poem index

Dream Focus 223

Dream Focus 223
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Sea Girls
A. E. Stallings
              for Jason

"Not gulls, girls." You frown, and you insist—
Between two languages, you work at words
(R's and L's, it's hard to get them right.)
We watch the heavens' flotsam:  garbage-white
Above the island dump (just out of sight),
Dirty, common, greedy—only birds.
OK, I acquiesce, too tired to banter.

Somehow they're not the same, though. See, they rise
As though we glimpsed them through a torn disguise—
Spellbound maidens, wild in flight, forsaken—
Some metamorphosis that Ovid missed,
With their pale breasts, their almost human cries.
So maybe it is I who am mistaken;
But you have changed them. You are the enchanter.
Dream Focus 223
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Fifteen, Maybe Sixteen Things to Worry About
Judith Viorst, 1931
My pants could maybe fall down when I dive off the diving board.
My nose could maybe keep growing and never quit.
Miss Brearly could ask me to spell words like stomach and special.
     (Stumick and speshul?)
I could play tag all day and always be "it."
Jay Spievack, who's fourteen feet tall, could want to fight me.
My mom and my dad--like Ted's--could want a divorce.
Miss Brearly could ask me a question about Afghanistan.
     (Who's Afghanistan?)
Somebody maybe could make me ride a horse.
My mother could maybe decide that I needed more liver.
My dad could decide that I needed less TV.
Miss Brearly could say that I have to write script and stop printing.
     (I'm better at printing.)
Chris could decide to stop being friends with me.

The world could maybe come to an end on next Tuesday.
The ceiling could maybe come crashing on my head.
I maybe could run out of things for me to worry about.
And then I'd have to do my homework instead.
Dream Focus 223
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Dawn
George Hitchcock
Clouds rise from their nests
with flapping wings, they whisper
of worn leather, bracken, long
horizons, and the manes of dark
horses. In the waking stream
the stones lie like chestnuts
in a glass bowl. I pass the bones
of an old harrow thrown on its side
in the ditch.

                   Now the sun appears.
It is a fish wrapped in straw.
Its scales fall on the sleeping
town with its eyeless graineries
and necklace of boxcars. Soon
the blue wind will flatten the roads
with a metallic palm, the glitter
of granite will blind the eyes.

But not yet. The beetle still
stares from the riding moon, the ship
of death stands motionless on
frozen waves: I hear
the silence of early morning
rise from the rocks.
Dream Focus 223
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9.
E. E. Cummings, 1894 - 1962
there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic

Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly

			we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.

(So,when kiss Spring comes
we'll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don't make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to 
kiss me)
Dream Focus 223
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Rain
Claribel Alegría, 1924
As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It's as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
Streaming
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
world 
a voracious
world--abyss
ambush
whirlwind
spur
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning, 
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.
Dream Focus 223
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The Correction
Frannie Lindsay
When I got it wrong at school—missed
a word, could not recite
the long division tables—I would lock
my knees beneath my little plywood desk
in back where all the tall ones sat,
and sneak my uniform sleeve up
and bite down on my forearm, make myself
keep quiet, doing that, not
crying; gnashing hard with my gapped teeth
until the dotted "O" sunk in
because I couldn’t hold my breath,
so had to clench my skin while no sobs flayed
my lungs: those lightless rooms
where loud girls kept themselves,
and stayed unsorry.
Dream Focus 223
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Novel
Arthur Rimbaud, 1854 - 1891
I.

No one's serious at seventeen.
--On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
--You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.

Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds--the town is near--
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .

II.

--Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .

June nights! Seventeen!--Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .

III.

The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
--And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp's pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father's starched collar. . .

Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide, 
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
--And cavatinas die on your lips.

IV.

You're in love. Off the market till August.
You're in love.--Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you're bad news.
--Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!

That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
--No one's serious at seventeen 
When lindens line the promenade.

29 September 1870

Dream Focus 223
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Bats
Paisley Rekdal
unveil themselves in dark.
They hang, each a jagged,

silken sleeve, from moonlit rafters bright
as polished knives. They swim

the muddled air and keen
like supersonic babies, the sound

we imagine empty wombs might make
in women who can’t fill them up.

A clasp, a scratch, a sigh.
They drink fruit dry.

And wheel, against feverish light flung hard
upon their faces,

in circles that nauseate.
Imagine one at breast or neck,

Patterning a name in driblets of iodine
that spatter your skin stars.

They flutter, shake like mystics.
They materialize. Revelatory

as a stranger’s underthings found tossed
upon the marital bed, you tremble

even at the thought. Asleep,
you tear your fingers

and search the sheets all night.
Dream Focus 223
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Muse
Meena Alexander, 1951
I was young when you came to me. 
Each thing rings its turn, 
you sang in my ear, a slip of a thing 
dressed like a convent girl--
white socks, shoes, 
dark blue pinafore, white blouse.

A pencil box in hand: girl, book, tree-- 
those were the words you gave me. 
Girl was penne, hair drawn back, 
gleaming on the scalp, 
the self in a mirror in a rosewood room 
the sky at monsoon time, pearl slits

In cloud cover, a jagged music pours:
gash of sense, raw covenant 
clasped still in a gold bound book, 
pusthakam pages parted, 
ink rubbed with mist,
a bird might have dreamt its shadow there

spreading fire in a tree maram.
You murmured the word, sliding it on your tongue, 
trying to get how a girl could turn
into a molten thing and not burn. 
Centuries later worn out from travel 
I rest under a tree.

You come to me 
a bird shedding gold feathers, 
each one a quill scraping my tympanum. 
You set a book to my ribs. 
Night after night I unclasp it 
at the mirror's edge 

alphabets flicker and soar. 
Write in the light 
of all the languages 
you know the earth contains, 
you murmur in my ear.
This is pure transport.