1. Natasha Trethewey   Beautiful! Black! Poet Laureate!
2. Billy Collins  Still sells…
3. David Lehman  Best American Poetry Series chugs along…
4. Stephen Burt  Harvard Cross-dresser takes Vendler’s mantle?
5. William Logan  Most entertaining poetry critic
6. Christian Wiman  He’s the “Poetry” man, he makes me feel alright…
7. Sharon Olds  Sock-in-the-gut, sexy frankness…
8. Tracy K. Smith Young Pulitzer winner
9. David Orr  The New York Times Poetry Critic…
10. Harold Bloom  Not sure on Naomi Wolfe; we know he abused Poe….
11. Matthew Dickman  OMG!  Is he really no. 11?
12. Anne Carson  Professor of Classics born in Toronto…
13. Dana Gioia  Famous essay still resonates & not a bad formalist poet…
14. Jorie Graham Judge not…
15. Rita Dove The Penguin Anthology really wasn’t that good…
16. Helen Vendler Almost 80!
17. John Ashbery Has he ever written a poem for no. 16?  Where’s the love?
18. David Ferry This translator is almost 90!
19. Kevin Young We hear he’s a leading poet of his generation…
20. Robert Pinsky The smartest man in the universe…
21. Cole Swenson  The Hybrid Queen, newly installed at Brown…
22. Marjorie Perloff  “Poetry on the Brink” praises cut-and-paste…
23. John Barr Financial leader of Poetry Foundation and poet worth reading?
24. Seamus Heaney  The inscrutable Irish mountain…
25. Geoffrey Hill  A mountain who is really a hill?
26. Robert Hass  West-coast cheerleader.
27. Stephen Dunn  Athlete, philosopher, poet
28. Laura Kassichke  Championed by Burt.
29. Mary Oliver  The John Clare of today…
30. Kay Ryan  Come on, she’s actually good…
31. Don Share  Riding “Poetry” gravy train…
32. W.S. Merwin  Noble, ecological, bull?
33. Dana Levin Do you know the way to Santa Fe?
34. Susan Wheeler Elliptical Poet.  At Princeton.
35. Tony Hoagland Has the racial controversy faded?
36. Mark Doty Sharon Olds’ little brother…
37. Frank Bidart The Poet as Greek Tragedian
38. Simon Armitage Tilda Swinton narrates his global warming doc
39. D.A. Powell He likes the weather in San Francisco…
40. Philip Levine Second generation Program Era poet
41. Ron Silliman Experimental to the bone, his blog is video central…
42. Mark Strand Plain-talking surrealist, studied painting with Josef Albers…
43. Dan Chiasson Influential poetry reviewer…
44. Al Filreis  On-line professor teaches modern poetry to thousands at once!
45. Paul Muldoon If you want your poem in the New Yorker, this is the guy…
46. Charles Bernstein Difficult, Inc.
47. Rae Armantrout  If John Cage wrote haiku?
48. Louise Gluck Bollingen Prize winner…
49. Ben Mazer 2012 Scarriet March Madness Champ, studied with Heaney, Ricks…
50. Carol Muske-Dukes California Laureate
51. Peter Riley His critical essay crushes the hybrid movement…
52. Lyn Hejinian California Language Poet…
53. Peter Gizzi 12 issues of O.blek made his name…
54. Franz Wright Cantankerous but blessed…
55. Nikky Finney 2011 National Book Award winner 
56. Garrison Keillor Good poems!
57. Camille Paglia  She’s baaaack!
58. Christian Bok Author of Canada’s best-selling poetry book
59. X.J. Kennedy Classy defender of rhyme…
60. Frederick Seidel Wears nice suits…
61. Henri Cole Poems “cannily wrought” –New Yorker
62. Thom Donovan Poetry is Jorie-Graham-like…
63. Marie Howe State Poet of New York

64. Michael Dickman The other twin…
65. Alice Oswald Withdrew from T.S. Eliot prize shortlist…
66. Sherman Alexie Poet/novelist/filmmaker…
67. J.D. McClatchy Anthologist and editor of Yale Review…
68. David Wagoner Edited Poetry Northwest until it went under…
69. Richard Wilbur A versifier’s dream…
70. Stephen Cramer His fifth book is called “Clangings.”
71. Galway Kinnell We scolded him on his poem in the New Yorker critical of Shelley…
72. Jim Behrle Gadfly of the BAP
73. Haruki Murakami The Weird Movement…
74. Tim Seibles Finalist for National Book Award in Poetry
75. Brenda Shaughnessy  Editor at Tin House…
76. Maurice Manning  The new Robert Penn Warren?
77. Eileen Myles We met her on the now-dead Comments feature of Blog Harriet
78. Heather McHugh Studied with Robert Lowell; translator.
79. Juliana Spahr Poetry and sit-ins
80. Alicia Ostriker Poetry makes feminist things happen…
81. William Childress His ‘Is Free Verse Killing Poetry?’ caused a stir…
82. Patricia Smith Legendary Slam Poet…
83. James Tate The Heart-felt Zany Iowa School…
84. Barrett Watten Language Poet Theorist.
85. Elizabeth Alexander Obama’s inaugural poet.
86. Alan Cordle Foetry changed poetry forever.
87. Dean Young Heart transplanted, we wish him the best…
88. Amy Beeder “You’ll never feel full”
89. Valzhyna Mort Franz Wright translated her from the Belarusian…
90. Mary Jo Salter Studied with Elizabeth Bishop at Harvard…
91. Seth Abramson Lawyer/poet who researches MFA programs and writes cheery reviews…
92. Amy Catanzano “My aim is to become incomprehensible to the machines.”
93. Cate Marvin  VIDA co-founder and co-director
94. Jay Wright First African-American to win the Bollingen Prize (2005)
95. Albert Jack His “Dreadful Demise Of Edgar Allan Poe” builds on Scarriet’s research: Poe’s cousin may be guilty…
96. Mary Ruefle “I remember, I remember”
97. John Gallaher Selfless poet/songwriter/teacher/blogger
98. Philip Nikolayev From Fulcrum to Battersea…
99. Marcus Bales Democratic Activist and Verse Poet
100. Joe Green And Hilarity Ensued…


  1. October 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    He’s translated Jacob and Desnos—
    His prose poems surrealist and cool—
    Nowhere Fast now available—
    Better for ya than going to school:

    101. William Kulik

  2. marcusbales said,

    October 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Rocky Dilemma

    We all have prejudiced associations
    that, hard as we may try, we can’t control –
    a vocal cue will prompt improper relations
    we’d like to bury in a psychic hole;
    we bite our tongues, avoiding confrontations,
    and bit by bit we learn the proper role:
    that out of all our inner storm and stress
    we chose what to express – and not express.

    Natasha Trethewey has now become
    the poet laureate – and no Celt more than I
    is with her now within the seething scrum
    of Yankee English, nor more approves her high
    award, nor more aware of the sometime hum
    that subjugated languages supply
    in assonance, inflection, or in rhythm —
    depending on the tones surviving with them.

    But those are not the accents that I hear
    when someone says the poet laureate’s name –
    and those are not the accents that will sear
    my writhing inner self with childish shame;
    what accent comes most clearly to my ear
    with foreign vowels I desperately disclaim
    in prejudice that I cannot deny?
    Natasha saying “Moose and squirrel must die!”

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 19, 2012 at 1:53 pm


      You are too quirky for the Muse…

      She has banned you…

      And you must die…

      (Just kidding)


  3. #100 support said,

    October 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

    100. Joe Green

    One Night on Bainbridge Island

    After the reception, I fell in with the others
    leaving by the gravel path across Bloedel’s estate.
    It was already dark, but someone asked me if I’d seen
    the meditation garden there, the boulders in raked sand.
    I said, yes, I thought it looked like a pond
    where rocks had been dropped and the ripples caught
    before they could spread across the water.

    Then everyone was quiet for a while,
    and I took their silence to be a reflection
    of the image I had made — perfect
    surface held in that passing instant
    when its disturbance first begins —
    and it pleased me to imagine
    I could capture their thoughts like that

    until someone else said the sand and boulders filled
    the swimming pool where Theodore Roethke died.
    The air was cool and still, and I could feel
    the gravel crunching beneath my feet
    and hear the others’ footsteps as they walked.
    No one spoke again until we reached the parking lot,
    where we said good-bye and got our cars unlocked.

  4. Anonymous said,

    October 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Mean Joe Green is writing poetry now? Fucking sweeeet!

  5. #98 support said,

    October 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    98. Philip Nikolayev


    Glade Powder Fresh™ is a delicate
    light fragrance that instantly freshens the air
    with the soft scent of talc. Use Glade anywhere
    in the home to effectively eliminate

    odors. Glade freshens the air while leaving a light
    clean scent throughout your home.
    Shake well before each use; hold can upright;
    press button and spray toward center of the room.

    Do not set on stove or
    radiator or keep where

    will exceed 120° F, as container
    may burst. Do not puncture
    or throw in fire.

  6. thomasbrady said,

    October 19, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Joe Green is better experienced live, jamming in an informal atmosphere; one gets the idea, like the Beatles in Hamburg, his best thoughts were never recorded; this paean to Roethke is far too solemn for my taste…Mazer, Nikolayev, Green, and their friends riff marvelously off each other…but poetry is not ‘a band’ art; we rarely experience poetry that way…and really, we shouldn’t have to…a private, late-night party never looks that good seen in the light of day…

  7. #97 support said,

    October 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

    97. John Gallaher

    The Trouble with the Way Things Are

    We’re going to make a doll
    and dress it like a clown. We’ll have it do things
    like go to the grocery store
    or watch old movies.

    Let’s play a game
    where you try to run away from me
    and I have to close my eyes, we’ll say
    and the doll will start running
    toward us.

    It’s election day,
    and we all need uniforms.

    Our dolls hate us for it.

    I like it best
    when it’s hard to imagine anything
    but the outside temperature
    covered in pixie dust, we tell them.

    And their job is easy,
    they just have to put their heads
    in this lion’s mouth.

    One of these days we’re going to kiss them
    and then throw them from a train
    as it crosses a gorge
    with a little river far below.

    Maybe they’ll have wings
    they never told us about.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      John Gallaher is one of many poets these days who purchased what J.L. Austin, the British Language philosopher, was selling back in the 1950s…that it is impossible for poetry to be nonsense because it is impossible for language to conform to reality, anyway. Language is an ‘act,’ Austin proved (to the satisfaction of many) and not an ‘imitation.’ Imitation that fails is usually considered nonsense; that which does not correspond to reality is usually considered nonsense. But now poets, like John Gallaher, enlightened by the J.L. Austin School, of which John Ashbery and Charles Bernstein are members, do not believe in nonsense. And the result? Poets earnestly and confidently write poems which are wholly and entirely…nonsense.

    • October 20, 2012 at 11:15 am

      96. Mary Ruefle

      Excerpt from an interview with Mary Ruefle (MR):

      During your reading, you defined prose for yourself as having “a right-flush margin”?

      MR: Yes! Right-flush margin, no more chat about it!

      Do you have a similarly concise definition for what poetry is?

      MR: Yes, it’s lineated. It’s just that. A three-hour class on what a prose poem is? A waste of time. That doesn’t mean it can’t be prose, or that prose can’t be poetry—but for all practical, speaking purposes, it’s right-flush margin or it’s lineated. It’s so simple. What is all this postmodern complicated bullshit ?

      • thomasbrady said,

        October 22, 2012 at 1:29 pm

        So Mary R. says prose can be lineated and poetry can be right-flush margin. So that leaves her analysis where…exactly?

        • noochinator said,

          October 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm

          She means, I think,
          With poetry,
          You can’t change the line—
          But with prose,
          You can change it,
          And all will be fine.

          If the line ends with “but”
          And it’s a poem,
          That ‘but’ cannot roam.

          • thomasbrady said,

            October 22, 2012 at 7:47 pm

            Can it be this simple? Is Nooch making sense or what?
            Yet what shall we say if it fails
            The eye of Mr. Bales…?

            • marcusbales said,

              October 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm

              Free Verse Blues

              Woke up this morning with free verse on the page
              I said I woke up this morning with free verse on the page
              What depths did I sink to in my narcissistic rage?

              I scribbled more confessions, but the bloom was off the rose
              Said I scribbled more confessions, but the bloom was off the rose
              No matter how I lineated all I got was prose.

              My poetry muse has left me and I’m so sad and blue
              Yes, my poetry muse has left me, and I’m so so sad and blue
              Don’t write any free verse, baby, or your muse will leave you, too.

              • October 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm

                This reminds me of an anecdote told by a son of novelist Mordecai Richler: the son was in love with a girl, and one night, when his parents were out, he wrote a torrid passionate letter to her while drunk on wine. Before going to bed, he left the pages of the wine-stained letter on the stairs for his father to find when he got home. The next day Richler asked his son to come into his office.

                Richler asked, “Do you plan to send this letter?”

                “Yes,” his son defiantly answered.

                “You do know you’ll be the laughingstock of your whole school.”

                “I don’t care,” replied the son.

                The father paused a bit, then said, “Since you insist on sending it, I recommend you use the word ‘fuck’ only once instead of four times. It will have much more power that way.”

              • thomasbrady said,

                October 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

                Bales your Free Verse Blues Poem…



                Anecdote: Free verse the drunken version…?

                • noochinator said,

                  October 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

                  Poetizing while drunk
                  Will put you in a funk
                  And produce a lot of bunk
                  Although maybe a slam-dunk
                  If you’re a Berryman or a monk

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Albert Jack’s summary of Poe and his death contains the usual trash: “much of [Poe’s] own money had been spent on drink,” “drunken Poe,” (there’s no evidence to support that Poe was even a moderate drinker, much less a heavy drinker) but yet amazingly (does he read Scarriet?) Albert Jack gets much closer to the truth than other reports by singling out Neilson Poe. As a nation, we owe it to ourselves to find the truth about our greatest writer—Albert Jack made our top 100 simply by getting a little closer to the truth in his piece on Poe.

  8. #94 support said,

    October 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    94. Jay Wright

  9. #93 support said,

    October 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    93. Cate Marvin

    Let the Day Perish

    I was meaner than a flimsy dollar the change machine refuses.
    I was duplicitous as a Canadian dime.
    I slid through your town only to announce my prejudices.
    And only to slip my tongue into the slot of your mouth.

    Bade you come over. Covered your hand with mine.
    Bade you lay down. Stroked your neck, allowed your story.
    Bade you pull my body down. Bore me half to death.
    This is where the what and when happens. Two

    people on a couch, liquored up and lousy at the mouth.
    I dislike everything in your refrigerator.
    I criticize your cupboards, suggest you replace
    your glassware. I pick up a broom when you’re not

    looking (yet you were looking) and sweep your whole
    house out. I make a comment about your teeth.
    (Mine are very fine and straight.) I complain about
    the cotton/poly sheets. (They make me sweat.)

    There was a light from your window that bore
    right through me. I wanted nothing more than
    to put my tongue to your teeth. I’d have licked
    your whole house clean, bought you a crystal set

    of glassware, laid down the dinner table with new
    plates. I’d scrub your tub, your toilet. But perhaps
    you did not understand my critique as servitude.
    I was merely asking to be put into your employ.

    I happen to like your mud-wash eyes. The mean
    bags beneath your eyes. The jitter your hand does.
    I don’t actually care about anything but that.
    Everything’s been lousy since I left. Someone

    smashed my car window just for the hell of it.
    I am constantly harassed by thoughts of you.
    I have made a poor investment in real estate.
    When you took me out into your back yard

    and showed me the koi pond you’d filled with
    cement, it made me sad.
    Then you said you could bring it back.

    • #92 support said,

      October 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      92. Amy Catanzano


      The Amulet

      This is a visible language or a war against people’s values. My aim is to become incomprehensible to the machines. The large hadron collider is the first accepted vessel of time. If we could see language it would be a kind of extracted telepathy. I live in a complex visual environment around my neck. With the convergent evolution of eyes of different animals. Physically I become my meaning; as an observer, you subvert the surface of the book. I am capable of visual communication like your dream in deep water. Its phosphorescence gives me shape. The expelled cloud of ink shields my private thought. We now make visibly held syntaxes. We are no longer reading but seeing with eyes you’ve just developed. All of my fixed encounters take place in a 17-mile tunnel underground. Photons collide to recreate the universe right after the Big Bang. We call it a mini Big Bang because we communicate in code. This is our first contribution as new machines.

  10. thomasbrady said,

    October 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Reading the poems of #91,92,93,and 94 causes me to ponder again Ruefle’s poetry/prose division. What strikes me is how insignifcant these poems sound—fastidious as they are in terms of content—when they are read aloud. (I couldn’t help but try it myself.)

    I really don’t think one can define poetry by how it looks on the page.

    I have to believe that what is truly poetry is that which pleases the ear. These poems have such colorful, interesting things to say. But I lose interest almost immediately because these brief and lyric efforts contain no music.

    For instance:

    There was a light from your window that bore
    right through me. I wanted nothing more than

    Can anyone tell me why these two “lines” exist sequentially as “lines” as they do—I can see or hear no reason whatsoever. If form means anything at all, how can one expect to produce an object that is memorable when that object has no form? The experience of this poem is purely subjective. There is no object at all. The trouble with this kind of poetry is that it lies about what it is.

    The whole issue of poetry versus prose has been batted back and forth, but the issue is deeper (or more iconically shallow) than most people seem to realize, and it’s not going to go away.

    • noochinator said,

      October 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      “bore” rhymes with “more”—
      I think that’s the score

      • thomasbrady said,

        October 24, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        I noticed that, but
        (With all respect) so what?
        It seems mere chance—
        It does nothing for the dance…

  11. Anonymous said,

    October 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    RE: #91. Does anyone continue reading after this line? “Hers is a hyper-parataxis (as opposed to the para-hypotaxis this review series has generally favored) . . .”

    • noochinator said,

      October 26, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      I myself didn’t see that phrase,
      But if I did, my eyes would have glazed,
      And I would have turned the (virtual) page

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Abramson: Mad Hatter reviews of Mad Hatter poetry?

  12. #102 support said,

    October 26, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    102. Nick Lantz


    Would it make a difference to say we suffered
    from affluenza in those days? Could we blame
    Reaganomics, advertainment, the turducken
    and televangelism we swallowed by the sporkful,
    all that brunch and Jazzercise, Frappuccinos
    we guzzled on the Seatac tarmac, sexcellent
    celebutantes we ogled with camcorders while
    our imagineers simulcast the administrivia
    of our alarmaggedon across the glocal village?
    Would it help to say that we misunderestimated
    the effects of Frankenfood and mutagenic smog
    to speculate that amid all our infornography
    and anticipointment, some crisitunity slumbered
    unnoticed in a roadside motel? Does it count
    for nothing that we are now willing to admit
    that the animatronic monster slouching across
    the soundstage of our tragicomic docusoap
    was only a distraction? Because now, for all our
    gerrymandering, the anecdata won’t line up for us.
    When we saw those contrails cleaving the sky
    above us, we couldn’t make out their beginning
    or their end. What, in those long hours of ash,
    could our appletinis tell us of good or of evil?

  13. #102 support said,

    October 29, 2012 at 10:30 am

    102. Nick Lantz

    The Aging Sci-Fi Actor Speaks to Third Graders at the Local Planetarium

    He waves an arm at the projected stars,
    telling them how his childhood love

    of space landed him first behind a telescope
    and then on a soundstage, which isn’t

    quite true, but the kids aren’t listening
    anyway. Maybe their older brothers, stoned

    in the basement, watch his show’s late-night
    reruns, laughing at the recycled plots,

    the endless shtick. But these kids don’t care.
    Drowsing on the carpeted benches, each one

    tugs a parent’s sleeve. They find him
    about as convincing as a plastic spaceship

    on a string, floating across a firmament
    of black velvet. To them, outer space bristles

    with glossy satellites, real as a car
    or dog. They yawn the yawns of experts

    who know that the cure for delusion is rarely
    truth, but rather, a better lie. The planetarium’s

    dusk hides it all, but he knows the stale smell
    of disbelief and boredom. He’s seen

    the costumed extras, smoking on the backlot,
    cigarettes pinched between huge foam fingers,

    nothing to read in the rigor of their rubber faces:
    blue or green, scaled or hairy. He’s seen

    the other actors and their stand-ins, doppelgängers
    all half an inch shorter and five pounds heavier,

    each one wearing someone else’s haircut
    badly. He wants to tell these children that over

    the years he’s learned the high-seas pitch
    of the spaceship set, its hydraulic legs tossing

    the cast from their seats and head-first
    into Plexiglas console screens, tell them how

    he speaks half his lines at a pale blue rectangle,
    trusting that some face will appear there later,

    that some editor will dub in another voice,
    friend or alien, to answer his own.

  14. October 29, 2012 at 11:31 am

    88. Amy Beeder

    The Charges Are Stalking & Arson

    The sizzlepop. The bang bang bang. The air
    a stage where cherrybombs & I play spark
    to vacant lots; it’s nothing new, this tune
    of Zippo click, of fuse, the blue-tip plume
    on resin, weeds & shed, historic barns
    exploding first in swallows. Don’t shush me.
    Powder speaks: dirt is mute. If I’m denied
    I’ll fire the lot; I’ll gladly woo with gas—
    o love, my love’s a cuff-struck match, my suit
    the fabric’s curl to petaled ash—take me,
    take ruin,
    a realm of ether, atom-bright, a pause
    before the flint’s quick kiss; take me—who else
    can hear how shot glass sings the grass’s name;
    how bale, dry & quiet, speaks its love to flame?

  15. #87 support said,

    October 29, 2012 at 11:36 am

    87. Dean Young

    Ode to Hangover

    Hangover, you drive me into the yard to dig holes as a way of working through you as one might work through a sorry childhood by riding the forbidden amusement park rides as a grown-up until puking. Alas, I feel like something spit out by a duck, a duck other ducks are ashamed of when I only tried to protect myself by projecting myself on hilarity’s big screen at the party where one nitwit reminisced about the 39¢ a pound chicken of his youth and another said, Don’t go to Italy in June, no one goes to Italy in June. Protect myself from boring advice, from the boring past and the boring present at the expense of an unnauseating future: now. But look at these newly-socketed lilacs! Without you, Hangover, they would still be trapped in their buckets and not become the opposite of vomit just as you, Hangover, are the opposite of Orgasm. Certainly you go on too long and in your grip one thinks, How to have you never again? whereas Orgasm lasts too short some seconds and immediately one plots to repeat her. After her I could eat a car but here’s a pineapple/clam pizza and Chinese milkshake yum but Hangover, you make me aspire to a saltine. Both of you need to lie down, one with a cool rag across the brow, shutters drawn, the other in a soft jungle gym, yahoo, this puzzle has 15 thousand solutions! Here’s one called Rocking Horse and how about Sunshine in the Monkey Tree. Chug, chug, goes the arriving train, those on the platform toss their hats and scarves and cheer, the president comes out of the caboose to declare, The war is over! Corks popping, people mashing people, knocking over melon stands, ripping millenniums of bodices. Hangover, rest now, you’ll have lots to do later inspiring abstemious philosophies and menial tasks that too contribute to the beauty of this world.

  16. #86 support said,

    November 2, 2012 at 10:19 am

    His work is completed.
    But the archive still stands—
    Known throughout the nation,
    And benighted foreign lands.

    86. Alan Cordle

  17. #85 support said,

    November 2, 2012 at 10:28 am

    85. Elizabeth Alexander

    • Anonymous said,

      November 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      Curtis Faville’s jargon which defends bad poetry (young Iowa Workshop Watten’s) as sophisticated, exquisite rebellion is a prime example of stupidity masked as intelligence.

  18. #83 support said,

    November 3, 2012 at 10:33 am

    83. James Tate

    The Motorcyclists

    My cuticles are a mess. Oh honey, by the way,
    did you like my new negligee? It’s a replica
    of one Kim Novak wore in some movie or other.
    I wish I had a foot-long chili dog right now.
    Do you like fireworks, I mean not just on the 4th of July,
    but fireworks any time? There are people
    like that, you know. They’re like people who like
    orchestra music, listen to it any time of day.
    Lopsided people, that’s what my father calls them.
    Me, I’m easy to please. I like ping-gong and bobcats,
    shatterproof drinking glasses, the smell of kerosene,
    the crunch of carrots. I like caterpillars and
    whirlpools, too. What I hate most is being the first
    one at the scene of a bad accident.

    Do I smell like garlic? Are we still in Kansas?
    I once had a chiropractor make a pass at me,
    did I ever tell you that? He said that your spine
    is happiest when you’re snuggling. Sounds kind
    of sweet now when I tell you, but he was a creep.
    Do you know that I have never understood what they meant
    by “grassy knoll.” It sounds so idyllic, a place to go
    to dream your life away, not kill somebody. They
    should have called it something like “the grudging notch.”
    But I guess that’s life. What is it they always say?
    “It’s always the sweetest ones that break your heart.”
    You getting hungry yet, hon? I am. When I was seven
    I sat in our field and ate an entire eggplant
    right off the vine. Dad loves to tell that story,

    but I still can’t eat eggplant. He says I’ll be the first
    woman President, it’d be a waste since I talk so much.
    Which do you think the fixtures are in the bathroom
    at the White House, gold or brass? It’d be okay with me
    if they were just brass. Honey, can we stop soon?
    I really hate to say it but I need a lady’s room.

    • noochinator said,

      November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

      “I once had a chiropractor make a pass at me,
      did I ever tell you that? He said that your spine
      is happiest when you’re snuggling.”

      A chiropractor is no longer needed—
      Get thee to The Snuggery,
      Where the call for cuddling’s heeded:

  19. #82 support said,

    November 5, 2012 at 11:43 am

    The link below goes to “Ethel’s Sestina”,
    Written by the current number 82—
    One of the better poems I’ve witnessed,
    As the Po-Biz 100 I proceedeth through:

    82. Patricia Smith

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm

      Childress says:

      We are, unofficially at least, a one-poetry nation, and various editors, publishers and hidden agenda-ites seem determined to keep us there. As David Orr points out in Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, “There is complete avoidance and disdain for the kinds of poetry pre-Baby Boomers were raised on.”

      Well, I’m a pre-Baby Boomer, and I think such favoritism is stupid, petty, and demeaning to poetry. Form poetry is the kind of poetry a third of living Americans grew up with.

      The guy has a point.

      • marcusbales said,

        November 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        The problem isn’t that modern poetry is beautiful and pointless — it’s that it’s not beautiful at all, and it’s STILL pointless. It’s pointless because poets are not rigorous thinkers, and yet the dominant strain of modern poetry is to try to be smart in a poem.

        Poets are not, by and large, smart people — they’re people sensitive to language, nuance, meaning, interpretation, ambiguity, and emotional resonance. They’re not smart in the way Wittgenstein or Hegel or Plato, or Einstein or Newton or Pythagoras, or Clauswitz or Machiavelli or Nizam al-Mulk were smart. Poets not erudite, profound, or even rigorous, and they have neither the inclination nor the training to use whatever intellectual horsepower they have to command respect for what they’re saying.

        Poets have always made their intellectual livings, such as they are, by how they said something, not by the validity or strength or insight of what they’ve said. In fact, the content of almost all poems is typically banal and cliched: reworked pablum half-understood and only partly worked-out. What makes poems interesting to read, when they’re interesting to read at all, is not what’s said but how it’s said.

        But modern and postmodern poets have lost sight almost entirely of what poetry is all about, and have for about 100 years of free verse tried to say smart things instead of say whatever thing they’re saying well, even beautifully.

        And because the erudite, hard-working, reality-based intellectuals and academics in every field are so erudite, hard-working, and reality-based, they are simply and straightforwardly enormously better at being smart than poets are. Poets, by abandoning beauty and beautiful language, have made themselves pointless.

        • noochinator said,

          November 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

          Poets, actors, artists
          Prize feeling over thought—
          Which is very good for close-ups
          But for much else comes to naught.

  20. #103 support said,

    November 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    He wrote Dreamers of Dreams,
    On poets and the poem—
    Here’s an interview from ’78—
    Long may he roam!

    103. John Ivan Simon

  21. #80 support said,

    November 16, 2012 at 10:32 am

    80. Alicia Ostriker

  22. #79 support said,

    November 17, 2012 at 10:31 am

    79. Juliana Spahr

    December 2, 2002

    As it happens every night, beloveds, while we turned in the night
    sleeping uneasily the world went on without us.

    We live in our own time zone and there are only a small million of
    us in this time zone and the world as a result has a tendency to
    begin and end without us.

    While we turned sleeping uneasily at least ten were injured in a
    bomb blast in Bombay and four killed in Palestine.

    While we turned sleeping uneasily a warehouse of food aid was
    destroyed, stocks on upbeat sales soared, Australia threatened first
    strikes, there was heavy gunfire in the city of Man, the Belarus
    ambassador to Japan went missing, a cruise ship caught fire, on yet
    another cruise ship many got sick, and the pope made a statement
    against xenophobia.

    While we turned sleeping uneasily perhaps J Lo gave Ben a
    prenuptial demand for sex four times a week.

    While we turned sleeping uneasily Liam Gallagher brawled and
    irate fans complained that “Popstars: The Rivals” was fixed.

    While we turned sleeping uneasily the Supreme Court agreed to
    hear the case of whether university admissions may favor racial

    While we turned sleeping uneasily poachers caught sturgeon in the
    reed-filled Caspian, which shelters boar and wolves, and some of
    the residents on the space shuttle planned a return flight to the US.

    Beloveds, our world is small and isolated.

    We live our lives in six hundred square feet about a quarter mile
    from the shore on land that is seven hundred square miles and five
    thousand miles from the nearest land mass.

    Despite our isolation, there is no escape from the news of how
    many days are left in the Iraq inspections.

    The news poll for today was should we invade Iraq now or should
    we wait until the inspections are complete and we tried to laugh
    together at this question but our laughter was uneasy and we just
    decided to turn off the television that arrives to us from those
    other time zones.

    Beloveds, we do not know how to live our lives with any agency
    outside of our bed.

    It makes me angry that how we live in our bed—full of connected
    loving and full of isolated sleep and dreaming also—has no
    relevance to the rest of the world.

    How can the power of our combination of intimacy and isolation
    have so little power outside the space of our bed?

    Beloveds, the shuttle is set to return home and out the window of
    the shuttle one can see the earth.

    “How massive the earth is; how minute the atmosphere,” one of
    the astronauts notes.

    Beloveds, what do we do but keep breathing as best we can this
    minute atmosphere?

  23. #101 support said,

    November 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    101. William Kulik


    It’s my last day on earth and a guy in a white coat I hope to Christ is really a doctor and not some paranoid asshole escapee from a nuthouse is asking me intimate weird questions about my medical history, writing the answers down on a clipboard with a crude holographic likeness of a winking Mona Lisa who looks, I think, like Kirk Douglas in drag taped to the back. Because my tenure here is tenuous, I don’t respond to his steady stream of insults—though I am sorely, as they say, tempted to—as he mocks the scars, sags and creases of a body I’ve always hated. “Ugly black mark, right thigh,” he demands, pointing with his pen. Grudging but obedient, I answer: “Pencil stab, kid brother, 1951.” “Why?” “Teased him.” “About what?” I feel a mixed rush of anger and shame. “Being a sissy.” He scowls, and I wish I could shove the pen up his ass, but I need to give in. “Jagged scar, left eyebrow,” he says, fingering the hair, and in spite of myself I get an odd tingle. “Highschool gang fight,” I answer, remembering the sneer on the face of the kid who started it by calling me a queer. He pauses, staring deep into my eyes, then goes on about the folds of belly-fat, the misshapen navel, the lopsided ears, the crooked chin, and I’m feeling less like a man than ever and more like his minion—the word comes to me out of a blue very like his eyes—so when he smirks at the patch of psoriasis I’ve always been ashamed of, it’s more than I can bear. “Singed by the high-tension wires of life,” I lisp, limp-wristed, and stare into those depthless captivating eyes, which suddenly gleam with lust. Swiftly licking his lips, he yanks off a rubber mask: it’s our twelfth-grade English teacher, Dr. Sonnenfeld, who we all thought was having an affair with the custodian, Mr. Delp, and here he is at heaven’s gate with my fate in his hand, which is now behind my back and me without a single hymn to sing

  24. #78 support said,

    November 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    78. Heather McHugh

    Webcam the World

    Get all of it. Set up the shots
    at every angle; run them online
    24-7. Get beautiful stuff (like
    scenery and greenery and style)
    and get the ugliness (like cruelty
    and quackery and rue).
    There’s nothing
    unastonishing—but get that, too. We have

    to save it all, now that we can, and while.
    Do close-ups with electron microscopes
    and vaster pans with planetcams.
    It may be getting close
    to our last chance—
    how many

    millipedes or elephants are left?
    How many minutes for mind-blinded men?
    Use every lens you can—get Dubliners
    in fisticuffs, the last Beijinger with
    an abacus, the boy in Addis Ababa who feeds
    the starving dog. And don’t forget the cows

    in neck-irons, when barns begin
    to burn. The rollickers at clubs,
    the frolickers at forage—take it all,
    the space you need: it’s curved. Let
    mileage be footage, let years be light. Get
    goggles for the hermitage, and shades for whorage.
    Don’t be boggled by totality: we’re here to save the world

    without exception. It will serve

    as its own storage.

  25. thomasbrady said,

    November 18, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    The poems featured in 29 thru 32 above evince, in different ways, a timeless concern in poetry: intellectual expansiveness and the broadest possible vision—the sincere attempt to see and feel and express “all.” It’s a lot to ask a short poem, but isn’t this what all expression attempts to do, anyway? And here’s a classic example:

    WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
    Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
    Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
    Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
    When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face, 5
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
    And think that I may never live to trace
    Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
    And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
    That I shall never look upon thee more, 10
    Never have relish in the faery power
    Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
    Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
    Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

  26. #104 support said,

    November 19, 2012 at 11:34 am

    104. Steven Patrick Morrissey

  27. #105 support said,

    November 22, 2012 at 11:52 am

    105. Dawn Potter


    I flaunt my silk underwear,
    one more slit-eyed bitch
    clogging your cracked headlights.
    Any old hag is the girl of your dreams,

    and I
    am only halfway down the road to rot,
    thumb-bone flagging your sleek

    Dust blunders at loose ends,
    tornado blue, thick as brains.
    I slouch ditch-side,
    time’s cynic.

    Driver, don’t make me wait.
    Just hit,
    hit, and run.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Tracing Paradise, a kind of Milton versus Maine,
      A kind of grandeur versus plain,
      Should make a great gift, whether to urbane lover
      Or my dear old mother.
      Advice to poets, all:
      Go to Amazon! Get your haul!

      • noochinator said,

        November 25, 2012 at 2:30 pm

        D’accord, mon frere, for though the arts
        Can sometimes seem too femme,
        How the Crimes Happened seems to have echoes
        Of the soul’s alarm
        At impending harm.

        • thomasbrady said,

          November 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm

          Art’s the ‘eternal feminine,’ as Goethe said,
          And the reason poetry’s dead
          Is that Modernism killed Milton, Shelley, Poe,
          Beautiful women who made love slow.
          Raping minds with poems obscure and preachy,
          Modernism insists its experiments are peachy.
          “Tracing Paradise” is Dawn Potter’s soul;
          Autobiographical prose is Dawn Potter whole.
          Poetry is too difficult for most…
          Poetry belongs to Shelley’s ghost…
          I know I sound like a traditional ape
          When I equate Modernism with rape
          But wherever I looked I found
          And still do,crude Ezra Pound…

  28. #106 support said,

    November 25, 2012 at 11:16 am

    106. Lola Haskins

    from her Forty-four Ambitions for the Piano

    Some Members of the Chord Family

    1. The Major

    Every morning he waxes his moustache
    with a tiny brush, finishing the ends
    with a twirl between finger and thumb.
    His mother never had to tell him
    to sit up straight. Early on,
    he taught himself to deploy food
    accurately to his high mouth
    without looking down, a musical
    skill akin to finding one’s bedroom
    door, no matter how dark the room.
    At thirty he devised a six-point
    inspection scheme he has never
    felt the need to change. Looking
    into the mirror, he begins it now.

    2. The Minor

    They met at Fort Meade the summer
    of forty-two. She dove into the
    pool in her new green suit. A strap
    broke. For a moment her white breasts
    swung free.

    That night the Major sat
    on the edge of his bed. She was
    an advance on his map, a skirmish
    to be won. Across the battlefield
    of his dreams he moved his tanks,
    his guns.

    Dry, her pale hair floated
    around her face. Her eyes were
    the changing shades of water.
    In all their married life, he never
    quite touched her.

    3. Diminished, Their Daughter

    Amid the Dulles rush she perches
    on her case, with its remnants
    of old destinations, hanging from
    limp strings. Her father has not
    seen her fresh-dyed hair, nor
    the shaven moon above her ear
    which bristles to her palm.
    For this, she shrinks to go home.
    Yet waiting, she is a quetzal
    among crows, a flash of green
    and crimson feathers. She has
    arrived carefully early. There is
    no chance she will miss her plane.

  29. thomasbrady said,

    November 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Bizarre! I would almost say discordant…

  30. #106 support said,

    November 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    106. Lola Haskins

    from her Forty-four Ambitions for the Piano


    The swing in the hips of a man
    who’s known the sea,

    the dim roll and drag,
    the black or turquoise water

    on which he walks, on shore
    or far from land.

    There is the peace in him
    of the bird

    who begins her warble knowing
    she has all day to sing.

  31. #77 support said,

    November 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    77. Eileen Myles


    I flew into New York
    and the season
    a giant burr
    something hot was moving
    through the City
    that I knew
    so well. On the
    plane though it was
    white and stormy
    I saw the sun
    & remembered the warning
    in the kitchen
    of all places
    in which I was
    informed my wax
    would melt
    no one had gone high
    around me,
    where’s the fear
    I asked the
    Sun. The birds
    are out there
    in their scattered
    cheep. The people
    in New York
    like a tiny chain
    gang are connected
    in their
    and their saving
    one another. The
    morning trucks
    growl. Oh

    save me from
    knowing myself
    if inside
    I only melt.

  32. #103 support said,

    November 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    103. John Simon

    “Are the poets of earlier eras uninteresting? Certainly not. To say nothing of Shakespeare, a genius for all ages, but also Wyatt, Skelton, Donne, Marvell, Rochester, Prior, Pope, and a lot of others, to mention only early Brits. Still, my great passions are for later poets: MacNeice, Ransom, Cummings, and especially Robert Graves; also the Jameses, Dickey and Wright. Non-Anglos? Apollinaire, Mallarmé, Valéry, Prévert, Queneau, Celan, Rilke, George, Hofmannsthal, Kastner, Lenau, Morike, Storm, Morgenstern, Cavafy, Ritsos, Montale, and those amazing Hungarians: Ady, József, Babits, Kosztolányi, Illyés, Pilinszky and Radnóti, and one Serb, Vasko Popa. See my Dreamers of Dreams: Essays on Poets and Poetry.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Interesting that John Simon does not like Bach, Mozart or Beethoven and finds “repetition” or “near-repetition” a problem with those earlier musicians.

      One would think repetition is necessary for any kind of music, but maybe the question is more nuanced—since repetition in poetry and music will always occur, even when one is trying to avoid it. Even in prose for instance, sounds always reoccur, and since there’s only so many notes in music, how can one avoid “repetition?”

      The question is: how is repetition handled? Repetition is a given. I, for one, certainly have no issue with how Bach, Mozart and Beethoven handle repetition!

      • noochinator said,

        November 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        But Simon does love the following musical works:

        Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto and Souvenirs ballet,
        Ibert’s Trio for Violin, Cello and Harp,
        Mompou’s song cycle Combat del somne,
        Montsalvatge’s Lullaby for a Small Negro Boy,
        Martin’s Concerto for 7 Winds and Strings,
        Mahler’s “Adagietto” from his Fifth Symphony,
        Debussy’s La plus que lente,
        Ravel’s ballet L’Enfant et les sortileges,
        Kodály’s Approaching Spring (Közelítő Tél) for baritone and orchestra,
        Bartók’s Second Suite for Orchestra,
        Sallinen’s opera The Red Line,
        Britten’s Peter Grimes, and
        Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier

        From which I conclude:

        When someone speaks of what s/he loves,
        Listen closely to what s/he doth mention—
        But when someone speaks of what s/he hates,
        Ye needeth not pay close attention.

        Or as conductor James Levine once said,

        “…[There’s] this mania in America these days for pissing on everything, which is something I just don’t understand. I think life is too short and too good.”

        • thomasbrady said,

          December 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm

          ‘Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
          Go just alike, yet each believes his own.
          In poets as true genius is but rare,
          True taste as seldom is the critic’s share.
          —Alexander Pope

  33. #107 support said,

    December 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    107. Anthony Horowitz

    Bad Dream

    When Eric Simpson went to bed,
    Silk pillows lay beneath his head.
    The sheets, a perfect shade of white,
    Were freshly laundered every night.
    His quilt was utterly deluxe.
    No fewer than two hundred ducks
    Had met their maker to provide
    The feathers that had gone inside.
    The mattress was so very soft
    It didn’t lie so much as waft
    Across the springs that held it up
    Like froth above a coffee cup.
    By now you will be well aware
    That Eric was a millionaire—
    At least his father was, for he
    Had made a pile in property.
    Show him a field and he would bawl,
    “Why, that should be a shopping mall!”
    An ancient woodland, in his mind,
    Should be cut down and redesigned
    And turned into a cul-de-sac
    With 50 houses back to back.
    In short, he took a real pride
    In wiping out the countryside.
    Young Eric really can’t be blamed
    For being similarly framed;
    A herd of cows would make him shriek
    And tremble for at least a week,
    And even flowers had the trick
    Of making him feel rather sick.
    The city was his habitat.
    His father had a penthouse flat
    With views of concrete all around,
    And that’s where Eric would be found
    Dreaming of the day when he
    Might also work in property.
    We join him now… it’s half past ten
    He cleans his teeth (and flosses), then
    He goes to bed, turns out the light
    And settles down to spend the night
    In total peace and comfort, which
    Attend upon the super-rich
    But even as his eyelids close,
    A sudden gust of something blows
    Into his room. The curtains leap
    But Eric’s gone—he’s fast asleep
    And in a moment he is hurled
    Straight into another world.
    He’s running through a moonlit wood.
    The trees are close. This isn’t good.
    Why is he here? He stops to think,
    And at that moment starts to sink
    Into a bog. He feels it rise
    Above his feet, his calves, his thighs,
    And soon he finds—what rotten luck—
    That he’s become completely stuck.
    He punches down. The wet mud splotches.
    All around him, Nature watches:
    It looks as if this boy from town
    Will very soon begin to drown.
    But Eric knows it’s just a dream,
    He wants to wake up, tries to scream,
    But not a word escapes his lips
    As inch by inch the cold mud grips.
    He feels it clinging to his skin
    And whimpers as it pulls him in.
    He twists and turns. A single jerk
    Might pull him free. It doesn’t work.
    Instead the movement’s a disaster—
    Now he’s sinking even faster.
    The swamp’s already ’round his chest.
    He has just minutes more at best.
    A living thing, the horrid slime
    Continues its relentless climb.
    He puts his arms out, tries to float;
    The mud had closed around his throat.
    His lips draw back. His teeth are bare
    As desperately he sucks the air
    And strains his neck and lifts his chin
    To stop the slime from rushing in.
    His eyes bulging, open wide,
    As if he’s been electrified.
    Are things as dreadful as they seem?
    They can’t be. This is just a dream!
    “A dream!” he manages to shout—
    The words at last come bursting out.
    At once the swamp climbs even higher
    As if to prove the boy a liar.
    It fills his mouth and then his nose
    As down and down and down he goes.
    It’s in his eyes. It’s in his ears.
    And finally he disappears,
    Apart from one hand; in despair,
    It stretches out to feel the air.
    The fingers twitch just one more time
    Then stop and sink into the slime.
    The next day Eric slept in late.
    The maid came in at ten past eight
    With breakfast carried on a tray
    And found to her intense dismay
    The boy flat out upon the bed,
    Facedown, hands out and stone-cold dead.
    The maid (who had to be sedated)
    Was told that he had suffocated.
    “It can’t be true!” she cried. “I fear
    That something dreadful happened here.”
    And what was it that froze her blood?
    Quite simply this: the smell of mud.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      I got stuck in the mud of the doggerel
      And the crude point of view
      Doesn’t ring true—
      But I’m glad Anthony gave it a whirl.

      • noochinator said,

        December 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm

        Perchance it would make
        A fun Burton movie,
        With narration by Helena—
        The results could be groovy.

  34. #76 support said,

    December 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

    76. Maurice Manning

    A Psalm to Bring Remembrance

    I had a friend when I was little;
    he went to a different school because

    he was a little slow. He lived
    with a giant man and woman who weren’t

    his parents, and six or seven more
    he called his sisters and brothers. He had

    a dog named Sister. We played in the woods
    and tinkered on our bicycles.

    One day, an older girl took off
    her shirt and told us we could touch.

    He did. He waved his hands around
    as if he were trying to catch a bird.

    The older girl was a Catholic,
    I believe; her name was Mary; I

    was a Presbyterian, and he
    was nothing. Another day, we broke

    a woman’s window with a rock.
    He got the tar whipped out of him.

    I mowed the banjo player’s yard
    all summer to pay my share. You God

    up there who saw it all, I hope
    his life got better, but I doubt

    it did. If he is dead by now,
    I hope he’s resting in your bosom.

    Do not be slow. Remember he
    was poor and needy, more than me.

  35. #108 support said,

    December 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

    108. Maggie Robbins

    Suzy Cleans Up

    Suzy tried to fix her vacuum,
    found a bag for empty cans,
    drained the sink and washed the dishes,
    wiped the pot and both the pans.
    That was it for pressing details.
    That was it for weekend plans.

    Suzy rented Reefer Madness,
    thinking it was Jacques Cousteau.
    Now she’s lying on the sofa
    —feeling quite adagio—
    flipping through a Car and Driver,
    slurping down a sloppy joe.

    Louie’s Lonesome Diner beckons—
    Suzy’s taking Lisa’s shift.
    Lisa’s getting married Sunday.
    Suzy needs a card and gift.
    Wear the mini—Suzy’s getting
    off at two, she’ll need a lift.

    Harry’s nuts for almond cookies.
    Suzy buys him chocolate chip.
    Harry has to work on weekend.
    Suzy phones the dealership.
    Harry’s always with a client.
    Harry says they’ll take a trip.

    Suzy wants her own small business.
    Suzy wants her own backyard.
    Suzy wants her own Jacuzzi.
    Suzy needs a gift and card.
    She’ll become the Lonesome’s owner,
    queen of Northern Boulevard.

    Lisa’s theme is Hearts and Cupid.
    Lisa’s dress is long and nice.
    Suzy thinks the whole thing’s stupid.
    Suzy said she’ll bring the rice.
    Suzy wouldn’t marry Harry.
    Maybe if he asked her twice.

    (from Suzy Zeus Gets Organized: A Novel)

  36. #74 support said,

    January 24, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    74. Tim Seibles

    Ode to My Hands

    Five-legged pocket spiders, knuckled
    starfish, grabbers of forks, why
    do I forget that you love me:
    your willingness to button my shirts,
    tie my shoes—even scratch my head!
    which throbs like a traffic jam, each thought
    leaning on its horn. I see you

    waiting anyplace always
    at the ends of my arms—for the doctor,
    for the movie to begin, for
    freedom—so silent, such
    patience! testing the world
    with your bold myopia: faithful,
    ready to reach out at my
    softest suggestion, to fly up
    like two birds when I speak, two
    brown thrashers brandishing verbs
    like twigs in your beaks, lifting
    my speech the way pepper springs
    the tongue from slumber. O!

    If only they knew the unrestrained
    innocence of your intentions,
    each finger a cappella, singing
    a song that rings like rain
    before it falls—that never falls!
    Such harmony: the bass thumb, the
    pinkie’s soprano, the three tenors
    in between: kind quintet x 2
    rowing my heart like a little boat
    upon whose wooden seat I sit
    strummed by Sorrow. Or maybe

    I misread you completely
    and you are dreaming a tangerine, one
    particular hot tamale, a fabulous
    banana! to peel suggestively,
    like thigh-high stockings: grinning
    as only hands can grin
    down the legs—caramel, cocoa,
    black-bean black, vanilla—such lubricious
    dimensions, such public secrets!
    Women sailing the streets
    with God’s breath at their backs.
    Think of it! No! Yes:
    let my brain sweat, make my
    veins whimper: without you, my five-hearted
    fiends, my five-headed hydras, what
    of my mischievous history? The possibilities
    suddenly impossible—feelings
    not felt, rememberings un-
    remembered—all the touches
    untouched: the gallant strain

    of a pilfered ant, tiny muscles
    flexed with fight, the gritty
    sidewalk slapped after a slip, the pulled
    weed, the plucked flower—a buttercup!
    held beneath Dawn’s chin—the purest kiss,
    the caught grasshopper’s kick, honey,
    chalk, charcoal, the solos teased
    from guitar. Once, I played
    viola for a year and never stopped

    to thank you—my two angry sisters,
    my two hungry men—but you knew
    I just wanted to know
    what the strings would say
    concerning my soul, my whelming
    solipsism: this perpetual solstice
    where one + one = everything
    and two hands teach a dawdler
    the palpable alchemy
    of an unreasonable world.

  37. #73 support said,

    January 25, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    73. Haruki Murakami

    Fortuitous Poem

    She looked to be in her mid-fifties.
    She was short and stocky, and from behind, had a weird sort of gait, like a crustacean.
    She wore tiny metal-framed glasses, but the space between her eyebrows was flat and broad and you could clearly see the downy hair growing there.
    She had on a wool suit of indeterminate age, though no doubt it was already out of fashion by the time it was manufactured, and it carried with it a faint odor of mothballs.
    The suit was pink, but an odd sort of pink, like some other color had been accidentally mixed in.
    They had probably been aiming for a classy subdued sort of hue, but because they didn’t get it right, the pink of her suit sank deeply back into diffidence, concealment, and resignation.
    Thanks to this, the brand-new white blouse peeking out of the collar looked like some indiscreet person that had wandered into a wake.
    Her dry hair, with some white strands mixed in, was pinned back with a plastic clip, probably the nearest thing she had had on hand.
    He limbs were on the beefy side, and she wore no rings on her stubby fingers.
    There were three thin wrinkles at her neckline, sharply etched, like notches on the road of life.
    Or maybe they were marks to commemorate when three wishes had come true—though he had serious doubts that this had ever happened.

  38. #71 support said,

    February 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    71. Galway Kinnell


    When I was twenty the one true
    free spirit I had heard of was Shelley,
    Shelley, who wrote tracts advocating
    atheism, free love, the emancipation
    of women, the abolition of wealth and class,
    and poems on the bliss of romantic love,
    Shelley, who, I learned later, perhaps
    almost too late, remarried Harriet,
    then pregnant with their second child,
    and a few months later ran off with Mary,
    already pregnant herself, bringing
    with them Mary’s stepsister Claire,
    who very likely also became his lover,

    and in this malaise á trois, which Shelley
    had imagined would be “a paradise of exiles,”
    they lived, along with the spectre of Harriet,
    who drowned herself in the Serpentine,
    and of Mary’s half sister Fanny,
    who killed herself, maybe for unrequited
    love of Shelley, and with the spirits
    of adored but often neglected
    children conceived incidentally
    in the pursuit of Eros—Harriet’s
    Ianthe and Charles, denied to Shelley
    and consigned to foster parents; Mary’s
    Clara, dead at one; her Willmouse,
    Shelley’s favorite, dead at three; Elena,
    the baby in Naples, almost surely
    Shelley’s own, whom he “adopted”
    and then left behind, dead at one and a half;
    Allegra, Claire’s daughter by Byron,
    whom Byron sent off to the convent
    at Bagnacavallo at four, dead at five—

    and in those days, before I knew
    any of this, I thought I followed Shelley,
    who thought he was following radiant desire.

    • thomasbrady said,

      February 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      I personally scolded Kinnell for writing this poem—published in the New Yorker, a dishonest poem, because based on gossip—and he didn’t look very happy. Well, too bad. It’s an ugly piece of writing.

      • noochinator said,

        February 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm

        Refreshing though
        (At least to me)
        To see a modern poet
        Say free love isn’t free.

        • thomasbrady said,

          February 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

          Imposing a sermonizing platitude on top of the gossip doesn’t help, either. I will never forgive Kinnell that poem. His best poem, “When One Has Spent A Long Time Alone,” is rarely mentioned. Kinnell studies needs a kick in the ass.

  39. thomasbrady said,

    February 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks, Support!

    Cramer v. Cramer

  40. #69 support said,

    February 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    69. Richard Wilbur

    Advice to a Prophet

    When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
    Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
    Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
    In God’s name to have self-pity,

    Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,
    The long numbers that rocket the mind;
    Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,
    Unable to fear what is too strange.

    Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.
    How should we dream of this place without us?—
    The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,
    A stone look on the stone’s face?

    Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive
    Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
    How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,
    How the view alters. We could believe,

    If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip
    Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
    The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
    The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

    On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
    As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
    Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without
    The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,

    These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?
    Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
    Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
    Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

    In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean
    Horse of our courage, in which beheld
    The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
    And all we mean or wish to mean.

    Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose
    Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding
    Whether there shall be lofty or long standing
    When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.

  41. #68 support said,

    February 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    68. David Wagoner


    Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
    Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
    And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
    Must ask permission to know it and be known.
    The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
    I have made this place around you.
    If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
    No two trees are the same to Raven.
    No two branches are the same to Wren.
    If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
    You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
    Where you are. You must let it find you.

  42. #109 support said,

    February 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    109. Beth Frost

    Three Poems of Wonder

    1. Untold Wonders

    Catch a leaf falling through the sky,
    A beauty fresh and clean—
    Untold wonders will be yours,
    As man has never seen.

    2. The Horizons of Time

    Do not look wonderingly at the horizon
    For the heavens of the sky—
    For heaven is beyond the horizons of time.

    3. A Magic Starry Night

    A touch of brilliance in the sky,
    A glow beyond compare—
    A speck of wonder up above,
    A coolness in the air—

    A perfect circle within the black,
    A glistening silver light—
    A mystic shine in the cold grey dark
    A magic starry night.

    Beth Frost (when she was 12 years old)

  43. #67 support said,

    February 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    67. J.D. McClatchy

    My Old Idols

    I. AT TEN
    1955. A scratchy waltz
    Buzzed over the ice rink’s P.A.
    My classmate Tony, the barber’s son: “Alls
    He wantsa do is, you know, like, play.”
    Bored with perfecting my languid figure eights,
    I trailed him to a basement door marked GENTS
    With its metal silhouette of high-laced skates
    (Symbols, I guess, of methods desire invents).
    Tony’s older brother was waiting inside.
    I’d been “requested,” it seemed. He was sixteen,
    Tall, rawboned, blue-eyed,
    Thumbs hooked into faded, tightening jeans.
    I fumbled with small talk, pretending to be shy.
    Looking past me, he slowly unzipped his fly.

    Her voice: steeped in a rancid syrupy phlegm:
    Whatever’s not believed remains a grace
    While again she invokes the power that yields:
    Splintered timber and quick consuming flame:
    The simplest way to take hold of the heart’s
    Complications, its pool of spilt religion:
    A long black hair sweat-stuck to the skin:
    The bitter sleep of the dying: the Jew in Berlin:
    Who sent you here? the sharp blade pleads:
    Stormcloud: thornhedge: starchill:
    Blood bubble floating to the top of the glass:
    The light, from fleshrise to soulset:
    The world dragging the slow weight of its shame
    Like the train of pomp: guttering candle: her voice.

    Parasangs, satraps, the daily drill . . .
    Beginner’s Greek its own touchstone.
    The sophomore teacher was Father Moan,
    Whom I longed to have praise my skill.
    The illustrated reader’s best
    Accounts of murder and sacrifice
    Only suggested the heavy price
    I longed to pay at his behest.
    He’d slap the pointer against his thigh.
    I quivered. What coldness may construe
    Of devotion was an experience
    As hard to learn as catch his eye.
    I kept my hand up. Here! I knew
    The right answer. The case. The tense.

  44. March 26, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Letter to David Orr

    Dear David.

    I read your piece about Louise Glück’s Metamorphoses. The article appeared in The Times, January 18, 2013. I’ve read that piece a number of times. I met Louise Glück years ago—I think 1968, but her hair was very short, not like the picture you have of her in The Times. She came to the University of Buffalo, to read from a book she’d just done . . . Slave Ship.

    I was then, a merchant seaman, and publishing poems in The Nation, Choice, (John Logan’s literary journal), Evergreen Review, the Grove Press newsstand magazine, and lots of other places, too. I would send the poems, and they were accepted. I was working, that day of Louise’ reading, in the Buffalo harbor, shifting ships tied up for the winter, the cargo holds loaded with storage grain.

    I went to Louise’ reading in my work clothes, work boots, dungarees covered with grain dust, a hooded sweat shirt, very ragged. I sat seven rows back. The Black Mountain poet, John Weiners was there. He had been teaching at U of B, but wasn’t anymore, and quite broke, living in a room across the street from the campus.

    Louise was reading to a group of 35 people and getting at least a couple hundred dollars—big money back then. John was near to having a nervous breakdown and made odd mocking noises responding to lines in Louis’ poems that he didn’t care for. She did not know who he was or what was going on but she kept reading.

    There was an intermission. Louise went out into the hall. I followed her out and told her the interrupter was the Poet John Weiners and that he was close to a nervous breakdown, so she would understand he was not himself, with his critical noises.

    After the reading someone told me where the “party” was. I shot home, showered, slipped on a pair of decent slacks, dress shoes, a Brooks Bros quality red checkered shirt, my English Burberry raincoat and drove to the party. I talked to Louise. She was wearing black slacks and a white sweater. It was fun. I told her where I’d published poems, pointed out we were both Jewish, close in age and that we should consider a lifetime romance. I did want to get to know her. I thought she was interesting, (and took note she had a great rear end) but this was only lower case flirting at a poetry reading party. I would not have rejected getting to know her but I was only teasing—kidding around. That’s all!

    I told her I was a merchant seaman and that I was going to be coming down to NYC to ship out and I’d call her. Maybe we would have lunch. I said that. She gave me her phone number. But when I did call her, only to have a lunch, as, I’d caught a ship that first day in NYC, (through the union hall) and would be flying south, to Mobile, Ala. to catch the actual ship the next afternoon, she was distant— cold on the telephone.

    She dissed me. Blew me off. Said she wasn’t interested in having any lunch. “No thank you,” she said. I’d thought maybe we’d begin to get to know each other—communicate. I had been writing Thalamiums. An Epithalamium, a Prothalamium—so Louise inspired a poem I entitled Proposalamium. I started writing the poem in Mobile, and finished up the poem between New Orleans and the Panama Canal, and I mailed it to her, typed on thin tissue paper we used for airmail letters, from The Panama Canal Zone.

    I thought that was very romantic. A poem from a seafarer passing through the Panama Canal.

    I did not hear from her and did not expect that I would as the ship was, after all, only passing through the Canal Zone from Atlantic to Pacific, on the way to Vietnam. When I returned to Buffalo I did recite my poem for her, three or four times at some informal poetry readings. I might have shown it to a few people and recited it over a coffee in the student union, too, but no one had copies.

    Years later, in the early eighties I returned to Buffalo, ran into someone who said there was a poetry reading that night and told me where the party was. I skipped the reading and went to the party. There I saw an old friend, Jack Clarke, who was a poet and a Blake scholar, teaching at U of B, had been for years—was hired to teach when Charles Olson taught there. I was very young, but I knew Charles Olson. Thinking back, when I was 18 years old I met, talked to and shook the hand of e e Cummings. The way e.e. read his poems—narrative voices out of the side of his mouth—was a whole new world. Anyway, Jack Clarke came over to where I stood, warmly greeted me and recited two lines from the poem for Louise and asked me would I recite the poem for him. He only heard that poem for Louise twice, at most, at least ten years earlier and recollected a couple full lines! So I did and a half dozen people crowded around which was unfair to the poet the party was for.

    More recently a friend who also heard the poem a couple times, in 1968, 45 years ago, paraphrased some lines when I told him I was going to write you a letter. But first we should put our erasures in order.

    I bring to the table a work of prophetic art, a Television Scripture, The Book ov Lev It A Kiss, c. 1971, with more than a dozen world events carefully described in advance— beyond poetry which after all is only a try, my book all hand lettered, in double columns, lettered in design to perform on world wide television, on all channels for all peoples and nations at once, with every line a delicate sensible rhyme, like old blind Homer, from dusk until dawn, rivaling Dante, of Divine Comedic fame.

    That is my intent, with words, my plan— words, world orders and word hors d’oeuvres—a new word order— to chart the course for world peace on good ship mother earth the world wide course change in human history to unfold on whirled wide television— me, the Unknown Poet, roasting in the sun—going to finally tell my vision.

    And in the event I don’t get my chants, well that’s the way God planned it.

    So we understand I am an inspired man who gets out of bed and puts on one sock at a time, but mine is a giant facility for “mull tie ling well” rhyme. Gregory Corso was a good friend of mine. I knew Alan Ginsberg but he was not. Ginsberg, gay, did not like my trade mark story of Adman and Even in the Gar Den ov Edum. Leslie A. Fiedler, the literary priest also screwed me out of a fellowship and went out of his way to stifle my independent publications. I thought he blamed me for his “Being Busted,” but something else was going on. I was real good friends with his wife and children. I castigated Fiedler on one page in the Television Scripture. I guess he didn’t like that.

    One time I was going to do a reading with Robert Creeley. We arrived at the coffee shop where the reading was to be, around the same time, and Creeley said at the door, “No Book ov Lev.” I could recite my poems, the poem for Louise and whatever else I cared to recite, but not any mythological tales from my Television Scripture.

    I want to do something big with the Poetry Foundation and that is the reason behind my writing this letter to you. I want to republish The Book ov Lev It A kiss, in hard covers, in association with the Poetry Foundation, to protect the money, and market the Television Scripture on television to dish out a couple million copies of the first Television Rent-A-Book immediately—within the first week, so I raise many millions of dollars to set up the coming all channels dusk until dawn program. I need a couple hundred million dollars just for billboards!

    The next step in this endeavor is to send you a First Edition with commentary on all the pages where world events are described in advance, and what my proposal entails so I / we could at least talk about it with the Foundation.

    Here is a poem where all of actual human history draws, in four lines, to the bow of a ship:

    Night watch on the ship’s prow
    The stars are out in disorder,
    Every thing ever been seen
    By the naked eye / Is out tonight.

    You get to the higher reality in this world through the actual! When something is truly mystical, the reel deal—you miss a lot but you get a tickle. Relative to my Television Scripture, H. Marshall McLuhan was a friend of mine and we spent hours together over a period of months in 1970. At the half way mark in my lettering the book, he said i had Finnegan’s Wake beat—that I eclipsed James Joyce.

    We did have a falling out when I wouldn’t give it to him to give to his agent for publication. I just couldn’t give up the ownership. Couldn’t.

    In the Latin, sine cere (sincerely) means “without any wax.” The idea was, in the time of Nero, when you bought a marble wall for your patio, to ask the marble provider was it “sine cere,” was the wall without any wax filling a crack in the marble that would be exposed when the sun beat down and melted the wax filler. What else. Louise’ father owned the Exacto Knife Company and she worked there in his office, when I met her. That was the phone number she gave me. One more thing—when I got to the word “tool,” as I recited that line in the poem I would reach into my breast pocket and hold up a fountain pen. OK My poem for Louise:

    Epistle Proposalamion

    Dear Louise,

    I’m ensconced on a slave ship.
    Soon I’ll be over the side.
    Imagine your Michael,
    Handsome balding and overboard
    Lost at sea. Louise,
    I’m yearning for life in Queens,
    A first floor flat
    With a fence and a terrace
    I’ll change my ways
    Work for your father
    And write for his blades,
    “Buy Exacto,
    The smart man’s marker in Harlem.”
    Your mother will love
    My charms and my wealth,
    And only for you my phallus.

    Sweet Queens Louise
    In all the best bookstores
    I write on the walls
    When I was in New York
    I dosed up Louise Glück
    Strange little bugs
    Ride out my head
    But I dreamed this gossip!
    I’ll swear it’s just an untrue lyric.
    Please Louise your hand
    Don’t gaff me,
    So what if I’ve
    A head full of graffiti,
    The hand that jerks this tool
    Will jerk you, too, It’s true.

    Louise, I want romance.
    Seize the chance
    And give me a squeeze
    I’ll teach you Louise
    I make lots of noise.
    It would be lovely
    My hand in your waist
    Soft and open
    I’ll take a taste
    Trembling sweet and unafraid
    Without any wax
    I want you.

    Michael Stephen Levinson
    [S.S. Young America
    Panama Canal Zone, 1968]

    Here is a very recent poem I published in The Times Commentary of Andrew Rosenthal

    Iraq Anniversary War Poem

    Hell is on earth.
    For every innocent Iraqi
    Whose life Bush shorted,
    And our kids, too,
    Who died defending freedom
    Though all they defended
    Was Cheney’s Halliburton;
    For all those souls departed,
    Lives deformed, disowned
    From Bush’s ill will game
    To slay the Iraqi, The Big
    Salami, Saddam Hussein,
    George will roast in the sun,
    His throne turd blossomed
    A thousand years in stone.

    After Haley’s Comet
    Runs a dozen centuries
    Bush will get his whoosh,
    Bereft in icy Haley’s hoof,
    Cut loose at Heaven’s door
    To ask for the bless of
    Our Creator. Hark!
    Saddam Hussein, of late
    On wait at Heaven’s Gate,
    Resolutely stomps
    Our “Little Bush’s” fait,
    The cloudy floor of Heaven
    Caves again. Bush in a blink
    Shackled to a rain drop
    Plopped in fresh Katrina,
    Splat, his upper crusty soul
    Awake in crapper stink,
    Bar-Donna Bush-Corleone,
    Papa George Elder of Wimp.
    All in the same slop dump,
    Theirs, an unforgiven haven.

    Only the innocent
    Are called to Allah’s bosom.
    Heaven only has room for them.

    Michael Stephen Levinson


    Find recitations of the story of Adman and Even, also the Adman and Even pages hand lettered on the website. Were you to show those pages to a linguist they might tell you they see Phoenician, Egyptian, Aramaic and Hebrew, but all you see is American lingo, with the words refracted into silly bulls.

    In good faith

    Mike Levinson

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