100 ESSENTIAL BOOKS OF POETRY

 

EYE Don Share

Collecting is where material pride, wisdom and love uneasily sit, an endless pursuit which moves product, an endless boon to any enterprise.  To collect is to amass, to buy, to own, to bring into one’s circle the niceties of some industry for one’s own comfort and inspection. The collectable items should be unique, if not numerous, and if not unique, at least very rare.  Collecting is to break off pieces of some whole, but the item, when found, bought, discovered, possessed, is a shining whole to the collector, and compared to it, the universe is a sad jumble—such is the profundity of collecting.

Poetry anthologies spread wealth; poetry is centrifugal; it scatters itself outward freely.  Except where it overlaps with the ‘rare book collector,’ poetry, despite its fecundity, is not collectable; collecting is centripetal; it waits in vaults and rooms crowded with unique paintings, coins, and cars.  To know coins, one must darken them in one’s palm; to know poetry, one merely glimpses what every other person glimpses.

The following list is not a rare book list; increasingly, great old poetry, important translated poetry, and all sorts of rare poetry, simply lives on the internet.

This, in many ways, is a perfectly centrifugal list, readily available to whatever soul—no matter how mysterious, no matter how centripetal, no matter how hidden, no matter how curious—happens to want it.

Poetry is against collecting.  Poetry doesn’t  hoard; you can be deeply poetic for free.

These are books you could own, or read, or memorize, or teach, or learn, and probably already have.

Good translations are necessary, but impossible.  Old poems are necessary, but impossible.  Good, new poetry is necessary, but impossible.

The list below is mundane, but necessary.  This—mostly from the top of the list—is what you read if you want to know poetry.

It is everywhere, but it still must hit you.

 

1. SHAKESPEARE SONNETS, AUDEN INTRODUCTION  Modern poetry begins here. A definite sequence: 1-14 children as immortality, 15-28 poems as immortality, etc.

2. POE: POETRY, TALES, AND SELECTED ESSAYS (LIBRARY OF AMERICA) Iconic poems, tales of poetic quality, even criticism of poetic quality

3. VIKING BOOK OF POETRY OF THE ENGLISH SPEAKING WORLD, RICHARD ALDINGTON  H.D.’s husband, got Eliot out of the bank, solid anthology by this Brit wounded in WW I who knew all the Modernists and hated most of them (375 poets)

4. PLATO: THE COLLECTED DIALOGUES, BOLLINGEN SERIES, EDITH HAMILTON, ED  Poetry being born

5. THE ARDEN SHAKESPEARE, COMPLETE WORKS  With Shakespeare the best is just to read, and forget all the notes

6. THE DIVINE COMEDY, DANTE, JOHN D. SINCLAIR, TRANSLATOR (OXFORD U. PRESS)  Verse translation hopeless; take the prose Sinclair with Italian on the facing page

7. THE ILIAD OF HOMER TRANSLATED BY ALEXANDER POPE (PENGUIN)  The king of men his reverent priest defied/And for the king’s offense the people died

8. THE ODYSSEY OF HOMER TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE BY ALEXANDER POPE (MACMILLAN, 1911)  The man for wisdom’s various arts renown’d/Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound

9. EDNA MILLAY COLLECTED, NORMA MILLAY (HARPER)  Tragically undervalued as Modernism came into vogue, Millay’s Collected is a must

10. PHILIP LARKIN THE COMPLETE POEMS, ARCHIE BURNETT  recently published master of the short lyric

11. LYRICAL BALLADS, WORDSWORTH, COLERIDGE  A shame Coleridge didn’t contribute more

12. WASTELAND AND OTHER POEMS, T.S. ELIOT  The one Modernist who could really write poetry (and prose).

13. LEAVES OF GRASS, WHITMAN (1855 EDITION) The first edition, before it got too long-winded

14. THE COMPLETE POEMS OF JOHN MILTON WRITTEN IN ENGLISH (HARVARD CLASSICS) You can’t go wrong with melodious Milton

15. UNDERSTANDING POETRY, BROOKS AND WARREN Textbooks are propaganda—this most used anthology in the 20th c. attacked Poe and elevated Pound/Williams

16. SELECTED POETRY & LETTERS, BYRON, EDWARD BOSTETTER, ED  Byron was very, very unhappy

17. POCKET BOOK OF MODERN VERSE, OSCAR WILLIAMS (1954)  Okay. Some of modern verse is good

18. A BOOK OF LUMINOUS THINGS, AN INTRODUCTORY ANTHOLOGY, CZESLAW MILOSZ  International poetry collections are good things

19. SELECTED POEMS AND TWO PLAYS, WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, ROSENTHAL, ED  Yeats benefits from Selected as opposed to Collected

20. OVID, THE LOVE POEMS, A.D. MELVILLE, ED. And you can really learn something, lovers

21. THE BEST LOVED POEMS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, HAZEL FELLEMAN  Because these uncritical anthologies always have some gems

22. ROBERT BROWNING, THE POEMS, PETTIGREW, ED. 2 VOLS  Because it’s Robert Browning

23. A NEW ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN POETRY, SELDEN RODMAN (1938)   Great snapshot of poetry in the 1930s: lots of ballads of political anguish

24. 100 GREAT POEMS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, MARK STRAND, ED.  A very nice selection from a poet whose reputation is fading

25. POETRY OF WITNESS: THE TRADITION IN ENGLISH 1500-2001, CAROLYN FORCHE, DUNCAN WU, EDS   Poetry handles real horror

26. BEST AMERICAN POETRY 1988, LEHMAN, SERIES ED. ASHBERY, GUEST ED. The first volume in the series may be the best

27. ARIEL, SYLVIA PLATH  A whirlwind of rhyme and rage

28. PABLO NERUDA, TWENTY LOVE SONGS AND A SONG OF DESPAIR, DUAL-LANGUAGE EDITION (PENGUIN) Neruda may get you laid

29. GREAT POEMS BY AMERICAN WOMEN: AN ANTHOLOGY, SUSAN RATTINER (DOVER) Women once had a higher standing as poets

30. OXFORD BOOK OF LIGHT VERSE, W.H. AUDEN, EDITOR  Who said light verse was light?

31. PALGRAVE’S GOLDEN TREASURY, FRANCIS TURNER PALGRAVE (1861) Look out! Right-wing poetry!

32. LIBRARY OF WORLD POETRY, WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT Worth a peek

33. 100 POEMS FROM THE JAPANESE, KENNETH REXROTH  blossoms and other stuff

34. BLACK POETS OF THE UNITED STATES: FROM PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR TO LANGSTON HUGHES, JEAN WAGNER  Before rap

35. THE OXFORD BOOK OF NARRATIVE VERSE, PETER OPIE  A narrative poem does not exist?

36. A BOY’S WILL, ROBERT FROST  His first book, published in England while the 40 year old poet made contacts there

37. THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY 1945-1960, DONALD ALLEN   Dawn of the post-war avant-garde

38. BEST AMERICAN POETRY 1990, LEHMAN SERIES EDITOR, JORIE GRAHAM, GUEST EDITOR  Has that wonderful poem by Kinnell…

39. FIRST WORLD WAR POETRY, JON SILKIN, EDITOR  While being slaughtered, they wrote

40. SPANISH POETRY: A DUAL LANGUAGE ANTHOLOGY 16TH-20TH CENTURIES, ANGEL FLORES  Dual Languages are a must, really

41. THE HERITAGE OF RUSSIAN VERSE, DIMITRI OBOLENSKY  “From The Ends To The Beginning A Bilingual Anthology of Russian Verse” is available on-line

42. BEST AMERICAN POETRY 2007, LEHMAN, SERIES EDITOR, MCHUGH, GUEST EDITOR   One of the best volumes in the series

43. POETS TRANSLATE POETS, A HUDSON REVIEW ANTHOLOGY, PAULA DIETZ, ED.  Nice historical sweep…

44. ART AND ARTISTS: POEMS, EMILY FRAGOS (EVERYMAN POCKET LIBRARY)    Art really meets poetry; lovely poems

45. W.H. AUDEN COLLECTED POEMS Best poet of the 20th century; slighted by anthologies

46. POEMS 1965-1975 SEAMUS HEANEY  Never quite made it to major status

47. POEMS BEWITCHED AND HAUNTED, JOHN HOLLANDER, ED (EVERYMAN’S POCKET LIBRARY)  Some really darling pieces here

48. COMPLETE POEMS OF KEATS AND SHELLEY (MODERN LIBRARY) The two best—the best, the best

49. THE 20TH CENTURY IN POETRY, HULSE, RAE, EDS (PEGASUS BOOKS)   Wonderful idea: poems in close chronology throughout the century

50. VITA NOVA, DANTE, MARK MUSA, TRANSLATOR (OXFORD) A great book for so many reasons

51. CHAUCER: THE CANTERBURY TALES (PENGUIN) father of English literature, we hear

52. HYPERION; BALLADS & OTHER POEMS, LONGFELLOW (1841)  “Hyperion” is a very modern poem…

53. THE RAG AND BONE SHOP OF THE HEART: A POETRY ANTHOLOGY, ROBERT BLY, EDITOR  A lot of Rumi and Neruda

54. WORLD POETRY: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VERSE FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT, WASHBURN, MAJOR, FADIMAN, EDS  The translations are terrible, the selections are generally weak, but kudos for the attempt

55. LES FLEUR DU MAL, BAUDELAIRE  Ah…Baudelaire!

56. VICTORIAN WOMEN POETS: AN ANTHOLOGY, LEIGHTON, REYNOLDS, EDS (BLACKWELL)  That backwards era when women poets sold better than their male counterparts

57.  IMMORTAL POEMS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, OSCAR WILLIAMS   Solid overview (150 poets) without too much emphasis on annoying moderns

58. ALEXANDER POPE, SELECTED (OXFORD POETRY LIBRARY) You could do worse than his verse

59. A TREASURY OF GREAT POEMS, LOUIS UNTERMEYER   Almost 2OO poets

60. AMERICAN POETRY: THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, HOLLANDER, ED, LIBRARY OF AMERICA   A good look around at two centuries ago

61. ANEID, VIRGIL, ROBERT FITZGERALD, TRANSLATOR  Poet of the silver age…

62. THE POETICAL WORKS OF ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, RUTH M. ADAMS INTRO  She was the famous poet when Robert met her

63. THE ESSENTIAL RUMI, COLEMAN BARKS, ED  Passion pushed to the limit of wisdom

64. EUGENE ONEGIN BY ALEXANDER PUSHKIN, STANLEY MITCHELL (PENGUIN) The most modern of all epics

65. DYLAN THOMAS, COLLECTED, PAUL MULDOON, INTRO Too drunk to write many poems; this may be good or bad

66. POETRY OF DEREK WALCOTT 1948-2013, SELECTED BY GLYN MAXWELL  Between obligation and pleasure, we read…

67. BRITISH POETRY SINCE 1945, EWARD LUCIE-SMITH.  The poor modern Brits, neither old nor quite modern

68. THE PALM AT THE END OF THE MIND, WALLACE STEVENS, SELECTED POEMS & A PLAY  Pretentious rot, but fun

69. ROBERT LOWELL, COLLECTED  Most overrated poet of the 20th century, but has his moments

70  AMERICAN PRIMITIVE, MARY OLIVER  Our little Wordsworth

71. GORGEOUS NOTHINGS, EMILY DICKINSON, WERNER, BERRIN, EDS (NEW DIRECTIONS)  A really bizarre document

72. ELIZABETH BISHOP, POEMS (FSG)  Another one of those poets who wrote few, but good, poems

73. A CHOICE OF ENGLISH ROMANTIC POETRY, STEPHEN SPENDER (DIAL PRESS)  Rare, if you can track it down…(it’s at the Grolier in Hvd Sq)

74. CHIEF MODERN POETS OF BRITAIN AND AMERICA, 5th Edition, SANDERS, NELSON, ROSENTHAL  Can’t get enough of those chief poets

75. NEW AMERICAN POETS OF THE 80s, MYERS & WEINGARTEN Look back into the recent, recent past

76. BIRTHDAY LETTERS, TED HUGHES  The poetry isn’t good, but interesting historical document

77. TRANFORMATIONS, ANNE SEXTON, FOREWARD BY KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Modernized fairy tales—very influential

78. THE ESSENTIAL HAIKU, ROBERT HASS, ED (ECCO)  We forget Imagism sprang directly from haiku rage in West after Japan won Russo-Japanese War

79. THE DIVINE COMEDY, CLIVE JAMES, TRANSLATOR. This new translation is worth a read

80. PENGUIN BOOK OF FRENCH POETRY 1820-1950  Good translation anthologies are few and far between

81. ESSENTIAL PLEASURES: A NEW ANTHOLOGY OF POEMS TO READ ALOUD, PINSKY, ED  Reading aloud is good

82. THE RATTLE BAG, SEAMUS HEANEY, TED HUGHES, EDS  Conservative selection: Shakespeare, Blake, Hardy, Lawrence, Frost, etc

83. MODERNIST WOMEN POETS, ROBERT HASS, PAUL EBENKAMP, EDS   Not a large number of poets

84. COLLECTED FRENCH TRANSLATIONS, JOHN ASHBERY (FSG)  Not the most trustworthy translator, but we’ll take ’em

85. VILLANELLES (EVERYMAN POCKET LIBRARY)  These editions are available and lovely—why not?

86. BRIGHT WINGS: AN ILLUSTRATED ANTHOLOGY OF POEMS ABOUT BIRDS, BILLY COLLINS, ED  All the best poems are bird poems—it’s really true

87. THE ETERNAL ONES OF THE DREAM: SELECTED POEMS 1990-2010, JAMES TATE Iowa Workshop poem par excellence, poignant, miserable, and cute

88. GOOD POEMS, GARRISON KEILLOR  As accessible as it gets

89. THE MAKING OF A SONNET, HIRSCH/BOLAND, EDS (NORTON) There’s no best sonnet anthology, but this one is good

90. MOUNTAIN HOME: THE WILDERNESS POETRY OF ANCIENT CHINA, DAVID HINTON, ED  Includes the major poets

91. SELECTED RILKE, ROBERT BLY, ED  Amazing how well Rilke sells in the U.S.

92. KING JAMES BIBLE  Yea, poetry

93. WELDON KEES, COLLECTED POEMS, DONALD JUSTICE, ED  Somewhat creepy—as modern poetry truly ought to be?

94. BILLY COLLINS, AIMLESS LOVE: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (RANDOM HOUSE)  Collins is America’s modern poet—get used to it.

95. JOHN ASHBERY, SELF PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR  His tour de force

96. NORTH OF BOSTON, ROBERT FROST (1915, HENRY HOLT) Like Emerson, Whitman, and Melville before him, interest by the English was the ticket to fame

97. HOWL AND OTHER POEMS, ALLEN GINSBERG  A Hieronymous Bosch nightmare

98. TALES FROM THE DECAMERON OF GIOVANNI BOCCACCIO, RICHARD ALDINGTON (1930)  this 14th century writer considered a ‘novelist’ but influenced Chaucer

99. EROSION, JORIE GRAHAM  Such promise!  Then along came Alan Cordle

100. LUNCH POEMS, FRANK O’HARA  Not repasts; snacks; the virtue of O’Hara is that he’s funny

 

 

 

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EAST ROUND ONE: BEN MAZER’S “DIVINE RIGHTS” V. JOHN ASHBERY’S “SELF-PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR”

SELF-PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR —John Ashbery (Penguin 20th Poetry Anthology, Dove 2011)

DIVINE RIGHTS —Ben Mazer (Fulcrum 2006)

The marriage of druids and Romans
write it
I don’t know how to spell it
It is my real birth today Cadwaladr

Why would they marry?
Where is everything
I am the descendent
      of the king
They were protecting
       the son of
                the king

not father
mother

Landis
Mary
The Poet King
I knew all this
I know all this
We must have been
at alliance with the Scottish.
We must have
been at war
with the Irish
              king.
I know these things.
Freud got it right.
But it is a
throwing off
of kings.
The English King.
The English Queen.
And what am I to think of the English queen,
Elizabeth?

Or the Russian? Familiar as the lion.
Landis, descended from Charlemagne
and twin Dutch admirals?
Or the Scottish princess in the west?

The prophecy told
   me too
   it is true
after I was thirty-five
   I would be king
would regain my
   forgotten kingdom
what this means
   would be revealed
   would be recovered
every time I had my
     hand read
   or my cards told
Now it has come
   on my real day
           of birth

Florence
after Troy
in the confining hour of our winter
How would you be able to know
you were able to be the mother
of the father
of the king?

often assisted by the Scottish

Herb Hillman
Karen Penn
The Holy Experiment
The Sword in the Stone.
Arthur.
Murphy the Irish King?

This is the subject of my poetry.
The Prodigal
The Return
Eliot is sympathetic
What is he to me?
An English prince
and friend to the Welsh king?
Prince Charles
is not the true prince
Was there a son?
Was he the son of Baumgarten?
So then who is Sylvia?
Get out of my castle.
I must go to Wales.
The Faerie Queene is probably
a political commentary on
the lineage of the kings.

When I was five years old
my father
the ward of the king
took me to see
the sword of the lake
splitting the mountain
in an old storm.
la la

They told me
   when I was a child
but I didn’t listen
   That’s what my
poetry is about
   warmest verse

Musing upon the king my brother’s wreck
All I want to know about are kings

These source materials which have lasted longest,
elements of narrative which have stayed the same
longest.  Those which have proved most popular.

The Beginning
The Return
The Kitchen
Winter

The insult given Branwen by the Irish
At Guinnion Fort
Arthur bore the image of Mary as his sign
Arcturus or the keeper of the Pole
and thus it was I watched the turn of winter

‘I have made a heap of all that i could find’ Nennius (Historia Brittonum).
an ‘inward wound’
caused by the fear that certain things dear to him should be like smoke
dissipated’ (Jones/Nennius, 1951)
i’m guessing in the old cosmology it wd be the first 24 hrs of your actual
presence
and i’ll attribute that to bertrand russell. these are just notes. —don marquis
(1922)

romeo & juliet in berkeley
i was surprised he looked so much like me
disguise him not to look like myself
i remember
he the leviathan in all ages
my father one eyed introduced me to him

(the currence of the past holds own
our against the recogsentiment
or winds like the runner on the shore
away from the sun in a steady
exhalation, at a vast limit of the net
where one exists in a continuum
spreading in a few words
a striding reach up morning—

he’s there in all his incarnations)

a date engraved in bronze swings in its chains
under moon under midnight in its bondless bonds
citizenless entropy of stars, what is heard
never viewed as it is, which is as it is not.
Is never as it can be understood,
must by definition answer nothing.
There is no fixing of these loci.

Iwerddon
And they began the banquet and caroused and discoursed.
And when it was more pleasing to them to sleep than to carouse,
they went to rest, and that night Branwen came
Matholwch’s bride.
101 Dalmatians

Look in the mirror and you will recall
the white snow of an earlier snow-fall,
how dragon behind rock had threatened rook,
and rains had formed the letters of a book
in which our love is written. Dragon, look.
How queer. The snows of yesteryear are here.

His mother was the daughter of the king
his son her brother and his uncle
who from earliest winter in the kitchen
stood stirring, sifting, towering
in the first curl of the bird’s branch
close to him then she made his song
too-wit too-wit tu-lily hi-li-ly tu-wit tu-lo
and interbranched and interladen among the
hyacinth, jack o’whirl o’ shadow—
cleaving densities of variant dispersals,
gravities which undercut propensity:
proofs of an undisclosed philately.
Mad’s progress relays Delft into land smile
under the textile’s firm approval—
Barkowitz’, Horovitz’ room. Seal approval.

A real anger at dates. Back in dense sandal word
I see trees, people dancing in the trees,
a formal approval of glass on paper.
Mixing spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
Looking up the stovepipe for listening last years.
Another one, only as she could have been.

All around us, the snow in the forest.
Snow walking up hill in the forest,
through snow walking up hill.
I was born in the forest.
I was born under the snow.
I would rather be snowed under
than to have to go in to dinner.
I would rather be lost, out of all ear.
Where the ice thunder with its own snow choir.
Where repetitive naming is lost on hard vortex.
Edge

Their darkness is the sleep in her eyes,
before parting.

Tu-wit. And cherry.
Twice cherry. Cherry street, and cheery
cheery cherry in the song, all along.
A name for marble torsos and a night port,
everything you wrote in the guest book.
A quick way to do the invitations in summer.
The inn I am staying in, and what a bother.
Why you never answered embroidered on the hem of your sweater.
We were in the mountains. This genius
was in trust to the genius of the forest.
She didn’t nothing that she didn’t do.
The forest was a game, where I was first
the others were blind, even she my mother
which meant that I was king.
I have seen these things before they happen.
I have seen her bake day into evening,
have seen her bake the forest into evening,
have seen her bake the hour of homecoming.

The birds are details in her narrative,
ingredients recipes get around to having.
Talk is sure word made out of it,
I wouldn’t in wind or rain doubt it,
to gather or collect to retell or rerecollect
every word which the father
brought home for him to inspect.

Why then a king
through kinship of a lady?
A virgin birth. Her mother was a king,
I do not doubt it,
upon the plains that have no need of naming.
Why then a king took consecrated ground
which was to plainer eye unconsecrated.
Poetry appears to be living.
I heard it strike the sky like keel and thunder
worn into evening like a headline’s banter.
I saw it grab my hand like dad in winter.
I walked it home, the sky ripped at the center,
dark merchant hulk. Perpetual, aimless
Leviathan which strikes the heart of time.
My first knowledge of a light in winter.

And when I first returned to town,
nothing shook my memory,
I never saw
the fiery medal
in my own hand,
dull like my days.
Often quoted
early in spring.

Or noticed how my aunt cast
familiar stories against a local past.

The mystery of the virgin mother
it self would appear to have to reappear.
No wonder I didn’t get any idea
nor wonder if you too don’t get an idea
why none of this was going to simply appear.

I saw this in the absolute symmetry of the outlines
of the bathtub in the apartment in the city in the world
in our time and in all time

The still being there of the resurrection

Time which comes
only to those it visits.

Why then a birth of kings among the females?

And wasn’t a female the king of the king?

    *      *       *

I’ve reached territory.

And so I have been protected from marriage.
So too the quelling of the Jewish King.
For Christ must be his Jew
and virgin birth.

I scarcely thought I could return to her.
But remember how I saw myself
under her influence, her double image
binding the speech of then
with speech to come.

The gods are merchants at these dinners.
Maecenas never dilutes his pleasure.

I didn’t think they were
serious. But the king was her
and industry among the settlers
lingers without artifact.

You could say she was worth waiting for.
To have seen her
with nothing to spoil the mood
properly in winter.

What made her special
was what she would become.
This was the meaning of the pristine forest
in which you could see the verb repeating,
always showing in numeric mimicry
the voice in the breath
the eye in the imagery

a deep syntax
of auditory visuality:
for that heard of voices
implies the wind had been
where you yourself have.

The newness of those days,
when these were first.

Mixing the silk and sand of salt and sugar
into the flour. Vanilla in the spoon
darkly reflecting her double down the hallway
and upside down up under her apron.
The fortress of butter malleable to time,
beating the retreating oil slick
in the flood of mud.
A sea of milk.

They brought me many designs of Venice silk.
I paid them to stand around, because I was cold.
I wanted to know what they aspired to.
I am his wreck, and him his father’s before me.
I like the charge of shadow without name.

And as we watched enacted in the play
he say to her what I to you would say
and she to he what you would say to me,
so we both watch to see how things will end.
You but remember to be a friend.
You greet me unannounced. I come in rain.

And only this remains to be said,
I have come to rid the land of Saxons.
  

  *      *      *

Rehearsals of the shadows where you stood
before you have returned into the halls.

And why no mother of a Jewish King
if not a Jewish King within the line?

One Bad King

Then in my grief
I ran into the wood
along the lake’s edge,
out of ear shot.
And as I sped
into a gallop
covering much ground,
passing many trees,
not many thoughts
separated from my friends,
who found the tree
of inner light
in which the Welsh King
put his head
before he knew
he was the King,
I saw I was transformed
into a flying horse
and coiled myself
within the forest’s nest
to dully sleep
to hear the distant
fall of words
turn into footsteps
of my friends,
covering the woods.
So I would have the apples speak to me.
So I would have this orchard speak to me.

If my blood
could get back in touch with you.
Shannon
Welsh girl with an Irish name.
I am missing from these documents.

Fifty years
after the war
I saw the dead
returning home
on ____ Way.

Then
I was at his house
which was the house
I came from
when I was his
father who I greet.
Under
a rain
the blue city
has the same look
that her eyes had
in her round head
the Scottish Queen.

In that hour
when memory settles
on the evening
darkness its liquid
history of masks,
I quote you
and see the world
as written on the dark sky.
They rearrange
as flame
and fly to conspire
with my father
who is leading us
under the mountain
to the sea beast.
Always outside the room
                                 in which we walk

above us
                where what must be the roof
is how I see it
if we don’t lie and confer,
a mixing of night and day
in which the heart’s first urge
speaks, but in words of fire.
They know the night
who came here first
and them I see
in my words’ end.

Even then
I knew these things could be without me.
But that I was the King
I saw unknowing.
The first song of spring
in my upbringing.
A curator of lies.
A curator of sleep.
Shut up with your eyes.
I am the King
and I have broken darkness.

Look in the storm.
Look in the barrel.
Look under the mountain.
I am the dragon.

Look where her room
retains the look
of the room of a stranger,
now in the east. Where we began.
I named you then
the Hyacinth girl.
Words that were meant for no other,
as has long been known in the land.

Separating at night.
Ten years in arms.
Talked of as if it happened yesterday.
Cried the ladies,
the vegetables that name themselves.

Mother then
I am your son
the King.

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