poem index

Lucky Poems

Poems of chance, contingency, gambling, likelihoods, long shots, odds, prospects, and wagers for Lady and Mister Luck.

"The dice of the intellect are loaded." —W. B. Yeats

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Luck is not chance (1350)
Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886
Luck is not chance—
It's Toil—
Fortune's expensive smile
Is earned—
The Father of the Mine
Is that old-fashioned Coin
We spurned—
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Chance
Molly Peacock, 1947
may favor obscure brainy aptitudes in you
and a love of the past so blind you would
venture, always securing permission,
into the back library stacks, without food
or water because you have a mission:
to find yourself, in the regulated light,
holding a volume in your hands as you
yourself might like to be held.  Mostly your life
will be voices and images.  Information.  You
may go a long way alone, and travel much
to open a book to renew your touch.
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Personal Poem
Frank O'Hara, 1926 - 1966
Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested 

I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I'd like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty's where I wait for
LeRoi and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that's that, and LeRoi comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don't give her one we
don't like terrible diseases, then 
we go eat some fish and some ale it's
cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don't want to be in the poets' walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRoi
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so 
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Page 22 / oh lucky me
Frances Chung

oh lucky me
I am of some use
I am of some inspiration
to the two men 
across the lunchcounter
I remind them of the
last Chinese restaurant
they took their family to
did you know that
Chinese food was delicious?
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A Nest Full of Stars
James Berry
Only chance made me come and find
my hen, stepping from her hidden
nest, in our kitchen garden.

In her clever secret place, her tenth
egg, still warm, had just been dropped.

Not sure of what to do, I picked up
every egg, counting them, then put them
down again. All were mine.

All swept me away and back.
I blinked, I saw: a whole hand
of ripe bananas, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a basketful
of ripe oranges, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: a trayful
of ripe naseberries, nesting.

I blinked, I saw: an open bagful
of ripe mangoes, nesting.

I blinked, I saw:
a mighty nest full of stars.

naseberry: sapodilla plum with sweet brown flesh

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Atlantic City Sunday Morning
Gregory Pardlo
                  Plow-piled snow shrouded 
         in shadow from the abbreviating sun, snow 
frosted with the exhaust of tour buses. Pigeons shift in congress. 
                  Sun glints windshields & chrome 
         like cotton blooms in the monitors. Surveillance here is catholic. 

From cornices cameras oscillate like raven-heads 
                  nestled along palisades. Cameras mind entrances,
                       pedestrians, traffic, 
          the landscape from land's end to Baccarat Boulevard. I tend
the security station, notice briefly among these half-dozen screens, 
                  a phantom looping through the busy breeze-way & out 

         of view. Unseasonable sparrows mating? Something 
clutched like a gambler's fist, keening a halo from daylight 
                  folded across the corridor like gift-wrap. 
        Little tumbleweed, if you are sparrows, you are bishops
of risk wrestling toward pain's bursaries. Jake and angel I believe 

                    I could have conjured that woman now entering 
          the asphalt current to protect you. Mira! she might be saying. But
she'd be speaking to me. Waving her cashier's apron against traffic,
                    through the street like a banner out to where 
          her good deed is witnessed. Out to where I interpret her behavior 

as censure. As if the pixels of light depicting the world she is framed in
                   were impastoed by me to the monitor's glass canvass (to
                        be arranged 
         according to the obligation of my anonymous nobility), 
what good could I do 
                  to alter the facts of the world as it hustles around her? 
                       What odds 

         do those birds stand to chance anyway? 
Prevention is akin to greed. Say recovery 
                   and a sermon salts the air. Consider the postcards here 
         on the counter beside me. They'll do no more than carry the
             word of their 
senders, speak pictures: Jersey's domed capital looks like a junkyard 

                   of church bells, a reliquary of Sundays 
          wracked and laid to rest. Noble martyr, Trenton fears no law
of diminishing returns, says it "makes, 
                   the world takes:" Another prays the next wet pebble 
         be the one that makes a beach. Paydirt. We should be so lucky. 
www.flickr.com
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Gold
Donald Hall, 1928
Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. All day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing 
quickly, then
slowly again,
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.

We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves 
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.
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Inventing Father In Las Vegas
Lynn Emanuel, 1949
If I could see nothing but the smoke
From the tip of his cigar, I would know everything
About the years before the war.
If his face were halved by shadow I would know
This was a street where an EATS sign trembled
And a Greek served coffee black as a dog's eye.
If I could see nothing but his wrist I would know
About the slot machine and I could reconstruct
The weak chin and ruin of his youth, the summer
My father was a gypsy with oiled hair sleeping
In a Murphy bed and practicing clairvoyance.
I could fill his vast Packard with showgirls
And keep him forever among the difficult buttons
Of the bodice, among the rustling of their names,
Miss Christina, Miss Lorraine.
I could put his money in my pocket
and wearing memory's black fedora
With the condoms hidden in the hatband
The damp cigar between my teeth,
I could become the young man who always got sentimental
About London especially in Las Vegas with its single bridge­-
So ridiculously tender--leaning across the river
To watch the starlight's soft explosions.
If I could trace the two veins that crossed
His temple, I would know what drove him
To this godforsaken place, I would keep him forever
Remote from war--like the come-hither tip of his lit cigar
Or the harvest moon, that gold planet, remote and pure
  American.
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Kore
Robert Creeley, 1926 - 2005
As I was walking
  I came upon
chance walking
  the same road upon.

As I sat down
  by chance to move
later
  if and as I might,

light the wood was,
  light and green,
and what I saw
  before I had not seen.

It was a lady
  accompanied
by goat men
  leading her.

Her hair held earth.
  Her eyes were dark.
A double flute
  made her move.

"O love,
  where are you
leading
  me now?"
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Lucky
Tony Hoagland, 1953
If you are lucky in this life, 
you will get to help your enemy 
the way I got to help my mother
when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub 
half-filled with water 
which I had made just right, 
I lowered the childish skeleton 
she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed 
her belly and her chest, 
the sorry ruin of her flanks 
and the frayed gray cloud 
between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed 
book open in my lap 
while I listened to the air
move thickly in and out of her dark lungs, 
my mind filled up with praise 
as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck 
that would offer me the chance to pay 
my heavy debt of punishment and love 
with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet 
in the uncomfortable air 
between the wheelchair and the tub, 
until she begged me like a child

to stop, 
an act of cruelty which we both understood
was the ancient irresistible rejoicing 
of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life, 
you will get to raise the spoon 
of pristine, frosty ice cream 
to the trusting creature mouth 
of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken 
because there is a bond between you 
and sweet is sweet in any language.
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Palea
Tory Dent, 1958 - 2005
Only my mouth taking you in, the greenery splayed deep green.

Within my mouth, your arm inserted, a stem of gestures, breaking gracefully.

Into each other we root arbitrarily, like bushes, silken, and guttural.

Palaver, we open for the thrill of closing, for the thrill of it: opening.

The night was so humid when I knelt on the steps, wet and cold, of prewar stone.

A charm bracelet of sorts we budded, handmade but brazen, as if organic.

I cannot imagine the end of my fascination, emblazoned but feather-white too.

The gold closure of this like a gold coin is, of course, ancient.

Why can't experience disseminate itself, be silken and brazen yet underwater?

A miniature Eiffel Tower, an enameled shamrock, a charm owned by its bracelet. 
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Tender Buttons [A Box]
Gertrude Stein, 1874 - 1946

A BOX.

A large box is handily made of what is necessary to replace any substance. Suppose an example is necessary, the plainer it is made the more reason there is for some outward recognition that there is a result.

A box is made sometimes and them to see to see to it neatly and to have the holes stopped up makes it necessary to use paper.

A custom which is necessary when a box is used and taken is that a large part of the time there are three which have different connections. The one is on the table. The two are on the table. The three are on the table. The one, one is the same length as is shown by the cover being longer. The other is different there is more cover that shows it. The other is different and that makes the corners have the same shade the eight are in singular arrangement to make four necessary.

Lax, to have corners, to be lighter than some weight, to indicate a wedding journey, to last brown and not curious, to be wealthy, cigarettes are established by length and by doubling.

Left open, to be left pounded, to be left closed, to be circulating in summer and winter, and sick color that is grey that is not dusty and red shows, to be sure cigarettes do measure an empty length sooner than a choice in color.

Winged, to be winged means that white is yellow and pieces pieces that are brown are dust color if dust is washed off, then it is choice that is to say it is fitting cigarettes sooner than paper.

An increase why is an increase idle, why is silver cloister, why is the spark brighter, if it is brighter is there any result, hardly more than ever.

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driving to Vegas
Kirk Robertson
Tonopah's
the only place
contour lines
appear
to rise

between there
and Goldfield
the first
Joshua trees

beer at the Mozart Club

from then on
it's all downhill

between Mercury
and Indian Springs
the light
begins to change

you wonder
what you'll do
when you reach
the edge
of the map

out there
on the horizon

all that neon

beckoning you

in from the dark
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3 Men: Portraits Without the Human Figure
Deena Linnett

Hotel-casino: lights flash, crowds tread
patterned carpets hoping for a turn
in fortune. Despite the ardent wishes
of the women you have left you are not dead.
You’re good at lively passing things
that happen here: at restaurants, in bed,
at tables tossing dice and cards. That smudge
at bottom right stands in for me, as you plunge
breathless into chance as into women, risk
like drink obliterating everything.

Studio: smells of linseed oil and turpentine. Brushes,
palette knives, mixing-sticks; bottles, jars, tubes. Paint
in daubs and gobs and smears and dots and slashes.
You left the window open and everything stained.

Greenhouse. Beneath little panes pocked
by time and dotted with mold and lichen, rot,
a riot of tropical effulgence, small framed portion
of the endlessness. Spiky plants blossom
like ideas; light glances off the glass and gleams
on the permanent hunger, steams. Everything
blooms or is green. You shrug into your coat.

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How to Get Riches
Benjamin Franklin
PRECEPT I.

In Things of moment, on thy self depend,
Nor trust too far thy Servant or thy Friend:
With private Views, thy Friend may promise fair,
And Servants very seldom prove sincere.

PRECEPT II.

What can be done, with Care perform to Day,
Dangers unthought-of will attend Delay;
Your distant Prospects all precarious are,
And Fortune is as fickle as she's fair.

PRECEPT III.

Nor trivial Loss, nor trivial Gain despise;
Molehills, if often heap'd, to Mountains rise:
Weigh every small Expence, and nothing waste,
Farthings long sav'd, amount to Pounds at last.

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When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes (Sonnet 29)
William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee--and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
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Five Easy Prayers for Pagans
Philip Appleman, 1926
1. 
  
O Karma, Dharma, pudding & pie,
gimme a break before I die: 
grant me wisdom, will, & wit, 
purity, probity, pluck, & grit. 
Trustworthy, helpful, friendly, kind, 
gimme great abs and a steel-trap mind. 
And forgive, Ye Gods, some humble advice - 
these little blessings would suffice 
to beget an earthly paradise: 
make the bad people good 
and the good people nice, 
and before our world goes over the brink, 
teach the believers how to think. 
 

2. 
  
O Venus, Cupid, Aphrodite, 
teach us Thy horsepower lingam, Thy firecracker yoni. 
Show us Thy hundreds of sacred & tingling positions, 
each orifice panting for every groping tumescence. 
O lead us into the back rooms of silky temptation 
and deliver us over to midnights of trembling desire. 
But before all the nectar & honey leak out of this planet, 
give us our passion in marble, commitment in granite. 
 
          
3.
          
O Shiva, relentless Spirit of Outrage: 
in this vale of tearful True Believers, 
teach us to repeat again and again: 
No, your Reverences, we will not serve 
your Gross National Voodoo, your Church 
Militant – we will not flatter the double faces 
of those who pray in the Temple of 
Incendiary Salvation. 
Gentle Preserver, preserve the pure irreverence 
of our stubborn minds. 
Target the priests, Implacable Destroyer – 
and hire a lawyer. 

              
4.

O Mammon, Thou who art daily dissed 
by everyone, yet boast more true disciples 
than all other gods together, 
Thou whose eerie sheen 
gleameth from Corporate Headquarters 
and Vatican Treasury alike, Thou 
whose glittering eye impales us 
in the X-ray vision of plastic surgeons, 
the golden leer of televangelists, 
the star-spangled gloat of politicos – 
O Mammon, come down to us in the form 
of Treasuries, Annuities, & High-Grade Bonds, 
yield unto us those Benedict Arnold Funds, 
those Quicksand Convertible Securities, even the wet 
Judas Kiss of Futures Contracts – for 
unto the least of these Thy supplicants 
art Thou welcome in all Thy many forms. But 
when Thou comest to say we’re finally in the gentry – 
use the service entry. 

               
5.

O flaky Goddess of Fortune, we beseech Thee: 
in the random thrust of Thy fluky favor, vector 
the luminous lasers of Thy shifty eyes 
down upon these, Thy needy & oh-so-deserving 
petitioners.  Bend down to us the sexy 
curve of Thine indifferent ear, and hear 
our passionate invocation: let Thy lovely, 
lying lips murmur to us the news 
of all our true-false guesses A-OK, 
our firm & final offers come up rainbows, 
our hangnails & hang-ups & hangovers suddenly zapped, 
and then, O Goddess, give us your slippery word 
that the faithless Lady Luck will hang around 
in our faithful love, friendships less fickle than youth, 
and a steady view of our world in its barefoot truth.
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Happily [excerpt]
Lyn Hejinian, 1941
The manner in which we are present at this time to and fro
    appears, we come to point of view before us
The matter is here
Can we share its kind of existence?
"I" moving about unrolled barking at blue clouds
    devoted—to each other? to hasten to the point?
    to evade anxiety? to picture?
Having awkward heaviness "I" never moves freely about
    unless passing and happening accompanied
Our pleasure is perplexed beyond that


If we thrill to low hills because they are not composed
    they are "composed to our liking"
They say there is no defining that but to say that is
    defining that, living in context
One would think of all the social forces traveling with a show
    of indifference over a crowd or sound
    brought to a sound
A good person would be starred ill and well in a life he or
    she couldn’t know how to refuse
Every day we may never happen on the object hung on
    a mere chance
When and where one happens it will surprise us not in itself
    but in its coming to our attention not as something
    suddenly present but as something that’s been near for
    a long time and which we have only just noticed
When we might ask did we begin to share that existence
What have we overlooked
Nostalgia is another name for one’s sense of loss at the
    thought that one has sadly gone along happily
    overlooking something, who knows what
Perhaps there were three things, no one of which made
    sense of the other two
A sandwich, a wallet, and a giraffe
Logic tends to force similarities but that’s not what we
    mean by "sharing existence"
The matter is incapable of being caused, incapable of not
    being so, condensed into a cause—a bean, captive forever 
Perhaps
Because this object is so tiny
A store of intellect, a certain ethical potential, something
    that will hold good
Like ants swarming into pattern we get to the middle
    of the day many distinct sensations that must be it
Music checks the relaxation the contrasting aspects
    constantly changing set going
The ceaseless onset cuts this recognized sensation hurrying
    after it alive
It seems we’ve committed ourselves


That something exists at all is its nakedness we could term
    fate and rising curves fate
That it should succeed already has been determined
And we have only to add on to it everything and everyone
    associated with it from beginning to end sustaining
    familiar acts
One is stung by a bee and it is noticeable that the whole
    body is involved
Why isolate part of the field?
Say we look on a mountain scene changing colors,
    the walls of a room vividly experienced from inside it
Why speak as if there were some incompatibility
Of what would it consist
Even after the closeness of the room which is now vacant
    I rise at the thought of the future of
    all the positions of things and re-enter the room
What is the Greek word for that, the big chance for each
    event—kairos? 
Normally we don’t notice that things we use in being
    accessible are being set aside while the extra, superfluous
    ones remain material one can disturb
Once one’s caught in it one can make a face which nothing
    delimits from you, from me, from us
The face facing—how succinct! 
There the never resting emphasis rests splitting all the
    probabilities converge
Do they have witnesses?
Tsvetaeva warns us: it can happen that "income tragically
    exceeds expenditure," she says or rather it will happen
    that one can’t find a way to spend as
    much life as accumulates to one
We care in time, scatter acts in accord with time supporting
    action 


Does death sever us from all that is happening finitude
Yes, swim it does
I the wall saw it
We the wall


I’m often ambivalent, the artistic will being weak as well
    as strong about being seen heard understood
Whatever I see in thought as life I come to coming to me
    in history
At first glance? 
What could we, mind wandering but never ‘free,’ do with
    the word ‘galactic’
Events are unscrolling, they cover my eyes, all familiarity naked


Launched, I need either clothes or a bed and a blanket to
    protect my nature from nature’s pranks
A dream unless you saw it too, which would throw the stop
    and start of sleep into question and deprive us of the
    knowledge of the comfort of the knowledge that we can
    sleep troubling us together side by side
Ever beginners until all is margin, warm and flat
How the near becomes far and the far becomes near we
    may try to discover but we shouldn’t take the question
    too seriously
Stop and start doubtless is the very same as stop and start
    doubtful
In a downpour we don’t count drops as no harm is done to
    the causal chain we’re close to the ground to see each
    other clearly
One can’t say that being human is voluntary but it does tell
    a story that to another human won’t seem pointless 
To another human one acts one intervenes
In the dream one is shivering, already shivering before the first
    glimpse of the dream, shivering at the reality of the dream
A headache could happen to anyone, disappearance to
    anything
This is that kind of life, that kind of world, and this is the
    kind of place in which one can easily spend a dollar but
    not easily on hay and not so easily see a toad, cod in the
    woods in a dream we talk more to hear
You laugh? 


I was going to speak of doom eager to resume consecutive
    events plowing through the space surrounding them to
    something now, no ellipsis, just mouth open in astonishment
    or closed to suck quid and quod, that and what
Not proving but pointing not disappointed boldly taking
    aim obliged to acknowledge I admit to being sometimes
    afraid of the effort required for judgment, afraid of the
    judgment required
That can happen only after that it has happened is ascertained,
    if you can keep up, time can’t be banished, being real
In the world we see things together, the judgments have
    been made, takes the chalk, draws the milky line
To say that the music pleases me is impersonal, also the great
    skua, a dozen things singly through different mental
    states, mental states here and there as if unknown to each
    other things happen to them differently
They can’t anticipate each other but they aren’t innocent of
    each other, the dead then alive knowing glances
Future detail of experience the same thing ours for nothing more than noting
    that living harbors the half-desire for
    anonymity self-consciousness diminishes within 
Take fences—the mechanism of clocks harbors birds it
    provides a narrow escape


A story requires resemblance and the results are bound to
    include recognizable sounds in their totality as horns
    and windmills and the story is ‘ours’
It turns over to today the body it contains, something
    alone in whatever time across, being this of that,
    tenderly trying to dispel the anxiety impeding
    pleasurable run-on regeneration 
Imagining ourselves under a gray sky shining so brightly
    our eyes can’t establish any connections, a sky so bright
    that the option of connection isn’t open, this puts us in
    mind of beginnings that reason can motivate but not end
Searching out streets which allow for faster movement
    through this impression of something short-lived we
    can’t retreat, can’t know where we are
We fret as if demented by different events in the dissatisfied
    chaos that make incompatible claims
We go no more than a few feet before we come upon the
    obstacle punctually
Happiness is independent of us bound to its own
    incompleteness sharply
The day has come with both rational and irrational aiming at it the
    future fork and set of feathers 
There is activity in a life, i.e. conduct asserts the power of
    deliberating without knowing how a state of being is
    brought into existence every so often often
The specific accident to specify something never allowed to
    settle completely
Then the shout "I" and the response "me, too," the curiosity
    grows
I can know you without yardstick or sleep, without analysis
    and from near or far, but I can’t know you without myself 
What were the chances I would land on a ladder is the
    question at which I’m laughing to experience the reality
    of what I myself am not
The closer expression comes to thought fearlessly to be
    face-to-face would be to have almost no subject or the
    subject would be almost invisible
And more is left than usefulness
It’s this that happiness achieves 
The riddle happening hitherto before
What is not is now possible, a ponderable 
You muse on musing on—so much now but you do
You can rearrange what the day gets from accidents but
    you can’t derive its reality from them
The dot just now adrift on the paper is not the product of
    the paper dark
Nearly negative but finite it springs from its own shadow
    and cannot be denied the undeniable world once it is
    launched—once it’s launched it’s derived 
Tonight sounding roughly it isn’t quite that only words can
    reason beyond what’s reasonable that I drop my eyes to 
Something comes
The experiences generated by sense perception come by the
    happenstance that is with them
Experiences resulting from things impinging on us
There is continuity in moving our understanding of them as they appear
Some which are games bring with them their own rules for
    action which is a play we play which we may play with
    an end we value not winning
The dilemmas in sentences form tables of discovery of
    things created to create the ever better dilemma which is
    to make sense to others