the beating of Rand Paul
Hilarious, as grief and fear swept the nation? No.
We need some strumming relief, like in the days of Broadway Joe.
We need folk music on the cloudy plain,
Dust filling our soft sleeves, again. Someone has to be in the news
Or there needs to be no news. No news. No news. No news.
Nor did it help sex drives that Joe Biden calmed
National principles by singing songs in wide chorus lines
Spreading out from the capitol to small farms packed with jobs.
It’s not about jobs, NBC. The former Soviet Union
Is selling old copies of Playboy. It’s that bad.
There’s a gale blowing. But the flag on the old village square still looks sad.

LISTEN TO ME CONVINCE MYSELF I AM HAPPY

Image result for abstract painting rain

If I can read a book on Greece and be happier in my mind
Than unhealthy tourists tramping around Greece,
And a mere book of poems can make me happily blind,
In my poverty yet happy, and since I’m happy secretly,
I make no one jealous, and that makes me even more kind—
My kindness loved, because I to myself am kind,
It should be clear to you, and I shouldn’t need to explain;
(It was raining as I fell asleep, and I woke to rain)
That slow, quiet breathing, and a simple, sunny diet
Comfort me, so all day my entire body is quiet
As I contemplate the world. It is not for you
I convince myself. You don’t need to listen.
I loved you once, and no other person knew.
Later, you and I were barred from that knowledge, too.
I am happy. I don’t need anyone else to know.
Hate lost out to poetry. And all things slow.







STRANGELY IMMUNE TO THE CHARMS OF PEOPLE

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Our love involved political conversion. This made it volatile, and eventually it was banned. I used to tell her, Republicans and Democrats see democracy differently: One thinks, I need just enough smart people to keep me in office. The other thinks, I need just enough stupid people to keep me in office. She would get offended, and I would say, Look. A Democrat is like a sexually frustrated drunk in his favorite fancy bar, praising the drinks and the people, spending wildly, a social dynamo, a positive force. The Republican in this scenario is a sober nerd, strangely immune to the charms of people, who thinks the drinks on the menu are too expensive. The USA is that fancy bar—which caters to Democrats. Of course the Democrat has another side—the hungover phase in which he worries desperately how he appeared during the drunk phase; quick to accuse everyone of not protecting his reputation; he says to the Republican: You were sober. Why did you allow me to say those things? You had nothing else to do—why didn’t you look after me? You should go to jail, not me! The Democrat defends his teetering reputation by condemning the less fancy bar down the street, guilty, he claims, of a host of sins never dreamed of by the wonderful patrons of his favorite fancy bar. My bar runs this town, yells the good Democrat, and he is right.

After we divorced, we met early in the evening at a quiet place to trade stories. We hadn’t spoken since the death of Joan Rivers. We discussed the deaths of JFK, Epstein, Poe. We drank tea. You were right, she said. The fly-over populists and the Bernie bros have more in common than we thought. This GameStop thing is a political moment—gently reminding us who the haves and have-nots are. Scolds—like Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg—represent the Democrat’s hungover phase. We need to ditch that fancy bar. We need to be sober whenever we spend. I wanted to kiss her, but refrained. It suddenly occurred to me we had only kissed when drunk—and I felt ashamed. I managed a weak smile. We sat there, observing each other for a time.

I CAN CONFIRM

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I can confirm that you love me.
I can confirm that you should have been the one.
I am the sun to your worm.
I am the field sprouting.
I can confirm.

And what can you say
As the field sprouts and the sun burns?
And the spring flies away?
And the child, remembering the mother, learns?
What can you confirm?

Where have you been?
Are you going
Where the world is going?
Are roots of things sweet to the worm?
Who are you?
What can you confirm?

YES, CRAZY ACCELERATES

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It’s more Orwellian than that. Since you
Went crazy on that idea they sold you,
Everything about this idea is crazier, still.
Move more plants to your window sill.
Increase your dietary fiber. Don’t watch that show.
Don’t believe them. They don’t know what you know.
Don’t listen to them. You have the right
To not listen to them. I told you that last night.
Throw money over the wall.
When it comes back, it won’t look like the climate at all.
Just find yourself a particular brand of clothes—
It’s not the same thing as what everybody knows.
Disagreement with them has never been a danger—
Until now. Ask the park ranger.
You know, the man with the funny symbol on his shirt.
I told you what it meant. Don’t be a flirt.
It will take years for this policy
To work. Don’t believe poetry.
After I make love to you, you need to listen to the man
Who can make scientific decisions faster than the grocer can.
That’s right. You took that class. You don’t have to hide.
Be proud. Wait, what are you doing? Get back inside.
Age isn’t everything, but remember
How old you felt when your heart was broken last December?



WINTER THREW ITS SHADOW OVER THE RIVER OF MY YEARS

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Winter threw its shadow over the river of my years.
I only lived one third of my life: the months
April, May, June and July.
August was too close to September—
When the year started down into darkness and coolness to die.
Drinks were poured and merriment was forced
In the prison of those dark days. August
Had days like fall, and the darkening fall filled my heart
With gloom. I grew melancholy in the last days of July,
Grieving for the blossoms of May,
Opening buds reaching for the sky,
And the hopes of April,
And June’s longest day.
I attached myself to one who hibernated,
Who loved only in the presence of love.
In a cave, I told her she was the one.
It was a warm cave. I was lost. And I didn’t see the sun.

BRAHMS

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Brahms makes Beethoven sound like Mozart
And Bach sound like my right thumb.
This piano concerto runs a symphonic mist
Down this which allows the piano to come.
Now I’m lying on the bed—where else should I be?
When I was a boy, Brahms was king.
The weather was a Brahms symphony.
The movies. The woods. I heard Brahms
Telling me one day I would be in your arms.

MENTALLY ILL

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What does it mean, exactly? Mentally ill?
Is it a badge of honor? An excuse?
Is it chords within chords played melodically as single notes?
What does it do mentally, to call someone mentally ill?
Is psychology science? Gossip? “Did you hear she was mentally ill?”
Does psychology name what we don’t understand,
And soothe what we don’t understand with a pill?
Which mood, which side of myself, is writing to you?
Are you my pal? Will you let the concerto of my inner feelings play?
Can we do this again? Will you hurt me? Is this a poem? Am I good?
If I lower the Wiener Philharmoniker will you stay?

WARNING: LOVE IS A BROKEN HEART

Art & Theology – Revitalizing the Christian imagination through painting,  poetry, music, and more

Warning: Love is a broken heart healing.
The person you are loving has invited you
To love somebody else—the person who broke their heart.
It really is complicated. She needs you to love
The person who could not give her love.
So you better be ready to love. Do you feel
You can be the cure for a heart which can never heal?
You cannot love someone you don’t know.
You stop the car. You get out. You follow the blood along the snow.

SLEEP OR DIE

Secret passage - Wikipedia

The CIA needs to sabotage great poetry—
Because there can be no great poetry.
There can be no messiah;
Everything must be stained.
If the parliament votes for the assassin,
The son of the assassin will be king.
And what will you do about it?
Everything is already everything.
The surrogates scrape the chair on the floor.
The heart under the floor will never be heard.
The evil politician will never be seen as evil.
The CIA pays the scholar who says, “that’s totally absurd!”
It is absurd. And they laugh over it after lunch.
You don’t sleep because God doesn’t sleep.
Please, sleep, so your face is smooth,
And you blend in with the robots of the crowd.
Don’t worry. Sleep. Your heart’s too loud.
There’s nothing more to say. The CIA
Hires D.C. photographers. Read all
About it. The CIA just ended journalism.
Opera and symphony were voted down.
You don’t believe me? There is a door somewhere.
And they’re there, just sitting around.

NON-REVIEWABLE

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The Orwellian NFL has plays which are “non-reviewable.”
In plain sight of millions, teams which lose, win.
Games are rigged. Throw a pick on purpose. The master plan
Is ratings. The NFL is God. Sore-losing is the only sin.
Worship the quarterback—He is the Son of Man,
The Dynasty, the Holy Spirit—that’s how trembling fans can tell
Crazy luck is holy, and the products sold will sell.
Is this why citizens accept their fate?
A rule? What rule? Shhh. It is too late.

WHEN THE SCARED BECOME SCARY

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Victims are sometimes ready, victims are sometimes prepared
To suddenly turn scary—because victims never want to be scared.
We shall not be scared—it has nothing to do with hate.
To be scared is scary—the scared have more weight
Than anybody else. Our leaders warn when victims wait
Too stupidly, too long, then fear has conquered hate.
The arming of the scared. That certain swinging gait.
When the scared become scary,
When the scared become scary, too—
What is this? This is when I no longer recognize you.

THE POEM WHICH SHOWS YOU I’M HAPPY

Andrea J. Smith's exhibition at Australian Galleries – MELBOURNE ART CLASS

The poem which shows you I’m happy—
What could be more important than this?
Put misery on the scales, the history of misery,
Miserable history; nothing outweighs the loveliness of bliss.
But how can I prove I’m happy? Is it love?
Or something even simpler I’m feeling here?
Lazy and sleepy, okay with death, a complete and total absence of fear?
The television on, but I’m not watching, children
And spouse, not having to worry about me;
Together, a rapt coziness; imprisoned, yet free.
It’s an illusion, isn’t it? It will not last.
But wait. No. I’m happy. I am. The poem.
Is the poem finally proof? Because this will never be the past?

I WANT EVERYTHING

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I don’t care about those sex surveys—

I have you, the most beautiful.

I try not to think about ugly people having sex.

This includes philosophy by those who are ugly—

Philosophy by those who have nothing to do with beauty!

I don’t want the ugly to hate me. I still have fantasies about my ex.

The professional charges a high fee. That’s what every sucker expects.

The education realm, where people sit around,

Is where patients work.

You’re not a poet?  You can be a wacko clerk.

You can’t impose the highest on anything.

Everything, and everyone, exists.

Try to be the highest, and they’ll mock you.

“You write like Nietzsche. But I must insist

You use footnotes. And, if you mention me again,

I’ll coldcock you.”

EVERYTHING STRUGGLES

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Everything struggles to be what it is

By being what it isn’t.

You say too much, you weigh too much,

You don’t weigh enough,

You are too nice,

You aren’t nice enough,

You’re too concerned with time,

Not concerned with time enough,

You are too charming, you believe

In things the rest of us

Try not to believe, but cannot,

And therefore we hate you even more.

You are the extremes we hate

By loving us too much. In their infinite

Wisdom (meaning infinite torture)

These extremes are beyond you,

So you are never anything close

To what you are without clothes,

And nothing goes with that, or goes.

You are combinations

Which seek more combinations, despite

Your secret desire for the One,

Which never happens—

Except once, very late at night,

When you were alone, not with the one

Who should have been there—

As you come up short, daily,

The sands running out mundanely,

Which is your fault, for trying to be

What you never are, vying to be,

Inside a crowd, which thinks less—

In its own putrid, political mess.

You need to compare

All, now, to what is no longer there,

Too sexy, never sexy enough, longing

To be the best, never the best,

You, you, that person I see

Was never, never, never free.

WHEN I WAS SMALL

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The truth might prevail in a while—
But what prevails right now is guile.

Casanova is not who you think he is.
Rosalinda broke his heart—he lost the best,
And in revenge and rage he seduced the rest,
Or pretended to—he wanted Rosalinda to see,
But she didn’t care, and wouldn’t look—
So stories to hurt Rosalinda were put in a book.

Nothing we think is true, is true.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, she loves you.
Did you hear? You’re a little like Casanova, too.
You want to believe in a flat earth and God—
After all, a ball in space, and gravity, is odd,
Compared to the sun you actually see.
Rosalinda is beautiful, but now she has to pee.

Stories have reasons behind them when they’re told;
Everything was better when everything was old;
Everything in the world gets worse;
Only ignorance wins, since the first
Good news, when everything was born,
Ends—the news has nowhere to go but down.
The truth:—we don’t wave, we drown—
Must be hidden or we’ll get depressed;
The first word must always be the best,
The first hello—when nothing was before—
Is the best hello—when life started,
That first first, but then, everything leads
To us—cheating, jealous, dying, broken-hearted.
Pity ignorance. Ignorance, more ignorance! I have my pride—
But times have changed, I’m alone. And Rosalinda lied.


YOU

Image result for mt auburn cemetery

I assure you things will be alright—especially in my verse.

You say, “God, give me a drink; things are going to get worse.”

I memorialize in my poems the trees and the flowers.

You think, “Come on. Really? I sweat over my garden for hours.”

I dedicate my poem to the paths which disappear behind graves.

You laugh, “The cemetery? It’s my hidden kisses he craves.”

I dash off poems to your smile, your eyes, your bright skin.

You worry about boredom and headaches. You think you don’t fit in.

Then you leave me. My dear poems become annoying, at last—

You tell me: “You are too happy. Your poetry is too vast.”

But when you find, years later, by accident, the first poem

I gave you, shyly, from underneath my coat—

There it is, still in its bright red envelope—

You don’t throw it away. But softly you say to yourself, “Really?”

I LOVED YOU

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When you were not passionate, you were boring,
You were puzzled by love. And school.
But things are better, much better.
Now you’re a passionate fool.
That wasn’t supposed to work, but it did.
Passionately you unscrewed the lid,
You got help from others, you looked inside.
You’re influential, you’re loved, you’re famous!
Quick! You goddamn fool! Hide!
First, breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Then, you’ll be going to Rome
To meet one of your lovers
Who comes from a broken home.
Why did you do this to me?
Before anyone knew you, Rosalinda,
I loved you passionately.

“THE STUNTED CONCRETE MOCKS THE CLASSICAL”

Banks of a Canal, near Naples, c. 1872 by Gustave Caillebotte.

When the poem gets the last laugh

(Rosalinda, you know it will)

Civilization returns.

Writing takes precedent,

Not selfish, worldly concerns.

But my writing teacher, walking slowly, says

“It must be clear that a particular kind of life

Is in the poem.” Seamus Heaney

Comes to mind. The young poet

Sits by a window, and, with forced metaphor,

(A “pen” doesn’t “dig”) declaims

On his father’s rural domain,

With words like “curt” and “blunt” and “bog,”

Fart-like words to solemnly look back

At childhood’s “gnash” and “fat” and “spittle.”

The ponderous description of a frog—

The odd things that scared this helpless Irish boy

In a kind of Wordsworthian joy.

Is Romanticism coming back again?

Are there traditions which do not die?

Do we find promethean Shelley

At the bottom of a heath?

Singing to dung?

Piles of books still rain down on the young.

They’re “digging” for the “new.”

But Eliot’s Tradition, the one we study

At the recent end—

Will not change. Nor will Wordsworth. Nor will you.

Nietzsche said rebellion is nothing but sorrow,

And all humans are gnats.

But oh, what a gnat! A gnat who knows how to play guitar.

Shelley sings.  Now that’s what we call a star.

BECAUSE I GUESSED I WOULDN’T KNOW

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Because I guessed I wouldn’t know,
I wagered zero.
I won—by adding nothing more
To my lucky score.
The only category I knew
Was the one about you,
And since I found the daily double
I made ten thousand without any trouble.
Who Is My Lover? What Is Love?
What Is the light that spreads light above?
What is “there isn’t any sorrow?”
What is “I will know everything tomorrow?”
The rest is a blur.
The contestants on either side
Of me? I don’t remember him, or her.
My host spoke to me. The wide
Studio doors of the set
Were open. I haven’t given an interview yet.

LOVE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE REAL, GENIUS

Emily Dickinson | Poetry Foundation

 

Love doesn’t have to be real.
This saves money and time—
No diseases, no betrayal, when you plead your love in rhyme.

No contract, no promise, no deal;
No sweaty palms; no doubting, hopeful heart,
Just throw your life into rhyme and art.

There are ways nature wants it done—
And society has ways to make it fun.
In the end, nature has her way:
Clay melts if it doesn’t make more clay.

Life conspires to kill romance.
The boorish are invited to the dance.
The beautiful are brainless; you want someone new.
A poem will never be sent to you.

Why should love be real?
Must you have her to feel
Love? Those disgusting to you
Love her. And she might love them, too.

You don’t need her breast
Pressing against your breast.
You’re a genius. Your breast
Has poems. For her, and all the rest.

ACROSS THE FRENCH PLAINS

Pictures of France - Beauce

Across the French plains
The tired wind curls up before it rains.
In a tattered diary I write
One more poem tonight,
Having no interest in what’s happening in the cafe.
I’m happy. I wrote seventeen poems today.
The actors rehearse.
In my mind they’re doing a whole play of my verse.
But they’re not. That’s Charles, who doesn’t care
Who wrote the play. He acts
As if the whole world were free of facts.
Actors are free. No one tells them what to do.
Well, at least for Charles, this is true.
When he comes near
He smells of beer.

THE UNIVERSE

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The universe with a quaint view
Is the one the Christians have fashioned for you.
The cold depth of space
Surrounds a sunnier place.
Upon her perfumed barge
Cleopatra sits. But Jupiter is very large
And moves through space at an awful pace.
No angels live there.
Scientists have bad news.
Do you think the Christians care?
With strange notes the best composers
Play a more elaborate blues,
Which in the higher notes
We almost imagine a heaven floats.
If Elysium is over in an hour
We then imagine a different flower.
The poets wake us. Excited. Let’s go!
Look! We have feelings
Which counter what the scientists know.

A MEMORY OF LOVE

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A memory of love is better than love.
Love should have nothing to do—
Those who have loved will know what I mean—
And a memory doesn’t require anything
But viewing, and feeling what it is to remember love.
Yet when I remember the scenes of love
Which belong to you and I—
And sometimes we remember something new
When remembering,
Even when, in ecstasy, we remember love—
Even love changes, even when it religiously slumbers
In dreams of perfumes and sighs—
I remember I was in love, but you
Would ask, gently, but still you would ask me, to plan
And do a few things, because you said, I was the man.
I gasp as I remember this new
Part of the memory.
You were not in love, were you?

THE DEAD REFEREE

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The league, not luck, determines the winner.
The church, not you, determines the sinner.
Belong to the larger group:
You’ll get falsehood, a credit card, and soup.
Nothing in the world hides
But that hiding itself decides.
The pleasures of simple pleasures grow
Because simplicity never faces no.
You took a walk, and everything that’s true
Was on that walk with you.
When symbols attempt to do more
They are not symbols anymore.
Not your wife, not your daughter, not your son
Will love you, you are the only one.
You sought ecstatic pleasures, and learned
Whatever burns is burned.
The dream of talent is a false dream;
The result is what they make it seem.
You love below the eyes
Where you alone are in the darkness of sighs.
To be an individual
Is this: to cry out, bitterly, I am not beautiful.

I THINK I AM GOING TO WRITE A POEM TODAY

Artwork by Henri De Braekeleer, Vestibule de la maison du peintre, Made of  canvas | Dark art drawings, Interior paintings, Painting

I think I am going to write a poem today.
By stating this at the beginning of my poem,
I guess I am pumping myself up, the way poets
Once did when they began their poems
By asking for help from the muses;
This is just a more casual and modern way to do it.
By not only doing it, but explaining why I’m doing it,
Is further proof I’m a modern poet,
Or perhaps I’m not a modern poet—
But this is definitely a modern poem, isn’t it?
And I don’t see how a poet can be anything but modern
If he exists inside a modern poem.
So there it is. I’m trapped. No muses.
Further, the whole preface of the poem, based on
“I think I am going to write a poem today”
(Now I’m quoting myself—is that post-modern?)
Is a preface this poem has no intention of escaping from.
The preface is the poem. Don’t you think that’s true?
I don’t need to invoke a muse. I just want to talk to you.

AND NOW WE KNOW

Biden quotes priest's hymn 'On Eagle's Wings' in victory speech | Catholic  Courier

And now we know a political win
Always requires deception.
And this is never understood—
By the principled and the good.
Heaven is innocence, and a good snooze.
But hell stayed awake. And now, we lose.
The double agent is the best of all.
The “republican” makes sure the republicans fall.
An empire with a king—who all obey,
With the discipline of an army—still rules today.
The United States was not supposed to win.
The Empire will never let it win.
In 1814, the capitol was burned.
The Empire smiled. The slave yearned.
The Empire knows how to divide.
It knows, it knows. A mile wide.
Democracy, which argues and debates—
Never decides if it loves or hates.
Democracy attempts to compromise
Virtuous nos with murderous ayes.
We eventually arrived at a place
With no policy attached to a face:
The citizens don’t know who they are
Because compromise has gone too far.
The nation with a soldier’s discipline,
And loyalty right up the ranks,
Does pretty good with guns and tanks,
But those wars we managed to win.
Because we see tanks coming.
But this we didn’t see coming.
A digital enemy, with loyalty and temptation,
In the middle of the night has done something to our nation.
Communism inside of capitalism, grew.
This is not the communism we knew.
The deep state is especially deep.
Under the radar, the influences creep.
The ending of Rosemary’s Baby recalls
The controversy outside in the halls.



MY IMAGINATION MUST END

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My imagination must end,
Though it may be the best thing I’ve got;
I must stop thinking life will get better.
It will not.
My imagination must cease—
Believing life will improve
Gives me no peace.
The future is what most of us love;
Hope makes us almost happy—
But if I accept things will get worse,
Like this young, calm, prose
Thudding into verse,
Despite my deep familiarity with poetry—
If I can throw out hope and block the future out,
Now will be my ultimate happiness,
This easy present, my joy.
Tomorrow, I die. And so it is best
To let me dear imagination rest.

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