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VB Poetry Anthology for English 223

VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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The Alien
Greg Delanty
I'm back again scrutinizing the Milky Way
          of your ultrasound, scanning the dark			   			              	
                    matter, the nothingness, that now the heads say
          is chockablock with quarks & squarks,
gravitons & gravitini, photons & photinos. Our sprout,
			
who art there inside the spacecraft
               of your Ma, the time capsule of this printout,
               hurling & whirling towards us, it's all daft
          on this earth. Our alien who art in the heavens,
our Martian, our little green man, we're anxious
				
to make contact, to ask divers questions
          about the heavendom you hail from, to discuss
                    the whole shebang of the beginning&end,
          the pre-big bang untime before you forget the why
and lie of thy first place. And, our friend,

to say Welcome, that we mean no harm, we'd die	
          for you even, that we pray you're not here
                    to subdue us, that we'd put away
          our ray guns, missiles, attitude and share
our world with you, little big head, if only you stay.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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Forgetfulness
Billy Collins, 1941
The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, 
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those 
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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Shedding Skin
Harryette Mullen, 1953
Pulling out of the old scarred skin
(old rough thing I don't need now
I strip off
slip out of
leave behind)

I slough off deadscales
flick skinflakes to the ground

Shedding toughness
peeling layers down
to vulnerable stuff

And I'm blinking off old eyelids
for a new way of seeing

By the rock I rub against
I'm going to be tender again
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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Before the Snake
Nathaniel Tarn
Sitting, facing the sun, eyes closed. I can hear the 
sun. I can hear the bird life all around for miles. 
It flies through us and around us, it takes up all 
space, as if we were not there, as if we had never 
interrupted this place. The birds move diorami-
cally through our heads, from ear to ear. What 
are they doing, singing in this luminous fall. It is 
marvelous to be so alone, the two of us, in this 
garden desert. Forgotten, but remembering 
ourselves as no one will ever remember us. The 
space between the trees, the bare ground-sand 
between them, you can see the land's skin which 
is so much home. We cannot buy or sell this 
marvelous day. I can hear the sun and, within 
the sun, the wind which comes out of the world's 
lungs from immeasurable depth; we catch only 
a distant echo. Beyond the birds there are per-
sons carrying their names like great weights. 
Just think: carrying X your whole life, or Y, or Z. 
Carrying all that A and B and C around with you, 
having to be A all the time, B, or C. Here you can
be the sun, the pine, the bird. You can be the
breathing. I can tell you, I think this may be
Eden. I think it is.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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On the Beach at Night Alone
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
On the beach at night alone,	 
As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song,	
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.	 
  
A vast similitude interlocks all,	 
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets	
All distances of place however wide,	 
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,	 
All souls, all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,	 
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,	   
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,	 
All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe, or any globe,	 
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,	 
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd, 
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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Alone
Maya Angelou, 1928 - 2014
Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don't believe I'm wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

There are some millionaires
With money they can't use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I'll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
'Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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November Night
Adelaide Crapsey
Listen. . .
With faint dry sound, 
Like steps of passing ghosts, 
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees 
And fall.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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The Visitor
Jack Prelutsky, 1940
it came today to visit
and moved into the house
it was smaller than an elephant
but larger than a mouse

first it slapped my sister
then it kicked my dad
then it pushed my mother
oh! that really made me mad

it went and tickled rover
and terrified the cat
it sliced apart my necktie
and rudely crushed my hat

it smeared my head with honey
and filled the tub with rocks
and when i yelled in anger
it stole my shoes and socks

that's just the way it happened
it happened all today
before it bowed politely
and softly went away
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
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Late Autumn Wasp
James Hoch
One must admire the desperate way 
                it flings
itself through air amid winter’s slow 
                paralysis, 

and clings to shriveled fruit, dropped
                Coke bottle, 
any sugary residue, any unctuous
                carcass,  

and slug-drunk grows stiff, its joints 
                unswiveled, 
wings stale and oar-still, like a heart;
                yes, almost 

too easily like a heart the way, cudgeled,  
                it lies 
waiting for shift of season, light, a thing 
                to drink down, 

gnaw on, or, failing that, leaves half of
                itself torn
willingly, ever-quivering, in some 
                larger figure.
VB Poetry Anthology for English 223
next
Mnemosyne
Trumbull Stickney
It's autumn in the country I remember

How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.

It's cold abroad the country I remember.

The swallows veering skimmed the golden grain
At midday with a wing aslant and limber;
And yellow cattle browsed upon the plain

It's empty down the country I remember.

I had a sister lovely in my sight:
Her hair was dark, her eyes were very sombre;
We sang together in the woods at night.

It's lonely in the country I remember.

The babble of our children fills my ears,
And on our hearth I stare the perished ember
To flames that show all starry thro' my tears.

It's dark about the country I remember.

There are the mountains where I lived. The path
Is slushed with cattle-tracks and fallen timber,
The stumps are twisted by the tempests' wrath.

But that I knew these places are my own,
I'd ask how came such wretchedness to cumber
The earth, and I to people it alone.

It rains across the country I remember.