Thursday, April 24, 2014

national poetry month, day twenty-four: edward hirsch

Tristan Tzara

There is no such thing as a dada lecture
a manifesto is addressed to the whole world
I am opposed to every system except one
love is irrational and you are the reason

a manifesto is addressed to the whole world
but bells ring out for no reason at all
love is irrational and you are the reason
I am a bridge harboring your darkness

but bells ring out for no reason at all
you are a fresh wind assaulted by sails
I am a bridge harboring your darkness
let's not lash ourselves to the flagpoles

you are a fresh wind assaulted by sails
I am a wound that sprays your salt
let's not lash ourselves to the flagpoles
let's not swim to the music of sailors

I am a wound that sprays your salt
ambassadors of sentiment hate our chorus
let's not swim to the music of sailors
we cast our anchors into the distance

ambassadors of sentiment hate our chorus
they can't pollute our smokiest feelings
we cast our anchors into the distance
we sail our boats for the netherworld

they can't pollute our smokiest feelings
each of us has a thousand virginities
we sail our boats for the netherworld
I'm giving you all my nothingness

each of us has a thousand virginities
we still consider ourselves charming
I'm giving you all my nothingness
I have doubted everything but this

we still consider ourselves charming
there is no such thing as a dada lecture
I have doubted everything but this
I am opposed to every system except one

Hirsch, Edward. "Tristan Tzara". The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review. Berg, Stephen, David Bonanno and Arthur Vogelsang, Eds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 260-1.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

national poetry month, day twenty-three: stephen dobyns

Allegorical Matters

Let’s say you are a man (some of you are)
and susceptible to the charms of women
(some of you must be) and you are sitting
on a park bench. (It is a sunny afternoon
in early May and the peonies are in flower.)
A beautiful woman approaches. (Clearly,
we each have his or her own idea of beauty
but let’s say she is beautiful to all.) She smiles,
then removes her halter top, baring her breasts
which you find yourself comparing to ripe fruit.
(Let’s say you are an admirer of bare breasts.)
Gently she presses her breasts against your eyes
and forehead, moving them across your face.
You can’t get over your good fortune. Eagerly,
you embrace her but then you learn the horror
because while her front is is young and vital,
her back is rotting flesh which breaks away
in your fingers with a smell of decay. Here
we pause and invite in a trio of experts.
The first says, This is clearly a projection
of the author’s sexual anxieties. The second says,
Such fantasies derive from the empowerment
of women and the author’s fear of emasculation.
The third says, The author is manipulating sexual
stereotypes to achieve imaginative dominance
over the reader—basically, he must be a bully.
The author sits in front of the trio of experts.
He leans forward with his elbows on his knees.
He scratches his neck and looks at the floor
where a fat ant is dragging a crumb. He begins
to step on the ant but then he thinks: Better not.
The cool stares of the experts make him uneasy
and he would like to be elsewhere, perhaps home
with a book or taking a walk. My idea, he says,
concerned the seductive qualities of my country,
how it encourages us to engage in all fantasies,
how it lets us imagine we are lucky to be here,
how it creates the illusion of an eternal present.
But don’t we become blind to the world around us?
Isn’t what we see as progress just a delusion?
Isn’t our country death and what it touches death?
The trio of experts begin to clear their throats.
They recross their legs and their chairs creak.
The author feels the weight of their disapproval.
But never mind, he says, Perhaps I’m mistaken;
let’s forget I spoke. The author lowers his head.
He scratches under his arm and suppresses a belch.
He considers the difficulties of communication
and the ruthless necessities of art. Once again
he looks for the ant but it’s gone. Lucky ant.
Next time he wouldn’t let it escape so easily.


Dobyns, Stephen. "Allegorical Matters". The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review. Berg, Stephen, David Bonanno and Arthur Vogelsang, Eds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 142-3.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

national poetry month, day twenty-two: louise gluck

Aubade

The world was very large. Then
the world was small. O
very small, small enough
to fit in a brain.

It had no color, it was all
interior space: nothing
got in or out. But time
seeped in anyway, that
was the tragic dimension.

I took time very seriously in those years,
if I remember accurately.

A room with a chair, a window.
A small window, filled with the patters light makes.
In its emptiness the world

was whole always, not
a chip of something, with
the self at the center.

And at the center of the self,
grief I thought I couldn’t survive.

A room with a bed, a table. Flashes
of light on the naked surfaces.

I had two desires: desire
to be safe and desire to feel. As though

the world were making
a decision against white
because it disdained potential
and wanted in its place substance:

panels
of golf where the light struck.
In the window, reddish
leaves of the copper beech tree.

Out of the stasis, facts, objects
blurred or knitted together: somewhere

time stirring, time
crying to be touched, to be
palpable,

the polished wood
shimmering with distinctions—

and then I was once more
a child in the presence of riches
and I didn’t know what the riches were made of.


Gluck, Louise. "Aubade". The Body Electric: America's Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review. Berg, Stephen, David Bonanno and Arthur Vogelsang, Eds. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 201-2.

Monday, April 21, 2014

national poetry month, day twenty-one: rita dove

All Souls

Starting up behind them,
all the voices of those they had named:
mink, gander, and marmoset,
crow and cockatiel.
Even the duck-billed platypus,
of late so quiet in its bed,
sent out a feeble cry signifying
grief and confusion, et cetera.

Of course the world had changed
for good. As it would from now on
every day, with every twitch and blink.
Now that change was de rigueur,
man would discover desire, then yearn
for what he would learn to call
distraction. This was the true loss.
And yet in that first

unchanging instant,
the two souls
standing outside the gates
(no more than a break in the hedge;
how had they missed it?) were not
thinking. Already the din was fading.
Before them, a silence
larger than all their ignorance

yawned, and this they walked into
until it was all they knew. In time
they hunkered down to business,
filling the world with sighs—
these anonymous, pompous creatures,
heads tilted as if straining
to make out the words to a song
played long ago, in a foreign land.  

 
Dove, Rita. "All Souls'" The Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition. Pinsky, Robert, ed. New York: Scribner Poetry, 2013. 68-9.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

national poetry month, day twenty: e. e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes


(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)


how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?


(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)