SCARRIET’S HOT 100— AS WE RING OUT A WILD 2014!

olena.jpg

Olé, Olena!  No. 4 on the Scarriet Hot 100

1. Claudia Rankine –Seems everyone wanted her to win the National Book Award

2. Louise Gluck –Won the National Book Award. Coming into focus as morbid lyricist

3. Dan Chiasson –Coveted reviewing perch in the glossy pages of the New Yorker

4. Olena K. Davis –Praised by #3 for “Do you know how many men would paykilldie/for me to suck their cock? fuck

5. Terrance Hayes –2014 Best American Poetry Editor for David Lehman’s annual series (since 1988)

6. Patricia Lockwood –Her book, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals made NY Times most notable 2014 book list

7. Rita Dove What was all that fuss about her anthology, again?

8. Henri Cole —Poetry editor part of mass resignation at New Republic

9. Valerie Macon –appointed laureate of North Carolina, resigned due to firestorm because she lacked credentials

10. Helen Vendler –Contributing editor in TNR’s mass exodus

11. Glyn Maxwell –British poet and editor of The Poetry Of Derek Walcott 1948-2013

12. James Booth –author of Philip Larkin: Life, Art, and Love

13. Afaa Michael Weaver  –this spring won the Kingsley Tufts Award: $100,000 dollars

14. Frederick Seidel –Stirred outrage with a strange poem about Ferguson.

15. Clive James –Got into some controversy about racism and sex reviewing Booth’s book on Philip Larkin in the Times

16. William Logan –The honest reviewer is the best critic.

17. Ron Silliman –Elegy & Video-Cut-and-Paste Blog

18. John Ashbery –Perennial BAP poet

19. Cathy Park Hong –Wrote “Fuck the Avant-garde” before Brown/Garner protests: Hong says poetry avant-garde is racist.

20. Philip Nikolayev –Poet, translator, Fulcrum editor, currently touring India as beloved U.S. poetry guest

21. Marilyn Chin –Poet, translator, new book from Norton, currently touring Asia as beloved U.S. poetry guest

22. Daniel Borzutzky –Guest blogger on Poetry Foundation’s Blog Harriet: “We live in an occupied racist police state”

23. Ben Mazer –Brings out Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom—as po-biz churns with racial indignation

24. Nathaniel Mackey –Headlined poetry reading at Miami Book Fair International.

25. Marjorie Perloff  —Now we get it: the avant-garde is conservative

26. Amy Berkowitz –Wrote on VIDA Web page how everyone has been raped and how we can be safe.

27. Yelena Gluzman –Ugly Duckling editor publishes vol. 3 of annual document of performance practice, Emergency Index

28. Carol Ann Duffy –British poet laureate gave riveting reading in Mass Poetry festival (Salem, MA) this spring

29. P.J. Harvey –Rocker to publish book of poems in 2015—Good luck.  Rock is easier.

30. Christian Nagler –poet in Adjunct Action: “SF Art Institute: faculty are 80% adjunct and have no say in the functioning of the institution”

31. Major Jackson –Wins $25,000 NEA grant.

32. Divya Victor –Her book, Things To Do With Your Mouth, wins CA Conrad’s Sexiest Poetry Award.

33. Kenny Goldsmith  —wears a two-million-ton crown

34. Donald Hall –new book, Essays After Eighty

35. Mary Oliver –new book, Blue Horses: Poems

36. Charles Wright –2015’s U.S. Poet Laureate

37. Stephen Burt –Harvard critic looking for funny stuff other than Flarf and Conceptualism.

38. Vijay Seshadri –2014 Pulitzer in Poetry

39. Ron Smith –The new poet laureate of the great state of Virginia!  North Carolina still waits…

40. Sherman Alexie –the first poet in BAP 2014. It used to be Ammons.

41. Erin Belieu  –Hilarious poem spoofing Seamus Heaney in her new book, Slant Six

42. Robert Pinsky  –has influence, authority and a lisp

43. Billy Collins –Becoming critically irrelevant?

44. Adam Kirsch –Senior Editor and poetry critic, also saying goodbye to TNR

45. Cornelius Eady  –co-founded Cave Canem.

46. Anne Carson –One of those poets one is supposed to like because they’re a little deeper than you…

47. Lucie Brock-Broido  –Emily Dickinson refuses to be channeled

48. Tony Hoagland  –still smarting from that tennis poem

49. Bob Hicok –He’s the new Phil Levine, maybe?

50. Yusef Komunyakaa –Won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1993

51. Eileen Myles –Just published a novel about her younger days

52. Sharon Olds  –still glowing from her 2013 Pulitzer win, the book showcasing her exploded marriage

53. D.A. Powell –Studied with Vendler at Harvard

54. Cate Marvin –In BAP 2014 and on fire with p.c indignation.

55. Dean Young  –wants to be the best poet ever—in a late 70s Iowa Workshop sort of way

56. Chris HughesTNR owner: “Despite what has been suggested, the vast majority of our staff remain…excited to build a sustainable and strong New Republic that can endure.”

57. Alan Cordle –changed poetry forever with his Foetry.com

58. George Bilgere  –patiently enduring the Collins comparisons

59. William Kulik –the ‘let it all hang out’ prose poem

60. Amy King –Northern Lesbo Elitist

61. Leah Finnegan –Wrote in Gawker of TNR: “White Men Wrong White Man Placed in Charge of White-Man Magazine.”

62. Jorie Graham –Get ready!  Her Collected is coming!

63. David Kirby –“The Kirb” teaches in Florida; a less controversial Hoagland?

64. Don Share –edits the little magazine that prints lousy poetry and has a perfunctory, cut-and-paste blog

65. Paul Lewis –BC prof leading Poe Revisionism movement

66. Robert Montes –His I Don’t Know Do You made NPR’s 2014 book list

67. Cameron Conaway –“beautifully realized and scientifically sound lyrics” which “calls attention to a disease that kills over 627,000 people a year” is how NPR describes Malaria, Poems 

68. Charles Bernstein –He won. Official Verse Culture is dead. (Now only those as smart as Bernstein read poetry)

69. Richard Howard –Did you know his prose poems have been set to music?

70. Harold Bloom  –He has much to say.

71. Camille Paglia  –Still trying to fuse politics and art; almost did it with Sexual Personae

72. Vanessa Place –This conceptualist recently participated in a panel.

73. Michael Bazzett  —You Must Remember This: Poems “a promising first book” says the New Criterion

74. Matthea HarveyIf the Tabloids Are True What Are You? recommended by Poets.Org

75. Peter Gizzi –His Selected Poems published in 2014

76. Mark Bibbins –Poets.Org likes his latest book of poems

77. Les Murray –New Selected Poems is out from FSG

78. Michael Robbins –writes for the Chicago Tribune

79. Stephen Dunn –The Billy Collins school—Lines of Defense is his latest book

80. Robin BeckerTiger Heron—latest book from this poet of the Mary Oliver school

81. Cathy Linh CheSplit is her debut collection; trauma in Vietnam and America

82. John Gallaher –Saw a need to publish Michael Benedikt’s Selected Poems

83. Jennifer Moxley  –Panelist at the Miami Book Fair International

84. Bob Dylan –Is he really going to win the Nobel Prize?

85. Ann Lauterbach  –Discusses her favorite photographs in the winter Paris Review

86. Fanny Howe –Read with Rankine at Miami Book Fair

87. Hannah Gamble –In December Poetry

88. Marianne BoruchCadaver, Speak is called a Poets.Org Standout Book

89. Anthony Madrid  –His new book is called I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say

90. Robyn SchiffRevolver is not only a Beatles album.

91. Ted GreenwaldA Mammal of Style with Kit Robinson

92. Rachel ZuckerThe Pedestrians is out

93. Dorothea LaskyRome is her fourth book

94. Allan PetersonPrecarious is the new book: “the weed field had been/readying its many damp handkerchiefs/all along.”

95. Adrienne Raphel –“lavender first and by far”

96. Gillian ConoleyPeace is chosen as a Poets.Org Standout Book

97. Barbara Hamby  –“The Kirb” needs to know. She’s not on the list because of him.

98. Katia Kopovich –She coedits Fulcrum with husband Nikolayev.

99. Doc Luben –“14 lines from love letters or suicide notes” a slam poem viewed a lot on YouTube

100. Tracy K. Smith  2012 Pulitzer in Poetry for Life On Mars

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91 Comments

  1. Andrew said,

    December 19, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    “Amy King –Northern Lesbo Elitist” ha ha ha ha ☺

    Worth reading the whole list just to find that pearl.

    Never heard of the poor woman.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 19, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      I know her on Facebook; that’s why I know she’s okay with “Lesbo…” She’s tough… with a sense of humor…

  2. Mary Douglas said,

    December 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Valerie Macon is from North Carolina and resigned as poet laureate of North Carolina in July. No one has been named to replace her as of this date.

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks, Mary. Ron Smith…I saw that somewhere…

  3. Mary Douglas said,

    December 19, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Ron Smith is the new poet laureate of Virginia but he was appointed in June I think. It could be you read an article that mixed up the names. I did find one earlier in the year that credited Valerie with being from another state although it is true she is originally from New York.

    • Mary Douglas said,

      December 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      I’ll bet there are some (news blogs especially) you could write all mimsy were the borogroves for the headline and the proof readers wouldn’t take any notice- Leaving these tulgey woods (did I spell that right?) for awhile. Happy New Year 2015 (after Merry Christmas, of course)

  4. thomasbrady said,

    December 19, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Mary, I have fixed the list. My mistake! Ron is Virginia! Thank you, again!!

  5. Mary Douglas said,

    December 19, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    You are very welcome. I think you work too hard. Take a break and eat some Boston creme pie or the Cambridge equivalent. I wish I could…plain food frees up my book budget though.

  6. noochinator said,

    December 19, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    101. Reb Livingston — issued forth Bombyonder, a book of poems, short prose pieces, and other sui generis Livingstoniana

    http://www.amazon.com/Bombyonder-Reb-Livingston/dp/0990758206/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419029059&sr=8-1&keywords=bombyonder

  7. #97 support said,

    December 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    97. Barbara Hamby

    “How to Pray”

    Falling down on your knees is the easy part, like drinking

    a glass of cold water on a hot day, the parched straw

    of your throat flooded, your knees hitting the ground

    like a prizefighter in the final rounds. You’re bloody,

    your bones like iron ties, hands trembling in the dust. What

    do you do with your hands? Clasp them together

    as if you’re keeping your heart between your palms,

    like their namesakes in the desert oasis,

    because that’s what you’re looking for now, a place

    where you can rest. It has been a dry ride for months,

    sand filling your mouth, crusting your half-blind eyes,

    and you need to speak to someone—though who

    you don’t really know. Pardon is on your mind. Perhaps

    you could talk to your mother. You are fifteen

    and think her life is over. You don’t say it, but you think it,

    and she’s ten years younger than you are now,

    her hair still dark. How do you thank her for waking up

    each morning and taking on a day that would kill you

    and not just one but thousands? How do you thank her

    for the way she tosses words around and makes

    them spin and laugh and do cartwheels on the lawn?

    And your father, he’s the one who loved poetry,

    bought the book that opened your world to you

    like someone cutting into a birthday cake the gods

    have baked just for her. Do you talk to him about not caring

    and teaching you that same cool touch?

    And King James, how do you thank him for all the words

    his scribes took from Wycliff and Tyndall, and Keats

    for his odes, and Neruda for his. But this wasn’t meant to be a prayer

    of thanksgiving but a scourge with a hairshirt and whips

    and bowls of gruel. But is it blood the gods need,

    or should your offering be all you have—words

    and too many of them to count on the fingers pressed to your lips,

    or maybe not enough and never the right ones.

    Barbara Hamby

    http://plumepoetry.com/2012/02/how-to-pray/

  8. #99 support said,

    December 21, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    99. David “Doc” Luben

    “14 Lines From Love Letters Or Suicide Notes”

    1. Don’t freak out.

    2. We both know this has been coming for a long time.

    3. I have been staying awake at nights, wondering if I should tell you.

    4. I bought the kind of crackers you like. They are in the hall cupboard.

    5. Now that we have watched all the episodes of True Blood, I do not know what else to do next.

    6. I have just been too afraid for too long.

    7. This is the kind of thing where waiting for the time to be right would just mean waiting forever; it’s the kind of thing no one else can help you decide.

    8. I came home on Thursday and found all of the chairs in the house stacked in a pile in the center of my kitchen; I don’t know how long they have been like that, but it must have been me that did it. It is the kind of thing a ghost might do, to prove to the living he is still there. I am haunting my own apartment.

    9. My grandmother was still alive when I was five years old and she told me to check if the iron was hot enough yet, so I pressed my hand against it, and it was red and screaming for hours. Twenty five years later she would still sometimes apologize, in the middle of conversations, I feel so bad about making you touch the iron, she would say, as though it had just happened. I cannot imagine how we forgive ourselves for all of the things we didn’t say until it was too late. But how else do you tell if something is hot but to touch it?

    10. I imagine my furniture in your apartment.

    11. I wonder how many likes it will get on Facebook.

    12. My dad always used to tell the same joke, but I can’t remember the punch line.

    13. I was eight years old and it took three weeks (three eight year old weeks—imagine) to gather everything I needed to be Batman. Rope, boomerangs, a Mardi Gras mask with the beads cut off. I couldn’t find a cave near my house, so I buried them all in a bundle under the ivy. For years after,

    I tried to find that spot again.

    The ivy grew too fast.

    I searched in so many spots

    it seemed impossible I had missed any.

    But I never found it.

    How can something be there

    and then just not be there?

    How do we forgive ourselves

    for all the things we did not become?

    14. I was never bold enough to buy bright green sheets. I wanted them, but always thought they were too brash, even with no one but me to see them. I bought a set yesterday and put them on the bed. I knew that you would like them.

    David “Doc” Luben

  9. #78 support said,

    December 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    78. Michael Robbins

    “Alien vs. Predator”

    Praise this world, Rilke says, the jerk.
    We’d stay up all night. Every angel’s
    berserk. Hell, if you slit monkeys
    for a living, you’d pray to me, too.
    I’m not so forgiving. I’m rubber, you’re glue.
    That elk is such a dick. He’s a space tree
    making a ski and a little foam chiropractor.
    I set the controls, I pioneer
    the seeding of the ionosphere.
    I translate the Bible into velociraptor.
    In front of Best Buy, the Tibetans are released,
    but where’s the whale on stilts that we were promised?
    I fight the comets, lick the moon,
    pave its lonely streets.
    The sandhill cranes make brains look easy.
    I go by many names: Buju Banton,
    Camel Light, the New York Times.
    Point being, rickshaws in Scranton.
    I have few legs. I sleep on meat.
    I’d eat your bra—point being—in a heartbeat.

    Michael Robbins

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/01/12/alien-vs-predator

  10. Mary Douglas said,

    December 21, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Who knew even in the current bleak landscape of American poetry that the golden ticket to publication in The New Yorker was to spit on the great poet Rilke? This is appalling. I read an article yesterday in a UK literary magazine where the author questioned at lenth and in a puzzled tone of voice why Dylan Thomas should be favored more on BBC radio more than current Welsh poets? Have people suddenly grown tone deaf to poetry so that they only recognize the poems written in newspeak or the perpetually laconic? What the heck is going on?

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 21, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Mary,

      Robbins is just presenting a snarky persona…he doesn’t really think Rilke is a jerk.

      But something “the heck” is going on…the merely clever has replaced the core essence of what poetry has traditionally been. A Faustian bargain has been drawn up, the contract signed by academia, the great Temptation has been indulged: poems about Everything are now the rule. Everything has pushed the value of the Poetry Dollar to .0000001 cent.

      That Robbins poem, amusing on first perusal, is already vacuous as a product: it is what you think it is: it is inane crap; it is poetry attempting to express itself by Other means, the Other a place where the Poetry Dollar is worthless.

      It is pure economics, pure math. Poets don’t think economics pertains to them. Unfortunately for them, it does.

      • Mary Douglas said,

        December 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm

        There are many people who will read that poem and not know the persona is cutting Rilke. The utter failure to do the minimum: at least transmit the greatness of the poets of the past to succeeding generations remains. Of course the poem itself is utter bs. So why should The New Yorker publish it at all?

        • thomasbrady said,

          December 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

          And it doesn’t finally matter whether the poet thinks Rilke is a jerk or not—the initial shock (Rilke is a jerk??) which is a brief joke on the reader is the coin of this realm….0000001 cents.

          The earnest person who thinks there is something noble or beautiful to communicate is the target. It’s simply Sophistication having its way with the earnest. The importance of Being Ernest. It’s a Wildean strategy, basically. Wilde had children with one of the most beautiful and desirable ladies in England. Bram Stoker pursued her unsuccessfully. Wilde’s mother was an Irish patriot. Wilde’s pro-Irish mother was the target of Wilde’s disgrace, which ruined him, crushed him, murdered him. Imagine you are a famous writer and suddenly, because you refused to be bullied by an English aristocrat, you are exiled and cannot even see your wife and children, in complete penniless disgrace. This is what heroic England did. Wilde was punished because he was Irish. Because he dared to cross an English aristocrat. This was not a very long time ago. Some of us have grandparents who were alive at this time.

          So anyway, this is the environment out of which comes this type of poetry: it is called ‘I don’t understand life, I don’t understand love, I don’t understand morals, I don’t understand class, I don’t understand poetry, but I wish to be alive to these things, so to play it safe, and to appear intelligent, I will write this kind of poetry.’

          When you read bad poetry, that is, OBSCURE poetry, where you have no idea what they are saying, where they are drunk stuttering out riddles and digressions, it is because the poet is Oscar Wilde and scared to death that disgrace and exile will come. So today’s Oscar Wilde is a coward attempting to please the Marquess. No earnestness allowed.

          The New Yorker simply takes this baton of cowardice and holds it aloft. Robbins writes for the Chicago Tribune and Poetry. He can do someone a favor. That’s why the New Yorker printed it.

          • noochinator said,

            December 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm

            Hmmm, I dunno about your account of Wilde’s persecution. He thought he could be a cut-up in an English court of law and they’d just fall down in admiration. Then when he was convicted, they gave him time to flee for France but he wouldn’t go. He acted as if he was tough enough to brazen out his jail sentence, but he wasn’t — it broke him. Sounds to me like a sad lack of self-knowledge on his part. I know you’re always on the lookout for anything that makes England look bad, but your account reads like history according to Miramax.

            • Mary Douglas said,

              December 21, 2014 at 7:02 pm

              His persona (Mark Robbins in his gushed over endlessly Alien poem) mocked the Duino Elegies of Rilke, the crowning glory of all his work. The New Yorker didn’t bat an eyelash. Neither did the New York Times and certainly not The Chicago Tribune and countless others. We live in the Dark Ages.

              • Mary Douglas said,

                December 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm

                PLAY SOMETHING ON THE VIOLIN FOR RILKE

                Rilkean birds flew out of my heart
                startled by the nearness of the skies.
                cloud music I have loved you
                with an unseen love

                imagining the winds at Duino
                and the first gold fissure of
                angels floating nigh

                the pale green parapets in
                dangerous weather, the
                Poet almost blown overboard…

                who can forget to love
                the poet born
                to be wounded by roses,
                business letters and the unrecorded-

                covert sniping glances on
                the endless pavements where you walked-
                the leaves whirl up as high as sunset
                roses left for you by God

                though you’re no longer here to gather them.
                children gazing from their windows-
                unused to the battlements of high Song-
                as suddenly- began to dream…
                began to notice the teacups rattling on their own-
                and the far distances…

                as though they were meant to be
                strange neighbors
                in the same music,

                Shining-

                mary angela douglas 27-28 february 2012

                • December 22, 2014 at 2:52 am

                  I apologize for saying we live in the dark ages;clearly we don’t. All the great beautiful poetry is still there we just have to read it. I was just mad to see even a passing remark against Rilke in any poem. I should not upset myself or others over it; Rilke is already immortal. Like they said in Russia at one point (from the vantage point of Eternity) manuscripts don’t burn. I do believe in having hope among other things at all times and in all places. So I am sorry for my unthinking rudeness.

                  • noochinator said,

                    December 22, 2014 at 9:07 am

                    No worries, Ma’am, I’m sure Mr. Robbins would be delighted that we’re paying attention to his work.

        • December 22, 2014 at 8:02 am

          TO THE LARK DESCENDING

          [to the prophetic Hans Christian Andersen,
          for his fairytale: “The Emperor’s Nightingale”]

          to the tune of Vaughn Williams “The Lark Ascending” played more and more faintly…

          it’s so important to cry out loud
          whenever it is you’re with that crowd
          and suddenly they’ve come to displace

          the real bird with the fake-
          though it is jeweled;
          though it knows all the variations

          clockwork, on-demand and hops with one wing folded!
          giftwrapped! they’ll exclaim yet you have lost
          the nightingale forever, it may be

          while looking down at your shoes;
          examining the wrong clouds. or standing in line
          at the cafeteria, phrasing it another way-

          just to get through your day.

          gone in an instant! wept the kitchen maid;
          the goose girl in the hunting blind,
          tending the geese

          while the skies turned to glass
          and then, shattered.
          this- mattered!

          ah echo this, echoed this through angelic realms

          so vital it is to cry out loud
          and not prevaricate
          when this much is at stake:

          the life of an Emperor-
          the future state of Poetry on earth…

          (too late).
          the docked wings of the Soul

          mary angela douglas 22 december 2014

  11. thomasbrady said,

    December 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    # 60 was viciously attacked as a “lesbo” on FB just now, and oddly no. 42. was included in the attack as someone no. 60 was not worthy of. Please. We are all human beings. There is no need to make brutal attacks. Be truthful, philosophical, articulate. If something is bothering you, and it’s natural to be bothered by shit, think deeply about what the real issue is, and don’t be afraid to be philosophical about it. But if it’s just hate, it will consume you and injure you. Okay?

  12. #60 support said,

    December 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    60. Amy King

    Autogeography

    Everything I’ve told you so far is fake.
    Fake books. Paper niece. A cardboard wedding
    to a cut-out man I never loved, real or dressed
    imprisonment never present.
    He bought me a real ring and ached fake sex
    to keep him tied on. We did it, made the whole
    fantasy come pink & blue true. Lived that life
    for a sold-out year, not fake, into years
    of work lust baby carriage.
    The split was a slice pulled from apple pie:
    crusted, juice, fruit threads holding the wedge
    to its base until tears, closed car doors,
    driving goodbye. I faked that too:
    we only entered engagement.
    And then a left and a lie. Learned the lie hard.
    I punched him once, no twice, the part
    that hurt then happened. I sorrowed down
    the road; that part too. My errors run
    the lengths of many partial-orphans
    in this country, dried up
    before we started like when you look to the side,
    see me and think your entire self
    is happening too: the hate, the hope,
    the limbs strewn in desperate repose,
    gambling that you’ll get a hold
    of your self before you ghost again.
    Like the time I punched him, my fist aimed
    at the shadow’s gullet, the shallow end.
    But I couldn’t find home base beside us,
    so the lover fell into vision:
    the next best landing strip, clear & present.
    I tuned to the most vacation available
    and howled open in my best speaking voice
    for the ways we go to story
    amid the paper dolls we absent.

    —Amy King

    http://www.tarpaulinsky.com/Chronic/amy-king.html

  13. #101 support said,

    December 22, 2014 at 10:31 am

    101. Reb Livingston

    From Bombyonder

    Recovered Memory

    When I was a girl, I regularly wandered fields and open spaces. Sometimes there’d be men shucking husks and other times there’d be women’s bodies strewn between the crops. I turned a blind eye to both the pie-making ventures and atrocities. Back then it was all the same to me, horrors to be rejected. Once I tripped and fell over half a six-pack. When I pushed myself up I observed a surfer ride the waves of corn. I thought, ain’t this America, ain’t it?

    It sure was, I was pretty sure.

    Reb Livingston

  14. Mary Douglas said,

    December 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    IN OTHER NEWS…AS THEY USED TO SAY: I JUST FOUND OUT THAT A MR. SHELBY STEPHENSON IS THE NEW POET LAUREATE OF NORTH CAROLINA AND WILL BE INSTALLED IN FEBRUARY, 2015. HE WAS APPOINTED TODAY BY GOV. MCCRORY (MONDAY, DECEMBER 22ND). I HAVEN’T READ HIS POETRY YET BUT LIKE VALERIE HE HAS A LOVELY SMILE AND A KINDLY AIR ABOUT HIM REMINISCENT OF STANLEY KUNITZ…

    • Mary Douglas said,

      December 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      I am sending this comment regarding the new poet laureate of North Carolina at about 1:24 p.m. I don’t know why it says 6:21 p.m. The announcement came about half an hour ago.

      • noochinator said,

        December 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm

        I’m pretty sure the blog is set to Greenwich Mean Time — I know the Brits are 5 hours ahead of EST….

      • thomasbrady said,

        December 22, 2014 at 8:29 pm

        Thank you, Mary!

        Valerie, we won’t forget you…

  15. Mary Douglas said,

    December 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    That’s ok. Convenient too. I always wonder from time to time what time is it in England. Forgot the best part about Mr. Stephenson-Gov. McCrory managed to find another non pretentious poet, though, this time one with a few external accolades. Grew up on a small farm has also made 4 cds with his wife of kind of country style, old fashioned folk music, a retired English professor, not stuffy at all, unashamed completely of being born on a small farm and still writing about it in the tradition of the 2nd poet laureate the academics here (in NC) love to ignore and did ignore and subtly criticize during Valerie Macon’s brief but (I think anyway) sterling silver reign, that is, Mr. James Larkin Pearson who was a lifetime apointee. Many of us are extremely happy about this appointment. !We can feel the applause in heaven from the non apologetic rustic poets of our past…Yay! Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (Who Deserve It)

    • Mary Douglas said,

      December 22, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Gadfly to your heart’s content. I’m leaving this weathervane site.

  16. #41 support said,

    December 22, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    41. Erin Belieu

    I Growed No Potatoes To Write About, Sir

    nor bogs, nor fathers,
    nor special water that was my place
    alone to make me hard and wise—
    I did not sow nor bury, nor even try to
    fudge my nothings in such dirt with
    much befangled, peaty spade. My wars
    were far away and fought by men (I fear)
    I do not know. Hi ho. And hence to lady
    work I went. A-sent, ago, long scrubbing at
    my bits to strip them extra minty meadow
    clean. And only then convened the Little
    Ladies’ Manners class. Of Sundays, played
    me wormy rose, decaying that corsage
    of girls pinned to spindly ballroom chairs
    for lessons at our fancy luncheonette. Sir,
    we were a pastel herd. When handing
    us the rulers, be best assured we clenched
    them tense between our knees. You mind
    your Qs and Ps, Sir! We snapped our thighs
    right shut, Sir! A hairy practice, to quick
    the lady trap. But O! it made a vestal woe
    to pay when rulers dropped, to those who
    gived a skinful inch!
    And so, from there
    my lady life increased, soft balled, soft
    voiced, with little tools to fit my box.
    Do not tell, Sir, for we are friends, Sir.
    Is that a yes? Then I will confess of nights
    when tides are slapping me about, moon
    doodled as I am, and that betimes I creep
    into your plot and choose your best and
    biggest digger. Secret-like, I press the shaft
    inside my knee. I strain until the blisters
    come. Freely, Sir, without a word,
    I tamp. I work. I score your squelchy turf.

    Erin Belieu

    http://therumpus.net/2012/11/i-growed-no-potatoes-to-write-about-sir-a-rumpus-original-poem-by-erin-belieu/

  17. #15 support said,

    December 22, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    15. Clive James

    ‘Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love,’ by James Booth

    by CLIVE JAMES, Nov. 20, 2014

    James Booth’s new biography of Philip Larkin is not very exciting, perhaps because Booth has the sense to leave the exciting writing to Larkin. But it is very welcome. If you believe that Larkin (1922-85) wrote some of the best English-language poems of modern times, then it has been a trial to see his questionable track record as an everyday human being get in the way of his reputation as an artist.

    The obfuscation happened in a hurry, only a few short years after Larkin’s death. His pair of distinguished literary executors, Anthony Thwaite and Andrew Motion, served him faithfully with a selection of his letters (edited by Thwaite) and a biography (written by Motion). Unfortunately for Larkin’s image — which had been fairly staid until then, the poet having lived a quiet and mostly provincial life as a university librarian — it became evident that he had indulged himself in racist and sexist language. It had not occurred to the executors that they might have prefaced their respective volumes with a health warning in capital letters pointing out what should have been obvious: that Larkin talked that way only in his private life; that he believed his letters to be part of his private life, too; and that in his public life he was courteous and charming to anyone he met, of whatever gender or racial background.

    Plainly they hadn’t thought it necessary. It shouldn’t have been. But there were dunces waiting, who relished the chance to diminish him. A depressing number of British literary figures averred that it was no longer necessary to read Larkin’s small body of work (he produced barely a hundred pages of poetry), and a few were dumb enough to say that it had never been any good in the first place.

    This reversal of estimation was too wild to stick. There were too many people — on both sides of the Atlantic, and anywhere else English is read and spoken — who simply loved Larkin’s poems. In the last two decades that opinion has managed to reassert itself: an encouraging example of error wearing out its welcome. The chief virtue of Booth’s new book, then, is not to advance a new opinion, but to sensibly demonstrate why the original remains the opinion that matters.

    Booth — a colleague of Larkin’s for 17 years at the University of Hull and literary adviser to the Philip Larkin Society — is an excellent guide to just why a Larkin poem can merit being called great. He points out its features with the proud care of a well-suited senior BMW executive taking a turn in the salesroom. Sometimes he overdoes the enthusiasm. Discussing the mighty poem “The Whitsun Weddings,” for instance, in which the narrator’s train encounters wedding party after wedding party along its journey to London — “A dozen marriages got under way” — he notes the “unmistakable sexual implication” in the imagery (“there swelled / A sense of falling”). If the sexual implication were really unmistakable it wouldn’t be worth any special notice. Speaking for myself, however, I can only say that it’s so mistakable it never occurred to me. In those last lines of the poem Larkin isn’t talking about sex, he’s talking, with incomparable eloquence, about the present day flying onward to become the future.

    Yet Booth is sensitive enough not only to praise the master at his best but also to spot the moments when his sublime talent is not fully engaged. Toward the end, Larkin tried to repeat the success of “The Whitsun Weddings” by composing a similarly exalted hymn to traditional social values called “Show Saturday.” Unfortunately, despite its typical care for detail and craft of assembly, “Show Saturday” is burdened with language that does not sing. “The poet seems listless and bemused, willing himself into enthusiasm for these quaint rituals,” Booth writes, and that “listless” is especially well considered, exactly the right word.

    Booth’s limiting estimation of “Show Saturday” counts as good critical sense, and thus serves to offset the strange moment when he includes the famous second-to-last line of “An Arundel Tomb” — “Our almost-instinct almost true” — among Larkin’s “awkward felicities.” In fact the line is about as un-awkward as a felicity can get. But Booth has not written an academic book. He has written a book of the higher journalism, which is still the kind of attention Larkin needs; although from now on, and partly because of Booth’s book, he might need it less. The way will now be open for commentators on this most lyrically rich of modern poets to be as tin-eared as they like.

    Booth, in his own prose, is only occasionally deaf to rhythm. “He was not yet prepared to throw in the poetic towel” is a construction apt to induce a pain in the critical neck. But the sentence only limps, it doesn’t just lie there and blow bubbles. More important, Booth has a good ear for Larkin’s real-life speech. When Larkin helped to finance the publication of his first major collection, “The Less Deceived,” by agreeing that it be sold by subscription, he privately called the subscribers “the sucker list.” But he was joking, and one of the many merits of Booth’s book is that he can spot Larkin’s jokes. Larkin spoke and wrote the allusive, indirect and ironic tongue of the British literary world. In a time that grows more ­literal-minded almost as fast as it grows less literary, a tongue in the cheek will always need translating, especially to Americans, who expect honesty.

    Larkin was a model of probity in his professional lives as a writer and a librarian, but in his love life he was not honest. The uncovering of his cover-ups is by now probably complete, although in view of his ability to attract women — an ability he made such a point, in his poetry, of saying he lacked — it won’t be much of a surprise if a couple more turn up. With two conspicuous exceptions, the women we know about were reticent and decorous: Normally they would not have done such a thing, but Booth points out that their quiet lives, so short of excitement, might have been the exact reason they couldn’t resist the charm of his company. He spoke well.

    Whether, lacking the hit rate of his handsome friend Kingsley Amis, Larkin was any great shakes after he had got them into bed is something most of us have been inclined to doubt until now, if only on the evidence of his poetry, which places great emphasis on his being left out of the sexual adventure. But one of the conspicuous exceptions, the semi-­bohemian academic Monica Jones, was certainly keen to do anything for him when it came to the boudoir. Even more convincingly, the other conspicuous exception, Patsy Strang — an experienced man-eater with no patience for a merely spiritual relationship — was crazy about him until the end of her life, and long after their love affair was over she turned up begging for him to take her back. That kind of evidence doesn’t make him Errol Flynn, but it does put a damper on his image as a chump.

    Perhaps pretending to be a sexual non-starter was part of Larkin’s strategy. In the animal world, stealthy diffidence is sometimes a useful lead-up to a deadly leap. If so, it was one more deception, in the one area of his life where he really had something to be ashamed of. The man who wrote such a beautiful poem in tribute to Sidney Bechet (“Everyone making love and going shares — / Oh, play that thing!”) couldn’t really have been race-prejudiced even if he claimed to be. But the man who hid his women from one another was causing real damage, because some of them — and those the shyest, nicest and most decent — spent years being led up the garden path. It was cruel of him. Perhaps he just hated the idea of hurting them. Anyway, hurt them he did, a sad fact that Booth is ready to face. But he is also ready to face the even sadder fact that it took Larkin’s injured psyche to produce the serene poems at which we now murmur in astonishment, mouthing the beautiful phrases as we read.

    PHILIP LARKIN
    Life, Art and Love
    By James Booth
    Illustrated. 532 pp. Bloomsbury Press. $35.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/books/review/philip-larkin-life-art-and-love-by-james-booth.html?_r=0

  18. #14 support said,

    December 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

    14. Frederick Seidel

    The Ballad of Ferguson, Missouri

    A man unzipping his fly is vulnerable to attack.
    Then the zipper got stuck.
    An angel flies in the window to unstick it.
    A drone was monitoring all this
    In real time
    And it appears on a monitor on Mars,
    Though of course with a relay delay.
    One of the monitors at the Mars base drone station
    Is carefully considering all your moves for terror output.
    But not to worry. Forget about about about it.

    The body of the man you were
    Has disappeared inside the one you wear.

    Reminds me of the story of the man who had nipples
    Where his elbows should be and whose skeleton
    Was on the outside of his body.
    The guy walks into a shop on Madison to buy some clothes
    And buys some and walks out wearing them
    Wearing them and into the Carlyle bar.
    One of the waiters, originally from Algeria of all places,
    Recognizes him and says with the strong accent
    He has despite many years of living in the United States:
    Your usual?

    A man has disappeared inside his corpse.
    His corpse has disappeared inside a cause.

    Reminds me of the video of Robert Kennedy
    Announcing to a largely black audience at an outdoor campaign rally
    At night in Indianapolis
    That Martin Luther King had been shot
    And killed and by a white man.
    Martin Luther King is dead.

    Skin color is the name.
    Skin color is the game.
    Skin color is to blame for Ferguson, Missouri.

    The body of the man you were
    Has disappeared inside the one you wear.

    I wouldn’t want to be a black man in St. Louis County.

    A man unzipping his fly is vulnerable to attack.
    Then the zipper got stuck.
    An angel flies in the window to unstick it.
    Here comes light-skinned Billie Holiday, Lady Day, no angel!

    A drone was monitoring all this,
    Which appears on a monitor on Mars,
    Though of course with a relay delay.
    One of the monitors at the Mars base drone station
    Is carefully considering all your moves for terror output.
    But not to worry.
    Fuhgeddaboudit.

    Reminds me of the story of the man whose smile
    Shot out flames and whose skin
    Was on the outside of his body.
    The guy walks naked into a shop on Madison Avenue to buy some clothes
    And buys some and walks out on fire wearing them and goes straight
    Across the street in flames to the Carlyle bar.
    One of the waiters looks as if he’s having a stroke
    And raises his hands in Arabic,
    Palms in, and murmurs a prayer,
    And brings God a glass of humble water.

    You can change
    From chasing Communists
    And chasing Jimmy Hoffa, the mobster union president
    Who however supported civil rights,

    And change to blessing and being blessed.

    Some victims change from a corpse to a cause.
    You can change

    Reminds me of the video of Robert Kennedy
    Announcing to a largely black audience at an outdoor campaign rally
    At night in Indianapolis
    That Martin Luther King had been shot
    And killed and by a white man.
    Martin Luther King is dead.

    Frederick Seidel

    http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/11/25/the-ballad-of-ferguson-missouri/

    • Fergie D's Minstrel Show said,

      December 24, 2014 at 2:06 am

      Finish the crackers – grab a smoke…
      of Ferguson my muse will sing.
      A call to arms – God’s fires to stoke;
      let Truth and Freedom ring !

      Take to the streets; avenge this wrong
      and hasten the end of racist rule.
      Justice, though it may tarry long
      will find its target in the duel.

      Young Michael Brown, like all true saints
      found himself craving Swisher Sweets.
      He robbed a store, whose camera paints
      impartial portrait. In the streets

      the thief refused to be detained
      and so threw off police restraint.
      Though sin escaped, the Law remained
      and made a martyr of this saint.

      The agitators did their thing:
      inflaming thugs to smash and loot,
      while racists baited hooks, to string
      the press. Officials followed suit.

      Angels, although not always kind,
      do not display this attitude –
      aware of how the police mind
      responds to such ingratitude.

      We ought to thank the police force
      for showing mercy under stress.
      The culprit chose a foolish course –
      and made a God-awful mess.

      Prince Michael met ignoble fate
      (that ghetto-Christ, that righteous youth)
      His sacrifice in vain – though great,
      could not impede the march of Truth.

      Ferguson, our eyes turn towards you…
      are you now able to admit
      while reality rewards you
      that looting and lying ain’t shit?

  19. Mary Douglas said,

    December 23, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Kindness Flowed Away I Wept

    [God be with all bullied individuals;may they have a Heaven
    all their own]

    “kindness flowed away!,”
    I wept into a stream I thought was living
    kindness cannot stay and I cried “gold”
    but the hills only echoed yellow yellow

    and I cried “sold” and I did not lie
    and worn down slippers caught out in the rain
    and working for a living just the same

    and sopping wet and spit on in the plains
    that leveled out the sidewalk
    countries, dreams, unravelings…
    toe stubbing curbs unnerving.

    this leveled out when numbed was pain
    innured to the everyday the catcalls on the way,
    innumerable. autumnal cackling;
    sidewinder disguises

    peeled like a fresh stick
    so you’d know exactly who was laughing then.

    somewhere a Heaven awaits where this is solved
    and kindness stays at home secured and humming
    the cherry tunes she used to
    when the world was new, the cat fluffed at the window

    stalking no shadows,
    semi-admired the view
    the teakettle sang and nothing broke
    in the cabinets rattling heartsore- heartsore-

    Anymore

    mary angela douglas 23 december 2014

  20. #35 support said,

    December 24, 2014 at 12:08 am

    35. Mary Oliver

    I DON’T WANT TO BE DEMURE OR RESPECTABLE

    I don’t want to be demure or respectable.
    I was that way, asleep, for years.
    That way, you forget too many important things.
    How the little stones, even if you can’t hear them, are singing.
    How the river can’t wait to get to the ocean and the sky, it’s been there before.
    What traveling is that!
    It is a joy to imagine such distances.
    I could skip sleep for the next hundred years.
    There is a fire in the lashes of my eyes.
    It doesn’t matter where I am, it could be a small room.
    The glimmer of gold Böhme saw on the kitchen pot
    was missed by everyone else in the house.

    Maybe the fire in my lashes is a reflection of that.
    Why do I have so many thoughts, they are driving me crazy.
    Why am I always going anywhere, instead of somewhere?
    Listen to me or not, it hardly matters.
    I’m not trying to be wise, that would be foolish.
    I’m just chattering.

    Mary Oliver

    http://www.vogue.com/2892015/poem-mary-oliver-blue-horses/

  21. #68 support said,

    December 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

    68. Charles Bernstein

    Thank You for Saying Thank You

    This is a totally
    accessible poem.
    There is nothing
    in this poem
    that is in any
    way difficult
    to understand.
    All the words
    are simple &
    to the point.
    There are no new
    concepts, no
    theories, no
    ideas to confuse
    you. This poem
    has no intellectual
    pretensions. It is
    purely emotional.
    It fully expresses
    the feelings of the
    author: my feelings,
    the person speaking
    to you now.
    It is all about
    communication.
    Heart to heart.
    This poem appreciates
    & values you as
    a reader. It
    celebrates the
    triumph of the
    human imagination
    amidst pitfalls &
    calamities. This poem
    has 90 lines,
    269 words, and
    more syllables than
    I have time to
    count. Each line,
    word, & syllable
    have been chosen
    to convey only the
    intended meaning
    & nothing more.
    This poem abjures
    obscurity & enigma.
    There is nothing
    hidden. A hundred
    readers would each
    read the poem
    in an identical
    manner & derive
    the same message
    from it. This
    poem, like all
    good poems, tells
    a story in a direct
    style that never
    leaves the reader
    guessing. While
    at times expressing
    bitterness, anger,
    resentment, xenophobia,
    & hints of racism, its
    ultimate mood is
    affirmative. It finds
    joy even in
    those spiteful moments
    of life that
    it shares with
    you. This poem
    represents the hope
    for a poetry
    that doesn’t turn
    its back on
    the audience, that
    doesn’t think it’s
    better than the reader,
    that is committed
    to poetry as a
    popular form, like kite
    flying and fly
    fishing. This poem
    belongs to no
    school, has no
    dogma. It follows
    no fashion. It
    says just what
    it says. It’s
    real.

    Charles Bernstein

    http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/authors/bernstein/reviews/silliman2.html

  22. Suck Support Says said,

    December 24, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Dear me – a lot of these poems SUCK. No wonder people hate poetry.

  23. #55 support said,

    December 24, 2014 at 11:05 am

    55. Dean “Forever” Young

    Poem Without Forgiveness

    The husband wants to be taken back
    into the family after behaving terribly,
    but nothing can be taken back,
    not the leaves by the trees, the rain
    by the clouds. You want to take back
    the ugly thing you said, but some shrapnel
    remains in the wound, some mud.
    Night after night Tybalt’s stabbed
    so the lovers are ground in mechanical
    aftermath. Think of the gunk that never
    comes off the roasting pan, the goofs
    of a diamond cutter. But wasn’t it
    electricity’s blunder into inert clay
    that started this whole mess, the I-
    echo in the head, a marriage begun
    with a fender bender, a sneeze,
    a mutation, a raid, an irrevocable
    fuckup. So in the meantime: epoxy,
    the dog barking at who knows what,
    signals mixed up like a dumped-out tray
    of printer’s type. Some piece of you
    stays in me and I’ll never give it back.
    The heart hoards its thorns
    just as the rose profligates.
    Just because you’ve had enough
    doesn’t mean you wanted too much.

    Dean Young

    http://www.theparisreview.org/poetry/5681/five-poems-dean-young

  24. #53 support said,

    December 24, 2014 at 11:17 am

    53. D.A. Powell

    callas lover

    this is the track I’ve had on REPEAT all afternoon: she is butterfly
    brilliant riband, rice flour face, silken, even her voice a sashed kimono

    if I were foolish like her:
    but aren’t I foolish like her
    spotting the coil of smoke and the billowed sail
    against the verge of sky

    simple on the rise surveying the anchorage: simple me, signal me
    dreading the confident assumption of return, dreading more
    uncertain tone to come, the thinning notes, performance
    too close to my own impatient—swells, a surge: sick wind

    but the emotion is, after all, an artfully conjured gesture
    arranged marriage between a past ache and frail woodwinds
    I could skip ahead
    could break the inconsolable loop
    of harbor, waiting, overlook, waiting, inevitable waning eye

    troubled robins, once more in the handkerchief trees
    once more, brief aquarelle of triplet lilies, blue as willowware
    in that interval before his embrace falters, stuck, founders
    [shuffle play] such a pitch of tenderness in the voice
    such an awful lot of noise

    D.A. Powell

    Note: some of the poet’s spacing is not faithfully rendered above — for the original, click on the link below:

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/180537

  25. #90 support said,

    December 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    90. Robyn Schiff

    H1N1

    God knows how our neighbors manage to breathe.
    No one is allowed
    to touch me

    for infection is a hazard of mercy
    I will not transmit
    as Legion transcribed from the mouth

    of Error into his body
    and sent into a herd of swine
    who sent it to the sea

    who’s been trying to return
    to earth since creation
    and nearly succeeds every day.

    I just took my temperature.
    98 degrees. I am better than healthy.
    I am cooling even as earth

    heats, even as it meets the sea
    further inland and negotiates
    distance from increasingly

    disadvantaged position. I
    am cooling because nothing
    touches me.

    Others may go to the petting zoo
    and country fair
    but don’t even tell me what they touch

    there. I’m taking my temperature again;
    my thermometer is digital and pink
    and its beep is my name

    being read from the book of life,
    which is available on Kindle
    and allows me to avoid the public library

    but contains peculiar punctuation
    errors and is transcribed by
    evangelists while they wait

    in line at gates you can’t see from here. 98.5.
    Still cooler than life. I have another
    glass of water, and feel you turning in me,

    my little book, flipping over and over,
    it’s time for bed little sow, little sow.
    The book of death is open on my bedside

    table and is called The Pregnancy
    Countdown
    , and contains “advice from the
    trenches” about how to level

    the enemy the body.
    It’s time for bed, little bee, little bee. I open my window
    and find ten dead between the pane and the screen

    which apparently has tears big enough
    to enter and I leave them in state
    in a pile and watch

    the wind lift their
    mighty wings in deathly
    aspiration. It is the beginning

    of flu season, Rosh Hashanah.
    Every tear is recorded. I say tear
    to rhyme with the chair by my window,

    not tear to rhyme with the fear of God
    here at the Fair of God
    where the just

    leer at the milk cow
    and brush up against
    captivity and slaughter

    in the name of zoonosis
    and the vector. Nothing touches me,
    little scale, little scale

    I will not be meted I will
    not give the mosquito
    her share even though the blood meal

    is all she has to nurture her eggs
    and mother to mother I hear
    her flight even as she’s drawn

    to my breath by fate and nature,
    which are one and as interchangeable
    as babies in soap operas. Dangerous angel,

    I will not lie down
    with the lamb who is
    contagious. I will not

    hear your name recalled for I
    have not named you and fear
    tempers my love of the letters

    of this world which are as
    pins through the body
    while the wings flail, but I

    will not fail to meet you
    when you get here
    with your shadow

    attached and your
    failure a promise
    entering the success

    of your first breath. On what
    grounds, on what faith,
    dare we aspire

    together where Legion
    hears the ventilator
    and enters the wire?

    Robyn Schiff

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/239102

  26. #27 support said,

    December 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    27. Yelena Gluzman

    EMERGENCY INDEX: AN ANNUAL DOCUMENT OF PERFORMANCE PRACTICE, VOL. 3
    Various Contributors, Vol. 3
    edited by Yelena Gluzman, Sophia Cleary

    http://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/catalog/browse/item/?pubID=307

  27. #102 support said,

    December 25, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    102. Eric Bentley — born 1916, has performed the songs and poems of Brecht and Wolf Biermann

  28. #103 support said,

    December 26, 2014 at 12:21 am

    103. Edward Field — born 1924, turned 90 on June 7, 2014

    Being Jewish

    My mother’s family was made up of loving women:
    They were, on the whole, bearers,
    though Esther, the rich sister, had only one,
    she was the exception.

    Sarah, the oldest, had five with her first husband,
    (that was still in Poland),
    was widowed and came here
    where she married a man with four of his own,
    and together they had another five,
    all of whom she raised, feeding them in relays,
    except little Tillie who sat in the kitchen
    and ate with everyone, meaning all the time,
    resulting in a fat figure
    that made her despair of ever finding a husband,
    but miraculously she did,
    for God has decreed there is someone for everyone,
    if you’re desperate enough
    and will take what you can get.

    Aunt Rachel had twelve, raising them in a stable.
    She was married to a junk dealer
    who kept horses to haul the wagons.
    He was famous for his stinginess
    so they lived in a shack surrounded by bales of hay.
    That was in America, in a slum called Bronzeville
    that the Black people have now inherited from the Jews,
    God help them.
    Then, as now, plenty of kids turned out bad,
    going to work for that Jewish firm, Murder Incorporated,
    or becoming junkies like one of my cousins did.

    My mother only had six
    but that’s not counting… I’ll say no more
    than she was always pregnant
    with a fatalistic “What can you do?”
    (“Plenty,” her friend Blanche replied—she was liberated.
    “You don’t have to breed like a rabbit.”)
    Like her mother who had a baby a year in Poland
    until Grandpa left for America
    giving her a rest.
    There were women who kept bearing
    even then, mysteriously, as from habit.

    Women were always tired in those days and no wonder,
    with the broken-down bodies they had
    and their guts collapsed,
    for with every child they got a dragging down.
    My mother finally had hers
    tied back up in the hospital and at the same time
    they tied those over-fertile tubes
    which freed her from “God’s terrible curse on women.”

    And not just the bearing, but the work:
    The pots couldn’t be large enough for those hungry broods—
    Sarah used hospital pots for hers.
    And then the problem of filling the pots,
    getting up at dawn to go to the fishing boats
    for huge fish carcasses cheap,
    buying bushels of half-spoiled vegetables for pennies,
    begging the butcher for bones,
    and then lugging it all home on their bad legs.
    They didn’t think of their looks for a minute,
    and better they didn’t, shapeless as that life made them.
    (And yet they remained attractive to their men,
    by the evidence of their repeated pregnancies.)

    They just went around wrecks, always depressed,
    unable to cope, or hiding in bed
    while the children screamed.
    “Escape, escape, there must be escape”
    was my mother’s theme song, until at last
    her children escaped from her and her misery,
    having wrecked her life, that endless sacrifice,
    for what?

    I see the proletarian women like them on the streets,
    cows with udders to the waist
    lugging black oilcloth shopping bags,
    the mamales, the mamacitas, the mammies,
    the breeders of the world with loving eyes.
    They sit around the kitchen table with full hearts
    telling each other their troubles—
    never enough money, the beasts their men were to them,
    the sorrow life was for a woman, a mother,
    the children turning out no good—
    and fed each other pieces of leftover meat from the ice box
    to make up a little for life’s pain
    and sighing, drank tea
    and ate good bread and butter.

    Edward Field

    From A FULL HEART (Sheep Meadow Press, 1977)

  29. #69 support said,

    December 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    69. Richard Howard

    “John Ruskin: A Message to Denmark Hill”

    My dearest father, it is the year’s First Day, yet so like the Last, in Venice, no one could tell this birth from the lees. I know it is some while since you received a word of mine: there has been the shabbiest sort of interruption to our exchanges (to mine at least) in the shape of a fever—nights of those imaginings, strange but shameful too, of the Infinite by way of bedcovers and boa constrictors, with cold wedges of ice, as I thought, laid down at the corners of the bed, making me slip to its coiling center where I could not breathe. You knew from my last, I think, I had again gone to the Zoological Gardens and seen the great boa take rabbits, which gave me an idea or two, and a headache. Then I had too much wine that same night, & dreamed of a walk with Nurse, to whom I showed a lovely snake I promised her was an innocent one: it had a slender neck with a green ring round it, and I made her feel the scales. When she bade me feel them too, it turned to a fat thing, like a leech, and adhered to my hand, so that I could scarcely pull it off—and I awakened (so much, father, for my serpentine fancies) to a vermilion dawn, fever fallen, and the sea horizon dark, sharp & blue, and far beyond it, faint with trebled distance, came on the red vertical cliffs in a tremor of light I could not see without recalling Turner who had taught me so to see it, yet the whole subdued to one soft gray. And that morning I had your letter, father, telling of the death of my earthly master. How much more I feel this now (perhaps it is worth noting here the appearance of my first gray hair, this morning)—more than I thought I should: everything in the sun, in the sky so speaks of him, so mourns their Great Witness lost.

    Today, the weather is wretched, cold and rainy, dark like England at this season. I do begin to lose all faith in these provinces. Even the people look to me ugly, except children from eight to fourteen, who here as in Italy anywhere are glorious: so playful and bright in expression, so beautiful in feature, so dark in eye and soft in hair—creatures quite unrivaled. At fifteen they degenerate into malignant vagabonds, or sensual lumps of lounging fat. And this latter-day Venice, father! where by night the black gondolas are just traceable beside one, as if Cadmus had sown the wrong teeth and grown dragons, not men. The Grand Canal, this month, is all hung, from end to end, with carpets and tapestries like a street of old-clothes warehouses. And now there is even talk of taking down, soon, Tintoretto’s Paradise to “restore” it. Father, without the Turner Gallery, I do believe I should go today and live in a cave on some cliffside—among crows. O what fools they are, this restoring pack, yet smoothing all manner of rottenness up with words. My Turner would not phrase like these, and only once in all the years I knew him said, “Thank you, Mr. Ruskin.” My own power, if it be that, would be lost by mere Fine Writing. You know I promised no Romance—I promised them Stones. Not even bread. Father, I do not feel any Romance in Venice! Here is no “abiding city,” here is but a heap of ruins trodden underfoot by such men as Ezekiel angrily describes, here are lonely and stagnant canals, bordered for the most part by blank walls of gardens (now waste ground) or by patches of mud, with decayed black gondolas lying keel-upmost, sinking gradually into the putrid soil. To give Turner’s joy of this place would not take ten days of study, father, or of residence: it is more than joy that must be the great fact I would teach. I am not sure, even, that joy is a fact. I am certain only of the strong instinct in me (I cannot reason this) to draw, delimit the things I love—oh not for reputation or the good of others or my own advantage, but a sort of need, like that for water and food. I should like to draw all Saint Mark’s, stone by stone, and all this city, oppressive and choked with slime as it is (Effie of course declares, each day, that we must leave: a woman cannot help having no heart, but that is hardly a reason she should have no manners), yes, to eat it all into my mind—touch by touch.

    I have been reading Paradise Regained lately, father. It seems to me a parallel to Turner’s last pictures—the mind failing altogether, yet with intervals and such returns of power! “Thereupon Satan, bowing low his gray dissimulation, disappeared.” Now he is gone, my dark angel, and I never had such a conception of the way I must mourn—not what I lose, now, but what I have lost, until now. Yet there is more pain knowing that I must forget it all, that in a year I shall have no more awareness of his loss than of that fair landscape I saw, waking, the morning your letter arrived, no more left about me than a fading pigment. All the present glory, like the present pain, is no use to me; it hurts me rather from my fear of leaving it, of losing it, yet I know that were I to stay here, it would soon cease being glory to me—that it has ceased, already, to produce the impression and the delight. I can bear only the first days at a place, when all the dread of losing is lost in the delirium of its possession. I daresay love is very well when it does not mean leaving behind, as it does always with me, somehow.

    I have not the heart for more now, father, though I thank you and mother for all the comfort of your words. They bring me, with his loss, to what I said once, the lines on this place you will know: “The shore lies naked under the night, pathless, comfortless and infirm in dark languor, still except where salt runlets plash into tideless pools, or seabirds flit from their margins with a questioning cry.” The light is gone from the waters with my fallen angel, gone now as all must go.

    Your loving son,
    JOHN

    Richard Howard, from ‘New American Review #4’, August 1968

  30. #104 support said,

    December 28, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    104. Alan Shapiro — one of the good guys at Chapel Hill

    Takeoff

    We didn’t fall out of love,
    old love, we rose — we rose
    as in a plane, as in the moment
    when the wheels lift
    and the whole craft
    shudders against the gravity
    it then forgets as
    all at once the runway’s
    fretful rushing by the window
    slows and resolves to field
    and tree line, the beaten
    metal of a pond
    the sun anneals;

    we rose the way it all
    grows clearer
    as it diminishes till
    a car drives in place
    along a road that winds
    and straightens, straightens to wind
    again across a widening
    landscape in which
    nothing at all is moving
    except the ever-
    smaller sharper
    shadow of our
    getting clear of it.

    Alan Shapiro

    http://www.cstone.net/~poems/twoposha.htm

  31. Andrew said,

    December 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Too wordy… (yawn)

    • #104 support said,

      December 28, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      104. Alan Shapiro

      Country Western Singer

      I used to feel like a new man
      After the day’s first brew.
      But then the new man I became
      Would need a tall one too.

      As would the new man he became,
      And the new one after him
      And so on and so forth till the new men made
      The dizzy room go dim.

      And each one said, I’ll be your muse,
      I’ll trade you song for beer:
      He said, I’ll be your salt lick, honey,
      If you will be my deer.

      He said, I’ll be your happy hour,
      And you, boy, you’ll be mine
      And mine won’t end at six or seven
      Or even at closing time.

      Yes, son, I’ll be your spirit guide;
      I’ll lead you to Absolut,
      To Dewars, Bushmills, and Jamesons,
      Then down to Old Tangle Foot.

      And there I’ll drain the pretense from you
      That propped you up so high;
      I’ll teach you salvation’s just
      Salivation without the I.

      To hear his sweet talk was to think
      You’d gone from rags to riches,
      Till going from drink to drink became
      Like going from hags to bitches,

      Like going from bed to barroom stool,
      From stool to bathroom stall,
      From stall to sink, from sink to stool,
      From stool to hospital.

      Now the monitors beep like pinball machines,
      And coldly the IV drips;
      And a nurse runs a moistened washcloth over
      My parched and bleeding lips,

      And the blood I taste, the blood I swallow
      Is as far away from wine
      As 5:10 is for the one who dies
      At 5:09.

      Alan Shapiro

      http://www.vqronline.org/country-western-singer

    • Andrew said,

      December 31, 2014 at 7:59 am

      This in response to Howard – not Shapiro…
      I keep having my replies follow the wrong comments due to scrolling too fast. Sorry.

  32. #81 support said,

    December 28, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    81. Cathy Linh Che

    Split

    I see my mother at thirteen
    in a village so small,
    it’s never given a name.

    Monsoon season drying up—
    steam lifting in full-bodied waves.
    She chops corn for the hogs,

    her hair dipping to the small of her back
    as if dipped in black
    and polished to a shine.

    She wears a side-part
    that splits her hair
    into two uneven planes.

    They come to watch her,
    Americans, Marines, just boys,
    eighteen or nineteen.

    With scissor-fingers,
    they snip the air,
    repeat cut,

    point at their helmets
    and then at her hair.
    All they want is a small lock.

    What does she say
    to her mother
    to make her so afraid?

    Days later
    she will be sent away
    to the city for safekeeping.

    She will return home
    only once to be given away
    to my father.

    Her hair
    was dark, washed,
    and uncut.

    Cathy Linh Che

    http://www.splitthisrock.org/poetry-database/poem/split

  33. #70 support said,

    December 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    70. Harold Bloom

    “Master Critic Harold Bloom Likes This Poet. A Lot.” The great Yale literary scholar introduces new poetry by Peter Cole, from Cole’s book The Invention of Influence. By Harold Bloom|January 21, 2014 12:00 AM

    http://tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/159759/harold-bloom-peter-cole

    • thomasbrady said,

      December 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Great Criticism comes out of Great Reviewing; Bloom, like his mystical mentor, Emerson, eschews the honest review for blah blah blah. Bloom prefers tribal mumbo jumbo to universal art. He defines everything by the tribe. If this comforts him, that’s fine, (everyone is allowed their quirky comforts) but it tends to make for unreliable, pretentious Criticism.

  34. #67 support said,

    January 2, 2015 at 10:36 am

    67. Cameron Conaway

    SILENCE, ANOPHELES

    You should have just asked the mosquito.
    — 14th Dalai Lama

    It’s risky business needing
    (blood)
    from others
    not for science or even more life
    for hellos and goodbyes
    and most substances between
    but so your kids can exit
    while entering and spread
    their wings long
    after yours dry and carry on
    by wind not will.

    It’s risky business feeding on others,
    but we all do
    one way or another.

    It’s risky business needing
    when you have nothing,
    but life has you and lives
    writhe inside you.

    Risky to solo into the wild
    aisles of forearm hair thicket
    for a mad sip,
    not quick enough
    to snuff the wick of awareness
    but too fast for savoring.

    A mad sip that makes
    you gotcha or gone
    and may paint you and yours
    and them — Plasmodium falciparum
    on the canvas you needed
    to taste behind.

    It’s risky business needing
    and then getting
    and being too too
    to know what to do —
    too full and carrying
    too many to fly.

    It’s risky business being
    the silent messenger
    of bad news when you don’t know the bad news
    is consuming you, too.

    It’s not risky business
    being the blind black barrel
    of pistol or proboscis,
    but it is damn risky business being
    the pointer or the pointed at.

    It’s risky business being
    born without asking
    for a beating heart.
    Having and then needing to need
    to want until next
    or else
    and sometimes still or else.

    Risky when you’re expected to deliver
    babies and have no gods to guide
    their walk on water
    because you did it
    long before they or him or her or it
    never did.

    Risky when you’re born
    on water and capricious cloudscapes
    shape whether sun lets leaves
    bleed their liquid shadow blankets
    into marshes or mangrove swamps
    or hoof prints or rice fields or kingdoms
    of ditches.

    It’s risky business naming and being named
    while skewered and viewed
    under the skewed microscopic lens
    of anthropocentrism
    an (not) opheles (profit)
    a goddess name, Anopheles,
    that translates to mean useless
    and sounds beautiful at first
    then awful when its insides linger.
    An(ophel)es, you are only 57% different, no,
    you are 43% the same as me, no,
    I am, no, we are 43% you, no, we all are
    nearly, mostly.

    It’s risky business leaving
    large clues —
    a welt and then a dying child slobbering silver
    under its mother’s croon.

    It’s risky business being
    when you don’t
    because you have two weeks
    or less to do doing.

    Risky business killing,
    but it depends on who, where, when —
    self-sufficient Malawi village in 2014
    vs. the legend of Dante & Lord Byron.
    Mae Sot or Maine, Rourkela or Leeds.

    It’s risky business killing
    killers that always only want
    their kind
    of tropical retreat.

    It’s risky business being
    small
    profoundly —
    the speck of black
    sesame or apostrophe
    blending in the expanse
    of rye or papyrus
    and taken
    onto allergic tongues.

    It’s risky business sharing
    your body with strangers —
    uninvited multiplicities hijacking
    what you have
    because to them you are what you have.

    Risky when all know
    your 1 mile per hour,
    your under 25 feet high for miles,
    your 450 wingbeats per second.

    Risky business being you
    when some want not to fly
    weeks with your wings
    but walk days atop them.

    Is it riskier business being content
    and peacefully going extinct
    or not being
    content and forever brinking
    in the bulbous ends of raindrops
    that cling but fatten?

    Like raindrops and us, Anopheles,
    when you fatten, you fall.
    History favors the fallen.

    To drip
    a long life
    of falling
    before the fall
    or to live
    a short life
    oblivious to it all?

    Risky that we exchange
    counters — DNA mutations
    that make some of us
    sometimes
    sort of
    immune to each other’s jabs
    though hooks always slip through,
    and we send each other stumbling,
    always stumbling, always only stumbling.

    Changing ourselves changes each other.
    Each other is ourselves.

    They tell us it’s risky business doing
    being,
    but it is more risky being
    doing.
    Did you hear all that, Anopheles?
    How about now?
    We’re asking. We’re good at that.
    Does all life listen
    at the speed of its growing?
    Are we listening too loudly
    or too slowly to your silence?

    “Human malaria is transmitted only by females of the genus Anopheles. Of the approximately 430 Anopheles species, only 30-40 transmit malaria” (Malaria, Mosquitoes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 February 2010).

    Cameron Conaway

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/goatsandsoda/2014/11/06/360469321/if-you-think-youll-never-see-a-poem-about-malaria-youre-wrong?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=storiesfromnpr

  35. #101 support said,

    January 2, 2015 at 11:44 am

    101. Reb Livingston

    Vague Memory (from Bombyonder)

    We were sexing it up on a very fine mattress. Experts said sleep would be improved, but sex remains sketchy on memory foam. Sleeping and sexing were pretty much the same for me so I didn’t notice much difference. When he poured mouthwash on my chest was that part of the act or the dream? Did he really liken our sex to slitting our throats? That made me think of my father and I didn’t want to remember him while I was sexing on a memory foam mattress.

    What did it mean that this lover masturbated all over my scarf collection? Was this a trick to keep my neck exposed? Was he serious when he said he wanted to see the latest Johnny Depth film? Was that what reminded me of Heath Ledger in Monster Ball?

    Were the hysterics the film’s or mine?

    Reb Livingston

    http://www.mapliterary.org/reb-livingston-from-bombyonder.html

  36. #44 support said,

    January 2, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    44. Adam Kirsch

    Opera Night at Caffe Taci

    No curtains here, no chandelier to raise;
    She takes the low stage and begins to peal
    Long airs of anguish, to distracted praise
    From the gourmands of opera and the meal.
    She wears the helium shoulderpads of dresses
    Sold in a suburban bridal shop,
    Rigid in velvet, while the waitresses
    Lounge at their ease in cottons from the Gap;
    Whatever third-rate coach she studied with
    Could not undo the mannerism that
    Half-shuts her eyes and splays her lipsticked mouth,
    The cartoon mincing of a marionette.
    It’s all just as it should be. For the crowd,
    The sensual pampering and dignified
    Consumption; in return she is allowed
    To sing, gauche and ignored, beatified.

    Adam Kirsch

    http://littlereview.dreamwidth.org/594489.html

  37. #103 support said,

    January 2, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    103. Edward Field

    Sharks

    Especially at evening
    everyone knows the sharks come in
    when the sun makes puddles of blood on the sea
    and the shadows darken.

    It is then, as night comes on
    the sharks of deep water
    approach the shore
    and beware, beware the late swimmer.

    Edward Field

    http://jamielynnbuehner.blogspot.com/2010/05/2-awesome-poems-by-others.html

  38. #105 support said,

    January 3, 2015 at 12:27 am

    105. John Simon — theatre critic who writes about poetry at his blog; here’s a gem from a recent post: “When you look at the work of most modern poets, indeed those most respected and even venerated, what you tend to get is largely a thing that differs from prose only in line breaks, which, together with enjambment, make for something shorter but similar to the paragraphs in prose.”

    WHAT IS POETRY? by John Simon (Jan. 1, 2015)

    To the question “What is poetry?” there is, let’s face it, no definitive answer. A bad novel is still a novel, a poor story still a story. But an unworthy poem is doggerel or, at best, verse, but not to be dignified as a poem. I suppose that makes poetry a higher form of art, although a great novel or story can equally qualify as art with unflinching pride.

    Certainly the Romantics proclaimed poetry the supreme literary genre, which was not always so. One major 18th-century Frenchman (was it Buffon?) declared of a poem that it was almost as well written as prose. According to Rilke’s poet protagonist Malte Laurids Brigge, it takes a whole lifetime of living and polishing to create a few lines of poetry. In any case, poetry has often been termed as a prime example of something defying definition.

    Dennis O’Driscoll’s excellent Quote Poet Unquote, to which I’ll make frequent reference, begins with an ominous motto: “BOSWELL: Sir, what is poetry? JOHNSON: Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not.” And in his introduction, O’Driscoll goes on to quote the Doctor: “To circumscribe poetry by a definition will only shew the narrowness of the definer.“ He also refers to the most famous would-be definitions in English, Coleridge’s “the best words in the best order” and Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquility” as inadequate.

    Surely emotion can be recollected in tranquility in prose as well as in verse, as the great fiction writers have amply demonstrated. Coleridge’s definition sounds a bit more useful, but what are the best words and on whose say-so? The words “Swiss cheese” are as good as anything in writing about food, but how good are they really, and how does one determine the best order? From left to right, presumably, but not so in Hebrew.

    O’Driscoll begins his introduction with what I began above, “A defining mark of poetry is that it defies definition. On this, if nothing else, poets and critics of all stripes, camps, and persuasions tend to agree.” But he also points out that this never could, and never should, stop us from trying, which, at a minimum, should result in such epigrams as Michael Longley’s, “If I knew where poems came from, I’d go there.”

    Of course, it has long been argued that the finest poetry, at least in the allegedly very poetic pastoral style, came from Arcadia. But that region in the center of the Peloponnesus has not produced a single major poet, unless you press Theocritus into that role.

    Well, O’Driscoll’s book comprises 303 pages, and not one doesn’t yield at least something interesting on the subject. On the first page, we get this from David Gascoyne (in Strand, Spring 1992): “Poetry is like a substance, the words stick together as though they were magnetized to each other.” Save that here “one another” would be preferable to “each other” (surely it takes more than two words to make a poem), this is thought provoking. But there is also the clumsy quote from Rita Dove: “Poetry is the purest of the language arts. It is the tightest cage, and if you can get it to sing in that cage it’s really, really wonderful” (Poetry Flash, January 1993). According to Dove, poetry is both the cage and that which may be made to sing inside it. I guess she means strict form (cage) and melodious sound (really, really wonderful), but exactly what is that? And does meaning count for nothing?

    Probably too much has been made of sound at the expense of meaning. So John Crowe Ransom pointed out that Tennyson’s “The murmur of innumerable bees,” thought to be wonderfully onomatopoetic, could be just as well “the murder of innumerable beeves,” which no one would find euphonious. Yet when sound or melodiousness is intense throughout a poem, credit should be given. But for this purpose, meter and rhyme are best suited, though both have been largely jettisoned by modern poetry.

    When you look at the work of most modern poets, indeed those most respected and even venerated, what you tend to get is largely a thing that differs from prose only in line breaks, which, together with enjambment, make for something shorter but similar to the paragraphs in prose.

    The first section of Quote Poet Unquote, subtitled “Contemporary Quotations on Poets and Poetry,” is under the heading “What Is It Anyway?” — five and a half pages of fascinating quotations, more or less aphoristic, but hardly definitive.

    From my book, Dreamers of Dreams, there is this: “Poetry is the meeting point of parallel lines—in infinity, but also in the here and now. It is where the patent and incontrovertible intersects with the ineffable and incommensurable.” What I was trying to say, using the mysterious mathematical formula about parallel lines (which I have never quite understood) in the sense of the arcane (ineffable and incommensurable) somehow fusing with personal conviction or faith in individual truth (patent and incontrovertible). A state where the private becomes universal, the mortal immortal, the “mine” somehow “everybody’s.” Or experience becomes history.

    There is the famous comment of Mallarmé to, I believe Degas, who had submitted to him some verse for evaluation. Noticing the poet’s disapproval, the painter defended the contained ideas. Mallarmé answered, “It is not with ideas that a poem is made; it is with words,” meaning that form is content, that expression supersedes intention.

    Take, for instance, Thomas Nashe’s famous lines: “Brightness falls from the air;/ Queens have died young and fair;/ Dust hath closed Helen’s eye./ I am sick, I must die.” Some have argued for a typo, and that the line should read “Brightness falls from the hair.” That may be the idea, but “air” is unforgettable, “hair” is not.

    Get hold of Quote Poet Unquote and read at least those first five-and-a-half pages, and you’ll find most quotations memorable. Thus Peter Porter’s “Poetry is either language lit up by life or life lit up by language,” very good, but prose. Alexander Pope, however, gets poetry out of meter and rhyme, as in “Drink deep or not at all from the Pierian spring,/ A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

    Now I know that French poetry—to say nothing of the Japanese haiku—is syllabic, as in the twelve-syllable Alexandrine, but it is the caesura and rhyme that make the verse poetry. Free verse can be beautiful, even perdurable, but I do not consider it poetry (forget about Whitman). “Give me liberty or give me death” is effective rhetoric, but not poetry. But make it read, “I’ll say with both my first and final breath/ Give me liberty or give me death,” and it becomes, even with that catalectic second line, poetry.

    On what is poetry (the word comes from the Greek “poiema,” meaning something made or created), I find that invaluable work, J. A. Cuddon’s Literary Terms and Literary Theory both concise and always helpful. We read: “In the final analysis what makes a poem different from any other kind of composition is a species of magic, the secret to which lies in the way the words lean upon each other, are linked and interlocked in sense and rhythm, and thus elicit from each other’s syllables a kind of tune whose beat and melody varies subtly and which is different from that of prose—‘the other harmony.’” (Shades of Gascoyne’s “the words stick together”.)

    It is interesting to contemplate the German words “Dichter” and “Dichtung,” which are applied equally to authors and works of poetry and prose, to lyric, epic, novelistic or short-story works. German does not have a word such as the English novelist or the French “romancier.” “Schriftsteller,” which is the closest to it, means merely writer, and is never applied to a poet. There is, however, the German word “Poet,” albeit somewhat antiquated or “literary.”

    Cuddon’s word, “magic,” though much abused, is not inappropriate, not here a hyperbole. There is something magical about a successful poem, even if written in simple and everyday diction, as for example by that great French poet, Jacques Prévert. This is why the quotations in O’Driscoll’s book, though illuminating and often witty, original and imaginative, do not constitute an ungainsayable definition.

    Thus most of those quotations are metaphors and similes, not definitions. Take Billy Collins’s “Poetry is like standing on the edge of a lake on a moonlit night and the light of the moon is always pointing straight at you,” or R. S. Thomas’s “Poetry is that/ which arrives at the intellect/ by way of the heart.” Very nice, but no definitions. Such cleverness, however acute or even poignant, remains eminently debatable, whereas such things as “hatred” or “armchair” or “shadow” are indisputably defining.

    Now, after all this, are we any closer to a definition of poetry? Not really. But what upon a sufficient number of years and by a sufficient number of people, preferably educated, is read, preferably aloud, and declared a poem, very likely is a poem. And what it is made of is poetry.

    http://uncensoredsimon.blogspot.com/2015/01/what-is-poetry.html

  39. #28 support said,

    January 4, 2015 at 9:26 am

    28. Carol Ann Duffy

    Prayer

    Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
    utters itself. So, a woman will lift
    her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
    at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

    Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
    enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
    then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
    in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

    Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
    console the lodger looking out across
    a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
    a child’s name as though they named their loss.

    Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer —
    Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

    Carol Ann Duffy

    http://whilethereisstilltime.blogspot.com/2009/12/rockall-malin-dogger-finisterre.html

  40. #4 support said,

    January 5, 2015 at 9:19 am

    4. Olena Kalytiak Davis

    A Small Number

    So far, have managed, Not
    Much. So far, a few fractures, a few factions, a Few
    Friends. So far, a husband, a husbandry, Nothing
    Too complex, so far, followed the Simple
    Instructions. Read them twice. So far, memorized three Moments,
    Buried a couple deaths, those turning faces. So far, two or Three
    Sonnets. So far, some berrigan and Some
    Keats. So far, a scanty list. So far, a dark wood. So far, Anti-
    Thesis and then, maybe, a little thesis. So far, a small Number
    Of emily’s letters. So far, tim not dead. So far, Matt
    Not dead. So far, jim. So far, Love
    And love, not so far. Not so love. So far, no-Hope.
    So far, all face. So far, scrapped and scraped, but Not
    With grace. So far, not Very.

    Olena Kalytiak Davis

    http://www.bu.edu/agni/poetry/print/2002/56-davis.html

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 5, 2015 at 11:51 am

      I measure out my life with coffee spoons?

  41. January 5, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    4. Olena Kalytiak Davis

    Francesca Says More

    that maiden thump was book on floor, but
    does it really matter who kissed who
    first or then who decided to go further?
    lower? faster? naturally, we took
    turns on top. now here, now there, and up
    and down
    …once it started no one even thought to think to stop.
    so, we have holes inside our souls,
    but mustn’t we begin by filling others’?
    god gave us lips and hands and parts
    that cannot possibly be saved for prayer. nor by.
    i will not name name, claim fame by how well
    or who i fucked or why, it happens all the time.
    and it’s you, white pilgrim, whom next galehot seeks.

    fuck. we didn’t read again for weeks.

    Olena Kalytiak Davis

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/12/08/you-and-me-both

  42. #87 support said,

    January 6, 2015 at 9:42 am

    87. Hannah Gamble

    We Have No Instincts, Only Legs to Run On

    and if one is running, all objects
    appear blurry. I do not understand
    how I see some movements of your face,

    and not others. I know
    in each flinch, you are telling me
    something. I have forgotten what to ask

    because now there is nothing but
    questions. In an ocean, I can’t see
    the drops of water and also,

    not the salt. Once you described
    my temperament as salty, and not
    in a kind way. Similarly,

    my nose is longer than yours
    and I never knew to feel bad
    about it. For I was born innocent

    and stayed that way until only
    recently. So I define innocence
    in my own way and refuse to listen

    to people who pay no attention
    to how I like to be spoken to. I learned
    to be demanding from the Lord, who asks

    a lot of me. If I disappoint him, it is only
    because at night, I’m too tired. It is at night
    that the Lord wants my courage,

    and he brings his creations to my door
    to test me. I send them away
    with words, but often I fear

    that they will send me away
    and live in my house where it’s warmer,
    since the human home is the envy

    of creation. We use our homes to advertise
    our blessings. Yet creation does not feel blessed
    and someone told me that’s our fault.

    Hannah Gamble

    http://www.biglucks.com/gambl/

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 6, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      A bad relationship is the source of most poetry.

  43. #51 support said,

    January 7, 2015 at 7:55 am

    51. Eileen Myles

    Woo

    Out in a bus stop
    among the
    mountains
    a yawn, boy drive by
    blue mountains
    little tan mountain
    house, similar
    each scape
    is all its own place
    no woman
    is like any
    other

    Eileen Myles

    http://chax.org/eoagh/issue3/issuethree/myles.html

  44. #106 support said,

    January 7, 2015 at 10:08 am

    106. Lawrence Ferlinghetti — turned 95 on March 24, 2014

    This interview from 1978 features L.F. reading some of his poetry:

  45. #107 support said,

    January 8, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    107. Barbara Boxer — recited this poem when announcing her upcoming retirement from the U.S. Senate:

    The Senate is the place where I’ve always made my case
    For families for the planet and the human race
    More than 20 years in the job I love
    Thanks to California and the Lord above
    So although I won’t be working for my Senate space
    And I won’t be running that next tough race
    As long as there are issues and challenges and strife
    I will never retire because that’s the meaning of my life.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/senator-barbara-boxer-is-retiring-20150108

  46. #108 support said,

    January 13, 2015 at 9:46 am

    108. Stanley Moss — turned 89 on June 21, 2014 — below are two versions of his remarkable poem “Apocrypha”:

    Apocrypha

    You lie in my arms,
    sunlight fills the abandoned quarries.

    I planted five Lombard poplars,
    two apple trees died of my error,
    three others should be doing better.
    I prepared the soil,
    I painted over the diseased apple tree,
    I buried the available dead around it:
    thirty trout that died in the pond
    when I tried to kill the algae, a run-over raccoon,
    a hive of maggots in every hole.
    This year the tree flowered, bears fruit.
    Are my cures temporary?

    I chose abortion in place of a son
    because of considerations.

    I look for the abandoned dead,
    the victims; I shall wash them,
    trim their fingernails and toenails.
    I learn to say Kaddish,
    to speak its Hebrew correctly,
    a language I do not know,
    should I be called upon.
    I abandon flesh of my flesh
    for a life of my choosing.

    I take my life from Apocrypha.
    Warning of the destruction of the city,
    I send away the angel Raphael
    and my son. Not knowing if I am right
    or wrong, I fall asleep in the garden,
    I am blinded by the droppings
    of a hummingbird or crow.
    Will my son wash my eyes with fish gall
    restoring my sight?

    You lie in my arms,
    I wrestle with the angel.

    Stanley Moss; printed in ‘American Review 22’, February 1975, Ted Solotaroff, editor
    ————————————-

    Apocrypha

    You lie in my arms,
    sunlight fills the abandoned quarries.
    I planted five Lombard poplars,
    two apple trees died of my error,
    three others should be doing better.
    I prepared the soil,
    I painted over the diseased apple tree,
    I buried the available dead around it:
    thirty trout that died in the pond
    when I tried to kill the algae, a run-over raccoon,
    a hive of maggots in every hole.
    This year the tree flowered, bears fruit.
    Are my cures temporary?

    I chose abortion in place of a son
    because of considerations.
    I look for the abandoned dead,
    the victims; I shall wash them,
    trim their fingernails and toenails.
    I learn to say Kaddish,
    to speak its Hebrew correctly,
    a language I do not know,
    should I be called upon.
    I abandon flesh of my flesh
    for a life of my choosing.

    I take my life from Apocrypha.
    Warning of the destruction of the city,
    I send away the angel Raphael
    and my son. Not knowing if I am right
    or wrong, I fall asleep in the garden,
    I am blinded by the droppings
    of a hummingbird or crow.
    Will my son wash my eyes with fish gall
    restoring my sight?

    Go in darkness, mouth to mouth
    is the command.
    I kiss the book,
    not wanting to speak
    of the suffering I have caused.
    Sacred and defiled,
    my soul is right
    to deal with me in secret.

    Stanley Moss; from ‘A History of Color: New and Selected Poems’ by Stanley Moss

  47. #109 support said,

    January 17, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    109. John Derbyshire — poetry traditionalist who compiled a CD of “36 Great American Poems,” available for purchase at:
    http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Books/36Great/page.html

    Derbyshire wrote about modern poetry in the chapter “Culture: Pooped Out” from his book We Are Doomed — below is an excerpt:

    “Back in 1916, two American poets, Witter Bynner and Arthur Davison Ficke, decided they’d had enough of the multiplying schools of poetry that were springing up all around them — Vorticists, Imagists, Futurists, Chorists…Hiding behind the pen names ‘Emanuel Morgan’ and ‘Anne Knish’ (kosher delicacies weren’t widely known in the United States in 1916), they brought out a book titled Spectra, announced as the founding work of a new school, the Spectrists.

    “It was all a hoax. The two of them wrote the poems straight down without thought or plan, in a spirit of frivolity. Bynner: ‘It was a sort of runaway poetry, the poet seated in the wagon but the reins flung aside.’ Several big literary names were taken in, most notably (though she tried to deny it) Imagist queen Amy Lowell, who never forgave the hoaxers.

    “The awful, depressing thing is that the Spectra poems read quite well now. Here’s a sample, by ‘Anne Knish’:

    OPUS 118

    If bathing were a virtue, not a lust,
    I would be dirtiest.

    To some, housecleaning is a holy rite.
    For myself, houses would be empty
    But for the golden motes dancing in sunbeams.

    Tax-assessors frequently overlook valuables.
    Today they noted my jade.
    But my memory of you escaped them.

    “This is as good as some of the stuff in Camille Paglia’s poetry bestseller [Break, Blow, Burn], which is not a hoax.

    “At least, I don’t think it is. How does one tell nowadays?”

    For more on the Spectrists:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectra_%28book%29

  48. #109 support said,

    January 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    109. John Derbyshire

    “Poetry’s Plum Gone to Hell” — a review of Camille Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn

    “What is the use of writing about books?” asked America’s greatest poet, “excepting so far as to give information to those who cannot get the books themselves?” I had better confess up front that I am of the same mind as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and that what goes for books in general goes twice over for poetry. I love to read it, but I don’t much want to read about it. Break, Blow, Burn therefore fell on stony ground here.

    I don’t say this with any pleasure, as persons I trust have for years been telling me that the celebrated professor Camille Paglia is, on balance, a Good Thing. But I’m sorry to report that her book bored me rigid.
    Break, Blow, Burn is a collection of 43 poems by 28 poets, with commentary following each poem. It is intended, the author tells us, for “a general audience.” The poems are short and the commentaries mostly less than four pages.

    Only English-language poets are included. I applaud her choice: poetry in, or from, other people’s languages has no place in an enterprise of this sort. In fact, of the 20 post-Samuel Coleridge poets she has chosen, 18 are American, the exceptions being Ireland’s W.B. Yeats and Canada’s Joni Mitchell.

    The strongest impression I came away with from this book was of the sheer beggared awfulness of modern American poetry. It is simply no good. That is why nobody quotes it, and nobody outside the academy reads it. I do a fair amount of socializing with decently well-educated Americans, and can clearly recall the last three instances in which someone quoted verse at me unprompted, at couplet length or longer. The poets quoted were Kipling, Kipling and Poe.

    It is, for example, hard to see why anyone would bother to memorize, or even just remember, the opening lines of “This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams:

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox.

    Perhaps I am missing something. Perhaps Williams’ poem has hidden depths. What does Paglia say?

    “At one level the succulent, fleshy fruit is a makeshift proxy for the opulent female form. The first stanza takes us backward into the dark recesses of the icebox, where the plums nest like eggs…the ‘delicious’ fruitiness of the final images has the tactile lushness of a kiss.”

    Uh-huh. All of Paglia’s commentaries are like this: fantastic extrapolations and plonking symbolism, usually of a succulent, fleshy nature, utterly humorless and reeking of estrogen.

    Theodore Roethke’s “The Visitant” ends, she tells us, “with an aching sense of men’s incompletion, their anguished separation from the maternal body, to which they vainly try to reconnect through the deceptive medium of sex.” In Gary Snyder’s “Old Pond”: “the bird is the unembellished voice of nature itself — Snyder’s modest, flute-like substitute for the authoritarian boom of the Judeo-Christian God.” And here we are on “Kubla Khan”: “If Coleridge is thinking of the cleft or gorge as vulval, then his ‘mighty fountain’ forced up by the earth with ‘fast thick pants’ is blatantly ejaculatory.”

    Reading this book was like flipping through one of those pretentious, absurd catalogs you get when visiting an exhibition of the sillier kind of fashionable art. I even had a fleeting suspicion that the whole thing might be a spoof — a send-up of ponderous academic over-interpretation. No, the author is in earnest. Paglia has opened a window into the precious, self-referential little world of literary theorizing.

    For this poetry lover, it was a glimpse of Hell. And what is burning in that hell is our poetry, for a thousand years the greatest glory of the English-speaking people, but now dead, smothered under the horrid rotten mass of literary academicism. We must have done something very terrible to have our birthright taken from us, to see it suffocated in dust like this.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm

      Bravo, Mr. Derbyshire!

      Exactly, exactly right.

      I, too, was expecting more from Paglia, and she bitterly disappointed me with this book. In fact, I’m ready to write her off as a fraud because of “Burn, Break, Blow.”

      But less about Paglia and more about Derbyshire!

      Where did you find this guy, Nooch?

      He’s great.

      • noochinator said,

        January 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm

        Derbyshire used to write for National Review (which is where I learned of him), but was fired after writing a controversial column for a blog. His takes on the resulting controversy are here:

        http://www.johnderbyshire.com/April2012/page.html

        Remember Attorney General Eric Holder’s comment that Americans were cowards when it comes to talking about race? Derbyshire is pretty fearless — here’s his comments on poet Elizabeth Alexander:

        I had never heard of [Elizabeth Alexander] before [then] president-elect [Obama] tapped her for the inauguration spot. Taking a wild shot in the dark, I guessed her to be a whiny left-wing black feminist, as most female poets nowadays are.

        Sure enough. I looked up her website. What topics excite this poet? Let’s see. There’s the Middle Passage:

        The slave-ship empty, its cargo landed
        And sold for twelve ounces of gold a-piece.

        And then there’s the “Hottentot Venus,” a steatopygous (that is, having massive deposits of fat on thighs and buttocks) African woman exhibited in early-nineteenth-century Europe:

        Monsieur Cuvier investigates
        between my legs, poking, prodding…

        Not forgetting childbirth, of course, which is kind of like jazz:

        Giving birth is like jazz, something from silence …

        … and kind of like the Middle Passage:

        … Long, elegant boats,
        blood-boiling sunshine, human cargo…

        On the evidence of the poems Ms. Alexander has put on her website, you could sum up her thematic range as: “I’m black! Black black black! And I have a vagina!” Pretty much all current “establishment” poetry — the kind of poetry that will get you picked to read at a presidential inauguration — traipses around and around a narrow track of victimization, racism, sexism, and the rest of the dreary catalog of modern grievance culture…

        It goes without saying that nothing rhymes or scans here. I suppose that would be “acting white.” Nor are there any familiar forms to rest the eye on — a sonnet, straightforward quatrains, a villanelle. (In one of the interviews on her website, Ms. Alexander refers to having written formal verse, but I couldn’t find any examples.) Nothing worth remembering, nothing striking, nothing amusing, nothing of universal appeal, nothing that owes anything to the magnificent centuries-long tradition of English verse; only the monotonous, structureless, sub-literate whining of nursed and petted victimhood.

        And with all that victimology, what is Ms. Alexander a victim of? She had a very comfortable upper-middle-class upbringing, a deal more comfortable than my working-class one, I’d guess — her father was secretary of the Army! Born in 1962, she went to Yale, did “a one-year stint as a reporter for the Washington Post,” and has spent the rest of her life since in academia, teaching bogus subjects like “African-American Studies,” of which she is currently a professor.

      • noochinator said,

        January 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm

        And here’s Derbyshire on Diane Wakoski’s poetry:

        Here are some lines from a collection titled The George Washington Poems, by Diane Wakoski, published in 1967:

        George Washington, your name is on my lips.
        You had a lot of slaves.
        I don’t like the idea of slaves. I know I am
        a slave to
        too many masters, already

        If this is poetry, what is not poetry? One thinks of Doctor Johnson’s reply when asked if he thought any man could have written Macpherson’s Ossian: “Yes, Sir, many men, many women, and many children.” When an impressionable young person is told that this is poetry, and that the kind of gassy drivel extruded by Maya Angelou at the first Clinton inauguration is also poetry; and when that young person furthermore learns that Ms. Wakoski is actually a full-time professional poet, who makes a decent middle-class living at it, and that Ms. Angelou has even got modestly rich from her vaporings, then that young person’s attitude to poetry has been corrupted.

        Free verse is not the whole of the problem, though. Even in the coldest depths of the free-verse nuclear winter, around 1970, plenty of dedicated poets were still writing formal, structured verse. Elizabeth Bishop’s perfect little villanelle “One Art”, for example — sufficiently well known, at any rate among literary types, to have generated at least one good parody — was written in 1975. Richard Wilbur, John Hollander and many others produced, and are still producing, verse in traditional forms. The late 1970s in fact saw the birth of the so-called “New Formalism,” in which a whole tribe of younger poets committed themselves to working with rhyme, meter and traditional structures. By the late 1980s these traditionalists had made enough noise to provoke a counter- (perhaps I mean counter-counter-) revolution. The aforementioned Ms. Wakoski’s famous broadside “The New Conservatism in American Poetry” (in American Book Review, May-June 1986) pretty much said that anyone who wrote formal poetry was a fascist. With Hollander she went further, calling him “Satan”. Hollander’s own views on the matter, which are irenic and accommodationist, can be inspected in his introduction to The Best American Poetry 1998.

  49. #109 support said,

    January 20, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    109. John Derbyshire

    Webpage with numerous audio clips of poems:

    http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Readings/page.html

  50. #110 support said,

    January 21, 2015 at 11:07 am

    110. Frank Jacobs

    From Baseball Types

    The Pitcher

    Before the ball is plateward bound,
    The Pitcher dawdles on the mound;
    He wipes his brow, hikes up his pants,
    Reties his shoes, adjusts his stance;
    It’s surely not his wish, you know,
    To make the game so dull and slow;
    The truth revealed, he has to stall
    For time to doctor up the ball.

    The Catcher

    Behind ten pounds of pads and mask,
    The Catcher has a thankless task;
    While pitchers throw and batters swat,
    He’s in a state of constant squat,
    Deflecting fast-balls with his ear
    And taking foul-tips on the rear;
    Yet, through it all, he’ll still persist
    Like any normal masochist!

    The First Baseman

    The man at First is just a hulk
    Of beefy, burly, brawny bulk;
    His only job, the graceless lout,
    Is catching balls to put men out;
    He isn’t fast; he isn’t quick;
    But no one seems to care a lick;
    For after all, who thinks of style
    When he hits balls a country mile!

    The Manager

    With shoulders stooped and body bent,
    The Manager’s a mournful gent;
    Although he’s not a holy man,
    He’s learned to pray the best he can;
    This afternoon he’s forced to see
    His club lose 17 to 3;
    No wonder that he has one dream—
    To manage the opposing team.

  51. #111 support said,

    January 21, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    111. Jack Hirschman — active with the Revolutionary Poets Brigade and curates the Poets 11 anthologies, which collect poetry from each of San Francisco’s 11 districts

    W.C. Fields

    By Jove, my glowworm dove my chickadee Death’s
    Caught up with me at last with the last billing,
    And so many elegant days are still unsipped.
    ‘Tis a fraud, I say, ’tis a fraud; ’tis fraught
    With imminent danger, the coming of this fellow
    In the bright nightgown.

    Drat it, goodbye stuffed fowl of a life foreshortened,
    Goodbye rim of the glass of pure water forlorn,
    Goodbye blond pulchritude of farflung travels,
    Sunflowers I shall not sniff, balls not juggle,
    Goodbye. In a moment rather I shall endeavor
    To climb the wagon whose steeds will wend
    Bumpily along the road’s parched tongue
    To the provinces.

    But, Jehosaphat, my good man, has the chef
    By some mischance omitted the paprika?

    Jack Hirschman

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Hirschman

    • Juggled Balls said,

      January 21, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      I am sorry I read this one…

  52. #103 support said,

    February 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    103. Edward Field

    Writing for Money

    My friend and I have decided to write for money,
    he stories, I poems.

    We are going to sell them to magazines
    and when the cash rolls in
    he will choose clothes for me that make me stylish
    and buy himself a tooth where one fell out.

    Perhaps we will travel, to Tahiti maybe.
    Anyway we’ll get an apartment with an inside toilet
    and give up our typing jobs.

    That’s why I’m writing this poem,
    to sell for money.

    Edward Field

  53. #101 support said,

    February 7, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    101. Reb Livingston — explaining why she hates coffee:

    http://queenmobs.com/2015/01/poets-online-talking-coffee-reb-livingston/

  54. #106 support said,

    February 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    106. Lawrence Ferglinghetti

    The Pennycandystore Beyond the El

    The pennycandystore beyond the El
    is where i first
    fell in love
    with unreality
    Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
    of that september afternoon
    A cat upon the counter moved among
    the licorice sticks
    and tootsie rolls
    and Oh Boy Gum

    Outside the leaves were falling as they died

    A wind had blown away the sun

    A girl ran in
    Her hair was rainy
    Her breasts were breathless in the little room

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

    Lawrence Ferlinghetti

    To hear Leonard Bernstein’s musical setting of this poem, go to the 4:00 mark of the video linked below:


  55. #101 support said,

    February 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    101. Reb Livingston

    Dear Rauan,

    Do you remember when we were kids that time father caught a mouse running around in the dining room? He grabbed it with his hands, twisted its neck right in front of us. Then he scolded us for feeling bad for the mouse. Come to think of it, he often scolded us when we felt compassion for something, like it didn’t deserve the compassion and we were dingbats for giving it. In fact, I remember him telling us not to feel bad for the Hiroshima victims, not even the children because they would have grown up to be as terrible as the parents. The Jews during the Holocaust didn’t deserve compassion either because they built their own ghettos. Not even that poor dog tied up, getting hit with volcanic ash in that made-for TV movie about Pompeii deserved compassion. I think it was called The Last Days of Pompeii. I imagine that dog probably licked its ass a bunch so HAHA.

    Love,
    A related princess

    Reb Livingston, from her ‘Bombyonder’

  56. #112 support said,

    March 10, 2015 at 10:53 am

    112. D.M. Thomas

    “[Karlheinz] Stockhausen, 73, called the attack on the World Trade Center ‘the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.’ Extending the analogy, he spoke of human minds achieving ‘something in one act’ that ‘we couldn’t even dream of in music,’ in which ‘people practice like crazy for 10 years, totally fanatically, for a concert, and then die.’ Just imagine, he added: ‘You have people who are so concentrated on one performance, and then 5,000 people are dispatched into eternity, in a single moment. I couldn’t do that. In comparison with that, we’re nothing as composers.'” — Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 9/30/2001

    Stockhausen’s Dream

    I have seen many angels, sometimes in human
    Form, but not often such an El Greco beauty.
    Sit down, and have some wine. Ah no, of course:
    Some tea, then? My dear fellow, I’m envious.
    I’ve never before felt envy, neither when
    Hearing the Missa Solemnis, nor when watching
    The Ring at Bayreuth. But now, I envy!
    I’m sick with envy, as Salieri was
    Of the giggling, childish, farting Mozart. It was
    The greatest work of art imaginable
    For the whole cosmos. Artists rehearsing like mad
    For ten years, preparing for one concert,
    And then dying, and 5000 other people
    Dispatched to the afterlife in a moment!
    The beauty of it, on a September morning,
    Itself heartbreakingly beautiful; the planes
    So exquisitely timed, white and serene,
    Gliding like great condors,
    And then, as it were, passing through nature
    To eternity, with a shattering of steel and glass!
    It took us out of our security
    And into a new world, as great art does,
    Beyond the limits of what is feasible
    Or even conceivable…And you did it, Osama!
    I couldn’t have done it; no composer could.
    I used four helicopters in a string quartet
    —Maybe you’ve heard it? — an idea which came
    In a dream; but it never occurred to me
    To have each pilot nonchalantly tell
    His string player they were going to crash
    Into the concert hall — and even then
    It would have been pathetic…Another cup?
    It’s Earl Grey, rather scented…

    The dead would give themselves to your masterpiece,
    If we could go back. It was their privilege
    To watch it in the auditorium,
    And tickets, even for my operas, are not cheap.
    Who’d have preferred the tedious in-flight movie
    To that sudden incandescence? Or, in the Towers,
    Who’d choose the dull work and the tuna sandwich
    Over that opening up of consciousness?
    One moment smiling at some e-mailed joke,
    The next, a choice of death by fire or falling.
    I loved that nuance, the couple hand in hand,
    As much as the grandeur of the twin collapse,
    The black cloud racing, panic and hysteria.
    ‘Genius and villainy are incompatible,’
    Mozart supposedly said to Salieri,
    As he drank his poisoned wine. Which is shit,
    Or course. Art is above morality.
    All the same, I don’t like feeling this envy
    Which has taken me over, filling me
    With hateful thoughts. Is the tea not to your taste?
    A slight upset? Come and lie down by me,
    Or even in me, which is possible in dreams.

    D.M. Thomas

  57. Mo' #112 support said,

    March 10, 2015 at 10:59 am

    112. D.M. Thomas

    After Christopher Smart…

    For I will consider my dog Tamsin,
    For she appeareth round the corner of the house
    When we are drinking wine outside, then stops,
    Forgetting why she appeareth there;
    For she is 108 years old in human terms,
    For she is almost blind and almost deaf,
    Yet suddenly she trotteth down the garden,
    For then her tail wags upon prink, in joy of living,
    So that I have started to call her Baron von Trott;
    For then she will slow up and plod around the house
    Four or five times, defending it from marauders,
    For she is small in size but mighty in spirit,
    For when she stumbleth over a root, or her back legs
    Won’t work, she still goeth bravely forward;
    For when we put some tasty fish in her dish,
    She will slowly stir from her basket
    And plod to her dish; but then she pauseth
    For a long time, saying her prayers to the Lord,
    Calling down blessing on the food,
    Before suddenly stooping her head and
    Snatching the fish hungrily.
    For she kicketh out her legs in her dreams,
    For she loveth to run on a beach,
    And dreams of it later, many times,
    Though she feareth the water.
    For she is a happy little dog,
    And teacheth how to grow old gracefully;
    For she is the handmaid of the Lord,
    And hath been loved by a Master and three Mistresses.
    For she knoweth no other life but with us.

    D.M. Thomas

  58. #108 support said,

    March 13, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    108. Stanley Moss

    A Guest in Jerusalem

    On the grapes and oranges you gave me on a white plate: worry,
    in the kitchen, day worry, in the bedroom, night worry
    about a child getting killed; worry in the everyday gardens
    of Jerusalem, on geraniums and roses from the time they bloom
    in December, long as they live. In the desert wind
    playing over the hair on a child’s head and arms, worry.
    In the morning you put on a soiled or clean shirt of worry,
    drink its tea, eat its bread and honey. I wish you the luxury
    of worrying about aging or money, instead of a child getting killed,
    that no mother or father should know the sorrow
    that comes when there is nothing to worry about anymore.

    Stanley Moss

  59. #110 support said,

    March 14, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    110. Frank Jacobs

    If Poe’s “The Raven” Were Written by Joyce Kilmer

    I think that I shall never hear
    A raven who is more sincere
    Than that one tapping at my door
    Who’s ever saying, “Nevermore”;
    A raven who repeats his words
    Until I think I’m for the birds;
    A raven who, I must assume,
    Will dirty up my living-room;
    A raven fond of bugs and worms
    With whom I’m on the best of terms;
    Let other poets praise a tree—
    A raven’s good enough for me.

    Frank Jacobs

    And… all the issues of MAD magazine have been PDF-scanned and put at the website linked below:

    http://landsurvival.com/mad/

  60. noochinator said,

    May 31, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    #4. Olena K. Davis

    I Was Minor

    In this life,
    I was very minor.

    I was a minor lover.
    There was maybe a day, a night
    or two, when I was on.

    I was, would have been,
    a minor daughter,
    had my parents lived.

    I was a minor runner. I was
    a minor thinker. In the middle
    distance, not too fast.

    I was a minor mother: only
    two, and sometimes,
    I was mean to them.

    I was a minor beauty.
    I was a minor Buddhist.
    There was a certain symmetry, but
    it, too, was minor.

    My poems were not major
    enough to even make me
    a “minor poet,”

    but I did sit here
    instead of getting up, getting
    the gun, loading it.

    Counting,
    killing myself.

    Olena Kalytiak Davis


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