poem index

Feather Dust 223W

Feather Dust 223W
Latin & Soul
Victor Hernández Cruz, 1949
for Joe Bataan


some waves
                     a wave of now
                                               a trombone speaking to you
a piano is trying to break a molecule
is trying to lift the stage into orbit
around the red spotlights

a shadow
the shadows      of dancers
dancers     they are dancing    falling
out that space      made for dancing

they should dance
on the tables            they should
dance inside of their drinks
they should dance on the
ceiling they should dance/dance

thru universes
                          we are traveling

where are we going
if we only knew

with this rhythm    with
this banging     with     fire
with this     all    this    O
my god i wonder    where are
we going
           sink into a room full of laughter
           full of happiness     full of life
           those dancers
           the dancers
           are clapping their hands
           stomping their feet

hold back them tears
                                     all those sentimental stories
cooked uptown       if you can           hold it for after

we are going
                     beyond these wooden tables
                     beyond these red lights
                     beyond these rugs & paper
                     walls beyond way past
                     i mean way past them clouds
                     over the buildings    over the
                     rivers    over towns    over cities
                     like on rails   but faster   like
                     a train    but smoother
                     away past stars
                     bursting with drums.


a sudden misunderstanding
                                                a cloud
                                                full of grayness
a body thru a store window
                                                a hand reaching
                                                into the back
a scream
               a piano is talking to you
               thru all this
               why don't you answer it.
Feather Dust 223W
David Budbill, 1940
we are
bones and ash, 
the roots of weeds
poking through
our skulls. 

simple clothes,
empty mind, 
full stomach,
alive, aware,
right here,
right now.

Drunk on music,
who needs wine?

Come on, 
let's go dancing
while we still 
have feet. 
Feather Dust 223W
She Walks in Beauty
George Gordon Byron, 1788 - 1824

She walks in beauty, like the night 
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright 
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light 
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less, 
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress, 
   Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express 
   How pure, how dear their dwelling place.


And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, 
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below, 
   A heart whose love is innocent!
Feather Dust 223W
The Kiss
Stephen Dunn, 1939
She pressed her lips to mind.
	—a typo

How many years I must have yearned
for someone’s lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place
that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows
to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she’s missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,
this is the wisest tongue
since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear,
speaking sense. It’s the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.
She was in. We married as soon as we could.
Feather Dust 223W
Two Loves
Lord Alfred Douglas
I dreamed I stood upon a little hill, 
And at my feet there lay a ground, that seemed 
Like a waste garden, flowering at its will 
With buds and blossoms. There were pools that dreamed 
Black and unruffled; there were white lilies 
A few, and crocuses, and violets 
Purple or pale, snake-like fritillaries 
Scarce seen for the rank grass, and through green nets 
Blue eyes of shy peryenche winked in the sun. 
And there were curious flowers, before unknown, 
Flowers that were stained with moonlight, or with shades 
Of Nature's willful moods; and here a one 
That had drunk in the transitory tone 
Of one brief moment in a sunset; blades 
Of grass that in an hundred springs had been 
Slowly but exquisitely nurtured by the stars, 
And watered with the scented dew long cupped 
In lilies, that for rays of sun had seen 
Only God's glory, for never a sunrise mars 
The luminous air of Heaven. Beyond, abrupt, 
A grey stone wall. o'ergrown with velvet moss 
Uprose; and gazing I stood long, all mazed 
To see a place so strange, so sweet, so fair. 
And as I stood and marvelled, lo! across 
The garden came a youth; one hand he raised 
To shield him from the sun, his wind-tossed hair 
Was twined with flowers, and in his hand he bore 
A purple bunch of bursting grapes, his eyes 
Were clear as crystal, naked all was he, 
White as the snow on pathless mountains frore, 
Red were his lips as red wine-spilith that dyes 
A marble floor, his brow chalcedony. 
And he came near me, with his lips uncurled 
And kind, and caught my hand and kissed my mouth, 
And gave me grapes to eat, and said, 'Sweet friend, 
Come I will show thee shadows of the world 
And images of life. See from the South 
Comes the pale pageant that hath never an end.' 
And lo! within the garden of my dream 
I saw two walking on a shining plain 
Of golden light. The one did joyous seem 
And fair and blooming, and a sweet refrain 
Came from his lips; he sang of pretty maids 
And joyous love of comely girl and boy, 
His eyes were bright, and 'mid the dancing blades 
Of golden grass his feet did trip for joy; 
And in his hand he held an ivory lute 
With strings of gold that were as maidens' hair, 
And sang with voice as tuneful as a flute, 
And round his neck three chains of roses were. 
But he that was his comrade walked aside; 
He was full sad and sweet, and his large eyes 
Were strange with wondrous brightness, staring wide 
With gazing; and he sighed with many sighs 
That moved me, and his cheeks were wan and white 
Like pallid lilies, and his lips were red 
Like poppies, and his hands he clenched tight, 
And yet again unclenched, and his head 
Was wreathed with moon-flowers pale as lips of death. 
A purple robe he wore, o'erwrought in gold 
With the device of a great snake, whose breath 
Was fiery flame: which when I did behold 
I fell a-weeping, and I cried, 'Sweet youth, 
Tell me why, sad and sighing, thou dost rove 
These pleasent realms? I pray thee speak me sooth 
What is thy name?' He said, 'My name is Love.' 
Then straight the first did turn himself to me 
And cried, 'He lieth, for his name is Shame, 
But I am Love, and I was wont to be 
Alone in this fair garden, till he came 
Unasked by night; I am true Love, I fill 
The hearts of boy and girl with mutual flame.' 
Then sighing, said the other, 'Have thy will, 
I am the love that dare not speak its name.'
Feather Dust 223W
Adam Zagajewski, 1945
I watched the arctic landscape from above
and thought of nothing, lovely nothing.
I observed white canopies of clouds, vast
expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.

I thought about you and about the emptiness
that can promise one thing only: plenitude—
and that a certain sort of snowy wasteland
bursts from a surfeit of happiness.

As we drew closer to our landing,
the vulnerable earth emerged among the clouds,
comic gardens forgotten by their owners,
pale grass plagued by winter and the wind.

I put my book down and for an instant felt
a perfect balance between waking and dreams.
But when the plane touched concrete, then
assiduously circled the airport's labryinth,

I once again knew nothing. The darkness
of daily wanderings resumed, the day's sweet darkness,
the darkness of the voice that counts and measures,
remembers and forgets.
Feather Dust 223W
Song of Myself, III
Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892
I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the
   beginning and the end
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.
There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age than there is now,
And will never be any more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and
   increase, always sex,
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of
To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well
   entretied, braced in the beams,
Stout as a horse, affectionate, haughty, electrical,
I and this mystery here we stand.

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not
   my soul.

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen,
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn.

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they
   discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myself.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty
   and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be
   less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied—I see, dance, laugh, sing;
As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the
   night, and withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread.
Leaving me baskets cover'd with white towels swelling the house
   with their plenty,
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my
That they turn from gazing after and down the road,
And forthwith cipher and show me to a cent,
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is
Feather Dust 223W
When We Two Parted
George Gordon Byron, 1788 - 1824
When we two parted 
   In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted 
   To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold, 
   Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold 
   Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning 
   Sunk chill on my brow-- 
It felt like the warning
   Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken, 
   And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken, 
   And share in its shame.

They name thee before me, 
   A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me--
   Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee, 
   Who knew thee too well--
Long, long shall I rue thee, 
   Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met--
   In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget, 
   Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee 
   After long years,
How should I greet thee?--
   With silence and tears.
Feather Dust 223W
No, Love Is Not Dead
Robert Desnos, 1900 - 1945
No, love is not dead in this heart these eyes and this mouth
that announced the start of its own funeral.
Listen, I've had enough of the picturesque, the colorful
and the charming.
I love love, its tenderness and cruelty.
My love has only one name, one form.
Everything disappears. All mouths cling to that one.
My love has just one name, one form.
And if someday you remember
O you, form and name of my love,
One day on the ocean between America and Europe,
At the hour when the last ray of light sparkles
on the undulating surface of the waves, or else a stormy night
beneath a tree in the countryside or in a speeding car,
A spring morning on the boulevard Malesherbes,
A rainy day,
Just before going to bed at dawn,
Tell yourself-I order your familiar spirit-that
I alone loved you more and it's a shame
you didn't know it.
Tell yourself there's no need to regret: Ronsard
and Baudelaire before me sang the sorrows
of women old or dead who scorned the purest love.
When you are dead
You will still be lovely and desirable.
I'll be dead already, completely enclosed in your immortal body,
in your astounding image forever there among the endless marvels
of life and eternity, but if I'm alive,
The sound of your voice, your radiant looks,
Your smell the smell of your hair and many other things
will live on inside me.
In me and I'm not Ronsard or Baudelaire

I'm Robert Desnos who, because I knew
and loved you, 
Is as good as they are.
I'm Robert Desnos who wants to be remembered
On this vile earth for nothing but his love of you.

A la mysterieuse
Feather Dust 223W
Be Near Me
Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1911 - 1984
Be near me now,
My tormenter, my love, be near me—
At this hour when night comes down,
When, having drunk from the gash of sunset, darkness comes
With the balm of musk in its hands, its diamond lancets,
When it comes with cries of lamentation,
                                             with laughter with songs;
Its blue-gray anklets of pain clinking with every step.
At this hour when hearts, deep in their hiding places,
Have begun to hope once more, when they start their vigil
For hands still enfolded in sleeves;
When wine being poured makes the sound
                                             of inconsolable children
                      who, though you try with all your heart,
                                             cannot be soothed.
When whatever you want to do cannot be done,
When nothing is of any use;
—At this hour when night comes down,
When night comes, dragging its long face,
                                             dressed in mourning,
Be with me,
My tormenter, my love, be near me.