in which my greater self rose up before me accusing me of my life with her extra finger whirling in a gyre of rage at what my days had come to. what, i pleaded with her, could i do, oh what could i have done? and she twisted her wild hair and sparked her wild eyes and screamed as long as i could hear her This. This. This.
An Ever-Expanding List of Poems I Love
The ghosts swarm. They speak as one person. Each loves you. Each has left something undone. • Did the palo verde blush yellow all at once? Today's edges are so sharp they might cut anything that moved. • The way a lost word will come back unbidden. You're not interested in it now, only in knowing where it's been.
When she says margarita she means daiquiri. When she says quixotic she means mercurial. And when she says, "I'll never speak to you again," she means, "Put your arms around me from behind as I stand disconsolate at the window." He's supposed to know that. When a man loves a woman he is in New York and she is in Virginia or he is in Boston, writing, and she is in New York, reading, or she is wearing a sweater and sunglasses in Balboa Park and he is raking leaves in Ithaca or he is driving to East Hampton and she is standing disconsolate at the window overlooking the bay where a regatta of many-colored sails is going on while he is stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway. When a woman loves a man it is one ten in the morning she is asleep he is watching the ball scores and eating pretzels drinking lemonade and two hours later he wakes up and staggers into bed where she remains asleep and very warm. When she says tomorrow she means in three or four weeks. When she says, "We're talking about me now," he stops talking. Her best friend comes over and says, "Did somebody die?" When a woman loves a man, they have gone to swim naked in the stream on a glorious July day with the sound of the waterfall like a chuckle of water rushing over smooth rocks, and there is nothing alien in the universe. Ripe apples fall about them. What else can they do but eat? When he says, "Ours is a transitional era," "that's very original of you," she replies, dry as the martini he is sipping. They fight all the time It's fun What do I owe you? Let's start with an apology Ok, I'm sorry, you dickhead. A sign is held up saying "Laughter." It's a silent picture. "I've been fucked without a kiss," she says, "and you can quote me on that," which sounds great in an English accent. One year they broke up seven times and threatened to do it another nine times. When a woman loves a man, she wants him to meet her at the airport in a foreign country with a jeep. When a man loves a woman he's there. He doesn't complain that she's two hours late and there's nothing in the refrigerator. When a woman loves a man, she wants to stay awake. She's like a child crying at nightfall because she didn't want the day to end. When a man loves a woman, he watches her sleep, thinking: as midnight to the moon is sleep to the beloved. A thousand fireflies wink at him. The frogs sound like the string section of the orchestra warming up. The stars dangle down like earrings the shape of grapes.
(after the spanish) forgive me if i laugh you are so sure of love you are so young and i too old to learn of love. the rain exploding in the air is love the grass excreting her green wax is love and stones remembering past steps is love, but you. you are too young for love and i too old. once. what does it matter when or who, i knew of love. i fixed my body under his and went to sleep in love all trace of me was wiped away forgive me if i smile young heiress of a naked dream you are so young and i too old to learn of love.
He went there to learn how to give a good perm and ended up just crazy about nails so He opened up His own shop. "Nails by Jim" He called it. He was afraid to call it Nails by God. He was sure people would think He was being disrespectful and using His own name in vain and nobody would tip. He got into nails, of course, because He'd always loved hands-- hands were some of the best things He'd ever done and this way He could just hold one in His and admire those delicate bones just above the knuckles, delicate as birds' wings, and after He'd done that awhile, He could paint all the nails any color He wanted, then say, "Beautiful," and mean it.
Oh, to be ready for it, unfucked, ever-fucked. To have only one critical eye that never divides a flaw from its lesson. To play without shame. To be a woman who feels only the pleasure of being used and who reanimates the user's anguished release in a land for the future to relish, to buy new tights for, to parade in fishboats. To scare up hope without fear of hope, not holding the hole, I will catch the superbullet in my throat and feel its astounding force with admiration. Absorbing its kind of glory. I must be someone with very short arms to have lost you, to be checking the windows of the pawnshop renting space in my head, which pounds with all the clarity of a policeman on my southernmost door. To wish and not jinx it: to wish and not fish for it: to wish and forget it. To ratchet myself up with hot liquid and find a true surprise. Prowling the living room for the lightning, just one more shock, to bring my slow purity back. To miss you without being so damn cold all the time. To hold you without dying otherwise. To die without losing death as an alternative. To explode with flesh, without collapse. To feel sick in my skeleton, in all the serious confetti of my cells, and know why. Loving you has made me so scandalously beautiful. To give myself to everyone but you. To luck out of you. To make any other mistake.
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9 I broke your heart. Now barefoot I tread on shards. 17 Why is the word yes so brief? It should be the longest, the hardest, so that you could not decide in an instant to say it, so that upon reflection you could stop in the middle of saying it. 18 —Sing me The Song of Songs. —Don't know the words. —Then sing the notes. —Don't know the notes. —Then simply hum. —Forgot the tune. —Then press my ear to your ear and sing what you hear.
A drift of wind
when August wheeled
brought back to mind
an alfalfa field
where green windrows
bleached down to hay
while storm clouds rose
and rolled our way.
With lighthearted strain
in our pastoral agon
we raced the rain
with baler and wagon,
driving each other
to hold the turn
out of the weather
and into the barn.
A nostalgic pause
claims we saved it all,
but I’ve known the loss
of the lifelong haul;
now gray concrete
and electric light
wear on my feet
and dull my sight.
So I keep asking,
as I stand here,
my cheek still basking
in that trick of air,
would I live that life
if I had the chance,
or is it enough
to have been there once?
You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it—it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.
But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."
It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel; I will drink Life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vext the dim sea. I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known—cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honored of them all,— And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. I am a part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades For ever and for ever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains; but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. This is my son, mine own Telemachus, To whom I leave the scepter and the isle, Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill This labor, by slow prudence to make mild A rugged people, and through soft degrees Subdue them to the useful and the good. Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere Of common duties, decent not to fail In offices of tenderness, and pay Meet adoration to my household gods, When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail; There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me, That ever with a frolic welcome took The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old; Old age hath yet his honor and his toil. Death closes all; but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with gods. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks; The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down; It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are, One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
A hand is not four fingers and a thumb. Nor is it palm and knuckles, not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow, not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins. A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines with their infinite dramas, nor what it has written, not on the page, not on the ecstatic body. Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping— not sponge of rising yeast-bread, not rotor pin's smoothness, not ink. The maple's green hands do not cup the proliferant rain. What empties itself falls into the place that is open. A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question. Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.
III. Tell me, is the rose naked or is that her only dress? Why do trees conceal the splendor of their roots? Who hears the regrets of the thieving automobile? Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a blackbird
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
O wind, rend open the heat, cut apart the heat, rend it to tatters. Fruit cannot drop through this thick air-- fruit cannot fall into heat that presses up and blunts the points of pears and rounds the grapes. Cut the heat-- plough through it, turning it on either side of your path.
If when my wife is sleeping and the baby and Kathleen are sleeping and the sun is a flame-white disc in silken mists above shining trees,- if I in my north room dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror waving my shirt round my head and singing softly to myself: "I am lonely, lonely, I was born to be lonely, I am best so!" If I admire my arms, my face, my shoulders, flanks, buttocks against the yellow drawn shades,- Who shall say I am not the happy genius of my household?
It was your birthday, we had drunk and dined Half of the night with our old friend Who'd showed us in the end To a bed I reached in one drunk stride. Already I lay snug, And drowsy with the wine dozed on one side. I dozed, I slept. My sleep broke on a hug, Suddenly, from behind, In which the full lengths of our bodies pressed: Your instep to my heel, My shoulder-blades against your chest. It was not sex, but I could feel The whole strength of your body set, Or braced, to mine, And locking me to you As if we were still twenty-two When our grand passion had not yet Become familial. My quick sleep had deleted all Of intervening time and place. I only knew The stay of your secure firm dry embrace.
little moth I do not think you'll escape this night I do not think you'll escape this night little moth * bees in clover summer half over friends without lovers * I bite a carrot horsefly bites me * I thought it was you moving through the trees but it was the trees I thought it was your finger grazing my knee it was the breeze I thought prayers were rising to a god alive in my mind they rose on the wind I thought I had all the time and world enough to discover what I should when it was over I thought I would always be young though I knew the years passed and knowing turned my hair gray I thought it was a welcome what I took for a sign— the sun...the unsymboling sun... * watch the clouds on any given day even they don't keep their shape for more than a minute sociable shifters bringing weather from elsewhere until it's our weather and we say now it's raining here * Vermont shore lit by a fugitive sun who doesn't believe in a day's redemption * sunset renovation at the expected hour but the actual palette still a surprise * gulls alit on the lake little white splendors looking to shit on the dock * little cat kneading my chest milkless breasts take your pleasure where you can * not that I was alive but that we were
A campesino looked at the air And told me: With hurricanes it's not the wind or the noise or the water. I'll tell you he said: it's the mangoes, avocados Green plantains and bananas flying into town like projectiles. How would your family feel if they had to tell The generations that you got killed by a flying Banana. Death by drowning has honor If the wind picked you up and slammed you Against a mountain boulder This would not carry shame But to suffer a mango smashing Your skull or a plantain hitting your Temple at 70 miles per hour is the ultimate disgrace. The campesino takes off his hat— As a sign of respect toward the fury of the wind And says: Don't worry about the noise Don't worry about the water Don't worry about the wind— If you are going out beware of mangoes And all such beautiful sweet things.
One summer she goes into the field as usual stopping for a bit at the pool where she often looks at herself, to see if she detects any changes. She sees the same person, the horrible mantle of daughterliness still clinging to her. The sun seems, in the water, very close. That's my uncle spying again, she thinks— everything in nature is in some way her relative. I am never alone, she thinks, turning the thought into a prayer. Then death appears, like the answer to a prayer. No one understands anymore how beautiful he was. But Persephone remembers. Also that he embraced her, right there, with her uncle watching. She remembers sunlight flashing on his bare arms. This is the last moment she remembers clearly. Then the dark god bore her away. She also remembers, less clearly, the chilling insight that from this moment she couldn't live without him again. The girl who disappears from the pool will never return. A woman will return, looking for the girl she was. She stands by the pool saying, from time to time, I was abducted, but it sounds wrong to her, nothing like what she felt. Then she says, I was not abducted. Then she says, I offered myself, I wanted to escape my body. Even, sometimes, I willed this. But ignorance cannot will knowledge. Ignorance wills something imagined, which it believes exists. All the different nouns— she says them in rotation. Death, husband, god, stranger. Everything sounds so simple, so conventional. I must have been, she thinks, a simple girl. She can't remember herself as that person but she keeps thinking the pool will remember and explain to her the meaning of her prayer so she can understand whether it was answered or not.
He was urged to prepare for success: "You never can tell, he was told over and over; "others have made it; one dare not presume to predict. You never can tell. Who’s Who in America lists the order of cats in hunting, fishing, bird-watching, farming, domestic service--the dictionary order of cats who have made it. Those not in the book are beyond the pale. Not to succeed in you chosen profession is unthinkable. Either you make it or--you’re beyond the pale. Do you understand?" "No," he shakes his head. "Are you ready to forage for freedom?" "No," he adds, "I mean, why is a cat always shaking his head? Because he’s thinking: who am I? I am not only one-ninth of myself. I always am all of the selves I have been and will be but am not." "The normal cat," I tell him, "soon adjusts to others and to changing circumstances; he makes his way the way he soon adjusts." "I can’t," he says, "perhaps because I’m blue, big-footed, lop-eared, socially awkward, impotent, and I drink too much, whether because I’m blue or because I like it, who knows. I want to escape at five o’clock into an untouchable world where the top is the bottom and everyone wants to escape from the middle, everyone, every day. I mean, I have visions of two green eyes rising out of the ocean, blinking, knowing what I mean." "Never mind the picture, repeat after me the self’s creed. What he tells you you tells me and I repeats. Now, after me: I love myself, I wish I would live well. Your gift of love breaks through my self-defeat. All prizes are blue. No cat admits defeat. The next time that he lives he will live well."
She said, I love you.
He said, Nothing.
(As if there were just one
of each word and the one
who used it, used it up).
In the history of language
the first obscenity was silence.
O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists, and identity; That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.
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.
I measure every Grief I meet With narrow, probing, eyes – I wonder if It weighs like Mine – Or has an Easier size. I wonder if They bore it long – Or did it just begin – I could not tell the Date of Mine – It feels so old a pain – I wonder if it hurts to live – And if They have to try – And whether – could They choose between – It would not be – to die – I note that Some – gone patient long – At length, renew their smile – An imitation of a Light That has so little Oil – I wonder if when Years have piled – Some Thousands – on the Harm – That hurt them early – such a lapse Could give them any Balm – Or would they go on aching still Through Centuries of Nerve – Enlightened to a larger Pain – In Contrast with the Love – The Grieved – are many – I am told – There is the various Cause – Death – is but one – and comes but once – And only nails the eyes – There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold – A sort they call "Despair" – There's Banishment from native Eyes – In sight of Native Air – And though I may not guess the kind – Correctly – yet to me A piercing Comfort it affords In passing Calvary – To note the fashions – of the Cross – And how they're mostly worn – Still fascinated to presume That Some – are like my own –
At this height, Kansas is just a concept, a checkerboard design of wheat and corn no larger than the foldout section of my neighbor's travel magazine. At this stage of the journey I would estimate the distance between myself and my own feelings is roughly the same as the mileage from Seattle to New York, so I can lean back into the upholstered interval between Muzak and lunch, a little bored, a little old and strange. I remember, as a dreamy backyard kind of kid, tilting up my head to watch those planes engrave the sky in lines so steady and so straight they implied the enormous concentration of good men, but now my eyes flicker from the in-flight movie to the stewardess's pantyline, then back into my book, where men throw harpoons at something much bigger and probably better than themselves, wanting to kill it, wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt to prove that they exist. Imagine being born and growing up, rushing through the world for sixty years at unimaginable speeds. Imagine a century like a room so large, a corridor so long you could travel for a lifetime and never find the door, until you had forgotten that such a thing as doors exist. Better to be on board the Pequod, with a mad one-legged captain living for revenge. Better to feel the salt wind spitting in your face, to hold your sharpened weapon high, to see the glisten of the beast beneath the waves. What a relief it would be to hear someone in the crew cry out like a gull, Oh Captain, Captain! Where are we going now?
Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avow: You are not wrong who deem That my days have been a dream; Yet if hope has flown away In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream. I stand amid the roar Of a surf-tormented shore, And I hold within my hand Grains of the golden sand-- How few! yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep, While I weep--while I weep! O God! can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?
It was the summer of Chandra Levy, disappearing from Washington D.C., her lover a Congressman, evasive and blow-dried from Modesto, the TV wondering in every room in America to an image of her tight jeans and piles of curls frozen in a studio pose. It was the summer the only woman known as a serial killer, a ten-dollar whore trolling the plains of central Florida, said she knew she would kill again, murder filled her dreams and if she walked in the world, it would crack her open with its awful wings. It was the summer that in Texas, another young woman killed her five children, left with too many little boys, always pregnant. One Thanksgiving, she tried to slash her own throat. That summer the Congressman lied again about the nature of his relations, or, as he said, he couldn't remember if they had sex that last night he saw her, but there were many anonymous girls that summer, there always are, who lower their necks to the stone and pray, not to God but to the Virgin, herself once a young girl, chosen in her room by an archangel. Instead of praying, that summer I watched television, reruns of a UFO series featuring a melancholic woman detective who had gotten cancer and was made sterile by aliens. I watched infomercials: exercise machines, pasta makers, and a product called Nails Again With Henna, ladies, make your nails steely strong, naturally, and then the photograph of Chandra Levy would appear again, below a bright red number, such as 81, to indicate the days she was missing. Her mother said, please understand how we're feeling when told that the police don't believe she will be found alive, though they searched the parks and forests of the Capitol for the remains and I remembered being caught in Tennessee, my tent filled with wind lifting around me, tornado honey, said the operator when I called in fear. The highway barren, I drove to a truck stop where maybe a hundred trucks hummed in pale, even rows like eggs in a carton. Truckers paced in the dining room, fatigue in their beards, in their bottomless cups of coffee. The store sold handcuffs, dirty magazines, t-shirts that read, Ass, gas or grass. Nobody rides for free, and a bulletin board bore a public notice: Jane Doe, found in a refrigerator box outside Johnson, TN, her slight measurements and weight. The photographs were of her face, not peaceful in death, and of her tattoos Born to Run, and J.T. caught in scrollworks of roses. One winter in Harvard Square, I wandered drunk, my arms full of still warm, stolen laundry, and a man said come to my studio and of course I went— for some girls, our bodies are not immortal so much as expendable, we have punished them or wearied from dragging them around for so long and so we go wearing the brilliant plumage of the possibly freed by death. Quick on the icy sidewalks, I felt thin and fleet, and the night made me feel unique in the eyes of the stranger. He told me he made sculptures of figure skaters, not of the women's bodies, but of the air that whipped around them, a study of negative space, which he said was the where-we-were-not that made us. Dizzy from beer, I thought why not step into that space? He locked the door behind me.
What if I were turned on by seemingly innocent words such as "scumble," "pinky," or "extrapolate?" What if I maneuvered conversation in the hope that others would pronounce these words? Perhaps the excitement would come from the way the other person touched them lightly and carelessly with his tongue. What if "of" were such a hot button? "Scumble of bushes." What if there were a hidden pleasure in calling one thing by another’s name?
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
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.
Whoever you are, holding me now in hand, Without one thing, all will be useless, I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further, I am not what you supposed, but far different. Who is he that would become my follower? Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections? The way is suspicious—the result uncertain, perhaps destructive; You would have to give up all else—I alone would expect to be your God, sole and exclusive, Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting, The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the lives around you, would have to be abandon'd; Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further— Let go your hand from my shoulders, Put me down, and depart on your way. Or else, by stealth, in some wood, for trial, Or back of a rock, in the open air, (For in any roof'd room of a house I emerge not—nor in company, And in libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,) But just possibly with you on a high hill—first watching lest any person, for miles around, approach unawares, Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea, or some quiet island, Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you, With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband's kiss, For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade. Or, if you will, thrusting me beneath your clothing, Where I may feel the throbs of your heart, or rest upon your hip, Carry me when you go forth over land or sea; For thus, merely touching you, is enough—is best, And thus, touching you, would I silently sleep and be carried eternally. But these leaves conning, you con at peril, For these leaves, and me, you will not understand, They will elude you at first, and still more afterward—I will certainly elude you, Even while you should think you had unquestionably caught me, behold! Already you see I have escaped from you. For it is not for what I have put into it that I have written this book, Nor is it by reading it you will acquire it, Nor do those know me best who admire me, and vauntingly praise me, Nor will the candidates for my love, (unless at most a very few,) prove victorious, Nor will my poems do good only—they will do just as much evil, perhaps more; For all is useless without that which you may guess at many times and not hit—that which I hinted at; Therefore release me, and depart on your way.
What have I to say to you When we shall meet? Yet— I lie here thinking of you. The stain of love Is upon the world. Yellow, yellow, yellow, It eats into the leaves, Smears with saffron The horned branches that lean Heavily Against a smooth purple sky. There is no light— Only a honey-thick stain That drips from leaf to leaf And limb to limb Spoiling the colours Of the whole world. I am alone. The weight of love Has buoyed me up Till my head Knocks against the sky. See me! My hair is dripping with nectar— Starlings carry it On their black wings. See, at last My arms and my hands Are lying idle. How can I tell If I shall ever love you again As I do now?
Love at the lips was touch As sweet as I could bear; And once that seemed too much; I lived on air That crossed me from sweet things, The flow of—was it musk From hidden grapevine springs Downhill at dusk? I had the swirl and ache From sprays of honeysuckle That when they're gathered shake Dew on the knuckle. I craved strong sweets, but those Seemed strong when I was young; The petal of the rose It was that stung. Now no joy but lacks salt, That is not dashed with pain And weariness and fault; I crave the stain Of tears, the aftermark Of almost too much love, The sweet of bitter bark And burning clove. When stiff and sore and scarred I take away my hand From leaning on it hard In grass and sand, The hurt is not enough: I long for weight and strength To feel the earth as rough To all my length.
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.
I release the earth and I imprison the skies. I fall down in order to stay faithful to the light, in order to make the world ambiguous, fascinating, changeable, dangerous, in order to announce the steps beyond. The blood of the gods is still fresh on my clothes. A seagull's scream echoes through my pages. Let me just pack up my words and leave.
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
There are desires to return, to love, to not disappear, and there are desires to die, fought by two opposing waters that have never isthmused. There are desires for a great kiss that would shroud Life, one that ends in the Africa of a fiery agony, a suicide! There are desires to. . .have no desires, Lord; I point my deicidal finger at you: there are desires to not have had a heart. Spring returns, returns and will depart. And God, bent in time, repeats himself, and passes, passes with the spinal column of the Universe on his back. When my temples beat their lugubrious drum, when the dream engraved on a dagger aches me, there are desires to be left standing in this verse!
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.
Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that's lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.
meaning somebody who rode through town once, ten years ago or who lived and died before your birth. They expect you to remember, to know, just like your mind is their mind and if you don't, they might take it personal. Get so made at you, they can't get on with the story. Not like Fannie Mae. She will get all into a story and catch herself: "But that was before you were born." Fannie Mae will pause, grin for emphasis and say, "And I wish you coulda seen it!" not me. when i get through when i'm done won't be no wishing you could see. you gone see.
Sad, fat boy in pirate hat. Long, old, dented, copper-colored Ford. How many traits must a thing have in order to be singular? (Echo persuades us everything we say has been said at least once before.) Two plump, bald men in gray tee-shirts and tan shorts are walking a small bulldog – followed by the eyes of an invisible third person. The Trinity was born from what we know of the bitter symbiosis of couples. Can we reduce echo’s sadness by synchronizing our speeches? Is it the beginning or end of real love when we pity a person because, in him, we see ourselves?