poem index

Paracosmic Illusions

Paracosmic Illusions
next
The Dead Girls Speak in Unison
Danielle Pafunda
Do not pretend that you don't like it
when we threaten you.

We see you getting pheromone stink
under the collar, moaning, baldly. 

Motionless, picturing decay.

When we creak your step,
when we crack your glass,
when we tap tap tap,

that is a bone

that is all we have

though we are very shiny,
and filled with beetles.

We are made entirely of bone.

Like an idol.

Like the tusk of some wonderful past.

When you cleave to us,
your skin will fuse,
hot calcium meth,
and in the myth, 
you will be named for us.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
Dreams
Langston Hughes, 1902 - 1967
Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
Good Night
Wilhelm Müller
I came as a stranger; as a stranger now I leave. The flowers of May once
welcomed me warmly; a young girl spoke of love, her mother even of marriage.
Now all is bleak--the pathway covered with snow.
The time of departure is not mine to choose; I must find my way alone in
this darkness. With the shadow of the moon at my side, I search for traces of
wildlife in the white snow.
Why should I linger and give them reason to send me away? Let stray hounds
howl outside their master's house. Love likes to wander from one to another,
as if God willed it so. My darling, farewell.
A quiet step, a careful shutting of the door so your sleep is not disturbed,
and two words written on the gate as I leave, "Good night," to let you know I
thought of you.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
The More Loving One
W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
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.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
Mars Poetica
Wyn Cooper
Imagine you're on Mars, looking at earth,
a swirl of colors in the distance.
Tell us what you miss most, or least.

Let your feelings rise to the surface.
Skim that surface with a tiny net. 
Now you're getting the hang of it.

Tell us your story slantwise,
streetwise, in the disguise
of an astronaut in his suit.     

Tell us something we didn't know
before: how words mean things
we didn't know we knew.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
After Love
Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933
There is no magic any more,
      We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
      Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea—
      There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
      Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
      And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
      For all its peace.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
I Am Not Yours
Sara Teasdale, 1884 - 1933
I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love—put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
One Art
Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 - 1979
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
"What Do Women Want?"
Kim Addonizio, 1954 - 1954
I want a red dress. 
I want it flimsy and cheap, 
I want it too tight, I want to wear it 
until someone tears it off me. 
I want it sleeveless and backless, 
this dress, so no one has to guess 
what's underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store 
with all those keys glittering in the window, 
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old 
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers 
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly, 
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders. 
I want to walk like I'm the only 
woman on earth and I can have my pick. 
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm 
your worst fears about me, 
to show you how little I care about you 
or anything except what 
I want. When I find it, I'll pull that garment 
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body 
to carry me into this world, through 
the birth-cries and the love-cries too, 
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin, 
it'll be the goddamned 
dress they bury me in.
Paracosmic Illusions
next
I'm Nobody! Who are you? (260)
Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –  
To tell one's name – the livelong June –  
To an admiring Bog!