1.  Anis Shivani  —BS Meter.
2.  Ted Genoways —16.66 minutes of shame: time to lose that beard?
3.  John Casteen III  —the resolve of a great institution.
4.  John Casteen IV  —poet and friend of poet at no. 2
5.  Alan Cordle  —He told you so.
6.  Billy Collins  —youtube 3-year-old’s “Litany” has over 200,000 views.
7.  Rae Armantrout  —She won a prize, or something.
8.  Charles Bernstein  —He was published by a major press, or something.
9.  Ron Silliman  —His blog is still delightful, though mute…
10.  Seamus Heaney  —elegaic metaphors oozing over the bogland.
11.  Yusef Komunyakaa  —“until it forms a vision”
12.  Stephen Burt  —the Vendler flirt.
13.  Robert Pinsky  —Sounding larger all the time.
14.  Cate Marvin   —Forget Petrarch, these are different times.
15.  Jorie Graham   —Do I dare to feed a homeless man?
16.  John Barr  —-We don’t need no stinking blog.
17.  Garrison Keillor   —-goooood poems.
18.  David Orr   —The level-headed Times poetry critic.
19.  James Franco  —Allen Ginsberg as Hollywood heart-throb?
20.  Harold Bloom  —The onanist pedant in all of us.
21.  Anne  Carson  —we concede she has a certain style.
22.  Mary Oliver  —DH Lawrence & David Thoreau had a baby.
23.  David Lehman  —Father knows best.
24.  Robin Blaser  —The Renaissance lives!
25.  Paul Muldoon  —New Yawkuh.
26.  Louise Gluck  —Yale Younger gig.
27.  Tony Hoagland  —Frankness inside of frankness.
28.  John Ashbery  —Sweet, doddering, lovely.
29.  Helen Vendler  —Unpretentious, like a Wallace Stevens T-shirt.
30.  Lynn Behrendt  —Greatest Asshole poem ever.
31.  W.S. Merwin  —The Spill Is Gone.
32.  Jennifer L. Knox  —Don’t mess with her.
33.  Marjorie Perloff  —Avant goddess.
34.  Donald Hall  —A Quality Quietist
35.  Maya Angelou  —Give ’em hell, Maya!
36.  Dean Young  —who can forget his loss at the buzzer to Buzbee?
37.  Matthew Dickman  —seedy and surreal.
38.  Cole Swensen  —writes in Paris, works at Iowa…don’t be jealous.
39.  Kent Johnson  —From Japan to the New Chicago School.
40.  John Gallaher  —Blog-Prof with somethin’ to say…
41.  C.K. Williams  —Whitman, Williams, Williams, Whitman…
42.  Dana Gioia  —The Daddy of “Poetry’s Broke. Yea. It is.”
43.  Jerome Rothenberg  —I Vant To Suck Your Avant.
44.  Zachary Schomberg  —Making artsy-fartsy cool.
45.  Bin Ramke  —Ram on.
46.  Derek Walcott  —Homeric and no cleric.
47.  Vanessa Place  —O “maggoty claw!”
48.  James Tate  —just the fates of the pates: not related to allen tate.
49.  Frank Bidart  —a more intense Richard Howard.
50.  Robert Hass  —I wish they all could be California poets.
51.  Dan Chiasson  —suffered through the Paris Review earthquake.
52.  Glynn Maxwell  —mom was in original “Under Milk Wood.”
53.  Sherman Alexie  —Lost his Supersonics.
54.  D.A. Powell  —wearing the Bidart mantle with lyrical aplomb.
55.  Mary Jo Salter  —why do they call it the Norton anthology, anyway?
56.  Brad Leithauser  —remember neo-formalism?
57.  Martin Espada  —the lyrical in-your-face school
58.  James Fenton  —remember when the US cared about Britain?
59.  Simon Armitage  —CBE!  Crikey!
60.  Keith Waldrop  —friend to many poets
61.  C.D. Wright  —the awards keep coming
62.  Meghan O’ Rourke  —plunging into the Paris Review abyss
63.  Fred Seidel  —ice verse
64.  Jim Behrle  —the art of poetry and getting laid
65.  Dara Wier  —spelling tip: far from the misty mid regions of…
66.  Matthea Harvey  —the neo-romantic’s neo-romantic.
67.  Alice Fulton  —studied with the best minds.
68.  Ange Mlinko  —first spied her on the green pastures of Harriet…
69.  Adrianne Rich  —found fame on facebook recently…
70.  Richard Wilbur  —Old-timer rhymer
71.  Robert Kelly  —‘kel-ly’ is more enjoyable to say than any other word…
72.  Charles Wright  —one of those poets you’re supposed to like…
73.  Ilya Kaminsky  —Articulate translator
74.  Adam Kirsch  —but genoways was nice to me, genoways published me!
75.  David Beispiel  —the new gioia?
76.  Nick Lantz  —someone loves his poetry.
77.  J.D. McClatchy  —Yale, Yale, Yale!
78.  Susan Wheeler  —practically a BAP regular, teaches at Princeton.
79.  Daniel Nester  —unlike Behrle, this guy gets laid…
80.  Forrest Gander  —burning bright in the forest of c.d. wright…
81.  Kevin Young  —not the athlete; Brock-Broido’s former student.
82.  Susan Howe  —the brahmin language poet.
83.  Seth Abramson  —no one is more earnest.
84.  Charles Simic  —the postcard novelist.
85.  Jon Stallworthy  —editor from Oxford University. ahem.
86.  Reb Livingston  —thrilled us in March Madness.
87.  Elizabeth Alexander  —remember the inauguration?
88.  Natasha Trethewey  —historically-minded poet.
89.  William Logan  —fabulous, amusing critic, sucky poet.
90.  Eliot Weinberger  —a serious man.
91.  Joshua Clover  —Jorie’s successful student.
92.  Julianna Spahr  —looking for justice.
93.  Donald Revel  —Let the revels begin.
94.  Rosanna Warren  —daddy is only pulitzer-winner in fiction & poetry.
95.  August Kleinzahler  —a punishing poet.
96.  Marilyn Hacker  —a force to be reckoned with.
97.  Richard Howard  —glad he’s no longer with Paris Review.
98.  Rita Dove  —Doth thy poetry soften and delight?
99.  Kay Ryan  —Yesterday’s laureate.
100.  Peter Gizzi  —master of puzzling lyric; leader of the ‘huh? school.’


  1. jimmy said,

    August 28, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    This is as close to Meghan O’ Rourke as I will sadly ever get

  2. August 31, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Interesting list – but I’m not sure what to do about the scant editorial comment.

    Or maybe I need to stop looking for direction in other people’s lists.

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 31, 2010 at 5:42 pm

      “Do I Dare To Feed A Homeless Man?” and “The Spill Is Gone” are comedy gold…

      “scant?” Brevity is the soul of wit…

      • August 31, 2010 at 5:46 pm

        I would never argue with Shakespeare – but I cannot for the life of me figure out whether the author is delivering praise or approbation to many of these folks.

        Or maybe I can figure it out, but just refuse to accept (though we both seem to dislike Richard Howard – or does the author? I know I do).

  3. thomasbrady said,

    August 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    coffee, tell us more!

  4. August 31, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Ha ha – not much more to say, except that reading “Inner Voices” and all those arch, historical monologues was a painful experience for me.

    • Bob Tonucci said,

      September 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      TCP, thanks for mentioning
      That book by Howard;
      Please don’t find the interest
      You’ve piqued in me froward.

  5. September 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Not all – and, as someone who has always struggled to write rhymes, let me offer my compliments on putting together a little couplet for me.

    • Bob Tonucci said,

      September 2, 2010 at 11:34 am

      For any kudos,
      I have to thank
      The MAD mag master
      Jacobs (Frank).

  6. jimmy said,

    September 2, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I don’t want to go higher. Just closer to Meghan O.

  7. Tatooch said,

    September 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

    My Aunts

    Grew up on the Jersey Shore in the nineteen-seventies.
    Always making margaritas in the kitchen,
    always laughing and doing their hair up pretty,
    sharing lipstick and shoes and new juice diets;
    always splitting the bills to the last penny,
    stealing each other’s clothes,
    loving one another then complaining
    as they walked out the door. Each one with her doe eyes,
    each one younger than the last,
    each older the next year, one year
    further from their girlhoods of swimming
    at Sandy Hook, doing jackknives off the diving board
    after school, all of them
    being loved by one boy and then another,
    all driving further from the local fair, further from Atlantic City.
    They used to smoke in their cars,
    rolling the windows down and letting their red nails
    hang out, little stoplights:
    Stop now, before the green
    comes to cover up your tall brown bodies.

    — Meghan O’Rourke

  8. thomasbrady said,

    September 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    O’Rourke is not a pretty name for a girl. When I was in HS I had a crush on a girl on the school bus: Karen Cummins. Also from Connecticut. Weston, not Easton. O’Rourke also looks a bit severe AND somewhat mouse-y. I can see the pretty Jimmy might be seeing, but personally, I’m not impressed.

    As for O’Rourke’s poem, it immediately reminded me of a far better one by Ransom, and I would almost guess O’Rourke had read the Ransom, too because both poems use color with simple, rapturous effect. Ransom’s Blue Girls will always live in anthologies because it has 1) beautiful form and 2) the narrator is passionately focused, but the O’Rourke will not because O’Rourke merely plays off a lot of details, “Jersey Shore” and “Sandy Hook” and “They used to smoke in their cars” which will simply dissolve after a while. Imagine turning such interesting women into a cliche! And for what? What happens along the way, formally, in the poem? Nothing of interest. When O’Rourke repeats “Always” in the beginning of the poem, one is not sure whether this is a poetic effect or merely a colloquial tic, and because one is not sure, Time will not be kind to it.

    Both poems are a variation on Poe’s famous theme: the death of a beautiful woman, only here the woman does not die, but grows older:

    Blue Girls

    Twirling your blue skirts, travelling the sward
    Under the towers of your seminary,
    Go listen to your teachers old and contrary
    Without believing a word.

    Tie the white fillets then about your hair
    And think no more of what will come to pass
    Than bluebirds that go walking on the grass
    And chattering on the air.

    Practise your beauty, blue girls, before it fail;
    And I will cry with my loud lips and publish
    Beauty which all our powers shall never establish,
    It is so frail.

    For I could tell you a story which is true;
    I know a lady with a terrible tongue,
    Blear eyes fallen from blue,
    All her perfections tarnished—yet it is not long
    Since she was lovelier than any of you.

    John Crowe Ransom

  9. Tattooch said,

    September 4, 2010 at 12:42 am

    100. Peter Gizzi


    You stand far from the crowd, adjacent to power.
    You consider the edge as well as the frame.
    You consider beauty, depth of field, lighting
    to understand the field, the crowd.
    Late into the day, the atmosphere explodes
    and revolution, well, revolution is everything.
    You begin to see for the first time
    everything is just like the last thing
    only its opposite and only for a moment.
    When a revolution completes its orbit
    the objects return only different
    for having stayed the same throughout.
    To continue is not what you imagined.
    But what you imagined was to change
    and so you have and so has the crowd.

  10. Tattooch said,

    September 4, 2010 at 12:45 am

    99. Kay Ryan

    Nothing Ventured

    Nothing exists as a block
    and cannot be parceled up.
    So if nothing’s ventured
    it’s not just talk;
    it’s the big wager.
    Don’t you wonder
    how people think
    the banks of space
    and time don’t matter?
    How they’ll drain
    the big tanks down to
    slime and salamanders
    and want thanks?

  11. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    September 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    98. Rita Dove

    Adolescence II

    Although it is night, I sit in the bathroom, waiting.
    Sweat prickles behind my knees, the baby-breasts are alert.
    Venetian blinds slice up the moon; the tiles quiver in pale strips.

    Then they come, the three seal men with eyes as round
    As dinner plates and eyelashes like sharpened tines.
    They bring the scent of licorice. One sits in the washbowl,

    One on the bathtub edge; one leans against the door.
    “Can you feel it yet?” they whisper.
    I don’t know what to say, again. They chuckle,

    Patting their sleek bodies with their hands.
    “Well, maybe next time.” And they rise,
    Glittering like pools of ink under moonlight,

    And vanish. I clutch at the ragged holes
    They leave behind, here at the edge of darkness.
    Night rests like a ball of fur on my tongue.

    97. Richard Howard

    Spleen by Charles Baudelaire
    translated by Richard Howard

    February, peeved at Paris, pours
    a gloomy torrent on the pale lessees
    of the graveyard next door and a mortal chill
    on tenants of the foggy suburbs too.

    The tiles afford no comfort to my cat
    that cannot keep its mangy body still;
    the soul of some old poet haunts the drains
    and howls as if a ghost could hate the cold.

    A churchbell grieves, a log in the fireplace smokes
    and hums falsetto to the clock’s catarrh,
    while in a filthy reeking deck of cards

    inherited from a dropsical old maid,
    the dapper Knave of Hearts and the Queen of Spades
    grimly disinter their love affairs.

    More than if I had lived a thousand years!

    No chest of drawers crammed with documents,
    love-letters, wedding-invitations, wills,
    a lock of someone’s hair rolled up in a deed,
    hides so many secrets as my brain.
    This branching catacombs, this pyramid
    contains more corpses than the potter’s field:
    I am a graveyard that the moon abhors,
    where long worms like regrets come out to feed
    most ravenously on my dearest dead.
    I am an old boudoir where a rack of gowns,
    perfumed by withered roses, rots to dust;
    where only faint pastels and pale Bouchers
    inhale the scent of long-unstoppered flasks.

    Nothing is slower than the limping days
    when under the heavy weather of the years
    Boredom, the fruit of glum indifference,
    gains the dimension of eternity . . .
    Hereafter, mortal clay, you are no more
    than a rock encircled by a nameless dread,
    an ancient sphinx omitted from the map,
    forgotten by the world, and whose fierce moods
    sing only to the rays of setting suns.

    I’m like the king of a rainy country, rich
    but helpless, decrepit though still a young man
    who scorns his fawning tutors, wastes his time
    on dogs and other animals, and has no fun;
    nothing distracts him, neither hawk nor hound
    nor subjects starving at the palace gate.
    His favorite fool’s obscenities fall flat
    —the royal invalid is not amused—
    and ladies in waiting for a princely nod
    no longer dress indecently enough
    to win a smile from this young skeleton.
    The bed of state becomes a stately tomb.
    The alchemist who brews him gold has failed
    to purge the impure substance from his soul,
    and baths of blood, Rome’s legacy recalled
    by certain barons in their failing days,
    are useless to revive this sickly flesh
    through which no blood but brackish Lethe seeps.

    When skies are low and heavy as a lid
    over the mind tormented by disgust,
    and hidden in the gloom the sun pours down
    on us a daylight dingier than the dark;

    when earth becomes a trickling dungeon where
    Trust like a bat keeps lunging through the air,
    beating tentative wings along the walls
    and bumping its head against the rotten beams;

    when rain falls straight from unrelenting clouds,
    forging the bars of some enormous jail,
    and silent hordes of obscene spiders spin
    their webs across the basements of our brains;

    then all at once the raging bells break loose,
    hurling to heaven their awful caterwaul,
    like homeless ghosts with no one left to haunt
    whimpering their endless grievances.

    —And giant hearses, without dirge or drums,
    parade at half-step in my soul, where Hope,
    defeated, weeps, and the oppressor Dread
    plants his black flag on my assenting skull.

  12. Bobooch said,

    September 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    96. Marilyn Hacker

    The Boy

    It is the boy in me who’s looking out
    the window, while someone across the street
    mends a pillowcase, clouds shift, the gutter spout
    pours rain, someone else lights a cigarette?

    (Because he flinched, because he didn’t whirl
    around, face them, because he didn’t hurl
    the challenge back—“Fascists?—not “Faggots”—Swine!
    he briefly wonders—if he were a girl . . .)
    He writes a line. He crosses out a line.

    I’ll never be a man, but there’s a boy
    crossing out words: the rain, the linen-mender,
    are all the homework he will do today.
    The absence and the priviledge of gender

    confound in him, soprano, clumsy, frail.
    Not neuter—neutral human, and unmarked,
    the younger brother in the fairy tale
    except, boys shouted “Jew!” across the park

    at him when he was coming home from school.
    The book that he just read, about the war,
    the partisans, is less a terrible
    and thrilling story, more a warning, more

    a code, and he must puzzle out the code.
    He has short hair, a red sweatshirt. They know
    something about him—that he should be proud
    of? That’s shameful if it shows?

    That got you killed in 1942.
    In his story, do the partisans
    have sons? Have grandparents? Is he a Jew
    more than he is a boy, who’ll be a man

    someday? Someone who’ll never be a man
    looks out the window at the rain he thought
    might stop. He reads the sentence he began.
    He writes down something that he crosses out.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 26, 2010 at 3:06 pm

      The problem with Hacker’s poem is that it imitates a style realized by TS Eliot.


      It is the boy in me who’s looking out
      the window, while someone across the street
      mends a pillowcase, clouds shift, the gutter spout
      pours rain, someone else lights a cigarette?

      Is just this:

      One thinks of all the hands
      That are raising dingy shades
      In a thousand furnished rooms.

      “Preludes” TS Eliot

      Hacker is trying to ‘say something important’ about prejudice, etc but she is doing so in a style created to mock and belittle old poetry. In other words, Hacker is unconsciously undermining her own intent; the medium trounces the message; the revolutionary importance of what Eliot did cannot be put back in the bottle; we cannot have our cake and eat it; an age cannot acknowledge a new style and then use that style in a way that is blind to what the style did. The crowd has gone home. The crowd who loved silly old victorian verse has been written off; you cannot then welcome them back after the insult. Hacker tells a serious sermon in the mode of the joke Eliot told. So do many poets. We treat too casually what has happened. The amount of ignorance on this point is truly terrifying. People keep writing this kind of poetry without any idea of how useless it is.

  13. Noochinator said,

    September 5, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    95. August Kleinzahler


    How much meat moves
    Into the city each night
    The decks of its bridges tremble
    In the liquefaction of sodium light
    And the moon a chemical orange

    Semitrailers strain their axles
    Shivering as they take the long curve
    Over warehouses and lofts
    The wilderness of streets below
    The mesh of it
    With Joe on the front stoop smoking
    And Louise on the phone with her mother

    Out of the haze of industrial meadows
    They arrive, numberless
    Hauling tons of dead lamb
    Bone and flesh and offal
    Miles to the ports and channels
    Of the city’s shimmering membrane
    A giant breathing cell
    Exhaling its waste
    From the stacks by the river
    And feeding through the night

    94. Rosanna Warren


    Your purpled, parchment forearm
    lodges an IV needle and valve;
    your chest sprouts EKG wires;
    your counts and pulses swarm

    in tendrils over your head
    on a gemmed screen: oxygen,
    heart rate, lung power, temp
    root you to the bed—

    Magna Mater, querulous, frail,
    turned numerological vine
    whose every brilliant surge
    convolutes the tale,

    translates you to a life
    shining beyond our own:
    Come back to the world
    we know the texture of—

    demand your glasses back,
    struggle into your clothes,
    lean on me as you walk
    into the summer dark

    where you’ll find once more your breath
    and scold the wasted night.
    Above us, satellites vastly wink.
    Laugh. Come forth.

    93. Donald Revell

    Election Year

    A jet of mere phantom
    Is a brook, as the land around
    Turns rocky and hollow.
    Those airplane sounds
    Are the drowning of bicyclists.
    Leaping, a bridesmaid leaps.
    You asked for my autobiography.
    Imagine the greeny clicking sound
    Of hummingbirds in a dry wood,
    And there you’d have it. Other birds
    Pour over the walls now.
    I’d never suspected: every day,
    Although the nation is done for,
    I find new flowers.

    92. Juliana Spahr

    From her collection of poems “This Connection of Everyone with Lungs”, published by U. of California Press, 2005

    The Greenland glaciers and the Arctic Sea ice melt at unprecedented levels and still a ship fuels up and slips out of port.

    Winona Ryder has thirty prescriptions for downers from twenty different doctors and still a ship fuels up and slips out of port.

    Marc Anthony and Dayana Torres renew their vows in Puerto Rico and still a ship fuels up and slips out of port.

    Light and aromatherapy might help treat dementia, a patient sues a surgeon who left in the middle of surgery to pay his bills, cruise passengers continue to have diarrhea and nausea and yet continue to go on cruises, fires burn in Edinburgh, Hussein apologizes for invading Kuwait, United Airlines continues to lose eight million a day, Mars might have been a cold, dry planet when it was first formed, the Cheeky Girls knock Eminem off the charts, and still a ship fuels up and slips out of port.

    91. Joshua Clover

    The Map Room

    We moved into a house with 6 rooms: the Bedroom,
    the Map Room, the Vegas Room, Cities
    in the Flood Plains, the West, & the Room Which Contains All
    of Mexico. We honeymooned in the Vegas Room where
    lounge acts wasted our precious time. Then there was the junta’s
    high command, sick dogs of the Map Room, heel-
    prints everywhere, pushing model armies into the unfurnished
    West. At night: stories of their abandoned homes in the Cities
    in the Flood Plains, how they had loved each other
    mercilessly, in rusting cars, until the drive-in went under.
    From the Bedroom we called the decorator & demanded
    a figurehead… the one true diva to be had
    in All of Mexico: Maria Felix [star of ‘The Devourer’, star
    of ‘The Lady General’]. Nightly in Vegas, “It’s Not Unusual”
    or the Sex Pistols medley. Nothing ever comes back
    from the West, it’s a one-way door, a one-shot deal,—
    the one room we never slept in together. My wife
    wants to rename it The Ugly Truth. I love my wife for her
    wonderful, light, creamy, highly reflective skin;
    if there’s an illumination from the submerged Cities,
    that’s her. She suspects me of certain acts involving Maria Felix,
    the gambling debts mount…but when she sends the junta off to Bed
    we rendezvous in the Map Room & sprawl across the New World
    with our heads to the West. I sing her romantic melodies from the Room
    Which Contains All of Mexico, tunes which keep arriving
    like heaven, in waves of raw data, & though I wrote
    none of the songs myself & can’t pronounce them, these are my
    greatest hits

  14. Tattooch said,

    September 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

    90. Eliot Weinberger

    America: the dead

    People die, but there are no dead in America. The dead are those who are exhumed a year after burial, their bones washed and placed in catacombs or in a special niche in the house, their skulls painted, with jewels set in the eye sockets, their skulls set on spikes around the yard. The dead are those buried in suits of jade to live forever, with the ornaments, weapons, cooking utensils, and food they’ll need in the other world. The dead are buried sitting on a chair, facing east. The dead have a rooster carved on their gravestones, to announce the soul’s awakening. The dead are the ones for whom incense, candles, paper money, paper cars, paper houses with paper dishwashers and VCR’s are burnt. The dead are the ones whose memorial tablets and portraits occupy a prominent place in the living room or in the temple. The dead have graves that are visited with regularity and kept from weeds, or inspire melancholy at their abandonment. The dead have graves where the family picnics once a year and misbehaves. The dead inhabit a place where the living, through chants or trance or solitude or drugs, can talk to them. The dead are those who take possession of the living. The dead are those who come back.

    There are no dead in America because there are no corpses. Corpses are the invisible citizens of America, the secret no one tells, far rarer to observe by chance than copulation. We don’t see them, we don’t touch them, we don’t dress them, we don’t know what to do with them, we don’t keep them in our bedrooms until they are interred, we don’t watch their feet sticking out from the shroud as the flames consume them. So many people die on television in America because in our lives no one dies, they only vanish, and television is the great compensator for all we don’t have or see.

    There are no dead in America because there is no place. The dead are dependent on generations that do not move. The dead have graves where the family knows where the graves are. In America the ancestors are left behind in a nation constructed, like no other, on the pursuit of happiness, a dream of the future where the dead have no place. There is no happiness to pursue among the dead. The country was settled (in its historical era) as an escape from the dead. Except for those who came in the early years to practice their religion—to maintain the old ways—its emigrants have come seeking freedom from the tyranny of the dead and, like released slaves, they must wander and invent themselves. The generations move on, new people, forever “making a new start,” holding the ethical ideal of being “born again” in this life.

    In the dream of no history, small fears fester and infect. The standard American horror movie plot is the house, the school, the mall built over a forgotten cemetery, and the subsequent revenge of the desecrated: a story unimaginable anywhere else. Visiting the United States in 1944, the Chinese anthropologist Fei Tsao-t’ung reported that “people move about like the tide, unable to form permanent ties with places, to say nothing of other people . . . . Naturally they seldom see ghosts.”

  15. Tattooch said,

    September 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    89. William Logan

    Christ Among the Moneychangers, 1929

    Among shivering bankers the coin went false,
    and on damp walls the shreds of tapestry
    repented the cost of flowers under glass,
    the foul pool swollen with fish, small vanities
    whose scales were weighed out coolly in silk thread.
    The stink of plaster corrupts the polychrome
    and carp convert in secret to the cause
    of wall-eyed ancestors flaking under crests
    now mangy lions rise rampant to protect,
    their hair shirts still acrawl with louse and worm.
    The raggled matrix of an hour’s peace
    cannot reform crude factions of a state
    never alone except among the mad,
    who on their knees vomited up pale blood
    that splashed like taxes on the flagstones.
    Sumptuous deaths in the shade of politics,
    and then the posthumous careers, the charter bus,
    the cure of hunting hawks and not their masters.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 6, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      How can such a clever, caustic critic of poetry write such wretched poetry himself? Quite obviously there is a wall between Logan’s critical and creative faculties. Logan must have erected this wall himself, and the wall is there because he believes the analytical and creative are separate functions. This belief is his undoing as a poet.

      A good critic reads a poet through his readers’ eyes and Logan obviously does this when he is writing prose criticism, but as a poet, he leaves off this added activity and writes poetry with no reader in mind; apparently he is unable to keep the critic beside him when he transforms into a poet—the coldness towards poets as a tribe which makes him an astute critic becomes the heat that confuses and melts his own transforming activity as a failed poet. Somewhere in Logan’s mind he thinks to add to his creative impulse, not realizing this addition is merely the addition of minus numbers. The focus of his critical activity is aided by a negative (a refusal to be distracted, a refusal to succumb to unnecessary sympathy) and instead of using a similar strategy to create, he errs by doing the reverse.

      • Noochinator said,

        September 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm

        89. William Logan

        from Punchinello in Chains: VI. Punchinello Dreams of Escape

        The ship at anchor wasn’t what it seemed—
        yet Punchinello gripped the eagle’s neck.
        (The dream of life is just another dream.)

        It soared above the masts, canals, the steam
        of chimneys, till our Punch was just a speck.
        The ship at anchor wasn’t what it seemed,

        the harbor, Venice, Europe—even the gleam
        blazing San Marco’s horses shrank. A fleck!
        The dream of life is just another dream

        that really wants a king, a god’s regime,
        or some poor hurricane to wreck
        the ship at anchor. Wasn’t what it seemed,

        Punch’s old life, another Ponzi scheme?
        Weren’t sailors waving from the quarter-deck?
        The dream of life is just another dream

        that none of us will live to see redeemed.
        Death scrawls his bold John Hancock on your check.
        The ship at anchor wasn’t what it seemed.
        The dream of life is just another dream.

  16. Noochinator said,

    September 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    88. Natasha Trethewey

    Letter Home

    –New Orleans, November 1910

    Four weeks have passed since I left, and still
    I must write to you of no work. I’ve worn down
    the soles and walked through the tightness
    of my new shoes calling upon the merchants,
    their offices bustling. All the while I kept thinking
    my plain English and good writing would secure
    for me some modest position. Though I dress each day
    in my best, hands covered with the lace gloves
    you crocheted—no one needs a girl. How flat
    the word sounds, and heavy. My purse thins.
    I spend foolishly to make an appearance of quiet
    industry, to mask the desperation that tightens
    my throat. I sit watching—

    though I pretend not to notice—the dark maids
    ambling by with their white charges. Do I deceive
    anyone? Were they to see my hands, brown
    as your dear face, they’d know I’m not quite
    what I pretend to be. I walk these streets
    a white woman, or so I think, until I catch the eyes
    of some stranger upon me, and I must lower mine,
    a negress again. There are enough things here
    to remind me who I am. Mules lumbering through
    the crowded streets send me into reverie, their footfall
    the sound of a pointer and chalk hitting the blackboard
    at school, only louder. Then there are women, clicking
    their tongues in conversation, carrying their loads
    on their heads. Their husky voices, the wash pots
    and irons of the laundresses call to me.

    I thought not to do the work I once did, back bending
    and domestic; my schooling a gift—even those half days
    at picking time, listening to Miss J—. How
    I’d come to know words, the recitations I practiced
    to sound like her, lilting, my sentences curling up
    or trailing off at the ends. I read my books until
    I nearly broke their spines, and in the cotton field,
    I repeated whole sections I’d learned by heart,
    spelling each word in my head to make a picture
    I could see, as well as a weight I could feel
    in my mouth. So now, even as I write this
    and think of you at home, Goodbye

    is the waving map of your palm, is
    a stone on my tongue.

    87. Elizabeth Alexander


    Maryland State Correctional Facility for Women,
    Baltimore County Branch, has undergone a face-lift.
    Cells are white and ungraffitied, roomlike, surprisingly airy.
    This is where I must spend the next year, eating slop from tin trays,
    facing women much tougher than I am, finding out if I am brave.
    Though I do not know what I took, I know I took something.

    On Exercise Day, walk the streets of the city you grew up in,
    in my case, D.C., from pillar to post, Adams-Morgan to Anacostia,
    Shaw to Southwest, Logan to Chevy Chase Circles,
    recalling every misbegotten everything, lamenting, repenting.

    How my parents keen and weep, scheme to spring me,
    intercept me at corners with bus tokens, pass keys, files baked in cakes.
    Komunyakaa the poet says, don’t write what you know,
    write what you are willing to discover, so I will
    spend this year, these long days, meditating on what I am accused of
    in the white rooms, city streets, communal showers, mess hall,
    where all around me sin and not sin is scraped off tin trays
    into oversized sinks, all that excess, scraped off and rinsed away.

    86. Reb Livingston

    Tonight I Doze

    Because insomnia is no fun and who’s dark and frilly now?
    Not me, yes me, oh woe whoa, what did we step in this time?

    Everything was textbook sweetness, tv show thrillingness
    and then, then, fuck you and your then, hairy hands

    spiral eyeballs, pat and rub, whimsy stick, I saw you
    peek-a-wink, yes you simply offered alternatives.

    I lapped lipped your radiation, let you sneak in the side
    kissed cursed your crooked eyelids, lived loved your false greetings.

    Those were good days, those three, they shouldn’t have ended but
    clocks, they were born to run, hah, I’m trying to be funny.

    You made me nervous, bulbous, fortuitous, I’m using big words
    and I don’t know what they mean. I squealed for ya.

    That’s what I did and you got sleepy and said now we could sleep.
    I didn’t want to sleep, I wanted to talk and go back in time

    so there’d be nothing to talk about and start over and graze
    past, shake hands, shake an ankle, kiss kiss. There was that

    stairwell, that lost opportunity of steps and railings.
    Now I’m fat, draped in flannel and you take too damn long

    to respond and never answer important questions

    Sleep introduces figs and blueberries.
    Sleep gives tomorrow. Dear beloved, let’s sleep again.

  17. jimmy said,

    September 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm


    I get phonecalls / I make phonecalls

    Gotta get me some of that Ruth Lilly money

    Instead of being a poet who pretends to be nice

    And is an asshole, I pretend to be an asshole

    And am an asshole

    We got in trouble for making out

    In front of the Lesbian Bar

    Flarf made me Flamous

    Wearing a Dracula cape, carrying a skull

    You’ll never be in my priority inbox

    I put the ass in Narcassism

    I can’t have an orgasm unless the house is

    *On fire*

    I have a lot of fingers

    I’ve never counted them all

    • The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

      September 6, 2010 at 11:01 pm

      The poems in the link above set my heart racing—
      I didn’t paste them in cuz it would screw up the spacing.

      64. Jim Behrle

      From Winter Verses

      tell us about morning and tell us about
      Christmas Eve, the sun struggling to come.
      tell us, tell us, point with your beards.
      the cold row of cracked headstones are me,
      thin and broken off like crackers. we
      think of you sometimes, and also of ourselves,
      and also of me. sometimes in the wind.
      we see you pointing, we see you, you point
      back at us, and also at me, gray, cracked,

      what thoughts: kneeling in an apartment foyer,
      preparing to shoot up, or shooting up, a heaven
      of a foyer, a blessed warm orgasm of steps.
      what thoughts: on roofs and on roofs, the sky
      opened and pistachio. free, pointing off toward
      rivers, and church steeples, and divine bridges,
      cars haloed back and forth. we think of you,
      we point to you in books, pages flipping in wind.

      are you ready to climb to the roof?
      are you ready to point off, a green
      bottle clutched? to feel warm in apartment
      foyers, the wind just outside. as tall and
      unshakable as a steeple, strong against the storm.
      will you open like the sky? think of me in the river,
      have thoughts of me, haloed all the way.

  18. Al Cordle said,

    September 6, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Jimmy’s worried about proximity and now I am too. Get me away from 2-4!

  19. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    September 6, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    84. Charles Simic

    Hotel Insomnia

    I liked my little hole,
    Its window facing a brick wall.
    Next door there was a piano.
    A few evenings a month
    a crippled old man came to play
    “My Blue Heaven.”

    Mostly, though, it was quiet.
    Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
    Catching his fly with a web
    Of cigarette smoke and revery.
    So dark,
    I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

    At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.
    The “Gypsy” fortuneteller,
    Whose storefront is on the corner,
    Going to pee after a night of love.
    Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
    So near it was, I thought
    For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

  20. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    September 6, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Below is a link to four poems by Seth Abramson,
    Can’t paste ’em in ’cause they’ll get respaced by WordPress;
    Plus they’re copyrighted, and Mr. A.’s a lawyer—
    Don’t wanna be on the receiving end of a legal full court press.

    83. Seth Abramson

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 8, 2010 at 1:16 am

      Right on, Nooch.

      Those are some intricate spacings in those Abramson poems.

      Had we violated those, we’d have gotten our asses sued to kingdom come!


  21. The Noochness said,

    September 7, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    As Dana Carvey might say,
    Seemingly off-the-cuff,
    In his guise as Carsenio,
    “Wild wacky stuff!”

    82. Susan Howe

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 8, 2010 at 1:19 am

      Damn! We are not worthy!

  22. The Noochness said,

    September 8, 2010 at 12:17 am

    81. Kevin Young

    For the Confederate Dead

    I go with the team also.

    These are the last days
    my television says. Tornadoes, more
    rain, overcast, a chance

    of sun but I do not
    trust weathermen,
    never have. In my fridge only

    the milk makes sense—
    expires. No one, much less
    my parents, can tell me why

    my middle name is Lowell,
    and from my table
    across from the Confederate

    Monument to the dead (that pale
    finger bone) a plaque
    declares war—not Civil,

    or Between
    the States, but for Southern
    Independence. In this café, below sea-

    and eye-level a mural runs
    the wall, flaking, a plantation
    scene most do not see—

    it’s too much
    around the knees, height
    of a child. In its fields Negroes bend

    to pick the endless white.
    In livery a few drive carriages
    like slaves, whipping the horses, faces

    blank and peeling. The old hotel
    lobby this once was no longer
    welcomes guests—maroon ledger,

    bellboys gone but
    for this. Like an inheritance
    the owner found it

    stripping hundred years
    (at least) of paint
    and plaster. More leaves each day.

    In my movie there are no
    horses, no heroes,
    only draftees fleeing

    into the pines, some few
    who survive, gravely
    wounded, lying

    burrowed beneath the dead—
    silent until the enemy
    bayonets what is believed

    to be the last
    of the breathing. It is getting later.
    We prepare

    for wars no longer
    there. The weather
    inevitable, unusual—

    more this time of year
    than anyone ever seed. The earth
    shudders, the air—

    if I did not know
    better, I would think
    we were living all along

    a fault. How late
    it has gotten . . .
    Forget the weatherman

    whose maps move, blink,
    but stay crossed
    with lines none has seen. Race

    instead against the almost
    rain, digging beside the monument
    (that giant anchor)

    till we strike
    water, sweat
    fighting the sleepwalking air.

  23. Noochinator said,

    September 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    80. Forrest Gander

    Eye Against Eye [excerpt]

    As if nothing were wrong egrets dip-feed in near shore channels

    the human genome reveals chromosomes from parasites

    annexed by our DNA long ago

    mongrels to the core and tourists

    with cameras take the front pews

    the enemy blows himself up at Passover dinner

    the enemy trembles in a cave starving

    the enemy lets go a daisy cutter

    a million cubic feet of mud slides down the slope

    toward a single bungalow in Laguna Beach

  24. Noochinator said,

    September 9, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    79. Daniel Nester

    Deaf Rush Limbaugh’s Macaronic Blues

    Soon I’ll hear your voices, people,
    and you’ll sound like Donald Duck.
    I’ll hear every car horn honk,
    every plink and plunk and plonk.
    And you’ll sound like Donald Duck—
    one voice, indistinguishable, under God.
    Every plink and plunk and plonk.
    Comprised of pitches and lengths,
    One voice, indistinguishable, under God.
    It was like free jazz there towards the end,
    Just comprised of pitches and different lengths.
    Soon I’ll hear your voices, people,
    every immigrant, businessman, pundit.
    And you all sound like Donald Duck.

  25. Noochinator said,

    September 9, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    78. Susan Wheeler


    In any structure, you can obtain cable service,
    you can connect a flat-screen television, you
    can watch the Yankees and the Mariners as
    prelude to a subway series. You can remove
    a bottle of beer from a refrigerator. You can
    make a bed. The structure is arbitrary, it comes
    with a salary, the eaves peaked or the roof shovel—
    ready in the snow season, the gutters full of twigs
    or covered with small runners, caps really,
    to protect the runnels, the water chutes, something
    not invented by Disney but American nonetheless,
    uncoppered in the tenting of our depots, where
    you can stare from a kitchen window at a dog
    devouring a flea and then shitting on your lawn.

    Into this, stride loved ones not unforgotten
    in the mix of peat moss and cereal, fenders,
    and the rhetorical hum of the baseboard heat,
    and you can hear them calling you from the front
    room to come quickly, see the skunk in the road,
    and you can ignore them. Other prerogatives
    of a paycheck include sleeping in on a Sunday.
    You can also — and here we come back to the
    refrigerator again — pillage supplies for a snack.
    Above, in the beat of the sky, Vanna on the
    Hollywood Squares stares back. Bumps on the
    bark of the maple concern you by and by.

    Into this you can introduce debt. Dots on the
    screen can feather all your expectations
    for rodeos and whatnot, the structure arbitrary,
    a composite cribbed from vagaries such as
    typically visit upon our scenes. The grass
    growing drier in the drama of accounting. Punks
    you believe the neighbors’ kids to be come
    to your door. Harry meets Sally again and again.
    Braked or full speed it is a kind of locking.
    But when you deploy your own self and those
    selves of your loved ones with out, out,
    red birds on soft slate can menace, too.

    On the lawn, on the tarmac, beneath a bridge,
    you can run the wires off of errant lines, you
    can choose the indictment that is Seinfeld, a
    car, or spittle the screen with vituper.
    A flatness results, be it American or Mills,
    General Mills, General Foods, elves and
    Jemimahs and so forth, on to Jeannies and
    Samanthas and O — O that you not be left so
    alone when the power line fails! Buck up and
    tell it, buck up and tell them, the sores on your
    hide hide nothing, the stenciling on the door
    does nothing — you can walk, you can wake
    by the side of the road, a friend to critters, and man.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Susan Wheeler has sinned. Her poem is a precise copy of the style of a poet with a great reputation. Ashbery’s triumph is Wheeler’s shame. None can point to Ashbery’s method, so we cover up this embarrassment by tacitly assuming Ashbery is unique.

      • The Noochness said,

        September 10, 2010 at 11:29 pm

        I sense a theme in Wheeler’s ‘Poem,’
        A critique of too much time spent at home.

      • thomasbrady said,

        September 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

        “and here we come back to the refrigerator again” :when Wheeler wrote this in stanza 2, I thought it was sooo Ashbery, but re-reading, I didn’t see that she mentions the fridge in s. 1. My mistake. Nooch is right, I am wrong, Wheeler’s poem has a theme of sorts…

  26. The Noochinator said,

    September 11, 2010 at 10:30 am

    77. J. D. McClatchy

    A Winter Without Snow

    Even the sky here in Connecticut has it,
    That wry look of accomplished conspiracy,
    The look of those who’ve gotten away

    With a petty but regular white collar crime.
    When I pick up my shirts at the laundry,
    A black woman, putting down her Daily News,

    Wonders why and how much longer our luck
    Will hold. “Months now and no kiss of the witch.”
    The whole state overcast with such particulars.

    For Emerson, a century ago and farther north,
    Where the country has an ode’s jagged edges,
    It was “frolic architecture.” Frozen blue-

    Print of extravagance, shapes of a shared life
    Left knee-deep in transcendental drifts:
    The isolate forms of snow are its hardest fact.

    Down here, the plain tercets of provision do,
    Their picket snow-fence peeling, gritty,
    Holding nothing back, nothing in, nothing at all.

    Down here, we’ve come to prefer the raw material
    Of everyday and this year have kept an eye
    On it, shriveling but still recognizable—

    A sight that disappoints even as it adds
    A clearing second guess to winter. It’s
    As if, in the third year of a “relocation”

    To a promising notch way out on the Sunbelt,
    You’ve grown used to the prefab housing,
    The quick turnover in neighbors, the constant

    Smell of factory smoke—like Plato’s cave,
    You sometimes think—and the stumpy trees
    That summer slighted and winter just ignores,

    And all the snow that never falls is now
    Back home and mixed up with other piercing
    Memories of childhood days you were kept in

    With a Negro schoolmate, of later storms
    Through which you drove and drove for hours
    Without ever seeing where you were going.

    Or as if you’ve cheated on a cold sickly wife.
    Not in some overheated turnpike motel room
    With an old flame, herself the mother of two,

    Who looks steamy in summer-weight slacks
    And a parrot-green pullover. Not her.
    Not anyone. But every day after lunch

    You go off by yourself, deep in a brown study,
    Not doing much of anything for an hour or two,
    Just staring out the window, or at a patch

    On the wall where a picture had hung for ages,
    A woman with planets in her hair, the gravity
    Of perfection in her features—oh! her hair

    The lengthening shadow of the galaxy’s sweep.
    As a young man you used to stand outside
    On warm nights and watch her through the trees.

    You remember how she disappeared in winter,
    Obscured by snow that fell blindly on the heart,
    On the house, on a world of possibilities.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

      Nicely done, J.D. The poem as cheever short story, updike novel.

  27. The Noochinator said,

    September 11, 2010 at 10:37 am

    76. Nick Lantz

    The Year We Blew Up the Whale – Florence, Oregon

    In that same year, after Lefty Watson missed
    his third straight place kick against Salem High,
    we rushed the field. Lefty’s father, in a black
    and orange track suit, shimmied up the goal posts
    and, beating the air with his fists, incited
    what the Umpqua Register would later call
    a riot. But the Salem team walked off the field
    unharmed, if a bit confused, as we stayed behind
    to rip out every inch of turf. In that same year,
    when the single-vessel fleet of the Devil Ray
    Fishing Company returned with an empty hold,
    the owner took a five-pound sledge to the keel
    and let the ship sink. In that same year, when
    Pamela Reese learned she would never have
    children, she stopped throwing anything away,
    and slowly her house filled up with garbage,
    distended bags of it clotting the hallways, bags
    sagging the attic beams, bags overflowing
    through the windows onto the reeking lawn.
    In that same year, when Ambrose Hecklin’s only
    son was run over by a pickup truck, Ambrose drove
    all the way to Lincoln City, walked up to the first
    car salesman he could find, and shot him
    in the face. In that same year, when Nell Barrett,
    last speaker of the Siuslaw language, died alone
    in her two-room bungalow, her estranged son
    showed up at the county clinic the next morning
    with a mouth full of blood, and though outsiders
    would later claim he’d accidentally bitten off
    his own tongue in a drunken fit, we knew
    the truth before the doctor found the filet knife
    in his coat pocket. So when the dead whale
    washed up on our beach, of course we tried
    to blow it up. The newscasters, who’d come
    from as far as Portland when they heard our plan,
    were shocked when the blast only carved out
    a u-shaped hole in the animal’s stomach.
    The out-of-towners, who had come to gawk
    and jeer, ran for cover as basketball-sized chunks
    of whale rained on the parking lot a hundred yards
    away. But we were not in the least bit shaken.
    If we have learned anything from this, said
    our city engineers, standing on the beach in their
    gory parkas, it is that we need more dynamite.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 11, 2010 at 11:49 am

      A riot of a poem…”our city engineers, standing on the beach in their gory parkas…” The poem is nearly insane in its manipulated despair. The only thing the reader asks is, ‘Have I been manipulated? Is all this real?’ Otherwise, all we can say is, good, good poem, modern life’s a bitch…

      • The Noochness said,

        September 11, 2010 at 10:16 pm

        Now that I know Lantz’s anecdotes are true,
        The poem really gives me the old one-two.

      • thomasbrady said,

        September 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm

        Thanks, Al. The poem makes it sound like pranksters blew up the whale. The ‘real story,’ as least as told in that little film, has a comic element, a tale of bungled engineering. The poet selectively weaves the story into his heavy-handed tragedy, but the poem does have the same absurd take. It finally comes down to ‘point-of-view’ and I’m still not sure I trust the poet’s ‘point-of-view.’ This is what poets do, obviously: they select facts in order to create an effect, and I think Lantz did a good job. Inserting a lot of tabloid horror into one’s poem often seems like cheating, however. The ‘real’ events themselves overwhelm anything the poet is trying to do. Is Lantz giving us permission to “dynamite” his poem? ‘Cause that’s sort of what I want to do. There are some ‘wonders’ which just plain ‘stink.’


  28. Marcus Bales said,

    September 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    From Harriet:

    “Llyfr Aneirin is moving to Aberstywyth (sic). … The library in Cardiff, Wales, which had been storing this essential medieval Welsh poetry book, is sending the volume to the national library at Aberstywyth, where it can be better preserved.”

    This reminds me of the limerick, attributed to Auden, that goes

    A maiden from Old Aberystwyth
    Took grain to the mill to get grist with.
    But the miller’s son, Jack,
    Laid her flat on her back
    And united the organs they pissed with.

    Of course Harriet spelled the town’s name wrong, and that ruins the whole thing. Oh, well.

  29. The Noochness said,

    September 11, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Two by Beispiel, number 75 in the list—
    By the gods of the po-biz 100 been kissed.

    75. David Biespiel


    We were not brought together as the ancients predicted. We were vandals,
    Trafficking in touch and go, devoid, with our brash sabers.
    Often, though, the sun broke through, and when the ratters took off with their gopher snakes,
    And there was no more milk and water between us,
    We were tithers. And when the pigeon hawks
    Hankered overhead like tom-toms in the distance
    We were tongue-tied and cleated.
    We gave up gloating and hogged our riches.
    Nothing was truer than that:
    Our trickle of permanence, our sprint to the hanging wall.

    Sleeping Beauty

    She likes it back there, spell-bound and rubbed smooth,
    Without a substitute or any lingerer to listen in to her weariness
    (She’s a maharani, ransacked as a house). And the harness of dream, and the error of disappearance,
    Are normal, newsless, shining even, cadenced as a dance, swank.

    And though she seeps like a suicide and can’t replenish the color of raw,
    Her parted erasure is an intricate solitude, edgy, and scrubbed,
    Like undergrowth. So that the error of one’s looking on dissolves the progress of her spirits.
    And the clarity of what some called her hiccups, the cadaverish coughs—

    These are the intimacies of the houseflies that rise and fall and strafe around her.

  30. The Noochness said,

    September 11, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Two poems by Adam Kirsch,
    Who placed at number 74.
    And each named after a poet!
    And comprehensible, what’s more!

    74. Adam Kirsch


    What the average sensual man cannot forgive
    Or triumph over, slowly he forgets;
    By thirty-five or so begins to live
    With the faint metal taste of choked regret
    Flavoring every swallow. For romance
    He’ll never find with girls he’ll never meet,
    And plutocratic ease in the south of France,
    And the shouted homage of a trembling street,
    He learns in time to substitute a wife,
    Two weeks’ vacation, the “respect of peers”:
    The prolonged catastrophe we call a life
    Instead of the coming true of our worst fears.
    If genius is to carry the pristine
    Shock of perception to the bitter last,
    There was no purer genius: philistine,
    Uncompromising, foul mouth stuffed with rust.



    The cases sweating in the flower shop
    Preserve the daisy, lesser celandine
    And other stragglers banished from the strip
    That blooms along the Broadway median,
    Whose fume-assaulted corridor is kept
    Less as a landscape to get lost inside
    Than as a scrap of litmus paper, dipped
    Into the changing weather to provide
    Chemical confirmation of the spring;
    Or a St. Patrick’s ribbon that declares
    Allegiance to a country never seen;
    Or homeopathic remedy that cures
    With just a droplet where a dose would kill.
    Your deep lung would have suffocated where
    This April morning seems to give us all
    We need or want, whose breaths are shallower.

  31. The Noochness said,

    September 11, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    73. Ilya Kaminsky

    from Musica Humana

    Poet is a voice, I say, like Icarus,
    whispering to himself as he falls.

    Yes, my life as a broken branch in the wind
    hits the Northern ground.
    I am writing now a history of snow,
    the lamplight bathing the ships
    that sail across the page.

    But on certain afternoons
    the Republic of Psalms opens up
    and I grow frightened that I haven’t lived, died, not enough
    to scratch this ecstasy into vowels, hear
    splashes of clear, biblical speech.

    I read Plato, Augustine, the loneliness of their syllables
    while Icarus keeps falling.
    And I read Akhmatova, her rich weight binds me to the earth,
    the nut trees on a terrace breathing
    the dry air, the daylight.

    Yes, I lived. The State hung me up by the feet, I saw
    St. Petersburg’s daughters, swans,
    I learned the grammar of gulls’ array
    and found myself for good
    down Pushkin Street, while memory
    sat in the corner, erasing me with a sponge.

    I’ve made mistakes, yes: in bed
    I compared government
    to my girlfriend.
    Government! An arrogant barber’s hand
    shaving off the skin.
    All of us dancing happily around him.

  32. Noochmeister said,

    September 12, 2010 at 11:55 am

    72. Charles Wright


    Dove-twirl in the tall grass.
    End-of-summer glaze next door
    On the gloves and split ends of the conked magnolia tree.
    Work sounds: truck back-up-beep, wood
    tin-hammer, cicada, fire horn.
    History handles our past like spoiled fruit.
    Mid-morning, late-century light
    calicoed under the peach trees.
    Fingers us here. Fingers us here and here.
    The poem is a code with no message:
    The point of the mask is not the mask but
    the face underneath,
    Absolute, incommunicado,
    unhoused and peregrine.
    The gill net of history will pluck us soon enough
    From the cold waters of self-contentment
    we drift in
    One by one
    into its suffocating light and air.
    Structure becomes an element of belief,
    And grammar a catechist,
    Their words what the beads say,
    words thumbed to our discontent.

  33. thomasbrady said,

    September 12, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    The intricacy of these poems puts a distance between poet and reader, as the latter spends a great amount of energy sifiting through images, symbols, contexts, and what they may, or may not, signify. The great poem, for me, describes the description immediately. As a poet, It’s far more difficult to be simple than to be complex.

  34. The Noochmeister said,

    September 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    A poem of which
    Robert Kelly’s the progenitor.
    You can call him poet,
    Or you can call him Senator.

    71. Robert Kelly


    It doesnt matter what we see there
    (the mouth is full of sense
    no taste in listening
    no sense to hear
    what twists in the shallow water below the tongue)

    (and if he says Listen! say
    Drink the hearing with
    your own ears, a word
    is not to hear)

    Language? To use language for the sake of communication is like using a forest of ancient trees to make paper towels and cardboard boxes from all those years the wind and crows danced in the up of its slow.

    A word is not to hear
    and not to say—
    what is a word?

    The Catechism begins:
    Who made you?
    Language made me.
    Why did It make you?
    It made me to confuse the branch with the wind.
    Why that?
    To hide the root.
    Where is the root?
    It lies beneath the tongue.
    Speak it.
    It lies beneath the speech.
    Is it a word?
    A word is the shadow of a body passing.
    Whose body is that?
    The shadow’s own.

  35. Noochinator said,

    September 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    At number 70
    Wilbur is rated;
    Rumors of his demise
    Greatly exaggerated.

    70. Richard Wilbur

    For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday

    Blow out the candles of your cake.
    They will not leave you in the dark,
    Who round with grace this dusky arc
    Of the grand tour which souls must take.

    You who have sounded William Blake,
    And the still pool, to Plato’s mark,
    Blow out the candles of your cake.
    They will not leave you in the dark.

    Yet, for your friends’ benighted sake,
    Detain your upward-flying spark;
    Get us that wish, though like the lark
    You whet your wings till dawn shall break:
    Blow out the candles of your cake.

  36. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:25 am

    69. Adrienne Rich

    In Those Years

    In those years, people will say, we lost track
    of the meaning of we, of you
    we found ourselves
    reduced to I
    and the whole thing became
    silly, ironic, terrible:
    we were trying to live a personal life
    and yes, that was the only life
    we could bear witness to

    But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
    into our personal weather
    They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove
    along the shore, through the rags of fog
    where we stood, saying I

  37. Boboochko said,

    September 14, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Three by Mlinko,
    Scarriet’s got the data,
    And the first poem comes
    With a list of errata!

    69. Ange Mlinko

  38. Noochinator said,

    September 16, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    67. Alice Fulton

    About Face

    Because life’s too short to blush,
    I keep my blood tucked in.
    I won’t be mortified
    by what I drive or the flaccid
    vivacity of my last dinner party.
    I take my cue from statues posing only
    in their shoulder pads of snow: all January
    you can see them working on their granite tans.

    That I woke at an ungainly hour,
    stripped of the merchandise that clothed me,
    distilled to pure suchness,
    means not enough to anyone for me
    to confess. I do not suffer
    from the excess of taste
    that spells embarrassment:
    mothers who find their kids unseemly
    in their condom earrings,
    girls cringing to think
    they could be frumpish as their mothers.
    Though the late nonerotic Elvis
    in his studded gut of jumpsuit
    made everybody squeamish, I admit.
    Rule one: the King must not elicit pity.

    Was the audience afraid of being tainted
    —this might rub off on me—
    or were they—surrendering—
    what a femme word—feeling
    solicitous—glimpsing their fragility
    in his reversible purples
    and unwholesome goldish chains?

    At least embarrassment is not an imitation.
    It’s intimacy for beginners,
    the orgasm no one cares to fake.
    I almost admire it. I almost wrote despise.

  39. Noochinator said,

    September 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    66. Matthea Harvey


    At the carnival, Robo-Boy sees only things he recognizes. The Ferris Wheel is an overgrown version of his own bells & whistle eyes. His Flashers, his mother calls them. The tilt-a-whirl is the angle his head tilts when the Flirt Program goes into effect, usually in the vicinity of a Cindy or a Carrie, though once he found himself tilting at the school librarian which caused him to wheel in reverse into the Civil War section knocking over a cart of books that were waiting to be shelved under B. There’s a dangerously low stratosphere of pink cotton-candy clouds being carried around by the children. If Robo-Boy goes near them, the alarms will go off. It’s a kind of sticky that would cause joint-lock for sure. In a darker, safer corner Robo-Boy finds the Whack-a-Mole game. He pays a dollar and starts whacking the plastic moles on their heads each time they pop up from the much-dented log. He wins bear after bear. It’s only when he’s lugging them home, the largest one skidding face-down along the sidewalk getting dirt on its white nose and light blue belly, that he remembers the program: Wac-a-Mole Realism™—the disk on the installer’s desk. Suddenly it all fits together: the way a deliciously strange thought will start wafting out of his unconscious —and then WHAM, it disappears.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 17, 2010 at 1:12 pm

      I dunno…this kind of thing gets old fast…

      • Al Cordle said,

        September 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm

        I heard her read a series of RoboBoy poems and it DID get old really fast. But she seemed like a nice person.

      • Noochinator said,

        September 17, 2010 at 4:02 pm

        It resonated with me
        And tended to disturb,
        As I was quite programmed
        As a youth in my ‘burb.

  40. Noochinator said,

    September 17, 2010 at 11:23 am

    65. Dara Wier

    Invisible in the Torn Out Interiors

    A man looked at us across his little dish
    Of watercress and peas and said he’d wasted
    Five years. We couldn’t ask him doing what?
    He said he knew he’d let some thing alive die
    And didn’t know how to get it back again now
    That it was gone. He looked as if he were
    About to cry, as if a fresh death wanted him
    To mourn. He talked as if the place he’d been
    Had so unwelcomed him it had ruined his soul,
    As if it were a place into which drained an
    Absolute dead air. He said he’d left no friends
    Behind, no one who’d notice he was gone.
    And here he was without a job, no place his to
    Live, no one his to love. We said welcome home.

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 17, 2010 at 1:13 pm

      This poem is the un-sublime.

  41. Noochinator said,

    September 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Perhaps Guns and Roses
    The same thing tried to say,
    “Welcome to the jungle
    It gets worse here every day…”

  42. Noochinator said,

    September 17, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Will you still read him,
    Will you still bleed him,
    Cuz he’s 64?

    64. Jim Behrle

    Fantasy Answer Encyclical

    I want to shock you in a wine & cheese kind of way

    I want to lie with Louise Glück in the back of a pick-up trück

    My poems shall rule for 1000 years

    For I schmooze hardcore

    Chrysanthemum this!

    Egret of the swooning noon

    Your glasses will be ready in about an hour

    Echo Charlie Bravo Sabbatical

    Ass camaro hit my work study

    I soooo wanna headbutt somebody

    My mom farted in your mom’s ear

    Now give me a grant

    What’s my secret?

    Being non-threatening, blandly friendly and benign

    At all times

    Did I mention this is a pantoum?

    Mediocre poets will always rule

    And I shall be their Prince Albert

    Because baby you smell like a Guggenheim

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 18, 2010 at 11:54 am

      David Lehman, NY School fan, ought to LOVE this.

      Why the fuck isn’t Jimmy in BAP??

      Jimmy does O’Hara better than O’Hara.

  43. Noochinator said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

    63. Frederick Seidel

    from section VIII of “The Bush Administration”

    CENTCOM is drawing up war plans.
    They will drop snow on Congo.
    It will melt without leaving a trace, at great expense.
    America will pay any price to whiten darkness.
    My fellow citizen cicadas rise to the tops of the vanished Twin Towers
    And float back down white as ashes
    To introduce a new Ice Age.
    The countless generations rise from underground this afternoon
    And fall like rain.
    I never thought that I would live to see the towers fall again.

  44. Noochinator said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

    62. Meghan O’Rourke


    The decomposing squirrel in the yard,
    a plump sack. That night
    I bled for hours, like a dumb animal.
    The evening news: Mother’s doing fine today.
    By Wednesday, I could smell the body from the porch.
    I couldn’t make myself not look.
    First the flies on its brown eyes,
    then the mice in its tapering ribs.
    Soon it looked like the remains of a fish,
    a furry scalp, a plush dead thing.
    I drank lemonade and gin in the shade
    as the neighbor’s cat stalked the bossy blue jays.
    (Mothers, in this case.)
    They kept up the noise for hours.
    Last night it was just a skeleton,
    light enough to be lifted by the wind.

  45. Noochinator said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:14 am

    61. C.D. Wright

    Bent Tones

    There was a dance at the black school.
    In the shot houses people were busy.

    A woman washed her boy in a basin, sucking
    a cube of ice to get the cool.

    The sun drove a man in the ground like a stake.
    Before his short breath climbed the kitchen’s steps

    She skipped down the walk in a clean dress.
    Bad meat on the counter. In the sky, broken glass.

    When the local hit the trestle everything trembled —
    The trees she blew out of, the shiver owl,

    Lights next door — With her fast eye
    She could see Floyd Little
    Changing his shirt for the umpteenth time.

  46. Noochinator said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

    60. Keith Waldrop


    To the glory of his name I will say, that I believe I have been enabled to confide as unwaveringly, under dark dispensations, as under those more light and joyous. (See FORGIVENESS, NULLIFICATION, END.) Fire fell upon the caliph’s soul, and he repented of what he had done. (See DESTRUCTION, EJECTION, DEPARTURE.) His voice was said to carry to the farthest reaches of his audiences and he regularly held the attention of his listeners to the very end. (See PAYMENT.) American audiences are learning fast.

  47. thomasbrady said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:51 am

    It seems we have two choices in poetry these days: morbidity or jocularity. The best manage a combination of both, but even then, in almost all instances, you never want to read the poem again. It almost feels that in poetry, all the cinemas are playing slasher films. Nice people (female professors) are selling the tickets and the popcorn; the super-polite usher you to your seat. But wait ’til you see the movie…

    • Noochness said,

      September 20, 2010 at 12:02 pm

      I thought of your comment
      About slasher flicks
      When reading this poem
      With its quite vivid pix.

      What the Gypsies Told my Grandmother while She was Still a Young Girl

      Charles Simic

      War, illness and famine will make you their favorite
      You’ll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.
      You’ll chop onions and pieces of your heart
      into the same hot skillet.
      Your children will sleep in a suitcase tied with a rope.
      Your husband will kiss your breasts every night
      as if they were two gravestones.

      Already the crows are grooming themselves
      for you and your people.
      Your oldest son will lie with flies on his hips
      without smiling or lifting his hand.
      You’ll envy every ant you meet in your life
      and every roadside weed.
      Your body and soul will sit on separate stoops
      chewing the same piece of gum.

      Little cutie, are you for sale? the devil will say.
      The undertaker will buy a toy for your grandson.
      Your mind will be a hornet’s nest even on your
      You will pray to God but God will hang a sign
      that He’s not to be disturbed.
      Question no further, that’s all I know.

      • thomasbrady said,

        September 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

        Yea, the Fool asks, “Why are you writing a poem like that? That’s horrible. Why would you write such an offensive thing? You’re a sicko. Poetry and art should be harmonious and lift up the soul. The artist without talent takes refuge in banality in the name of freedom to report the banal horror of the world.”

        The Artist replies, “But the world is horrible and banal, and I will exercise my freedom to report this, whether you like it, or not.”

        The Fool: “Suit yourself.”

        I think there are times when we all feel a secret sympathy for the fool’s position, though we’d be hung if it ever became our conviction…

  48. Noochinator said,

    September 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    59. Simon Armitage


    They all looked daft but the horse-dog

    looked daftest of all. The cute red bridle and swishing tail,

    the saddle and stirrups, the groomed mane.

    The hair round its feet had been shaved and fluffed into hooves.

    Close up, on its hind, there were vampire bites where the clippers

    had steered too close to the skin. Skin that was blotchy

    and rude. I leaned over the rail and whispered,

    “You’re not a horse, you’re a dog.”

    It bared its canines and growled: “Shut the fuck up, son. Forty five minutes and down come the dirty bombs —

    is that what you want? Now offer me one of those mints

    and hold it out in the flat of your hand. Then hop on.” I was six, with a kitten’s face and the heart of a lamb.

  49. Noochinator said,

    September 18, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    58. James Fenton

    The Milkfish Gatherers

    The sea sounds insincere
    Giving and taking with one hand.
    It stopped a river here last month
    Filling its mouth with sand.

    They drag the shallows for the milkfish fry—
    Two eyes on a glass noodle, nothing more.
    Roused by his viligant young wife
    The drowsy stevedore

    Comes running barefoot past the swamp
    To meet a load of wood.
    The yellow peaked cap, the patched pink shorts
    Seem to be all his worldly goods.

    The nipa booths along the coast
    Protect the milkfish gatherers’ rights.
    Nothing goes unobserved. My good custodian
    Sprawls in the deckchair through the night.

    Take care, he says, take care—
    Not everybody is a friend.
    And so he makes my life more private still—
    A privacy on which he will attend.

    But the dogs are sly with the garbage
    And the cats ruthless, even with sliced bread,
    As the terns are ruthless among the shoals.
    Men watch the terns, then give the boat its head

    Dragging a wide arc through the blue,
    Trailing their lines,
    Cutting the engine out
    At the first sign.

    A hundred feet away
    Something of value struggles not to die.
    It will sell for a dollar a kilo.
    It weighs two kilos on the line—a prize.

    And the hull fills with a fortune
    And the improbable colours of the sea
    But the spine lives when the brain dies
    In a convulsive misery.

    Rummagers of inlets, scourers of the deep,
    Dynamite men, their bottles crammed with wicks,
    They named the sea’s inhabitants with style—
    The slapped vagina fish, the horse’s dick.

    Polillo ‘melts’ means it is far away—
    The smoking island plumed from slash and burn.
    And from its shore, busy with hermit crabs,
    Look to Luzon. Infanta melts in turn.

    The setting sun behind the Sierra Madre
    Projects a sharp blue line across the sky
    And in the eastern glow beyond Polillo
    It looks as if another sun might rise—

    As if there were no night,
    Only a brother evening and a dawn.
    No night! No death! How could these people live?
    How could the pressure lanterns lure the prawns?

    Nothing of value has arrived all day—
    No timber, no rattan. Now after dark,
    The news comes from the sea. They crowd the beach
    And prime a lantern, waiting for the shark.

    The young receive the gills, which they will cook.
    The massive liver wallows on the shore
    And the shark’s teeth look like a row of sharks
    Advancing along a jaw.

    Alone again by spirit light
    I notice something happening on a post.
    Something has burst its skin and now it hangs,
    Hangs for dear life onto its fine brown ghost.

    Clinging exhausted to its former self,
    Its head flung back as if to watch the moon,
    The blue-green veins pulsing along its wings,
    The thing unwraps itself, but falls too soon.

    The ants are tiny and their work is swift—
    The insect-shark is washed up on their land—
    While the sea sounds insincere,
    Giving and taking with one hand.

    At dawn along the seashore come
    The milkfish gatherers, human fry.
    A white polythene bowl
    Is what you need to sort the milkfish by.

    For a hatched fish is a pair of eyes—
    There is nothing more to see.
    But the spine lives when the brain dies
    In a convulsive misery.

  50. thomasbrady said,

    September 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    When did the sublime go out of poetry? You read the Brits like Fenton and Armitage and you sometimes catch little glimpses of it.

    Perhaps we need a post on this…

    When’s the last time a sublime poem was published? What are the sublime poems? Are there any modern sublime poems? Is there such a thing as the modern sublime? Or is the modern anti-sublime, by definition?

  51. Noochinator said,

    September 25, 2010 at 11:40 am

    57. Martin Espada

    Jorge the Church Janitor Finally Quits

    Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1989

    No one asks
    where I am from,
    I must be
    from the country of janitors,
    I have always mopped this floor.
    Honduras, you are a squatter’s camp
    outside the city
    of their understanding.

    No one can speak
    my name,
    I host the fiesta
    of the bathroom,
    stirring the toilet
    like a punchbowl.
    The Spanish music of my name
    is lost
    when the guests complain
    about toilet paper.

    What they say
    must be true:
    I am smart,
    but I have a bad attitude.

    No one knows
    that I quit tonight,
    maybe the mop
    will push on without me,
    sniffing along the floor
    like a crazy squid
    with stringy gray tentacles.
    They will call it Jorge.

  52. Noochness said,

    September 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    70. Richard Wilbur

    lyrics to “Dear Boy” from “Candide”


    Dear boy, you will not hear me speak
    With sorrow or with rancour
    Of what has paled my rosy cheek
    And blasted it with canker;
    T’was Love, great Love, that did the deed
    Through nature’s gentle laws,
    And how should ill effects proceed
    From so divine a cause?

    Sweet honey comes from bees that sting,
    As you are well aware;
    To one adept in reasoning,
    Whatever pains disease may bring
    Are but the tangy seasoning
    To love’s delicious fare.


    Columbus and his men, they say,
    Conveyed the virus hither
    Whereby my features rot away
    And vital powers wither;
    Yet had they not traversed the seas
    And come infected back,
    Why, think of all the luxuries
    That modern life would lack!

    All bitter things conduce to sweet
    As this example shows;
    Without the little spirochete
    We’d have no chocolate to eat,
    Nor would tobacco’s fragrance greet
    The European nose.


    Each nation guards its native land
    With cannon and with sentry,
    Inspectors look for contraband
    At every port of entry,
    Yet nothing can prevent the spread
    Of love’s divine disease:
    It rounds the world from bed to bed
    As pretty as you please.

    Men worship Venus everywhere,
    As plainly may be seen;
    The decorations which I bear
    Are nobler than the Croix de Guerre,
    And gained in service of our fair
    And universal Queen.

  53. thomasbrady said,

    September 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Voltaire was such an asshole.

    I agree with Leibnitz. This is the best of all possible worlds.

    To listen to Wilbur pedantically describe his song, where he slavishly agrees with Voltaire, and to see him glowing in his minor theatrical notorietry I found faintly sickening.

    I liked Wilbur better before I saw that video.

    Video could flatter poetry, I suppose; but mostly it does not.

    • Noochinator said,

      September 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

      Your comments shake
      In no wise
      My view that Wilbur’s
      One of the good guys.

  54. Noochness said,

    September 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    56. Brad Leithauser

    City album: a wet afternoon

    I. Dorm Room

    Theirs is that special condition of plenty
    available only to those with nothing
    on or between them. It’s as if they’d been
    out in the downpour, bodies wet as
    that—but they’ve stayed in all day. Again
    he studies her nape, fingertip-tests her hip.
    He thinks her very young. Eighteen. He’s twenty.

    II. Basement Lab

    The entomologist drops into a pool of light to peer
    at the magnified maxillae of a rare beetle
    while something lackluster raps the dusty pane
    above her head, a passing fluster of drops
    hardly worth speaking of as rain;
    she bagged this firebrand, Pyrophorus ignitus,
    on a slope that catches two hundred inches a year.

    III. Rectory Study

    A working drowse having overtaken him
    in the middle of a chapter, Father
    Ciprielli, who has led the boys,
    his fresh recruits, into Gaul every fall
    for forty years, now shuts his eyes.
    The same grammar that carried him off will,
    when it slips from his lap, soon, awaken him.

    IV. Halted Train

    It’s too perfect: can the small boy on the train
    really be an OTTO (as finger-printed
    on the steamed-up window), a name
    not only palindromic but bilaterally
    symmetrical—and therefore the same
    for his two circles of readers, those in the warm
    interior, and those reading backward, out in the rain?

  55. Noochness said,

    September 30, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    55. Mary Jo Salter


    How hard it is to take September
    straight—not as a harbinger
    of something harder.

    Merely like suds in the air, cool scent
    scrubbed clean of meaning—or innocent
    of the cold thing coldly meant.

    How hard the heart tugs at the end
    of summer, and longs to haul it in
    when it flies out of hand

    at the prompting of the first mild breeze.
    It leaves us by degrees
    only, but for one who sees

    summer as an absolute,
    Pure State of Light and Heat, the height
    to which one cannot raise a doubt,

    as soon as one leaf’s off the tree
    no day following can fall free
    of the drift of melancholy.

  56. Noochness said,

    September 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    70. Richard Wilbur

    excerpt from “Auto-da-fe” from “Candide”

    Oh my darling Paquette,
    She is haunting me yet
    With a dear souvenir
    I shall never forget.
    ‘Twas a gift that she got
    From a seafaring Scot,
    He received he believed in Shalott!

    In Shalott from his dame
    Who was certain it came
    With a kiss from a Swiss
    (She’d forgotten his name),
    But he told her that he
    Had been given it free
    By a sweet little cheat in Paree.

    Then a man from Japan,
    Then a Moor from Iran,
    Though the Moor isn’t sure
    How the whole thing began;
    But the gift we can see
    Had a long pedigree
    When at last it was passed on to me…

    Well, the Moor in the end
    Spent a night with a friend
    And the dear souvenir
    Just continued the trend
    To a young English lord
    Who was stung, they record,
    By a wasp in a hospital ward!

    Well, the wasp on the wing
    Had occasion to sting
    A Milano soprano
    Who brought home the thing
    To her young paramour,
    Who was rendered impure,
    And forsook her to look for the cure.

    Thus he happened to pass
    Through Westphalia, alas,
    Where he met with Paquette,
    And she drank from his glass.
    I was pleased as could be
    When it came back to me;
    Makes us all just a small family!

  57. Marcus Bales said,

    October 1, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I Got It From Agnes
    Tom Lehrer

    I love my friends and they love me
    We’re just as close as we can be
    And just because we really care
    Whatever we get, we share!

    I got it from Agnes
    She got it from Jim
    We all agree it must have been Louise
    Who gave it to him

    Now she got it from Harry
    Who got it from Marie
    And everybody knows that Marie
    Got it from me

    Giles got it from Daphne
    She got it from Joan
    Who picked it up in County Cork
    A-kissin’ the Blarney Stone

    Pierre gave it to Shiela
    Who must have brought it there
    He got it from Francois and Jacques
    Aha, lucky Pierre!

    Max got it from Edith
    Who gets it every spring
    She got it from her daddy
    Who gives her everything

    She then gave it to Daniel
    Whose spaniel has it now
    Our dentist even got it and we’re still
    Wondering how

    But I got it from Agnes
    Or maybe it was Sue
    Or Millie or Billie or Jillie or Willie
    It doesn’t matter who

    It might have been at the pub
    Or at the club, or in the loo
    And if you will be my friend, then I might
    Give it to you!

  58. Noochness said,

    October 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

    54. D.A. Powell

    confessions of a teenage drama queen

    I was a male war bride. I was a spy
    so I married an axe murderer. I married Joan
    I married a monster from outer space

    I am guilty, I am the cheese, I am a fugitive from a chain gang
    maybe I’ll come home in the spring. I’ll cry tomorrow
    whose life is it anyway? it’s a wonderful life

    I want to live. I want someone to eat cheese with
    who am I this time? I am cuba. I am a sex addict
    why was I born? why must I die? I could go on singing

    I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I know who killed me
    I was nineteen, I was a teenage werewolf, just kill me
    kiss me, kill me. kill me later. kill me again

    give me a sailor, if I had my way, I’d rather be rich
    I wouldn’t be in your shoes. I wish I had wings
    I wish I were in dixie (I passed for white) I was framed

    I was a burlesque queen, I was a teenage zombie
    I was an adventuress, I was a convict, I was a criminal
    I did it, I killed that man, murder is my beat, I confess

    (for David Trinidad)

  59. Noochness said,

    October 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

    53. Sherman Alexie

    Defending Walt Whitman

    Basketball is like this for young Indian boys, all arms and legs
    and serious stomach muscles. Every body is brown!
    These are the twentieth-century warriors who will never kill,
    although a few sat quietly in the deserts of Kuwait,
    waiting for orders to do something, to do something.

    God, there is nothing as beautiful as a jumpshot
    on a reservation summer basketball court
    where the ball is moist with sweat,
    and makes a sound when it swishes through the net
    that causes Walt Whitman to weep because it is so perfect.

    There are veterans of foreign wars here
    although their bodies are still dominated
    by collarbones and knees, although their bodies still respond
    in the ways that bodies are supposed to respond when we are young.
    Every body is brown! Look there, that boy can run
    up and down this court forever. He can leap for a rebound
    with his back arched like a salmon, all meat and bone
    synchronized, magnetic, as if the court were a river,
    as if the rim were a dam, as if the air were a ladder
    leading the Indian boy toward home.

    Some of the Indian boys still wear their military hair cuts
    while a few have let their hair grow back.
    It will never be the same as it was before!
    One Indian boy has never cut his hair, not once, and he braids it
    into wild patterns that do not measure anything.
    He is just a boy with too much time on his hands.
    Look at him. He wants to play this game in bare feet.

    God, the sun is so bright! There is no place like this.
    Walt Whitman stretches his calf muscles
    on the sidelines. He has the next game.
    His huge beard is ridiculous on the reservation.
    Some body throws a crazy pass and Walt Whitman catches it
    with quick hands. He brings the ball close to his nose
    and breathes in all of its smells: leather, brown skin, sweat,
    black hair, burning oil, twisted ankle, long drink of warm water,
    gunpowder, pine tree. Walt Whitman squeezes the ball tightly.
    He wants to run. He hardly has the patience to wait for his turn.
    “What’s the score?” he asks. He asks, “What’s the score?”

    Basketball is like this for Walt Whitman. He watches these Indian boys
    as if they were the last bodies on earth. Every body is brown!
    Walt Whitman shakes because he believes in God.
    Walt Whitman dreams of the Indian boy who will defend him,
    trapping him in the corner, all flailing arms and legs
    and legendary stomach muscles. Walt Whitman shakes
    because he believes in God. Walt Whitman dreams
    of the first jumpshot he will take, the ball arcing clumsily
    from his fingers, striking the rim so hard that it sparks.
    Walt Whitman shakes because he believes in God.
    Walt Whitman closes his eyes. He is a small man and his beard
    is ludicrous on the reservation, absolutely insane.
    His beard makes the Indian boys righteously laugh. His beard
    frightens the smallest Indian boys. His beard tickles the skin
    of the Indian boys who dribble past him. His beard, his beard!

    God, there is beauty in every body. Walt Whitman stands
    at center court while the Indian boys run from basket to basket.
    Walt Whitman cannot tell the difference between
    offense and defense. He does not care if he touches the ball.
    Half of the Indian boys wear t-shirts damp with sweat
    and the other half are bareback, skin slick and shiny.
    There is no place like this. Walt Whitman smiles.
    Walt Whitman shakes. This game belongs to him.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      Walt Whitman played basketball?

      “that causes Walt Whitman to weep because it is so perfect”

      has got to be the worst line of poetry ever…

  60. Noochness said,

    October 2, 2010 at 11:01 am

    52. Glyn Maxwell

    The Execution of Saint-Just at Thermidor

    In his favourite coat, immaculately smart,
    as if invited—as if death were at home
    to him that day—he played a Frenchman’s part

    as everything went Roman. Robespierre,
    who’d managed two whole letters of his name,
    began to bleed to death with a frantic stare

    while all the other suicides manqué
    messily followed suit. But Louis-Antoine
    was beaming to himself as if to say

    this too was written. Then he fixed his gaze
    on the Declaration of the Rights of Man
    where it hung like some old print from the old days,

    and he said: Well, we did that. Sported a smile
    at the barber’s, in the carriage, on the stage,
    in the spotlight, even afterwards a while.

  61. Noochness said,

    October 2, 2010 at 11:18 am

    51. Dan Chiasson

    Etruscan Song

    No love like mine; no love
    transformed a hotel room into a womb
    and a womb into the child’s cry;
    no love, no love, no love like mine.

    Read in the dark, one hand on dick
    Etruscan lore in my Etruscan book—
    justice had another flavor there,
    buried the son to punish the father.

    Drove down the Merritt Parkway
    one night, alone, singing please bury me;
    drove up the following afternoon
    with a spade saying dig me up, someone;

    dug up, found the sun so hot it burned;
    craved the chocolate cool of dirt,
    the pupa-life underground,
    the coffin-dark of a dirt coffin.

    So made, no love like mine, a boy;
    turned dirt from chocolate to clay;
    the clay became, one day, a cry,
    and the cry turned night to day.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      Why is it that when contemporaries write verse, in 99 cases out of 100 it sounds as if they have no ear for verse at all?

      Is writing verse like hitting a 90 mph fastball? Most simply can’t do it, no matter how hard they try?

      Or, are they not going about it the right way? Are other considerations getting in the way? Is it a matter of bad method?

      Since one can revise endlessly, one would think one could ‘get it to sound right,’ eventually.

      Obviously that’s not the case…

  62. Noochinator said,

    October 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    63. Frederick Seidel


    The homeless are blooming like roses
    On every corner on Broadway.
    I am unclean.
    I bathe in their tears.

    The homeless are popping like pimples.
    They’re a little dog’s little unsheathed erection sticking out red.
    It makes us passersby sing.
    Ho ho. It’s spring.

    West Siders add fresh water
    But feed the flowers with urine.
    Sir, can you spare some change?
    Can you look at me for a change?

    Uncooked hamburger
    Erupts when he lowers his trousers.
    It’s his song.
    It’s raw oozing out of a grinder.

    He looks like a horrible burn from Iraq.
    His wound ripples
    In a hot skillet.
    America doesn’t look like that.

    He bends down to eat garbage.
    I bend down with a bag to clean up after the dog.
    I take the shit out of the bag
    And stuff it back up inside the dog

    And sew the anus closed,
    And put the dog in a two-fifty oven to scream for three hours.
    The homeless are blooming like roses.
    I’m hopeless.

    I bathe in their screams.
    I dress for the evening.
    My name is Fred Seidel,
    And I paid for this ad.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm


  63. Noochness said,

    October 6, 2010 at 10:33 am

    50. Robert Hass

    from “August Notebook: A Death”


    You can fall a long way in sunlight.
    You can fall a long way in the rain.

    The ones who didn’t take the old white horse
    Took the morning train.

    When you go down into the city of the dead
    With its whitewashed walls and winding alleys
    And avenues of autumnal lindens and the heavy bells
    Tolling by the sea, crowds
    Appear from all directions,
    Having left their benches and tiered plazas,
    Laying aside their occupations of reverie
    And gossip and the memory of breathing—
    At least in the most reliable stories,
    Which are the ones the poets tell—
    To hear what scraps you can bring
    Of the news of this world where the air
    Is thin in the high altitudes and
    Of an almost perfect density in the valleys
    And shadows on summer afternoons sometimes
    Achieve a shade of violet that almost never
    Falls across pavements down there. Only the arborist
    In the park never comes for new arrivals. He is not incurious
    But he loves his work, pruning the trees,
    Giving them their graceful lift
    Toward light, and standing back
    To study their shapes, because it is he
    Who gets to decide
    Which limbs get lopped off
    In the kingdom of the dead.

    You can fall a long way in sunlight.
    You can fall a long way in the rain.

    The ones who don’t take the old white horse
    Take the evening train.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 7, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      This seems to be trying for a ‘Waste Land’ sort of atmsophere, and it fails miserably.

      “The Waste Land” is such an influential poem (as is “Prufrock”) but at the same time no one seems able to do it, to be influenced by it so that its effects are used in order to seize acclaim, since Eliot produced the template almost 100 years ago.

      One can ask: What good is “influence” if it has no influence? Or, is the best “influence” in literature that which can only be admired and not copied? Does Eliot belong to a very specific time and place which can never be reproduced?

      Anyway, this excerpt by Hass seems very much trying to reproduce the magic of early Eliot, and it falls so short of the master as to be embarrassing.

  64. Noochinator said,

    October 7, 2010 at 10:39 am

    49. Frank Bidart

    Inauguration Day

    Today, despite what is dead

    staring out across America I see since
    Lincoln gunmen
    nursing fantasies of purity betrayed,
    dreaming to restore
    the glories of their blood and state

    despite what is dead but lodged within us, hope

    under the lustrous flooding moon
    the White House is still
    Whitman’s White House, its
    gorgeous front
    full of reality, full of illusion

    hope made wise by dread begins again

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      Whitman’s White House?

      The problem with poets these days is that, based merely on their rhetoric—and most don’t even know the difference between poetry and rhetoric—they want to be included, more than they are, in public life. No. No matter what you may think of Whitman, silly mr. contemporary poet, that’s not Whitman’s White House.

  65. Noochness said,

    October 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

    48. James Tate

    The Lost Pilot

    for my father, 1922-1944

    Your face did not rot
    like the others—the co-pilot,
    for example, I saw him
    yesterday. His face is corn-
    mush: his wife and daughter,
    the poor ignorant people, stare
    as if he will compose soon.
    He was more wronged than Job.
    But your face did not rot
    like the others—it grew dark,
    and hard like ebony;
    the features progressed in their
    distinction. If I could cajole
    you to come back for an evening,
    down from your compulsive
    orbiting, I would touch you,
    read your face as Dallas,
    your hoodlum gunner, now,
    with the blistered eyes, reads
    his braille editions. I would
    touch your face as a disinterested

    scholar touches an original page.
    However frightening, I would
    discover you, and I would not
    turn you in; I would not make
    you face your wife, or Dallas,
    or the co-pilot, Jim. You
    could return to your crazy
    orbiting, and I would not try
    to fully understand what
    it means to you. All I know
    is this: when I see you,
    as I have seen you at least
    once every year of my life,
    spin across the wilds of the sky
    like a tiny, African god,
    I feel dead. I feel as if I were
    the residue of a stranger’s life,
    that I should pursue you.
    My head cocked toward the sky,
    I cannot get off the ground,
    and, you, passing over again,
    fast, perfect, and unwilling
    to tell me that you are doing
    well, or that it was mistake
    that placed you in that world,
    and me in this; or that misfortune
    placed these worlds in us.

  66. Noochness said,

    October 9, 2010 at 9:51 am

    47. Vanessa Place

    From Dies: A Sentence, a 50,000 word, one sentence novel set in World War I

    The maw that rends without tearing, the maggoty claw that serves you, what, my baby buttercup, prunes stewed softly in their own juices or a good slap in the face, there’s no accounting for history in any event, even such a one as this one, O, we’re knee-deep in this one, you and me, we’re practically puppets, making all sorts of fingers dance above us, what do you say, shall we give it another whirl, we can go naked, I suppose, there’s nothing to stop us and everything points in that direction, do you think there will be much music later and of what variety, we’ve that, at least, now that there’s nothing left, though there’s plenty of pieces to be gathered by the wool-coated orphans and their musty mums, they’ll put us in warm wicker baskets, cover us with a cozy blanket of snow, and carry us home…

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

      I’m afraid this is merely obnoxious…

      • Noochness said,

        October 9, 2010 at 6:54 pm

        47. Vanessa Place

        Excerpts from Dies: A Sentence, a 50,000 word, one sentence novel set in World War I

        … there was sausage in my veins and roast pork beneath my feet, what’s worst you say, you callous bastard, how can you squat there armlessly stirring a pot of camp stew and feign sudden irony, it’ll get you nowhere, you know, that bit of levity one wears like a rubber nose in the face of cold terror, such weak crooked lenitive proves a man’s uncrutch…

        … all unhappy families are identical as apricots, and all men idem,
        and the stone-centered quiddity of our suffering is what puts the
        bread on the butter or the butter on the bread, it’s all very sad,
        this bread and butter business, it’s as if we’ve given up dancing
        altogether and although I find myself temporarily legless, I keep
        my hops up, never say die, that’s what I say, not while there’s
        still another limb of lamb, for that’s what hope dines on, and
        there is hope, sure as bread pudding, you see how I retreated
        there, I saw you wince at the coming shot and so I
        recharacterized, I can, you know, nothing’s written in stone, or it
        is, but we’re penciled in at best, we’re a sketch-book of emphatic
        caprices, a homespun comfort for the quilted set, those happy
        many, who damn violence with but a single hand, brightly
        ribboned at the wrist, still, a passing paraphilia made Time tarry,
        the two struck up an argument on the pleasures of sheet music,
        for which the spoiled beauty was a heartless advocate, but Time
        sneezed, categorically dismissing the whole encounter as
        hoarding and wasting, what was the point, Time clucked, of
        keeping track of a tock, it’s a schoolboy’s trick to note the
        passing minutia, and the lady, whose nails were bitten to the
        quick but to no end, begged to disagree, she said such sweet
        sounds were in themselves sweetly spent, whereupon Time
        puffed its bejeweled breast and bragged there was no knell that
        wouldn’t lisp under his authority, but Time’s rude boast was
        duly altered by me, yes, you too, Juan, you’re a genius, don’t let
        them tell you any different, well, let’s be honest, we’re both
        geniuses, we have that at least, that’ll give us some comfort in
        the early fileted light, we’ll go out in a blaze of particulate glory,
        I imagine, with an éclat of fat and a frenzy of mythomania,…

  67. Noochness said,

    October 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

    46. Derek Walcott

    from “The Star-Apple Kingdom”

    There were still shards of an ancient pastoral
    in those shires of the island where the cattle drank
    their pools of shadow from an older sky,
    surviving from when the landscape copied such objects as
    “Herefords at Sunset in the valley of the Wye.”
    The mountain water that fell white from the mill wheel
    sprinkling like petals from the star-apple trees,
    and all of the windmills and sugar mills moved by mules
    on the treadmill of Monday to Monday, would repeat
    in tongues of water and wind and fire, in tongues
    of Mission School pickaninnies, like rivers remembering
    their source, Parish Trelawny, Parish St David, Parish
    St Andrew, the names afflicting the pastures,
    the lime groves and fences of marl stone and the cattle
    with a docile longing, an epochal content.
    And there were, like old wedding lace in an attic,
    among the boas and parasols and the tea-colored
    daguerreotypes, hints of an epochal happiness
    as ordered and infinite to the child
    as the great house road to the Great House
    down a perspective of casuarinas plunging green manes
    in time to the horses, an orderly life
    reduced by lorgnettes day and night, one disc the sun,
    the other the moon, reduced into a pier glass:
    nannies diminished to dolls, mahogany stairways
    no larger than those of an album in which
    the flash of cutlery yellows, as gamboge as
    the piled cakes of teatime on that latticed
    bougainvillea verandah that looked down toward
    a prospect of Cuyp-like Herefords under a sky
    lurid as a porcelain souvenir with these words:
    “Herefords at Sunset in the Valley of the Wye.”

    Strange, that the rancor of hatred hid in that dream
    of slow rivers and lily-like parasols, in snaps
    of fine old colonial families, curled at the edge
    not from age of from fire or the chemicals, no, not at all,
    but because, off at its edges, innocently excluded
    stood the groom, the cattle boy, the housemaid, the gardeners,
    the tenants, the good Negroes down in the village,
    their mouth in the locked jaw of a silent scream.
    A scream which would open the doors to swing wildly
    all night, that was bringing in heavier clouds,
    more black smoke than cloud, frightening the cattle
    in whose bulging eyes the Great House diminished;
    a scorching wind of a scream
    that began to extinguish the fireflies,
    that dried the water mill creaking to a stop
    as it was about to pronounce Parish Trelawny
    all over, in the ancient pastoral voice,
    a wind that blew all without bending anything,
    neither the leaves of the album nor the lime groves;
    blew Nanny floating back in white from a feather
    to a chimerical, chemical pin speck that shrank
    the drinking Herefords to brown porcelain cows
    on a mantelpiece, Trelawny trembling with dusk,
    the scorched pastures of the old benign Custos; blew
    far the decent servants and the lifelong cook,
    and shriveled to a shard that ancient pastoral
    of dusk in a gilt-edged frame now catching the evening sun
    in Jamaica, making both epochs one.

    He looked out from the Great House windows on
    clouds that still held the fragrance of fire,
    he saw the Botanical Gardens officially drown
    in a formal dusk, where governors had strolled
    and black gardeners had smiled over glinting shears
    at the lilies of parasols on the floating lawns,
    the flame trees obeyed his will and lowered their wicks,
    the flowers tightened their fists in the name of thrift,
    the porcelain lamps of ripe cocoa, the magnolia’s jet
    dimmed on the one circuit with the ginger lilies
    and left a lonely bulb on the verandah,
    and, had his mandate extended to that ceiling
    of star-apple candelabra, he would have ordered
    the sky to sleep, saying, I’m tired,
    save the starlight for victories, we can’t afford it,
    leave the moon on for one more hour,and that’s it.
    But though his power, the given mandate, extended
    from tangerine daybreaks to star-apple dusks,
    his hand could not dam that ceaseless torrent of dust
    that carried the shacks of the poor, to their root-rock music,
    down the gullies of Yallahs and August Town,
    to lodge them on thorns of maca, with their rags
    crucified by cactus, tins, old tires, cartons;
    from the black Warieka Hills the sky glowed fierce as
    the dials of a million radios,
    a throbbing sunset that glowed like a grid
    where the dread beat rose from the jukebox of Kingston.
    He saw the fountains dried of quadrilles, the water-music
    of the country dancers, the fiddlers like fifes
    put aside. He had to heal
    this malarial island in its bath of bay leaves,
    its forests tossing with fever, the dry cattle
    groaning like winches, the grass that kept shaking
    its head to remember its name. No vowels left
    in the mill wheel, the river. Rock stone. Rock stone.

    The mountains rolled like whales through phosphorous stars,
    as he swayed like a stone down fathoms into sleep,
    drawn by that magnet which pulls down half the world
    between a star and a star, by that black power
    that has the assassin dreaming of snow,
    that poleaxes the tyrant to a sleeping child.
    The house is rocking at anchor, but as he falls
    his mind is a mill wheel in moonlight,
    and he hears, in the sleep of his moonlight, the drowned
    bell of Port Royal’s cathedral, sees the copper pennies
    of bubbles rising from the empty eye-pockets
    of green buccaneers, the parrot fish floating
    from the frayed shoulders of pirates, sea horses
    drawing gowned ladies in their liquid promenade
    across the moss-green meadows of the sea;
    he heard the drowned choirs under Palisadoes,
    a hymn ascending to earth from a heaven inverted
    by water, a crab climbing the steeple,
    and he climbed from that submarine kingdom
    as the evening lights came on in the institute,
    the scholars lamplit in their own aquarium,
    he saw them mouthing like parrot fish, as he passed
    upward from that baptism, their history lessons,
    the bubbles like ideas which he could not break:
    Jamaica was captured by Penn and Venables,
    Port Royal perished in a cataclysmic earthquake.

    Before the coruscating facades of cathedrals
    from Santiago to Caracas, where penitential archbishops
    washed the feet of paupers (a parenthetical moment
    that made the Caribbean a baptismal font,
    turned butterflies to stone, and whitened like doves
    the buzzards circling municipal garbage),
    the Caribbean was borne like an elliptical basin
    in the hands of acolytes, and a people were absolved
    of a history which they did not commit;
    the slave pardoned his whip, and the dispossessed
    said the rosary of islands for three hundred years,
    a hymn that resounded like the hum of the sea
    inside a sea cave, as their knees turned to stone,
    while the bodies of patriots were melting down walls
    still crusted with mute outcries of La Revolucion!
    “San Salvador, pray for us, St. Thomas, San Domingo,
    ora pro nobis, intercede for us, Sancta Lucia
    of no eyes,” and when the circular chaplet
    reached the last black bead of Sancta Trinidad
    they began again, their knees drilled into stone,
    where Colon had begun, with San Salvador’s bead,
    beads of black colonies round the necks of Indians.
    And while they prayed for an economic miracle,
    ulcers formed on the municipal portraits,
    the hotels went up, and the casinos and brothels,
    and the empires of tobacco, sugar, and bananas,
    until a black woman, shawled like a buzzard,
    climbed up the stairs and knocked at the door
    of his dream, whispering in the ear of the keyhole:
    “Let me in, I’m finished with praying, I’m the Revolution.
    I am the darker, the older America.”

    She was as beautiful as a stone in the sunrise,
    her voice had the gutturals of machine guns
    across khaki deserts where the cactus flower
    detonates like grenades, her sex was the slit throat
    of an Indian, her hair had the blue-black sheen of the crow.
    She was a black umbrella blown inside out
    by the wind of revolution, La Madre Dolorosa,
    a black rose of sorrow, a black mine of silence,
    raped wife, empty mother, Aztec virgin
    transfixed by arrows from a thousand guitars,
    a stone full of silence, which, if it gave tongue
    to the tortures done in the name of the Father,
    would curdle the blood of the marauding wolf,
    the fountain of generals, poets, and cripples
    who danced without moving over their graves
    with each revolution; her Caesarean was stitched
    by the teeth of machine guns,and every sunset
    she carried the Caribbean’s elliptical basin
    as she had once carried the penitential napkins
    to be the footbath of dictators, Trujillo, Machado,
    and those whose faces had yellowed like posters
    on municipal walls. Now she stroked his hair
    until it turned white, but she would not understand
    that he wanted no other power but peace,
    that he wanted a revolution without any bloodshed,
    he wanted a history without any memory,
    streets without statues,
    and a geography without myth. He wanted no armies
    but those regiments of bananas, thick lances of cane,
    and he sobbed, “I am powerless, except for love.”
    She faded from him, because he could not kill;
    she shrunk to a bat that hung day and night
    in the back of his brain. He rose in his dream.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      Give that guy the nobel prize! Place-rooted, and singing like the sea.

  68. Noochinator said,

    October 10, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I strongly suspect,
    Though I know I’m a fool,
    That Ramke was quite fond
    Of science in school.

    45. Bin Ramke

    from “Anomalies of Water”

    Phase Anomalies

    Water melts at a high temperature … liquid ice
    inspires concern and delay, delights the ignorant
    and the adept;

    water boils at a temperature high enough to destroy
    the world, this one, the one you’re standing in

    while its critical point involves the lesser gasses
    their febrile machinations anguished in the night,

    the night of stable crystals and amorphous mineral structures,
    this night, the one you are traveling though, you who care,

    the thermal conductivity of ice reduces with increasing pressure,
    hence the waiting, the dissipation, and the dread,

    the white hair of the waters combed, combined
    with warm which vibrates longer than the cold.

  69. Noochinator said,

    October 11, 2010 at 10:06 am

    44. Zachary Schomburg


    The entire world was there. The magnetic north pole was there. Prince Patrick Island was introduced to Prince of Wales Island and these were not the only islands being introduced to other islands. One room was completely filled with the space around all the islands. When you asked me if I was an island I told you that I was not. When you asked me to join you in the drawing room, I told you that I could not, that I was in fact an island and that I couldn’t join anyone anywhere. Saddened and resigned, you revealed to me that you were not the two things that jut outward into the sea as I had assumed, but the little bit of gray sea between them. Then I told you I was actually the entire Arctic Ocean sometimes.

  70. Noochness said,

    October 12, 2010 at 11:30 am

    43. Jerome Rothenberg

    The Last Friend

    The day the last friend
    we sit alone.
    A visitor
    from outer space
    tries hard
    to summon us.
    Someone says
    I fish around for answers
    but the questions
    still won’t come.
    I take the small vial
    from your pocket
    sniff it & near die.
    The police are negligent
    at best.
    Nor is there room for angels
    The storms drift in from Mexico
    where once we roamed.
    The way your chest
    moves up & down
    when breathing
    is a clear response.
    I want some reassurance:
    that even when I die
    the world goes on.

  71. Noochness said,

    October 12, 2010 at 11:32 am

    One need not go very far
    To find more poems by Jerry R.

  72. Noochinator said,

    October 13, 2010 at 9:07 am

    42. Dana Gioia


    Money is a kind of poetry.— Wallace Stevens

    Money, the long green,
    cash, stash, rhino, jack
    or just plain dough.

    Chock it up, fork it over,
    shell it out. Watch it
    burn holes through pockets.

    To be made of it! To have it
    to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,
    megabucks and Ginnie Maes.

    It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
    holds heads above water,
    makes both ends meet.

    Money breeds money.
    Gathering interest, compounding daily.
    Always in circulation.

    Money. You don’t know where it’s been,
    but you put it where your mouth is.
    And it talks.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 14, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      Gioia had a couple of good poems in this September’s “Poetry.” He had the first three poems in the volume: the first failed miserably, even though it could have been good, from a beginner’s mistake. I quote the poem in full:

      The Present

      Dana Gioia

      The present that you gave me months ago
      is still unopened by our bed,
      sealed in its rich blue paper and bright bow.
      I’ve even left the card unread
      and kept the ribbon knotted tight.
      Why needlessly unfold and bring to light
      the elegant contrivances that hide
      the costly secret waiting still inside?

      So, there it is: the poem is a nice conceit, but why would you ruin it with that word in line 6, needlessly? Why ruin the show with adverbial telling? The error is so blatant, I’m surprised neither Gioia nor the editors caught it.

      The next two, however, get much better, “Angel with a Broken Wing” and “Reunion;” the latter I find quite haunting, and it shows still what poetry can do, and it shames all the other poems in the volume.

  73. Noochinator said,

    October 14, 2010 at 8:58 am

    41. C.K. Williams

    First Desires

    It was like listening to the record of a symphony before you knew anything at all about the music,
    what the instruments might sound like, look like, what portion of the orchestra each represented:
    there were only volumes and velocities, thickenings and thinnings, the winding cries of change
    that seemed to touch within you, through your body, to be part of you and then apart from you.
    And even when you’d learned the grainy timbre of the single violin, the aching arpeggios of the horn,
    when you tried again there were still uneases and confusions left, an ache, a sense of longing
    that held you in chromatic dissonance, droning on beyond the dominant’s resolve into the tonic,
    as though there were a flaw of logic in the structure, or in (you knew it was more likely) you.

  74. Noochinator said,

    October 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

    40. John Gallaher

    The Danger in Plans

    If you are just funny enough,
    if you can just run fast enough
    no one will ever die.

    Do you remember that?
    And are you better now?

    And all our meaning statements.
    All our looking at things.

    The women laughing around the table
    in the kitchen.

    Trouble on the way, and great joy.

    I’m ok with it, but who’s to know
    the way I might feel
    back then.
    The men standing in the yard,
    talking and laughing.

    You forgot to watch me close my beautiful eyes,
    the unspeaking gods
    in a row,
    at the edge of anything, toward.

    The music of that.
    The becoming. And maybe you are there.

    Maybe you have ten coins.

    • Noochinator said,

      October 16, 2010 at 10:55 am

      He doesn’t seem to be
      Living high on the hog.
      (I speak of John Gallaher.)
      Here’s a link to his blog:

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

      On first reading, I do kind of like this poem…here’s a guy with a poetry blog presence…and he’s a good poet…that tells you something, doesn’t it?

  75. Noochinator said,

    October 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

    39. Kent Johnson

    from “33 Rules of Poetry for Poets 23 and Under”

    1. Study grammar. Only by knowing grammar, knowing clearly the parts of speech and sensing their mysterious ways in sentence parts, will you be able to write interesting poetry. For poetry is all about grammar’s interesting ways.

    2. Don’t suck up to other poets. Well, OK, you will do so, of course, like all poets do, but when you do, feel it in your bones. Take this self-knowledge and turn it into a weapon you wield without mercy.

    3. Read the old Greeks and Romans in the original. Studying Greek or Latin is one of the best ways of becoming a man or woman of grammar. Well, Duh, as they say here in Freeport at Tony’s Oyster Bar.

    4. Ask yourself constantly: What is the fashion? Once you answer, consider that noun, participial, infinitive, or prepositional phrase (the answer will mutate over time) your mortal enemy.

    5. Ask yourself constantly: What is the worth of poetry? When you answer, “It is nothing,” you have climbed the first step. Prepare, without presumption, to take the next one.

    • Noochinator said,

      October 16, 2010 at 11:01 am

      6 .Don’t drink and drive. Better yet, just don’t drink.

      7. At the second step, should you reach it, don’t look down: You might get dizzy from the height and fall into an alcoholic heap. Trust me.

      8. Read Constantine Cavafy’s great poem, “The First Step.” Meditate upon it.

      9. Don’t worry if you have social anxiety at poetry events. Most everyone else will be as secretly anxious as you are.

      10. Read Ed Dorn carefully, starting with Abhorrences, working your way back.

      11. Remember that the greater part of it is merely show and acquired manners. Poets can be mean and they will try to kill you.

      12. Ponder Bob Dylan’s classic line: “I ain’t gonna live on Maggie’s farm no more.”

      • Noochinator said,

        October 16, 2010 at 11:06 am

        13. After reading Roland Barthes’s famous essay on it, watch professional wrestling at least once a month. Reflect on how the spectacle corresponds, profoundly, to the poetry field.

        14. Go on your nerve, and whenever you feel you shouldn’t, do.

        15. Don’t smoke cigarettes, even if you think it makes you look cool to others (or to yourself).

        16. Go by the musical phrase and not the metronome. But when convenient, or just because it’s beautiful, go by the metronome.

        17. Don’t let anyone tell you MFA programs are bad. MFA programs are really great—you can get a stipend and live poor and happy for two or three years.

        18. Make sure you act like an insufferable ass in your MFA program. Never suck up to other poets. Traditional or avant-garde…

        19. If you don’t know another language, make it your mission, as I suggested earlier, to learn one. Translation is the very soil of poetry. Its mystery.

        20. The Web is a wonderful development. Don’t make yourself a slave to its “cool” corporation of the moment.

        21. Whenever you are in doubt about being a poet, instead of, say, being an architect or a physicist, or something of the superior sort, remind yourself of Leibniz’s immortal question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” (Keep this question in your pocket against your heart. Because no one can ever answer it, it is the key to your purpose.)

        22. Write political poems. But remember: The politics you are likely protesting are present, structurally, inside poetry, its texts and institutions. Write political poems with a vengeance.

        23. Read Wittgenstein. Don’t ever feign you understand him. He didn’t understand himself! Steal from his genius ammo dump.

        24. When someone tells you there are two kinds of poetry, one of them bad, one of them good, chuckle gently.

        25. Don’t ever use a Power Point® at a Conference on Innovative Poetry. Power Points make you look like a tool!

        26. Remember what I said (sorry to be so pedantic!) about grammar. If you can’t confidently analyze a sentence, forget about poetry. Poetry is the art of language, right? Well, if poets cannot be the experts on grammar, then something is wrong. A generalized disregard of linguistics and grammar, by the way, is one of the main reasons the so-called post-avant is in crisis. I’m dead serious.

        27. If you feel you have wasted your young life so far writing poetry, that writing poetry was a fool’s, a loser’s pursuit, and you sense despair and absolute darkness before you, well, you are surely on the second step. There is no shame in turning back and leaving it all behind. Turn back without regret. On the other hand, if you are crazed and brave and you put your queer shoulder to the wheel, much wonder, blessedness, and inexpressible sorrow awaits.

        28. Travel. Go to Asia, South America, Africa, Micronesia, North Dakota.

        29. Read Eliot Weinberger, starting with both What I Heard about Iraq and Karmic Traces, working your way back.

        30. Read Kenneth Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese and One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese. If someone tells you there are two kinds of poetry, chuckle gently.

        31. Look in the mirror and be honest. You are going to die. But right now you’re alive… Look really hard. This is fucking astonishing. Why is there something rather than nothing?

        32. Determine, as of now, that should you have children sometime, your devotion to poetry will somehow enrich their lives and not be a cause for their suffering. Listen to me and don’t take this as melodramatic, middle-aged fluff. Quite a few kids have died for lack of what a poet found there.

        33. On the third step, should you get there, its blank humming sound, realize this is almost surely the last step. Pump your legs up and down. Victory will be (as they used to say in the days of Deep Image and Language, back when poetry was innocent yet) dark, opaque, and strange.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      I like the love of grammar and the Leibnitz quote, but the rest of Johnson’s 33 is too cutesy, sort of like Stephen King’s ‘pop things he loves’ column in ‘Entertainment Weekly.’ (shudder)

      No, kids. You start with Plato. First, let uncle Socrates ‘splain it to you. Then, take if from there. Oh, yea, and learn grammar. Preferably while you are reading Homer and Plato in the original Greek…

      And we can let them drink tea, can’t we, Kent?

  76. Noochinator said,

    October 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

    38. Cole Swensen

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      Swensen’s formula is a common one: The vocational bookworm scholar has the leisure to read an interesting book on medieval gardens and she’s delighted by what she reads. In order to sound like a learned and inspired poet, all that’s required is to hint, in coy fragments, at those interesting bits of her reading which struck her fancy. She gets to bask in her appreciation of history and science, she gets to share this healthy appreciation, and also in a manner that presents the material as “new,” winning her points for generosity, erudition, profundity, and art. It’s a neat little trick. The fact that it sucks as scholarship and as poetry is quite beside the point.

      • Noochinator said,

        October 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm

        “And waiter, don’t forget the lime,
        It’s gratis with the Guggenheim.”

        I thought I was a highbrow
        Then I read some Cole Swensen.
        I must be a lowbrow
        ‘cause I’d rather watch ‘Benson’…

  77. Noochinator said,

    October 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

    37. Matthew Dickman

    Lents District

    Whenever I return a fight breaks out
    in the park, someone buys a lottery ticket,
    steals a bottle of vodka, lights
    a cigarette underneath the overpass.
    I-5 rips the neighborhood in half
    the way the Willamette rips the city in half,
    it sounds like the ocean
    if I am sitting alone in the backyard
    looking up at the lilac.
    This is where white kids lived
    and listened to Black Sabbath
    while they beat the shit out of each other
    for bragging rights,
    running in packs, carrying baseball bats
    that were cut from the same hateful trees
    our parents had planted
    before the Asian kids moved in
    to run the mini-marts
    and carry knives to school, before the Mexicans
    moved in and mowed everyone’s front yard—
    white kids wanting anything
    anybody ever took from them in shaved heads
    and combat boots.
    On the weekend our furious mothers
    applied their lipstick
    that left red cuts on the ends of their Marlboro Reds
    and our fathers quietly did whatever
    fathers do
    when trying to beat back the dogs of sorrow
    from tearing them limb from limb.
    Lents, I have been away so long
    I imagine that you’re a musical
    some rich kid from New York wrote about credit,
    debt, and then threw in Kool-Aid
    to make it funny for everybody.
    I can see the dance line,
    the high kicks of the skinheads, twirling
    metal pipes, stomping in unison
    while the committed rage of the Gypsy Jokers
    square off with the committed rage
    of the single mothers.
    The orchestra pit is filled with Pitbulls
    and a Doberman conducts them all
    into a frenzy.
    In the end someone gets evicted, someone
    gets jumped into his new family
    and they call themselves Los Brazos,
    King Cobras, South-Side White Pride.
    Dear Lents,
    Dear 82nd avenue, dear 92nd and Foster,
    I am your strange son,
    you saved me when I needed saving
    and I remember your arms wrapped around
    my bassinet like patrol cars wrapped around
    the school yard
    the night Jason went crazy—
    waving his father’s gun above his head,
    bathed in red and blue flashing lights,
    all American, broken in half and beautiful.

  78. Noochinator said,

    October 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    37. Matthew Dickman

    The World is Too Huge to Grasp

    Still, tiger, there’s no reason
    not to tie your wife up
    if that’s what she’s been dreaming about
    in traffic. No reason not to
    go out and eat twenty doughnuts
    if that’s what you want instead of granola
    because, whether you like it or not,
    it’s a skeleton you’re wearing under those Italian jeans. For my part
    I’m going to watch hours of television
    wearing nothing but a pair of running shoes.
    I’m going to walk out
    into the yard and begin courting
    the rosebushes. I’m not going to
    let a little thing like the world stand in my way.
    Why should I? I understand it as much as I understand penguins
    and I still go to the zoo. I still watch them
    swimming underwater.
    It’s like watching really beautiful gods
    moving within a universe
    that other, taller gods built for them
    out of compassion and ingenuity.
    It would be easy to sit at the bar smoking,
    drinking, ruminating about the why of penguins,
    pulling our hair out, crying into our gin
    about how the penguins have forsaken us,
    how nature is having another party
    and we’re not invited.
    I like the world in all its incredible forms.
    When I’ve had the shit beat out of me, my friends
    who have died their violent and accidental
    deaths, falling from windows, swerving
    into the lights of traffic, my suffering,
    my unearned joy, my hand reaching up
    through the yards of fabric that made your dress,
    the midnight movies, all the kids huffing
    all the paint thinners, the comedy
    of the poor and the ruthlessness
    of the rich, how we’re too hungry to fight,
    too crushed by debt and the psycho
    promise of there’s-always-tomorrow,
    of rent-to-own, the smell
    of carrots, the smell of gasoline, the mysteries
    of bread and wine, the sky
    in Montana with Laura beneath it,
    the sky in Portland when my brother was buried
    in his little tin of ash, the happiness
    of love and the pity of sex, the bathroom stalls,
    the fruit markets, Rob proposing on one knee
    wearing a panda costume, sweating inside
    the fake fur, his bride in love,
    the quarterback’s son
    paralyzed from the neck down
    and then gone, the fear and fetish
    of genitals, the way
    we beat ourselves into our suits and high heels.
    I see how we are with each other.
    I see how we act. It’s not the world
    with its ten-zillion things we should be grasping,
    but the sincerity of penguins, the mess we made of the roses.

  79. thomasbrady said,

    October 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Dickman’s poetry is like a malevolent joke that never becomes funny. The p.o.v. is ‘all those kid and grownup assholes from my old poor neighborhood I-am-like-them-but-I-am-not’ which is exactly how a comedian would riff on his old haunts, with sweeping, inharmonious glimpses of stock idiocy and pathos, but humor revels in the inharmonious and thus is a fitting vehicle for this kind of rhetoric, but Dickman wants to add the sublime:

    It’s like watching really beautiful gods
    moving within a universe
    that other, taller gods built for them

    and though it’s a noble effort, the observation remains on the same rhetorical level as:

    the midnight movies, all the kids huffing
    all the paint thinners, the comedy
    of the poor and the ruthlessness
    of the rich, how we’re too hungry to fight,

    and so “all the kids huffing all the paint thinners” can’t experience the “really beautiful gods” or, perhaps, they can; while they huff paint thinner all the kids probably experience all kinds of “really beautiful gods” in all sorts of forms. There’s no harmony to the poem, no beauty, and, in fact, it’s malevolent in its crude stereotyping of “all the kids huffing all the paint thinners,” but far worse than any malevolence (which is really neither here nor there—poetic rhetoric may be as malevolent as it pleases) is that finally the stereotyped, loser “kids” and the “penguins” who are “really beautiful gods” sink into mere words, flatten into inharmonoious, insincere, cheap, self-pitying, self-important rhetoric, even if, on a superficial level, it’s well-handled: there’s certainly feeling and intelligence at work in Dickman’s poetry.

    The problem ultimately is: the poet is not fully aware of what he is doing; he’s not aware of how the kind of swift-moving, stereotypical, comedy-riffing rhetoric he’s using finally conspires against his tough/sentimental, tawdry/sublime depiction of his ‘I’m-like-them-but-I’m-not-but-I-really-am’ neighborhood pals.

    The title of the second poem, ‘the world is too big to grasp’ is precisely the rhetorical problem Dickman cannot solve, though he doesn’t seem to realize it is a rhetorical one. He seems to secretly think, ‘well, yes I can grasp it—if I use enough clever stereotypes.’ Unfortunately for Dickman, this is what comedians do best, not poets.

  80. Noochness said,

    October 17, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Dickman’s worth (or unworth)
    Is pleadable,
    But give him credit:
    At least he’s readable.

    • Noochness said,

      October 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm

      His subject matter
      May be reprehensible,
      But at least, by George,
      It’s d—n comprehensible.

  81. thomasbrady said,

    October 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Points for comprehensible,
    Strikes me as reprehensible;
    Don’t you think it laurels the ass
    To praise squeaky clean glass?
    And what sort of verity
    Is “penguin sincerity?”

    • Noochinator said,

      October 18, 2010 at 8:49 am

      After so many academics,
      I found it spectacular
      To stumble upon a poet
      Who writes in the vernacular.

      My aesthetic sense was blinded
      By poetry unstodgy.
      I’ve recovered now, thank you,
      And appy polly loggy.

  82. Noochinator said,

    October 18, 2010 at 8:47 am

    When the wine is gone
    And the songs all sung,
    Dean will remain
    “Forever” Young.

    36. Dean Young

    Winged Purposes

    Fly from me does all I would have stay,
    the blossoms did not stay, stayed not the frost
    in the yellow grass. Every leash snapped,
    every contract void, and flying in the crows
    lingers but a moment in the graveyard oaks
    yet inside me it never stops so I can’t tell
    who is chasing, who chased, I can sleep
    into afternoon and still wake soaring.
    So out come the bats, down spiral swifts
    into the chimneys, Hey, I’m real, say the dream-
    figments then are gone like breath-prints
    on a window, handwriting in snow. Whatever
    I hold however flies apart, the children skip
    into the park come out middle-aged
    with children of their own. Your laugh
    over the phone, will it ever answer me again?
    Too much flying, photons perforating us,
    voices hurtling into outer space, Whitman
    out past Neptune, Dickinson retreating
    yet getting brighter. Remember running
    barefoot across hot sand into the sea’s
    hovering, remember my hand as we darted
    against the holiday Broadway throng,
    catching your train just as it was leaving?
    Hey, it’s real, your face like a comet,
    horses coming from the field for morning
    oats, insects hitting a screen, the message
    nearly impossible to read, obscured by light
    because carried by Mercury: I love you,
    I’m coming. Sure, what fluttered is now gone,
    maybe a smudge left, maybe a delicate under-
    feather only then that too, yes, rained away.
    And when the flying is flown and the heart’s
    a useless sliver in a glacier and the gown
    hangs still as meat in a locker and eyesight
    is dashed-down glass and the mouth rust-
    stoppered, will some twinge still pass between us,
    still some fledgling pledge?

  83. thomasbrady said,

    October 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    The trouble with poets today is they don’t understand the connection between rhythm-speech and melody, and thus, in trying so earnestly to sound colloquial, to really talk to the reader, they flounder hopelessly, unhinged.

    “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney supplies what the Young tries so hard to master: nostalgia. The notes A, F, F pin the rhythm-speech of Yesterday to the wall, sticking its dactylic identity with a perfect melodic phrase. YES-ter-day floats into our consciousness with tremendous nostalgic power when uttered correctly; the McCartney tune forces us to do so; McCartney woke with ‘scrambled eggs’ but it was ‘yesterday’ that was nagging at him and which ‘wrote’ the melody. Yesterday wrote the melody and the melody wrote the word. Carelessly spoken: “yesterday I went to da store,” for instance, the word has no force, but spoken distinctly: YES-ter-day, all my troubles were so far away…is to worship the WORD as it OUGHT TO BE SPOKEN, and thus the secret door is unlocked to melody/human speech…

  84. Noochinator said,

    October 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

    35. Maya Angelou

    Touched by an Angel

    We, unaccustomed to courage
    exiles from delight
    live coiled in shells of loneliness
    until love leaves its high holy temple
    and comes into our sight
    to liberate us into life.

    Love arrives
    and in its train come ecstasies
    old memories of pleasure
    ancient histories of pain.
    Yet if we are bold,
    love strikes away the chains of fear
    from our souls.

    We are weaned from our timidity
    In the flush of love’s light
    we dare be brave
    And suddenly we see
    that love costs all we are
    and will ever be.
    Yet it is only love
    which sets us free.

  85. Noochness said,

    October 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    34. Donald Hall

    Ox Cart Man

    In October of the year,
    he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
    counting the seed, counting
    the cellar’s portion out,
    and bags the rest on the cart’s floor.

    He packs wool sheared in April, honey
    in combs, linen, leather
    tanned from deerhide,
    and vinegar in a barrel
    hooped by hand at the forge’s fire.

    He walks by his ox’s head, ten days
    to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,
    and the bag that carried potatoes,
    flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose
    feathers, yarn.

    When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
    When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
    harness and yoke, and walks
    home, his pockets heavy
    with the year’s coin for salt and taxes,

    and at home by fire’s light in November cold
    stitches new harness
    for next year’s ox in the barn,
    and carves the yoke, and saws planks
    building the cart again.

  86. thomasbrady said,

    October 20, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Donald Hall is always observant, tactile, thoughtful. He’s like that .270 hitter with 20 homers who you always have to pitch carefully to, and respect…Maybe he can’t carry a whole ballclub on his shoulders, but he can win games for you…

    Hey, but put a damn comma after ‘planks’ in that penultimate line! And it should be ‘and at home, by fire’s light, in November cold,’

    There’s no reason why poetic lines should not use commas…

    • Noochness said,

      October 21, 2010 at 11:31 am

      Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon
      You come and go
      You come and go-o-o
      Writing would be easy if your commas were like my dreams
      Read “gold, and green”
      Read “gold and, green”

      (repeat ad infinitum)

  87. Noochness said,

    October 21, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Perloff on Pound:
    I suspect the lady
    Doth push the buttons of
    One Thomas Brady.

    33. Marjorie Perloff

    • Noochness said,

      October 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

      Though she justifies Pound
      For being a fascist,
      I’m glad she gives Neruda
      And LeRoi some lashes.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 21, 2010 at 3:57 pm

      So, on one hand, Ms. P. says Pound was a great poet, but on the other, she says Pound’s fascism is not an issue—because Pound’s “fascism” was “nonsensical, juvenile.” So would Ms. P. admire Pound, the poet, even more, if his fascism was “mature” and “reasonable” and Pound “understood how government works?” Or, if Pound were a “mature, reasonable fascist,” would that make no difference to Ms. P’s opinion of Pound? Is Ms. P. saying that Pat Buchanan is more hateful than Pound because Pound is stupider than Buchanan re: government? Is Ms. P also saying that EVERYONE in 1920 was a raving anti-Semite?

      Gosh, what the devil IS Ms. P. saying??

      And for Ms. P. to say without the Cantos, there would be ‘no this and no that’ is complete hokum. The Cantos were a cranky, individual project of Pound’s. They had, and have, nothing to do with anything, except in the minds of people like Ms. P.

    • Marcus Bales said,

      October 21, 2010 at 9:33 pm

      Marjorie Perloff writes: “… without the Cantos, I maintain there would have been no Black Mt, no Objectivism,no Ethnopoetics (Rothenberg) and performance poetry like Mac Low’s, and so on down the line.”

      American poetry, and poetry in general, would be better off without her litany of goofy stuff. How can she say with a straight face that those were good things? Those are the things that have diminished the impact of poetry on the larger culture, the things that ghettoed it off, the things that built the walls that led to poetry’s isolation, even as it bloomed inside its self-built walls like botulism in a petri dish.

      • Noochinator said,

        October 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

        Musing on the Boss Art

        by Marcus Bales

        About suffering they were never wrong,
        The old managers: how well they understood
        Its harrowing power; how they took pride
        In placing blame directly where it does not belong;
        How, when those pursuing excellence are waiting
        For the miraculous raise, there always must be
        Perky-breasted new hires who survive by skating
        On excuses at the edge of a not very good
        Performance rating.
        But even the most dreadful tongue-lashing must end
        In a corner office, or the hall outside,
        As the prairie-dogging cube-dwellers turn away,
        And under-managers pretend they cannot see,
        All relieved that the disaster did not spray
        Its harsh, forsaken splash on them, and they pretend
        There’s no important failure. Fluorescents drone
        As they had on the white face disappearing into the down
        Elevator, and the expensive suits, whose every frown
        Is feared, disperse, each trailing a delicate scent of cologne.

  88. Noochness said,

    October 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Two poems by Knox
    So drop your socks….

    32. Jennifer L. Knox

    “I Wish My Brother George Was Here”

    This is a true story: At 64, Liberace
    paid to have his 17 year-old lover’s face
    surgically altered to look just like
    Liberace’s 17 year-old face so when Liberace
    was fucking his young lover he was fucking
    himself, the younger self with two
    names, the Wladziu from Milwaukee self,
    a self destined to be known and adored
    at arm’s length by millions, but before
    the sequined self, there was the prodigy
    self, one of three children, a dreamy-
    eyed self, at once naive yet intimately
    familiar with lonely Wisconsin winters.

    Yowl of the Obese Spaniel

    I ran away for three days once so don’t think sleeping
    on sheets or eating the fat off steaks has kept me soft.
    This ol’ boy knows what’s out there: broken glass,
    bigger dogs with hair like weeds, bugs that pinch. Eesh.
    But it’s not sharp stuff that keeps me off the baby
    teetering by, soggy graham floppy in hand. It’s then, old
    as I am, I become something else, something I’ve always
    been, maybe—a bad thing who’d go all the way for a cookie.
    And I could kick myself for shame. Not for shame
    at the thought (I know I could take that kid down) but shame
    for returning their smiles like a big, fat, automatic, tail-
    wagging nitwit—and for meaning it in every loose tooth
    in my mouth—not knowing why, only knowing—jeez!—
    I’m never gonna have sex, I’d sure like to kill something.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 22, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Drop yr socks and throw ’em in the laundry!

  89. Noochness said,

    October 23, 2010 at 10:32 am

    31, W.S. Merwin


    Why did he promise me
    that we would build ourselves
    an ark all by ourselves
    out in back of the house
    on New York Avenue
    in Union City New Jersey
    to the singing of the streetcars
    after the story
    of Noah whom nobody
    believed about the waters
    that would rise over everything
    when I told my father
    I wanted us to build
    an ark of our own there
    in the back yard under
    the kitchen could we do that
    he told me that we could
    I want to I said and will we
    he promised me that we would
    why did he promise that
    I wanted us to start then
    nobody will believe us
    I said that we are building
    an ark because the rains
    are coming and that was true
    nobody ever believed
    we would build an ark there
    nobody would believe
    that the waters were coming

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 25, 2010 at 3:02 pm

      See how words without punctuation marks are like water rising the flood of Merwinian poetry winding its way into our souls look out

  90. Noochness said,

    October 23, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Five by Merwin
    Whose reputation’s gigantic—
    I believe these were printed
    In The Atlantic.

  91. Noochness said,

    October 24, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    30. Lynn Behrendt

    I am an Asshole

    I am a never-ending asshole.
    A casual outsider lacking strength.
    I’m pale, as opposed to bronze;
    and I require great amounts of oxygen to survive
    though I live in a narrow little room.
    I am the asshole in the corner of your eye.
    In the market, the woman tearing back
    the husks on every ear of corn—
    that’s not me—but it might as well be,
    because I am as much of an asshole as that.
    Words escape like steam through the valve of my mouth
    and I glide through dreams quite conveniently ignoring
    what they could possibly mean
    because I am such an immediate creature
    and prefer fixed measures to moral fables.
    A copper-rust asshole with a fake English accent.
    I am propelled by divine assholedom
    and hope for world peace
    just like any other stupid asshole.
    Fricative and plosive I emit
    ideas, wishes, and try to snag you
    here and in other places, possibly
    because I am an asexual feather
    falling from a tree, a platonic
    cow in a pasture full of rocks and stones.
    It’s almost time for me to retire to the asshole barn
    wherein I chew my cud and type missives
    to those who won’t ever hear or care to hear
    because they’re all assholes too.
    I love you. I’m an asshole.
    I believe you. I’m an asshole.
    I want to listen to you and put my head on your chest
    and hear you breathe and talk. I
    am an asshole. It is frightening just how much
    of an asshole I can be.
    It frightens me, anyway.
    I didn’t exactly choose this walk-on
    nonspeaking part I mean I didn’t vie
    for a minor role in a one act off-Broadway
    pile of theatrical slop. But here I am.
    An asshole offstage and on. A
    glass-bead wearing, sometimes confessional
    so overly psychological that I might as well
    be standing at a chalkboard giving a lecture
    through my nose I am such an asshole.
    Assholes stub their toes on others.
    They get hurt. They tend even to whine.
    I am a whiny asshole my mind
    is like a hangnail and I never ever shut up.
    I yammer and you cringe and I
    am like a tongue on a loose tooth when it comes to you
    when it comes to thinking about you
    I probe and I pry and I go over and over
    because that’s what tongue-like assholes do.
    Stop picking, leave it alone, let it heal, they say.
    Assholes have a hard time with that.
    They don’t listen. They are so so
    so much themselves that as assholes
    they can’t get out of their own assholish way
    and I am like that, even the writing, even
    this acrid spineless trompe l’oeil
    (a word assholes love) terra cotta (ditto)
    vat of verbage is shining
    with the assholiness of me.
    I am such an asshole, that I don’t even know
    if you deserve to know me, much less
    listen to me go on and on like a three-toed
    sloth on steroids stuck in a banana tree
    without a machete.
    When it comes to matters of the heart
    I am a bigger asshole than even Kent Johnson
    or Bill Knott. Those assholes have nothing on me.
    I’m like a giant penis crossing a street
    a giant erect penis crossing a busy street
    and every door I go in is someone’s asshole
    whether it’s the New York Public Library
    or the Metropolitan Museum of Art
    I am the asshole giant penis walking through the door
    thinking about art, about books
    but who am I kidding, assholes
    can’t have art, not really, can’t
    get books, not hardly, because
    having lived for a year in a cat piss-smelling
    trailer in Vermont when I was 18
    I know the difference between
    having and wanting. Between
    an asshole and a wannabe. I
    am the real thing. A real asshole.
    It’s just that I have a fear of sharp objects and
    I’m made to wear this gender badge
    though I can move like a cat in a dream
    the way they disappear into their shimmering
    surroundings. In general assholes
    don’t stand out in a crowd, though
    you might think that they would.
    At least my brand of asshole doesn’t
    because I am a white mayonnaise
    suburban petrified semi-educated (the
    worst kind) cash-poor, overly-giving
    you guessed it: asshole.
    I am a mixed-up asshole
    and I want to put my hands in your pants.
    I want to reach in and drag out your dick
    and I want to make it hard and then
    like the asshole I am for wanting this
    and especially for saying it
    I want to steer it toward me
    and I want you, who run the risk
    of becoming an asshole just by association,
    I want you to shove your dick in me.
    Fuck me. I’m an asshole.
    Or have I said that before.
    Well, assholes tend to repeat themselves.
    I have an obsession with flowers and
    luminous things and bees and fossilized skeletons
    and you I’m an asshole I
    don’t believe in anything anymore
    don’t even know if cannibalism is a bad thing
    under the right circumstances
    I ascribe human traits to inanimate objects
    and I talk to the weather, to the kind of day
    it is or isn’t because I am an asshole
    and am obsessed with the far future
    and love and finding limits and breaking them,
    it’s true, I want to break things
    because I am an asshole
    I want to break apart the idea you have
    of who you could or couldn’t love
    because I think you could love me
    even though I am such an asshole
    I think you could I love you
    fuck me I love you I’m an asshole
    fuck me I love you. Sure, & Aloha: I don’t deny
    being jingled. I am an asshole after all.
    I am a tailless little third-base biscuit
    of an asshole, a Byzantine aberrational
    overly wrought and unformed
    kind of asshole, not a Christian,
    though, but I’m as bad as those assholes
    because I want to believe, I try to believe,
    I wish I could believe, as much as those assholes.
    I just can’t concede to authority, that’s all.
    Because I’m an asshole.
    I’m an itty bitty epigram
    of an asshole, a compressed convalescent
    adjunct juxtaposition of an asshole
    I’m a suffix, a spit-wad, a military jism schism
    of an asshole to the nth degree.
    That’s what I am. I suppose
    I’ve always had this assholeishness
    in me but since I’ve known you
    the assholeity of my being has become
    much more pronounced. A perfect
    example is how I can’t shut up and
    how I repeat myself and how I
    try, here, even here, to figure things
    when anyone who is not an asshole knows
    there is no way to really understand anything
    and anyone who thinks he or she can unpuzzle
    or untangle or even open the window a little
    to let some light in is clearly cracked
    and obviously a huge and complete asshole.
    I hear Sharon Mesmer. I hear Juliana Spahr.
    I hear both of those assholes in here and
    some others as well because I am an unoriginal
    asshole and I freely admit it.
    You may think I’m being cheeky
    but I really am an asshole. And
    I really do think I am. And
    I don’t know what to do about it
    because I’m like a fevered red-faced 3 year old
    sometimes when it comes to how I feel
    about you and I don’t know what
    to do about it I don’t know what
    to do about it I don’t
    know what to do about it
    which makes me an asshole.
    Assholes get scared often
    and you may think they talk a lot
    but words stick to the roofs of their mouths
    like peanut butter, to which they are frequently allergic
    so swell up with hives and can’t breathe
    and that’s the kind of asshole I am
    sometimes when it comes to you
    and how I love you. Don’t you know
    what an asshole it makes me
    to say that at all, and then especially
    to say it so often? I’m telling you,
    it makes me a real asshole. Because
    you don’t say it back and I
    don’t even care because
    that’s how much of an asshole I am.
    I can’t shut up and I won’t
    and maybe that makes me
    even more of an asshole but
    like most assholes I don’t care.
    I love you fuck me I’m an asshole.
    Hail Juliana. Not even a very loud
    asshole am I sort of a
    petit larceny kind of standing outside
    the drugstore asking for change
    kind of asshole, though actually
    anyone doing that is much much less
    of an asshole than I am I
    lacerate and regurgitate and attempt to say
    things and only an asshole
    would do that.
    I don’t need to hit myself.
    I’m not that kind of an asshole.
    Do you think I’m hitting myself?
    I’m not hitting myself.
    I’m talking. I’m a talking asshole
    and I won’t stop. Maybe you won’t
    want to listen to me at some point
    but I won’t ever stop talking, so there,
    because that’s the kind of asshole I am
    and p.s. fuck you I love you I’m an asshole
    I love you fuck me I’m an asshole
    I love you.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 24, 2010 at 11:53 pm

      Way to be an asshole.

  92. Noochness said,

    October 25, 2010 at 8:48 am

    29. Helen Vendler

  93. thomasbrady said,

    October 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I love this:

    Interviewer: You haven’t written any poetry since then?

    Vendler: No.

    And the interview just leaves it at that. No curiosity: why did you stop writing poetry?

    I also love it when the interviewer says, “Tell us about I.A. Richards” and Vendler proceeds to talk about Hopkins.

    Then Vendler explicitly defends farty old New Criticism: just look at the poem, pay no attention to the life behind the red curtain! I am the great…and powerful…Helen…Vendler…

    Oh, but it’s a very pleasant…interview…zzzzzzzzzzzz

    Cue: Peggy Lee singing “Is That All There It Is…” When I was a little girl, I found a book by Helen Vendler on poetry, and after I finished, I said…”Is that all there is…?” Is that all there is, to Helen Vendler? Yes, afraid so…

    Vendler’s ‘conversion’ with Wallace Stevens recordings in the library was hilarious, too…

  94. Noochness said,

    October 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

    28. John Ashbery

    What is Poetry

    The medieval town, with frieze
    Of boy scouts from Nagoya? The snow

    That came when we wanted it to snow?
    Beautiful images? Trying to avoid

    Ideas, as in this poem? But we
    Go back to them as to a wife, leaving

    The mistress we desire? Now they
    Will have to believe it

    As we believed it. In school
    All the thought got combed out:

    What was left was like a field.
    Shut your eyes, and you can feel it for miles around.

    Now open them on a thin vertical path.
    It might give us—what?—some flowers soon?

    • Noochness said,

      October 26, 2010 at 9:02 am

      Does this bring Ashbery’s stuff up a rung?
      Translating his poems into the English tongue?

      (A Translation of John Ashbery’s) “WHAT IS POETRY”
      by Jill E. Brown (April 1995)

      Should we really call traditional verse with its ornamentation and
      elaborate description poetry?
      Can the acts of nature be forced into a linguistic box and then called
      Why does one feel compelled to control nature by demarcating it with
      imagery and lofty symbolism?
      If it snows, it snows. We have no control over it. Forget about the
      pretentious attempts to characterize it.
      Is it possible to forget about ideas altogether (like I am trying to here)?
      I don’t understand why poets revert back to tradition when we see the
      possiblility in new forms. How can they not see the inadequacy of
      traditional poetry as we, the New York Poets, so plainly see?
      It goes back to school, where they try to teach you to abandon
      The mind is like a vast field full of life, potential, and possibility.
      But they teach you not to see this and instead focus on a narrow
      path of traditional bullshit. And that’s all it is: SHIT. The
      only purpose it serves is to fertilize the field and grow
      more precious flowers to describe in their endless
      cycle of bullshit.

      • Anonymous said,

        October 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

        Love it! It’s not so much Ashbery translated as Ashbery unmasked.

        Underneath Ashbery, the whimsical poet, lurks Ashbery, the grumpy modernist prof.

  95. Noochness said,

    October 27, 2010 at 8:58 am

    27. Tony Hoagland

    Fred Had Watched a Lot of Kung Fu Episodes

    so when the policeman asked
    to see his driver’s license, he said,
    Does the wind need permission

    from the hedgehog to blow?
    which resulted in a search of his car
    which miraculously yielded nothing

    since Fred had swallowed all the mescaline already
    and was just beginning to fall in love
    with the busy caterpillar eyebrows
    of the officer in question.

    In those days we could identify
    the fingerprints on a guitar string
    by the third note of the song
    broadcast from the window of a passing car,

    but we couldn’t tell the difference
    between a personal disaster
    and “having an experience,”

    so Fred thought being locked up for the night
    was kind of fun,
    with the graffiti on the drunk-tank wall
    chattering in Mandarin
    and the sentient cockroaches coming out to visit
    in triplicate.

    Back then it wasn’t a question of pleasure or pain,
    it wasn’t a question of getting to the top
    then trying not to fall at all cost.

    It was a question of staying tuned in,
    one episode at a time,
    said Fred to himself

    as he walked home the next morning
    under the spreading lotus trees on Walnut Street
    feeling Oriental.

  96. Noochness said,

    October 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

    27. Tony Hoagland

    Honda Pavarotti

    I’m driving on the dark highway
    when the opera singer on the radio
    opens his great mouth
    and the whole car plunges down the canyon of his throat.

    So the night becomes an aria of stars and exit signs
    as I steer through the galleries
    of one dilated Italian syllable
    after another. I love the passages in which

    the rich flood of the baritone
    strains out against the walls of the esophagus,
    and I love the pauses
    in which I hear the tenor’s flesh labor to inhale

    enough oxygen to take the next plummet
    up into the chasm of the violins.
    In part of the song, it sounds as if the singer
    is being squeezed by an enormous pair of tongs

    while his head and legs keep kicking.
    In part of the song, it sounds as if he is
    standing in the middle of a coliseum,
    swinging a 300-pound lion by the tail,

    the empire of gravity
    conquered by the empire of aerodynamics,
    the citadel of pride in flames
    and the citizens of weakness
    celebrating their defeat in chorus,

    joy and suffering made one at last,
    joined in everything a marriage is alleged to be,
    though I know the women he is singing for
    is dead in a foreign language on the stage beside him,

    though I know his chain mail is made of silver-painted plastic
    and his mismanagement of money is legendary,
    as I know I have squandered
    most of my own life

    in a haze of trivial distractions,
    and that I will continue to waste it.
    But wherever I was going, I don’t care anymore,
    because no place I could arrive at

    is good enough for this, this thing made out of experience
    but to which experience will never measure up
    and that dark and soaring fact
    is enough to make me renounce the whole world

    or fall in love with it forever.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 28, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      Admit it, Tony. We know Billy Collins wrote this poem!

  97. Noochness said,

    October 28, 2010 at 8:54 am

    26. Louise Gluck

    Gretel in Darkness

    This is the world we wanted.
    All who would have seen us dead
    are dead. I hear the witch’s cry
    break in the moonlight through a sheet
    of sugar: God rewards.
    Her tongue shrivels into gas. . . .

    Now, far from women’s arms
    and memory of women, in our father’s hut
    we sleep, are never hungry.
    Why do I not forget?
    My father bars the door, bars harm
    from this house, and it is years.

    No one remembers. Even you, my brother,
    summer afternoons you look at me as though
    you meant to leave,
    as though it never happened.
    But I killed for you. I see armed firs,
    the spires of that gleaming kiln—

    Nights I turn to you to hold me
    but you are not there.
    Am I alone? Spies
    hiss in the stillness, Hansel,
    we are there still and it is real, real,
    that black forest and the fire in earnest.

  98. thomasbrady said,

    October 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Gluck hints at everything, says nothing. This coyness were no crime, if there were a bit of charm, a little rhyme; but no, all seems dead. I read her work with three-fourths boredom, one fourth dread.

  99. Noochness said,

    October 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    In this poem by Gluck
    I feel warmth, I sense life.
    (Didja know Gluck’s dad
    Invented the X-Acto knife?)

  100. October 28, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I agree with Nooch on this one. I think it has to be a matter of personal taste if you don’t find any charm here, Tom. I don’t think I’ve read the poem in at least ten years and I still get the same kind of quiver of delight in that first stanza that I did when I read it as a student. Most of the poets I read in my MFA days I can’t get five lines through a poem with anymore. I’m disposed to be bigoted towards an creative writing professor heiress, but I have never stopped regarding Gluck as one of the few true poets. Althoug I admit, her style is prosey.

  101. thomasbrady said,

    October 28, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I didn’t know that about Gluck’s dad!

    Briggs, yea, the pull is often strong if you studied a poet in school; it sometimes solidifies the reputation for one (not always).

    I just find lines like “Why do I not forget?” and “you are not there” and “Am I alone?” heavy-handed and not at all moving or interesting.


  102. Noochness said,

    October 29, 2010 at 9:05 am

    25. Paul Muldoon

    Promises, Promises

    I am stretched out under the lean-to
    Of an old tobacco-shed
    On a farm in North Carolina.
    A cardinal sings from the dogwood
    For the love of marijuana.
    His song goes over my head.
    There is such splendour in the grass
    I might be the picture of happiness.
    Yet I am utterly bereft
    Of the low hills, the open-ended sky,
    The wave upon wave of pasture
    Rolling in, and just as surely
    Falling short of my bare feet.
    Whatever is passing is passing me by.

    I am with Raleigh, near the Atlantic,
    Where we have built a stockade
    Around our little colony.
    Give him his scallop-shell of quiet,
    His staff of faith to walk upon,
    His scrip of joy, immortal diet—
    We are some eighty souls
    On whom Raleigh will hoist his sails.
    He will return, years afterwards,
    To wonder where and why
    We might have altogether disappeared,
    Only to glimpse us here and there
    As one fair strand in her braid,
    The blue in an Indian girl’s dead eye.

    I am stretched out under the lean-to
    Of an old tobacco-shed
    On a farm in North Carolina,
    When someone or other, warm, naked,
    Stirs within my own skeleton
    And stands on tip-toe to look out
    Over the horizon,
    Through the zones, across the Ocean.
    The cardinal sings from a redbud
    For the love of one slender and shy,
    The flight after flight of stairs
    To her room in Bayswater,
    The damson freckle on her throat
    That I kissed when we kissed Goodbye.

  103. Noochness said,

    October 30, 2010 at 10:06 am

    24. Robin Blaser (May 18, 1925 – May 7, 2009)

    Two Late Poems

    well, this old crow is making
    a hook to dig out words
    from the bottom and top
    of things—thus, the middle
    voice’s myriad in definitenesses,
    infinite circulations of
    the body’s mind—every sorrow,
    every joy and in between crevasses—
    every word of this and that


    I’ve caught the unease
    of old age in my hands
    and wrung it dry
    in order to remain
    within its kaleidoscope,
    there to collide among all colours
    of kalos—beauty
    of eidos—form
    of skopos–watcher of
    lovers of

  104. Noochness said,

    October 31, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Lehman has a pretty cool website,
    With poems and such to keep one up all night.

    23. David Lehman

    When she says Margarita she means Daiquiri.
    When she says quixotic she means mercurial.
    And when she says, “I’ll never speak to you again,”
    she means, “Put your arms around me from behind
    as I stand disconsolate at the window.”

    He’s supposed to know that.

    When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia
    or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading,
    or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he
    is raking leaves in Ithaca
    or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate
    at the window overlooking the bay
    where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on
    while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

    When a woman loves a man it is one-ten in the morning,
    she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels
    drinking lemonade
    and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed
    where she remains asleep and very warm.

    When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks.
    When she says, “We’re talking about me now,”
    he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says,
    “Did somebody die?”

    When a woman loves a man, they have gone
    to swim naked in the stream
    on a glorious July day
    with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle
    of water ruching over smooth rocks,
    and there is nothing alien in the universe.

    Ripe apples fall about them.
    What else can they do but eat?

    When he says, “Ours is a transitional era.”
    “That’s very original of you,” she replies,
    dry as the Martini he is sipping.

    They fight all the time
    It’s fun
    What do I owe you?
    Let’s start with an apology
    Ok, I’m sorry, you dickhead.
    A sign is held up saying “Laughter.”
    It’s a silent picture.
    “I’ve been fucked without a kiss,” she says,
    “and you can quote me on that,”
    which sounds great in an English accent.

    One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it
    another nine times.

    When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the
    airport in a foreign country with a jeep.
    When a man loves a woman he’s there. He doesn’t complain that
    she’s two hours late
    and there’s nothing in the refrigerator.

    When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake.
    She’s like a child crying
    at nightfall because she didn’t want the day to end.

    When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking:
    as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved.
    A thousand fireflies wink at him.
    The frogs sound like the string section
    of the orchestra warming up.
    The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.

  105. Noochinator said,

    November 1, 2010 at 8:14 am

    66. Matthea Harvey

    Emphasis on Mister or Peanut, Robo or Boy

    In the chapters on Special Children, the parenting books stress the need for role models. Hence the silver-framed portraits of Mr. Peanut, the Michelin Man and Mrs. Butterworth in silver frames on Robo-Boy’s bureau. Robo-Boy has never quite known what to do with them. For a while he thought they might be estranged relatives, especially since his parents never mentioned them. Mr. Peanut, debonair as Fred Astaire, looks like the kind of uncle who might tell you over steak and a cigar that with a pair of gloves and a monocle slotted over your eyesocket, you can have your pick of the ladies. Mrs. Butterworth figured more in Robo-Boy’s brief religious phase—there’s something holy in her maple syrup glow, and in her shape, something of the Buddha. The Michelin Man is the one who worries him. With his perpetual thumbs-up and cheerful expression he looks like he might be hoping to hitchhike his way the hell out of here—

  106. Noochness said,

    November 2, 2010 at 8:47 am

    22. Mary Oliver

    A Visitor

    My father, for example,
    who was young once
    and blue-eyed,
    on the darkest of nights
    to the porch and knocks
    wildly at the door,
    and if I answer
    I must be prepared
    for his waxy face,
    for his lower lip
    swollen with bitterness.
    And so, for a long time,
    I did not answer,
    but slept fitfully
    between his hours of rapping.
    But finally there came the night
    when I rose out of my sheets
    and stumbled down the hall.
    The door fell open

    and I knew I was saved
    and could bear him,
    pathetic and hollow,
    with even the least of his dreams
    frozen inside him,
    and the meanness gone.
    And I greeted him and asked him
    into the house,
    and lit the lamp,
    and looked into his blank eyes
    in which at last
    I saw what a child must love,
    I saw what love might have done
    had we loved in time.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      What a strange poem. I sense real father-hatred, a poet who can write well on animals having little to say about the human. Still, there’s a certain simplicity and drama which Oliver does well.

  107. Noochness said,

    November 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

    21. Anne Carson

    Triple Sonnet of the Plush Pony

    Do you think of your saliva as a personal possession or as something you can sell?
    What about tears? What about semen? Linguists tell
    us to use the terms alienable and inalienable
    to make this distinction intelligible.
    E.g. English speakers call both blood and faeces alienable on a normal day
    but saliva, sweat, tears and bowels they do not give away.
    Bananas and buttocks, in Papua New Guinea, belong to the inalienable class
    while genitalia and skin of banana are not held onto nearly so fast.

    Such thinking will affect how a word like rape is defined
    or how sorcerers aim their spells or how you feel in your mind
    when you address animals. Of course cows and cats,
    sheep, pigs, donkeys, dogs and rats
    depend on their owner to keep or dispose.
    But your pony you cannot sensibly classify with those.

    Another thee.
    A summer’s day.
    Double vantage me.
    Never to repay.
    And Will in overplus.
    Making addition thus—
    your pony is all these to you—and more:
    he can detect the smell of danger

    and will not take you through a door
    if there is doom or pain there.
    So at the end of his life if you want to sell him for meat
    you’ll have to change the pronoun with which you greet
    at dawn his shaggy head,
    at dawn his shaggy head.

    A body in the dawn.
    A body in the cold.
    A body its breath.
    Its breath a plume.
    A dance a plume.
    A dance not thou.
    A thou, a thee.
    Thou, breath.

    There stands.
    Breath, plume.
    How cold is.
    A dawn is.
    How still stands.
    Thy breath.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 4, 2010 at 3:20 pm

      This is awful.

      Why do some people think poetry is crazy?

      All you have to be is crazy, and you’re a poet.


  108. Noochness said,

    November 4, 2010 at 8:52 am

    All through this essay,
    Bloom’s forcefulness doth carry it.
    He recycled this material
    In his interview with Scarriet.

    20. Harold Bloom

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      Harold Bloom: “our universities are already travesties”

      Bloom sets the scene of the brave few holding onto the “heights” of the “aesthetic” against the “numbers” below, the “camp-followers” of “French diseases” and “feminists” and “multiculturalists” and “new historicists” and then names two poets up on the “heights” with him, Ammons and Ashbery?? What qualities do Ammons and Ashbery have up there on the heights? Bloom chooses odd companions. I see Ashbery and Ammons as belonging to Bloom’s rabble below. Bloom’s criterion for the worthy is what? White men? Ammons and Ashbery are that. The “aesthetic” once referred to Beauty, but Bloom is too sophisticated, obviously, to mean this. So we fall back on…what? What exactly is being “defended” up there on the “heights?” The poetry of Ammons of Ashbery? Is he kidding? Who the hell does he think he’s kidding?

      • November 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm

        Well, I don’t really understand why he singles out Ammons and Ahsberry like that, either. But it’s been years since I was able to see arguing over which poet is better as anything but a parlor game for sophists. So I pretty much shrugged at that comment in the opening paragraph and went on to the rest of his essay. I tend to like grouchy old curmudgeons–I stared my life as one and have just begun to recover from being one in the early onset of my middle years. But I still like to read stuff that write.

        I think Bloom when Bloom mentions the years 1968-70, he hits on an interesting parallel with my hero Thomas Frank’s earlier work, such as Commodify Your Dissent and The Conquest of Cool. The energies of the counter culture were very quickly assimilated into the dominant ruling paradigms–into a new form of consumer culture for the masses in the shopping malls, and into the culture of resentment within the Universities.

        As an activist and a social anarchist, I am pretty sympathetic towards the supposed animus behind the identity politics movement. But as a thinker who attempted something of a career within the academy–well, it’s a fucking dissaster, an exercise in intellectual dishonesty writ large. The adminstrators, though, love it. The economic powers that control our society really love it. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, just when the Universities had become a signficant social force rising up to criticize the destructiveness of capitalist empire, along came identity politics to divide and conquer. The best way to achieve tenure and a cushy upper middle class lifestyle now on a college campus is not to be a great teacher or an important thinker, but to identify some particular victim group that you can become a part of and then promote and network within that little victim group. Bloom is correct that serious literary scholarship has been a casualty of the shake up. But the greater casualty has been the overall trivializing of American intellectual life and the replacement of systematic criticism of our death machine culture with the shrieking of personal complaint.

      • Marcus Bales said,

        November 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm

        Briggs Seekins wrote: “As an activist and a social anarchist, I am pretty sympathetic towards the supposed animus behind the identity politics movement. But as a thinker who attempted something of a career within the academy–well, it’s a fucking disaster, an exercise in intellectual dishonesty writ large. The adminstrators, though, love it. The economic powers that control our society really love it. In the late 60′s and early 70′s, just when the Universities had become a signficant social force rising up to criticize the destructiveness of capitalist empire, along came identity politics to divide and conquer. The best way to achieve tenure and a cushy upper middle class lifestyle now on a college campus is not to be a great teacher or an important thinker, but to identify some particular victim group that you can become a part of and then promote and network within that little victim group. Bloom is correct that serious literary scholarship has been a casualty of the shake up. But the greater casualty has been the overall trivializing of American intellectual life and the replacement of systematic criticism of our death machine culture with the shrieking of personal complaint.”

        Just so.

        But I think you’ve missed the post-modernist theory idiocy that made that “shrieking of personal complaint” seem like something other than mere personal complaint.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm

        We seem to be entering a frightening period of history where no one trusts ideas anymore; the world is divided between pure sensual entertainment/football & basketball on one hand, and pure hardball politics on the other, either of left or right. Intellectuals, poets, prophets, bards, priests, philosophers, aesthetes are on the outs…nothing they say means anything…it’s all greeted with a yawn… Harold Bloom makes a politically-charged, taunting, statement on aesthetics…and NO ONE CARES…because it’s about aesthetics. That’s Scarriet’s biggest challenge: the current climate of intellectual indifference….

        If we trace the meltdown/implosion of Letters, it occured when the Thing/Image/Objective-Correlative/Heavy-Handed/Pessimistic,Traumatizing/Fragmentary/Ungainly Style of Modernism rode the insanity of World War One and British Empire Policy generally into a horrific, dumbed-down, pretentious, amoral, ahistorical, fake-insight, campaign which blugeoned the Learned Sublime into submission, rolling over historical literature with the tanks of morbid, modernist, artsy-fartsy, ‘creative’ writing and instant canon.

        The Waste Land of education is a natural outcome of the Waste Land of Letters. T.S. Eliot became depressed and who could have seen it? All literature became depressed. The Romantics were happy writing of nature, but forced into the cities, the poets could not bring themselves to find the metropolis beautiful; instead the ‘truth’ became Eliot’s morbid descriptions of Prufrock and Rhapsody on a Windy Night. To Eliot and H.G. Wells and Aldous Huxley and Ford Madox Ford and Ezra Pound and Hemingway cities are crowded with hostile strangers, with the breeding poor. What poet has made the City beautiful? The City is our destiny, but poets have not found the language to praise her.

  109. The Noochie Coochie Man said,

    November 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Franco picks the 18 poems
    That feel to him so right.
    (I think that in the picture
    He’s the one that’s on the right.)

    19. James Franco

  110. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    November 5, 2010 at 11:22 am

    49. Frank Bidart

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 5, 2010 at 3:40 pm

      Ask Franco if Bidart
      Can write a poem on a fart,
      A found poem, that is,
      To get the proper eeuuussss.

  111. thomasbrady said,

    November 5, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Franco’s taste is criminal/sentimental;
    Sensational, not gentle.
    He lets the seedy and the real
    Tell him how to feel.

    • Noochness said,

      November 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm

      It’s no wonder these are the kind of poems
      In which Sir James doth traffick;
      After all, he’s part of the 18-to-
      35-years male demographic.

  112. Noochinator said,

    November 6, 2010 at 9:59 am

    4. John Casteen IV

  113. Noochinator said,

    November 6, 2010 at 11:14 am

    18. David Orr

    The Train

    Not that anyone will care,
    But as I was sitting there

    On the 8:07
    To New Haven,

    I was struck by lightning.
    The strangest thing

    Wasn’t the flash of my hair
    Catching on fire,

    But the way people pretended
    Nothing had happened.

    For me, it was real enough.
    But it seemed as if

    The others saw this as nothing
    But a way of happening,

    A way to get from one place
    To another place,

    But not a place itself.
    So, ignored, I burned to death.

    Later, someone sat in my seat
    And my ashes ruined his suit.

  114. Noochinator said,

    November 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

    17. Garrison Keillor

    When Your Brother Dies

    March 4, 2009. My brother Philip died in Wisconsin on Friday while I was in Rome, and after I got my ticket changed to fly back for the memorial service, I went into a church off the Piazza Navona and lit candles for his aching family and stood in the piazza beside a fine fountain, with lots of splashing and nudity, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, which made me think of the Mississippi, where he and I used to skate in winter and once when the wind was whistling down the valley he opened his jacket and held the corners taut and the wind blew him away beyond the island and he didn’t come back until after dark.

    He died while skating. He fell backward and hit his head and died 12 days later. A heroic thing for a man of 71, dying in action at sport, though I believe he would rather have been in Rome, looking at Bernini churches. He and I almost died together once, canoeing on Lake Superior. We paddled into a deep cave under one of the Apostle Islands, possibly Judas, and explored it, ducking our heads under the low ceiling, and emerged a half-minute before the wake of a distant ore boat came crashing into the cave, which would have busted our heads but good, no need for the EMTs.

    He was an engineer, having grown up at a time when boys were still romantic about machinery. Our dad and uncles loved cars and knew how to fix them and also do basic plumbing and wiring and carpentry, so he grew up admiring competence. The incompetent stood and cursed the problem and kicked it and caused more problems. The engineer studied the problem, devised a solution, and when it failed he made intelligent revisions. I never heard my brother curse anything or anybody.

    Of all things mechanical, he loved sailboats the most, planing into the wind with a sheet of canvas, a centerboard and a tiller, which he picked up from perusing the Horatio Hornblower novels. When he was a kid, he rigged one of dad’s dropcloths to a toboggan and sailed it at tremendous speed down the ice of the Mississippi, a death-defying feat. He switched careers from mechanical to coastal engineering so as to get himself out on boats on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, purportedly to study thermal runoff from nuclear plants and shore erosion, and he owned a swift sailboat named the Dora Powell after our grandmother.

    My brother was her first grandchild and so he was well loved and extensively photographed, a curly-haired boy with dimples and a modest smile, taken against many backdrops since our family moved often in the decade after he was born (1937), renting here and there, squatting with relatives, moving on, which maybe stimulates a keen love of family in a kid, as you keep waving goodbye to your friends, and Philip practiced the delicate art of brotherly love. He always knew what you were doing and he kept his critical opinions to himself. He called me once to ask how I was doing and I knew without his saying so that he knew about some nonsense I was up to and wanted me to stop it and I did stop it without his ever mentioning it. That’s how he worked, no motor, just angles. His ties to family went back to his ancestor Elder John Crandall, who preached religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence with the Indians in colonial Rhode Island, and it included his hockey-playing granddaughters and fundamentalist cousins and his lawyer brother and his Chinese granddaughter who was skating with him when he fell.

    When your brother dies, your childhood fades, there being one less person to remember it with, and you are left disinherited, unarmed, semi-literate, an exile. It’s like losing your computer and there’s no backup. (What it’s like for the decedent, I can’t imagine, though I try to be hopeful.) If I had died (say, by slipping on an emollient spill and whacking my head on a family heirloom anvil), I believe Philip, after decent mourning, would’ve gone about locating a replacement. If your brother dies, improvise. Someone you run into who maybe doesn’t fit the friendship profile but his voice is reedy like your brother’s, the gait is similar, he takes his coffee black and his laugh is husky, he starts his sentences with “You know,” and the first words out of his mouth are about boats. I didn’t run into him in Rome but I’m sure he’s out there someplace.

  115. Noochness said,

    November 8, 2010 at 9:52 am

    16. John Barr


    I love to recover the quality
    of things in decline.
    To scour stone, scale paint from brick,
    to compel, with wire brush,
    the flourish wrought by iron.
    To refinish wood, solving for
    forgotten grain.
    To give, by weeding, our stone wall
    back its dignity.
    To left and right the borders of our lot,
    to square the corners of our keep.

    I have even dreamed: pushing a pushcart,
    I stop anywhere and start
    doing what needs to be done.The first building takes time:
    replacing windows, curing the roof.
    I know compromises must be made
    and make none, a floor at a time.

    I work along an interstate
    a century after Johnny Appleseed.
    A modest people makes me chief.
    (They, too, enjoy the hazy shine
    of finished work by last light.)
    Storm drains relieved, brick walks relaid,
    a heritage of dust and wrappers
    is renounced. The square square,
    trim trim, the town for once
    is like an artist’s conception of the town.

  116. Noochness said,

    November 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

    15. Jorie Graham

    An excerpt from Lizzie Skurnick’s blog ‘The Old Hag’

    The Power and the Jorie

    We’ve been borne down by a load of work so staggering that our psyche has become lodged in what appears to be a potato cellar, but that cannot stop us from citing three lines from THE FUNNIEST THING TO HAVE HAPPENED TO POETRY since Jewel’s last book:

    1) Graham is a burnished idol of the poetry world, having at 54 already pulled off the trifecta of American verse: (1) a major prize (the Pulitzer); (2) a longtime faculty position at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Death Star of the modern M.F.A. system.

    2) She has friendly words for avant-gardists like Susan Howe; friendly words for formalists like Anthony Hecht; and friendly words for her tribe of former students (”I love all of them,” she says, and it must be true, because they show up with remarkable frequency as winners of the many contests she judges). Moreover, as Shelley might say, if Graham fell upon the thorns of life, she’d blurb.

    3) Consider the beginning of ”Praying (Attempt of April 19 ’04)”: ”If I could shout but I must not shout. / The girl standing in my doorway yesterday weeping. / In her right hand an updated report on global warming.” Well, at least it’s an updated report; you’d hate to see her ”weeping” (instead of plain old ”crying”) over last Tuesday’s version.

    Pray, continue. From what we hear, every four to six weeks, God willing.

  117. Noochinator said,

    November 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    18. David Orr

  118. Noochinator said,

    November 10, 2010 at 12:25 am

    5. Alan Cordle

    • Al Cordle said,

      November 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      I need a poem here. Could someone ghostwrite one for me please?

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 11, 2010 at 11:13 pm

        Vendler and Bloom wanted the same thing. I said, no way.

      • Noochness said,

        November 12, 2010 at 10:05 am

        You’re the Doug Kenney of Scarriet,
        And to complete the hattrick,
        Woodman the Tony Hendra,
        And Brady the O’Rourke (Patrick).
        (And Des the John Belushi,
        Flyting on coke and sushi.)

    • Al Cordle said,

      November 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

      I like this, yet it troubles me too.

  119. Noochness said,

    November 10, 2010 at 9:56 am

    14. Cate Marvin



    He hands down the sun. He picks our planet’s lock.
    The stars perch on his outstretched arm, sides sharp
    as beaks. Swung out into flight, they carry his word’s
    weight. They return, claws clutching a stricken
    rabbit’s carcass. He skins it with a glance, roasts
    it over a pyre. He skins us of our clothes and we
    lie across the plate of his bed’s porcelain spread.
    He makes of us a meal, he picks our bones clean.

    Up and down and all over the hills we run our hands,
    and the sun comes down so hard that looking at him
    is drinking fire from the cups of eyes. We once knew
    him wheat, a gold square of pasture eyed from miles
    above. Gold: we loved to look down, sink to linger.
    Sun-struck, sunstroke, our long illness now begins.
    How fever writhes the thatched roof of this house.
    How by the end he hasn’t untouched one bit of us.


    Three blood drops on the snow, ink stains welled up
    on a handkerchief. A falcon wounds a wild goose, so
    three drops of blood fall on the snow. Frozen in his
    saddle, spear held erect, his posture expressed hostile
    challenge. It’s said by memory’s complexion he was
    transfixed: lip’s rose embroidering body’s white sheet.
    They broke his trance by draping a yellow scarf over
    the drops. They gave him back to war and reason.

    And the sun comes down so hard when looking at him—
    as an image is struck onto the face of a coin, the eye
    sends its beam into the beholder’s eye, striking the face
    into dismay, knocking out whole hunks of wall till all
    that’s left is rubble and dust. Wooly clouds of smoke
    pile up in the sky. Troops menace a horizon.
    Three gold hairs caught by the teeth of his comb.
    I would not exchange them for the Empire of Rome.


    A historic hotel is the setting for the hysteria that ensues
    once those yellow notes are plucked from his throat.
    A falcon wounds a wild goose, three drops of blood fall
    on the snow. We lay our cards out on clean sheets, sip
    gin and play rummy. I don’t know how to play, so how
    can I win? Whose bluff is whose. Ours is a classic drama,
    tears pulled like strings from the eyes. I’d never slept
    in a room so fine, on such a bed, so soft and high, never

    began to think I’d lose my mind over a good-bye, O,
    the many tears plopping into a chalice. He picked the stars
    up and screwed their bulbs back into the sky! I’ve locked
    myself inside the bathroom, drunk chilled vodka straight
    from the bottle. He’s at the door, knocking gold flakes
    off his knuckles. Three gold hairs, the teeth of his comb.
    I would not exchange them for a cartload of emeralds
    or carbuncles. The floor’s cool tiles. My fever’s begun.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

      Is Cate Marvin really no. 14?

      One always gets the feeling in her poetry that she’s trying too hard…well, she’s young, isn’t she?

      She wants poetry to be so…interesting…and…about everything…I think she ought to read “The Philosophy of Composition….”just for a little balance…

  120. Noochness said,

    November 10, 2010 at 10:05 am

    I could paste in the poem
    And say “Trust us,”
    But I wouldn’t be doing
    The spacing justice.

    14. Cate Marvin

  121. Noochinator said,

    November 11, 2010 at 10:03 am

    13. Robert Pinsky

    Poem about People

    The jaunty crop-haired graying
    Women in grocery stores,
    Their clothes boyish and neat,
    New mittens or clean sneakers,

    Clean hands, hips not bad still,
    Buying ice cream, steaks, soda,
    Fresh melons and soap—or the big
    Balding young men in work shoes

    And green work pants, beer belly
    And white T-shirt, the porky walk
    Back to the truck, polite; possible
    To feel briefly like Jesus,

    A gust of diffuse tenderness
    Crossing the dark spaces
    To where the dry self burrows
    Or nests, something that stirs,

    Watching the kinds of people
    On the street for a while—
    But how love falters and flags
    When anyone’s difficult eyes come

    Into focus, terrible gaze of a unique
    Soul, its need unlovable: my friend
    In his divorced schoolteacher
    Apartment, his own unsuspected

    Paintings hung everywhere,
    Which his wife kept in a closet—
    Not, he says, that she wasn’t
    Perfectly right; or me, mis-hearing

    My rock radio sing my self-pity:
    “The Angels Wished Him Dead”—all
    The hideous, sudden stare of self,
    Soul showing through like the lizard

    Ancestry showing in the frontal gaze
    Of a robin busy on the lawn.
    In the movies, when the sensitive
    Young Jewish soldier nearly drowns

    Trying to rescue the thrashing
    Anti-semitic bully, swimming across
    The river raked by nazi fire,
    The awful part is the part truth:

    Hate my whole kind, but me,
    Love me for myself. The weather
    Changes in the black of night,
    And the dream-wind, bowling across

    The sopping open spaces
    Of roads, golf courses, parking lots,
    Flails a commotion
    In the dripping treetops,

    Tries a half-rotten shingle
    Or a down-hung branch, and we
    All dream it, the dark wind crossing
    The wide spaces between us.

  122. Noochness said,

    November 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

    12. Stephen Burt

    After Callimachus

    Cover me quietly, stone.
    I wrote verse. I meant little in life,
    blamed few and injured none;
    I tried to get along.
    My writings kept me warm.
    If I with my featherlight pen
    confused prestige with worth,
    praised evil, or ever wronged
    the few who wanted a fight,
    allow me, generous earth,
    to do no further harm—
    let me atone in my sleep;
    I with my good will,
    so lightly and often given,
    who rest with nothing to keep,
    and nothing to offer heaven.

  123. Noochness said,

    November 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    11. Yusef Komunyakaa

    Ode to the Raccoon

    I have witnessed you
    Wash your paws at the altar
    Of your moony reflection
    Halved by a dogwood.

    People say grace over you
    In the backwoods—garnished
    With sweet potatoes & red peppers.
    I have seen you fold paws across

    Ringed eyes to shield out
    Flashlights, as stout men
    Climbed oaks to shake you down
    For the dogs. Raised on hind legs,

    With fruity entrails perfuming
    The cold night air, you fought
    Till men kicked the dogs off
    To save you for their blessings.

  124. Noochness said,

    November 15, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    10. Seamus Heaney


    for T. P. Flanagan

    We have no prairies
    To slice a big sun at evening—
    Everywhere the eye concedes to
    Encrouching horizon,

    Is wooed into the cyclops’ eye
    Of a tarn. Our unfenced country
    Is bog that keeps crusting
    Between the sights of the sun.

    They’ve taken the skeleton
    Of the Great Irish Elk
    Out of the peat, set it up
    An astounding crate full of air.

    Butter sunk under
    More than a hundred years
    Was recovered salty and white.
    The ground itself is kind, black butter

    Melting and opening underfoot,
    Missing its last definition
    By millions of years.
    They’ll never dig coal here,

    Only the waterlogged trunks
    Of great firs, soft as pulp.
    Our pioneers keep striking
    Inwards and downwards,

    Every layer they strip
    Seems camped on before.
    The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
    The wet centre is bottomless.

  125. Noochinator said,

    November 16, 2010 at 10:02 am

    101. Terri Kirby Erickson

    Denise and Merle

    Denise and Merle work at the Corner Pharmacy
    easy jobs compared to what they did before. Merle
    sliced lunch meats and hard cheeses, mopped floors
    and scoured filthy pans at the Food Lion deli,
    while Denise waited tables at a truck stop until
    bunions, ugly as tree stumps, formed on her feet.
    Now all they have to do is help old people find
    their favorite talcum powder, locate prescription
    bags, neatly labeled, and ring up sales. One evening
    close to quitting time, a boy not much older than
    Merle’s youngest son, pushed through the door.
    He seemed nervous and jittery-like, fingering
    merchandise all the way down the aisle. Merle
    felt a flutter of fear, wishing the pharmacist hadn’t
    gone home early. It was just the two of them—Merle
    at the cash register and Denise, sorting pill bottles.
    When he whipped out a gun, Merle wasn’t as shocked
    as she should have been, but then she kind of saw it
    coming. Like somebody in a dream, she pulled money
    out of the drawer and stuffed fist-fulls into the smelly
    knapsack he thrust under her nose. The boy’s narrow
    eyes flicked towards Denise, whose jaw dropped
    to her chest when he said, don’t move, lady
    prompting her to scream and run down the hallway,
    flinging pill bottles in every direction. When
    Merle heard the lock turn in the back room and saw
    the robber’s panicked expression, she was shocked
    beyond belief that her own flesh and blood would
    abandon her to the mercy of an armed bandit ready
    to snap any minute and riddle the place with bullets.
    Thank God he took off instead of shooting her dead,
    his rubber-soled shoes squeaking on the polished floor.
    When the police came, Denise had the nerve to pretend
    she was right beside Merle the whole time, and Merle
    kept her mouth shut, too. To this day, they never talk
    about the robbery, but Merle stopped leaving her cat
    at her sister’s when she goes out of town and Denise
    won’t touch the cash register with a stick, claiming
    her arthritis acts up when she hits the keys.

  126. Noochness said,

    November 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

    9. Ron Silliman

    from You

    for Pat Silliman


    Old stone inn, used by the Tories to plot the assault on
    Philadelphia, still serves rich veal medallions covered with crab
    meat, spinach and Hollandaise sauce. Cardinals in the silver birch.
    Metronome of an old wind-up mantle clock. Your body beneath
    that new little night blouse, then my hand beneath that.

    An enclosed front porch converted to language. Each person I
    meet insists on telling me their “California story.” Restaurant on
    main floor of old municipal building: the workers stash their
    belongings downstairs in the jail. Elf-like, a porcelain imitation of
    Santa’s wife, the woman warns us of the “colored” districts (this is
    1995). Cat stops to stare at me, then turns and glides away.

    Read me. Full moon in the dogwood. In St. Petersburg and
    Moscow, a gang (eight young men, two women) has been
    murdering apartment owners in order to sell their apartments. I set
    the pager to vibrate. Driving endlessly along Bethlehem Pike,
    seeming to get no closer to familiar landmarks, I notice the sun
    starting to set in the East. Don’t look!

    In the next room, the large formal dining room table is covered
    with thousands of pieces of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle (little more
    than the rectangular outer rim is complete, an echo of the shape of
    the table, though two of the corners have begun to be filled in,
    clusters of two and three joined pieces dotting the center), but in
    this light (at this angle and distance), it’s impossible to tell what the
    image is, or even that one exists. Crow screaming in the trees.
    Gypsy curse: May you have a lawsuit in which you know you’re

    The problem with poetry is poets. Bone spurs grab the heart. First
    shrill roar of cardinals. This storm doesn’t so much arrive and pass
    as it does gather and dissolve.

    The writhing lesson. The dog’s paws as it crosses the hardwood
    floor. The rain stops but the trees still have to shed their water.
    House with two fire places (in sight of one another). Telescope in
    the dining room. We imagine the bird’s song as an expression of

    Paragraph is burning. Alone in the playground, dressed in a suit
    that doesn’t quite fit, red shirt, black tie, stands the
    developmentally disabled boy atop the tall slide, vomiting.


    Smidgens in the glass harass. Moment at which first bird starts to
    sing, impossible still visually to discern dawn’s approach. To
    imagine Duncan’s text is to envision Duncan.

    First dull light foretells a clouded dawn. Bear masks made from
    paper plates. Mockingbird clicks. Gradually, moving out, as the
    furniture and pictures disappear, the architecture of the room
    re-emerges as if hidden by use, bare potential, naked as any
    person, almost obscene. Mockingbird gargles and growls.

    In the dream, I have the same conversation about the storage
    capacity of my laptop that I had last week with a teenage boy with
    the president of CompuCom. Realtor points to a crack in the
    stucco. Little boy dances to inaudible tune.

    Jungle gym as prototype, as personality inventory, the problem to
    be defined before it can be solved. Day in which I drive three cars
    (rental car’s last driver obviously smoked). Owned now by a long
    succession of other people, the house in which I grew up has
    become a cipher, opaque object half-buried by bougainvillea.

    Sentences written long ago. Standing at the coast, horizon
    contained by fog. Sign on the door reads “Division of the Arts” but
    what I want is multiplication. Basket of dolls. Ratio of books to
    ideas is getting higher by the day.

    Her name is Cinnamon, her mother Teal. Baywatch Ken doll
    anatomically edited for content (to fit your screen). Ceiling fan
    spins slowly. That the whole of one’s life fits into one truck.

    Phone on the floor of an empty house, an echo to anything I say.
    Mold on the wall behind each bookcase, a kind of damp shadow.
    Aphids, like dandruff, on each leaf of the plum tree. Ham on
    foccacio, a bowl of tea. The clouds hung low.

  127. Noochinator said,

    November 18, 2010 at 10:10 am

    8. Charles Bernstein

    Poetry and/or the Sacred

    Every time I hear the word sacred I reach for my check book. Every time I reach for my check book I get a warm glow that haunts me with the flow of international capital. In God we trust—all others need a major credit card. I’ll give you credit for that—just don’t bank on it. Is nothing sacred anymore? Of course nothing is sacred: some things never change. But I’d put it is this way: at least nothing is sacred. That’s a start. Either nothing is sacred or everything is. If the sacred is the hot air inflating a poem, it doesn’t mean the poem won’t fly, though just as likely it may snore. Now is the allusion there to a blimp or to Blimpie’s. No more priests—in every sigh of every woman, child, and man. Not something to rise up to but something in which to descend, the gravity Simone Weil talks about that is a condition for grace.

    The sacred as opposed to what? Against the priestly function of the poet or of poetry I propose the comic and bathetic, the awkward and railing: to be grounded horizontally in the social and not vertically in the ethers. My motto would be a revision of Calvalcanti: “for the sacred is such a thing that if it is portrayed it dies”.

    Lately I’ve been thinking about the distinction between moral discourse and ethical reciprocity. Morality as a fixed system telling you what is good or good for you: the sacred can sound a lot like that, even if it’s supposed to be something deeper or more experiential or exceptional. I think of ethics as intertwined with aesthetics, as dependent on context, judgment, shifting situations. Ethical reciprocity involves recognition and acknowledgment—a process of registration—rather than states such as feeling spiritual (as if it were a goal). I’m for conversation not conversion. I would worry—for me worry is the only sacred giraffe—about all the things not sacred . . . Well, that old song—and dance.

    In the Jewish mystical tradition, there is the idea that everything is holy—an idea given a particularly forceful spin in the coda to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (the spatula is holy, the tuxedo is holy, the mud is holy, the tumescence is holy, the misquotation is holy, the parody is holy, my jacket is holy—but I just bought a patch to fix that). Ginsberg’s famous Whitmanian lines extend a crucial tradition in American poetry away from the allegorical and high-literary and religious and toward the ordinary and the detail. William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein are the paradigmatic modernist poets of the ordinary. Just as Williams found the poetic, and possibly the sacred, in the back-lot “cinders // in which shine / the broken // pieces of a green / bottle”, so Stein found the poetic in the materials of the poem, “actual word stuff, not thoughts for thoughts”, to use Williams’s formulation.

    This brings to mind again that the crucial focus for Jewish mysticism is on language, in its material form: not what language represents or means or signifies, but what it is in itself.

    Poems are no more sacred than the use to which they are made, any more than you or I or Uncle Hodgepodge is. They are scared and looking for cover, scarred by the journey. They may be good company but more likely resemble the man in the train compartment who never stops talking. What time is it now? Are we there yet? What do they call this town?

    • Noochinator said,

      November 19, 2010 at 10:16 am

      from The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever

      The early train was a local and all the passengers were night-shift workmen, returning home. Looking into their tired and dirty faces Badger felt a longing for what he thought to be their humble ways. If he had been brought up simply his life would have had more meaning and value, the better parts of his disposition would have been given a chance to develop and he would not have wasted his gifts. Shaken with drink and self-reproach, he felt it was plain that morning that he had wasted them beyond any chance of their renewal, and images of his earlier life—a high-spirited and handsome boy, bringing in the terrace furniture before a thunderstorm—rose up to reinforce his self-condemnation. Then at the nadir of his depression light seemed to strike into Badger’s mind, for it was the force of his imagination rebelling against utter despair, to raise white things in his head—cities or archways at least of marble—signs of prosperity, triumph and splendor.

      Then whole palladia seemed to mushroom beneath Badger’s patent-leather hair, the cities and villas of a younger world, and he made the trip into the city in a hopeful mood. But sitting over his first cup of coffee in the hole-in-the-wall where he lived Badger saw that his marble white civilizations were helpless before invaders. These snowy, high-arched constructions of principle, morality and faith—these palaces and memorials—were overrun with hordes of war-whooping, half-naked men, dressed in the stinking skins of beasts. In they rode at the north gate and as Badger sat huddled over his cup, he saw one by one his temples and palaces go. Out the south gate rode the barbarians, leaving poor Badger without even the consolation of a ruin; leaving him with a nothingness and with his essence, which was never much better than the perfume of a wood violet gone.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm

        Badger is so helpless and self-pitying, though, with those ridiculous ‘white palaces’ in his head…Cheever plays right into the hands of the cynical Charles Bernsteins of the world…

      • Noochness said,

        November 19, 2010 at 4:06 pm

        Are “principle, morality and faith” ridiculous, mon sage?
        Perhaps they are considered so in our present age.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 19, 2010 at 9:48 pm

        Principle, morality, faith I love, but not Cheever,
        With his marble whiteness Badger, his self-pitying Beaver…

  128. thomasbrady said,

    November 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Bernstein is caught between the funny and the avant-garde—and can’t make up his mind.

    (The spatula is ordinary, the tuxedo is ordinary, the mud is ordinary, the tumescence is ordinary, the misquotation is ordinary, the parody is ordinary, my jacket is ordinary, WCW Williams is ordinary, Allen Ginsberg is ordinary, Gertrude Stein is ordinary…)

    • Noochinator said,

      November 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      “Spatuta” must be “spatula”—
      My fault once again.
      My defense is that I cut
      And posted ’round ’bout 5 AM.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 18, 2010 at 3:44 pm

        We owe it to
        The critically nixed
        To do so w/out typos—
        There—it’s fixed

    • Noochness said,

      November 18, 2010 at 6:29 pm

      “To be in the groves of academe” —
      It seems a wistful thought.
      But when I read that Bernstein piece,
      I felt so glad I’m not.

    • Noochness said,

      November 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      His enshrinement of worry as a sacred giraffe,
      This makes no sense to me at all—
      Worry has prolly killed more men and women
      Than have drugs t’include alcohol.

  129. Noochness said,

    November 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

    15. Jorie Graham

    Little Exercise

    The screen is full of voices, all of them holding their tongues.
    Certain things have to be “undergone,” yes.
    To come to a greater state of consciousness, yes.

    Let the face show itself through the screen.
    Let the organizing eyes show themselves.
    Let them float to the surface of this shine and glow there.

    The world now being killed by its children. Also its guests.

    An oracle?—a sniper, a child beater, a dying parent in the house,
    a soil so overfed, it cannot hold a root system in place?
    Look—the slightest wind undoes the young crop.

    Are we “beyond salvation”? Will you not speak?
    Such a large absence—shall it not compel the largest presence?
    Can we not break the wall?
    And can it please not be a mirror lord?

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm

      Jorie has grown into such a terrible poet, that it makes one doubt the good she had in the beginning.

      But we might say, how can a poem written by a person at 55 possibly change how one reads a poem by that same person when they were 25? Those two poems live in separate universes; they do not ‘know’ one another—how can one possibly effect a judgement on the other, or how can judgement indulge in this falsity?

      Well, if we are all readers, essentially, of One Long Poem; if our minds are One, that is, if each individual mind is, in fact, one mind, and we are the same person yesterday that we are today, and if experiences do form a chain, and if T.S Eliot is correct in his “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” then this magic that I describe, regarding past and present Jorie poems, is real.

      And Plato in his “Ion” was right: Jorie’s knowledge is very limited, her awareness is limited. And this fact is true of all, and not that earth-shaking. Her poet-excellence never knew itself; never knew what it was doing, even as readers thrilled at times to some of her lines and her poems, or, it ‘knew what it was doing’ only in that very limited sense in which it chose a word and that word, almost on its own, brought about, without the poet’s help, wonder, or doubt, or tears.

  130. Noochness said,

    November 21, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Couldn’t find this poem anywhere on the internet.
    The spacing is not perfect—Grahamians, please don’t be upset.

    15, Jorie Graham


    I have talked too much. Have hurried. Have tried to cover the fear
    with curiosity. Also amazement. It is fear. Also know that a poem
    is, in the end, not supposed to scare you, sweet friend, reader,
    I believe you to be a person who would hide me if it came to that.
    Wouldn’t you? Whoever I am or happen to be.
    Who would remove the wood planks in the floor, in the
    ceiling, let me in to enough breathing space. A person who
    will not walk by the man old enough to be your grandfather,
    somebody’s grandfather, on the street, in this great cold.
    What is the question? What is the current nature of the Grail?
    The Grail: “consistently identified with the relics of Christ’s
    blood or with the vessel used by Him at the last
    supper. Or with both. The cult of Holy Blood.”
    Let us now turn to this, as the instructor says. We
    turn. To somebody’s person, on the street, in this great cold.
    The earliest record of the Holy Blood comes from
    Mantua—804. This is reliably reported
    but seems to have been lost again.
    Know I am supposed to use the poem, however sorry,
    to lift the subject to a place of beauty. The very term: “beauty”: do you
    hear that? Old man
    unable to even ask for anything anymore. The one without a written plea on
    piece of card-
    board. The one just standing there by the door of the 7/11 so
    drunk or stoned or hungover and cold he cannot even remember
    he is supposed
    to ask—that is his role here in this hall of mirrors—ah friend—that man,
    do you know him, the one I have to suppose you will not walk past, although what
    you will do after that is anyone’s guess.
    I put my hands in my pockets. I fish out change.
    Sometimes bills if I can. Of course I am confused. I do not know
    the right thing to do.
    Last week leaving with a newspaper and some juice I gave him
    the juice. In November, when we had bought a ready-cooked chicken
    for our dinner I handed him the chicken. It was in a paper bag with aluminum
    lining. Even so it was extremely hot. I gave it him in both hands.
    I hadn’t
    realized it
    was too hot for hands that are too cold. The aluminum also.
    You should know the aluminum only protects from burning
    those hands living life at room temperature.
    This was explained to me later after he burned his hand, but first
    he couldn’t hold it so I told him to sit down, helped him
    down. Found a way to place the chicken beside him went back in
    to the convenience store. Got paper towels. Came back.
    Him just staring at it. It long past a thing he could
    register. Went back in. Got a plastic knife and fork. Got more paper and a paper
    plate. Had to
    buy these.
    Thought it would have been better to give him the cash.
    Then thought, no, that just goes to liquor. Where are we?
    You who have helped me, Buber, Kafka, Dr. Robinson—you, hunger specialists,
    where are we? I am sitting beside him saying Sir this is for you
    to eat [it is loud on JFK Street, also Thanksgiving traffic].
    I rip open the package and realize we are too
    exposed, move him further into the doorway, say
    Sir, this is some dinner for you, Sir—he is just looking
    out—may I help you, ripping the bag then feeling for
    the bones, a piece ripped off, a piece on the plate, a knife,
    a fork. I see I must take his hand. I take his right hand. It is full of bones,
    very little flesh. I pull his jacket round.
    I put the chicken near. He looks at the piece then the
    bag. It will get cold Sir, it would be good to eat
    while hot. Grief walks by us.
    I have to leave. Of course I have to leave. As always am
    expected. As always have done nothing. What, what is it
    that is
    so near death it is willing to take
    any love it can get
    ? Wrote a poem with the lines
    “how can I write/in a lyric poem that the world we live in/
    has already been destroyed? It is true. But/it cannot be said
    into the eyes of an other,/as that other will have nowhere
    to turn.” Took the lines out. Thought “what should be the subject.”
    Forgive me I am perhaps not speaking to you individually.
    You are perhaps among the exceptions [actually I’m’ not sure there are
    exceptions][make of the grief a kind of beauty that might
    Oh I have talked too much.
    To praise to recall to memorialize to summon to mind
    the thing itself—forgive me—the given thing—that you might have persuaded yourself is
    unknowable, creature of context—it is there, it is there, it needs to be there. I awaken
    again. The
    man, last night, his hands
    no longer operational.
    I wake up operational
    over what country now.
    The rain has ceased,
    I stare at the gleaming garden.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Is Jorie writing about po-biz in this poem?

      A useless, self-promoting embarrassment?

      • Noochness said,

        November 21, 2010 at 4:31 pm

        I hope the homeless guy
        Is not the man
        Who menaces the customers
        At Au Bon Pain.

        Moving tables and chairs around
        Threateningly, and what’s more
        Pounding furiously on
        The occupied bathroom’s door.

        He gets the run of the place because it’s Cambridge—
        He’s part of the ambience.
        He plays the tune to which
        The paying customers must dance.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 21, 2010 at 9:59 pm

        No, Jorie’s homeless guy sounds like a guy who was utterly helpless, couldn’t do anything, and who shouldn’t have been on the street at all.

      • Al said,

        November 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

        I love Jorie Graham/Her name slant rhymes with Au Bon Pain.

    • Marcus Bales said,

      November 23, 2010 at 12:25 am

      Vagrant Grace

      A vagrant grace about him caught
      Me looking just too long. I got
      A guilty-feeling twenty-spot
      To give him, and that gesture brought
      A snap from my pal who’d just bought
      Another wife another yacht:
      ”He’ll only splurge on booze and pot!”
      I laughed out loud: “As if we’re not?”

  131. Noochness said,

    November 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

    7. Rae Armantrout

    Getting Warm

    a shaft must be imagined to
    connect the motes
    though there is no light.

    The notes.
    If she’s quiet
    she’s concentrating on the spaces
    between cries, turning
    times into spaces.

    Is it memory of physics
    that makes the bridge appear?
    It looks nothing
    like a real bridge.
    She has to finish it
    so it can explode.

    She is in the dark,
    sewing, stringing holes together
    with invisible thread.
    That’s a feminine accomplishment:
    a feat of memory, a managed
    repletion of resplendence.

    • Noochness said,

      November 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      “Notees” ? Sorry,
      Rae devotees.

      It serves me right
      For breaking copyright.

      I’ll have to bear it
      Until Brady can repair it.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm


        I thought “notees” was an Armantrout-ism.

        It was the master stroke of the poem, in many ways.



  132. Marcus Bales said,

    November 23, 2010 at 12:27 am

    change “homeless” to “vagrant” in both instances, please

    • noochinator said,

      October 31, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Correction made, no fears—
      And it didn’t even take two years!

  133. Po-Biz 100 support said,

    May 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    35. Maya Angelou

    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

  134. October 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    […] by Anne Carson […]

    • noochinator said,

      October 31, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Anne Carson was #21,
      Two years ago already!
      Gosh, what fun….

      Coffee each morning,
      A bagel sometimes—
      Work that I dreaded,
      Solace from rhymes.

      “Outside the leaves were falling
      and they cried
      Too soon! too soon!”

  135. December 26, 2012 at 5:19 am

    I enjoy reading poetry on nature and birds. This list is really cool.

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