|Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton.|
Tuesday, 13 April 2021
Tuesday, 6 April 2021
For a long time I was absolutely idiotic,
by which I mean I lashed and pulsed
like the cosmos of tissue at present on fire
inside the bodies of my students—
it being springtime, it being the season
of being naked under the cherry trees.
I'm not saying dig a hole and fall in it;
I'm not saying buy a cabin and a nanny goat
and walk around re-naming the forget-me-nots
after the lovers who said they'd slay you
and, well, did—for who ever heard
of a plant named Greg? Nevertheless,
sex is laughable; it's ultimately ridiculous;
it's what God invented since he couldn't have
Comedy Central. And still the young people
who aren't pushing their tongues
against the tongues of others
are weeping like babies
being prodded with thermometers
for the lack of good tongues
to lean their own tongues against.
I hear them complaining
about their would-be boyfriends and girlfriends,
and it's like they are all about to die,
like their hearts have spontaneously combusted
and little cell splinters are poking their lungs
and they're losing their balance,
falling like hail
or like meteors with pretty faces,
which is why when I say up, they look down.
And though I'm all for biology,
for the divine plan of multiplication
that calls for the pink of bodies
being bodies with other bodies
in beds and in bushes,
I'm sorry for all the time I wasted
being dramatic over the boys and their mustaches.
Maybe the heart, it gets colder.
But maybe the heart,
it learns a little self-preservation
and pulls the shades down
one window at a time. And it's not dark
in here. Really, there's a kind of light
between the marrow and the bone,
and sweet patches of grass to lie down on,
and muskrats and pied pipers
if that's the way you like to see the world,
if to get your kicks you choose to be delirious.
I mean, if you happen to be romantic
and don't mind splitting apart with longing
like a child in a toy store
with everywhere these primary colors
seeming to want to open what could be mouths
and seeming to want to sing what could be songs
if only you could catch your breath—
if only your heart would just stop seizing.
by Adrian Blevins
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Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Tuesday Poem: "On the Civil War on the East Coast of the United States of North America 1860-64" by Alan Dugan
Because of the unaccountable spirit of the troops
oh we were marched as we were never marched before
and flanked them off from home. Stupid Meade
was after them, head on to tail, but we convinced
him, finally, to flank, flank, cut off their head.
He finally understood, the idiot, and got a fort
named after him, for wisdom. He probably thought
Lee would conquer Washington from Appomattox
if he, Meade, should march his infantry behind
him, Lee. Ah well, the unaccountable spirit of the troops
triumphed, Meade got his fort, Grant got his presidency,
Sherman got his motto, what was it? War is heck?, Lee got a military school
for the education of young Southern gentlemen, and the Union
Army was taken over by Southern noncommissioned officers
in the wars against the Indians to the west. I know all
about this, I know who won, I served under them
for three hundred and fifty years in World War II,
just long enough not to be called a rookie but a veteran,
and realized the rank and order of my enemies:
first, the West Point officers; second, the red-neck sergeants;
third, the Nazis and perhaps the Japanese. I won
all of these wars as a private soldier, for a while,
and am happy to have done so: without me
Hitler and Hirohito would be ruling the world
instead of America and Russia, but I still will not
by Alan Dugan
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Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Anger which breaks a man into children,
Which breaks the child into two equal birds,
And after that the bird into a pair of little eggs:
The poor man's anger
Has one oil against two vinegars.
Anger which breaks a tree into leaves
And the leaf into unequal buds
And the bud into telescopic grooves;
The poor man's anger
Has two rivers against many seas.
Anger which breaks good into doubts
And doubt into three similar arcs
And then the arc into unexpected tombs;
The poor man's anger
Has one steel against two daggers.
Anger which breaks the soul into bodies
And the body into dissimilar organs
And the organ into octave thoughts;
The poor man's anger
Has one central fire against two craters.
by César Vallejo (translated from the Spanish by Thomas Merton)
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Tuesday, 16 March 2021
the first day,
how I looked down,
hoping you wouldn't see
and when I glanced up,
I saw your smile
shining like a soft light
from deep inside you.
“I'm listening,” you encourage us.
Join our conversation,
let us hear your neon certainties,
thorny doubts, tangled angers,”
but for weeks I hid inside.
I read and reread your notes
and you whispered,
“We need you
and your stories
that like a fresh path
will take us to new vistas.”
Slowly, your faith grew
into my courage
and for you—
instead of handing you
a note or apple or flowers—
I raised my hand.
I carry your smile
and faith inside like I carry
my dog's face,
my sister's laugh,
the softness of sunrise,
steady blessings of stars,
autumn smell of gingerbread,
the security of a sweater on a chilly day.
by Pat Mora
Tuesday, 9 March 2021
Who makes these changes?
I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.
I ride after a deer and find myself
Chased by a hog.
I plot to get what I want
And end up in prison.
I dig pits to trap others
And fall in.
I should be suspicious
Of what I want.
by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi (translated from the Persian by Coleman Barks with John Moyne)
Tuesday, 2 March 2021
Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.
I know myself; I’ve learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that’s when I’m least to be trusted.
It’s very sad, really: all my life, I’ve been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they’re wasted—
I never see myself,
standing on the front steps, holding my sister’s hand.
That’s why I can’t account
for the bruises on her arm, where the sleeve ends.
In my own mind, I’m invisible: that’s why I’m dangerous.
People like me, who seem selfless,
we’re the cripples, the liars;
we’re the ones who should be factored out
in the interest of truth.
When I’m quiet, that’s when the truth emerges.
A clear sky, the clouds like white fibers.
Underneath, a little gray house, the azaleas
red and bright pink.
If you want the truth, you have to close yourself
to the older daughter, block her out:
when a living thing is hurt like that,
in its deepest workings,
all function is altered.
That’s why I’m not to be trusted.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.
by Louise Glück
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