Favored Poems

Definitely:

What is desire
But the hard wire argument given
To the mind’s unstoppable mouth.

Inside the braincase, it’s I
Want that fills every blank. And then the hand
Reaches for the pleasure

The plastic snake offers. Someone says, Yes,
It will all be fine in some future soon.
Definitely. I’ve conjured a body

In the chair before me. Be yourself, I tell it.
Here memory makes you
Unchangeable: that shirt, those summer pants.

That beautiful face.
That tragic beautiful mind.
That mind’s ravenous mouth

That told you, This isn’t poison
At all but just what the machine needs. And then,
The mouth closes on its hunger

The heart stops.

— Mary Jo Bang

Burning Oneself Out:

We can look into the stove tonight
as into a mirror, yes,

the serrated log, the yellow-blue gaseous core

the crimson-flittered grey ash, yes.
I know inside my eyelids
and underneath my skin

Time takes hold of us like a draft
upward, drawing at the heats
in the belly, in the brain

You told me of setting your hand
into the print of a long-dead Indian
and for a moment, I knew that hand,

that print, that rock,
the sun producing powerful dreams
A word can do this

or, as tonight, the mirror of the fire
of my mind, burning as if it could go on
burning itself, burning down

feeding on everything
till there is nothing in life
that has not fed that fire

-Adrienne Rich

I Need Not Go:

I need not go
Through sleet and snow
To where I know
She waits for me;
She will wait me there
Till I find it fair,
And have time to spare
From company.

When I’ve overgot
The world somewhat,
When things cost not
Such stress and strain,
Is soon enough
By cypress sough
To tell my Love
I am come again.

And if some day,
When none cries nay,
I still delay
To seek her side,
(Though ample measure
Of fitting leisure
Await my pleasure)
She will not chide.

What–not upbraid me
That I delayed me,
Nor ask what stayed me
So long? Ah, no! –
New cares may claim me,
New loves inflame me,
She will not blame me,
But suffer it so.

–Thomas Hardy

so you want to be a writer?:

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.
and there never was.

-Charles Bukowski

Dark Night Poem:

they say that
nothing is wasted:
either that
or
it all is

– Charles Bukowski

Sick:

“I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more–that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut–my eyes are blue–
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke–
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is–what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!

-Shel Silverstein

To the Whore Who Took My Poems:

some say we should keep personal remorse from the
poem,
stay abstract, and there is some reason in this,
but jezus;
twelve poems gone and I don’t keep carbons and you have
my
paintings too, my best ones; its stifling:
are you trying to crush me out like the rest of them?
why didn’t you take my money? they usually do
from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner.
next time take my left arm or a fifty
but not my poems:
I’m not Shakespeare
but sometime simply
there won’t be any more, abstract or otherwise;
there’ll always be money and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much
poetry.

-Charles Bukowski

Porphyria’s Lover:

The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listened with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneeled and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soiled gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And called me. When no voice replied,
She put my arm about her waist,
And made her smooth white shoulder bare,
And all her yellow hair displaced,
And, stooping, made my cheek lie there,
And spread, o’er all, her yellow hair,
Murmuring how she loved me–she
Too weak, for all her heart’s endeavour,
To set its struggling passion free
From pride, and vainer ties dissever,
And give herself to me for ever.
But passion sometimes would prevail,
Nor could to-night’s gay feast restrain
A sudden thought of one so pale
For love of her, and all in vain:
So, she was come through wind and rain.
Be sure I looked up at her eyes
Happy and proud; at last I knew
Porphyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew
While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good: I found
A thing to do, and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat around,
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
I warily oped her lids: again
Laughed the blue eyes without a stain.
And I untightened next the tress
About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
I propped her head up as before,
Only, this time my shoulder bore
Her head, which droops upon it still:
The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
That all it scorned at once is fled,
And I, its love, am gained instead!
Porphyria’s love: she guessed not how
Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
And all night long we have not stirred,
And yet God has not said a word!

-Robert Browning

A Children’s Game:

Listen to the poet Sanai,
who lived secluded: ‘Don’t wander out on the road
in your ecstasy. Sleep in the tavern.’

When a drunk strays out to the street,
children make fun of him.
He falls down in the mud.
He takes any and every road.
The children follow,
not knowing the taste of wine, of how
his drunkenness feels. All people on the planet
are children, except for a very few.
No one is grown up except those free of desire.

God said,
‘The world is a play, children’s game,
and you are the children.’
God speaks the truth.
If you haven’t left the child’s play,
how can you be an adult?
Without purity of spirit,
if you’re still in the middle of lust and greed
and other wantings, you’re like children
playing as sexual intercourse.
They wrestle
and rub together, but it’s not sex!

The same with the fightings of mankind.
It’s a squabble with play-swords.
No purpose, totally futile.

Like kids on hobby horses, soldiers claim to be riding
Boraq, Muhammad’s night-horse, or Duldul, his mule.

Your actions mean nothing, the sex and war that you do.
You’re holding part of your pants and prancing around,
Dun-da-dun, dun-da-dun.

Don’t wait till you die to see this.
Recognize that your imagination and your thinking
and your sense perception are reed canes
that children cut and pretend are horsies.

The knowing of mystic lovers is different.
The empirical, sensory, sciences
are like the makeup woman’s makeup.
It washes off.
But if you lift the baggage rightly, it will give joy.
Don’t carry your knowledge-load for some selfish reason.
Deny your desires and willfulness,
and a real mount may appear under you.

Don’t be satisfied with the name of HU,
with just words about it.

Experience that breathing.
From books and words come fantasy,
and sometimes, from fantasy comes union.

-Rumi 1207-1273

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