Novel Ideas Message Board › Poetry Post
Fort Worth, TX
I remember seeing a few requests for poetry books in the meetups. While I love poetry, I just don't see it making good enough conversation in the groups. So I figure maybe we can make a post dedicated strictly to poems so anyone can come in and share their favorites or just some they liked. I'll go first.
Two of them:
This first one is definitely one of my favorites.
"The New Math" by Bob Hicok
There are these notions of how the world would be better. Shoot all the anti-Semites. Wear only red socks. Hunt truth like the wolf hunts elk, in packs, with relentless teeth. Make language stand up and be something like a house, give it the force of wind, the courage of a storm to destroy itself. What we think of as wild I think of as honest. Doing, not what you think, but what you are. The difference between counting the rings of a tree and finding a place in the sky. A theory toward wolf would be a fine addition to the history of advice. Train the spine to walk on fours. Claim only that which your urine can touch. Find faith in the scent of things. Humans are metaphors. Chagall was a synagogue dreaming of being a man. When his paintings meet, they lick each other like wolves. I go nowhere without alienation, I carry it like a pouch of anvils, not belonging is the way I belong. This brings us to the strange math of our heads, the impossibility of dividing by zero. If we could solve that equation, we’d be happy. I give you pencil, I give you paper, I wish you luck. Wolf would make a better denominator. Divide any number by wolf, you get wolf.
This second one is a poem I came across recently. Words can't express how much I fell in love with it.
"The Devils" by Charles Simic
You were a “victim of semiromantic anarchism
In its most irrational form.”
I was “ill at ease in an ambiguous world
Deserted by Providence.” We drank wine
And made love in the afternoon. The neighbors’
TVs were tuned to soap operas.
The unhappy couples spoke little.
There were interminable pauses.
Soft organ music. Someone coughing.
“It’s like Strindberg’s Dream Play,” you said.
“What is?” I asked and got no reply.
I was watching a spider on the ceiling.
It was the kind St. Veronica ate in her martyrdom.
“That woman subsisted on spiders only,”
I told the janitor when he came to fix the faucet.
He wore dirty overalls and a derby hat.
Once he had been an inmate of a notorious state institution.
“I am no longer Jesus,” he informed us happily.
He believed only in devils now.
“This building is full of them,” he confided.
One could see their horns and tails
If one caught them in their baths.
“He’s got Dark Ages on his brain,” you said.
“Who does?” I asked and got no reply.
The spider had the beginnings of a web
Over our heads. The world was quiet
Except when one of us took a sip of wine.
Fort Worth, TX
"Flying at Night" by Ted Kooser
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
back into the little system of his care.
All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
Those are great poems. Thanks for sharing them. I can't say I completely grasped them, especially the first two, but then again, poetry probably isn't there to be completely grasped! Here are a few I chose more or less at random, not because they're my favorites but just because I like them - they left an impression.
"Hook" by James Wright
I was only a young man
in those days. On that evening
The cold was so God damned
Bitter there was nothing,
Nothing. I was in trouble
With a woman, and there was nothing
There but me and dead snow.
I stood on the street corner
In Minneapolis, lashed
This way and that.
Wind rose from some pit,
Another bus to Saint Paul
Would arrive in three hours,
If I was lucky.
Then the young Sioux
Loomed beside me, his scars
Were just my age.
Ain't got no bus here
A long time, he said.
You got enough money
To get home on?
What did they do
To your hand? I answered.
He raised up his hook into the terrible starlight
And slashed the wind.
Oh, that? he said.
I had a bad time with a woman. Here,
You take this.
Did you ever feel a man hold
In a hook,
And place it
In your freezing hand?
I took it.
It wasn't the money I needed.
But I took it.
"My Mother Once Told Me" by Yehuda Amichai (translated by Assia Gutmann)
My mother once told me
Not to sleep with flowers in the room.
Since then I have not slept with flowers.
I sleep alone, without them.
There were many flowers.
But I've never had enough time.
And persons I love are already pushing themselves
Away from my life, like boats
Away from the shore.
My mother said
Not to sleep with flowers.
You won't sleep.
You won't sleep, mother of my childhood.
The bannister I clung to
When they dragged me off to school
Is long since burnt.
But my hands, clinging,
Fort Worth, TX
Thanks, Jim. I really liked your poems, too. I especially liked "Hook." Plus, I'm glad I'm not the only one posting poems on here. But I don't mind. I think everyone needs some more poetry in their lives, so I love sharing my favorites. Here's another one:
by David Berman.
I remember Kitty saying we shared a deep longing for
the consolation prize, laughing as we rinsed the stagecoach.
I remember the night we camped out
and I heard her whisper
"think of me as a place" from her sleeping bag
with the centaur print.
I remember being in her father's basement workshop
when we picked up an unknown man sobbing over the shortwave radio
and the night we got so high we convinced ourselves
that the road was a hologram projected by the headlight beams.
I remember how she would always get everyone to vote
on what we should do next and the time she said
"all water is classic water" and shyly turned her face away.
At volleyball games her parents sat in the bleachers
like ambassadors from Indiana in all their midwestern schmaltz.
She was destroyed when they were busted for operating
a private judicial system within U.S. borders.
Sometimes I'm awakened in the middle of the night
by the clatter of a room service cart and I think back on Kitty.
Those summer evenings by the government lake,
talking about the paradox of multiple Santas
or how it felt to have your heart broken.
I still get a hollow feeling on Labor Day when the summer ends
and I remember how I would always refer to her boyfriends
as what's-his-face, which was wrong of me and I'd like
to apologize to those guys right now, wherever they are:
No one deserves to be called what's-his-face.
That was really beautiful, Cisco. Thanks for starting this post. I really enjoy doing this. Here are a couple more. The first one's an old favorite of mine and even though it could be interpreted as 'specieist,' what the heck - I like it anyway.
"The Animals" by Edwin Muir
They do not live in the world,
Are not in time and space,
From birth to death hurled,
No word do they have, not one
To plant a foot upon,
Were never in any place.
For by words the world was called
Out of the empty air,
With words was shaped and walled -
Line and circle and square,
Mud and emerald,
Snatched from deceiving death
By the articulate breath.
But these have never trod
Twice the familiar track,
Never never turned back
Into the memoried day;
All is new and near
In the unchanging Here
Of the fifth great day of God
That shall remain the same,
Never shall pass away.
On the sixth day we came.
And for something completely different:
"Bag of Mice" by Nick Flynn
I dreamt your suicide note
was scrawled in pencil on a brown paperbag,
& in the bag were six baby mice. The bag
opened into darkness,
from the top down. The mice,
huddled at the bottom, scurried the bag
across a shorn field. I stood over it
& as the burning reached each carbon letter
of what you'd written
your voice released into the night
like a song, & the mice
|A former member||
I love poetry and used to write several poems a month, though I haven't written a poem since college. One of my favorite poets is Wislawa Szymborska. My favorite poem of hers is:
Brueghel's Two Monkeys
This is what I see in my dreams about final exams:
two monkeys, chained to the floor, sit on the windowsill,
the sky behind them flutters,
the sea is taking its bath.
The exam is History of Mankind.
I stammer and hedge.
One monkey stares and listens with mocking disdain,
the other seems to be dreaming away--
but when it's clear I don't know what to say
he prompts me with a gentle
clinking of his chain.
My all-time favorite poem is The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. That of course is easily available on the internet. I used to have that one memorized because I read it so much.
Fort Worth, TX
Riah, this guy I met once played The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock as read by Anthony Hopkins for me. I've since forgotten his name, but I still remember that poem.
"Building of Unseen Cats"
by Zachary Schomburg
When I woke up, it was the middle of the night and
my building was on fire. The hallway was not filled
with smoke, and then quickly it was. I rescued a few
older men from their bathtubs, a few babies from
their cribs. Outside, the air was filled with hair.
Everyone but me was holding a plastic cage with a
cat in it. We weren't supposed to have cats in my
building, but there they all were, an invisible nation
suddenly uncurtained into a blinding and brutal
world. Everyone looked at me with a face that said
let’s never speak of this. Let’s not look directly at what
is meant to be loved in secret. Let’s, for example,
imagine the sea is always, constantly, and forever
spilling toward us, that our screaming building is
something worth escaping.
Edited by cisco on Sep 22, 2013 5:27 PM
Fort Worth, TX
"The Whole Mess ... Almost"
by Gregory Corso
I ran up six flights of stairs
to my small furnished room
opened the window
and began throwing out
those things most important in life
First to go, Truth, squealing like a fink:
“Don’t! I’ll tell awful things about you!”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’ve nothing to hide ... OUT!”
Then went God, glowering & whimpering in amazement:
“It’s not my fault! I’m not the cause of it all!” “OUT!”
Then Love, cooing bribes: “You’ll never know impotency!
All the girls on Vogue covers, all yours!”
I pushed her fat ass out and screamed:
“You always end up a bummer!”
I picked up Faith Hope Charity
all three clinging together:
“Without us you’ll surely die!”
“With you I’m going nuts! Goodbye!”
Then Beauty ... ah, Beauty—
As I led her to the window
I told her: “You I loved best in life
... but you’re a killer; Beauty kills!”
Not really meaning to drop her
I immediately ran downstairs
getting there just in time to catch her
“You saved me!” she cried
I put her down and told her: “Move on.”
Went back up those six flights
went to the money
there was no money to throw out.
The only thing left in the room was Death
hiding beneath the kitchen sink:
“I’m not real!” It cried
“I’m just a rumor spread by life ... ”
Laughing I threw it out, kitchen sink and all
and suddenly realized Humor
was all that was left—
All I could do with Humor was to say:
“Out the window with the window!”
"Schoenberg" by Frank O'Hara
In a fever of style, having slaughtered the false Florimells of harmonious thought and their turgid convincements, he marshalled lightning and the beautiful stench of signed clouds. Some sneered: him a silly Quixote! but he laid wate Central Europe and painted with the salt of Jenghiz the wounds of World War I. Not enough women rubbed their breasts against trees while waiting for big nightingales, so he pushed these ladies, intelligent refugees from Weimar, into a Pierrotless sea, and everywhere the frontiers of a sensibility whose left foot was only then emerging trembled like the rim of the sun under his hot clothes. The classic grace of a spirit resting on broken glass informed the shell of his virgin Muse with pink echoes from the newspapers, at the mercy of every fresh breath from the tradewinds.
Distance from Loved Ones
by James Tate
After her husband died, Zita decided to get the face-lift she had always wanted. Half-way through the operation her blood pressure started to drop, and they had to stop. When Zita tried to fasten her seat-belt for the sad drive home, she threw out her shoulder. Back at the hospital the doctor examined her and found cancer run rampant throughout her shoulder and arm and elsewhere. Radiation followed. And now Zita sits there in her beauty parlor, bald, crying and crying.
My mother tells me all this on the phone, and I say, Mother, who is Zita?
And my mother says, I am Zita. All my life I have been Zita, bald and crying. And you, my son, who should have known me best, thought I was nothing but your mother.
But, Mother, I say, I am dying...