(12/31/2005 8:25:00 AM)
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(NY TIMES POETRY PAGE, December 31,2005)
Published: December 31,2005
The Beautiful Quickness of a Street Boy
Where did he come from, this boy
pressing his face against the window
of the car on that January afternoon
in Burdwan? One of the three coins
slips from my outstretched fingers
& falls somewhere in the small car,
& I contort my body to retrieve
this touch of alloyed copper.
Then, I look up at the boy
pointing to the roses on the dashboard.
Afternoon light falls between us.
I hand him a rose, & he walks away
with his nose pushed into the bloom,
smiling to himself. In no time,
the boy is facing a young man
waiting on the platform.
They exchange a few words.
The man shoves a hand into his pocket
& gives the boy a coin,
& he dances away, leaving the man
holding the flower behind his back.
Our car fills with awe & laughter,
& someone says, There’s a woman
somewhere. That street boy,
as if he sprung out of me,
out of another time,
is still pleading with everything
he knows: his dusty clothes & eyes lit
by Shiva, his half smile & black hair
alive with lice, & his wounded song,
as a bearded monkey paces
the train station’s roof-spine.
Yusef Komunyakaa is the author of “Taboo: Book One of the Wishbone Trilogy.”
A Little Moonlight
Given inconstancy, the resistless
affair that has been my body (as if
there were no place to go from anywhere except
deeper, into those spaces the hand makes by
tugging the flesh, where it is part-able,
more open, or as if I believed, utterly, what
legend says about violation — how it leads
to prophecy, the god enters the body, the mouth
cracks open, and a mad fluttering, which
is the future, fills the cave, which is
desire, luck and hazard, hazard and luck) ,
I should perhaps regret more. But it’s grown
so late: see how dark, outside?
Suspecting, even then,
that the best way to avoid being
broken by flaw would be to shape my life
around it — flaw coming slowly
to define the self, as shells make of the glass
that holds them a little kingdom
of sea — I followed him, and have only once
looked back. Oh, I contain him
as the lion’s chest contains the arrow
that death displaces, effect always mattering
more than cause: pull the arrow free —
brandish it. By now it must weigh
I agree, to hope for a thing is to believe in it,
or at least to want to. When does belief
become expectation? Like committing
a crime, confessing to it, and thinking
confession might equal apology, mistaking
apology for to wipe clean away,
you turn your face to me. — What?
Trees in a wind. Their mixed
invitation of leaves flourishing as if unstoppable,
as if foliage were the greater part of it, the part
I could love best, or should learn to say I do
more often. Tell me why, when what I loved
from the start was how eventually each leaf must go.
Carl Phillips is the author of the forthcoming “Riding Westward.”
In a Loaning
Spoken for in autumn, recovered speech
Having its way again, I gave a cry:
“Not beechen green, but these shin-deep coffers
Of copper-fired leaves, these beech boles grey.”
Seamus Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in literature, is the author of the forthcoming “District and Circle.”
Brigit Pegeen Kelly
It was not a scorpion I asked for, I asked for a fish, but
maybe God misheard my request, maybe God thought
I said not “some sort of fish, ” but a “scorpion fish, ” a
request he would surely have granted, being a goodly
God, but then he forgot the “fish” attached to the
“scorpion” (because God, too, forgets, everything
forgets) : so instead of an edible fish, any small fish,
sweet or sour, or even the grotesque buffoonery of the
striped scorpion fish, crowned with spines and
followed by many tails, a veritable sideshow of a fish;
instead of these, I was given an insect, a peculiar
prehistoric creature, part lobster, part spider, part
bell-ringer, part son of a fallen star, something like a
disfigured armored dog, not a thing you can eat, or
even take on a meaningful walk, so ugly is it, so stiffly
does it step, as if on ice, freezing again and again in
mid-air like a listening ear, and then scuttling
backwards or leaping madly forward, its deadly tail
doing a St. Vitus jig. God gave me a scorpion, a
venomous creature, to be sure, a bug with the bite of
Cleopatra’s asp, but not, as I soon found out, despite
the dark gossip, a lover of violence or a hater of men.
In truth, it is shy, the scorpion, a creature with eight
eyes and almost no sight, who shuns the daylight, and
is driven mad by fire, who favors the lonely spot, and
feeds on nothing much, and only throws out its poison
barb when backed against a wall — a thing like me,
but not the thing I asked for, a thing, by accident or
design, I am now attached to. And so I draw the
curtains, and so I lay out strange dishes, and so I step
softly, and so I do not speak, and only twice, in many
years, have I been stung, both times because,
unthinking, I let in the terrible light. And sometimes
now, when I watch the scorpion sleep, I see how fine he
is, how rare, this creature called Lung Book or Mortal
Book because of his strange organs of breath. His
lungs are holes in his body, which open and close. And
inside the holes are stiffened membranes, arranged
like the pages of a book — imagine that! And when the
holes open, the pages rise up and unfold, and the blood
that circles through them touches the air, and by this
bath of air the blood is made pure... He is a house of
books, my shy scorpion, carrying in his belly all the
perishable manuscripts — a little mirror of the library
at Alexandria, which burned.
Brigit Pegeen Kelly is the author, most recently, of “Orchard.”
The Waterclock and the Hourglass
An old pair of parents, it appears,
In an old museum case... He unites
Form and function, plainly; she’s a thing
Of fancy and flourish, and is — for all her years —
He springs from Cathay, land of whispering
Bamboo and gently rain-wrung skies;
She’s of Venice, a flowing city
From whose brisk ovens
Glowing loaves of glass rise.
A mixed marriage, then, but by all lights
A happy one (differences reconciled —
They’ve learned to take things day by day) ,
Save that their only, problem child
Keeps running away.
Brad Leithauser is the author of “Darlington’s Fall, ” a novel in verse.
I was what mattered in the end. Or if
I didn’t matter then nothing mattered,
and if I mattered, well then all things did.
O miracles and molecules, dust, rust.
It was always a matter of matter.
It might be meat or else it might be love
(if I was meat, if I was fit to eat) .
What had never been matter would never
matter: you might say this was a moot point.
Clay and dust, ash and mud and mist and rust,
blood-orange sunsets and turning maples,
apples and cherries, sticks and trash and dust,
rumpled papers blowing across a street
(dead letters sent to him that lives away) .
There was life, there was loss, there was no such
thing as loss — there was nothing that wasn’t
both life and loss. No, it had to be said,
in questions of matter, nothing was lost.
It might be a matter of carnal love.
This was textual and material,
and for once the facts-of-the-matter were
both heartfelt and matter-of-fact. (Oh,
matter of course was always the mother.)
These were the facts of life, this was my life,
and there I was, right at the heart of it,
my own heart — at the heart-of-the-matter.
And did I matter now or in the end?
O mother, maintainer and measurer,
mud and fruit of the heart, meat of the heart,
the question might be asked, what was the end.
Sarah Arvio is the author of the forthcoming “Sono.”
(12/26/2005 9:29:00 AM)
By JESSIE B. RITTENHOUSE
THE SONG OF THE STONE WALL
By Helen Keller.
ith searching feet I walk beside the wall, ' says Miss Helen Keller in that remarkable piece of symbolism. 'The Song of the Stone Wall, ' whose lines lead one into new fields of psychology and make necessary a new interpretation of the sense of beauty. A poet is largely a poet by virtue of his finer, keener vision, his sensitive response to sound and form and color; but how shall one convey a perfect illusion of these things when they exist for him only in imagination, and how shall one imagine that for which he has no reality, no association in fact? 'O beautiful, blind stones, inarticulate and dumb! ' exclaims Miss Keller, with a poignant self-analogy which might be painful, but instead is triumphant and sweet. For here is one who has annihilated limitation and demonstrated that beauty is independent of the senses, and that light and joy are messengers who enter by closed doors.
Modern psychology cannot account for Miss Keller nor explain the psychic sense by which she apprehends the minutest phases of a beauty she has never witnessed. Note, for example, the exactness of impression, the perfect sense of reality, the apparently loving observation in these lines:
Sunbeams flit and waver in the rifts,
Vanish and reappear, linger and sleep,
Conquer with radiance the obdurate angles,
Filter between the naked rents and wind-bleached jags.
Is not this the report of an exquisite vision? Yet only sentient hands have discovered that 'sunbeams flit and waver in the rifts.'
This passage is, however, more directly allied to the physical than many other which lead one into conjecture as to Miss Keller's conception of beauty. How, having seen neither object, and lacking all data for their association, could she embody both in so exquisite an image as a 'peristyle of pines'?
'The Song of the Stone Wall' is conceived and executed in the Whitman spirit and with the Whitman influence apparent in its form. But what more liberating influence to an imprisoned art-sense just seeking its expression? Miss Keller conceives her subject broadly.
The wall is an Iliad of granite, it chants to me
she says, with that fine elation worthy of her master and listening with ears not dulled by mortal sounds, records its chants. The wall is the symbol of its Puritan builders; stone upon stone it is fashioned of their ideals: it stands firm in their convictions; unyielding in their will. Miss Keller sees the procession of the builders.
One by one, the melancholy phantoms go stepping from me
And I follow them in and out among the stones.
But the pursuit does not depress, it inspires, and as this eager spirit follows with guiding hand upon the stones, they become to her
Embossed books unobilterated by the tears and laughter of Time.
In the delicate nature touches here and there, the pictures and conjures, Miss Keller leaves us filled with wonder, rather than in the working out of her poem on the symbolical side. This is done as others might do it, albeit with ideality and often with eloquent music, but the real offering of this little book is the sense that beauty is a spiritual conception, a dream-sphere of the soul, made one with nature and life in a mystical reality.
(12/25/2005 1:48:00 PM)
history of Christmas, from 'THE WRITER'S ALMANAC', Dec.25,2005
Today is Christmas Day, celebrated by Christians since the 4th century AD. Early Christians believed that the only important holiday of the year was Easter, but in the 4th century, a heretical Christian sect started claiming that Jesus had only been a spirit, and had never had a body. The Church decided to emphasize Jesus' bodily humanity by celebrating his birth.
Most Christian theologians believe that Jesus was actually born in the spring, because the scripture mentions shepherds letting their animals roam in the fields at night. The Christian church probably chose December 25th as the official birth date because of competition with pagan cults, who celebrated the winter solstice on that date.
The problem with combining Christian and pagan traditions was that the winter solstice had traditionally been a time of drunken feasting and revelry, and many Christmas celebrations became similarly festive. Many preachers began to speak out against the celebration of Christmas, and after the Protestant Reformation, Puritans outlawed Christmas altogether.
It was only in the mid 19th century that Christmas became a domestic holiday associated with family. The transformation was due in part to government crackdowns on wild street parties. In 1828, New York City organized its first professional police force in response to a violent Christmas riot. Eventually it became more fashionable to stay at home with family than to go out to big parties.
One practice that endures from pagan traditions is the singing of carols. The word 'carol' comes from the Greek 'choros, ' which is a circular dance accompanied by singing, usually to celebrate fertility. After most Europeans became Christians, they began to write and perform folk songs at Christmas time to express their joy at baby Jesus' birth.
But the church often discouraged the singing of carols because they were considered too secular, and the practice of caroling almost died out under church pressure. When Christmas became a more domestic holiday in the mid-1800s, there was a carol renaissance, and many of the most popular carols were written in that period, including, 'Away in a Manger, ' 'O Little Town of Bethlehem', and 'Silent Night' written in Austria in 1818.
(12/6/2005 4:42:00 PM)
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hey i'm really new. check my stuff tellme what ya think!
(11/6/2005 8:08:00 PM)
Sculptures of Pleasure
By Wolf Larsen
She looked at me, but there were eyes all over your tongue and your mouth became the new york subway system, she knew I lived in the planet of graveyards, that’s when I shot myself, the surrealists were digging graves, the cubists were re-inventing cities into seas of angles that ate your body, the impressionists were looking for the third rail and then decided to eat buildings, she knew I lived in a twisting spiraling building with 5-foot censored growing out of the walls, I tried to talk to her but construction workers kept erecting walls between us until my censored started growing with carcasses, that’s when all the unstable eyes begin to perverse my brain and a river of fragmented damaged people were devouring subway tracks until your skin started to crack open and paintings leaked out of your corpse until you mind became a volcano of poetry, that’s why everyone tied nooses around their necks and started jumping, otherwise there wouldn’t be happiness, you slid your ---censored----- until he smiled, florescent lava drips from all our procreations until our withered corpses lay in caskets, gravestones are sculptures of pleasure
Copyright ã 2004 by Wolf Larsen. All Rights Reserved.
This is just one of many poems in the poetry book Eulogy for the Human Race. Check out other poems from Eulogy for the Human Race at http: //www.secretwebsites.com/English_poetry_book.htm
You may now buy Eulogy for the Human Race at Amazon.com or other online book retailers.
Wolf Larsen is an adventurer, novelist, playwright, and poet. He has traveled through 45 countries in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. To pay for his travels Wolf worked as a seasonal laborer in Alaska. Wolf has lived in Chicago, Wisconsin, New York City, Ecuador, Honduras, Brazil, and Peru. Wolf has written four novels, six collections of poetry, a play, and a screenplay. His two autobiographical novels are Unalaska, Alaska and Travel Around the World? Why Not? !
(10/10/2005 6:29:00 PM)
Freeform Poetry is constricting to the imagination because it tends to prevent the writer looking beyond what has been written and refining it. (Now retiring to my nuclear shelter)
(9/25/2005 1:35:00 AM)
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It was then a few days before. I was out from my room at that night looking at sky gave me a touch of the nature. I was moved by the spraying light of the moon and compelled to converge my experiences but how I did it? Is that good one or not: Look at the poem below that I put on the paper and without amendment I am presenting it here:
In the dark cold night
The sky is full of golden rays
Who can tell the truth behind the silence?
What is the mystery of the cat walk?
Which the silently gazing rays
The fairy of universe is exposing
To the little naked eye
The still mode of the world
Looks so beautiful at that moment
No one to talk even a word or two
Files shut and closed mouths
Let the eyes to stare at the beauty queen
This protocol of nature
Gives her charms of limitless moments
It is too early to go to bed
For tonight is like the blessing of nature
This untouched moment is so steady
That the trees are whispering
The stars are hiding their faces
From being burnt to ashes
By the flames of rising fire
From the mouth of queen of solitude
(8/15/2005 4:42:00 PM)
I agree with Raynette, in that poetry is art. As poets, we use words as our colors to create our illusions. Where I differ, is in respect to raw emotion sufficing. Look at the works of e e cummings. Though Harvard educated, he played with the proper placement of words, used verbs as nouns, etc. What shows through in his work is his raw emotion, that is what made it all work.
(7/17/2005 3:58:00 AM)
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Rilke, Hardy and Me...some freeform.....Ron Price, Tasmania
THIS IS NOT AN ARRIVING
Love is...a high inducement to the individual to ripen...it is an exacting claim on him...love is burden and apprenticeship....(not) light and frivolous play...something new enters us in our sadnesses...the future enters into us this way in order to transform itself in us; therefore, be lonely and attentive when you are sad. In this way, destiny goes forth from within people, not from without into them. -Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, W.W. Norton, NY, pp.54-65.
Go into yourself and cleanse.
The list is long and will keep
you busy with its regularity
and it must be done
or your house, your home,
will not enjoy effulgent glories,
infinite and unseen grace,
divine knowledge or immortality.
What is this cleansing? A scouring
of your memory and imagination
of what is idle in the talking department
and what you hear
on that internal telephone receiver.
Accept your aloneness here,
your trust in God
and your holding to him
and try to do what you know
you should do-simple, that simple.
Can you hear the tremulous after-ring
of memory clarifying the message
of all that is unclear, undefined,
unknown, pointing toward a fate, a destiny,
like a wide, wonderful web that is finally
threading your life with its tender hand
and binding you with a million
infinitely fine lines, to focus you
like some precisioned instrument,
ready now, although often bloody
in the exchange? But you clean it off:
the bright red imaginings,
hot with heart’s intensity;
washing worldly affections,
clean and smooth with flowing water
from the tap of your mind.
Can you clear your eyes of all those
perceptual confusions, sadnesses,
that make you feel
so very useless and inadequate?
All is gestation and bringing forth,
pregnant with pain and soon-to-be-born,
hopes for the future; all is waiting
with deep humility and patience
for developing clarity, ripening,
waiting for the sap: no forcing here.
It will come. It will come.
This is not an arriving;
and love the difficult, the unsolved,
as you grow in and through them.
Use experience, here and now,
to rally toward exalted moments later,
toward the cleansing, the grace,
the quaffing of wisdom, the emptying out.
Life must be seen as difficult, serious
and approached with reverence:
not all this lightness, frivolity,
endless playing. Creative thoughts
come from many thousands of nights
and days of love and striving, endlessly:
filling thoughts with sublimity and exaltation.
The surface is so often bewildering;
go to the depths where meaning unfolds
like the petals of roses, a jacaranda
at last will be in bloom. Everyday
is a new beginning as we suck
the sweetness out of the trivial,
the profound and the funny;
while Thy servants who have gone,
work through us as part of our destiny,
as predisposition, as pulsation, gesture
rising out of the depths of time,
helping us hold to what is difficult.
FRESH CENTRE OF RICHNESS
I have a faculty...for burying an emotion in my heart or brain for forty years, and exhuming it at the end of that time as fresh as when interred.
-Thomas Hardy, Notebooks, in The World of Poetry: Poets and Critics on the Art and Functions of Poetry, Clive Sansom, selector, Phoenix House, London,1959, p.26.
Some would say that’s not a good idea, Thomas;
confusing burying with repressing is understandable.
For me burying is an unconscious process
associated with memory, so that remembering
is like creating something anew,
not always mind you, experiencing it
for the first time, again and again.
If I have any gift as a poet it is this
and it extends from strong experiences
to minute observations. This is the fresh centre
of richness which feeds imagination,
feeds the present with charged particles,
with blood and bone, with glance and gesture
and the poem rises and goes forth like a phoenix
from ashes where emotion lies burried,
exhumed fresh and tasted as if in some other world
by some other me, as if for the first time.
17 September 1995
14 October 1995
(7/15/2005 4:35:00 PM)
Hey I'm brand new to this site and most of what I write is freeform. I'm looking for and would greatly appreciate some ideas, thoughts, comments, etc. so that I can develop and grow. I only have a few poems up right now but I will add more when I get a few minutes.