Favorite Poems

This page will show some of Denise’s favorite poems. Please enjoy them!

Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg For Carl Solomon

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,
who ate fire in paint hotels or drank turpentine in Paradise Alley, death, or purgatoried their torsos night after night with dreams, with drugs, with waking nightmares, alcohol and cock and endless balls,
incomparable blind streets of shuddering cloud and lightning in the mind leaping toward poles of Canada & Paterson, illuminating all the motionless world of Time between, Peyote solidities of halls, backyard green tree cemetery dawns, wine drunkenness over the rooftops, storefront boroughs of teahead joyride neon blinking traffic light, sun and moon and tree vibrations in the roaring winter dusks of Brooklyn, ashcan rantings and kind king light of mind,
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,
who sank all night in submarine light of Bickford’s floated out and sat through the stale beer afternoon in desolate Fugazzi’s, listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox,
who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge, a lost battalion of platonic conversationalists jumping down the stoops off fire escapes off windowsills of Empire State out of the moon, yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering facts and memories and anecdotes and eyeball kicks and shocks of hospitals and jails and wars, whole intellects disgorged in total recall for seven days and nights with brilliant eyes, meat for the Synagogue cast on the pavement,
who vanished into nowhere Zen New Jersey leaving a trail of ambiguous picture postcards of Atlantic City Hall, suffering Eastern sweats and Tangerian bone-grindings and migraines of China under junk-withdrawal in Newark’s bleak furnished room,
who wandered around and around at midnight in the railroad yard wondering where to go, and went, leaving no broken hearts,
who lit cigarettes in boxcars boxcars boxcars racketing through snow toward lonesome farms in grandfather night,
who studied Plotinus Poe St. John of the Cross telepathy and bop kabbalah because the cosmos instinctively vibrated at their feet in Kansas,
who loned it through the streets of Idaho seeking visionary indian angels
who were visionary indian angels, who thought they were only mad when Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy,
who jumped in limousines with the Chinaman of Oklahoma on the impulse of winter midnight streetlight smalltown rain,
who lounged hungry and lonesome through Houston seeking jazz or sex or soup, and followed the brilliant Spaniard to converse about America and Eternity, a hopeless task, and so took ship to Africa, who disappeared into the volcanoes of Mexico leaving behind nothing but the shadow of dungarees and the lava and ash of poetry scattered in fireplace Chicago,
who reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets,
who burned cigarette holes in their arms protesting the narcotic tobacco haze of Capitalism,
who distributed Supercommunist pamphlets in Union Square weeping and undressing while the sirens of Los Alamos wailed them down, and wailed down Wall, and the Staten Island ferry also wailed,
who broke down crying in white gymnasiums naked and trembling before the machinery of other skeletons,
who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication,
who howled on their knees in the subway and were dragged off the roof waving genitals and manuscripts,
who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,
who blew and were blown by those human seraphim, the sailors, caresses of Atlantic and Caribbean love,
who balled in the morning in the evenings in rosegardens and the grass of public parks and cemeteries scattering their semen freely to whomever come who may,
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob behind a partition in a Turkish Bath when the blond & naked angel came to pierce them with a sword,
who lost their loveboys to the three old shrews of fate the one eyed shrew of the heterosexual dollar the one eyed shrew that winks out of the womb and the one eyed shrew that does nothing but sit on her ass and snip the intellectual golden threads of the craftsman’s loom.
who copulated ecstatic and insatiate with a bottle of beer a sweetheart a package of cigarettes a candle and fell off the bed, and continued along the floor and down the hall and ended fainting on the wall with a vision of ultimate cunt and come eluding the last gyzym of consciousness,
who sweetened the snatches of a million girls trembling in the sunset, and were red eyed in the morning but prepared to sweeten the snatch of the sunrise, flashing buttocks under barns and naked in the lake,
who went out whoring through Colorado in myriad stolen night-cars, N.C., secret hero of these poems, cocksman and Adonis of Denver–joy to the memory of his innumerable lays of girls in empty lots & diner backyards, moviehouses’ rickety rows, on mountaintops in caves or with gaunt waitresses in familiar roadside lonely petticoat upliftings & especially secret gas-station solipsisms of johns, & hometown alleys too,
who faded out in vast sordid movies, were shifted in dreams, woke on a sudden Manhattan, and picked themselves up out of basements hungover with heartless Tokay and horrors of Third Avenue iron dreams & stumbled to unemployment offices,
who walked all night with their shoes full of blood on the snowbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of steam-heat and opium,
who created great suicidal dramas on the apartment cliff-banks of the Hudson under the wartime blue floodlight of the moon & their heads shall be crowned with laurel in oblivion,
who ate the lamb stew of the imagination or digested the crab at the muddy bottom of the rivers of Bowery,
who wept at the romance of the streets with their pushcarts full of onions and bad music,
who sat in boxes breathing in the darkness under the bridge, and rose up to build harpsichords in their lofts,

who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology,
who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish,
who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom,
who plunged themselves under meat trucks looking for an egg,
who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next decade,
who cut their wrists three times successively unsuccessfully, gave up and were forced to open antique stores where they thought they were growing old and cried,
who were burned alive in their innocent flannel suits on Madison Avenue amid blasts of leaden verse & the tanked-up clatter of the iron regiments of fashion & the nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising & the mustard gas of sinister intelligent editors, or were run down by the drunken taxicabs of Absolute Reality,
who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown soup alleyways & firetrucks, not even one free beer,
who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,
who barreled down the highways of the past journeying to the each other’s hotrod-Golgotha jail-solitude watch or Birmingham jazz incarnation,
who drove crosscountry seventytwo hours to find out if I had a vision or you had a vision or he had a vision to find out Eternity,
who journeyed to Denver,
who died in Denver,
who came back to Denver & waited in vain,
who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes,
who fell on their knees in hopeless cathedrals praying for each other’s salvation and light and breasts, until the soul illuminated its hair for a second,
who crashed through their minds in jail waiting for impossible criminals with golden heads and the charm of reality in their hearts who sang sweet blues to Alcatraz,
who retired to Mexico to cultivate a habit, or Rocky Mount to tender Buddha or Tangiers to boys or Southern Pacific to the black locomotive or Harvard to Narcissus to Woodlawn to the daisychain or grave,
who demanded sanity trials accusing the radio of hypnotism & were left with their insanity & their hands & a hung jury,
who threw potato salad at CCNY lecturers on Dadaism and subsequently presented themselves on the granite steps of the madhouse with shaven heads and harlequin speech of suicide, demanding instantaneous lobotomy, and who were given instead the concrete void of insulin Metrazol electricity hydrotherapy psychotherapy occupational therapy pingpong & amnesia,
who in humorless protest overturned only one symbolic pingpong table, resting briefly in catatonia,
returning years later truly bald except for a wig of blood, and tears and fingers, to the visible madman doom of the wards of the madtowns of the East, Pilgrim State’s Rockland’s and Greystone’s foetid halls, bickering with the echoes of the soul, rocking and rolling in the midnight solitude-bench dolmen-realms of love, dream of life a nightmare, bodies turned to stone as heavy as the moon,
with mother finally ******, and the last fantastic book flung out of the tenement window, and the last door closed at 4 a.m. and the last telephone slammed at the wall in reply and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination–
ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time–
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his
naked and endless head, the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death, and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the suffering of America’s naked mind for love into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand years.

II
What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up
their brains and imagination?
Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars!
Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old
men weeping in the parks!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch!
Moloch the heavy judger of men!
Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse
and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!
Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running
money! Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast
is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose
skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose
factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smokestacks and
antennae crown the cities!
Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity
and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch
whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the
Mind!
Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in
Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!
Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness
without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy!
Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming
out of the sky!
Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries!
blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible mad houses
granite cocks! monstrous bombs!
They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios,
tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!
Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American
river!
Dreams! adorations! illuminations! religions! the whole boatload of sensitive
bullshit!
Breakthroughs! over the river! flips and crucifixions! gone down the flood!
Highs! Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides!
Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!
Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells!
They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof to solitude! waving! carrying
flowers! Down to the river! into the street!

Populist Manifesto No. 1 (by Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Poets, come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open your doors,
You have been holed-up too long
in your closed worlds.
Come down, come down
from your Russian Hills and Telegraph Hills,
your Beacon Hills and your Chapel Hills,
your Mount Analogues and Montparnasses,
down from your foothills and mountains,
out of your teepees and domes.
The trees are still falling
and we’ll to the woods no more.
No time now for sitting in them
As man burns down his own house
to roast his pig
No more chanting Hare Krishna
while Rome burns.
San Francisco’s burning,
Mayakovsky’s Moscow’s burning
the fossil-fuels of life.
Night & the Horse approaches
eating light, heat & power,
and the clouds have trousers.
No time now for the artist to hide
above, beyond, behind the scenes,
indifferent, paring his fingernails,
refining himself out of existence.
No time now for our little literary games,
no time now for our paranoias & hypochondrias,
no time now for fear & loathing,
time now only for light & love.
We have seen the best minds of our generation
destroyed by boredom at poetry readings.
Poetry isn’t a secret society,
It isn’t a temple either.
Secret words & chants won’t do any longer.
The hour of oming is over,
the time of keening come,
a time for keening & rejoicing
over the coming end
of industrial civilization
which is bad for earth & Man.
Time now to face outward
in the full lotus position
with eyes wide open,
Time now to open your mouths
with a new open speech,
time now to communicate with all sentient beings,
All you ‘Poets of the Cities’
hung in museums including myself,
All you poet’s poets writing poetry
about poetry,
All you poetry workshop poets
in the boondock heart of America,
All you housebroken Ezra Pounds,
All you far-out freaked-out cut-up poets,
All you pre-stressed Concrete poets,
All you cunnilingual poets,
All you pay-toilet poets groaning with graffiti,
All you A-train swingers who never swing on birches,
All you masters of the sawmill haiku in the Siberias of America,
All you eyeless unrealists,
All you self-occulting supersurrealists,
All you bedroom visionaries and closet agitpropagators,
All you Groucho Marxist poets
and leisure-class Comrades
who lie around all day and talk about the workingclass proletariat,
All you Catholic anarchists of poetry,
All you Black Mountaineers of poetry,
All you Boston Brahims and Bolinas bucolics,
All you den mothers of poetry,
All you zen brothers of poetry,
All you suicide lovers of poetry,
All you hairy professors of poesie,
All you poetry reviewers
drinking the blood of the poet,
All you Poetry Police –
Where are Whitman’s wild children,
where the great voices speaking out
with a sense of sweetness and sublimity,
where the great’new vision,
the great world-view,
the high prophetic song
of the immense earth
and all that sings in it
And our relations to it –
Poets, descend
to the street of the world once more
And open your minds & eyes
with the old visual delight,
Clear your throat and speak up,
Poetry is dead, long live poetry
with terrible eyes and buffalo strength.
Don’t wait for the Revolution
or it’ll happen without you,
Stop mumbling and speak out
with a new wide-open poetry
with a new commonsensual ‘public surface’
with other subjective levels
or other subversive levels,
a tuning fork in the inner ear
to strike below the surface.
Of your own sweet Self still sing
yet utter ‘the word en-masse –
Poetry the common carrier
for the transportation of the public
to higher places
than other wheels can carry it.
Poetry still falls from the skies
into our streets still open.
They haven’t put up the barricades, yet,
the streets still alive with faces,
lovely men & women still walking there,
still lovely creatures everywhere,
in the eyes of all the secret of all
still buried there,
Whitman’s wild children still sleeping there,
Awake and walk in the open air.

Why I Am Not a Painter (by Frank O’Hara)

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

(Frank O’Hara, “Why I Am Not a Painter” from The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright � 1971 by Mauren Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O’Hara)

Glad Day (by John Wright)

I start up from unaccustomed luxury
long after she’s gone off to work
stranger in love’s mansion
my clothes on the floor
can’t wash off last night with a shower
leave like a cat, take nothing of hers
lock door behind me and leave the key
thin jacket on a cold morning
new shoes, black and shiny, hurt my feet
but I take big strides, the day is open
up in time for a dollar ninety-nine breakfast
at the Aristocrat Steak House
everyone smiles as I walk by
they see the fire is on me

(from bricoleur, by John Wright, Boulder, CO, 1993)

Buddha in Glory by Rainer Maria Rilke

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet–
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

Sex Without Love by Sharon Olds

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health–just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.

A LETTER TO
WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

Dear Bill,

When I search the past for you,
Sometimes I think you are like
St. Francis, whose flesh went out
Like a happy cloud from him,
And merged with every lover —
Donkeys, flowers, lepers, suns —
But I think you are more like
Brother Juniper, who suffered
All indignities and glories
Laughing like a gentle fool.
You’re in the Fioretti
Somewhere, for you’re a fool, Bill,
Like the Fool in Yeats, the term
Of all wisdom and beauty.
It’s you, stands over against
Helen in all her wisdom,
Solomon in all his glory.

Remember years ago, when
I told you you were the first
Great Franciscan poet since
The Middle Ages? I disturbed
The even tenor of dinner.
Your wife thought I was crazy.
It’s true, though. And you’re “pure,” too,
A real classic, though not loud
About it — a whole lot like
The girls of the Anthology.
Not like strident Sappho, who
For all her grandeur, must have
Had endometriosis,
But like Anyte, who says
Just enough, softly, for all
The thousands of years to remember.

It’s a wonderful quiet
You have, a way of keeping
Still about the world, and its
Dirty rivers, and garbage cans,
Red wheelbarrows glazed with rain,
Cold plums stolen from the icebox,
And Queen Anne’s lace, and day’s eyes,
And leaf buds bursting over
Muddy roads, and splotched bellies
With babies in them, and Cortes
And Malinche on the bloody
Causeway, the death of the flower world.

Nowadays, when the press reels
With chatterboxes, you keep still,
Each year a sheaf of stillness,
Poems that have nothing to say,
Like the stillness of George Fox,
Sitting still under the cloud
Of all the world’s temptation,
By the fire, in the kitchen,
In the Vale of Beavor. And
The archetype, the silence
Of Christ, when he paused a long
Time and then said, “Thou sayest it.”

Now in a recent poem you say,
“I who am about to die.”
Maybe this is just a tag
From the classics, but it sends
A shudder over me. Where
Do you get that stuff, Williams?
Look at here. The day will come
When a young woman will walk
By the lucid Williams River,
Where it flows through an idyllic
News from Nowhere sort of landscape,
And she will say to her children,
“Isn’t it beautiful? It
Is named after a man who
Walked here once when it was called
The Passaic, and was filthy
With the poisonous excrements
Of sick men and factories.
He was a great man. He knew
It was beautiful then, although
Nobody else did, back there
In the Dark Ages. And the
Beautiful river he saw
Still flows in his veins, as it
Does in ours, and flows in our eyes,
And flows in time, and makes us
Part of it, and part of him.
That, children, is what is called
A sacramental relationship.
And that is what a poet
Is, children, one who creates
Sacramental relationships
That last always.”

With love and admiration,
Kenneth Rexroth, 1946

Having a Coke with You (by Frank O’Hara)

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluorescent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I’m with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o’clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it’s in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven’t gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn’t pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I’m telling you about it

(“Having a Coke with You” from The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Mauren Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O’Hara.)

The Same Old Vita Nueva by Chuck Pirtle from Regarding the Landscape, 1990, ADAC Atelier des Arts du Livre, Paris

Love, when it had me, seemed happy
Such sweet delight appeared in this life

You’ll hear how love made a horror of it
How it failed and everything went wrong

When you saw me you called me by name
When I find love again I’ll beg for mercy

I don’t know what form to take
What to do with my fearful spirit

Too bad, face it, you even saw me then
How I tried, how I wanted to attain

Every gentle grace, every humble thought
The beauty appearing in a wise woman there

And if you’re coming from such pity now
I can’t say it any other way

Let’s let ourselves cry and go away sad
I’ll let you go

Saw my Beatrice, so pleasant to look at
Love, in me, what a virtue

Kind women, willingly with you
You will ceaselessly hear my sighing

I think of strange fear
Crying, they walk away from me

I felt myself removing myself from you
Can’t hold on to devastated eyes

Vanity, it makes me think
Told me of my thoughtful soul

These thoughts, the breath, the sigh
You stayed because you wanted to hear it

That’s the way I see it
When I tell it to myself again

Different Versions by Hal Sirowitz from No More Birthdays Bacchae Press, 1993

The difference between the Christians
& the Jews, Mother said, is that they have
Jesus, who spoke in parables, & we have
Moses, who spoke in commandments. None
of them spoke English, because
they lived in the desert, & Lawrence of Arabia,
who gave English lessons when he wasn’t
fighting, wasn’t born yet. We started
our religion first, & then they copied us. They
claimed that they improved on the Bible by adding
the New Testament. But you & I know that when
you try to improve on something by making it
bigger, like putting more bread crumbs in the meat
loaf,
it’s never as good as if you just left it alone.

Emergency Situation by Hal Sirowitz from No More Birthdays Bacchae Press, 1993

I threw out your blue underwear,
Mother said. It had a hole in it.
No son of mine will ever be caught wearing that.
It’s a reflection on me. It makes me look bad.
I know no one can see it. But you can’t be sure.
Let’s say you break your leg. You’re rushed
to the hospital. The nurse takes off
your pants. She’ll see it. The doctor
may not even put on a cast, because
he’ll think you come from a poor family.
I didn’t bring you up to embarass me.
When you were little I dressed you up
as a girl. You were gorgeous.
You had curls hanging over your face.
But let’s be honest. You’re no longer cute.
You’re too old to get away with anything.

The Nurse’s Song by William Blake

When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.

‘Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of night arise;
Come, come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies.’

‘No, no, let us play, for it is yet day,
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides, in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all cover’d with sheep.’

‘Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed.’
The little ones leapèd, and shoutèd, and laugh’d
And all the hills echoèd.

Quatrain by Jim Cohn

i must be still
within my heart
to take me where
there will be love

with one as still
to take me where
there will be love
within my heart

within my heart
will there be love
to take me where
i must be still?

there will be love
with one as still
within my heart
to take me there

poem on 2 october

it’s 8:43 a.m.
saturday morning in New York
peter is off to the hamptons
to write in solitude
his scent on my pillow one week old
the trucks of New York
all conspire to wake me
the air is so cold
and a list of things to do
i said i wanted to be alone
now the impulse to shop
make long distance phone calls
call peter and beg to be a stowaway
rebecca’s package
arrived yesterday i am
time zones away from her and
small embossed books and
my period is late
and reading and writing prohibit me
from answering the phone and
really it is crisp skin i want like leaves
and yes cummings asked oh why oh
why do people let go
(by denise a romano)

dandelion

i might
grip the stem
of this yellow wonder
like i wanted to grip you
all day and all night
you woke me up
came in a dream
as if to say
hey–the sun is rising don’t miss
it i put on my robe
even crossed the street
walked all over Spruce looking
for the red glow that
would burst crayola over
mountains
like you inside me
but buildings got in the way
went back to bed
with a faint orange glow
thought of bringing
you a flower
for you to sleep with
a piece of morning
priorities called i thought
i’ll see you later and now
every dandelion i pass
whispers your name
whispers in petals
asks me to grip you
green
taste you yellow
even this dandy soul here has
little hairs all over like you
and i think instead of
sacrificing it to bring
to you
i shall kiss it
know it is
alive
among breezes
(by denise a romano)

queen of wands

she
picks up the garbage
takes care to band-aid
creeps in

she
knows her ovulation
knows his aberration
gets dry

she remembers the invasion
seeks to join to problem
solves it all in overview

she
novelist of household
sculptor during wartime
blamed for knowledge of onions in the garden

she anglophile and maker of fishtanks
brought new language into spelling
arrested for nipples

she
evil in her fleshiness
provocative in dictums
on the way to babylon
she knows

she
gives it takes care off of floor
is silenced for his protection

sees herself in yellow wallpaper
moving
as is contraband on planet
stays on one plane
peels herself from wall
to become as large as possible

she in future
screams her hips to juggle the
refrigerators of the senate
her lips scared in dry & wet
she holy bovine in amerika

she says father please
rub the lower back
i worked so hard today
& brother cook my meal for i am
hungry

& the grammar upside down
cut up into
no sections
but the gut
unlike her body past

she
of lutes and thorns both
(by denise a romano)

Soho Something

he repeats that i am very beautiful &
i am in three connected rooms all pale
colors / do you know how very
beautiful you are? again i am stopped
and think do i–he loves the silk the
colored dishes the strawberries which
he insists upon calling salmon
& avocado on toast he
wants me to stay while he sells
encyclopedias but i must go home to
blank pages and pen & there we are
doing nothing together which is
perfect and he says
i want to cook you lots of wonderful
dinners i want to buy you beautiful
dresses do you like flowers? i want
to take you to the white cliffs of dover
i want to wake up with someone–no
with you i am yours–
i sigh yes yes oh yes
give him my left ventricle & some
cerebellum
just stack them
gently carefully sweetly
on top of my flesh
smile at his words ingest them
hope they are real tomorrow
(by denise a romano)

boulder night is dark
boulder night is dark
blue we
leave one building to go
into this night his
arm comes around
from behind
loving and
true–i don’t expect it

the winter gust blows
my hat off
almost–i catch
it–tom peters comes
across the cold street
to say
Oh that was so beautiful
the way you–
i wish i filmed that
–your arm
and her hat
and her pressing
into you
-(by denise a romano)

sorry
(by Ntosake Shange from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf)

one thing i dont need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i dont know what to do wit em
they dont open doors
or bring the sun back
they dont make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didnt nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry

i am simply tired
of collectin
i didnt know
i was so important toyou’
i’m gonna haveta throw some away
i cant get to the clothes in my closet
for alla the sorries
i’m gonna tack a sign to my door
leave a message by the phone
‘if you called
to say yr sorry
call somebody
else
i dont use em anymore’

i let sorry/didnt meanta / & how cd i know abt that
take a walk down a dark & musty street in brooklyn
i’m gonna do exactly what i want to
& i won’t be sorry for none of it
letta sorry soothe yr soul/ i’m gonna soothe mine

you were always inconsistent
doin somethin & then bein sorry
beatin my heart to death
talking bout you sorry

well
i will not call
i’m not goin to be nice
i will raise my voice
& scream and holler
& break things & race the engine
& tell all yr secrets bout yrself to yr face
& i will list in detail everyone of my wonderful lovers
& their ways
i will play oliver lake
loud
& i wont be sorry for none of it

i loved you on purpose
i was open on purpose
i still crave vulnerability & close talk
& i’m not even sorry bout you bein sorry
you can carry all the guilt & grime ya wanna
just dont give it to me
i cant use another sorry
next time
you should admit
you’re mean/ low-down/ triflin/ & no count straight out
steada bein sorry alla the time
enjoy bein yrself

O by the by

o by the by
has anybody seen
little you-i
who stood on a green
hill and threw
his wish at blue

with a swoop and a dart
out flew his wish
(it dived like a fish
but it climbed like a dream)
throbbing like a heart
singing like a flame

blue took it my
far beyond far
and high beyond high
bluer took it our
away beyond where

what a wonderful thing
is the end of a string
(murmurs little you-i
as the hill becomes nil)
and will somebody tell
me why people let go
(by e.e. cummings from Selected Poems, 1994, WW Norton and Company)

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
(by William Carlos Williams)

LXXV
Sonnet by Ted Berrigan

Seurat and Juan Gris combine this season
to outline Central Park in geometric
trillion pointed bright red-brown and green-gold
blocks of blooming winter. Trees stand stark-
naked guarding bridal paths like Bowery
Santa Clauses keeping Christmas safe each city block.
Thus I, red faced and romping in the wind
Whirl thru mad Manhattan dressed in books
looking for today with tail-pin. I
never place it right, never win. It
doesn’t matter, though. The cooling wind keeps blow-
ing and my poems are coming.
Except at night. Then
I walk out in the bleak village and look for you
(from Ted Berrigan: selected poems, 1994, Penguin Poets, Edited by Aram Saroyan; introduction by Alice Notley)

For Grace, After a Party
by Frank O’Hara

You do not always know what I am feeling.
Last night in the warm spring air while I was
blazing my tirade against someone who doesn’t
interest
me, it was love for you that set me
afire,
and isn’t it odd? for in rooms full of
strangers my most tender feelings
writhe and
bear the fruit of screaming. Put out your hand,
isn’t there
an ashtray, suddenly, there? beside
the bed? And someone you love enters the room
and says wouldn’t
you like the eggs a little
different today?
And when they arrive they are
just plain scrambled eggs and the warm weather
is holding
(from The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, 1974, Random House)

The Day Lady Died
by Frank O’Hara

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don’t know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank

and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn’t even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or Les Negres
of Genet, but I don’t, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfield Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Galuoises and a cartoon
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing
(from The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara, 1974, Random House)

If you have time to chatter by Nanao Sakaki

If you have time to chatter
Read books
If you have time to read
Walk into mountain, desert and ocean
If you have time to walk
sing songs and dance
If you have time to dance
Sit quiety, you Happy Lucky Idiot
(1966, Kyoto, by Nanao Sakaki from Real Play published by Tooth of Time Books, 1981)

On Children
by Khalil Gibran as sung by Sweet Honey In the Rock

Your Children
are not “your” Children
They are the sons and the daughters
of life’s longing for itself

They come through you
but they are not of you
and though they are with you
they belong not to you

You can give them your love
but not your thoughts
they have their own thoughts

You can house their bodies
but not their souls
for their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow
which you cannot visit
not even in your dreams

You can strive to be like them
but you cannot make them just like you

strive to be like them
but you cannot make them just like you

Ludlow
by John Wright

not in the tourguide
of America’s roadside attractions
treeless exit on I-25
south Colorado
handmade billboard Visit UMWA Monument
yellow prairie west toward the Rockies
old snow on the ground
nothing remains
Ludlow only a name
a story
a whitewashed tomb
fenced off, sentimental
with statue of Man, Woman and Child
only a story
1914
IWW Zenith of power
western miners of Wobbly stronghold
Colorado coal miners’ strike
Rockefeller interests
evicted from company houses
tent city attacked by
strikebreakers hired guns
Colorado National Guard
machine guns, bushwhacked
miners cut down
tents set on fire
two women eleven children
burned alive
coal for Rockefeller mills
flames leave nothing but
a story a monument
a Woody Guthrie song
a wooden box of looseleaf paper
like any guestbook
covered with names dates and places
COMMENTS:
“son of a union miner”
“long live the Wobblies”
“my grandmother, Dolores Aguilar,
survived shooting”
“never forget!”
“someone should tell this story”
tell this story
Ludlow
American Auschwitz
white Wounded Knee
witch burning
numbers small, intent the same
Ludlow, Colorado
Rockefeller
National Guard
never forget
(from Bookstore Cowboys, by John Wright, 1991, Snake Oil Press, Boulder, CO)

Pull My Daisy
by Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Neal Cassidy

Pull my daisy
Tip my cup
Cut my thoughts
for coconuts

Jack my Arden
Gate my shades
Silk my garden
Rose my days

Bone my shadow
Dove my dream
Milk my mind &
make me cream

Hop my heart on
Harp my height
Hip my angel
Hype my light

Heal the raindrop
Sow the eye
Woe the worm
Work the wise

Stop the hoax
Where’s the wake
What’s the box
How’s the Hicks

Rob my locker
Lick my rocks
Rack my lacks
Lark my looks

Whore my door
Beat my beer
Craze my hair
Bare my poor

Say my oops
Ope my shell
Roll my bones
Ring my bell

Pop my parts
Pop my pet
Poke my pap
Pit my plum
1951, 1958 (?), 1961 (revised several times by Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Cassidy)

I knew a clean man
but he was not for me.
Now I sew green aprons
over covered seats. He

wades the muddy water fishing,
falls in, dries his last pay-check
in the sun, smooths it out
in Leaves of Grass. He’s
the one for me.

Spring by Lorine Niedecker

Spring
stood there
all body
Head
blown off
(war)
showed up
downstream
October
is the head
of spring
Birch, sumac
before
the blast

Who Was Mary Shelley by Lorine Niedecker

Who was Mary Shelley?
What was her name
before she married?

She eloped with this Shelley
she rode a donkey
till the donkey had to be carried.

Mary was Frankenstein’s creator
his yellow eye
before her husband was to drown

Created the monster nights
after Byron, Shelley
talked the candle down.

Who was Mary Shelley?
She read Greek, Italian
She bore a child

Who died
and yet another child
who died.

The New Higher
by John Ashbery

You meant more than life to me. I lived through
you not knowing, not knowing I was living.
I learned that you called for me. I came to where
you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.
No one to appreciate me. The legality of it
upset a chair. Many times to celebrate
we were called together and where
we had been there was nothing there,
nothing that is anywhere. We passed obliquely,
leaving no stare. When the sun was done muttering,
in an optimistic way, it was time to leave that there.

Blithely passing in and out of where, blushing shyly
at the tag on the overcoat near the window where
the outside crept away, I put aside the there and now.
Now it was time to stumble anew,
blacking out when time came in the window.
There was not much of it left.
I laughed and put my hands shyly
across your eyes. Can you see now?
Yes I can see I am only in the where
where the blossoming stream takes off, under your window.
Go presently you said. Go from my window.
I am in love with your window I cannot undermine
it, I said.

May 1968

When the Dean said we could not cross campus
until the students gave up the buildings,
we lay down, in the street,
we said the cops will enter this gate
over us. Lying back on the cobbles,
I saw the buildings of New York City
from dirt level, they soared up
and stopped, chopped off–above them, the sky,
the night air over the island.
The mounted police moved, near us,
while we sang, and then I began to count,
12, 13, 14, 15,
I counted again, 15, 16, one
month since the day on that deserted beach,
17, 18, my mouth fell open,
my hair on the street,
if my period did not come tonight
I was pregnant. I could see the sole of a cop’s
shoe, the gelding’s belly, its genitals–
if they took me to Women’s Detention and did
the exam on me, the speculum,
the fingers–I gazed into the horse’s tail
like a comet-train. All week, I had
thought about getting arrested, half-longed
to give myself away. On the tar–
one brain in my head, another,
in the making, near the base of my tail–
I looked at the steel arc of the horse’s
shoe, the curve of its belly, the cop’s
nightstick, the buildings streaming up
away from the earth. I knew I should get up
and leave, but I lay there looking at the space
above us, until it turned deep blue and then
ashy, colorless, Give me this one
night, I thought, and I’ll give this child
the rest of my life, the horse’s heads,
this time, drooping, dipping, until
they slept in a circle around my body and my daughter

by Sharon Olds

Mannahatta
by Walt Whitman

I WAS asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon, lo! upsprang the aboriginal name!

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient;

I see that the word of my city is that word up there,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, with tall and wonderful
spires,
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and steamships—an island sixteen
miles
long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets—high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly
uprising toward clear skies;
Tide swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands, the heights, the
villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-boats, the black
sea-steamers well-model’d;
The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business—the houses of business of
the
ship-merchants, and money-brokers—the river-streets;
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week;
The carts hauling goods—the manly race of drivers of horses—the brown-faced
sailors;
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft;
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells—the broken ice in the river, passing along, up or
down,
with the flood tide or ebb-tide;
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d, beautiful-faced, looking you
straight
in the eyes;
Trottoirs throng’d—vehicles—Broadway—the women—the shops and
shows,
The parades, processions, bugles playing, flags flying, drums beating;
A million people—manners free and superb—open voices—hospitality—the
most
courageous and friendly young men;
The free city! no slaves! no owners of slaves!
The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling waters! the city of spires and
masts!
The city nested in bays! my city!
The city of such women, I am mad to be with them! I will return after death to be with
them!
The city of such young men, I swear I cannot live happy, without I often go talk, walk,
eat,
drink, sleep, with them!

Lady Freedom Among Us

don’t lower your eyes

or stare straight ahead to where

you think you ought to be going

don’t mutter oh no

not another one

get a job fly a kite

go bury a bone

with her oldfashioned sandals

with her leaden skirts

with her stained cheeks and whiskers and

heaped up trinkets

she has risen among us in blunt reproach

she has fitted her hair under a hand-me-down cap

and spruced it up with feathers and stars

slung over her shoulder she bears

the rainbowed layers of charity and murmurs

all of you even the least of you

don’t cross to the other side of the square

don’t think another item to fit on a

tourist’s agenda

consider her drenched gaze her shining brow

she who has brought mercy back into the streets

and will not retire politely to the potter’s field

having assumed the thick skin of this town

its gritted exhaust its sunscorch and blear

she rests in her weathered plumage

bigboned resolute

don’t think you can ever forget her

don’t even try

she’s not going to budge

no choice but to grant her space

crown her with sky

for she is one of the many

and she is each of us

© Rita Dove. From On the Bus With Rosa Parks (W.W. Norton & Company).

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