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Poetry Thread

Started by Ben Lehman, April 05, 2005, 09:03:26 PM

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joshua neff

And another favorite:

gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori
gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini
dagki beri bin blassa glassala laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim
gadjama tuffm i zimzalla binban gligla wowwlimai bin beri ban
o katalominai rhinozerossola hopsamen laulitalomini hoooo
gadjama rhinozerossola hopsamen
bluku terullala blaulala loooo

zimzim urullala zimzim urullala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam
elifantolim brussala bulomen brussala bulomen tromtata
velo da bang bang affalo purzamai affalo purzamai lengado tor
gadjama bimbalo glandridi glassala zingtata pimpalo ogrogoooo
viola laxato viola zimbrabim viola uli paluji malooo

tuffm im zimbrabim negramai bumbalo negramai bumbalo tuffm i zim
gadjama bimbala oo beri gadjama gaga di gadjama affalo pinx
gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen
gaga di bling blong
gaga blung

--Hugo Ball

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes

Doug Ruff

natsugusa ya
tsuwamono domo ga
yume no ato

summer grasses
of heroes' dreams
all that remains

- Basho

always stuck with me, that one.
'Come and see the violence inherent in the System.'


"When I am sad and weary
When I feel all hope has gone
When I walk along High Holborn
I think of you with nothing on"
         - Celia Celia, by Adrian Mitchell
Pete Darby

James Holloway

North, Seamus Heaney

I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.
I faced the unmagical
invitations of Iceland,
the pathetic colonies
of Greenland, and suddenly
those fabulous raiders,
those lying in Orkney and Dublin
measured against
their long swords rusting,
those in the solid
belly of stone ships,
those hacked and glinting
in the gravel of thawed streams
were ocean-defeaned voices
warning me, lifted again
in violence and epiphany.
The longship's swimming tongue
was buoyant with hindsight -
it said Thor's hammer swung
to geography and trade,
thick-witted couplings and revenges,
the hatreds and behindbacks
of the althing, lies and women,
exhaustions nominated peace,
memory incubating the spilled blood.
It said, "Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.
Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.
Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure
your hands have known."

Shawn De Arment

The swift stream ours into the sea and returns never more.
Do you not see high on yonder tower
A white-haired one sorrowing before his bright mirror?
In the morning those locks were like black silk,
In the evening they are like snow.
Let us, while we may, taste the old delights,
And leave not the golden cask of wine
To stand alone in the moonlight ...
I desire the long ecstasy of wine,
And desire not to awaken ...

Now let you and me buy wine today!
Why say we have not the price?
My horse spotted with fine flower,
My fur coat worth a thousand pieces of gold,
These I will take out, and call my boy
To barter them for sweet wine,
And with you twain, let me forget
The sorrows of ten thousand ages!
---Li Po---
Working on: One Night (formally called CUP)

Emily Care

"This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the sham, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond."
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Gordon C. Landis

We've already heard one from Wallace Stevens, and some folks might say this is TOO much a  . . . clasic/trite/overanaluzed piece, but I give you

The Idea of Order at Key West

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask.  No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard.
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this?  we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.

If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone.  But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang.  And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker.  Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh!  Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.

Wallace Stevens

"She and not the sea we heard."  You, me, him, them - not the game, the people. (under construction)


NOT, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist - slack they may be - these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruised bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, cheer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, foot trod
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

Gerald Manley Hopkins


We live our crowded lives in a narrow room
Our elders built around us with the steel of our own ignorance.
Only one door opens under the sunlit sky,
And in the opening waits Uriel of the sharpened scythe.

There are too many in here,
Too much used to living in a cell, too much taught to stay content in hell
Some write their holy books and cry their prayers;
They wait with yearning looks for Uriel to free them to a Heaven they can't see.
Some others stop their gazes at the border of Uriel's black.
They cry their skeptics' praises of the steel that holds them back.
Most of the rest just live their lives in circles,
thinking petty thoughts and doing petty deeds,
Contemplating neither of oblivion or ecstasies.

I have seen the sky, though, for I held my friends and they held me
and we cracked the ceiling with a chisel of mad laughter
and I felt the raindrops cool upon my face.

Eric Finley
(Me, back in the day.)


Right on, Lance (edit - and Eric too, missed that the first time through the thread), for posting your own. Here's one of mine that got a good reaction at the Green Mill poetry slam, back when I lived in Chi; title mirrors the opening line, lifted from Holderlin:

"What are poets for,
in a destitute time?"
he asked,
chomping off
the butt end
of a Macanudo.
"Not for paying the rent,
that's for damn sure.
I had a poet
up in 10A
for a while:
dressed in black,
fought with his girlfriend
on the phone
in the middle of the night.
That guy moved out
after three months.
He still owes me thirty bucks
for the toilet."
He spat
in a high, sanguine arc,
brown saliva shimmering
like rhododendrons
against the pavement.
"No, sir.
I don't think
I'll ever rent
to one of those fucking poets

- Sean C. Stidd, 1997


Hmm, picking one is hard.  Here's one from the first book I found, that nobody else may have come across before.

First Corinthians at the Crossroads, by Bruce Dawe

When I was a blonde I
walked as a blonde I
talked as a blonde;
but now that I have become
a brunette I have put away my
blonding lotion, farewell Kim Novak
and the statuesque Nordic
me: a touching scene truly...
We lingered like old lovers
who cannot quite believe
the evidence of their eyes.
'It is all over, honey-bun, alas,' said disconsolate
eyebrows being terribly
        'Toujours, toujours,' sang lips that had
tasted their last Tango, while
onward onward into an everlasting
brunette dusk we  moved to confront,
with the new dawn's rising
over as wasteland of depilatory and
Beauty-Mask, O
brave new world...

Jonathan Walton

Rev took my favorite (Do Not Go Gentle, the mantra of artists everywhere) and then Emily took Rumi.  I thought about Shel Silverstein, for old times sake, but then I decided on Mr. Billy Collins:

Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Song Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles

It seems these poets have nothing
up their ample sleeves
they turn over so many cards so early,
telling us before the first line
whether it is wet or dry,
night or day, the season the man is standing in,
even how much he has had to drink.

Maybe it is autumn and he is looking at a sparrow.
Maybe it is snowing in a town with a beautiful name.

"View Peonies at the Temple of Good Fortune
on a Cloudy Afternoon" is one of Sun Tung Po's.
"Dipping Water from the River and Simmering Tea"
is another one, or just
"On a Boat, Awake at Night."

And Lu Yu takes the simple rice cake with
"In a Boat on a Summer Evening
I Heard the Cry of a Waterbird.
It Was Very Sad and Seemed to be Saying
My Woman Is Cruel -- Moved, I Wrote This Poem"

There is no iron turnstile to push against here
as with headings like "Vortex on a String,"
"The Horn of Neurosis," or whatever.
No confusingly inscribed welcome mat to puzzle over.

Instead, "I Walk Out on a Summer Morning
to the Sound of Birds and a Waterfall"
is a beaded curtain brushing over my shoulders.

And "Ten Days of Spring Rain Have Kept Me Indoors"
is a servant who shows me into the room
where a poet with a thin beard
is sitting on a mat with a jug of wine
whispering something about clouds and cold wind,
about sickness and the loss of friends.

How easy he has made it for me to enter here,
to sit down in a corner,
cross my legs like his, and listen.


I'm not much of a poetry fan, but this one has stayed with me.

In intimacy there exists a line
That can't be crossed by passion or love's art --
In awful silence lips melt into one
And out of love to pieces bursts the heart.

And friendship here is impotent, and years
Of happiness sublime in fire aglow,
When soul is free and does not hear
The dulling of sweet passion, long and slow.

Those who are striving toward it are in fever,
But those that reach it struck with woe that lingers.
Now you have understood, why forever
My heart does not beat underneath your fingers.

--Anna Akhmatova, trans. Ilya Shambat




I don't know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I don't know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
"what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!"

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horny cowboys.

well, there's beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottles fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
spilling grey wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

rivers and seas of beer
beer beer beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

Charles Bukowski
AKA Jeff Zahari

Thierry Michel

Mon coeur si doux à prendre
entre tes mains
Ouvre le, ce n'est rien
qu'un peu de cendre

(Paul-Jean Toulet)

My heart so soft to hold
between your hands
Open it, it is is nothing
but a little ash


The Blackbird of Derrycairn

Stop, stop and listen for the bough top
Is whistling and the sun is brighter
Than God's own shadow in the cup now
Forget the hour bell. Mournful matins
Will sound as well, Patric, at nightfall.

Faintly through mist of broken water
Fionn heard my melody in Norway,
He found the forest track he brought back
This beak to gild the branch and tell there
Why men must welcome in the daylight.

He loved the breeze that warns the black grouse,
The shout of gillies in the morning
When packs are counted and the swans cloud
Loch Erne, but more than all those voices,
My throat rejoicing from the hawthorn.

In little cells behind a cashel,
Patric, no handbell has a glad sound,
But knowledge is found among the branches.
Listen! The song that shakes my feathers
Will thong the leather of your satchels.

Stop, stop and listen for the bough top
Is whistling...

- Austin Clarke[/b]