1. Billy Collins  -a poet of wit and popularity
2. Dana Gioia  -his famous essay still resonates
3. David Lehman  -BAP takes the pulse better than prizes/contests do.
4. Louise Gluck  -the new Jorie; has stepped down as Yale judge.
5. John Ashbery  -the most famous unknown person ever
6. W.S. Merwin  -emerging as the e.e. cummings of our time
7. David Orr  -elegant critical manner, writes poetry, too
8. Helen Vendler  -when the dust settles, what has she done, exactly?
9. Paul Muldoon  -as long as he’s at the new yorker, he’ll be on this list.
10. Harold Bloom  -will he ever live down his nutty hatred of Poe?
11. Glyn Maxwell  -a one-man british invasion
12. G.C. Waldrep  -he’s all the rage, and deserves it
13. Anne Carson  -managed to secure that all-important ‘classical’ rep…
14. Robert Hass  -he sort of reminds us of Paul Engle…
15. Mary Oliver  -popular ’cause she feels, rather than thinks, nature poetry.
16. James Tate  -founder of the funny/absurd/surreal/realism school
17. Dean Young  -James Tate lite?
18. Sharon Olds  -nobody does frank sexuality so morally and deftly
19. Charles Simic  -perfected the small, vivid, cinematic poem
20. Marvin Bell  -long time U. Iowan
21. Donald Hall  -our Thomas Hardy?
22. Karen Solie  -2010 Griffin Poetry prize and good poet
23. Terrance Hayes  -beautiful, black, and a National Book Award…
24. Robyn Schiff  -Jorie love-blurbed her madly, UG Iowa Wrkshp dir…
25. Adrienne Rich  -for the sisters
26. Barbara Hamby  -rides the new ‘excessive’ style
27. Lucia Perillo  -2010 BAP; rocks the newly minted ‘A.D.D. School’
28. Matt Donovan  -2010 Whiting Writers award
29. Ron Silliman  -this is his time
30. Amy Gerstler  -2010 Best American Poetry editor
31. Henry Hart  -found a poem I liked by someone on the web, damn!
32. Sandra Beasley  -this gal is worth checking out!
33. Shane McCrae  -warning: this poetry may actually be good…
34. Philip Gross  -2010 T.S. Eliot Prize
35. Simon Armitage  -the closest brit who possesseth any wit
36. L.S. Klatt  -2010 Iowa poetry prize winner
37. Margaret Atwood  -she’s never boring
38. Carolyn Forche  -that ‘bag full of ears’ poem, seems like only yesterday…
39. Matthew Yeager  -2010 BAP, “Go now, my little red balloon of misery!”
40. Stephen Burt  -one day vendler’s empire will be his
41. Barrett Watten  -selling Language Theory to British academia
42. Cole Swensen  -Iowa City/Paris gal
43. Christopher Reid  -first poetry book to win Costa since ’99 (Heaney)
44. D.A. Powell  -seems to be making all the right moves
45. Frank Bidart  -actor James Franco digs his poetry
46. Carl Phillips  -one of our most understated, thoughtful poets…
47. Rachel Hadas  -writing, judging…
48. Alan Cordle  -the david who slew goliath
49. Bin Ramke  -has that ‘Bladerunner’ fallen angel look…
50. Donald Revel  -the blue twilight school
51. Jorie Graham  -has her move to p.c. extremism doomed her?
52. Natasha Saje’  -we like her poetry
53. Paul Hoover  -tortured, philosophical poetry, but good…
54. Conor O’Callaghan  -Bess Hokin winner
55. Terri Erickson  -exploded onto Scarriet, and won Nooch’s heart…
56. George Szirtes  -Hungarian Brit
57. Abigail Deutsch  –Poetry magazine’s 2010 reviewing prize…
58. Jason Guriel  -poet/reviewer making his mark with Poetry…
59. D.H. Tracy  -fastidious, not fawning, as Poetry critic…
60. A.E. Stallings  -studied classics in Athens!
61. Dan Chiasson  -belongs to new crowd of poet/critics
62. Mark Levine  -the David Foster Wallace of workshop poetry…
63. Katherine Larson  -2010 Yale Younger, Gluck’s last pick…
64. Dara Wier  -workshop queen at Amherst & has a Selected…
65. Joseph Donahue  -“the angel’s jibe would harry the glitter from the dew”
66. Robert Casper  -poetry society of america, jubilat
67. Ben Mazer  -Man of Letters: poet, editor, critic?  He has first two…
68. Eileen Myles  -will not self-edit, thank you…
69. Derek Walcott  -his Pure Style, like buttah…
70. Bob Hicok  -the school of manly sentimentalism…
71. Janet Holmes  -‘ass hat uh’ press is how you pronounce it, I think…
72. August Kleinzahler  -he chased Garrison Keillor away…
73. John Barr  -runs the Evil Empire?  Blog Harriet: zzzzzz
74. Philip Schultz  -his 8 year-old son told him he won the Pulitzer…
75. Seamus Heaney  -his iconic Bog-status is nearly blinding…
76. Kevin Young  -curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library…
77. Charles Bernstein  -his school producing a new generation of folly?
78. Tony Hoagland  -he dares to write like Billy Collins…
79. Ilya Kaminsky  -the spirit of translation…
80. Matthea Harvey  -carries a flag for a style which others do better…
81. Mary Jo Salter  -the most respectable force in poetry ever!
82. William Logan  -if his critic ever reads his poetry, he’s done…
83. Alice Quinn  -20 years picking poems for New Yorker
84. Julianna Spahr  “MFA is under-realized, under-theorized…”
85. Rae Armantrout  -one of the greatest little poem poets…
86. Rita Dove  -Clinton was prez, she was poet laureate, Oasis was cool…
87. Seth Abramson  -ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client’s poetry…
88. Adam Kirsch  -the Harvard kid who made good…
89. Daniel Nester  -We Who Are About To Die is a funny website…
90. Meghan O’ Rourke  -poetry’s audrey hepburn
91. Jim Behrle  -funny, creative, but can’t get laid!
92. Martin Espada  -“Latino poet of his generation” says his website
93. William Kulik   -scarriet march madness final four
94. Patricia Smith   -slam queen, rattle prize winner
95. C.D Wright  -tickled by the Elliptical…
96. Philip Nikolayev  -where’s Fulcrum?
97. Carl Adamshick  -latest Walt Whitman winner
98. Dora Malech  -everything going for her but poetic talent
99. Eleanor Ross Taylor  -best 90 year old poet around
100. Valzhyna Mort  -beautiful russian-american…uh…poetry.

101. Marcus Bales  -anybody like skilled verse?


  1. jimmy said,

    November 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    WHOA falling like an anvil! Fall On Me Meghan O’Rourke!

  2. Noochinator said,

    November 22, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I know I’m nothing special,
    Just another goy,
    But I wanna be Matthea
    Harvey’s Robo-Boy.

  3. Noochness said,

    November 23, 2010 at 9:54 am

    101. Marcus Bales

    A Nice Piece Of Free Verse

    A couple days ago I read a nice piece of free verse —
    nothing offensive, a woman talking about her sex life,
    her many disappointments, her few peak experiences,
    her children, or perhaps it was the lack of them,
    her husband, or maybe it was her lover —
    I can’t really remember if it was a man or woman.
    The poet, and the poem,
    were so blandly determined not to say anything
    that for a moment I thought I was reading a transcript
    of an Administration official testifying before Congress.

    When did we grow so weary and suspicious of truth?
    The smarter we think we are
    it seems
    the more we insist
    there is no such thing as truth,
    or human nature,
    or even common human experience.
    Everything is always and only personal,
    and never arguable — not even discussable.

    Of course there are limits
    to what we can see or say
    about other people and other cultures;
    but there is also a limit to what we want to see,
    or hear said about, well,
    about you.
    Out of context,
    just because you exist,
    even if you’re writing what you’re going to call a poem
    with the blithe assumption that when you write about
    your own childhood memory,
    your own special notice
    of your own comfy slippers,
    or your own private thoughts
    about your garden, your house, your family,
    your cats, your sex life, your children,
    your siblings’ children,
    or their, or your, or your parents’, health,
    even your own feelings,
    any and all merely because they are your own,
    is just not that interesting.

    Then your poem is like my cat, who,
    seeing my focus caressing the keyboard with my fingers,
    leaps up to demand my attention.
    She, too, has no agenda except
    her own immediate self-gratification;
    she, too, wants praise
    only for being herself,
    she, too, is hungry, just like you:
    good kitty,
    good kitty.

  4. jimmy said,

    November 23, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    How the hell is Seth A. higher than me??

  5. Noochinator said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    100. Valzhyna Mort

    for A.B.

    it’s so hard to believe
    that once we were even younger
    than now
    that our skin was so thin
    that veins blued through it
    like lines in school notebooks
    that the world was a homeless dog
    that played with us after classes
    and we were thinking of taking it home
    but somebody else took it first
    gave it a name
    and trained it “stranger”
    against us

    and this is why we wake up late at night
    and light up the candles of our tv sets
    and in their warm flame we recognize
    faces and cities
    and courageous in the morning
    we dethrone omelets from frying pans…

    but our dog grew up on another’s leash
    our mothers suddenly stopped sleeping with men
    and looking at them today
    it’s so easy to believe in the immaculate conception

    and now imagine:
    somewhere there are towns
    with white stone houses
    scattered along the ocean shore
    like the eggs of gigantic water birds
    and every house carries a legend of a captain
    and every legend starts with
    “young and handsome…”

    translated from the Belarusian by V. Mort, Franz Wright and Elizabeth Wright

  6. Noochinator said,

    November 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    100. Valzhyna Mort

    Factory of Tears

    And once again according to the annual report
    the highest productivity results were achieved
    by the Factory of Tears.

    While the Department of Transportation was breaking heels
    while the Department of Heart Affairs
    was beating hysterically
    the Factory of Tears was working night shifts
    setting new records even on holidays.

    While the Food Refinery Station
    was trying to digest another catastrophe
    the Factory of Tears adopted a new economically advantageous
    technology of recycling the wastes of past —
    memories mostly.

    The pictures of the employees of the year
    were placed on the Wall of Tears.

    I’m a recipient of workers comp from the heroic Factory of Tears.
    I have calluses on my eyes.
    I have compound fractures on my cheeks.
    I receive my wages with the product I manufacture.
    And I’m happy with what I have.

    translated from the Belarusian by V. Mort, Franz Wright and Elizabeth Wright

  7. Noochness said,

    November 25, 2010 at 11:20 am

    99. Eleanor Ross Taylor

    A Change of State

    Was it a car?
    A tree limb raked the house?
    A lost wasp
    battling bedroom ceiling?
    Just time to wake up?

    How do I? Not on purpose.
    Calm surprise, a flower unclosed.

    A fine flower,
    one foot in the grave,
    stiff ankle, unsteady leg,
    peering where to situate
    next step.

    But the way I burst up
    from deeps, detach
    a buried habitat,

    a yes-but-little-lower than;
    pink squalling efflorescence;
    a hatching half old cilia,
    half mutant April wings.

    I read somewhere
    just waking up can kill you.

    • Noochness said,

      November 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

      99. Eleanor Ross Taylor


      • Marcus Bales said,

        November 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm

        Well, at least this one admits that they’re diary entries. Would that they all did, and quit calling them “poems”.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

        Yes, Marcus, if they called them ‘diary entries,’ you wouldn’t have to ‘hate the sin/love the sinner;’ you could love it all.

        What’s in a name?


        Poetry needs a re-naming.

      • thomasbrady said,

        March 9, 2011 at 7:52 pm

        Eleanor Ross Taylor studied with a Fugitive poet for her Masters at Vanderbilt and married Robert Lowell’s roommate.

  8. Noochness said,

    November 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    98. Dora Malech


    My mother does not trust
    women without it.
    What are they not hiding?
    Renders the dead living

    and the living more alive.
    Everything I say sets
    the clouds off blubbering
    like they knew the pretty dead.

    True, no mascara, no evidence.
    Blue sky, blank face. Blank face,
    a faithful liar, false bottom.
    Sorrow, a rabbit harbored in the head.

    The skin, a silly one-act, concurs.
    At the carnival, each child’s cheek becomes
    a rainbow. God, grant me a brighter myself.
    Each breath, a game called Live Forever.

    I am small. Don’t ask me to reconcile
    one shadow with another. I admit—
    paint the dead pink, it does not make
    them sunrise. Paint the living blue,

    it does not make them sky, or sea,
    a berry, clapboard house, or dead.
    God, leave us our costumes,
    don’t blow in our noses,

    strip us to the underside of skin.
    Even the earth claims color
    once a year, dressed in red leaves
    as the trees play Grieving.

  9. Noochinator said,

    November 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    98. Carl Adamshick

    Our flag

    should be green
    to represent an ocean.
    It should have two stars
    in the first canton,
    for us and navigation.
    They should be of gold thread,
    placed diagonally,
    and not solid,
    but comprised of lines.
    Our flag should be silky jet.
    It should have a wound,
    a red river the sun must ford
    when flown at half-mast.
    It should have the first letter
    of every alphabet ever.
    When folded into a triangle
    an embroidered eighth note
    should rest on top
    or an odd-pinnate,
    with an argentine stem,
    a fiery leaf, a small branch
    signifying the impossible song.
    Or maybe honey and blue
    with a centered white pinion.
    Our flag should be a veil
    that makes the night weep
    when it comes to dance,
    a birthday present we open
    upon death, the abyss we sleep
    under. Our flag should hold
    failure like light glinting
    in a headdress of water.
    It should hold the moon
    as the severed head
    of a white animal
    and we should carry it
    to hospitals and funerals,
    to police stations and law offices.
    It should live, divided,
    deepening its yellows
    and reds, flaunting itself
    in a dead gray afternoon sky.
    Our flag should be seen
    at weddings well after
    we’ve departed.
    It should stir in the heat
    above the tables and music.
    It should watch our friends
    join and separate
    and laugh as they go out
    under the clouded night
    for cold air and cigarettes.
    Our flag should sing
    when we cannot,
    praise when we cannot,
    rejoice when we cannot.
    Let it be a reminder.
    Let it be the aperture,
    the net, the rope of dark stars.
    Let it be mathematics.
    Let it be the eloquence
    of the process shining
    on the page, a beacon
    on the edge of a continent.
    Let its warnings be dismissed.
    Let it be insignificant
    and let its insignificance shine.

  10. Noochinator said,

    November 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    98. Carl Adamshick

    The solitude of an apricot

    Away from leaf touch, from twig.
    Away from the markings and evidence
    of others. Beyond the shale night
    filling with rain. Beyond the sleepy
    origin of sadness. Back, back into
    the ingrown room. The place where
    everything loved is placed, assembled
    for memory. The delicate hold
    and tender rearrangement of what is missing,
    like certain words, a color reflected off
    water a few years back. Apricots and
    what burns. It has obtained what it is.
    Sweet with a stone. Sweet with the
    concession of a few statements,
    a few lives it will touch without bruising.

  11. thomasbrady said,

    November 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    How long has it been since the person has gone out of the poem?

    A poem used to belong to the poet, it used to be, as Wordsworth put it, “a man speaking to men,” or a singular human being’s complaint in melody that made that complaint closer and lovelier to others.

    Now poetry seems to be about things: a flag, an apricot, make-up, a factory, a country. The poem springs not so much from a person as from a creative writing class assignment. “Don’t write about yourself. That’s selfish. To get away from yourself, I want you to choose an object in the room and write everything about it you possibly can. Just write. This is poetry.”

    We’ve learned this school lesson for decades, and for decades it’s now the soul of American poetry.

    There is something heroic and unselfish about it, something thoroughly un-Romantic: forget the self, describe, describe, describe.

    But haven’t we sold our collective poetic soul to this ‘objectifying’ creative writing class assignment? The poet describes, but is the poet really being ‘objective’ or escaping ‘the self?’ In a welter of description, many poems die. The poet’s self inevitably creeps in the back-door, as a personal detail, half-hoping it won’t be noticed, climbing aboard the Big List of the Objective Description, and the reader says, “Oh, look at you! How cute! A piece of the poet’s ego come along for the ride!” But this effort inevitably feels cheap, as if the poet were breaking character in the school play for a few laughs. The poet put up the wall, and now, briefly, wants to take it down: it doesn’t work.

  12. Noochinator said,

    November 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    96. Philip Nikolayev

    Bohemian Blues

    The cold March afternoon waxed languid
    with its late hours. The cinders sang
    their lowpitched ancient fireplace ditty
    with an insufferable hang.

    I wasn’t sleepy. On the table
    there sat potato chips galore
    with Morellino de Scansano,
    vintage of 1994.

    Fingers of shadow played obscurely
    behind the weakened flames. Blasé,
    the Christmas cactus nodded mildly
    like an art dealer from LA.

    And I, with no premeditation,
    returned the Shelley to the shelf,
    unwound sublimely on the sofa,
    lit up a cig and shot myself.

  13. Noochness said,

    November 29, 2010 at 10:15 am

    95. C.D. Wright


    Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
    are small and even. I don’t get headaches.
    Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
    where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
    If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
    I’d meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
    have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
    Do not lie or lean on me. I’m still trying to find a job
    for which a simple machine isn’t better suited.
    I’ve seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
    like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
    Which reminds me of a little known fact:
    if we were going the speed of light, this dome
    would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
    Isn’t the road crooked and steep.
    In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I’m not one
    among millions who saw Monroe’s face
    in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
    If I could afford it I’d live in hotels. I won awards
    in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
    Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
    Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.

    • Noochness said,

      November 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm

      “Look at Admiral Benbow.”



      I know my own slowness,
      And it’s painful to me.
      If you “get” the poet’s meaning,
      Please set me free.

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 29, 2010 at 3:53 pm

        The poet has ‘won’ because her poem has led to ‘research…’ this proves her poem is ‘rich’ and ‘deep…’

  14. Marcus Bales said,

    November 29, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Product Warning

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May cause itching, burning, inflammation of the lower extremities, choking, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, memory loss, sudden and severe weight loss, boils, abrasions, flatulence, sneezing, blurry vision, voting Republican, dancing, gasping desperately for breath, asphyxiation, tumors, hernias, hemorrhages, and a propensity to watch sitcoms. If condition persists, consult your physician. Use only as recommended. Due to some violent content, viewer discretion is advised. This is CNN. Open other end. This side up. This means you. For recreational use only. As seen on TV. No user- serviceable parts inside. Freshest if used before date stamped on carton. No postage necessary if mailed in the United States. Breaking seal constitutes acceptance of agreement. Colours may fade over time. For off-road use only. One size fits all. Many suitcases look alike. Contains a substantial amount of non-tobacco ingredients. Slippery when wet. For office use only. Edited for television. Keep cool; process promptly. Post office will not deliver without postage. List was current at time of printing. Return to sender, no forwarding order on file, unable to forward. Not responsible for direct, indirect, incidental or consequential damages resulting from any defect, error or failure to perform. At participating locations only. Penalty for private use. See label for sequence. Substantial penalty for early withdrawal. Do not write below this line. Falling rock. Lost ticket pays maximum rate. Your canceled check is your receipt. Add toner. Place stamp here. Avoid contact with skin. Sanitized for your protection. Be sure each item is properly endorsed. Sign here without admitting guilt. Slightly higher west of the Mississippi. Employees and their families are not eligible. Beware of dog. Contestants have been briefed on some questions before the show. You must be present to win. No passes accepted for this engagement. Processed at location stamped in code at top of carton. 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Package sold by weight, not volume. Your mileage may vary. This supersedes all previous notices. Repeat as necessary. Keep out of reach of children. Contents may be hot. Keep head and arms inside at all times. Dispose of properly. For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. Close spout after use. Do not puncture or incinerate. Contents under pressure. If redness, irritation, swelling or pain persists or increases or if infection occurs, discontinue use and consult a physician. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact a poison control center immediately. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal. Do not spray while smoking or near fire. Products are not authorized for use as critical components in life support devices or systems. See reverse side for additional details. Do not write your Personal Identification Number on your card. Please retain this copy for your records. Unauthorized returns will not be accepted. Normal wear and tear of products or damage resulting from misuse, accidents, or alterations are not covered by this Limited Warranty. Within 15 days of change of name or address you are required by law to notify the Bureau in writing. This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private. Do not use if seal is broken or damaged. Refrigerate after opening. A copy of this deposition is being separately served to the defendant. Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine. The surgeon general has determined that prolonged exposure to high levels of radiation can be hazardous. Do not use this product with children under 6 years except under the supervision of a physician. May cause drowsiness. Do not use this product if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, asthma, glaucoma, or difficulty in urination. If you are pregnant or nursing a baby, seek the advice of a health care professional before using. This product has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory rats. For optimum performance and safety, please read these instructions carefully. Do not use the AC adapter provided with this player for other products. Do not play your headset at high volume. If you experience a ringing in your ears, reduce volume or discontinue use. Do not use while operating a motorized vehicle. Prices stated are USA prices only. This page intentionally left blank. Do not eat. This is not a toy. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball. This is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.

    • Noochness said,

      November 29, 2010 at 2:58 pm

      A Daniel come to judgment! yea, a Daniel!
      O wise young judge, how I do honor thee!

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 29, 2010 at 3:54 pm

        I think Bales is saying, when it comes to much contemporary poetry, Caveat Emptor…

    • Noochness said,

      November 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      Or that ComtemPoetry will make you snooze,
      And is even less interesting than product reviews.

  15. Noochness said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:12 am

    94. Patricia Smith


    Poseidon was easier than most.
    He calls himself a god,
    but he fell beneath my fingers
    with more shaking than any mortal.
    He wept when my robe fell from my shoulders.

    I made him bend his back for me,
    listened to his screams break like waves.
    We defiled that temple the way it should be defiled,
    screaming and bucking our way from corner to corner.
    The bitch goddess probably got a real kick out of that.
    I’m sure I’ll be hearing from her.

    She’ll give me nightmares for a week or so;
    that I can handle.
    Or she’ll turn the water in my well into blood;
    I’ll scream when I see it,
    and that will be that.
    Maybe my first child
    will be born with the head of a fish.
    I’m not even sure it was worth it,
    Poseidon pounding away at me, a madman,
    losing his immortal mind
    because of the way my copper skin swells in moonlight.

    Now my arms smoke and itch.
    Hard scales cover my wrists like armour.
    C’mon Athena, he was only another lay,
    and not a particularly good one at that,
    even though he can spit steam from his fingers.
    Won’t touch him again. Promise.
    And we didn’t mean to drop to our knees
    in your temple,
    but our bodies were so hot and misaligned.
    It’s not every day a gal gets to sample a god,
    you know that. Why are you being so rough on me?

    I feel my eyes twisting,
    the lids crusting over and boiling,
    the pupils glowing red with heat.
    Athena, woman to woman,
    could you have resisted him?
    Would you have been able to wait
    for the proper place, the right moment,
    to jump those immortal bones?

    Now my feet are tangled with hair,
    my ears are gone. My back is curving
    and my lips have grown numb.
    My garden boy just shattered at my feet.

    Dammit, Athena,
    take away my father’s gold.
    Send me away to live with lepers.
    Give me a pimple or two.
    But my face. To have men never again
    be able to gaze at my face,
    growing stupid in anticipation
    of that first touch,
    how can any woman live like that?
    How will I be able
    to watch their warm bodies turn to rock
    when their only sin was desiring me?

    All they want is to see me sweat.
    They only want to touch my face
    and run their fingers through my . . .

    my hair

    is it moving?

    • Noochness said,

      November 30, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      This is the first vital poem I’ve come across in the top 100. The rest have seemed so deracinated, limp, fey, neuroses-ridden –– like me, in other words, which is why I want a vital poetry. If I want world-weariness, I’ll look in a mirror….

      • thomasbrady said,

        November 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm


        Do you mean Ovidian?

        Vital is ‘manifesting life’ and Ovid loosely translates as “O life!”

        I saw her perform at Slams in Cambridge.

        “Respectable” poets never came ’round…


  16. Marcus Bales said,

    November 30, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    The Wife of the Man of Many Wiles
    A. E. Stallings

    Believe what you want to. Believe that I wove,
    If you wish, twenty years, and waited, while you
    Were knee-deep in blood, hip-deep in goddesses.

    I’ve not much to show for twenty years’ weaving—
    I have but one half-finished cloth at the loom.
    Perhaps it’s the lengthy meticulous grieving.

    Explain how you want to. Believe I unraveled
    At night what I stitched in the slow siesta,
    How I kept them all waiting for me to finish.

    The suitors, you call them. Believe what you want to.
    Believe that they waited for me to finish,
    Believe I beguiled them with nightly un-doings.

    Believe what you want to. That they never touched me.
    Believe your own stories, as you would have me do,
    How you only survived by the wise infidelities.

    Believe that each day you wrote me a letter
    That never arrived. Kill all the damn suitors
    If you think it will make you feel better.

    • Marcus Bales said,

      November 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

      Brobdingnagian’s Rug

      [Hero of the Armenian ur-saga Ishka’abibble, Brobdingnagian was a poor but honest rug weaver who wove a rug so beautiful that the Great King heard of it and … well, I’ll try to do a rough translation from the original, a copy of which has passed down through my father’s family from generation to generation, although how it ended up in 10th century Wales is anybody’s guess. –Ed.]

      The rug that Brobdingnagian made
      Was such a swift design
      With so superb a hue and shade
      That it was thought divine.

      A modest man, he only smiled
      And gave the rug away;
      And those who knew it were beguiled
      By his naivete.

      The gold-toothed man who took it named
      Its artistry as his,
      And all who saw the rug exclaimed
      “How royally done it is!”

      The Great King heard the tale and frowned
      (Though that was nothing new)
      And had the owner brought around
      As Great Kings often do.

      The owner brought his woven tale
      But didn’t bring the rug
      The Great King threw him, then, in jail
      With barely half a shrug.

      Tortured even though he tried
      At last to tell the truth,
      They finally staked his head outside
      And stole his golden tooth.

      The King gave orders: “Find the man
      Who made this rug and bring
      Him here to me!” And out they ran:
      None sat before the King.

      Informers, journalists, and spies
      Went baying on the track
      And brought prevarications, lies,
      Untruths and rumors back.

      [There are 3,843 more verses, broken into two dozen cantos, with canto III being the longest at 354 verses, and canto VII the shortest at 87. This seminal poem ends with Brobdingnagian returning to his faithful wife of 47 years after wandering the world to escape the Great King’s wrathful desire. –Ed.]

      Home, home again at beam and board
      He found his wife in bed
      He smiled and poured a golden hoard
      Of coins beside her head.

      “O, wife, I’ve travailed everywhere
      And always yearned for this —
      This gold beside your silver hair
      Is what I’ve dreamed of seeing there
      And since to me you’re still as fair
      As when we were a younger pair* —
      Give me the welcome-kiss.”

      [*This line loses much in the translation: the idiomatic “Brobdingnagianische” is not only a pun on Brobdingnagian’s name, it also connotes beauty and size in women’s breasts and men’s penises.–Ed.]

      She looked at him through half-closed eyes
      And rolled aside in bed;
      She evidenced no small surprise,
      At what the man had said:

      “For forty-seven years you’ve wandered
      Over land and sea
      While many thousand verses maundered —
      None of them of me!

      “And now you dump your measly coin
      Beside my pillowed head
      As if to pay for you to join
      Me in my husband’s bed!

      “What makes you think this meager sparkle
      Means I can be bought?
      What maudlin load of patriarchal
      Crap is this you’ve brought?”

      “Ah, wife!” he said, “this blah blah blah
      Is not mere blah blah blah
      I’ve blah blah blah and blah blah blah”
      And blah blah blah blah blah!”

      “Oh, spare me!” said the angry wife,
      “I’m bored with babbling bards!
      Rhyme rats to death then back to life
      But now get out! Guards! Guards!”

  17. Anonymous said,

    December 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

    93. William Kulik

    … to learn that a man has said or done a foolish thing is nothing; a man must learn that he is nothing but a fool, a much more ample and important instruction. —Montaigne

    Ask Tiresias!

    “Woman in the red hat, second row…Those what?…Trojan war
    heroes? What were they really like?…Glad you asked. I’ve always wanted to pull the plug on some of those guys—take Achilles: a brat and a whiner right down the line, like an NBA star who sulks if he can’t get everything he wants. And some patriot! Hiding out as a woman. Hero my ass. HE was the first draft-dodger, like his buddy Odysseus, trying to prove he was an idiot to keep from going to war. What about who? Penelope? Was she faithful? That broad? Don’t get me started. The tapestry act: what a scam. Lady, you believe that you got to have been born yesterday…Next question; man in the front row…You want to what? Hear it from the horse’s mouth, how I got to be blind? OK, it was like this. Word. No myth bullshit: I’m out for a stroll after a three retsina lunch when I come upon a pair of sacred snakes fucking—Delphic reptiles, if memory serves—and got me a nice set of titties for the next seven years…you heard right. So pissed I’d seen them they changed me into a woman. (Ovid nailed this one, though take it from me most of the time he’s full of shit.) And I’ll tell you, just as I did the boss’s old lady, Big Hera herself—may she strike me deaf if I’m lying as she did blind when I told her what she didn’t want to hear. That Zeus was right: women get more out of sex than men do. Much more! Or haven’t you noticed? Look: a man comes once, maybe twice an hour, maybe a couple different times a day, let’s even say three, maximum. Correct? Let me tell you when I was a woman I’d come fifteen, maybe twenty times a half hour, several times every day. And, let me add, without the fears I had when I was a man: could I get it up; would it be hard enough, et cetera…Next question. You sir: can I what? Tell you if you’re going to land that new job? Sorry, no prophecies today. Come back Tuesday…You, madam: do I have any advice about selling your home? Do I ever! Glad you asked.

  18. thomasbrady said,

    December 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Tiresias: “OK, it was like this. Word. No myth bullshit.”

    “No myth bullshit.” I love that. Gets me every time…

  19. Noochinator said,

    December 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

    92. Martin Espada

    The Day We Buried You in the Park


  20. Noochinator said,

    December 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

    91. Jim Behrle


  21. Noochinator said,

    December 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    90. Meghan O’Rourke

    Anatomy of Failure

    Shadows passed over the statues in the night —
    crossed them, hesitated, vanished;
    even the dust was white as a bird.

    Someone had loved me, had
    stopped loving me. I had
    failed in a minute but final way;

    all the words exchanged
    risen past the boundaries
    of what had been made

    and what wasn’t yet outlined, risen
    like a parrot toward a sky
    only to find a painted ceiling and a stenciled sun.

    I lived in a museum, slept
    up against a body of stone,
    spine to block-grey base

    as a stranger’s face looked
    down upon me,
    a bird in someone else’s mind.

  22. Noochinator said,

    December 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    More Meghan in the mo(u)rning…..

    90. 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.

  23. Noochinator said,

    December 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    102. Richard Wilbur


  24. Noochness said,

    December 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

    89. Daniel Nester

    Notes On An Unadorned Night
    after Rene Char

    Let’s agree that the night is a blank canvas, a station break, a bridge of a song.

    Let’s agree further that activities at night—movies, campfires, reading by a lamp—are all basically an homage to the day.

    I have come to regard these two statements as contradictory. Let me explain.

    First, set aside that one could see a movie, torch a fire, and read with the sun blazing over us.

    The in-between aspect of night need not spark a flurry of activity, is all I’m saying.

    You could do nothing at night! Just lay and sleep!

    A Cézanne sketch I looked at last night bears mentioning.

    A big Gallic face, reclining upwards, looks up at three boxcars on train tracks.

    The man’s eyes are wide open and unfulfilled.

    The two disemboweled deer I saw the night before also bear mentioning.

    The torsos of both deer were connected to faces, both looking up.

    I assumed they were struck by trains near the house where I was sleeping.

    Anyway, it occurred to me that as I looked into these two dead deer’s eyes that so much has fallen at me, rather than simply by me.

    I want to be among people. I do.

    But I just want the easy parts skipped, for bodies to rub up against each other, to always feel as new flesh touches new flesh.

    Those deer weren’t an emblem of anything. I’m not like that.

    I don’t need dead animals to mirror my own interior world.

    But what I am saying is that the dead eyes did shock me, and it didn’t help things that it was by a dark highway.

    And it did force me to feel my own heart bumping fast, me in my sweatpants and jogging sneakers.

    I felt like a damn idiot out there, under the moon with two dead deer at my feet.

    It made me want to go home and watch a big, dumb, funny movie.

    At least it did at first.

    I turned the movie on, but I couldn’t focus.

    It seemed as if what I was watching—the man and woman’s looks of madcap surprise, the snappy music cues—were fake re-enactments. Which, of course, they were.

    And then the whole idea of movies, especially watching them at home, especially big, dumb, funny movies, seemed to be the stupidest idea in the world.

    Watching them in a room with complete strangers, in a dark room—that’s a better idea.

    At the theater where I see most of my movies, an employee makes seating
    announcements over a PA speaker.

    All the patrons wait and corral inside a rope, much like livestock, until the announcement is made.

    We then descend down an escalator, silent, and go into the theater.

    My head has to crane uncomfortably to see the screen, since I have this long gawky neck.

    The theater doesn’t have what they call “stadium seating.”

    Another thing about the theater is that every few minutes during the movie, you can hear the train—the 6, the D, Q, and F—rumbling beneath your feet.

    No one, at least to my knowledge, has complained about this to the managers.

    It’s somehow reassuring that people are going somewhere while you’re seeing a movie with other people.

    It’s a good theater because the movies there are of a high quality, and you’re with other people who want to see a movie.

    One time, Cindy Crawford, the famous fashion model, was in the same theater as me, right behind me and my date.

    Everyone tried not to look at her, but of course we all did.

    I was on a date with an Irish girl who was an interior designer.

    We went to see a movie that took place in Ireland, in a swamp.

    It was a very quiet movie, and about halfway through, I fell asleep.

    The rumble of the trains woke me up.

    When I woke up, I at once smelled the Irish girl’s hair and saw the movie screen.

    The scene was a little girl, petting the head of a deer.

    The sound of a nearby brook was heard in the back speakers.

    Cindy Crawford had gone.

    When we left the theater, it was still daylight outside.

    I was still sleepy.

  25. Noochness said,

    December 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    88. Adam Kirsch


  26. Noochinator said,

    December 14, 2010 at 10:14 am

    88. 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.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      What a presumptuous, horrible little poem!

      “By thirty-five or so…” Many guys come into their own at 35… what’s he talking about?

      It’s gonna be alright, Adam…really.

      And Larkin did this sort of thing a thousand times better…

  27. Noochness said,

    December 15, 2010 at 10:07 am

    88. Adam Kirsch


    • thomasbrady said,

      December 16, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      “Palgrave’s Revenge” is a charming little piece, I suppose, but I cannot agree with Kirsch’s assertion that

      “A major part of the Modernist revolution in poetry was restoring the taste for the 17th-century poets, like Donne, Herbert, and Marvell, who are mostly missing from Palgrave.”

      This is ridiculous, of course. There was no Modernist “revolution” that “restored the taste for the 17th-century poets.” There is plenty of 17th century poetry, including Marvell, in Palgrave. The Modernists would have really out-done themselves if they had killed an interest in Victorian and Romantic poetry while creating a frenzy of interest in a prior era of less accessible English poetry, but of course they did no such thing, notwithstanding an essay or two by T.S. Eliot. Modernism was the first school to scorn, reject, and make a jokey pastiche of the Past, and the real father of this was Ruskin’s influential pre-Raphaelite, pro-Gothic/Middle Ages conceit.

  28. Noochinator said,

    December 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

    87. Seth Abramson

    The State Goes First and Last

    About the safest place to stand in a courtroom
    is with the babies in the gallery,
    where justice is getting a good
    Christian burial. The nine year-old was raped
    on Powerpuff sheets. The gentleman accused
    used to be the family gardener, i.e. the one before
    the Thai one; turns out he’s also a distant
    cousin. He walked in with a limp from an old hoe
    injury and some members of the jury swooned
    to think how many times he was going to get
    raped in prison, his bad leg banging
    against a crossbar. I used to make arguments
    to people in courtrooms, but they’d always think
    I was arguing for the opposite of what I really
    wanted. I’d say, give this man some human clothes
    and before long I found a heart in my underwear.
    I mean a real human heart. During one cross
    the arrow of my logic began to swelter like
    bat shit in a barn (a courtroom just like a country
    barn, where the kids are being herded down
    from the rafters except now, now, they’ve all had
    sex, so it’s not the same anymore). I used to wear
    my hat on my sleeve until a juror said it was
    sickening to see me think. Okay, he said, the meat
    rolls over, there’s vertigo, the fire is quickly
    doused, but how many can fit in?
    More than four hundred, I said, if more than one
    sits in the judge’s chair. So. She was raped on her
    Powerpuff sheets. I mean, a real human heart.

  29. Noochness said,

    December 16, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    88. Adam Kirsch


  30. Noochness said,

    December 18, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    86. Rita Dove


    She wanted a little room for thinking:
    but she saw diapers steaming
    on the line,

    A doll slumped behind the door.
    So she lugged a chair behind
    the garage to sit out the
    children’s naps.

    Sometimes there were things to watch—
    the pinched armor of a vanished cricket,
    a floating maple leaf.

    Other days she stared until she
    was assured when she closed
    her eyes she’d only see her own
    vivid blood.

    She had an hour, at best,
    before Liza appeared pouting from
    the top of the stairs.

    And just what was mother doing
    out back with the field mice?
    Why, building a palace.

    Later that night when Thomas
    rolled over and lurched into her,

    She would open her eyes
    and think of the place that was hers
    for an hour—where she was nothing,
    pure nothing, in the middle of the day.

    • Noochness said,

      December 18, 2010 at 9:53 pm

      My Shining Hour

      by H. Arlen, J. Mercer

      This moment, this minute
      And each second in it
      Will leave a glow upon the sky
      And as time goes by, it will never die

      This will be my shining hour
      Calm and happy and bright
      And in my dreams, your face will flower
      Through the darkness of the night

      Like the lights of home before me
      Or an angel, who’s watching o’er me
      This will be my shining hour
      ’til I’m with you again

  31. Noochness said,

    December 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    85. Rae Armantrout


    You confuse
    the image of a fungus

    with the image of a dick
    in my poem


    and three days later
    a strange toadstool

    (white shaft, black cap,
    five inches tall)

    between the flagstones
    in our path

    We note
    the invisible

    between fence posts

    in which dry leaves
    are gently rocked.

    • Noochness said,

      December 21, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Six by Rae
      To start the day:


      • thomasbrady said,

        January 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

        “With” by Armantrout is nice; it shows acutely fear of loneliness and loss.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Armantrout’s “The Gift” the worst poem of all time? Right up there with Williams’ poem about the cold plums?

  32. Noochness said,

    December 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

    84. Juliana Spahr


  33. Noochinator said,

    December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

    84. Juliana Spahr


  34. Noochness said,

    January 6, 2011 at 10:10 am

    83. Alice Quinn


  35. Noochness said,

    January 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    82. William Logan


  36. Noochness said,

    January 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    The odds are maybe 1 in 10 in
    Finding a poem about John Lennon.

    81. Mary Jo Salter


    • thomasbrady said,

      January 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      She was obviously a fan,
      Waiting for the van
      To come.

      • Noochness said,

        January 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm

        Mary Jo Salter, climbing up the Eiffel tower
        Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna
        Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe….

  37. Noochness said,

    January 10, 2011 at 9:50 am

    80. Matthea Harvey


    Today’s class 3-Deifying:
    Godgrass, godtrees, godroad.

    A sheet of geese bisects the rainstorm.
    The water tower is ten storms full.

    We practice drawing cubes—
    That’s the house squared away

    & the incubator with Baby.
    The dead are in their grid.

    O the sleeping bag contains
    the body but not the dreaming head.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm

      I like ‘The water tower is ten storms full’ and ‘The dead are in their grid,’ but the problem with poetry like this is that it finally sounds like what your little brother made with magnet words on the fridge. After reading the final stanza of “Everything Must Go” the good lines are forgotten in a shrug.

      What Ms. Harvey should do is keep the good lines, such as “The Water Tower Is Ten Storms Full” and write a poem from that line, with that line as the title. At least that way, a good line will not be completely buried and forgotten. At least it will be a title.

  38. Noochinator said,

    January 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

    79. Ilya Kaminsky


    • thomasbrady said,

      January 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      “There was nothing to do except for writing poetry!”

      • Noochness said,

        January 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm

        Sounds like my town!

      • thomasbrady said,

        January 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

        There was nothing to do except for the drinking of the beer!

  39. Noochinator said,

    January 12, 2011 at 10:13 am

    78. Tony Hoagland


    The dictator in the turban died and was replaced
    by a dictator in a Western business suit.
    Now that he looked like all the other leaders, observers

    detected a certain relaxing of tensions. Something in the air
    said the weather was changing,
    and if you looked up at the sky and squinted, you could almost see

    the faint dollar signs embossed upon the big, migrating clouds,
    sucking up cash in one place, raining it down in another.
    Meanwhile I was trying to get across town,

    to my brother-in-law’s funeral,
    speeding through yellow lights, arriving late,
    taking my place in a line of idling cars

    outside the cemetery. Having to wait with everyone else
    because no one had gotten the code number
    to punch into the keypad on the automatic gate.

    Cold day. The neighborhood, ugly and poor,
    like a runny nose,
    a reminder of misery in the world.

    And Barney was dead, big PartyBoy Barney,
    famous for his appetite and lack of self-control—
    —now, needing an extra-large coffin,

    as if he was taking his old friends
    Drinking Eating and Smoking
    into the hole with him.

    —So what hovered over the proceedings that afternoon
    was a mixture of grief and vindication—
    like a complex sauce the pallbearers and aunts

    were floating in, each one thinking,
    “Oh God! I told him this would happen!”

    Later, at the reception, I saw my beautiful ex-wife,
    wearing a simple black dress
    that showed off her beautiful neck

    standing next to a guy I would like to call
    her future second ex-husband.
    A long time since she and I had been extinct,

    but still I found inside myself an urge
    to go over and tell her one more time
    it wasn’t my fault—

    and struggled for a moment with that
    ridiculous desire.
    Upstairs, looking for a place to be alone,

    I found a television, turned on and abandoned in a room,
    churning out pictures and light against a wall—

    Images of crowds, marching down streets, past
    burning, overturned cars; people in robes,
    gathered outside embassies and throwing stones.

    Even with the sound off,
    not even knowing the name of the country,
    I thought that I could understand

    what they were protesting about,
    what had made them so angry:

    They wanted to be let out of the TV set;
    They had been trapped in there, and they wanted out.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

      And then Frederick Seidel entered the room…

  40. Noochinator said,

    January 14, 2011 at 10:17 am

    77. Charles Bernstein


  41. Noochinator said,

    January 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    And now for something completely different.

  42. Noochness said,

    January 16, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    75. Seamus Heaney

    The Baler

    All day the clunk of a baler
    Ongoing, cardiac-dull,
    So taken for granted

    It was evening before I came to
    To what I was hearing
    And missing: summer’s richest hours

    As they had been to begin with,
    Fork-lifted, sweated-through
    And nearly rewarded enough

    By the giddied-up race of a tractor
    At the end of the day
    Last-lapping a hayfield.

    But what I also remembered
    As woodpigeons sued at the edge
    Of thirty gleaned acres

    And I stood inhaling the cool
    In a dusk eldorado
    Of mighty cylindrical bales

    Was Derek Hill’s saying,
    The last time he sat at our table,
    He could bear no longer to watch

    The sun going down
    And asking please to be put
    With his back to the window.

  43. Noochness said,

    January 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    74. Philip Schultz

    What I Like and Don’t Like

    I like to say hello and goodbye.
    I like to hug but not shake hands.
    I prefer to wave or nod. I enjoy
    the company of strangers pushed
    together in elevators of subways.
    I like talking to cabdrivers
    but not receptionists. I like
    not knowing what to say.

    I like talking to people I know
    but care nothing about. I like
    inviting anyone anywhere.
    I like hearing my opinions
    tumble out of my mouth
    like toddlers tied together
    while crossing the street
    trusting they won’t be squashed
    by fate. I like greeting-card clichés

    but not dressing up or down.
    I like being appropriate
    but not all the time.
    I could continue with more examples
    but I’d rather give too few
    than too many. The thought
    of no one listening anymore—
    I like that least of all.

  44. thomasbrady said,

    January 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for printing out these poems, nooch. It’s a great way to go through the list…

    I appreciate it!

  45. Noochinator said,

    January 17, 2011 at 10:57 am

    73. John Barr

    Below is a link to his September 2006 essay “American Poetry in the New Century.”


  46. Noochinator said,

    January 18, 2011 at 10:16 am

    72. August Kleinzahler


    • thomasbrady said,

      January 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Kleinzahler tries to wash Garrison Keillor and Billy Collins out of his hair…Collins and Keillor invited the children to the poetry reading, you see, and Kleinzahler wants to say ‘shit’ and ‘fuck.’ This is what 99% of all aesthetic disputes come down to, but poets like Kleinzahler want to make it more complicated. Forget it, August. There’s no cure for Keillor and Collins. It’s you, not them.

  47. Noochness said,

    January 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

    71. Janet Holmes


    • thomasbrady said,

      January 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

      “When I became director in 2000, I refocused the Press from its previous political tendency (serving Western American poets) towards a national and international audience, drawing from national and international writers. The aesthetic focus was away from the mainstream (the influences of Frost, Ransom, Winters, Kunitz, Bishop, Justice, etc.) and towards writers more influenced by the likes of Williams, Stein, Stevens, Zukofsky, Oppen, Niedecker, Olson, Rukeyser, Creeley, O’Hara.”

      This is not an “aesthetic focus.” It is a manifesto-ist focus. This is a focus in which manifesto-ism replaces aesthetics. It allows people like Janet Holmes to be neither poets nor philosophers while pretending to be both. How is Creeley less “mainstream” than Justice? The division here is highly suspect: Holmes is studying poetry (by ignoring poets) and studying philosophy (by ignoring philosophers). She leaves out the “mainstream” in an effort to appear learned. The whole effort is a pose.

  48. Noochness said,

    January 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    70. Bob Hicok

    The invisible man

    He is my manta ray. The Degas
    that got away from me.
    Any shoe you choose
    or the pause in war
    when men apologize
    to each other’s wounds.
    I make him up as I go.
    Nearly see him each week.
    Blur dashing curb to door,
    shadow in daylight
    and cataract to the moon,
    relfex of the ineffable
    wisp. His skin hides
    from eyes, lips refuse
    the brand of words.
    Twelve years and I don’t know
    how many noses he owns,
    if feet by two or is he a horse,
    sea of course, or made
    of cheese to the knees.
    His quick silver speed
    never fails. Though once
    I saw an ear clear, nautilus
    shaped, that’s it
    for biography. He is
    my summer, always leaving,
    my hero in sprint
    & embrace of the neural twitch
    that counsels no, stay low.
    Avoid life, the sun and chafe.
    Sociophobe means afraid
    of people, he is
    blank page, void, the dot
    the TV swallows when power
    sleeps. The hummingbird
    no living person’s seen,
    blue unless red until green.

  49. Noochinator said,

    January 21, 2011 at 10:02 am

    69. Derek Walcott


  50. Noochinator said,

    January 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    68. Eileen Myles


  51. Noochinator said,

    January 25, 2011 at 10:15 am

    67. Ben Mazer

    The war veteran sitting by the pool
    has mastered the experimental school.
    Negotiating his experiments
    has learned to make a world of difference.
    Experimentalism hits the target.
    Doing away with honour and intent
    knowledge itself does nothing but invent
    new ways of screwing up the global market.
    I only scream to see what I will say.
    Beethoven only was expressing silence.
    There is no need for visiting the islands
    since you arrived here day before yesterday.
    The mooning debutante in isolation
    is the implicit spirit of creation.
    The atomic and the atomizing
    reducing and seducing and surmising
    may manifest the truly surprising
    worn like a flower in their button vest.

    Suppose the violence of the personal scars
    disrupts the circle of the formal discourse.
    The protozoic eye swings from the stars
    by which the anarchic imagination steers.
    From A to F by way of Z and B
    excluding E sails straight across the sea.
    All of our experience repeats
    in what the grand inquisitor deletes.
    (The panting conversion images in clutters
    the total curtain’s climaxing of tatters.)
    The repertoire is formal and concise
    whatever pirates anywhere devise.
    The truth may often be revealed by lies.
    It is by intuition we revise.
    By knowing we experimentalize.

  52. Noochness said,

    January 26, 2011 at 9:58 am

    67. Ben Mazer


    My father is the one I loved the most.
    The clouds are sweeping and the holy host
    of clouds are weeping on the picnic grounds
    where the alarming sirens pierce the clouds
    and dampen the rockets sputtering on their rounds
    where those before me saunter in their shrouds
    as the electric sailor is struck dead
    and bobs towards mainland. Soldiers fetch his head
    and the words spread over the ground without a sound
    that whistles through the whistling where I found
    him waiting there to carry in his arms
    the wounded through the flashing of the storms.

  53. Noochness said,

    January 28, 2011 at 12:18 am

    103. Claire McMahon

    From “Emergency Contact”

    My Love is Driving Drunk

    My love
    is driving drunk
    down the road I’ve left him on
    beside the annals of yesterday’s plans.

    My love
    is on the refrain, the rebound;
    he stumbles on through traffic
    and red light cameras photograph
    his darkened license plates.

    He moves
    only because he is in hiding.

    I am not that kind of love.
    I am not made up for the occasion.
    I am closing all the doors, locking up the house,
    tying up my hair and
    shaking my head free,
    pushing forward
    and out
    through the embers
    of what gets left behind.

    My love
    is driving drunk
    down the road
    I’ve left him on
    beside the annals of
    yesterday’s plans.

  54. Noochness said,

    January 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    65. Joseph Donahue


  55. Noochness said,

    January 31, 2011 at 10:27 am

    64. Dara Wier


    There was a time when the guillotine meant progress,
    Past the hacking axe, the slippery sword,
    The gagging hangman’s noose.
    There was a man who had his head replaced
    With a wooden head with one eye on the front
    And the other on the westside shaded with a
    Green and white striped awning. A little
    Windowbox stood under it filled to over-flowing
    With sweet-smelling come-give-cream-to-granny
    Roses. Purple martins flew in and out of his
    Head in the early evening. Little glass lizards
    Sunned themselves on him in the morning.
    The paperboy really tried to deliver the paper
    Very gently. And this, too, was progress.

  56. Noochness said,

    February 1, 2011 at 10:09 am

    104. Bill Carpenter


    A thief drives to the museum in his black van. The night
    watchman says Sorry, closed, you have to come back tomorrow.
    The thief sticks the point of his knife in the guard’s ear.
    I haven’t got all evening, he says, I need some art.
    Art is for pleasure, the guard says, not possession, you can’t
    something, and then the duct tape is going across his mouth.
    Don’t worry, the thief says, we’re both on the same side.
    He finds the Dutch Masters and goes right for a Vermeer:
    “Girl Writing a Letter.” The thief knows what he’s doing.
    He has a Ph.D. He slices the canvas on one edge from
    the shelf holding the salad bowls right down to the
    square of sunlight on the black and white checked floor.
    The girl doesn’t hear this, she’s too absorbed in writing
    her letter, she doesn’t notice him until too late. He’s
    in the picture. He’s already seated at the harpsichord.
    He’s playing the G Minor Sonata by Domenico Scarlatti,
    which once made her heart beat till it passed the harpsichord
    and raced ahead and waited for the music to catch up.
    She’s worked on this letter for three hundred and twenty years.
    Now a man’s here, and though he’s dressed in some weird clothes,
    he’s playing the harpsichord for her, for her alone, there’s no one
    else alive in the museum. The man she was writing to is dead —
    time to stop thinking about him — the artist who painted her is dead.
    She should be dead herself, only she has an ear for music
    and a heart that’s running up the staircase of the Gardner Museum
    with a man she’s only known for a few minutes, but it’s
    true, it feels like her whole life. So when the thief
    hands her the knife and says you slice the paintings out
    of their frames, you roll them up, she does it; when he says
    you put another strip of duct tape over the guard’s mouth
    so he’ll stop talking about aesthetics, she tapes him, and when
    the thief puts her behind the wheel and says, drive, baby,
    the night is ours, it is the Girl Writing a Letter who steers
    the black van on to the westbound ramp for Storrow Drive
    and then to the Mass Pike, it’s the Girl Writing a Letter who
    drives eighty miles an hour headed west into a country
    that’s not even discovered yet, with a known criminal, a van
    full of old masters and nowhere to go but down, but for the
    Girl Writing a Letter these things don’t matter, she’s got a beer
    in her free hand, she’s on the road, she’s real and she’s in love.

  57. Bill Carpenter said,

    February 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    That’s not me, but best wishes to him.

    • Noochness said,

      February 1, 2011 at 11:54 pm

      Scarriet can’t get its fill
      Of poets named Bill!

  58. Noochinator said,

    February 2, 2011 at 10:24 am

    63. Katherine Larson


    The late cranes throwing
    their necks to the wind stay
    somewhere between
    the place that rain begins
    & the place that it ends
    they seem to exist just there
    above the horizon at least
    I only see them that way
    tossed up
    against the grey October
    light not heavy enough
    for feet to be useful or
    useless enough to make
    gravity untie its string. I’m sick
    of this stubbornness
    but the earthworms
    seem to think it all right
    they move forward
    & let the world pass
    through them they eat
    & eat at it, content to connect
    everything through
    the individual links
    of their purple bodies to stay
    one place would be death.
    But somewhere between
    the crane & the worm
    between the days I pass through
    & the days that pass
    through me
    is the mind. And memory
    which outruns the body &
    grief which arrests it.

  59. Noochness said,

    February 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

    62. Mark Levine

    Work Song

    My name is Henri. Listen. It’s morning.
    I pull my head from my scissors, I pull
    the light bulb from my mouth—Boss comes at me
    while I’m still blinking.
    Pastes the pink slip on my collarbone.
    It’s O.K., I say, I was a lazy worker, and I stole.
    I wipe my feet on his skullcap on the way out.

    I am Henri, mouth full of soda crackers.
    I live in Toulouse, which is a piece of cardboard.
    Summers the mayors paint it blue, we fish in it.
    Winters we skate on it. Children are always
    drowning or falling in the cracks. Parents are distraught
    but get over it. It’s easy to replace a child.
    Like my parents’ child, Henri.

    I stuff my hands into my shoes
    and I crawl through the snow on all fours.
    Animals fear me. I smell so good.
    I have two sets of footprints, I confuse the police.
    When I reach the highway I unzip my head.

    I am a zipper. A paper cut.
    I fed myself so many times
    through the shredder I am confetti,
    I am a ticker-tape parade, I am an astronaut
    waving from my convertible at Henri.

    Henri from Toulouse, is that you?
    Why the unhappy face? I should shoot you
    for spoiling my parade. Come on, man,
    glue yourself together! You want so much to die
    that you don’t want to die.

    My name is Henri. I am Toulouse. I am scraps
    of bleached parchment, I am the standing militia,
    I am a quill, the Red Cross, I am the feather
    in my cap, the Hebrew Testament, I am the World Court.
    An electric fan blows
    beneath my black robe. I am dignity itself.

    I am an ice machine.
    I am an alp.
    I stuff myself in the refrigerator
    wrapped in newsprint. With salt in my heart
    I stay good for days.

  60. Noochinator said,

    February 5, 2011 at 1:17 am

    105. Rick Mullin

    Voices When Harsh Music Dies

    There are voices when harsh music dies
    And softer beds of floral sheets to wrap
    The harshest dreams that salt a lover’s eyes
    In silent rooms where peaceful strangers nap.

    And there are lofty, speculative minds
    That putter in their padded cells of bone
    Between the dark and dawning, quite resigned
    To rest when softly they can sing alone.

    Into the night the voices of these brains
    Recite the primal verse, the ancient light
    That sheds a darkness over sleep and strains
    To harmonize the melodies of night.

    Yet silence haunts the studios of shade
    Where dreams in quiet, measured breaths parade.

  61. Noochness said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

    61. Dan Chiasson


  62. Noochness said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

    61. Dan Chiasson

    Titian vs. Roadrunner

    If you are made for flight, intended for it,
    you had better find a pursuer, fast.
    Otherwise all that fleeing is going nowhere.

    This bull, he’s got a bad intent, he wants
    to hog the entire corner of the picture.
    The girl is looking tasty to the espying putti.

    This small bird crisscrossing my childhood
    at enormous speed, outrunning everything,
    running out of road to run down, running

    out of canyon, running out of cartoon
    runs out of the cartoon, never to return.
    That’s why this landscape looks forlorn.

    The world turned upside down and shaken
    like a piggybank, the one last coin
    rattling around inside, just coughed it up.

  63. Noochness said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

    61. Dan Chiasson


  64. Noochinator said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    60. A.E. Stallings

    Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther

    Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
    The booze and the neon and Saturday night,
    The swaying in darkness, the lovers like spoons?
    Why should the Devil get all the good tunes?
    Does he hum them to while away sad afternoons
    And the long, lonesome Sundays? Or sing them for spite?
    Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,
    The booze and the neon and Saturday night?

  65. Noochness said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

    59. D.H. Tracy


  66. Noochness said,

    February 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    59. D.H. Tracy


    That visitors arrive today is good and bad.
    The tulips insist too firmly on the sweetness of youth;
    the flagstone on the walk has cracked, and dust
    piles on the cellar sills so deep it shows
    the footprints of a mouse. One door sticks.
    One won’t shut. The slipping clutch of their jalopy
    whirrs in the coomb like a domestic quarrel.
    They will have passed the rapeseed not yet in bloom,
    and the painting of the fields they will take away
    will remind them of a place it does not say.
    That is good and bad. The infant sleeps.
    The boy senses something and is soothed
    but not comforted. Is that the sun or moon, he asks,
    pointing to the flattered summer on the easel.
    The embarrassing languor of a private life
    stretches to the horizon. Hasn’t the cart,
    left for months beside the haystack, at the foot of the hill,
    slept under both? Someone had better take care of it, no?
    If a stray were at your door, wouldn’t you show
    a saucer’s-worth of kindness? The house’s stones
    gather moss. In her puttering Janet reveres
    a chipped enameled teapot, a black-wool sweater,
    a pot of chervil. The smells of earth and turpentine
    make the visitors more alert and less.
    They rustle in a museum of the thorough.
    Things will be back to normal tomorrow.

    A coppice of bottles rises from the mantel,
    no two of them alike. They flare flat-bottomed
    or teeter on their rounded ends and glint
    in blue and all the colors of the beech. They catch
    the fire—and the daylight and pass it among themselves,
    a market of willowy and skittish spirits, baskets
    full of tinkling snakes, dried and brittle lungs
    of beached sea-creatures, candy.
    It seemed as if she had, in private, charmed
    ice into forgetfulness of melting,
    or promised them refuge, or somehow knew
    the arguments they were susceptible to,
    and now, in the heat of someone’s gaze, they will
    twinkle and abide their keeping still.
    What if we break? they do not ask.
    You shall not break, she does not answer,
    nor ever spill that strange, clear distillate
    we sip from them, although the threat of it
    burnishes the reflective and transparent skin
    almost disappeared, and yet a skeleton.
    The visitors draw in the breath that blew you.
    So a rummaged flask decants them of the fear
    they had not noticed, and its delicacy shows
    each of us inadequate to the place he knows.

    Janet’s rusted and creaking bicycle goes rolling
    down past the churchyard and past
    the rapeseed and the wheat fields, and Janet hums
    a tune that never goes anywhere
    or repeats itself. The gray afternoon,
    affixed to her spirit with a hundred strings,
    leaves her, for that, uncompromising as a bird.
    Her brakes sound their tiny squeal, and she watches
    an ochre mastiff lumber out of a hedge.
    It sets itself in her path and growls.
    She breathes and tucks a strand of hair
    behind her ear.
    The mastiff barks. If she feels fear,
    it is the kind one feels alone, at home,
    at eleven or at two,
    unsure suddenly that one is equal
    to what seemed a simple task, wherewithal gone
    as utterly as time. The paintbrush is a wheelbarrow
    full of lead and bricks.
    A thousand acres of stationery
    lie immaculate in a keepsake drawer.
    The kindness of a mastiff seems
    a thing she will never get round to, even as it disappears
    rump-last through a gap in the hedge. She hears
    nothing, and then the clucking of her gears.

    Over a far down a transport drops
    eight paratroops for practice, as if
    a girl had plucked a dandelion gone to seed.
    Neither gone to storm nor drought the day
    takes its terrifying middle way,
    terrifying to all but Janet, who commends
    the tousling politesse of light and shadow, and pretends
    the easel is the world and the world
    the easel. Is it or is it not pretend?
    The village houses, seen from the hills,
    or even from the street, inch closer on such quiet days
    to hamlets made for model trains
    of matchboxes and of cotton wool, and of
    a meticulous variety of love.
    Enter from the east a model train,
    as quiet as a cloud. Janet watches it
    until it disappears, occluded by the houses
    she is almost pleased with. How splendid they are,
    she thinks. The iron, the Georgian sandstone,
    the gables. A little quibbling with the oils
    will make a light love-labor of their toils.
    They have, already, all but captured it.

    Time sheets off the shingles of Janet’s cottage,
    though a moment of impatience
    pry the mortar from between the stones
    as surely as a pick. The starlings nibble
    fistfuls of breadcrumbs flung on the winter ground,
    and starlings nibble on the winter stars.
    For years she does not mutter Off with his head.
    She quenches, somehow, the foolish always-wanting,
    the tantrum, the listlessness and the burgeoning list,
    the wail, the wrenching and the brittleness, the whispers
    by the garden fence, the cruel intimations
    in the saved letter, the frayed silk of her change-purse,
    the expectations and the running toilet,
    the endless tergiversations and the will
    choking itself on the end of its chain.
    How did she build her cottage with scraps at hand
    to weather the thousand entropies of privacy?
    The paintings hang on its inside walls, delible
    shadows, frail as paper, frail as glass
    through which my demented fire axes pass.
    More noise! and a lonely cottage will seem the less
    the way one should have proceeded, and ignored
    to acquire tastes for vanity and discord.
    Spur the needs of the body, prod ambition,
    pound the fist at God’s failure or man’s to see
    men’s will or God’s made evident through me.
    Let in by the window imps of politics and sex
    to paste up willy-nilly their unrolled verdicts—
    ‘precious,’ ‘twee,’ and ‘quaint.’—But Janet,
    Janet goes riding her bicycle behind
    the windbreak trees she plants within one’s mind,
    her attention catching all of that whose lack
    has made of life an arithmetic of the shallow
    and coarsened for good the matter of her praise.
    Say no corner of the heart can hate her
    small insistence that the small is greater,
    once warmed before the image of her blaze.

    • thomasbrady said,

      February 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      This is the sort of poem that is just too earnest and delicate and meticulous for its own good. This kind of poetry makes Wordsworth seem like a July 4 marching band.

      • Noochness said,

        February 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

        He writes about Janet
        (If I may, not to annoy)
        Like Matthea Harvey writes
        About Robo-Boy,
        Or Berryman Henry.
        (I’m risking contemny.)

      • thomasbrady said,

        February 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

        “The tulips insist too firmly on the sweetness of youth.”

        These are words. No human would think this. No one would ever look at tulips and have this thought. This is not warm imagination. It is cold thinking. “Do you see these tulips, here? Yes, these ones. Well, they insist too firmly on the sweetness of youth, don’t you think?” This is when poetry over-thinks itself into clever absurdity.

        I also don’t like having to guess what a poem is about as I read along. It’s lyric poetry! You should know immediately what the poem is about! If you want to play lengthy guessing games, write a short story! A novel! A mystery!

        Here, then, is still another reason, why the public no longer reads poetry.

  67. Noochness said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:03 am

    58. Jason Guriel


    • thomasbrady said,

      February 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Guriel holds Tuckerman at arm’s length, bringing us no closer to him. This is more contemporary critical ‘can’t see the forest for the trees.’ Yes, Winters and the whole pack of Moderns—all of them—“nursed an animus against Romanticism” and why? Isn’t anyone curious as to why? Or do we think it’s healthy to say nothing as whole periods of beautiful literature are spitefully trashed by nincompoops?

      Here’s Guriel:

      Yvor Winters, who nursed an animus against Romanticism, thought Tuckerman one of the best American poets of the nineteenth century and Tuckerman’s “The Cricket” “the greatest poem in English of the century” and “a greater poem than Sunday Morning.” Burt’s sensible, sober introduction to Mazer’s selection, however, appeals to a sense of perspective. “The most ambitious claims that have been made for Tuckerman,” writes Burt, “(Winters’s in particular) are more against other American poets than for him; he deserves to be remembered for what he did well.”


  68. Noochness said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

    57. Abigail Deutsch


    • thomasbrady said,

      February 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      Deutsch wrote about Good Bad Poetry in Harriet soon after I wrote such a piece for Scarriet, and we called Harriet on it. There was no occasion, no publishing event, or anything, for Abigail Deutsch’s Harriet piece; it simply followed hard upon Scarriet’s. I found an Orwell essay on the subject and was writing on that and made a list of the 100 top Good Bad Poems; Scarriet, in typical style, went beyond the others’ banal, watered-down approach. Deutsch is obviously a smart gal, and she makes a few good points, but in her Huffington article she runs things by too fast and doesn’t take the time to really savor the subject.

      She’s too quick to blur the various issues of Good Bad Poetry.

      For instance, Deutsch writes for Huffington:

      “In constructing this zoology of poetasters, Pope hinted that he himself was no eel. Accordingly, we might enjoy bad poetry because it helps us feel better than its floundering authors.”

      Pope did not hint that he was no poetaster. Pope was not a poetaster. Why does Deutsch weakly hint that Pope may have been a poetaster with her limp, “we might enjoy bad poety because it helps us feel better…” ? Deutsch manages to miss numerous points at once.

  69. Noochness said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:08 am

    56. George Szirtes

    Metro 10.5

    Too long rejected, we meet up in the street
    Below a lamp-post, yellowed as old papers.
    What news? we ask each other. Our faces
    Are the cut-out shapes of childhood, full of creases
    And torn edges, smudged and circled
    In soft chalks. We’ve brought along with us
    Giraffes and elephants in a discreet
    Procession, with dolls and packs of cards, and pieces
    Of furniture arrnged in packing cases,
    Nothing but dust and detritus.
    This is the news, hot off the world’s press.
    It’s late at night, you say. We are light sleepers,
    I reply, our sleep is a kind of emptiness.

  70. Noochness said,

    February 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

    55. Terri Kirby Erickson


  71. Noochness said,

    February 15, 2011 at 10:00 am

    54. Conor O’Callaghan


    I believe in the classifieds’ sepia first thing.
    I believe our southern persimmon

    houses a northern flicker. I believe in wind-chimes,
    economy rentals, the silt of old dreams.

    I believe in lakeshore overviews mid-afternoon,
    my son’s sneakers beneath the ottoman,

    pylons, shadow puppets, the gravitational pull
    of goosepimples in the half-light of an instrument panel.

    I believe in upping sticks and losing touch,
    the matter in hand perhaps, evensong at a push,

    even meteor showers thrown from a truck ahead
    on a good night, and yet I draw a line between god

    and ghosts. Snow’s coming. Asheville’s up to its neck.
    We’re next. I step out late to check

    the stationwagon, chanting Tenebrae factae sunt
    under my breath that an acquaintance burned

    to disc as “Darkness enveloped the lot.”
    I could buy that.

  72. Noochness said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

    53. Paul Hoover


  73. Noochness said,

    February 17, 2011 at 10:04 am



    O how we hanky panky harum
    scarum in our happy home, dancing hootchy
    kootchy. Sure, it makes for hugger mugger
    but we give a hoot for happenstance.
    The yard is full o’ hound and hares; the door
    adorned by hammer and sickle; in the closets, hand-
    me-downs. If Hammurabi and his Queen come
    by, we won’t be hoity-toity, we’ll
    offer haggis or humble pie. Our bed
    floats on hocus-pocus (our corpore
    wholly habeas) and the kitchen hums
    a hymn, Hail to Higgledy-Piggledly.
    If the world can’t call our hurly burly hunky
    dory, let it hara-kiri if it dares.

  74. Noochness said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:10 am

    51. Jorie Graham


  75. Noochness said,

    February 25, 2011 at 12:37 am

    50. Donald Revell


  76. Noochness said,

    February 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

    49. Bin Ramke


  77. thomasbrady said,

    February 26, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Ramke and Revell remind me of what we wrote in “Whitman, the Victorian.” Contemporary poets like Ramke and Revel don’t realize how Victorian they really are.

    The self-consciousness displayed by these two men is a Victorian sensibility. William James scientific-ism is all over their writings. The doubling of consciousness: the ‘intellectual man removed from his poem writing the poem’ produces writing that is “ridiculous” to the Romantic poet and to the non-intellectual, for this ‘doubling’ is not a profitable adding, but simply that: “ridiculous.’ Revell uses the word ‘ridiculous’ to describe his moral identification process with fiction, and Ramke’s poem is a stark representation of a mind pedantically infatuated with the ‘advances’ of his age and how this allows him as a poet to stand removed from his poem. Revell dutifully takes the by now very established and narrow road, Harold Bloom, tourguide: the obvious first step, Emerson, (William James’ godfather,) and then Whitman, Pound, and, with a detour to Blake, and finally WC Williams, all men born in the 19th century (save Blake, who died in the 19th century). Revell super-imposes morals on poetry; he characterizes Pound as a man of “peace” and makes all sorts of special claims for “attention” as a virtue—without showing why this work and not that work require “attention,” (or what this “attention” really is, beyond ‘pay attention!’)and thus it only casts more suspicion on whatever Revell is trying to say because he drags out the old warhorses Emerson, Whitman, etc How Arnoldian it sounds! How much like Emerson, propounding oracular generalities; the method is you pick one of the virtues, then quote Emerson and Whitman, and voila! It’s all an act. If it were Poe and Voltaire, it wouldn’t make it any better, but Emerson, Whitman, and Pound just make it that much more predictable and—ridiculous.

    Another big thing among the Victorians: seances. Revell’s desire to conjure up a loving and caring intimacy with the dead is, again, certainly admirable, but it has something of a loony Victorian sentiment about it—which is not to disparage the Victorians, who lived in times much harder than ours in many ways, and were necessarily a little loony, and the reality of death does make us all a little loony, but the point is that Revell and his Emerson/Whitman/James/Pound inspired tribe of post-modern scribblers seem completely unaware of how “ridiculous” in a completely Victorian manner they are. They really seem to think themselves uniquely advanced 21st century intellectual beings, when in reality they are nothing but lavender, lace and horsefeathers, who haven’t the faintest idea who Pound was, or what it really means to be as ridiculous as they are, or how pedantically narrow they are. Men like Revell and Ramke, as poets, as intellectuals, are merely more Victorian than the Victorians.

  78. Noochinator said,

    February 26, 2011 at 10:45 am

    48. Alan Cordle


    • thomasbrady said,

      February 26, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      Alan Cordle is a nice guy, with a great sense of humor. He thought it was wrong for poetry judges of public contests to throw submissions in the trash unread and declare their friends winners. We all think this is wrong. So why did Al get so much grief for pointing out a wrong?

      Those who demonized Al would say things like “Poets have always networked, this is nothing new, Eliot knew Pound, Shelley knew Byron…”

      Well, sure, no one said poets can’t be friends.

      So why did poets become so defensive?

      That was the issue.

      A poet just wrote me and asked why their name was linked to another big name poet on Scarriet’s Hot 100 List.

      Well, like…what’s the big deal?

      Some poets have mentors. Why be defensive about it?

      If you don’t cheat, why be defensive?

      That’s the question.

      Now that we know Al is a swell guy, I think we can all now be friends!

      Facebook friends, at least…

  79. Noochness said,

    February 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    47. Rachel Hadas


    Definitions. Density. Conundrum.
    Condensation. Etymology.
    Abstraction and the hissing as of air
    escaping. And indeed, the atmosphere
    becomes so thick that vision fogs
    up like a windshield in the wet.
    Socked in: was this what the word meant?
    The bright and baggy world gone blank,
    The world, capacious, starts to shrink:
    tugging of tendrils, tightening
    of texture, so our habitat,
    already a snug fit, begins
    to fold its wings, draw in and in.
    Crisscross of kinships, instances,
    recognitions and reunions,
    coincidences, fertilizations
    at an ever thickening pace,
    blanket of fog and muffling mist,
    crosshatching of the busy thin
    but countless filaments scribbling
    to chiaroscuro, then obscure,
    almost opaque, unnumbered, slight,
    only if taken one by one,
    but thickly strewn, oh I am caught,
    the small world tighter, smaller, clasps me,
    blinds me: inspissation.

  80. Noochinator said,

    February 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

    46. Carl Phillips


  81. Noochinator said,

    February 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

    46. Carl Phillips


  82. Noochness said,

    March 1, 2011 at 10:17 am

    45. Frank Bidart


  83. Noochness said,

    March 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

    45. Frank Bidart


    You know that it is there, lair
    where the bear ceases
    for a time even to exist.

    Crawl in. You have at last killed
    enough and eaten enough to be fat
    enough to cease for a time to exist.

    Crawl in. It takes talent to live at night, and scorning
    others you had that talent, but now you sniff
    the season when you must cease to exist.

    Crawl in. Whatever for good or ill
    grows within you needs
    you for a time to cease to exist.

    It is not raining inside
    tonight. You know that it is there. Crawl in.

  84. Noochness said,

    March 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

    44. D.A. Powell


  85. Noochinator said,

    March 8, 2011 at 10:20 am

    42. Cole Swensen


    • thomasbrady said,

      March 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Great link, Nooch.

      Great idea. Ask poets for 9 neglected poems they think should be anthologized.

      Cole Swenson’s score:

      Women 33%
      Poets Younger Than Herself 0%
      Ezra Pound Related 33%
      Born Between 1879-1925 56%

    • thomasbrady said,

      March 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Cowboy poetry is great poetry, though I only know it from songs. One of the first poems that springs to mind feels very much like a cowboy song to me, yet it doesn’t have a traditional cowboy setting. This is a version I found on the web, not the one I know; I’m sure there are thousands:

      St. James Hospital

      It was early one morning I passed St. James Hospital,
      It was early one mornin’, mornin’ month of May,
      I looked in the window and I spied a dear cowboy–
      Wrapped up in white linen, well, he was cold as the clay.

      Sayin’, “Come, dear mother, come an’ seat yourself nigh me,
      Come, dear father, come and sing me one song,
      For my knee-bones are achin’ and my poor heart is breakin’,
      I know I’m a poor cowboy, and I know I done wrong.

      I want sixteen young gamblers, papa, to carry my coffin,
      I want sixteen young whore gals for to sing me my song,
      Tell them bring ‘long a bunch of those sweet-smellin’ roses,
      So they can’t smell me as they drive me on.

      ‘Twas once in the saddle, papa, I used to go dashing,
      Father, in my young days when I used to be gay,
      Down roun’ that old church-house, with them handsome young ladies,
      Them girls oughta carry me, follow me to my grave.

      It was early one mornin’ I passed St. James Hospital,
      Lord, it was early one mornin’, mornin’ month of May,
      I looked in the window and I spied a dear cowboy–
      And he was wrapped in white linen, he was colder than clay.

  86. Noochinator said,

    March 9, 2011 at 10:15 am

    106. Kristin Prevallet


    • thomasbrady said,

      March 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      What was Kristin’s point in that essay? I must have missed it…

  87. Noochness said,

    March 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm


    If po’try set to musick
    Your interest doth pique,
    Check the Feb. 13th program,
    Titled “The Poets Speak”

  88. Noochinator said,

    March 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    41. Barrett Watten


    • thomasbrady said,

      March 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      These weak gestures toward philosophical and scientific rigor are simply laughable.

      Why does Watten pretend this began with Gertrude Stein? Her teacher, William James has to be mentioned.

      And why all this talk about the ‘exteriors’ of Ashbery? Is it just so he can be linked with the abstract painters?

      How is Ashbery more ‘exterior’ than Keats, for instance? You cannot say one type of writing is more ‘exterior’ than another without defining your terms. This exporting ‘scientific’ terminology into a discussion of poetry is a ruse to appear more scholarly. But it’s only bad science. All language has an ‘exterior’ quality, but again, this has to be defined. Words of no meaning have an ‘exteriority,’ true; but so do all words. Again, the whole attempt requires a certain rigor, or it’s bogus.

      Watten’s final result is nothing but name-dropping and non sequitur.

  89. Noochness said,

    March 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Shivani back on the poetry beat:


    • thomasbrady said,

      March 11, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Wrap your artsy-fartsy skin around my zen! Yea-uh.

  90. Noochness said,

    March 15, 2011 at 9:20 am

    40. Stephen Burt


  91. Excerpt Support said,

    March 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

    “…I take the view that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t bother to spring for two joints — heaven and hell. They’re the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mummy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and a kiss and play your harps. Hell is the same place — no fire and brimstone — but they just all pass by and don’t see you. There’s nothing, no recognition. You’re waving, “It’s me, your father,” but you’re invisible. You’re on a cloud, you’ve got your harp, but you can’t play with nobody because they don’t see you. That’s hell.”

    — from Life by Keith Richards

    • Excerpt Support said,

      March 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

      “Sure there’s a hell…” I could hear him saying it now, now, as i lay here in bed with her breath in my face, and her body squashed against me… “It is the drab desert where the sun sheds neither warmth nor light and Habit force-feeds senile Desire. It is the place where mortal Want dwells with immortal Necessity, and the night becomes hideous with the groans of one and the ecstatic shrieks of the other. Yes, there is a hell, my boy, and you do not have to dig for it…”

      — from the novel Savage Night by Jim Thompson

    • Poem support said,

      April 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      From the back of the “Rolling Stones, More Hot Rocks, Big Hits & Fazed Cookies” LP jacket

      way back when
      the sleepy owls of the brill building
      brillcreamed and braincreamed that melody was coming back
      and lo it had
      it flew past their windows yesterday
      as Paulie, a bebeatled ballade
      Lennon’s advocate for the Kalin Twins (who is the other jaggered
      seen so far away
      and today will never come to the Judas Iscariots
      who mock the hands that feed them
      from here within
      December’s Children and the Aftermath of the war of the parking lots
      stay away from new caddies, they’re faulty
      stick with our original edsel
      the 17 + 8
      8 from the brown cookie bag baked yesteryear and preserved and never before sold in your local deli
      that remained (excuse me Mr. Gershwin, I need another dime) standards of yesterday and now
      good times, bad times to you all and have you seen your mother baby, balling in the alley

      Andrew Loog Oldham

  92. Poem Support said,

    March 31, 2011 at 9:08 am

    39. Matthew Yeager

    The Little Red Balloon of Misery

    Go now, my little red balloon of misery!
    Slip thru my fingers some unexpected instant. Fly!
    I want to recall how once I clutched your string
    And moped the streets with strangest hopes
    (Like that some she, having spied your failure to lift me
    Might hoist me high on cool, white shoulders…)
    I want to look back, and laugh.

    Because I refuse, I will not, at least not now,
    Like some loved one’s fumbling, suck you down
    Then smile and nod around, speaking highly of you.
    I’m past all that — which is to say: “I can’t.”
    So go now, my little red balloon of misery,
    Slip through my fingers some unexpected instant. Fly!
    Because I also can’t (though don’t know why) let go.

  93. Poem support said,

    April 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    107. Christopher Woodman


    Do not dare to breathe
    a word against the men

    your willing white wings

    and speed
    as they descend
    cupped in your dark, swelling web.

    When otherworldly lovers grub
    for too much light
    and knowledge
    it’s your proud-beaked perfect flight

    that staggering tricks them out again
    to clever little fever pigs
    like dildo gods

    who still breathing quick celestial air

    yet grunting lie
    in righteous muck—

    rutting like men in beauty’s ruin!

  94. Poem & Link support said,

    April 6, 2011 at 8:52 am

    38. Carolyn Forché

    As Children Together

    Under the sloped snow
    pinned all winter with Christmas
    lights, we waited for your father
    to whittle his soap cakes
    away, finish the whisky,
    your mother carry her coffee
    from room to room closing lights
    cubed in the snow at our feet.
    Holding each other’s
    coat sleeves we slid down
    the roads in our tight
    black dresses, past
    crystal swamps and the death
    face of each dark house,
    over the golden ice
    of tobacco spit, the blue
    quiet of ponds, with town
    glowing behind the blind
    white hills and a scant
    snow ticking in the stars.
    You hummed blanche comme
    la neige
    and spoke of Montreal
    where a québecoise could sing,
    take any man’s face
    to her unfastened blouse
    and wake to wine
    on the bedside table.
    I always believed this,
    Victoria, that there might
    be a way to get out.

    You were ashamed of that house,
    its round tins of surplus flour,
    chipped beef and white beans,
    relief checks and winter trips
    that always ended in deer
    tied stiff to the car rack,
    the accordion breath of your uncles
    down from the north, and what
    you called the stupidity
    of the Michigan French.

    Your mirror grew ringed
    with photos of servicemen
    who had taken your breasts
    in their hands, the buttons
    of your blouses in their teeth,
    who had given you the silk
    tassels of their graduation,
    jackets embroidered with dragons
    from the Far East. You kept
    the corks that had fired
    from bottles over their beds
    their letters with each city
    blackened, envelopes of hair
    from their shaved heads.

    I am going to have it, you said.
    Flowers wrapped in paper from carts
    in Montreal, a plane lifting out
    of Detroit, a satin bed, a table
    cluttered with bottles of scent.
    So standing in a platter of ice
    outside a Catholic dance hall
    you took their collars
    in your fine chilled hands
    and lied your age to adulthood.

    I did not then have breasts of my own,
    nor any letters from bootcamp
    and when one of the men who had
    gathered around you took my mouth
    to his own there was nothing
    other than the dance hall music
    rising to the arms of iced trees.

    I don’t know where you are now, Victoria.
    They say you have children, a trailer
    in the snow near our town,
    and the husband you found as a girl
    returned from the Far East broken
    cursing holy blood at the table
    where nightly a pile of white shavings
    is paid from the edge of his knife.

    If you read this poem, write to me.
    I have been to Paris since we parted.


  95. Poem support said,

    April 7, 2011 at 9:39 am

    37. Margaret Atwood

    They eat out

    In restaurants we argue
    over which of us will pay for your funeral

    though the real question is
    whether or not I will make you immortal.

    At the moment only I
    can do it and so

    I raise the magic fork
    over the plate of beef fried rice

    and plunge it into your heart.
    There is a faint pop, a sizzle

    and through your own split head
    you rise up glowing;

    the ceiling opens
    a voice sings Love Is A Many

    Splendoured Thing
    you hang suspended above the city

    in blue tights and a red cape,
    your eyes flashing in unison.

    The other diners regard you
    some with awe, some only with boredom:

    they cannot decide if you are a new weapon
    or only a new advertisement.

    As for me, I continue eating;
    I liked you better the way you were,
    but you were always ambitious.

  96. Poem/Link support said,

    April 8, 2011 at 9:20 am

    36. L.S. Klatt


    Fieldstone marks the graves,
    but our names are not engraved. Horses
    loosed in the field;

    their bliss defends against horseflies
    which seem like blackberries
    with wings. A tree

    grows where there once was
    a rudder; the tailpiece
    that crash-landed

    lost in buttermilk with the Lord
    God Birds. With each bird a black box.
    And in the box

    a transmitter of horseplay. The flight
    path was as mazy as
    mazy is.

    L.S. Klatt


    Cast-iron block & tackle
    look for light in an orange boat
    hooks, delphinium
    nets drying in a golden pile

    The marina is open
    it takes Braille to read the cargo

    A supermodel sculls in the harbor
    her high heels dry-docked
    as is the schooner

    The fisherman takes apart his propeller in the shade
    both hot & cold the way light treats him
    I said look at the way she treats him

    L.S. Klatt


    My halo attracts lightning
    & so I am dead

    or possibly there’s a dead man
    in my mouth

    though I’m blowing blowing
    a pigeon to life

    & if not pigeons
    an Etruscan named Dardano

    my city is lit with the snow
    of his groin

    L.S. Klatt


  97. Nooch & Link/Poem support said,

    April 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    35. Simon Armitage

    (Link goes to complete rendering of Armitage’s poem “Out of the Blue.” My thanks to Desmond Graves for introducing me to this one.)


    • Nooch said,

      April 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

      My apologies for my incorrect words—
      My thanks go out to Desmond SWORDS.
      (Appy polly loggy, as Alex DeLarge did say,
      ‘Fore he turned 21 and changed his way.)

  98. Poem/Link Support said,

    April 10, 2011 at 10:54 am

    34. Philip Gross

    from Mappa Mundi

    In the land of mutual rivers,
    it is all a conversation: one flows uphill, one flows down.
    Each ends in a bottomless lake which feeds the other
    and the boatmen who sail up, down, round and round
    never age, growing half a day older, half a day younger
    every time… as long as they never step on land.

    In the land of hot moonlight
    the bathing beaches come alive at midnight.
    You can tell the famous and rich by their silvery tans
    which glow ever so slightly in the dark
    so at all the best parties there’s a moment when the lights go out
    and you, only you, seem to vanish completely.

    In the land where nothing happens twice
    there are always new people to meet;
    you just look in the mirror. Echoes learn to improvise.
    So it’s said… We’ve sent some of the old
    to investigate, but we haven’t heard yet. When we
    catch up with them, we might not know.

    Philip Gross


  99. Poem/Link support said,

    April 11, 2011 at 7:45 am

    33. Shane McCrae



    Goodbye! I am penetrating
    the buttonhole at my collar, and the front door
    is as open and full of light
    as a CAT scanner. When I close my eyes,

    there is something wrong with my mind.
    It’s not that I’m impatient. If anything,
    I’m mispatient. I can wait for years
    for the wrong thing to happen, as evidenced

    by the sports wagon. An idea can’t
    forgive itself, and at the end of a long day, one begins to feel
    one has no choice. If the stars come out at all,
    they come out on the other side of the roof.

    I am drawing up plans
    to build a house there, goodbye. The lumber yard
    has no mother and no wife. My entire
    suit is a clip-on. It’s not that I don’t love you.


    You will forgive me for talking about myself
    with the same words I use
    to talk about you? such as: Our marriage isn’t working;
    such as: You have [beautiful] hair.


    Goodbye! I have tripped over my shoelaces
    in my haste to be productive, and now
    a coyote is licking my ear.
    I was born in a country to which

    such animals had not yet been imported. I am nervous
    in equal measures, as a consequence
    of my classical training and difficult adolescence. It’s not
    that I’m depressed. I have good teeth,

    though it’s hard to be comfortable
    with the tongue of an animal, even
    a friendly animal,
    in one’s ear. I can imagine myself

    in a better house, and I wonder, is that the reason
    the world will not leave me alone? For whenever
    I consider my loneliness, say,
    really I am thinking about longing, which is more

    like loneliness in a hang glider
    than loneliness by itself. A coyote
    is licking my ear. He has a large mouth and dentures
    shaped like a dog’s teeth.


    We are roused by bugles together
    to decorate the Beaux Arts department store,
    though the bugles themselves
    are decorative. Is it safer to say

    one of us is roused and the other afraid
    to seem foolish? though neither of us knows
    which is which. I regret
    that our weekends are not clearer.


    Goodbye! I am sopping up the pool
    of whatever it was I now refuse to talk about, and soon
    I will be on my way. My shirt, I have discovered,
    is brittle, though praised fulsomely

    in the washing instructions. Needless to say,
    I do not wash it, but may I just say this? Divorce,
    like marriage, is a failure of the imagination,
    goodbye. I am crying my balls off.

    Shane McCrae


  100. Poem support said,

    April 12, 2011 at 9:22 am

    32. Sandra Beasley

    The Piano Speaks

    After Erik Satie

    For an hour I forgot my fat self,
    my neurotic innards, my addiction to alignment.

    For an hour I forgot my fear of rain.

    For an hour I was a salamander
    shimmying through the kelp in search of shore,
    and under his fingers the notes slid loose
    from my belly in a long jellyrope of eggs
    that took root in the mud. And what

    would hatch, I did not know—
    a lie. A waltz. An apostle of glass.

    For an hour I stood on two legs
    and ran. For an hour I panted and galloped.

    For an hour I was a maple tree,
    and under the summer of his fingers
    the notes seeded and winged away

    in the clutch of small, elegant helicopters.

    Sandra Beasley

  101. Poem/Link support said,

    April 15, 2011 at 9:12 am

    31. Henry Hart

    Pocahontas in Jamestown

    It was the wrong day to canoe along the James.
    Brittle shells of ice still clung to banks. Clouds
    puffed from the power plant, radiant and deformed.

    I wanted to get close enough to hear the stories
    children pressed from metal boxes on the walks,
    but the river scrambled words in breaking waves.

    Aren’t origins all the same? One tribe
    killing another, then lying about the dead?
    Statues never admit what lies in graves.

    Pocahontas wears buckskin fringe she never wore.
    Her bronze skin grows greener every year.
    Pollen dusts her feathered hair to gold.

    What did she think when she saw those first
    shallops bob like black-backed gulls toward shore,
    bearded faces muttering oaths at common shrubs?

    Did she think, “Let’s beat them back to sea
    with thorn-tipped clubs?” Or did she lug
    baskets of maize and squash to where they knelt?

    Her tongue still sticks in bronze. Final answers
    decay in unmarked graves around her feet.
    Her story lies with bones in an English plot.

    Imagine her in London. Fog and coal soot
    curdling over sewers near The Belle Sauvage.
    White ruff tightening around her neck like rope.

    She died at Gravesend before her ship sailed home
    The eroding James sank Jamestown’s fort in silt.
    Fire sailed ash from roofs across the waves.

    How do tourists read those voices children tease
    from boxes on the walks? How do they glean
    what happened from a tour guide’s talk?

    Her eyes point old questions at the sun.
    Tarnished hands catch what answers light can give.
    Wind numbs our ears with static, and we paddle home.

    from The Rooster Mask by Henry Hart


  102. April 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I know you mean well, Bob, and do a lot of research to fill out the Scarriet threads with the work of those who figure in its lists — this particular thread contains 123 ‘Comments’ by you, including one that even cites me.

    Although you never say anything of your own, you’re still funny, and indeed many of your little jingles are treasures in themselves. But do you ever ask where Scarriet is going? Do you ever question the motives of Scarriet, or examine its values? For you’re the only contributor who seems unaware of the way Tom debases the poetry he cites, and belittles all poets.

    Does this never bother you? Or the way you’ve hurt me, for example, one of the poets on this thread as well as a Scarriet founder, indeed, how you’ve hurt almost all of the regulars who have contributed so much to Scarriet in the past, and have now quit?

    Tom won’t answer Mark’s basic questions about Scarriet’s values — might you be persuaded to say a few words about why you’re not troubled by any of it?

    Here’s the list again — perhaps you could have a go at some of the questions all on your own, or at least show that you’re aware of the challenge.

    So here is the list yet again:

    1) You have been accused of not finding any value in poetry, how do you respond? Has your life been enriched in any way by your familiarity with poetry or is it just something to pass the time for you?

    2) What, in your mind, is the point of Scarriet? Is it to improve poetry or to wallow in its failings? Is it something else entirely? Can you link to anything Tom has written that is indicative of the spirit of Scarriet as well as being substantial, based on concrete points and in some way worthwhile?

    3) How do you respond to charges that Tom is nothing but a common internet troll? Is such an assessment fair or unfair, and why?

    4) How do you justify the hyper-reductive view of literature Tom presents here (that literature be purely sentimental and that his reviews need not be based on facts or even on having finished reading the work he is purporting to review)? Are you content merely to pass off Tom’s crude speculations as facts? Why or why not?

    5) Tom has repeatedly attacked Bernstein’s “Official Verse Culture” and Silliman’s “School of Quietude” for being too vague but his own attacks on “incoherent” poetry are just as vague (perhaps more so). What do you think about this seeming hypocrisy?

    6) Where do you realistically see poetry going in the 21st century? Where would you ideally like to see poetry going in the 21st century? What has Scarriet done to help facilitate any forward movement?


    • Nooch said,

      April 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

      I will fight no more forever—
      I can no longer carry it—
      It’s distracting me from glorifying
      Poems and poets at Scarriet.

      • April 15, 2011 at 2:35 pm

        Dear Nooch,
        Even though you’ve trotted this out 5 times now, I believe you.

        I believe what you’ve been doing is precisely what you say. On the other hand, you have to understand that your partner doesn’t share your innocence, or is as unencumbered as you are by prejudice. Your partner is very angry at something, the University? the System? the Academic Hierarchy? his own Advisors, Supervisors, Colleagues, or Critics? so much so that he has lost his joy in poetry, and his personal equilibrium as a poet and critic is threatened. Indeed, it would seem that the poison of his disappointment, whatever it is, has discolored his judgement — and you’ve got to help help him if you can.

        I wish you well — I really do.

        And I’ll help if I can, I promise.


        • August 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm

          Why shouldn’t he be angry
          In the shadow of The Bomb?
          Besides, he’s over 50
          (Which he handles with aplomb)

  103. Poem support said,

    April 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    31. Henry Hart

    Robert Frost in the Great Dismal Swamp
    (Virginia, November, 1894)

    I was the shadow in the corner of the dorm
    when you knocked on Elinor’s door and offered
    your butterfly book. I winced when hinges
    snickered in rust, winced again when I read
    those first twilit poems. Did you notice me
    across from you on the train from Saint
    Lawrence when its wheels kept breaking
    your iambs on the rails? I stood by you
    on the steamer that cut a new line of froth
    south of Boston to Virginia, heard you curse
    the voice echoing from the moon’s gold ring,
    the one that didn’t call you back or say good-bye.
    A light to no-one but yourself, you struck out
    on the wagon road into the Dismal Swamp,
    passed a cellar hole closing like a dent in dough,
    a woodpile smokelessly burning with decay.
    I followed you for hours through trees that seemed
    to stretch to the edge of doom. Thirsty, lost,
    you found a tin cup hidden in the instep arch
    of a cedar tree. We knelt together, sipping water
    tanned by fallen leaves, when something—white,
    uncertain—shimmered beneath our faces.
    Was it a fish skull, a piece of quartz, a star
    fallen from the inner dome of heaven?
    No bird answered from the center of the woods.
    Hunters crashed through brush with shotguns
    cracked on elbows, hounds yelping at their feet.
    They took us to their boat on the black canal.
    On our trip north you told me how you’d dreamed
    of white apples oozing on a grave, a groundhog crawling
    from its shadow, dipping its claw in ink, and writing:
    For the rest of your life you will sketch a map
    of the Dismal Swamp on permanent snow.

    — from Background Radiation


  104. MAD support said,

    April 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    108. Frank Jacobs

    What Do You Get When You Fly Through Space?
    (Sung to the tune of “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”)

    What do you get when you fly through space?
    You’re locked in a ship and don’t feel human,
    Cooped up in space with smelly crewmen—
    I-I’ll… never fly through space again-n-n—
    I’ll never fly through space again!

    What do you eat when you fly through space?
    Those heat-n-serve meals from Starbase Alpha,
    Tasting like hunks of dead alfalfa—
    I-I’ll…never fly through space again-n-n—
    I’ll never fly through space again!

    I’d rather join the unemployed
    Than circle some stu-pid ast-er-oid!
    Watchin’ some stupid planet dyin’
    Somewhere out there in East Orion!

    What do you do when you fly through space?
    You twiddle your thumbs and you count the hours;
    And when you’re through, you take cold showers—
    I-I’ll…never fly through space again-n-n—
    I’ll never fly through space again!

    — from Keep On Trekin’, MAD issue 186, Oct 1976

  105. Poem support said,

    April 18, 2011 at 9:07 am

    31. Henry Hart

    The Man Who Never Said Much

    Stepping from the stairwell in a backless, fuschia dress,
    she snatched his breath and tucked it in her purse.
    It was as if frost had plugged the oracles of summer.

    In the living room, ice cubes stopped rattling.
    Outside, peepers dropped their fiddles from the oaks.
    Trying to say something with his hands, he hit a mirror.

    It didn’t get much better on the way to the river.
    When he asked a question, mist smeared the windshield.
    Fumbling for the heat vent, he got the radio’s hellfire preacher.

    From the shore where night fishermen belched and threw
    beer cans at catfish that wouldn’t bite, he watched a ferry
    light up models of Jamestown’s ships.

    What had John Smith said to Pocahontas when they first met?
    Something about weeks of salty food and Atlantic storms?
    Suddenly cars revved their engines, an iron deck

    creaked against the pier, a man shouted Holy Jesus….
    He fidgeted like the river twisting on its spine,
    talked about everything except the food and weather.

    He wanted to say: The night is full and empty
    at the same time, look at the backlit clouds,
    I will dry the rain like syllables from your lips.

  106. Poem/Link support said,

    April 19, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    108. Frank Jacobs

    If Famous Poets Had To Make A Living Today…
    (Lewis Carroll as a TV Critic)

    ‘Twas Bunker and the Quincy Fonz
    Did Mork and Mindy in the Soap;
    All Angie were the Trapper Johns
    And Dallas was Bob Hope.

    Avoid the Starsky-Hutch, my son,
    The Ironside with Chips beneath;
    Beware the Hazzard Dukes and shun
    The Mash of Osmond teeth.

    But Kojak S.W.A.T. may Brinkley Flo
    To Lobo Welby with Cosell;
    If Merv, we’ll Benson to Cousteau
    And Sha-Na-Na as well.

    And should the Vegas Hulk return
    To Sanford with Tennille, no less,
    We’ll Cronkite Shirley from Laverne
    And Hee-Haw Meet the Press.

    ‘Twas Bunker and the Quincy Fonz
    Did Mork and Mindy in the Soap;
    All Angie were the Trapper Johns
    And Dallas was Bob Hope.

    Frank Jacobs

    (“Lewis Carroll as a TV Critic” was part of the article “If Famous Poets Had To Make A Living Today” published in MAD Magazine, Number 237, March 1983. For the curious, the other poems in the article were: Rudyard Kipling as a Job Consultant, Longfellow as a Used Car Dealer, Carl Sandburg as a Travel Writer, Joyce Kilmer as a Lawyer, Edgar Allan Poe as a Pharmacist, Walt Whitman as a Mafia Don, and John Masefield as a Pro Football Linebacker.)


  107. Nooch said,

    April 21, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Where’s Kay Ryan?

    Strike up the band,
    Fire up the Wurlitzer,
    Kay Ryan’s just won
    The poetry Pu(r)litzer.

  108. Poem support said,

    April 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

    108. Kay Ryan


    The chickens
    are circling and
    blotting out the
    day. The sun is
    bright, but the
    chickens are in
    the way. Yes,
    the sky is dark
    with chickens,
    dense with them.
    They turn and
    then they turn
    again. These
    are the chickens
    you let loose
    one at a time
    and small —
    various breeds.
    Now they have
    come home
    to roost—all
    the same kind
    at the same speed.

    Kay Ryan

  109. Excerpt support said,

    April 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    31. Henry Hart

    In many ways [James] Dickey was like the daydreamer in James Thurber’s story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Dickey spoke of his heroic feats so convincingly that even he seemed to believe them. In an interview for a profile in the Vanderbilt alumni magazine, Dickey spoke of his identification with Mitty and then told the story of his early life, which the journalist rendered as follows:

    Born [in] 1924 in a suburb of Atlanta, Dickey grew up with the nickname “Crabapple Cannonball,” prowling the dusty roads of north Georgia on a Harley motorcycle, trysting with farm girls in auto graveyards, and bootlegging liquor in a ’34 Ford. At Clemson University, he was a prize football back but left after freshman year for the War, flying almost a hundred Pacific combat missions in a Black Widow night fighter. After the War, he transferred to Vanderbilt. When he was barred from football by a Conference rule designed to prevent coaches from stealing each other’s returning service athletes, he turned to track and became Tennessee state champion in the 120-yard high hurdles. He graduated magna cum laude in 1949 and got his master’s degree the next year (Alumnus, 16).

    Dickey loved to tell stories about his impoverished childhood during the Depression, his NFL potential as a football player, his dogfights and daring escapes during the one hundred combat missions he flew over the Philippines and Korea, his first Australian wife who died shortly after World War II, his successful business career as an advertising executive, his composition of “Dueling Banjos” for Deliverance, and so on. In fact, his nickname was not the Crabapple Cannonball; he did not drive around north Georgia on a motorcycle trysting with farm girls; he was never a pilot; he never bootlegged liquor; he was not an outstanding football player at Clemson; he was not prevented from playing football at Vanderbilt because of eligibility rules; and he was not a Tennessee state champion hurdler. In reinventing his life, Dickey glossed over what he considered to be his deficiencies.

    Dickey never reconciled his mother’s otherworldly aestheticism with his father’s all-too-savage hedonism. He worshiped at the altars of Byron and Hemingway because he found his own divisions magnified in them. In his writing he projected his contradictory selves onto his personae and analyzed his compulsions to become a hero. As if speaking about his inveterate need to play roles and exaggerate his accomplishments, he wrote in his journal: “One feels so damn sorry for writers, the poor posers. People like Hemingway and Yeats spend their whole lives trying to make good a pose because they despise themselves. They put infinite time and energy into trying to make themselves come true, when they know that it’s all a damn lie, anyway” (Sorties, 104). In public Dickey posed as Hemingway’s successor; in his poems and novels he subjected his Hemingwayesque hubris to withering scrutiny. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dickey romanticized traditional American heroes while scrupulously tracing the “foul dust” that floated in the wake of their dreams….

    — from the introduction to The James Dickey Reader, edited by Henry Hart

  110. Poem support said,

    April 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    30. Amy Gerstler

    In Perpetual Spring

    Gardens are also good places
    to sulk. You pass beds of
    spiky voodoo lilies
    and trip over the roots
    of a sweet gum tree,
    in search of medieval
    plants whose leaves,
    when they drop off
    turn into birds
    if they fall on land,
    and colored carp if they
    plop into water.

    Suddenly the archetypal
    human desire for peace
    with every other species
    wells up in you. The lion
    and the lamb cuddling up.
    The snake and the snail, kissing.
    Even the prick of the thistle,
    queen of the weeds, revives
    your secret belief
    in perpetual spring,
    your faith that for every hurt
    there is a leaf to cure it.

  111. Po-biz 100 support said,

    May 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

    28. Matt Donovan

    link below shows the poem “Elegy with Mistakes All through It ”


  112. Buddha's B'day support said,

    May 8, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    1. Billy Collins

    Shoveling Snow with Buddha

    In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
    you would never see him doing such a thing,
    tossing the dry snow over the mountain
    of his bare, round shoulder,
    his hair tied in a knot,
    a model of concentration.

    Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
    for what he does, or does not do.

    Even the season is wrong for him.
    In all his manifestations, is it not warm and slightly humid?
    Is this not implied by his serene expression,
    that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

    But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
    one shovelful at a time.
    We toss the light powder into the clear air.
    We feel the cold mist on our faces.
    And with every heave we disappear
    and become lost to each other
    in these sudden clouds of our own making,
    these fountain-bursts of snow.

    This is so much better than a sermon in church,
    I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
    This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
    and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
    I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

    He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
    as if it were the purpose of existence,
    as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
    you could back the car down easily
    and drive off into the vanities of the world
    with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

    All morning long we work side by side,
    me with my commentary
    and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
    until the hour is nearly noon
    and the snow is piled high all around us;
    then, I hear him speak.

    After this, he asks,
    can we go inside and play cards?

    Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
    and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
    while you shuffle the deck,
    and our boots stand dripping by the door.

    Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
    and leaning for a moment on his shovel
    before he drives the thin blade again
    deep into the glittering white snow.

  113. Po-biz 100 support said,

    May 9, 2011 at 11:47 am

    27. Lucia Perillo


    When the doctor runs out of words and still
    I won’t leave, he latches my shoulder and
    steers me out doors. Where I see his blurred hand,
    through the milk glass, flapping good-bye like a sail
    (& me not griefstruck yet but still amazed: how
    words and names—medicine’s blunt instruments—
    undid me. And the seconds, the half seconds,
    it took for him to say those words). For now,
    I’ll just stand in the courtyard watching bodies
    struggle in then out of one lean shadow
    a tall fir lays across the wet flagstones.
    Before the sun clears the valance of gray trees
    and finds the surgical-supply-shop window
    and makes the dusty bedpans glint like coins.

  114. Po-biz 100 support said,

    May 9, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    109. Tony Hendra

  115. Po-biz 100 support said,

    May 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    28. Matt Donovan

    Elegy with Mistakes All through It

    How the crash took weeks of planning—a dwarfing
    Ringling Brothers wind-snared tent, the soon-to-be-junked
    engines fresh-painted with lime-green trim, miles of track
    veering from the main Katy line & freshly-dug wells
    for the tens of thousands who watched The Crush Collision,
    an arranged wreck to scrap two trains already doomed
    in order to make a buck. The way the whistle-locked
    engines plunged the track, howling for nothing before
    pummeling head-on, & when the boilers ruptured,
    shrapnel pelted down like rain & even though a few
    were killed in the stampede, the crowd sprinted back
    to the still-hot metal, prying up souvenirs. Scott Joplin,
    we think, also looked on, concocting a song in aftermath,
    no matter the distance between the piano’s syncopated clack
    & that still-steaming ruin. This is guess work, of course—
    nearly all the traces of Joplin’s roundabout path turned
    long ago to char. Which didn’t stop my grappling after
    those empty scraps while you played for me that last time.
    How long before I wandered off into my scattered thoughts
    about an earth-trembling roar Joplin maybe heard, or how
    in a smoke-clogged brothel on Battle Row, the pasties
    on a girl named Bubbie grazed the man’s neck as he burned
    through the refrain? I want that day back. To listen again
    to the soft-shoe rhythms you found in the backbeat
    of Joplin & Bach, to hear you work even a few notes
    of those partitas & rags which consumed your last years.
    Was it even the Crush Collision March you played?
    I heard Bethena, I think, a near-dirge written just after
    his second wife died a few weeks past their wedding,
    although some think that song trawls another loss
    altogether. To be honest, I can’t remember much
    except the wind & your walker’s scrape as you limped
    to the bench—which would be, I know, the last thing
    you’d want me to say. Let me try again. This piece,
    this piece,
    you once began, beaming, clutching
    the B Minor Mass score to your chest before drifting
    into silence, as if everything you meant was clear.
    Making me, at fourteen, gangly, acne-pocked, slumped
    at the keys, insist all the more that the jangle-slurred
    chords of Sweet Jane were the sole worthwhile thing.
    What did I know? Precisely jackshit, you made it clear,
    especially about Bach, who had twenty kids, you told me
    during my first lesson, so you know he loved fucking.
    Which didn’t stop me griping each week about trills,
    finely-wrought fugues, the harpsichord’s frail plucking.
    Or, later, the leapfrogging left hand of ’S Wonderful
    I botched until you slammed the keyboard shut & asked,
    Kid, why do you waste my time? Any chance it’s because
    I’m black?
    Who knows what I stammered back, sweating
    in silence, October light tumbling the room? Or why
    you humored me all those years, even as I butchered
    scale after scale & my still-cracking voice hacked up
    the Halleluiah Chorus before you ordered me
    to just mouth every goddamn word. Please. It was easy
    enough to move my lips, following along, pretending
    to exalt the stretched-to-breaking syllables of forever,
    a word repeated & made slack until it seemed to collapse,
    meaning it began to mean again. Ragtime, Joplin said,
    because the time is ragged. Old friend, might it be
    more so. Might time break from its metronome tick
    that carries me further from the days you were here,
    from the wind’s caterwaul & the mackerel sky
    that last time I half-heard you play. Without music,
    I’d die,
    you told me once matter of fact, & for a time
    we both pretended the correlate was true: you’d live
    as long as there was song. Why can’t there be one thing
    that seems enough just now? Watch how my monkey-mind
    leaves melody behind for a riff on John Taylor, eye-surgeon,
    chevalier, Don Juan who blinded both Handel & Bach
    with his straying incisions & useless hodgepodge
    of balms made from pigeon blood, sugar, baked salt.
    What am I doing, now that you’re gone, starting this piece
    with a train wreck, or any disaster held at arm’s length?
    If all I’m trying to say, while bounding through pimples,
    Gershwin, Lou Reed, is something we already know
    about failure & grief, just how far am I from Taylor
    the Quack’s smoke-&-mirror cures, his trademark carriage
    covered with blind, wide-open, embroidered eyes
    wild-gawking in every direction? Do you remember
    once, out of nowhere, stopping the class & making us
    listen to Coltrane’s Alabama ? No one said a thing
    as the words from the eulogy for the four girls killed
    in the Birmingham church were translated into breath
    driven through a tenor sax, & we heard that lament
    unfastened from threadbare words, prayer turned wholly
    to song. Are you shitting me, I can almost hear you say,
    using, of all things, that piece as a bridge, a means?
    Forgive me, as always, my bungling. My false starts
    & how the loss of you seems to trump everything today,
    derailing all other loss. All I mean to evoke is language
    becoming a disconsolate wail. Unearthly, resolute.
    Or even the single note McCoy Tyner plays chant-like
    for nearly the entire song, hammering the same key
    as if unable to stop, or knowing it was the sole thing
    sufficient. Enough, enough, I know you’d say. Stop.
    For fuck’s sake. Listen.

  116. Po-biz 100 support said,

    May 18, 2011 at 9:22 am

    26. Barbara Hamby

    Ode to American English

    I was missing English one day, American, really,
    with its pill-popping Hungarian goulash of everything
    from Anglo-Saxon to Zulu, because British English
    is not the same, if the paperback dictionary
    I bought at Brentano’s on the Avenue de l’Opera
    is any indication, too cultured by half. Oh, the English
    know their dahlias, but what about doowop, donuts,
    Dick Tracy, Tricky Dick? With their elegant Oxfordian
    accents, how could they understand my yearning for the hotrod,
    hotdog, hot flash vocabulary of the U. S. of A.,
    the fragmented fandango of Dagwood’s everyday flattening
    of Mr. Beasley on the sidewalk, fetuses floating
    on billboards, drive-by monster hip-hop stereos shaking
    the windows of my dining room like a 7.5 earthquake,
    Ebonics, Spanglish, “you know” used as comma and period,
    the inability of 90% of the population to get the present perfect:
    I have went, I have saw, I have tooken Jesus into my heart,
    the battle cry of the Bible Belt, but no one uses
    the King James anymore, only plain-speak versions,
    in which Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead, says,
    “Dude, wake up,” and the L-man bolts up like a B-movie
    mummy, “Whoa, I was toasted.” Yes, ma’am,
    I miss the mongrel plentitude of American English, its fall-guy,
    rat-terrier, dog-pound neologisms, the bomb of it all,
    the rushing River Jordan backwoods mutability of it, the low-rider,
    boom-box cruise of it, from New Joisey to Ha-wah-ya
    with its sly dog, malasada-scarfing beach blanket lingo
    to the ubiquitous Valley Girl’s like-like stuttering,
    shopaholic rant. I miss its quotidian beauty, its querulous
    back-biting righteous indignation, its preening rotgut
    flag-waving cowardice. Suffering Succotash, sputters
    Sylvester the Cat; sine die, say the pork-bellied legislators
    of the swamps and plains. I miss all those guys, their Tweety-bird
    resilience, their Doris Day optimism, the candid unguent
    of utter unhappiness on every channel, the midnight televangelist
    euphoric stew, the junk mail, voice mail vernacular.
    On every boulevard and rue I miss the Tarzan cry of Johnny
    Weismueller, Johnny Cash, Johnny B. Goode,
    and all the smart-talking, gum-snapping hard-girl dialogue,
    finger-popping x-rated street talk, sports babble,
    Cheetoes, Cheerios, chili dog diatribes. Yeah, I miss them all,
    sitting here on my sidewalk throne sipping champagne
    verses lined up like hearses, metaphors juking, nouns zipping
    in my head like Corvettes on Dexadrine, French verbs
    slitting my throat, yearning for James Dean to jump my curb.

  117. Po-biz top 100 support said,

    May 19, 2011 at 11:31 am

    25. Adrienne Rich


  118. Po-biz top 100 support said,

    May 20, 2011 at 9:26 am

    24. Robyn Schiff

    (Below link goes to Schiff’s poem “Devil Finch” with lines adapted from “The Song of Songs,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle)


  119. Po-biz Top 100 support said,

    May 26, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    23. Terence Hayes


    • Spellink support said,

      May 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      Should be “Terrance Hayes”—
      Appy polly loggy,
      As Alex would say—
      A hero none too stodgy.

      BTW, didja ever wonder why Malcolm McDowell never read “A Clockwork Orange” for an audiobook?

      • thomasbrady said,

        May 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm

        Should I fix, or leave, Support’s rhyme?
        These questions kill me every time…

  120. Poem support said,

    May 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

    22. Karen Solie


    Jackfish and walley circle like clouds as he strains
    the silt floor of his pool, a lost lure in his lip,
    Five of Diamonds, River Runt, Lazy Ike,
    or a simple spoon, feeding
    a slow disease of rust through his body’s quiet armour.
    Kin to caviar, he’s an oily mudfish. Inedible
    Indelible. Ancient grunt of sea
    in a warm prairie river, prehistory a third eye in his head.
    He rests, and time passes as water and sand
    through the long throat of him, in a hiss, as thoughts
    of food. We take our guilts
    to his valley and dump them in,
    give him quicksilver to corrode his fins, weed killer,
    gas oil mix, wrap him in poison arms.
    Our bottom feeder,

    On an afternoon mean as a hook we hauled him
    up to his nightmare of us and laughed
    at his ugliness, soft sucker mouth opening,
    closing on air that must have felt like ground glass,
    left him to die with disdain
    for what we could not consume.
    And when he began to heave and thrash over yards of rock
    to the water’s edge and, unbelievably in,
    we couldn’t hold him though we were teenaged
    and bigger than everything. Could not contain
    the old current he had for a mind, its pull,
    and his body a muscle called river, called spawn.

    • Poem support support said,

      May 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

      [My husband Dylan Thomas] would never go near the stove if he could possibly avoid it. He left me to cook those endless pots of bone broth, highly spiced spaghetti with onions and garlic, and the occasional flat fish which I caught myself in the estuary waters below the Boat House. I never thought to clean them. I just used to fling them in the frying pan whole. (I rmember once I caught one and threw it in the pan, thinking it was dead, and it leapt straight out and flopped around the floor. I picked it up with a piece of rag and dropped it straight back into the pan, holding it down with the pan cover. It was struggling to get out so I must have cooked it alive. It was fresh, anyway. I ate it with great relish — the best fried flat fish that I have ever had.)

      I could be pretty savage. Another time someone brought us a lobster and I dropped it straight into a stewpan of boiling water, and the wretched thing tried to crawl out. No one had told me that I had to tie the claws first. I pushed it back into the pan and held the lid down. Dylan was horrified, and he kept well away.

      — from Caitlin by Caitlin Thomas

  121. Scarriet Hot 100 support said,

    June 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

    21. 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.

  122. Linked poem support said,

    June 7, 2011 at 9:23 am

    20. Marvin Bell


    • thomasbrady said,

      June 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      We live in the age of the Infopoem.

      • Nooch said,

        June 7, 2011 at 11:03 pm

        I’d prefer to have inserted the poem complete,
        But time was pressing, were deadlines to meet.

  123. June 8, 2011 at 9:09 am

    20. Marvin Bell


    The fake Parthenon in Nashville, Stonehenge reduced by a quarter
    near Maryhill on the Columbia, the little Statue of Liberty
    taken from the lawn of the high school and not recovered
    for months,
    Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in the tile maker’s shape of a ship
    to sail home in, the house in the shape of a ship near Milwaukee
    where once before the river below rose up to swallow the bank,
    World’s Fairs where one can enter the cell of a human body
    or see Paris, London, Marrakech and the Taj Mahal in
    one afternoon,
    the headache that may be sinus or bad eyes or allergy or a tumor,
    the bruise that was blue now yellow the effect of labor or abuse,
    the cataclysmic event in a personal life not totally forgotten,
    the memory of doing well that turned to unexpressed anger
    just because love was everywhere preventing helpless mistakes—
    achievement and perfection for the first time considered in error,
    the end of life being life itself, life itself ignorance,
    we never tire of making the world smaller, looking in doll houses,
    and a mailman who has picked up every bright piece of glass and tile
    in forty years of rounds retired to build a house of glass and tile
    which is his life, no kick coming, while in a suburb of Chicago
    a leaning tower of Pisa drawn to scale signals a shopping plaza
    where goods come in from around the world, for the people who
    live there.
    And Vico says gods and goddesses are the self writ large—
    selves to make earthquakes, tornadoes, eclipses, selves to lift the sun—
    and Vico says all things having been named for the namers, us,
    we give a chair arms, legs, a seat and a back, a cup has its lip
    and a bottle its neck, and ever after rivers flow from their headwaters
    and a well-oiled engine purrs at the center of good feeling.
    So take your misery down a notch in aches and pains and
    little diseases,
    in years of photo albums, in journals of dreams interrupted
    by mornings,
    in furniture you built yourself, in copies and imitations,
    in scale-model wars and families and the age of fancy automobiles.
    And when once in your life you make the big trip to the original,
    chances are you’ll mainly see your own face in the glass that protects
    everything of which there’s one only in the form of its only maker.

  124. June 11, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    110. Daniel Mark Epstein

    after Mellin de Saint-Gelais

    May the Lord make you a pauper,
    A homeless old man without
    An ear of corn in the barn, not
    A bottle of wine in the cellar.

    Until then, I pray by right and reason,
    Home shall bring you no pleasure,
    So for comfort you may prefer
    To commit crimes, and rest in prison.

    Or may you be forced into exile,
    Anonymous among rude strangers,
    to beg for rancid leftovers,
    Without words for hunger. Meanwhile,

    Stand outside her door in your cashmere
    Coat in a storm, under the rainspout
    All night long, cry out
    For her to open, but she will not hear.

  125. June 14, 2011 at 11:32 am

    111. thethepoetry.com


  126. June 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    19. Charles Simic

    Cameo Appearance

    I had a small, nonspeaking part
    In a bloody epic. I was one of the
    Bombed and fleeing humanity.
    In the distance our great leader
    Crowed like a rooster from a balcony,
    Or was it a great actor
    Impersonating our great leader?

    That’s me there, I said to the kiddies.
    I’m squeezed between the man
    With two bandaged hands raised
    And the old woman with her mouth open
    As if she were showing us a tooth

    That hurts badly. The hundred times
    I rewound the tape, not once
    Could they catch sight of me
    In that huge gray crowd,
    That was like any other gray crowd.

    Trot off to bed, I said finally.
    I know I was there. One take
    Is all they had time for.
    We ran, and the planes grazed our hair,
    And then they were no more
    As we stood dazed in the burning city,
    But, of course, they didn’t film that.

  127. June 29, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Is it good to start the day with a witticism?
    This poem by number 18 is, um, beyond criticism:

    18. Sharon Olds

    Outside the Operating Room of the Sex-Change Doctor


  128. July 3, 2011 at 10:41 am

    17. Dean Young

    Red Glove Thrown in Rose Bush

    If only bodies weren’t so beautiful.
    Even rabbits are made of firecrackers
    so tiny they tickle your hand.
    If only the infirmities,
    blocked neural pathways, leg braces
    and bandages didn’t make everyone
    look like they’re dancing.
    Breathing will destroy us, hearts
    like ninja stars stuck in the sternums
    of granite caesars. Should I worry
    people have stopped saying how skinny
    and pale I am. Paul may destroy the kitchen
    but he’s the best cook I know.
    Seared tuna, pesto risotto—where
    did he get those tomatoes?—what a war
    must be fought for simplicity!
    Even the alligator, flipped over,
    is soft as an eyelid. Hans, the trapezist,
    got everyone high on New Year’s Eve
    with a single joint, the girl he was with
    a sequin it was impossible not to want
    to try to catch without a net.
    Across the bay, fireworks punched
    luminous bruises in the fog.
    If only my body wasn’t borrowed from dust!

  129. July 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    112. Daniel Johnston

    There was this kid named Syd and he was born
    Maybe the doctor hit him a little too hard
    He just seemed to have gotten off to a bad start
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

    He sat in school in detention
    Drawing funny pictures on the wall
    Not a moment of peace did Syd ever find
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

    Now when Syd discovered masturbation
    He just couldn’t keep a good thing down
    But it didn’t help much his condition
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

    Syd signed up for the army
    ‘Cause he got tired of working in the pottery
    And they sent him over to a foreign country
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

    Syd met this girl in East Germany
    And she invited him up to her room for some tea
    Then she pulled out a gun and took his money
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

    She shot Syd through the head
    And Syd died and went to hell
    And he burned and he burned and he yelled
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

    Now the Devil said this ain’t fair
    ‘Cause people who come here have had their share of comfort
    So he sat Syd in a reclining chair
    But it was an electric chair
    Never relaxed, never relaxed, never relaxed

  130. July 29, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    113. Neil Innes


    Hey mister man in the street—
    Excuse me—
    Do you have a few moments to spare?
    Don’t worry I’m not trying to sell you anything you wouldn’t want—
    I’m just a questionnaire.

    Tell me you what you think about this low-fat diet shampoo.
    Do you think it’s ‘Crunchy’, ‘Half-Crunchy’, or ‘Not Crunchy At All’?
    Put a tick in the appropriate box,
    There’s nothing to it.

    ‘Yes’ ‘No’ ‘Don’t Know’ ‘I Don’t Care’—
    I’m only a Questionnaire.

    Please mister man in the street—
    Believe me—
    I’m only doing my job and I need to know—
    Everything about you take it easy all you gotta do—
    Is answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

    Tell me what think about the devil and the deep blue sea.
    Do you think there’s ‘One True God’, ‘A False God’, or ‘No God At All’?
    Put a tick in the appropriate box,
    There’s nothing to it.

    ‘Yes’ ‘No’ ‘Don’t Know’ ‘I Don’t Care’—
    I’m only a Questionnaire.

    Now can you
    Tell me what you think about how easy it can be to buy a gun?
    Do you think it’s ‘Crazy’, ‘Half Crazy’, or ‘Not Crazy At All’?
    Put a tick in the appropriate box….

  131. August 1, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    16. James Tate


    Climbing a mountain is very hard work so we just sat at the bottom of it and ate our picnic. Others came along and actually started to climb it. They were tough and strong but we still thought they were foolish, but refrained from telling them so. They were loaded down with so much equipment they could barely walk on level ground—ropes, sleeping bags, tents, hammers, pitons, lamps, food supplies, ice axes, oxygen masks—whereas for a picnic you can get everything you need into a basket—wine, cheese, salami, bread, napkins. “Marie,” I said, “Do you still love me?” “Chuck you, Farley,” she said, “and your whole famn damily. You know I’ll always love you. All’s hotsie-dandy here, thank you very much.”

  132. August 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    115. Martin Short & John McEnroe

    A poet of comedy
    Who’s doing quite well
    Meets a poet of tennis
    (And of biliousness as well).

  133. August 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    15. Mary Oliver

    Wild Geese

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

      Great find, and thank you, Hass support.

      Hass loving on James Wright points up exactly how these poets are awful in the same pretentious, self-important manner.

      I’ll just quote a segment, but it begins with Hass ‘teaming up’ with Wright to attack the “self-righteousness” and “prurience” of American public life in that way intellectuals of the 50s liked to do, and intellectuals, in the same way, still do.

      Then we get the self-pitying, sentimentalizing ‘grew up in Ohio during the depression, father worked for Atlas Glass, polluted Ohio river, etc It’s important for Hass to set the stage: poor James Wright, grew up middle class in nasty America…As a young man, he had nothing to do! He, and other bored American youths “lurked” in the shadows by the polluted Ohio river. It only takes a few sentences for Hass to paint a facile mythos that everyone ‘gets.’

      The most annoying thing below is the poor use of the comma after “life.” It shoud be “poems that turn away from public life: lean, clear poems…”

      When I started reading him, thinking I might find something to sum up the
      week’s event, I found myself reading the poems that turn away from public
      life, lean, clear poems that take something from the simplicity and
      strangeness of the Spanish poetry he read and translated:

      Trying to Pray

      This time, I have left my body behind me, crying
      In its dark thorns.
      There are good things in this world.
      It is dusk.
      It is the good darkness
      Of women’s hands that touch loaves.
      The spirit of a tree begins to move.
      I touch leaves.
      I close my eyes and think of water.

      Note how Hass makes Wright untouchable by linking him with ‘Spanish poetry.’ Wright’s “Trying to Pray” is bad to the point where it’s a parody of its badness, with the comical “Still” by itself, as one line, coming after the intense feeling of the first two lines, followed by the lecturing tone which again mocks the sentiment established in the first two lines, the passage climaxing with the hilarious ‘Of woman’s hands that touch loaves.”

      And then finally Hass quotes Wright’s bad poem called “Depressed by a Book of Bad Poetry, I Walk Toward an Unused Pasture and Invite the Insects to Join Me. I won’t quote this poem. It’s easy to imagine the bathos, however. “invite the insects to join me,” gives it away.
      Or this one, which could be thought of as a commentary on public events which were a lot like bad art:


      Depressed by a Book of Bad Poetry, I Walk Toward an Unused Pasture and Invite the Insects to Join Me

  134. August 23, 2011 at 9:11 am

    115. Martin Short*

    *a poet of comedy

  135. September 5, 2011 at 10:15 am

    12. G.C. Waldrep

    (link goes to Waldrep’s poem “News of the Fall of Troy”)


  136. September 13, 2011 at 12:03 am

    11. Glyn Maxwell

    (Atlantic Magazine interview with the poet, from 2001)


  137. October 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    11. Glyn Maxwell


    Because against the brown of the wide heath
    out there that afternoon the shape was small
    and pallid, bare and still,
    it could have been a body: for a while
    it was. When it resolved
    into a pair of them, the pair of us

    fell to explaining them: that they were young,
    no second thought, that they were girl and boy,
    they did appear to be,
    in love of course, to sit so far away,
    to have walked so far in such
    persistent heat, to have so very far

    to trek back to this path was a notch for love.
    We had had days of sun and weeks of sun.
    If this affair began
    when that began, that would have seemed a sign,
    a deal of two good hands,
    a garden tended for them. As the dawns

    continued foggy, burning off by nine,
    belief would harden to a sense of fate,
    in retrospect at that,
    noon their witness, noon their intimate,
    passing them ahead
    to noon again, till what they’d happened on

    would seem to have been waiting. Such a faith
    can make it to the winter, but the days
    continued hot. Today
    was one of them, incensing heat, a sigh
    that is all s. Our minds
    were on to them, we couldn’t let them be,

    not now. Their attitude, in the tall tale
    we spun as we walked on, should sour and turn
    against the light, the sun
    itself fall into question, a dry plain
    spread before them, distance
    measure what they had. If the heat stayed

    relentlessly they’d find an earthly cause
    at hand to blame, associate their lives
    with that, hear old beliefs
    and blush to. They were picking up their stuff
    by now: we hurried on
    along the path in patterns of late sunlight.


  138. October 2, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    94. Patricia Smith

    Asking for a Heart Attack

    Aretha. Deep buter dipt, burnt pot liquor, twisted sugar cane,
    Vaselined knock knees clacking extraordinary gospel.
    hustling toward the promised land in 4/4 time, Aretha.
    Greased and glowing awash in limelight, satisfied moan
    ‘neath the spotlight, turning ample ass toward midnight,
    she the it’s-all-good goddess of warm cornbread
    and bumped buttermilk, know jesus by his first name.
    carried his gospel low and democratic in rollicking brownships,
    sang His drooping corpse down from that ragged wooden T,
    dressed Him up in something shiny, conked that Holy head of hair,
    then Aretha rustled up bus fare and took the deity downtown.
    They coaxed the DJ and slid electric untill the lights slammed on,
    she taught Him dirty nicknames for His father’s handiwork.
    She was young then, thin and aching, her heartbox shut tight.
    So Jesus blessed her, He opened her throat and taught her
    to wail that way she do, she do wail that way don’t she
    do that wail the way she do wail that way, don’t she?
    Now every time ‘retha unreel that screech, sang Delta
    cut through hurting to glimpse been-done-wrong bone,
    a born-again brother called the Holy Ghost creeps through that.
    and that, for all you still lookin’, is religion.

    Dare you question her several shoulders, the soft stairsteps
    of flesh leading to her shaking chins, the steel bones
    of a corseted frock eating into bubbling sides,
    zipper track etched into skin,
    all those faint scars,
    those lovesore battle wounds?
    Ain’t your mama never told you
    how black women collect the world,
    build other bodies onto their own?
    No earthly man knows the solution to our hips,
    asses urgent as sirens,
    titties familiar as everybody’s mama
    crisscrossed with pulled roads of blood.
    Ask us why we pray with our dancin’ shoes on, why we
    grow fat away from everyone and toward each other.


    • thomasbrady said,

      October 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      hero worship: whitman, stevens, bloom.

      singinga and chantinga

      why the glasses?

      thought you had life memorized?

      next he will read a poem on dumbledore’s beard

  139. October 11, 2011 at 10:04 am

    9. Paul Muldoon


    The snail moves like a
    Hovercraft, held up by a
    Rubber cushion of itself,
    Sharing its secret

    With the hedgehog. The hedgehog
    Shares its secret with no one.
    We say, Hedgehog, come out
    Of yourself and we will love you.

    We mean no harm. We want
    Only to listen to what
    You have to say. We want
    Your answers to our questions.

    The hedgehog gives nothing
    Away, keeping itself to itself.
    We wonder what a hedgehog
    Has to hide, why it so distrusts.

    We forget the god
    Under this crown of thorns.
    We forget that never again
    Will a god trust in the world.


    • thomasbrady said,

      October 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      Muldoon is a cross between Ted Hughes and Pee Wee Herman.

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